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    Top 10 Historical Misconceptions About Macbeth

    Ah, the "Scottish" play: one of William Shakespeare's great tragedies, it traces how Macbeth's unbridled ambition turns into moral corruption. Shakespeare made a chilling tragedy, but this story was not of his invention: it can be traced to several medieval Scottish chronicles. How is the historical Macbeth and his times different from the play? Find out below!

    1. Macbeth was an usurper.

    2. Macbeth was killed by Macduff.

    3. Malcolm Canmore was raised in England in Saint Edward the Confessor's court.

    4. Malcolm Canmore, the heir to Scotland's throne, and King Malcolm III, husband to Saint Margaret of Scotland, are the same person.

    5. Malcolm Canmore was Prince of Cumberland.

    This is a misconception that first appeared in the twelfth century due to a scribal confusion. The most complete account of Earl Siward of Northumbria's military incursion into Scotland is given by twelfth-century chronicler John of Worcester. William of Malmesbury, another twelfth-century chronicler, took his information about the battle from Worcester's account and confused "Mael Coluim [Malcolm], son of the king of the Cumbrians" with Malcolm Canmore. And thus, a historical misconception was born.

    6. Earl Siward of Northumbria brought his army to Scotland to depose King Macbeth.

    7. Lady Macbeth did have a name—and a son!

    8. King Duncan was an old, pious king.

    9. Macbeth met some Weird Sisters that prophecized his future as king.

    10. Macduff was not born of a woman.

    The Macduff earls of Fife were the most important noble family in Scotland between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. It is believed that the first Macduff earl of Fife was Constantine Macduff, who possibly was given the earldom at the end of the eleventh century. It is also believed that the Macduffs are descendants of Scottish King Dub (997-1005 AD), making them of royal stock.

    The first mention of Macduff as not having been born of a woman is also traced to Andrew of Wyntoun's Cronikyl.