There really was a king of Scotland named Macbeth, who died in 1057. Shakespeare’s play is based on the legend of his life. The real Macbeth was a ‘mormaer’ or chief, in the province of Moray, in northern Scotland. He later ascended the throne after killing his cousin King Duncan in a battle (not by murdering him in bed, as in the play). Shakespeare seems to have got the story from a book titled ‘Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland’ by Raphael Holinshed, and he was more interested in drama than historical facts. So, Shakespeare’s depiction of the character of Macbeth is entirely fictional.

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