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Shakespeare's historical source of the play Macbeth was Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England Scotland, and Ireland which was written in 1587. The book refers to Banquo as an acquaintance of Macbeth's. According to the history, Macbeth, with the help of others, conspired with Banquo to kill the weak and ineffectual King Duncan.
Now, as Macbeth was dedicated to King James and Duncan and Banquo were, as legend had it, both in the royal line of King James, Shakespeare changed the history and made the men sympathetic characters.
Neither Banquo nor Fleance really existed. There was a legend, however, that James I, king at the time Shakespeare wrote and performed Macbeth, was descended from the line of Banquo. Some people say Banquo is included in the play to mock King James, although a more common suggestion is that he is included to flatter the king. There was a lot of politics around the legality of theatre in the time of James I, so it might well have paid for Shakespeare to keep on the good side of the king.
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