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Macbeth Background. Macbeth. Written sometime around 1606 to commemorate King James I’s ascension to King of England and unification of the Scottish and English crowns.

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  • Written sometime around 1606 to commemorate King James I’s ascension to King of England and unification of the Scottish and English crowns.
  • Shakespeare based the story on Holinshed's Chronicles and it’s account of Scottish History and set the play in 11th Century Scotland.
king james i of england
King James I of England
  • Received rule of Scotland as James VI from 1567-1625 when his mother, Mary Queen of Scots (daughter of Elizabeth’s cousin, King James V of Scotland) was removed from the throne by Protestant rebels. He was one year old.
  • Claimed the English throne when Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, unmarried and heirless.
  • Claimed succession as the great-grandson of Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s older sister.
james i the supernatural
James I & The Supernatural
  • Married Anne of Denmark in 1589.
  • Her voyage to Scotland was halted by severe storms that the captain deemed unnatural in the way they singled out the ship.
  • The captain made the proclamation that the storms must have been caused by witchcraft.
king james in love 3 3
King James in Love <3 <3
  • In a fit of love, James decided to sail to Denmark himself to retrieve his new queen.
  • They were married in Copenhagen and spent six months there before returning to Scotland in May of 1590.
  • Once again, severe storms that seemed aimed at the ship plagued the journey they were nearly sunk off of the coast of Scotland.
  • There could be only one explanation . . .
  • The matter was investigated and it was found that a large number of witches (reports vary from 38 to 600) had gathered at North Berwick Kirk in Scotland under the leadership of James’s political enemy and first cousin Lord Bothwell during the time of the unusual storms.
  • Satan himself alledgedly presided from the altar in the embodiment of Bothwell.
  • Witnesses testified (under torture) that Satan/Bothwell had bid them to use their magical powers to murder the King.
  • In 1597 King James published Daemonologiein response to, “the fearful aboundinge at this time in this countrie, of theses detestable slaves of the Devill, the Witches or enchaunters.”
  • Goals of the book: 1.) to prove the reality of witches and witchcraft against the doubts of skeptics.
  • 2.) to show what severe punishment witches and other magical operators merit.
remember remember the fifth of november
Remember, Remember the fifth of November!
  • The Gunpowder Plot was a plan to assassinate King James I by blowing up the House of Lords on November 5, 1605.
  • The plan was a conspiracy including, among others, Guy Fawkes. Burning Guy Fawkes in effigy was the origin of the Guy Fawkes day bonfires that are still celebrated in Great Britain.
equivocation mental reservation
Equivocation & Mental Reservation
  • Equivocation is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time).
  • Mental reservation is a form of deception which is not an outright lie. It was argued for in moral theology as a way to fulfill obligations both to tell the truth and to keep secrets from those not entitled to know them (for example, because of the seal of the confessional or other clauses of confidentiality).
equivocation mental reservation1
Equivocation & Mental Reservation
  • In wide mental reservation, equivocations are used to imply an untruth that is not actually stated.
  • In strict mental reservation, the speaker mentally adds some qualification to the words which he utters, and the words together with the mental qualification make a true assertion in accordance with fact.
the great equivocator
The Great Equivocator
  • Father Henry Garnet, a Jesuit priest known for his publications on equivocation and mental reservation allegedly learned of the plot through confession
  • Anti-Catholic legislation introduced after the discovery of the plot eliminated the protection of the confidentiality of confession in matters threatening the crown.
  • Garnet was tried and naturally equivocated during the trial.
  • It didn’t help and on May 6, 1606 he was executed.
the stuart legacy
The Stuart Legacy
  • Fleance, the son of Banquo is, according to Hollinshed’s Chronicles escaped Macbeth and became steward to the king of Scotland.
  • His later descendents began the Stuart line of kings from which James was descended.