14th August 1040

Macbeth kills King Duncan

Duncan I was king of Alba, which included parts of present-day Scotland, for just six years between 1034 and 1040. He had come to the throne upon the death of Malcolm II, his maternal grandfather.

It isn’t known exactly when Duncan was born, but Macbeth, who was made famous by Shakespeare’s play of the same name, was slightly younger, and was a duke during Duncan’s reign.

King Duncan I killed

In August 1040, they clashed when Duncan led his troops into Moray, of which Macbeth was effectively lord. Macbeth’s troops put up a defence and Duncan was killed. He was ultimately buried on Iona, although it is thought he had first been buried at Elgin, close to the site of his death.

Duncan’s death is thus quite different from the demise depicted in Shakespeare’s play, written almost 600 years later, in which Duncan is killed in his sleep by Macbeth himself. In Shakespeare’s telling, three witches predict that Macbeth will one day become King of Scotland. He and his wife are determined to help the prophecy come true, so he stabs Macbeth with a dagger and assumes the throne, but is then forced to continue killing others to secure his position



Other events that occured in August

FREE Scotland history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Scotland's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.