Duncan Killed by Macbeth
Scottish history in the 11th century is documented rather less well than English, and much of what we believe about Duncan Iís life is open to debate: for example, he may have been King of Strathclyde before becoming King of Scotland. Shakespeare muddied the waters somewhat, making Duncan an old man when in reality he was young when he came to the throne in 1034, and having him murdered abed by Macbeth rather than on the battlefield.
Duncan succeeded his maternal grandfather Malcolm II as King of Alba, a succession that appears to have been settled in advance and without serious challenge. His wife Ė thought to have been called Suthen, and from Northumbria, which became the focus of much of his activity Ė bore him at least two sons who both ruled after him; but not before Macbeth had intervened. Macbeth ruled Moray, his status either that of a regional King, or a Dux, a powerful warlord and possibly the force which secured Duncanís succession.
In 1039 Duncan raided Northumbria, laying siege ineffectively to Durham . It may be that this fiasco sparked Macbethís ambitions: the two parties clashed, and on August 14 1040 Duncan was killed near Elgin , possibly even by Macbethís own hand, his own men having turned against him. Macbeth seized the throne of Scotland that he then held for 17 years before losing it to Duncanís son Malcolm.
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