9 February 2005
The Scottish post
It's the 1000th anniversary of the birth of Macbeth, and Scotsmen of an historical bent have persuaded Edinburgh to try to rehabilitate the onetime Scottish king's reputation, now torn and tattered no thanks to that nasty Englishman Shakespeare.
Well, yes, he did kill Duncan, but it was a semi-honorable defeat on the field of battle, not an assassination in the, um, dead of night, and anyway, this was how the throne of Scotland changed hands in those days.
I haven't seen Raphael Holinshead's Chronicles, which appeared in 1577 and which Shakespeare routinely mined for historical bits, but apparently one of Holinshead's personages, good old Macduff, from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd, was a purely fictional character, and Macbeth was in fact dispatched by Malcolm himself in 1057 after seventeen not-especially-sleepless years on the throne.