A Note on the Notes:
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Holinshed doesn't require much annotation. The punctuation is irregular but servicable. The spelling looks strange to modern eyes, but is fairly consistent. When a word doesn't make sense, the problem can usually be solved by substituting a "j" for an "i," a "v" for a "u" (and vice-versa), or a "y" for an "ie." Holinshed tells a good story, but is not a poet or an inventor of words, so the meanings of obsolete words can usually be deduced from context or found in a good single-volume dictionary. [back]

After Malcome succéeded his nephue Duncane: After Malcolm died, his nephew Duncan succeeded to the throne. (This is an older Malcolm than the one who appears in Macbeth.) [back]

inioied: enjoyed [back]

purchased at length: by means of a lengthy argument, he persuaded the King to agree [back]

Malcolme: Not the Malcolm who appears in Macbeth. [back]

amongst the residue of the slaine bodies: among the rest of the dead bodies [back]

remitting no peece of his cruel nature with that pitifull sight: Makbeth, because of his cruel nature, gave no peace to the body of Makdowald, despite the pitiful sight of the dead. [back]

laund: An open place among woods. [back]

Mackbeth: Yes, in the previous paragraph the spelling was "Makbeth." [back]

barrettors: "Barrettor" had many related meanings. It was a term for a corrupt official, a judge who takes bribes, a bully, a person who brings malicious lawsuits, or a person who causes trouble between neighbors for his own selfish ends. [back]

reiffings: robberies. [back]

buckler: shield. [back]

passed nothing of: didn't give a hoot about. [back]

who was slaine not by chance medlie . . . but euen upon a prepensed deuise: "Chance medlie" is short for "manslaughter by chance medlie," which describes a killing that happens partly, but not entirely, by chance. (The killing of an innocent bystander in the course of a robbery would be an example of "manslaughter by chance medlie.") In contrast, a "prepensed deuise" is a premeditated plot. Macbeth wanted people to believe that Banquo was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and got killed by highway robbers, but the truth was that Macbeth plotted to kill Banquo. [back]

durst vnneth: scarcely dared. [back]

surmized cauillation: trumped-up charge. [back]

each man his course about: each man taking his turn. [back]

the good title he had: the good claim that Malcolm had to the throne of Scotland. [back]

vnfeinedlie: without deception, sincerely. [back]

importable: unsupportable. [back]

fellie an hungred: fierce if hungry. [back]

leasings: lies. [back]

prooue: test. [back]

condescend: agree. [back]

Incontinentlie: immediately. [back]

pight field: pitched battle. [back]

wage: pay. [back]

which stale dailie from him: who stole away each day. [back]

streict: immediately. [back]

leapt beside his horsse: leapt down from his horse. [back]

yer: before. [back]