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Macbeth, in the Chronicle of Melrose Abbey

Macbeth, in the Chronicle of Melrose Abbey

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1270

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Faustina B IX

Item number: f.13r

Length: 26.7

Width: 17.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Melrose Abbey was founded in 1136 by King David of Scotland, five miles from the ancient monastery where St Cuthbert lived as a young monk in the 7th century. The 12th-century Melrose was run by the Cistercian monks, an important order of the later middle ages who were influential in England and became more so in the following years. This manuscript, the only surviving ancient copy of the Chronicle, begins with the year 735. Its first section, up to the mid-12th century, was compiled from earlier histories, but from that point it seems to have been written at the monastery and records contemporary events. This makes it an important source of information for the later 12th and 13th centuries, through 1270, when it terminates suddenly. The mid-11th century was the time of Macbeth, the Scottish king whose story Shakespeare wrote into great literature. The next to the last entry on this page, for the year 1050, begins, 'Macbeth king of the Scots'.

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