The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare, thought to have been first performed in 1606. Filled with witches and prophecies, it is a fanciful imagining of the career of Macbeth of Scotland, a historical king about whom virtually nothing is known. A likely motivation in writing the play was to curry favour with King James, as some of its characters are idealised imaginings of James' ancestors. There is a popular notion that the play is cursed, and acting companies preparing to perform it will not speak its title aloud before opening day, referring to it instead as "The Scottish Play".


As Macbeth is one of the more popular plays in the English language, fleeting references to it crop up in numerous Harry Turtledove works. They rarely have any particular relevance to the plot.

Macbeth in Ruled BritanniaEdit

The Scottish Play, written by William Shakespeare, had been performed often at the Theatre by 1598. Lope de Vega had seen it a few times and admired it. When Vega went to inspect the doings of Lord Westmorland's Men on Ash Wednesday in 1598, he came upon Richard Burbage rehearsing a key speech of the King of Scotland.[1]

Literary commentEdit

While the "Scottish play" is otherwise unidentified, the speech recited by Burbage is from Act 5 Scene 3 of Macbeth, against all probability.


  1. Ruled Britannia, p. 159-160.