Macbeth: James Iof England and King James I . Essay examples

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Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in 1606. It is important to understand the political context in which it was written, as that is the key to the main theme of the play, which is that excessive ambition will have terrible consequences. Shakespeare was writing for the theatre during the reigns of two monarchs, Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. The plays he wrote during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, such as A Midsummer Night's Dream, are often seen to embody the generally happy, confident and optimistic mood of the Elizabethans. However, those he wrote during James's reign, such as Macbeth and Hamlet, are darker and more cynical, reflecting the insecurities of the Jacobean period. Macbeth was written the year after the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

When Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, she had no children, or even nephews or nieces. The throne was offered to James Stuart, James VI of Scotland, who then became James I of Britain. He was a distant cousin of Elizabeth, being descended from Margaret Tudor, the sister of Elizabeth's grandfather, Henry the Eighth.James was the son of the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, who had been deposed and imprisoned when he was a baby, and later executed on Elizabeth's orders. Brought up by Protestant regents, James maintained a Protestant regime in Scotland when he came of age, and so was an acceptable choice for England which had become firmly Protestant under Elizabeth. However, his accession was by no means a popular choice with everyone. Since he was not a