The Astor Place Riot and the Complicated History of Macbeth in Scotland

TLDR The Astor Place Riot of 1849 was a result of a rivalry between American and British actors over their portrayal of Macbeth. The history of Macbeth in Scotland involves the consolidation of power, invasion of England, and eventual defeat, with the play itself being influenced by James I and enduring as a reflection of personal evil and the supernatural.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The Astor Place Riot of 1849 was sparked by a rivalry between American actor Edwin Forrest and British actor William Charles McCready over who was better at playing Macbeth.
05:29 The early medieval history of Scotland is complicated due to sparse sources and different languages spoken in different regions, but it involves the kingdoms of Northumbria, Strathclyde, Dauriata, and the Picts, until the Vikings arrived and disrupted the existing kingdoms.
10:41 Kenneth Macalpin establishes a line of kings that fuses the Dalryada and Pictish traditions, leading to the formation of the kingdom of Alba, which combines the best of both traditions and becomes associated with the Gaelic-speaking regions of Great Britain, including Macbeth's kingdom of Morey in the Highlands.
15:39 Macbeth consolidates his power and establishes himself as a significant figure in Scottish history by retrenching, consolidating his power, and successfully invading England, ultimately becoming the King of Scotland and marrying a descendant of Kenneth McAlpine.
21:02 Macbeth consolidates his power and becomes king by killing Duncan in battle, ruling successfully, and even issuing charters naming Lady Macbeth as the Queen of Scotland.
25:50 Macbeth is able to continue fighting and retreating after killing Duncan, but his reign is destabilized and he is eventually defeated by Malcolm and buried honorably, marking the end of his dynasty.
31:24 Shakespeare likely would not have written Macbeth if James I of England had not become king, as the play was deliberately written for the new Stuart King and was influenced by the gunpowder plot.
36:06 The role of witchcraft in Macbeth reflects James I's obsession with witches and Shakespeare likely took inspiration from James's own book on demonology.
40:38 Macbeth reflects the fusion of personal evil and supernatural darkness, with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth being tragic figures who are not purely evil, and the play's appeal lies in its action-heavy plot and exploration of the supernatural and the idea of regicide.
45:00 The archetype of Lady Macbeth as a powerful and manipulative woman has endured throughout history, with examples such as Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair being compared to her, and even Boris Johnson's wife being described as a Lady Macbeth figure.
49:43 The origins of the curse associated with the play Macbeth can be traced back to a fabricated story by Max Bierbaum in the late 19th century, attributing it to John Aubrey, and it is believed to have originated from the boy playing Lady Macbeth falling ill and Shakespeare himself having to step in, which led to an unconvincing performance.
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