SAINTHOOD IN THE THEATER
OF LOPE DE VEGA
ROBERT REID MORRISON
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE CRAIDUATL COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Profound appreciation is expressed to the chairman of my
advisory committee, Dr. Francis C. Hayes, without whose capable
guidance and helpful suggestions this study could not have been
completed. Sincere gratitude is also expressed to the other mem-
bers of the committee for their kind assistance; to the staff of
the University of Florida library, especially for making available
through microfilms material which was otherwise inaccessible; to
the office of the Graduate School; to Professor James L. Fleming,
director of the Department of Foreign Languages at East Carolina
College, for his patient understanding and willing cooperation; to
Dr. Mildred Southwick of the Bast Carolina College library, who
cheerfully secured numerous interlibrary loans; to my parents and
those of my wife, for their helpful encouragement; and to my wife
and children, who bore long and patiently with my application to
this task. Of inestimable value was my wife's ability to type
both draft and finished copy rapidly and economically. In short,
the writer of this dissertation claims full credit only for its
errors and weaknesses.
TABLE OP CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . ... .. . . . . ii
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . .
I. DRAMATIC PRECURSORS OF THE C6ObEDIA DE SANTOS . . 7
The Liturgical Drama in Spain
Early Religious Drama in the Vernacular
Dramatic Precursors of the Comedia de Santos
The Teatro de Colegio
II. NON-DRAMATIC PRECURSORS OF THE COMEDIA DE SANTOS . 61
III. TWO PROMINENT FORCES IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SPANISH
LIFE: RELIGION AND LOPE DE VEGA . . . . . 75
Religion in Golden Age Spain
The Theater and Lope de Vega
IV. SAINTS AND SAIITHOOD . . . . . . 123
Saints in the Beginning
Veneration of the Saints
Beatification and Canonization
The Saints Today
The Saint Defined
The Hierarchy of Saints
V. THE SAINT'S PLAY IN GOLDEN AGE SPAIN . .. . . 147
Medieval Roots of the Comedia de Santos
Importance and Popularity of the Comedia de Santos
in its Day
Objections and Decrees
Lope's Comedias de Santos as an Indication of
VI. THE PLAYS . . . . . . . . . . .
Santa Teresa de Jesus
La gran column fogosa
Los locos por el cielo
~1l nifo inocente de La Guardia
21 santo negro Rosambuco
11 rfstico del cielo
La dcvoci6n del rosario
San Isidro, labrador de Madrid
Juan de Dios y Ant6n Martin
Lo ringido verdadero
El cardinal de Beltn
C1 divino africano
Barlin y Josa'f
E Seraftn human
La madre de la mejor
El Nacimiento de Cristo
La limpieza no manchada
La nifez de San Isidro
La juventud de San Isidro
Other Comedias de Santos
Plays Other than Comedias de Santos
CONCLUSIONS .. ....... ....... ... .... 499
APPEDIX . . . . . . . . . . . 512
APPENDIX B ......................... 554
APPENDIX C ................... ...... 566
APPENDIX D . . . . . . . . . . . . 573
APPENDIX E . . . . . . . . . . . . 580
BIBLIOGRAPHY ................... ..... 582
It has been said that Spain owes to her religious faith a
kind of drama which there reached its highest development, unique in
European literature: "la comedia divina y el auto sacramental, ver-
dadero teatro de character sagrado." Though the auto sacramental
has been quite thoroughly studied by a number of critics, the conedia
divina usually receives mention only as a classification within the
broad category of comedies; and even less attention is given the
comedia de santos.
Edward Glaser wrote that the study of the comedia blblica is
still awaiting its hour. The same may be said for the comedia de
santos, on which, as a class, very little has been written. We do know
that the saints' lives became the argumento favorite y casi exclu-
sivo"4 of the seventeenth-century dramatists when, under pressure from
public opinion and official decrees, they turned to religious subjects.
It is hoped, therefore, that the present study will add to the accumu-
lation of details which will one day make a definitive study possible.
Ricardo del Arco y Garay, La sociedad espafola en las obras
dramiticas de Lope de Vega (Madrid: Escelicer, 1941), p. 73.
An example is Bruce Wardropper's Introducci6n al teatro
religioso del siglo de oro (Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1953); its
subtitle is "la evoluci6n del auto sacramental: 1500-1648."
Edward Glaser, "1E Patriarca Jacob, amante ejemplar del
teatro del siglo de oro espaiol," Bulletin Hispanique, LVIII (January-
March, 1956), 5.
Arco y Garay, p. 74.
The purpose of this study is to examine the concept of saint-
hood as found in the Spanish drama of the Golden Age. It is evident
that the saints were considered heroes, and were offered as patterns
of perfection. Their lives were held up not only for edification, but
as models that all should strive to imitate.I We wish to discover who
these saints were--Biblical or historical, male or female, founders or
patrons, etc.--and what they actually did, whether they died as mar-
tyrs, lived as hermits, fought infidels, or only lived a good life.
We wish also to discover something about the techniques of the plays,
and about the religious and theological concepts presented in them.
To provide background, we shall look into the history of the religious
drama in Spain, taking note of the liturgical drama, the early verna-
cular drama, and the various dramatic and non-dramatic forerunners of
the comedia de santos. Some attention to the prominent role of reli-
gion in the life of seventeenth-century Spaniards will be necessary;
and in one chapter an effort will be made to picture what is meant by
the term "saint."
Limitations of time have not permitted the inclusion of all
Golden Age comedies de santos.2 Because of his vast output, and be-
cause of the wide agreement that he represents the theology, the
customs, and even the speech of his day, Lope de Vega has been chosen
as representative author of comedies de santos. It has been said
In this country, a similar purpose is seen in Charles M.
Sheldon, In His Steps (Philadelphia: H. Altemus, 1899).
Appendix A contains a list of plays for the first- and
second-rate playwrights of the period.
that Lope's comedies devotas would alone be enough to justify his
existence as an author.1 Schevill declared that Lope's work repre-
sents the fullest achievement of the struggle of the sixteenth-
century Spanish theater for adequate dramatic expression;2 and
Valbuena asserted that Lope's comedies de santos provided the
model for such plays during the rest of the siglo de oro.3 There
can be no doubt that Lope de Vega may be considered representative of
his period; and it is hoped that the way in which he viewed the uni-
versal concept of sainthood, as we glean it from his plays, will give
us insight into his thinking and that of his day. "We know least
about the development of his mind, about his world of ideas. Some of
his choicest lines are readily overlooked in the midst of the flashy
material which surrounds them."4
There may be those who would object to this sort of investi-
gation on the grounds that it is partly "from an extra-literary
vantage point" or for "extra-literary purposes, e.g. sociological
and anthropological purposes."5 But it is difficult to imagine that
the importance of the comedia itself is greater than that of the
1Nicolas Gonzalez Ruiz, Piezas maestras del teatro teol6gico
espaiol (Madrid: Editorial Catolica, 1946), II, xxxv.
2Rudolph Schevill, The Dramatic Art of Lope de Vega together
with "La dama boba" (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1918),
3Angel Valbuena Prat, Historia de la literature espaiola
(Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1937), II, 239.
4Rudolph Schevill, Review of La preceptiva dramitica de Lope
de Vega, by M. Romera-Navarro, Hispanic Review, V (January, 1937), 96.
5Karl-Ludwig Selig, "Some Remarks on the Comedia and New
Criticism," Bulletin of the Comediantes, XII (Spring, 1960), 12.
human being--whether the author, or the people whose living and
thinking are represented by it.
Let us, before continuing, be sure to understand a few
basic terms. Comedia is equivalent to "play," without regard to
the tragic or comic ni.ture of the work. Comedian de santos will be
understood here as a play about the Biblical, historical, or legen-
dary life of a saint. To lend objectivity and reliability to the
study, only those plays considered authentic by Morley and Bruerton
have been included. By "saint" is meant a person listed in the
register of saints as drawn up by the Benedictine monks of St.
Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate.2
It is hoped that in this way we can avoid conclusions based
on plays of doubtful authenticity and, at the same time, examine
enough plays to form an adequate judgment. It is further hoped that
some strength can be added to the definition of comedia de santos--
a definition fuzzy as recently as 1958, when one writer listed
under comedies hagiograficas "los temas hagiograficoa (biblicos,
S. G. Morley and Courtney Bruerton, The Chronology of Lope
de Vega's Comedias (New York: The Modern Language Association of
America, 1940). The authorship of four works included here has been
questioned; Morley and Bruerton, however, believe that Lope wrote them.
The Book of Saints, fourth edition revised and enlarged
(New York: The Macmillan Co., 1947). The protagonists of two plays,
La devoci6n del rosario and La ninez del padre Rojas, are listed as
'"B." (blessed; beatified only) rather than saints (beatified and
canonized; on these procedures, see chapter IV). El ristico del
cielo is included because its protagonist, though not even beatified,
was clearly considered a saint by the populace.
de santos, piadosos).'1 He thus considered La hermosa lster a
comedia hagiografica; but if we restrict hagiografica to those
saints duly registered by the Church, we are at odds with the term,
for, though all the major and minor prophets and many other Old
Testament figures, such as Adam, Eve, Job, Abraham, Moses, and
David are saints,2 Esther is not. Obviously, it is impossible for
the comedia biblica and comedia de santos not to overlap. Small
wonder that Zamora Vicente, writing on the difficulties of a satis-
factory classification of Lope's dramas, declared, "Especialmente
en las comedies de santos, la confusion es enorme. . .
1Diego Marnn, La intriga secundaria en el teatro de Lope de
Vega (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1958), p. 83.
2That such figures of the Old Testament are saints is sone-
times overlooked by Protestants. But they have been duly inscribed
in the Roman Martyrology and listed in The Book of Saints. It is
true that in the Personas (the "cast") of the comedies de santos,
Old Testament figures are listed without the prefixed San; but in
El Serafin human (Obras dramaticaa de Lope de Vega, edici6n de la
Real Academia Espafiola [Madrid, 1890-1913 IV, 290), Fray Junipero
says that Moses and Peter are his favorite saints. In a letter
dated April 29, 1963, Dr. Helmut Hatzfeld of the Catholic University
of America, Washington, D. C., wrote:
"The just of the Old Testament . and the beati of the New
Testament are equally saints (de facto), although canonically
one could only call saints those canonized. However, in the
conscience of the Christian people--and by necessary inference
also of the audiences of the siglo de oro--the Old Testament
just are saints. They are seated together with the New
Testament saints in Dante's heavenly Rose. In Venice there is
a church San Moish. . .
3Alonso Zamora Vicente, Lope de Vega (Madrid: Editorial
Gredos, 1961), p. 233.
In this study, mention of a comedia de santos of Lope de
Vega will indicate a play known to be by Lope dealing with the life
of a saint or saints officially registered by the Catholic Church.1
lSome plays, such as El nacimiento de Cristo, treat but a
short period of time in the lie of the saint. Still another problem
of classification arises when we compare a play like Barlaan y
Josafat, with its penetrating philosophical questions, to a play
like El rdstico del cielo, about the blunders of a bobo-like lay
No attention is given here to the numerous appearances of
saints, in visions, dreams, or miracles, in non-religious plays.
Such appearances are listed in Linton L. Barrett, "The Supernatural
in the Spanish Non-Religious Comedia of the Golden Age" (unpublished
Ph. D. dissertation, Dept. of Romance Languages, University of North
DRAMATIC PRECURSORS OF THE COIEDIA DE SANTOS
The Liturgical Drama in Spain
It is perhaps best from the outset to admit the limitations
that weigh so heavily on the student of pre-seventeenth-century
drama. Freedley and Reeves declare, "It is with a feeling of dismay
that we plunge into the dark and turgid waters which lie between
the fall of Rome (476) and the capture of Constantinople (1453)
which precipitated the Renaissance. .. The creative arts were
temporarily lost. Or at least they can be said to have disappeared
from view."1 Crawford expresses a similar regret with reference
to Spain: "It is possible that no amount of study can fill in
satisfactorily the gap which exists between the precursors of Lope
and Lope himself."2 in the dark period before the Renaissance,
literary milestones are so few and geographical barriers so formidable
that directions of development cannot always be determined with cer-
tainty, and a strictly chronological approach would often appear
George Freedley and Jchn A. Reeves, A History of the Theater
(New York: Crown Publishers, 1941), p. 48.
J. P. W. Crawford, Spanish Drama Before Lope de Vega (rev.
ed.; London: Oxford University Press, 1937), p. 188.
A complete array of theories, however, is available to the
student of Spanish religious drama. They range from the brief sum-
nary of Perez de Ayala to the studies of Manuel Caiete, Adolfo Bonilla,
Beatrice Patt, Bruce Wardropper, Richard Donovan, and others. Pirez
de Ayala dismisses the problems by stating that the auto sacramental
and the conedia de santos are derived, though not always in clear
lineage, front the milagros, misterios, and moralidades "que durante
la Edad Media se representaban en todos los pueblos de Europa, general-
pmente en las catedrales, iglesias y monasterios."1 At the other ex-
treme is Adolfo Bonilla, who, entering into great detail, relates the
Spanish affinity for staged spectacles to the presence of Greeks in
the peninsula in remote times.
The question immediately arises as to why the history of the
medieval drama in Spain is so obscure. Darker blames "the paucity
of texts, notices and documents. Spain has indeed been unfortunate
in the loss of her earliest literary works, and it is in the drama,
both religious and secular, that this loss is perhaps most keenly
felt."3 It ma, well be asked, why this paucity and loss of documents?
In answer to this question, Donovan, citing various references to
manuscripts and collections, concludes, "It seems, then, that lack
1Ran6n Perez de Ayala, Las mascaras (Madrid: Renacimiento,
1924), II, 111-112.
2Adolfo Bonilla y San Martin, Las Bacantes o del origen del
teatro (Madrid: Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, 1921), p. 39.
3A. A. Parker, "Notes on the Religious Drama in Medieval Spain
and the Origins of the 'Auto Sacramental,'" Modern Language Review,
XXX (April, 1935), 171-172.
of curiosity, more than anything else, has been the leading cause
of the dearth of studies upon the liturgical drama of medieval Spain."I
Be that as it may, it is certain that the Romans, in Spain as
elsewhere, built theaters and supported dramatic performances. The
emperor Constantine, in his encouragement of oratorical contests,
fostered a custom which was encouraged until Justinian (ruled 527-565)
closed the Athenian schools. Even then, the contests persisted.
Paul the Silentiary, 'i'ho lived under Justinian, pronounced two eulogies
on the occasion of the founding of the church of St. Sofia, probably
with the aid of church singers and musicians from the Hippodrome.
The emperor Andronicus, an ardent worshiper of Mary, is supposed to
have presented a prize to Theodore Hyrtacenus for his encomium upon
the Virgin. Such recitations were given a theatric effect by the
choruses which chanted portions of the poem.
These half-literary, half-scenic performances may be a sug-
gestion as to why the empress Eudocia (401?-460; wife of Theodocius II)
had earlier written a poem, fragments of which are preserved, on the
legend of St. Cyprian. This legend and the story of Thecla, versi-
fied by Eudocia's contemporary, Basil, bishop of Seleucia, were
Richard B. Donovan, The Liturgical Drama in Medieval Spain
(Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1958), p. 6.
dJoseph S. Tunison, Dramatic Traditions of the Dark Ages
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1907), p. 82.
Ibid., pp. 82-83. Tunison does not make clear which
Andronicus this was. Four of their ruled between 1183 and 1378.
highly dramatic themes in the traditions of the early church. It is
likely that these elaborate poems were intended for recitation in
churches by choruses, with the representation of individual characters
Such interest was apparently not restricted to the seat of
the empire. The Gallican churches, from a time not now possible to
ascertain, read lives of the saints from the chancel on their
anniversaries.2 The Acts of martyrs and books containing accounts
of miracles wrought by the relics of martyrs were read to congregations
at least as early as the time of St. Augustine (354-430).3
Cheney points out that the last extant contemporary reference
to the Roman theater as such occurs in a letter dated 533. In sub-
sequent centuries we may picture wandering actors performing frag-
ments of plays at courts, private festivities, or crossroads. They
were no longer true actors, however, because with their sketches
they mixed juggling, knife-throwing, tumbling, tight-rope walking,
and even trained bears. One important new element was the recited
poetic story. But the minstrels were little more than a link,
a substitute for the theater from the sixth to the twelfth centuries.4
IIbid., pp. 83-84. The dramatic quality of the legend of
St. Cyprian can be inferred from Calderon's El m gico prodigioso.
2Ibid., p. 84.
3J. A. Macculloch, Medieval Faith and Fable (Boston: Marshall
Jones Co., 1932), p. 130. Macculloch here cites De Civ. Dei, xxii, 8.
4Sheldon Cheney, The Theatre, 3000 Years of Drama, Acting and
Stagecraft (rev. and enlarged ed.; New York: Longmans, 1952), pp.
Bonilla, pointing to the bullring as a descendant of the
amphitheater, maintains that the Romanization of Spain was more
intense than in any other province of the Empire, and that traditions
of Roman theatrical performances could not help persisting during the
Spanish Middle Ages.1 The bobo used by sixteenth-century dramatic
writers, especially Lope de Rueda, is traced to the stupidus of the
iimos. Both Bonilla3 and Cheney4 discuss the unsuccessful battle of
the church against the dancing, joyous processions and even supersti-
tions which survived from pagan times. The folk-drama instinct crops
up from the time of Constantine to the Renaissance, though informa-
tion is not sufficient for an argument about what a typical dramatic
performance might have been. The church, however, found these
problems very real, and in several cases--the festival of the Cir-
cumcision, for example--directly substituted a Christian for a pagan
observance. The persistence of pagan customs is attested by a
number of documents.5
Ecclesiastical prohibitions indicate that there was some sort
of dramatic presentation during the obscure time before the thirteenth
century. In 1210, Pope Innocent II forbade religious plays because
their secular elements resulted in more amusement than edification.6
Bonilla, pp. 46-48. 2Ibid., PP.42-43.
3Ibid., p. 48. 4Cheney, pp. 139-140.
See Bonilla, pp. 48-50.
James Pitzmaurice-Kelly, A New History of Spanish Literature
(London: Oxford University Press, 1926), p. 118.
The Council of Valladolid in 1228 prohibited the clergy from taking
part in groups "do estan ioglares e trashechadores," and that of Lerida
in 1229 instructed clerics "que no sean juglares, mimos, ni histriones."1
The edict in the first Partida (about 1255) of Alfonso el Sabio against
the juegos de escarnio is interpreted by Ca6ete to indicate two things:
that performances were popular among both clergy and lay members, and
that they were getting away from their original edifying purpose.2
In view of all this, Bonilla firmly holds the opinion that
it is absurd to derive the secular theater from the religious:
Comprendense bien, despues de esto, cuan absurd es hacer
derivar el Teatro profano medieval del sagrado. Si hubo en la
Bdad Media un Teatro liturgico, lo cual es indudable, se intro-
dujo a imitacion del pagano, y cogtra el espiritu y la letra
de los Padres y de los Concilios.
Miss Patt disagrees. She asserts that thirteenth-century
evidence that the clergy was beginning to be corrupted by secular
entertainers would not preclude eleventh-century derivation of the
drama from the liturgy.4 Donilla concedes that dramatic portrayal
as such suffered "un largul imo eclipse." Some monastic libraries
contained some of the works of Plautus and Terence, but the structure
Bonilla, pp. 49-50.
2Manuel Canete, Teatro espafol del siglo XVI (Madrid:
M. Tello, 1885), p. 73.
Ibid., p. 50. See also p. 69.
Deatrice P. Patt, "The Development of the Christmas Play in
Spain from the Origins to Lope de Vega" (unpublished Ph. D. disser-
tation, Bryn Mawr College, 1945), p. 7.
of their works was scarcely understood. The errors and past tenses
found in St. Isidore of Seville (5607-636) and other historians
indicate that as early as the seventh century the idea of a dramatic
performance as such had all but been lost.1 In view, then, of the
lack of contrary evidence, it is not considered unreasonable to
search for the roots of the comedies a lo divino in the sacred drama.
A traditional approach to the development of the religious
drama in Spain is to divide it into three periods: the liturgical
drama, from its origins to about 1200; the semi-liturgical drama,
from about 1200 to 1250; and the religious drama, or religious plays
in completely secularized form, from about 1250 onward. But a
weakness in this approach is that the liturgical plays sometimes
continued to be performed considerably later than the emergence of
the vernacular plays which were supposed to have evolved from them.
Mentioned as evidence ar the eighteenth-century performances at
Toledo of a shepherd's play and of a work referred to as La Sybila
de _r l n ch de Nsvid4d, both of which were given in the cathedral,
the former in Latin, the latter in Castilian.2
The Christian drama in Western Europe3 is customarily said
to have begun in the tenth century. The oldest extant text is
Bonilla, pp. 52-53.
2Donovan, pp. 38-39.
3Donovan, p. 8, claims that the Easter play is of Occidental
origin, and that attempts to relate the Western medieval theater to
forms from the Orient have been unsuccessful.
believed to be the one from St. Martial de Limoges, written between
923 and 934.1 But according to the records of St. Gall monastery,
in Switzerland, the monk Tutilo conceived the idea of inserting into
the Mass a song with words assigned to two or more singers or chanters.2
The intent was purely to edify: instead of having one singer tell
about the incident in Latin words that few could understand, the
matter would be pictured to the congregation by living impersonators.
The "scene" was simple: a priest, specially vested, sat by a
"sepulcher" while three others approached ar if searching for some-
"Quem quaeritis in sepulchro, o Christocolae?"
"Jesum Nazarenum crucifixum, o caelicolae."
"Non est hic, surrexit sicut praedixerat. Ite, nuntiate
quia surrexit a mortuis."3
The seekers, turning to the choir, announced, "Alleluia:
resurrexit Dominus." The angel, lifting a curtain to show the empty
tomb, said, "Venite et videte locum." There followed the anthem,
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro, and then the hymn Te Deum Laudamus.4
Thus this early effort at dramatization grew out of the Holy
Week rites, in which, during the Middle Ages, the Depositio and the
Elevatio were of central importance. The Depositio took place on
Good Friday between Mass and Vespers, and consisted of a solemn
Donovan, p. 11.
2George T. Northup, An Introduction to Spanish Literature
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1936), p. 53.
3Cheny, p. 141. Cf. Donovan, p, 9. 4Ibid.
procession after which a cross, a consecrated Host, or an image of
Christ was placed in a "sepulcher" to commemorate the death and burial
of the Saviour. The Blevatio took place on Easter morning, when the
taking up of the cross, Host, or image was understood as symbolizing
Christ's resurrection. This was often done privately, so that when the
congregation entered the church it would be reminded that Christ was
no longer in the tomb. When the Easter play began to be performed, the
Elevatio was a good preparation for it; the shroud which had been left
when the cross was unwrapped would be triumphantly shown to the people
by the angels or the three Marys.
The Holy Week practices probably helped suggest the drama;
but the immediate source of the liturgical play was the phenomenon of
trope-singing. Originally a musical term, trope in the Middle Ages
came to be applied more frequently to the words set to music. "In
this literary sense, a trope may be defined as a verbal amplification
of some passage of the liturgy, either as an introduction, an inter-
polation, or a conclusion, or any combination of these."2
Such texts were numerous from the ninth century onward. Of
the new compositions, by far the most important was the Quem quaeritis.
The earliest evidence of its dramatization is found in an English
manuscript, the Regularis Concordia, composed between 965 and 975 by
1Donovan, pp. 8-10.
2Ibid., p. 10. Donovan here offers the following examples of
interpolations in the final Ite, missa est and its response, Deo
gratias: "Ite nunc in pace, spirits sanctus super vos sit, iam missa
est," and "Deo semper laudes agite, in corde gloriam et gratias."
a Benedictine, St. Ethelwold of Winchester. In the discussion of
Holy Week we find explicit instructions for the staging of an Easter
play.1 It is likely that the play was brought to England from the
We know, in any case, that by the year 1000 the new Easter
play was flourishing in Prance, England, and Germany. Before
long, other scenes associated with the Resurrection began to
appear in the piece: the Marys on their way to the merchant's
shop to purchase ointments, the race of Peter and John to the
tomb, the apparition of Christ to Mary Magdalen. On Easter
Monday a play was introduced commemorating the appearance of
the risen Christ to the disciples on the road to Enmaus, a 2
dramatic production which came to be known as the Peregrinus.
Thoughts turned naturally to creating plays for the other im-
portant season of the liturgical year. The story of the miraculous
birth, the angels, the shepherds, and the wise men invited dramatiza-
tion. The trope composed for Christmas Day was obviously modelled
after the Easter Quem quaeritis, for it begins, "Que quaeritis in
praesepe, pastores, dicite?" Donovan says the first such text is of
the eleventh century.3
Miss Patt suggests that the popular custom of "Hallelujah
singing" may have encouraged the development of the Christmas play.
Around a praesepium with figures of Mary, Joseph, an angel, and
possibly an animal or two, the clergy sang the antiphon "Hodie
lIbid., p. 12. Ibid., p. 13.
3Ibid., p. 14. Miss Patt (pp. 14-17) thinks the praesepe
may have played a part in Christmas liturgy as early aa the end of
the fourth century. The empress Helena in 335 placed one in the
basilica she had built over the spot believed to be Christ's birth-
place. But it was the famous praesepe of St. Francis in 1223 that
served to make the manger an object of devotion throughout Europe.
natus est Christus." The people responded, "Gloria in excelsis deo,
alleluia!" Familiar songs and mimic dances followed.1
Unlike the Easter play, which usually evolved into a play at
Matins, the dramatic element at Christmas was found at Lauds. The
antiphon Quem vidistis, pastores, dicite, or another similar one,
Pastores, dicite, quidnam vidistis, formed the core of the play.2
The custom of having choir boys sing Lauds while dressed as shepherds
was quite common in France in the Middle Ages, and, after spreading to
Spain, flourished there in some places until the nineteenth century.3
The Officium Stellae or Magi play, which began to flourish
in the twelfth century, seems also have overshadowed the Quem
quaeritis in praesepe. Usually given on January 6, the Magi play
portrayed the arrival of the Wise Men. The Limoges text, of which
the date is unknown, indicates three scenes: the kings and the
star, the mute oblation scene at the manger, and the departure of
the kings as the choir sang "In Bethlehem natus est rex coelorun."
1Patt, pp. 17-18. This unofficial custom was first mentioned
in 633, when the Fourth Council of Toledo forbade it during Lent.
2Donovan, p. 15. Antiphonal singing as an element contributing
to the development of the drama is mentioned in Patt, p. 1, and is dis-
cussed by Karl Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church (London: Oxford
University Press, 1933), II, 9-20.
3Donovan, p. 15. The same writer observes (p. 17) that one
possible reason for the small number of Officium Pastorum texts is
that in sone churches the Ordo Prophetarum, or Procession of the
Prophets, was presented instead. This play developed from a sermon,
once attributed to St. Augustine but now thought to have been written
by Quodvultdeus, bishop of Carthage (437-453). In the course of the
sermon, Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, and others were called upon for testi-
mony concerning the divinity of Christ. Prophetic passages from such
figures as Virgil and the Brythraean Sibyl were cited as the final
proof. Before long the personages themselves were speaking instead
of the reader.
A thirteenth-century text from Rouen adds the angel's
warning that they return by a different route. The figure of Herod
was added, and through his expressions of anger he became a center of
comic interest in the play.I The Spanish Auto de los Reyes Magos,
written toward the middle of the twelfth century, is unfortunately
The Annunciation2 also received some dramatic treatment. Later
the Visitation3 was added. Also during the Advent season came plays
based on eschatological subjects and on the Purification, or presenta-
tion of Jesus in the temple (February 2).
The medieval custom of electing a boy bishop for the December
28 Feast of the Holy Innocents was as common in Spain as in the rest
of Europe. Bordering on drama, the occasion involved the boy's taking
the place of the bishop, dressing in episcopal attire, giving the
bishop's blessing, and delivering a satirical sermon.
Elaboration and development in the early attempts at drama
continued from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries, with increased
wording and directions for acting and setting and with a gradual
change in language from Latin to a mixture of Latin and the verna-
cular and finally to the popular tongue. Eventually the mystery
1Patt, pp. 25-36, and Young, II, 33-53.
2Luke 1:26-38. The date was changed by the Council of Toledo
in 656 from March 25 to December 18.
3Luke 1:39-55. 4patt, pp. 46-48.
Donovan, p. 65.
play, or complete play on a Biblical subject, was born, but we cannot
say just when.1
Diaz-Plaja2 and Wardropper3 use the term misterio to include
episodes from the lives of the saints. Cheney4 and Valbuena Prat,5
however, prefer to use the term miracles rather than mysteres to
refer to those plays about the miracles of the Virgin or the lives
of the saints. Diaz-Plaja asserts that the nisterio gave rise to
the auto historical and, eventually, to the comedies de santos, while
the symbolic moralidad, with its abstract characters, led to the
auto aleg6rico, later known as the auto sacramental. The auto
sacramental is defined as a one-act allegorical work designed for
performance during the Corpus Christi festival, usually written in
praise of the Eucharist or of the Virgin Mary.6
Parker differs in that he uses the term miracles to include
both Biblical subjects and lives of the saints. He sees in the
"clumsy and often childish allegory" of the sixteenth-century autos
and farsas an indication that the morality type, in vogue in other
lCheney, pp. 142-143.
2Guillercro Diaz-Plaja, Historia de la literature espaiola
(Havana: Editorial Minerva, 1954), p. 62.
Nicolas Gonzalez Ruiz, Piezas maestras del teatro teologico
espaiol (Madrid: Imprenta Saez, 1946), 1, xv.
parts of Europe in the fifteenth century, was virtually unknown at
that time in Spain, and did not have time to flourish before the
medieval conditions encouraging its development had altered. The
only example even approaching the type is the Catalonian Mascaron,
part narrative and part dialogue, in which the Devil accuses Human
Race before God the Judge, but is defeated by the Virgin Mary as the
prisoner's advocate. This absence of morality plays is seen by Parker
as substantial proof of the "extraordinarily late development of the
Spanish religious drama."1
He goes on to point out that in most of Europe, liturgical
dialogues developed into miracle plays, performed publicly by the
guilds, in the thirteenth century; in Spain, however, it is not until
the fourteenth century that the transition is noted, and not until the
fifteenth that fully developed miracle plays can be cited.2 In seeking
an explanation for the delay in the evolution of the drama in Spain,
some historical factors need to be considered. One of these was the
Moorish occupation. 'The Arab mind resists the theater and it is a
fact that wherever they are in control the theater diminishes. .. ."3
Secondly, it must be remembered that during the Arab domination the
liturgical rite in Spain was different from that of other European
countries. Usually called the Mozarabic rite, it was really a
Hispanic rite, for it represented the practice instituted by the
1Parker, pp. 171, 179. 2Ibid., pp. 171-172.
3preedley and Reeves, p. 61.
early preachers of the Gospel, and, during the Visigothic period,
such important leaders as St. Isidore of Seville and St. Leader. It
is not impossible, of course, for the liturgical drama to have grown
simultaneously in both the Mezarabic and the Roman-French rites; but
the lack of examples and the long periods involved make this a most
unlikely possibility The date of the coming to Spain of the Roman-
French rite, then, is of importance.
In Catalonia, Charlemagne evidently extended his liturgical
reforms to the principal monasteries and churches of the reconquered
land not long after the year 800.2 But influence from Europe did not
reach Castile until 1004, when King Sancho the Great of Navarre
came to the throne. Influence was felt through two channels: Cata-
lonia and Gascony. In Catalonia, Oliva, the influential abbot of
Ripoll, was a friend and correspondent of the king; in Gascony were
counts related to Sancho who were introducing Cluniac reforms in
their own kingdom. In 1020 a group of Spanish monks, including one
named Paterno, lived at the Burgundian monastery. Paterno, reputed
for sanctity, returned to Navarre in 1024 and was made abbot of San
Juan de la Peia, where he soon introduced the usages and customs of
Cluny, thus founding the first Cluniac house west of Catalonia. In
this same monastery, in 1071, the Roman-French rite was accepted.
Rulers who succeeded Sancho often put the monasteries directly in the
Ibid., pp. 20-21. The Hispanic ritual was an older, simpler
tradition. Though Prance accepted developments originated in Rome,
Spain, with characteristic independence, continued to use her own rite.
2lbid., p. 26.
hands of the French. The Mozarabic rite was officially abolished
around the year 10, at the Council ef Burgos.1 In 10I5, Toledo was
reconquered, and the Cluniac abbot of Sahagin, Bernard of Aquitaine,
was named Archbishop of Toledo. The cathedral library at Toledo still
contains manuscripts revealing French rites and saints.2
Annexation of Spanish religious houses to the monastery of
Cluny continued on a large scale from 1060 to 1150; and many houses
which did not become Cluniac priories accepted their customs all the
The coming of the Cluniac Order brought not only the change in
ritual, but a change in script from traditional peninsular to Carolin-
gian and a new political awareness in dealing with other courts. These
three aspects of te Cluniac innovations have been said to have affected
matters literary by influencing poetic forms in traditional production
(the mester de juglarfa), initiating the master de clerecia, and
"desarrollando eon esplandor el teatro religioso."4
The importance of Toledo as an eleventh-century focal point
of French influence has just been seen. The twelfth-century Auto
de los Reyes Magos, a 147-line fragment believed to remain from
one of the oldest medieval vernacular plays, was discovered in the
library of this church. The court of Alfonso X in the thirteenth
century was at Toledo, and he speaks of Christmas, Epiphany, and
lIbid., p. 21. 2Ibid., pp. 22-24. 3rb.d., p. 25.
4Francisco L6pez Estrada, Introducci6n a la literature medieval
espaAola (Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1952), p. 130.
Easter plays put on by clerics. Two types of liturgical plays are
found at Toledo: a brief shepherd scene during Christmas Lauds, the
oldest record of which is found in a fourteenth-century breviary, and
the dramatic monologue of the Sibyl, apparently in use with costumes
and possibly vernacular language by 1500. Thus we see that Lauds at
Toledo in 1500 were conducted in much the same way as in Dax, Narbomne,
and Cambrai in France in the Middle Ages. Conspicuously absent from
Toledo are references to the Visitatio Sepulchri and Ordo Stellae;
there is, in fact, no mention of dramatic activities at Easter or
What is evidently the oldest extant Spanish liturgical play
is found in two late eleventh-century manuscripts written in the
Benedictine monastery of Silos, near Burgos. Both manuscripts are
breviaries and contain an elementary type of Visitatio Sepulchri.
Silos, it is observed, was free of the influence of Cluny, no doubt
because its great Saint Dominic had already instituted reforms there.
At Compostella, a codex dating from about 1450 contains directions
for staging an Easter play, the text of which is given both in this
codex and in a manuscript written at the beginning or middle of the
twelfth century. This is a fair indication that in many churches,
liturgical plays remained the same for centuries. Two Quem quaeretis
tropes have been found at Huesca; they must have been written after
the city was taken from the Moors in 1096. A fifteenth-century
1Donovaa, pp. 30-50.
Huesca ordinarium,1 however, though it gives a detailed description
of the liturgical ceremonies conducted there, makes no mention of
plays. In Zaragoza, at the shrine of Nuestra Sefora del Pilar, is
found in a fifteenth-century missal the same Quem quaeretis trope as
the one sung at Huesca. Since Zaragcza was reconquered in 1118, the
trope may well have been borrowed from Huesca. This same library
also contains a Consueta antigua--consueta being the Catalan term for
ordinarium--which indicates a kind of Baster representation by means
of statues, but without impersonation. Also found here is a copy of
a liturgical work from the Cathedral of Granada, entitled Las buenas
y loables costumbres e ceremonies que se guardian en la sancta yglesia
de Granada y en el coro de ella. The presence of copies at Granada,
Zaragoza, and Segovia indicates that customs sometimes spread from
one diocese to another. This work contains a description of a vivid
Visitatio Sepulchri, including a loud and sudden falling of the stone,
the reports of two guns, the sounding of trumpets, and the emergence
of two boys dressed like angels. Probably composed between 1500 and
1530, it may have come from anywhere. At Palencia, a simplified Easter
play was performed from 1500 to at least 1550; and in the cathedral at
Le6n, the Sibylline prophecy was sung, from at least the fifteenth
century onward, in much the same way as it was at Toledo.2
At Gerona, documents indicate a rather complex performance
at the Christmas season of 1360, with special mention of profetas and
lInstructions for a ceremonial procedure.
2Donovan, pp. 51-65.
sibilas. A liturgical play on the martyrdom of St. Stephen was regu-
larly performed in the Gerona cathedral at the second vespers after
Christmas, evidently beginning in 1381. At Valencia, the Representacio
de la gloriosa Nativitat de Jesuchrist was customarily performed, from
the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. St. Mary and St. Joseph,
angels, seraphs, cherubs, prophets, and about twenty-five shepherds and
shepherdesses took part in the performance. The next mention of a
Christmas play at Valencia is in 1440, when Eve--who is a saint, inci-
dentally--is mentioned as one of the characters. Another play, La
Palometa, dealt with the manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the day
of Pentecost, and by the middle of the fourteenth century was received
with such enthusiasm that Bishop Vidal de Blanes had to issue an order
restraining the public from assisting with the sound effects. Years
later, in 1467, this same popular enthusiasm produced a spark which
ignited and destroyed the trappings of the great altar. A fourteenth-
century missal from Urgel shows that there were religious performances
there on holy days, but details are not given. In 1482, fray Iiigo de
Mendeza wrote his Vita Christi, a long narrative poem in which a small
shepherd play is included. In 1487 the archbishop of Zaragoza, "sin
omitir gasto," staged in the Church of the Saviour a performance of
La representaci6n de la Nativitat de Nuestro Redentor "por servicio y
contemplaci6n de los sefores Reyes Cat6licos, del Infante don Juan y de
la Infanta Dona Isabel."1
1Patt, pp. 66-81. See also Bonilla, pp. 77 and 89, and
Cafete, p. 93.
Three plays written for the Feast of the Assumption, though
still intended for performance in the church, are indicative of the
gradual change from the simple liturgical play to the more complex
miracle play. One of these is an undated fragment which was probably
performed at Valencia, perhaps as early as the late fourteenth century;
another is the Catalan Representaci6 de la asumpci6 de madona Santa
Maria, of the late fourteenth century; and the third is the well-known
Misterio de Elche, still performed today, and probably written in the
fifteenth century. Late liturgical plays, it can be concluded, were
not monopolized by the cities; on the contrary, the smaller the town,
the more jealously it preserved its own special play. At Vallibona,
in the province of Castellon, a short dramatization of the sacrifice
of Isaac survives as part of the Corpus Christi procession, and some
villages in the north of Castell6n perform on his feast day a play
in honor of St. Anthony the Abbot. In Mallorca, two fragments of a
play on the conversion of St. Mary Magdalene have been found in a
convent. Written in the vernacular, this evidently original work was
created in the fourteenth century. Mallorcan liturgical plays, called
consuetas, cobles, auctos, obras, and representations, reached their
highest development around 1420. They are suggestive of miracles in
their wide variety of subject matter, drawn from the Old and New
Testaments and the lives of the saints.1
1Parker, pp. 174-175.
Early Religious Drama in the Vernacular
The plays listed in the preceding paragraphs are not very
numerous for an area as large as all of Spain west of Catalonia.
Were no more liturgical plays put on in this part of Spain during the
Middle Ages? If not, how can the lack be explained?
J. M. Font Rius1 suggests that while the diocese was normally
the basic unit of church organization, in Spain the parroquias seemed
more vital, especially as the Reconquest went on and churches were
reclaimed or built with the best view toward the needs of local
residents rather than toward the overall organization. This practice
may have meant a greater individuality of churches and monasteries
than in other parts of Europe. Donovan proposes three reasons for
the apparently sporadic and limited manner in which the liturgical
drama penetrated Castile and non-Catalonian Spain. First, the Roman-
French rite was brought into Spain as a reform, and monks and clerics
were probably not enthusiastic about such novel and non-essential
ceremonies as liturgical plays. Second, many of the monks engaged
in the establishment of the new rite came, as we have seen, from the
Burgundian monastery of Cluny; and no such plays have ever been found
there or at any of its priories. Third, the late date of the change
of liturgical rite--the last two decades of the eleventh century--
coincided with another important historical phenomenon: the rise
1Jos Maria Pont Rius, Instituciones medievales espaRolas.
La organizaci6n polftica, economic y social de los reiaos crisTianos
de la Reconquista (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones
Cientificas, 1949), pp. 100-101.
of vernacular literature. The Auto de los Reyes Magos, ascribed
by Menendez Pidal to the middle of the twelfth century, is taken
by some historians to indicate an established tradition of vernacu-
lar drama. Commenting on the Auto de los Rcyes Magos and the French
narrative poems of the infancy of Jesus, Donovan says the numerous
similarities "establish beyond a doubt that there was a direct rela-
tion between them. .. ." This would indicate that vernacular drama
was in progress before 1150. Is it not logical that religious plays
in the vernacular might be found at the same time vernacular poetry
began to achieve prominence, around the first half of the twelfth
century? It would help explain the lack of liturgical plays; if
plays were being written in Spanish, there would be no need to intro-
duce the earlier and more elementary Latin plays. Pointing out that
probably many more vernacular than liturgical plays have been lost,
Donovan concludes, "In our opinion, whatever the reason, and whatever
the date, when religious plays began to be introduced in Castile on a
large scale, they were already in the vernacular."
The liturgical drama is, however, considered important by
L6pez Estrada, who suggests that the autos which grew out of it
heightened popular interest and participation in the solemn religious
festivals, and that this spirit not only persisted through the period
Donovan, pp. 68-73. The liturgical drama has nevertheless
been discussed in this study because of the uncertainties both in the
time element and in the relationship between liturgical and vernacular
drama. There simply are not enough data to establish with assurance
whether or not the liturgical drama gave rise to the vernacular drama,
nor, if it did, how heavy the influence was.
of development of the secular drama but was present in the religious
plays of the Siglo de Oro.1 That medieval sentiment should so long
have been preserved has been attributed to the fact that "the story
of the bloody and protracted strife with the infidel remained im-
pressed on the popular memory, and every sacred building seemed to
record the triumphs of a believing ancestry."2
The late beginnings of the religious drama in Spain appear
to be in sharp contrast with its later flourishing, hardly equalled
anywhere else, especially in the time of Lope de Vega.
... II faut constater que le theatre religieux en Espagne, don't
nous ne pouvons reconatituer lea origins que par approximation,
don't nous ne connaissons presque pas l'histoire avant l'lclotion
contemporaine de la Renaissance, a eu tout i coup un diveloppement
don't la richesse c mpense implement la pauvrete, rielle ou appa-
rente, des debuts.
That this poverty must have been more apparent than real is
suggested by the fact that the often-quoted passage in the thirteenth-
century code of law, the Siete Partidas, not only proves the existence
of Christmas and Easter plays in Spain, but indicates the cultivation
of the drama to such an extent that a secular forn known as juegos de
escarnio had developed, and that these, pushing their way into the
churches, were so secular that they were a cause for scandal.4
Lopez Estrada, p. 126.
Karl August von Hase, Miracle Plays and Sacred Dramas, a
Historical Survey, trans. A. W. Jackson (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin
Co., 1880), p. 91,.
G. Cirot, "Pour combler les lacunes de 1'histoire du drame
religieux en Espagne avant G6mez Manrique," Bulletin Hispanique,
XLV (1943), 61.
4parker, pp. 170-171.
Further proof of the early existence of vernacular drama in
Spain is, of course, the Auto de los Reyes Magos. Although it is
usually cited as the first milestone in the development of the Spanish
vernacular theater, the suggestion has been made that the freedom of
its dialogue gives cause for doubting that Spanish dramatic literature
made its first trial with this work.1
Unfortunately, other dramatic works of this time, if they did
exist, cannot be cited; and, in examining those centuries preceding
this period, a certain caution must be exercised because of the inde-
pendence from classic traditions of drama in modern languages. This
independence is especially striking when viewed against two pertinent
facts: a great dramatic tradition had existed earlier, and ruined
classic playhouses were still to be seen on the European landscape.2
Searching through the years following the Auto de los Reyes Magos,
we find that, except for the Siete Partidas, already mentioned, we
must wait until the fifteenth century for documentary evidence that
the misterios existed and were being performed outside the church.
One such document is the Cr6nica del Condestable Miguel Lucas de
Iranzo, covering the period 1459 to 1471, in which mention is made
that almost every day of importance, religious or secular, was
marked by "momos de falsos visages, farsas, representaciones y
Bonilla, p. 70. See also Donovan, pp. 68-73.
Cheney, p. 143.
nisterios, todo profusamente exornado de musicas y cantares que
facian perder el seso a los circunstantes, segun la ingenua ex-
presion del cronista."1
In the account books of the church at Huesca has been found
interesting evidence of fifteenth-century plays in honor of St.
Vincent, a local martyr. These were, "in all likelihood, in the ver-
nacular and apart from any strict association with the liturgy."2
The development of extra-liturgical drama in Spain is usually
related to the festival of Corpus Christi. Although it was established
by Urban IV in 1263, the first procession in its observance seems not
to have taken place until 1322, in Barcelona. Documents of 1394 speak
of representaciones, but these were merely tableaux or cuadros al
vivo on carts, In Barcelona, they eventually reached 108 in number,
practically exhausting Old and New Testament themes and events from
the lives of the local saints. How many of them became plays cannot
In Valencia, the Corpus Christi procession was inaugurated
in 1355. It consisted of carts bearing a series of tableaux called
entramesos, and later--beginning in 1373--roques. A document of
1400 makes reference to scenery and musicians. Represented were St.
George and the dragon, Jacob and the ladder, St. Peter and the keys,
1Jose Amador de los Rios, Historia eritica de la literature
espaiola (Madrid: Jos6 Rodriguez, 1861-65), VII, 476. (Italics
are his, indicating the words of the chronicler.)
2Donovan, p. 57.
3Bonilla, p. 77, and Parker, p. 176.
and Noah and the ark. For a long while these figures were statues;
not until 1400 and 1404 do we find evidence that some of them were
being replaced by men. In 1414, rudimentary dramatic action appeared,
and by 1425 some of the tableaux could be called plays of a sort.
In 1451 first mention was made of a roque about St. Christopher, but
it was evidently a matter of a statue. Finally, in 1527, the account
books list a salary paid to a man to portray the saint, but there is
still no mention of other actors with whom he could have carried on a
dialogue. In 1553 we find among the misteris one entitled Cristofol
ab sos pelegrins; the introduction of the pilgrims seems to have been
the last step in the development of this play, which is assumed to be
the Auto sacramental de San Crist6bal mentioned by Bonilla, who must
also have been unable to see it, since he merely expresses doubt as to
whether it deals with the Eucharist. Another play, the Misteri de la
degoll, is a fusion of three roques: the adoration of the Magi,
the flight to Egypt, and the slaughter of the Innocents. A rather
complicated Catalan work, the Representaci6 de la asumpci6 de Madona
Santa Maria, may have been written in the fourteenth century. In
this play, Jesus is forced to attack three diablillos and whack them
with the cross before they will yield the soul of Mary, which Lucifer
has given them special orders to hold.1
Some other works in Catalan have been collected by Jose Romeu
Figueras,2 who traces their development from the liturgical drama,
1Parker, pp. 175-176; Wardropper, pp. 45-47; Bonilla, pp. 80-83.
2Teatre hagiogralic (Barcelona: Editorial Barcino, 1957),
especially those works dealing with Christmas and Easter. This
collection contains the following works: from the twelfth century,
an Epistola farcida de Sant Bsteve; from the fourteenth century,
an Eplstola farcida de Sant Joan and a Serm6 del Bisbeto; and from
the sixteenth century, Misteri valencia de Sant Crist6fol, Consueta
de Santa Agata, Consueta de Sant Eudald, Consueta de Sant Francesc,
Consueta de Sant Jordi, Passi6 de Sant Jordi, Consueta de Sant
Crist6fol, Consueta del martiri de Sant Crist6fol, Consueta de Sant
Mateu, Consueta de Sant Crispi y Sant Crispinia, Consueta de Sant
Pere, and Consueta de Sant Pau. The Legenda Aurea is named as source
for these, with the Passio de Sant Jordi as an exception.
In view of the fact that Cluniac influence and the French-
Roman rite were, as we have already seen, established much earlier
in Catalonia than in Castilian-speaking regions, it is to be expected
that, in the Corpus Christi dramatizations, Castile and Andalucia
should reveal a somewhat different development. Nothing is known of
processions at Seville, for example, until 1454, when one roca (compare
Barcelona's 108) carried persons representing Christ, the Virgin, the
four Evangelists, St. Dominic, and St. Francis. Plays are not men-
tioned until the following century--the century in which Lope de Vega
It might be observed here that in Seville the cuadros al vivo
did not produce much in the way of real drama; instead, liturgical
plays continued to develop inside the church, centuries after they
1Parker, p. 177, and Wardropper, p. 49.
had disappeared from other European countries, until they reached the
state of an elementary auto.1
To summarize: while elsewhere in Europe the full cycle of
miracles (interventions of the Virgin or the saints in human affairs)
was complete in the fourteenth century, in Spain there were only
tableaux. A few of these did eventually assume dramatic form, and
their successors were the fifteenth-century mystery plays (subjects
from the Holy Scriptures and from saints' legends). These mystery
plays sometimes ran on for days in an effort to cover the whole Jewish
dispensation or all of the acts of the apostles.2 At the beginning
of the sixteenth century, religious drama in Spain was still poorly
defined. The terms misterio and moralidad cannot be used so pre-
cisely as they can with reference to the rest of Europe. Wardropper
uses seudomisterios to describe those works with a Biblical or hagio-
logical episode as theme, and seudomoralidades to indicate those which
are allegorical expositions of some moral or religious problem. The
seudomisterios relating to the Corpus Christi festival flourished in
the sixteenth century, and even in the time of Calderon competed with
the autos sacramentales.3
Parker also sees the sixteenth century as marked by the first
fully developed miracles or misterios, commonly termed autos, and by
"belated moralities," that is, the allegorical plays usually called
1Wardropper, p. 49. 2Ibid., pp. 143-144.
3Ibid., pp. 149-150.
farsas. Developing from a fusion of the two came the auto sacramen-
tal, which owed its subject matter chiefly to the autos and its
allegorical technique mainly to the farsas.1
A few works called farsas sacramentales had usually directed
their allegory toward the mystery of the Eucharist; but it is erro-
neous to trace the auto sacramental to the farsa sacramental only.
Auto or aucto, from the Latin actus, originally meant nothing more
than a one-act presentation. The fully developed auto sacramental,
though usually written in praise of the Eucharist or of the Virgin
Mary, sometimes dealt with Biblical or hagiological subject matter,
and Calder6n himself made a distinction between auto sacramental
alegorico and auto historical alegorico. Thus it cannot be insisted
that the auto sacramental is always eucharistic. Most autos sacra-
mentales, as has been pointed out, arose from a fusion of miracles
with moralities, or of autos with farsas. Some of them it is true,
are highly developed moralities. Apart from the difference in
length between the auto sacramental and the three-act comedia, the
essential distinction of the former is the allegory derived from the
farsas. The autos, on the other hand--that is, the early autos or
misterios--when left to themselves gave rise to the comedias bCblicas
and the comedies de santos.2
That such works survived and eventually reached technical and
poetical perfection in the hands of such dramatists as Lope and
1Parker, pp. 180-181. See also Gonzilez Ruiz, I, xvi.
2parker, p. 181.
Calderon has been explained by Parker1 as the result of the distinc-
tive backwardness of the early Spanish theater. He asserts that
unlike the French miracle and morality plays, sixteenth-century
Spanish miracles and moralities did not fall into decay and disrepute
before the appearance of talented and professional dramatists who were
able to make the most of the artistic potentialities of such works.
The dramatists now gave them a style and spirit which appealed to the
cultured listener; at the same time, the continued use of popular
subject matter--such as legends about saints--, occasional injections
of humor, especially in the form of the increasingly popular bobo,
and other devices meant that there was no lessening of appeal to the
It must also be observed that the miracle and morality plays
had embodied a great national ideal: the preservation of the faith.
For centuries the struggle had been against the Moslems; now it was
against the Protestant Reformation.
S. Cuando el Renacimiento italiano vino con su espiritu
esceptico, no pudo trocar este patriotico y national caricter
de la religion n en spafa. Abjurar la fe era renegar de la
heroic historic de ocho siglos. Cada espafol, que lo fuera
de verdad, sentfa que estaba personalmente identificado con
la religion del Bstado.2
Faith, continues Professor Bell, was intimately joined to the national
temperament.3 And this temperament, with its religious and patriotic
1Ibid., pp. 181-182.
2Aubrey F. G. Bell, El renacimiento espanol, trans. E. Julia
Martfnez (Zaragoza: Editorial Ebro, 1944), p. 225.
fervor somewhat flavored with scholasticism, contributed to the
"gradual y bien equilibrado desarrollo" of the Renaissance in Spain.1
Here, the Renaissance did not cause an abrupt break with medieval life
and culture, but to some extent revivified them; and the medieval
religious drama, drawing its life from the people though owing its
form to cultured poets, became "one of the most national manifestations
of Spanish literature and . something splendid and unique in the
history of the stage."2
Dramatic Precursors of the Comedia de Santos
It is time now to turn to some of the specific dramatic works,
other than the liturgical and Corpus Christi works already described,
which can be said to be precursors of the comedia de santos.
Dramatic literature began to take on distinctive character-
istics in the early part of the fifteenth century with the Comedieta
de Ponza of the Marques de Santillana (1398-1458) and with the Danza
de la Muerte, both poems in arte mayor. The Representaci6n del
Nacimiento de Nuestro Senor of G6mez Manrique (14127-1491?) is the
oldest extant dramatic work among those following the Auto de los Reyes
Magos.3 "In the simplest liturgical tradition,"4 Manrique's Represen-
tacion was of dramatic character and was undoubtedly acted. It has a
lIbid., p. 224. 2parker, p. 182.
3Julio Milego, Estudio hist6rico-crftico; el teatro en Toledo
durante los siglos XVI y XVII (Valencia: Manuel Pau, 1909), pp. 40-42.
4Parker, p. 179.
certain psychological interest; for example, Joseph complains about
his dishonor until Mary prays for his enlightenment and an angel
reveals to him that she is pure.1 It might be noted that there are
at least five saints in this play: Mary, Joseph, and the angels
Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael.2 Another interesting feature of the
work is its combination of opposite moods, joy at the birth of the
Saviour and sadness upon contemplating the Passion to come. Here is
seen a hint of the fusion of tragic and comic elements later called
the tragicomedia, with the Celestina as its earliest and greatest
Another work by G6mez Manrique is the Lamentaciones hechas
para Semana Santa, a finished form of the Planctus Mariae. Both of
these works were probably performed in a church or private chapel.4
The line between liturgical and profane works, it will be
observed, is still very thin. Hardly less secular than these works
by Gomez Manrique were the Vita Christi of 1482 and the elaborate
Nativity play of 1487, already mentioned.5 And as a further indica-
tion of the increasingly secular nature of church performances, we
have the protest of the Council of Aranda in 1473 against the abuses
surrounding the celebrations of the Nativity and of the days of St.
1Bonilla, pp. 82-83. See also Patt, pp. 69-70.
2he Protestant reader may be surprised to find that angels
and the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament are duly
inscribed in the register of Catholic saints. See chapter IV.
3patt, p. 75. 4parker, p. 179.
Above, p. 25.
Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents. The Toledo Council, also
of 1473, prohibited church presentations. 'These prohibitions cer-
tainly indicate that by the fifteenth century plays within the church
had become sufficiently developed to have led to various abuses."1
One other fifteenth-century work known to have been performed
elsewhere than in the church was a Magi play acted at Jaen for Easter,
1461, in the palace of don Miguel Lucas, Constable of Castile. Caiete
claims not to wish to argue with those who consider Encina the "primi-
tivo creador del teatro national. Pero," he continues,
si es cierto, como se ve en la curiosisima Relacion de los fechos
del muy magnifico e mas virtuoso senor el sefor don Miguel Lucas
muy digno Condestable de Castilla, que por lo menos desde 1460 se
hacian ya fuera del templo representaciones con rico y vistoso
aparato, claro esti que no se puede aplicar en justicia el titulo
de creador de la eacena espafola a quien rep esent6 su primers
egloga pastoral la noche de Navidad de 1492.
Before turning to Juan del Encina, however, we must mention
the Celestina, or Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, of Fernando de
Rojas. Written sometime in the last decade of the fifteenth century,
this long novel in dialogue form is of great importance for its
characterization and its realism. The list of sixty-three sixteenth-
century editions in Spain is some indication of its wide influence.
We shall now look briefly at the sixteenth century, endeavoring
to mention those works and directions of dramatic development which
might have influenced the comedia de santos.
1Patt, p. 82.
Canete, p. 48. This is, of course, the same document as that
cited by Amador de los Rios; see above, p. 31, note 1.
In 1492, Juan del Encina (1468?-1529?) presented a Christmas
play in the hall of the palace of his patron, the Duke of Alba.
Encina thus may be said to have been the first professional playwright
to create texts of Nativity plays.1 The title of this work was Egloga
representada en la Noche de Navidad de Nuestro Salvador; but, al-
though they spoke of the miraculous birth, its shepherd characters
devoted many coplas to praising the duke and duchess. A second egloga
given immediately afterward portrayed the shepherds' celebration of
the Saviour's birth. In 1496 a Cancionero of Encina's works appeared,
in which, following the two eglogas, were found two representaciones:
La passion de nuestro Redentor, among the characters of which St.
Veronica appears, and La santiaima resurreccion de Cristo, in which
the disciples, near the tomb, discuss the Master's appearing to them.
These two eglogas, for their lack of dramatic action, are not sugges-
tive of the comedia, while Encina's later secular works, such as the
Egloga de tres pastores, the Auto del repel6n, and the Egloga de
Plccida y Vitoriano, are indicative of the comedia in its most primi-
tive form.2 Other religious titles in this early Cancionero are
Egloga representada en la noche postrera de Carnaval, Egloga repre-
sentada en la misma noche de antruejo o carnestolendas, and Egloga
trovada por Juan del Encina, representada la noche de Navidad. In
the Egloga de las grandes lluvias (1498), shepherds discussing the
IPatt, p. 94.
2M. Ronera-Navarro, Historia de la literature espafola (Boston:
D. C. Heath and Co., 1928), pp. 109-112.
3Amador de los Rios, VII, 493.
heavy rains are interrupted by the angelic announcement of the
Bartolome de Torres Naharro, who died about 1531, is impor-
tant for his originality and for his attempt to classify dramatic
techniques. A Dialogo del Nascimiento, written between 1512 and 1517,
was his only religious play. A dialogue between two shepherds, it
contains no saints.1
Gil Vicente (14707-1539?), although a native of Portugal,
wrote eleven plays in Castilian. He wrote for courtly rather than
popular taste; but his poetry contained folk elements as well as
lyric grace. His Auto de San' Martinho was performed in a Lisbon
church on Corpus Christi in 1504; at that time, according to War-
dropper, any Biblical or hagiographic subject was appropriate.2
The Auto da Sibilla Cassandra, also in Portuguese, offers the pro-
phetic Sibyl, so popular in the Middle Ages, along with a group of
Old Testament prophets--who, incidentally, are saints. Solomon,
Moses, and Abraham, the latter two of whom are saints, also appear.
Another work in Portuguese recently attributed to Gil Vicente is the
Obra da Geragam humana. A partly allegorized version of the parable
of the good Samaritan, it has a number of abstract personnages along
with Sts. Adam, Gregory, Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine.4 Vicente's
Auto Pastoril Castelhano (1502), Auto dos Reis Magos (1503), and
Ipatt, p. 145; Crawford, pp. 37-38.
Wardropper, pp. 163-164. 3See note 2, p. 38.
4Wardropper, pp. 167-168.
Auto dos Quatro Tempos were performed in the Christmas season. In
the last-named work, Saint David sings portions of several Psalms
and closes with the Te Deum.1
Lucas Fernandez (14747-1542) sought to follow the example
of Juan del ncina. Among Lucas Fern-ndez's compositions were three
religious works: the Egloga o Farsa del Nasctmiento de Nuestro
Redemptor Jesucristo, the Auto o Farsa del Nascimiento de Nuestro
Senor Jesucristo, and the Auto de la Pasion. The two Nativity
plays, published in 1514, are noteworthy in the transition from the
representation of idealized Biblical or holy persons to the portrayal
of characters with human sentiments and reactions.2 With roles for
a number of saints, including Peter, Matthew, the three Marys,
Dionysius, and Jeremiah, the Auto de la Pasion has been called
Fernindez's best work.3 Unlike many other writers of that epoch,
Fernandez was careful in this play not to have the Saviour on the
Diego Sinchez de Badajoz ( ? -1550) wrote twenty-three of
his twenty-eight dramatic works on religious themes. 1Ihile some of
them, such as the Farsa Teologal, the Parsa rational del libre
albedrfo, and the Farsa de la Iglesia, posed moral or dogmatic pro-
blems, others were based on sacred history or legends of the saints.
Examples of the latter group are these Farsas: de Santa Barbara,
de Salam6n, de Tamar, de los Doctores, de Isaac, de Santa Susaia,
1Patt, pp. 122-134 and 142-145; Crawford, p. 36.
2Romera-Navarro, p. 112. 3Cafete, pp. 85-88.
del ray David, de Abraham, de Moysen, de la Salutaci6n, and de San
Pedro.1 These titles alone give us six saints, Barbara, Susanna,
David, Abraham, Moses, and Peter; and the Farsa del juego de cahas
contains recitations by many prophets.2 The reader is reminded3
that the four major and twelve minor prophets are all registered
among the Catholic saints.
The Parsa de Moysen contains an anachronism in that St.
Peter interprets the action. Later, in the autos sacramentales,
anachronisms mixed with allegory came to be easily accepted.4
The Parsa de Santa Barbara is one of the first examples of
a play written for performance on the festival of a saint; St.
Barbara was held in special reverence at Badajoz. The brief play
presents an angel who tells of the young martyr's sufferings.
Acting as prosecutor, the Devil finally angers a shepherd to the
extent that the shepherd drives him away, and Christ and an angel
then crown the young woman. The Farsa del rey David seeks to estab-
lish the symbolical connection between David and Christ. The Farsa
de San Pedro sings the praises of a trade-guild; the portions refer-
ring to the Eucharist are insignificant. The Farsa de Santa Susana
is noted for vivid portrayal of character and for successful sus-
taining of interest through a series of dramatic situations. The
Danza de los Siete Pecados deals with the defeat of Adam (also a
saint) by the seven deadly sins, and his final realization of God's
1Bonilla, pp. 116-117. 2Wardropper, p. 118.
3Above, p. 38. 4patt, pp. 199-206.
mercy as revealed in the Eucharist. The Virgin Mary appears in the
Farsa de la Salutaci6n. Diego Sinchez's Parsa Moral and Faraa Militar
were performed during Corpus Christi festivities in Seville in 1560
with the respective titles Rey Nabucdonosor and La soberbia y calda
de Lucifer. St. Daniel no doubt had a role in the first, St. Michael
in the second.1
Lope de Rueda (1510?-1565) has been credited with breaking
for the first time the chains which held the drama to the liturgy
of the church.2 Except for a mere mention of Christmas in the
Parsa del Sordo, which has been attributed to him, his plays are
Juan de Timoneda ( ? -1583), who edited the works of Lope de
Rueda, wrote about 1558 "a dogmatic Auto del Nascimiento."4 He has
been called "el primer poeta de nombre conocido que compone dramas
propiamente eucaristicos."5 An example of these works is the Aucto
de la fuente de los siete sacramentos, in which St. John, encouraged
by an angel, answers a number of theological questions.6 The Auto de
1The plays mentioned in this paragraph are described in Craw-
ford, pp. 46-49.
2prangois Pietri, L'Espagne du siecle d'or (Paris: Librairie
Artheme-Fayard, 1959), p. 152.
3Patt, pp. 271-272.
4Ibid., p. 213.
5Ludwig Pfandl, Historia de la literature national espaRola
en la edad de oro, trans. J. Rubio Balaguer (Barcelona: Sucesores
de Juan Gili, 1933), p. 133.
6Wardropper, p. 252.
la quinta angustia que Nuestra Sefora pass al pie de la Cruz,
published at Burgos in 1552, portrays the visit of St. Joseph of
Arinathea to Pilate and the grief of Jesus' mother and friends as
they prepare for His burial.1
The Tragedia Josefina of Micael de Carvajal has been called
the best religious play of the sixteenth century. Other than that
he was born at Plasencia in the early years of the sixteenth century
and that his works reveal humanistic studies, little is known of
Carvajal's life. Documents have been found which indicate that he
was married in 1534 to Teresa Niiez de Almaraz, and that she later
took legal steps to retard his squandering of their fortune.3
The first edition of the Tragedia Josefina, probably of 1535,
has been lost; but an incomplete copy of a 1540 edition, a 1545
edition, corrected by the author and printed in Seville, and a 1546
edition from Toledo have come to light. The work evidently began
with five acts and 4,256 lines. Too unwieldy--Carvajal remarked
that it took six hours to perform--it was cut and rearranged.4
The language of a Dr. L6pez de Montoya, who read or perhaps
even saw the play, is cited by Gillet5 as evidence that the Parsa
llamada Josefina and the Comedia llamada Josefina are the same; but
1Crawford, p. 140. 2Romera-Navarro, p. 195.
3Micael de Carvajal, Tragedia Jssefina, ed. Joseph E. Gillet
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1932), pp. xi-xiv.
4Ibid., p. xxxiii. 5Ibid., pp. xxx-xxxi.
we cannot be certain that the Tragedia llamada Josefina, as the
play is called by Colbn and in the colophon of the three extant
editions, is also identical.
The subject itself was not new; B1 sueno y venta de Jose
had been part of the Corpus Christi festivities at Gerona since
early in the fourteenth century.
The Tragedia Josefina follows the story of Joseph and Jacob
as found in Genesis 37 and 39-49. Nearly every departure from the
Biblical account can be explained by one of the following possible
sources: Moslem versions of the story of Joseph, such as the Poema
de Yufuf; Jewish traditions, such as the details of Zenobia's asking
Joseph to play for her, his refusal to raise his eyes, and her threats
to kill him; the Moraliti de la vendition de Joseph, part of the great
Mystere du viel testament, printed in Paris around 1500; and the
Catalan Historia de Joseph fill del gran patriarch Jacob, by Joan
Roil de Corella, translated into Castilian and printed in Valladolid
It is also noted that the shepherd who speaks a form of
sayagues and the villancicos which end four of the acts are in the
tradition of Encina, while the title (a feminine adjective from a
masculine name) and the free-spoken faraute reveal an acquaintance
with Torres Naharro.2
Ibid., pp. xxxviii-xliv.
2Ibid., p. xlvii. For an explanation of the faraute, which
precedes all but the first act, Gillet leans on Alonso de Carvalho,
who, in his Cisne de Apolo (1602), indicates that introyto, faraute,
and los are about the same.
The play is weak in construction and balance, and contains
too much Senecan rhetoric. But in a certain theatrical deftness,
in the realism of the bargaining scene and the convincing shepherd
profanity, in the flashes of Jewish pride of race, and in the con-
trast between the characters of Joseph and Zenobia, Carvajal was
superior. Especially is he remembered for the creation of Zenobia,
perhaps the first woman of flesh and blood since the Celestina. She
is driven by a force she cannot resist.
In her fierce and somewhat coarse vitality there is a definite
suggestion of pain; lust is humanized and emobled by suffering,
suggesting the classical Phaedra. On this, especially, do we rest
Carvajal's claim to an important place in the history of the drama;
passion had already spoken in the Celestina, the passion of young
love, still almost inarticulate; but nowhere yet in modern Europe
had it risen to such fulness of power and to such nearly tragic
Though he is not registered among the Catholic saints, Joseph's
life was saintly. Some of the Old Testament saints--David, Elijah,
and Jonah, for example--had their moments of human failure; but no
such lapse is recorded for Joseph. In the Tragedia Josefina, his
saintliness is observed in the love and resignation he reveals in the
plaint over his mother's tomb (1073-1132);2 in his references to the
God of heaven in his dealings with Pharaoh (4133-34), giving Him the
credit for the ability to interpret dreams (2827); in his concern for
his brothers' comfort while they are in Egypt (3483-94) and in his
1Carvajal (Gillet ed.), p. lvi.
2parenthetical numbers refer to lines in the Gillet edition.
forgiving spirit toward them (3859-60);1 and, of course, in his refusal
of Zenobia's invitations.2 Joseph's "personificaci6n de la castidad"
and the "inspiraci6n y buen gusto"3 of the play make it a major pre-
cursor of the saints' plays.
Caiete, after declaring that the religious theater is not
given enough credit as a spring from which later literature came,
points out that the form of the Tragedia Josefina, with its frequent
changes of scene in the sae act and its general lack of unity of
time and place, resembles the structure of a seventeenth-century
comedia. "4De d6nde sino del drama sacro, es decir, del Teatro
religioso, o eclesiastico, o como se le quiera nombrar, viene la
libertad escnnica de Lope de Vega y su escuela?" He suggests that
we compare Carvajal's drama with Calderon's Los triunfos de Josef
for substantiation of his claim.4
First printed under the name of Carvajal and Luis Hurtado de
Mendoza is the Auto de las Cortes de la Muerte (Toledo, 1557), re-
calling the Danza de la Muerte theme.
"Ya lo passado dexemos
que en ello no pensare."
In lines 2287-91, for example, Joseph says:
"Senora el caso es tan feo
puesto que tu no lo fuesses
que aunque pieces me hiziesses
no complire tal desseo."
Romera-Navarro, p. 195.
4Caiete, pp. 180-181. For a comparison of the Carvajal
and Calder6n plays, see pp. 191-203.
This work is not unworthy of the author of the Tragedia
Josefina, unfolding, in a series of striking panels, a broad
panorama of sixteenth-century life. The Cortes, over which
Death presides, are opened with due ceremony, and peals of
trumpets introduce, in long but varied succession, a bishop
and a shepherd, a knight and a rich man, a pauper, a nun, a
married man, a widow, a judge, a lawyer and various others,
all to argue their cases, some of them asking for longer life,
one or two for death. The World, the Flesh and the Devil dis-
cuss their claims, which are referred for an opinion to the
assessors, S. Augustin, S. Jeronimo or S. Francisco.
Gillet thinks Hurtado had little or nothing to do with the
play. Nearly twice as long as the Tragedia Josefina, it was perhaps
Caiete attributes the Auto de la prevaricaci6n de nuestro
padre Adan to Carvajal. Gillet concedes that the prologue and two
choruses are like those of Carvajal; but the vocabulary, syntax, and
style show no special similarity to the Josefina or the Cortea.4
Bartolome Palau (15257- ? ) is remembered for having been the
first writer to attempt the historical drama, and this work, written
about 1569, was about none other than a saint: La historic de la
gloriosa Santa Orosia. Palau, an Aragonese, chose to combine the
experiences of Orosia as told in the missals and breviaries with the
story of La Cava, Count Julian, and Roderic as found in the Cronica
General. This play, culminating in the martyrdom of the saint, was
1Carvajal (Gillet ed.), p. xvii. Crawford, p. 153, also lists
Luther among the prosecutors.
Carvajal (Gillet ed.), pp. xviii, lvi.
3Caiiete, p. 125. This Auto is no. 42 in the Rouanet collec-
tion (see appendix B).
4Carvajal (Gillet ed.), p. xix.
imitated by Tirso de Molina when he wrote La joya de las montaias y
verdadera historic de Santa Orosia. Another work by Palau about a
saint is unfortunately not extant: La historic de Santa Librada y
sus ocho hermanas. This play was probably written for performance
in 1569, when the saint's relics were solemnly transferred to
Juan de la Cueva (15507-16107), though he did anticipate the
school of Lope de Vega in premeditated use of national themes,
variety of metrical forms, combination of the comic with the tragic,
abandonment of the unities of time and place, utilization of the
romances, and attempts at the capa y espada play,2 did not leave
any works in which there are saints.
Still to be mentioned for their possible contribution to the
development of the comedia de santos are a number of works by anony-
mous and less important writers of the sixteenth century.
Ninety-six works, all anonymous except for the popular Auto
de Cain y Abel3 of Jaime Perruz, are contained in the collection
1Ibid., p. 154. See also Prancisco Yndurain, "Para la cronolo-
g:a de la- Historia de Santa Orosia>, de Bartolomi Palau," Archivo de
Pilologla Aragonesa, V (Zaragoza, 1953), 167-169; and M. Serrano y
Sanz, "Bartolom6 de Palau y su historic de Santa Librada," Boletfn de
la Real Academia Espafola, IX (Madrid, 1922), 301-310.
2Pitzmaurice-Kelly, pp. 259-260, 292; Romera-Navarro, p. 200.
3St. Abel the patriarch, according to The Book of Saints, p. 2,
is invoked in the litany for the dying.
usually referred to as the Codice de autos viejos.1 Of these,
only the Entremes de las esteras treats a secular theme. These
works were written between 1550 and 1575, approximately. Auto,
it will be remembered, was at this time apparently applicable to
any type of one-act religious play. Wardropper indicates that
many works, at least up to the time of Lope, were without the
direct progress to the Eucharist which characterized the autos
sacramentales in their highest development. Often they merely
alluded to it, and some lacked even the allusion.3
Lacalle has divided the collection into three groups:
1. Asuntos biblicos.
a. Autos del Antiguo Testamento.
b. Autos de Navidad.
c. Autos de Pasion y Resurreccion.
2. Autos de santos.
3. Alegorfas. Farsas sacramentales.4
The first work in the collection, however, reveals a weakness in this
classification, namely, that many Old Testament figures are duly
registered among the saints of the Roman Martyrology. Because of
this problem, because the collection is not always accessible, and
because the writer wishes to show the frequency with which saints
appear in these works, the entire list of ninety-six plays may be
found in Appendix B. It may be noted that saints appear in fifty-
seven of the ninety-six works in the collection, and fifty-one of
1Leo Rouanet (ed.), Colecci6n de autos, farsas y coloquios
del siglo XVI, Vols. V-VIII of the Bibliotheca Hispanica (Barcelona:
2Crawford, p. 142. 3Wardropper, p. 25.
4Angel Lacalle, Historia de la literature espanola, 10th ed.
(Barcelona: Bosch, 1946), pp. 172-173.
the works are dramas in which the importance of the saint or saints
is primary. Not only were the holy saints familiar personages,
but even God the Father (Dios Padre) appears in eight of them, and
in one there are separate roles for Dios Padre, Dios Hijo, and Dios
Espfritu Santo. Audiences were evidently accustomed to seeing
Divinity portrayed on the stage; they were perfectly willing to have
God the Father portrayed by a man--so long as he wore gloves.1
The following sixteenth-century works, as yet unmentioned,
can be gleaned from the list prepared by Jenaro Alenda:2 El bautismo
de San Juan Bautista, performed in Valladolid in 1527; Abraham cuando
llev6 su hijo a sacrificar, dated 1552 or earlier;3 La conversion y
martirio de San Dionisio; a Conversi6n de Sant Pablo, distinct from
the two by the same title in the Rouanet collection; La conversion de
Santa Taez, who later was written about by Rojas and Zarate; a two-act
La degollacion de San Juan Bautista, dated 1590 and different from
that contained in the Rouanet collection; a Coloquio de la Expectaci6n
de Nuestra Seiora, in which there are roles for Sts. Mary and Joseph
and an angel, but no allegorical characters; La juventud de San Isidro
Labrador de Madrid, reminding us of the trilogy to be written by Lope
de Vega; an anonymous 1590 work entitled El martirio de San Lorenzo,
1Gonzalez Ruiz, I, xlvii.
2"Catalogo de autos sacramentales, historiales y aleg6ricos,"
Boletin de la Real Academia Espafola, III-X (1916-1923), passim.
3The date of this play, and its designation as an auto cuadra-
gesimal, lead to the suspicion that it might have been written by
Vasco Diaz Tanco.
performed in the presence of Felipe II, and said by Duran to be the
first comedia de santos in three acts and in verse; B1 Nacimiento de
la Virgen, written around 1580 by Padre Juan de Cigorondo; El Nasci-
miento del Hijo de Dios Humanado, of unknown date and authorship;
La Purificacion de Nuestra Sefora y presentacion de su Hijo en el
templo; San Ignacio de Loyola; San Joaquin y Santa Ana; San Juan
Bautista, possibly a source for later works under the same title by
Montalban and Monroy; San Roque; Auto de San Vicente Martir, by
Alfonso Alvarez, a contemporary of Gil Vicente; Auto de Nuestra
Sefora del Rosario y Tesoro escondido; B1 trinsito glorioso de San
Josef, by Juan Caxesi; La visitacion de Nuestra Senora y Santa Isabel,
by tres ingenios (such collaboration was unusual for a sixteenth-
century auto); and an Auto de San Francisco, which, unlike the Rouanet
San Francisco, is eucharistic, but contains roles for San Francisco,
Santo Domingo, San Agustfn, Santa Clara, and San Junfpero.
Still other titles are to be found in an interesting study
by Sanchez-Arjona. Though an effort has been made to eliminate du-
plications, it is possible that a few of these titles may, through
abbreviated recording by the keeper of the anales, represent works
already mentioned but with a somewhat different title. The dates
indicate the year of performance in Seville.
1532, Auto de Adin y Eva.
1532, La invencion de la Cruz. (St. Helen.)
1Jose Sinchez-Arjona, Noticias referentes a los anales del
teatro en Sevilla desde Lope de Rueda hasta fines del siglo XVII
(Seville: Rasco, 1898), passim.
1560, La muerte del Rey Saul. (Was St. David in the cast?)
1561, El rey Nabucodonosor y el horno. (The three Hebrew
youths are saints.)
1561, El rey Saul cuando libr6 Micol a David.
1564, El martirio de San Esteban.
1578, Las Tablas de Moises.
1582, Santa Felicitas y otros martires.
1582, La nuerte de Orlas y casamier.to de David con Bethsabee.
1582, Cuando Nuestra Senora salio de Egipto para Galilea.
1584, Las lHaves de San Pedro.
1586, La Apocalipsis de San Juan. (Here the name of the
author, Bartolom6 L6pez de Quir6s, is given, with the statement
that he won a prize for this work.)
1586, La Iglesia y Adan.
1589, San Onofre.
1589, La Nao de San Pedro y Triunfo de la Iglesia.
1591, Nuestra Sefora de Loreto.
1592, Vida y rapto de Elias.
1593, David y Navalcarmelo.
1594, Santa Maria Egipciaca, by Alonso Diaz.
1594, San Antonio, also by Alonso Diaz.
1594, Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe.1
1596, San Leonicio.
1Sinchez-Arjona (p. 88) cites the opinion of Jos6 Maria Asensio
that this is La Soberana Virgen de Guadalupe, and that it is a play
Cervantes wrote in Algiers "para representarlo en Bafo con los otros
1597, Santa Elena.
1599, El Arca de Noe.
From a variety of sources come the titles of many more six-
teenth-century dramatic works which may be accepted as possible pre-
decessors of the comedia de santos. These works, with a few brief
comments on their relationship to this study, are listed in Appendix
C. Most of these compositions appeared as sueltas, which were being
printed early in the sixteenth century. Prominent among the authors
represented in this list (Appendix C) are Fernan L6pez de Yanguas,
who wrote the first Castilian play on the subject of the Assumption
of the Virgin and one of the earliest plays dealing with the Eucharist;
Juan de Rodrigo Alonso, whose Comedia de Sancta Susana may underlie
Diego Sanchez de Badajoz's Farsa de Sancta Susaia or Velez de Guevara's
Santa Susana or both; and Vasco Diaz Tanco de Pregenal, who claimed to
have contributed to the sacred drama thirty-eight works, including
seventeen autos cuadragesimales, written for performance on Sundays
in Lent, Thursday and Friday of Holy Week, and Easter Sunday.
Diaz Tanco's works have been lost, and even of the titles only a few
The Teatro de Colegio
There is yet another line of dramatic development which should
not be omitted: the teatro de colegio. As a trend in the development
1These titles, and fuller information regarding the other works
and authors mentioned here, are given in Appendix C.
of the dram, the teatro de colegio has been termed a manifestation
of imitation of the classics.1
Medieval literary culture took refuge in abbeys, cathedrals,
and monasteries. Monks and priests were probably the authors of the
early misterios and moralidades, while students and clrrigos wrote
the so-called comedies elegiacas, Latin poems such as the twelfth-
century Pamphilus--which, incidentally, gave the first portrayal of
a Trotaconventos type.2
Dramatic performances were probably given in the universities
of the Middle Ages, as a diversion, as a literary exercise, and for
edification. Elio Donato's Grammar and his commentaries on Terence
were used as texts in medieval classes. In Bethlehem, St. Jerome
taught Latin to his young students by explaining the plays of
Terence. This practice must have been wide-spread, for the tenth-
century Saxon nun Roswitha, upset by Terence's plays, tried unsuccess-
fully to send them into oblivion by writing in Latin the religious
dramas Galiciano, Dulicio, Abraham, Wisdom or Faith, Hope and Charity,
That the works of Terence were known in Spain is stated by
Enrique de Villena in his Consolatoria, written in 1423. Seneca and
Plautus were also known, and works of fourteenth-century Italians
1Bonilla, p. 145.
2Justo Garcia Soriano, "El Teatro de Colegio en Espafa,"
Boletin de la Real Academia Espagola, tomo XIV, cuaderno 67 (April,
1927), pp. 235-236.
3Ibid., p. 237.
were sometimes read. The Historia Baetica, about the fall of
Granada, was written by the Italian Carlo Verardi (1440-1500) and
performed in 1492 in the palace of Cardinal Rafael Riario.1
In this sort of atmosphere, warmed by the fervor of the
Renaissance, appeared writers such as Juan del Encina and Pernando
de Rojas who would lay the foundation of the Siglo de Oro.2
The religious plays of the colegio were usually based on
Biblical or hagiological subjects; one example is the Tragedy of
Saint Paul, vihich was performed at Medina. Most comedies de colegio,
however, were combinations of elements classical, allegorical, theo-
logical, Biblical, moral, and popular. Saints, personifications of
abstract qualities, demons, kings, mythological gods, shepherds, and
picaros were liable to appear together. The contrasts between the
noble and the degenerate, the sad and the joyful, were like those of
. .Las comedies humanisticas y escolares tuvieron extra-
ordinaria influencia en los orfgenes y formaci6n de nuestro tea-
tro national. A vista de las representaciones universitarias y
de colegio se desperto la imaginaci6n de los que fueron luego
nuestros mas geniales escritores y dramaturgos. Por no citar mis
que dos nombres mns gloriosos de nuestro siglo de oro, recordare-
mos solamente que Cervantes estudi6 de muchacho en el colegio
que la Compafia de Jesus tenia en Sevilla, y Lope de Vega en el
colegio de jesuitas en Madrid.
Thus Garcia Soriano indicates his opinion of the importance of the
teatro de colegio in the history of the Spanish drama, and relates
it tc Lope de Vega.4 And, though Lope was a student in Madrid, he
llbid., pp. 238-239. 2Ibid., p. 239.
3Ibid., p. 275. 4Ibid., p. 276.
probably knew of the fanfare surrounding at least one production
of the Seville colegio.
When, in the early 1570's, the enrollment at the colegio of
Seville was nearing a thousand, it was decided to build a larger
school. The name chosen was Colegio de San Hermenegildo, largely
as a result of the fervor aroused toward this saintly prince by
Ambrosio de Morales when Morales visited Seville in 1569. On
September 10, 1580, the transfer of studies to the new school was
officially comemorated by grandes fiestas religiosas y literarias,"
among them a Tragedia de San Hermenegildo, a five-act play chiefly in
Spanish verse, though some speeches are in Latin and Italian. Inter-
esting details of staging and even the names of the student actors
are preserved in the Municipal Archives of Seville.1
The plot deals with a conflict between paternal devotion and
religion in Visigothic Spain. Ermengild is persuaded by Bishop St.
Leander to embrace Catholicism against the wishes of King Leovgild,
his Arian father. The dramatic scenes culminate in Ermengild's
Garcia Soriano calls this play a "pieza dramatica meritisima,
verdadera obra maestra, no s6lo del teatro escolar, sino tambien de
nuestro repertorio del siglo XVI." The author's name unfortunately
is lacking both in the manuscript and in the relaci6n of the Seville
Archives. Garcia Soriano rejects the possibility that Mal-lara wrote
1Garcia Soriano, tomo XIV, cuaderno 69 (October, 1927),
2Ibid., pp. 539-541.
it, for he died nine years before the festive opening of the school.1
Later, Hoz y Mota was to lean on this work for his El primer blas6n
de Espaia y defensor de la Iglesia, San Hermenegildo.
In 1587 a work given at the Colegio de San Hermenegildo hon-
oring the Archbishop of Seville, Rodrigo de Castro, combined pastoral,
Biblical, and allegorical elements. It was about a saint of the
Old Testament: Coloquio de Moises o del palacio y la rusticidad.2 But
examination of the other descriptions in this long article by Garcfa
Soriano reveals that most of the colegio works were dialogues or collo-
quies with personified virtues and vices. The use of historical per-
sonages, such as Ermengild and Moses, seems to have disappeared.
Jenaro Alenda, however, gives us the title of one other work
written for student performance on the festival of a saint: the
Dialogo del Beato Luis Gonzaga, by Padre Ximeno.3 Though no date is
given, it is this writer's guess that the work was prepared for the
observances surrounding the saint's beatification in 1605.4
An evaluation of the influence of these works has already
been cited, with the observation that Lope de Vega studied in a
school of the Jesuits in Madrid. It is also of interest that he
was commissioned to write a festival play for the University of
Salamanca when that institution celebrated the dogma, then so greatly
1Ibid., p. 563.
2Garcia Soriano, tomo XIV, cuaderno 70 (December, 1927),
3Alenda, III (1916), 389.
4The Book of Saints, p. 33. He was canonized in 1726.
disputed, of the Immaculate Conception.1 Sts. David, Jeremiah, John
the Baptist, John's father Zacharias, and Brigid are among the
characters of this play, which was entitled La limpieza no manchada.
Thus we come to the dawn of the seventeenth century. The
last two or three decades of the sixteenth have revealed that the
religious drama is moving in two increasingly clear directions: the
auto sacramental, connected to the Corpus Christi festival, and the
comedia divina, which, on losing its dependency upon the religious
festival, rose to hold a special category in the popular theater.2
During the first decade of the seventeenth century, Spanish dramatic
production came to be generally prolific. In Madrid, in April of
1600, dramatic entertainments were so prevalent that Philip III saw
fit to appoint a council of nine to make recommendations as to sub-
ject matter and details of presentation. At least twenty-one dramatic
companies held out in Madrid, despite the royal suggestion that four
would suffice. In 1603 it was decreed that only eight companies would
be permitted; again the regulation went unheeded.3 The popularity of
the comedia was gaining so rapidly as to baffle the king's council.
And this popularity was not limited to Madrid. It is known, for
example, that in Seville, in a period of thirty-four months (1611-
1614), 526 comedies were performed.4
1Haae, p. 91. 2pfandl, p. 130.
3Por these and other decrees, see Hugo Rennert, The Spanish
Stage in the Time of Lope de Vega (New York: The Hispanic society
of America, 1909), chapters X and XI. The major decrees are outlined
below (chapter V).
4Sanchez-Arjona, p. 147.
NON-DRAMATIC PRECURSORS OF
THE COMEDIAN DE SANTOS
Among the possible sources and antecedents of Lope de Vega's
comedies de santos are numerous non-dramatic works. Following the
plan of the preceding chapter, mention will be made of those works,
earlier than the sixteenth century, which may have provided material
for the plays about saints; the number of such works in the sixteenth
century, however, again as in Chapter I, makes an appendix necessary.
Dut before turning to those works, let us consider the extent to which
Lope might have referred to them.
It has been said that Lope had "a supremacy . in the ran-
sacking of the literature and history of all times for his plots and
dramatic situations ."
Roberto F. Giusti, writing on the comedies of Lope and their
many classifications, states that Lope drew from all that he knew of
sacred and profane letters and of the works of earlier dramatists, and
that he knew how to select in such a way as to create "definitivaennte
la comedia espaiola, de raiz popular y nocional, hecha para gustar y
entretener a un siglo entero, trazando el camino a todos sus contem-
poraneos y sucesores."
1R. Trevor Davies, The Golden Century of Spain (London: The
Macmillan Co., 1937), p. 287.
2Lecciones de literature espafola, llth ed. (Buenos Aires:
Estrada, n. d.), p. 354.
Del Rio also mentions the array of sources used by Lope, with
a concluding note on the variety even within the religious category:
S Finalmente, fondo muy important, es la literature
religiosa con sus asuntos bblicos, vidas de santos, leyendas
piadosas, misterios, temas liturgicos y teologicos fundidos
con el sentiniento religioso, ya istico, ya ascetico, o de
simple fe popular.
For many years, it was evidently customary to dismiss Lope's
learned allusions as an artificial erudition. It was thought that he
could not possibly have been as widely read as his elaborate notes in,
for example, the Isidro and Jerusalcn conquistada would indicate. It
has been pointed out, however, that Lope was from 1590 to 1596 secre-
tary to the Duke of Alba, that this post probably did not entail very
heavy duties, that his literary output during those six years was
slight, and that he spent most of that time at Alba de Tormes, where,
in all likelihood, the Duke had a well-stocked library. Given leisure
time, intellectual interests, and an unusual memory, Lope could well
have accumulated a store of miscellaneous learning.2
. That Lope's memory was extraordinarily retentive is
proved beyond a doubt by his acquaintance with the Bible . .
He was always ready with an allusion or a quotation from any
part of the Old Testament, from Genesis to the most obscure of
the Minor Prophets.3
1Angel del Rlo, Historia de la literature espagola (New York:
Dryden Press, 1948), I, 263.
2A. K. Jameson, 'The Sources of Lope de Vega's Erudition."
Hispanic Review, V, No. 2 (April, 1937), 126-138.
3roid., pp. 137-138.
His thorough acquaintance with the Bible possibly owed something to
the fact that versions in both Latin and Spanish were available to
Apart from the Bible, one of the earliest works borrowed from
by Lope de Vega was Barlaan y Josafat, attributed to St. John Damas-
cene (676?-749?). Menendez y Pelayo asserts that citations in Vincent
de Beauvais and Jacobo de Voragine (see below) indicate numerous ver-
sions in Latin. Among these was one said to have been done by a
Jorge de Trebisonda, and another by the printer Anastasio in 1470.
"Lope leyo seguramente, o la version latina de Trapezuncio, o la cas-
tellana de Arce Solorzano, que se habia publicado en 1608. .,"2
Gustave Reynier3 observes that the religious drama in Spain
leans on the traditions of occidental saints, enlarged in the tenth
and eleventh centuries by those of eastern ones like Catherine,
Thais, Alexis, Margaret, Mary of Egypt, the Seven Sleepers, and
Barlaam and Josaphat. A Greek version of Metaphrastes, written in
1In 1543, in Antwerp, El Nuevo Testamento de nuestro redemptor
y salvador Iesu Christo, translated by Francisco de Encinas, was pub-
Tished. In 1553, Jer6nimo de Vargas published in Ferrara the Biblia
en lengua espanola, translated by Duarte Pinel. And in 1556, there
appeared in Venice El Testamento Nuevo, translated by Juan Perez.
Various excerpts from the Bible, such as Psalms, Proverbs, Genesis and
Exodus, and some of the Epistles, were also printed during this period.
--Clara L. Penney, List of Books Printed Before 1601 in the Library of
the Hispanic Society or America (New York: Hispanic Society of Ameri-
ca, 1929), pp. 27-29.
2M. Men6ndez y Pelayo (ed.), Obras de Lope de Vega (Madrid:
Academia Espanola, 1894), IV, xi. Sts. Barlaam and Josaphat first
appear in the Church rolls in the fourteenth century, in the Cata-
logus Sanctorum of Pedro de Natalibus.
"Le drame religieux en Espagne," Revue de Paris, 7e annee,
tome 2 (1900), p. 826.
the tenth century and later translated into Latin by Lipomanus,
made known to Western Europe the lives of certain of these saints, in-
cluding the celebrated Cyprian who sold his soul to Satan, and Justina,
third-century martyrs.1 Works which lean heavily on the tradition of
Metaphrastes, according to Menendez y Pelayo,2 are the Catalogus
Sanctorum by Pedro de Natalibus, the Sanctorum priscorun vitae by
Lipomanus, and the De probatis Sanctorum histories by Surio.
Eulogio's Memoriale Sanctorun, written between 851 and 856,
gives us insight into the situation of the pueblo mozarabe. The piety
with which he describes the persecution of the Christians by the Moors
has been said to lead one to "rendir adoracion a los cadaveres de los
martires, las memories de aus virtudes." The Documentum Martyriale
had to do with the martyrdom of Sts. Flora and Maria; and ]ulogio's
last work, finished in 857, is known as the Apologetico de los santos.3
Toward the end of the eleventh century, Grimaldo gathered the
legends about St. Dominic into his Vida de Santo Domingo de Silos.
His admiration for this hero of the monastic life was evidently simi-
lar to that which he felt toward the conquering Cid.4
1An earlier and simpler version of their story was that of St.
Gregorius Nazienze, an archbishop of Constantinople who lived in the
fourth century.--Samuel M. Waxman, "Chapters on Magic in Spanish
Literature," Revue Hispanique, XXXVIII (1916), 325-463.
20bras dramaticas de Lope de Vega, IV, Ixiii.
3Amador de los Rlos, II, 99-100.
4Ibid., II, 185-186.
A comparable motivation led to Renallo Gramatico's Vida y
passion de Santa Bulalia, written about 1106. Rodulfo, a monk of
Carrion, before the middle of that century wrote Algunos milagros de
San Zoylo, the patron of his monastery; and Juan, diacono of Leon,
wrote in the following century the Vida de San Proilan (Vita Sancti
Proylani, Epiacopi Legionensis).1 Juan Discono also wrote the
"fuente primordial de la leyenda de San Isidro." This "codice pre-
cioso" was followed by Ortiz Lucio and Villegas in their versions of
the Flos Sanctorum; but it was not translated into Castilian until
1622, when it was published by Fray Jaime Bleda.2
A twelfth-century work of general background and wide influence
which Lope may have known is the Libri quatuor Sententiarum of Peter
Lombard, pupil of Abelard. A manual collected from the Scriptures and
the works of the early fathers, it formed an encyclopedia of the sys-
tem of Catholic ethics and theology. Its influence did not begin to
wane until the middle of the fifteenth century, when the main work of
St. Thomas was introduced into the schools. The revival of Thomism,
dating from the first full-length commentary of the Italian Dominican,
Giacomo Cajetan (1469-1534), received its first impetus in Spain from
the work of Francisco Vitoria, Thomist expositor at the University of
Salamanca. From Vitoria onwards the Dominican order, assisted by the
Jesuits, zealously published volume after volume illuminating the works
of St. Thomas. "In addition to the purely theological work produced
lIbid., p. 186.
2Menendez y Pelayo (ed.), Obras dramaticas de Lope de Vega, IV,
by the Orders during the sixteenth century and onwards there existed
a corresponding activity in the field of exegetical, patriotic and
hagiographical literature." (Italics supplied.)1
The poem entitled Vida de Santa Marla Egipciaca belongs to the
first part of the thirteenth century. It seems to be an imitation of
the Vie de Sainte Marie 1'Egiptienne, which is usually attributed to
Robert Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln (11757-1253).2 . La Vida
de Santa Marfa Egipciaqua . es indudablemente el monument de
mayor importancia que poseemos de tan apartada edad, asf por su con-
siderable extension como por el pensamiento religioso que encierra."3
Prom the same manuscript comes the Libre dels Tres Reys
d'Orient. The legend of the three kings, Sts. Balthasar, Caspar, and
Melchior, has been traced partly to oral tradition, partly to the Pro-
toevangelium lacobi Minoris (apocryphal in Greek) and the Historia de
Nativitatae Mariae et de infantia Salvatoris. Composed during the
1Ramon Silva, "The Religious Dramas of Calderon" ("Liverpool
Studies in Spanish Literature," second series: Spanish Golden Age
Poetry and Drama, Part III; Liverpool: Institute of Hispanic Studies,
1946), pp. 134-136. When one of the Jesuit theologians, Luis de Molina,
tried to reconcile the Thomist doctrine of free will with the Augus-
tinian views on grace, his book, the Concordia liberi arbitri cum
gratiae donis (Lisbon, 1588), was violently attacked. It became such
a bone of scholastic contention that the case had to be arbitrated
in Rome. Molina was exonerated by Paul V only seven years after the
Jesuit's death, in 1607. This decision bridged the gulf between the
Augustinian and Molinist positions. Repercussions in literature were
clearly felt, and Tirso de Molina dramatized in El Purgatorio de San
Patricio one of the essential elements of the controversy, the doc-
trine of predestination.
2Agustin Millares Carlo, Literatura espanola hasta fines del
siglo XV (Mexico: Antigua Libreria Robredo, 1950), pp. 58-59.
3Amador de los Rfos, III, 30.
eleventh or twelfth century, these accounts were brought from Prance
by the Benedictines of Cluny, probably in the form of liturgical
dramas.1 The Libre dels Tres Reys d'Orient tells, as might be ex-
pected, of the early part of the life of Christ, beginning with the
story of the three saintly kings; but it also describes a scene at
the cross. The legend is this: During the flight to Egypt the holy
family stops to rest; two bandits accost them and prepare to rob them
and kill the child. One of the robbers relents and offers the family
his home as an overnight lodging place. His leprous son is miracu-
lously healed when bathed in the same iater as the Holy Infant.
Years later, a thief hanging near Christ recognizes Him and is saved;
it is the leprous boy, now known as St. Dismas. The other thief, un-
relenting and lost, is Gestas, the son of the bandit who had wanted
to kill the child Jesus.2
In the first half of the thirteenth century, Gcnzalo de Bercec
wrote nine principal works, including La vida de Santo Domingo de
Silos, La vida dc San Millan de la Cogolla, El martirio de San Lor-
enzo, Loores de Nuestra Seiora, Duelos de la Virgen el dia de la
passion de su Hijo, Los milagros de Nuestra Seiora, and La vida de
Santa Oria. Although Berceo disdained popular acclaim, his language
gives him a popular flavor. "Berceo cree y siente cono creian
y sentian el siglo y la nacion a que pertenece." Berceo was
1onilla, p. 71.
2?illares Carlo, pp. 59-60.
3Amador de los Rios, III, 255.
preceded and evidently inspired by Grimaldol in the Vida de Santo
Domingo; and in the Vida de San Millan, although he added certain
poetic circumstances, he leaned on a work by St. Braulio, a disciple
of St. Isidore. Munio, a Benedictine monk and her confessor, had
written on Santa Oria, and Prudencio had written about San Lorenzo.
St. Dominic was widely revered, and in the last part of the thir-
teenth century, all the miracles attributed to him between 1232 and
1293 were recorded in a "muy curioso libro" entitled Miriculos de
Sancto Domingo, by Pero Marin. The importance of this work is that
it definitively introduced religious history, previously almost always
recorded in Latin, into the national literature.3
Legends of the miracles of the Virgin Mary were collected
early, in such books as the Speculum historiale, by Vincent de Beau-
vais (about 1200-1264). The collections spread throughout Europe,
and were translated, revised, and augmented in the language of the
people. The Marian works of Berceo and Alfonso X were the most impor-
tant Spanish representatives of this literary manifestation.4
Alfonso X el Sabio, who reigned from 1252 to 1284, is the
probable author of Las cantigas de Santa Maria. Among saints' legends
recorded in Las cantigas, in addition, of course, to many about the
Virgin, are a vision regarding San Basilio, San Mercurio, and the
1See above, p. 64.
2Amador de los Rios, III, 258-259; Valbuena Prat, I, 76.
3Amador de los Rios, IV, 69.
4L6pez Estrada, p. 130.
Emperor Julian (No. 15), the story of San Juan Boca de Oro (No. 138),
and the dream about San Fernando and the ring for a statue of the
Virgin (No. 292). The first of these legends is also found in the
Primera Cronica General. The second of the Cantigas records the first
miracle, the legend of the mantle the Virgin gave to San Ildefonso for
his service and which, at his death, his successor don Siagrio took for
himself, dying as a result of the sacrilege.1
Another work from the court of Alfonso el Sabio, the General
Estoria, is mentioned by Menendez Pidal, along with the Gesta Romano-
rum, as a possible source for legends about persons of religious im-
Between 1270 and 1275 there appeared the De Vitis Sanctorum,
or Legend Aurea, written by Jacobus de Voragine, who later became
archbishop of Genoa. Known as the father of the poor, he was beati-
fied in 1816. "Prom the fact that there are over five hundred manu-
script copies of the book in existence, and that within the first hun-
dred years of printing it appeared in more than one hundred and fifty
editions and translations, it is obvious that the Legend was in ex-
tremely wide demand."3
It might be observed that legend did not mean "myth" or
"fable," but lectio or "lesson." There were lectionaries containing
Iprank Callcott, The Supernatural in Early Spanish Literature
(New York: Instituto de Bspana en los Estados Unidos, 1923), pp. 45-46.
2Ramon Menendez Pidal, Review of Colecci6n de autos, farsas y
coloquios del siglo XVI, by Leo Rouanet, Revista de Archivos, Biblio-
tecas y Museos, V (May, 1901), 259-261,
3The Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine, trans. Granger Ryan
and Helmut Ripperger (New York: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1941), p. vii.
the lives of the saints, and Jacobus popularized them into a sort of
layman's lectionary. But it must be remembered that behind the author,
whoever he was, who first put these accounts in writing is an anony-
mous, manifold author--the masses, the people themselves, who fash-
ioned, added to, and even substituted for, what is authentically known
of the saints. The saints, with their perfection--their virtues and
their freedom from every fault--were the heroes of medieval folk.1
An anonymous Plos Sanctorum appeared in 1480 in Huete or
Zamora;2 there was, apparently in 1521, an edition bearing the name of
Pedro de la Vega;3 other editions followed, two in the 1560's and two
in the 1570's;4 and finally, in the 1580's, Alonso de Villegas, chap-
lain of the Mozarabic chapel in Toledo, published a Plos Sanctorum
which replaced the older translation of the Legenda Aurea.5 The
Cuenca edition (1594) of the Villegas Plos Sanctorum was particularly
1Ibid., pp. viii-x.
2Homero Serfs, Manual de Bibliograffa de la literature espa-
fola (Syracuse: Centro de ~Etudios Hispinicos, 1948), p. 852.
3Margarete Rosler, "Versiones espaiolas de la leyenda de San
Alejo," Nueva Revista de Pilologfa Hispanica, III (1949), No. 4, 333.
4See Appendix D,
5Rosler, p. 334; Serfs, p. 852. The former gives the date of
this edition as 1589, the latter as 1583.
6Arturo Parinelli, "Mistici, Teologi, Poeti e Sognatori della
Spagna all'Alba del Dramma di Calder6n," Revista de Filologia Bspa-
iola, I (1914), 314.
In 1599, with Part II following in 1601, Padre Pedro de Riba-
deneyra published, in Madrid, another version of the Flos Sanctorum.
The Villegas and Ribadeneyra editions of this work are probably the
two greatest single sources for Lope's comedies de santos. The
various sixteenth-century editions of these works appear in Appendix
D, but mention might be made here of a later (1615) printing of the
Villegas work in Barcelona,2 and of the following printings of the
Ribadeneyra version: Madrid, 1610; Barcelona, 1623; Barcelona, 1630
(in Latin); Barcelona, 1643 and 1705.3 As early as 1604, the Riba-
deneyra work has been translated into Italian.4 Ribadeneyra also
wrote the Libro de vidas de santos que comunmente llaman Extravagantes,
published in Madrid in 1604, and the Segunda parte de los Santos Extra-
vagantes in 1609.5 Cayrasco de Figueroa's Tenplo militant was also a
sort of sanctorum, but in rhyme.6
Though Lope used many of the legends found in the Flos Sanc-
torum, he did considerably more than merely write dialogue for them.
Escenific6, ciertamente, buena parte del Flos Sanctorum del
padre Rivadeneyra; empero injiri6, por lo comun, en sus comedies
un conflict de pasi6n humana, a fin de infundirles interest
y variedad. De donde, si perdieron en sinceridad religiosa,
ganaron como obras profanas.7
IAngel Gonzalez Palencia (ed.), Obras de Lope de Vega, (Nueva
edici6n; Madrid: Real Academia Espanola, 1930, IX, ix.
25erls, p. 852; Rosler, p. 334.
3Ser's, p. 852; Rosler, p. 333.
4Rosler, p. 333. 5Seris, p. 852. 6Waxman, pp. 376-377.
7Luis Astrana Msrin, Vida azarosa de Lope de Vega (Barcelona:
Editorial Juventud, 1935), p. 277.
Sancta Maria Magdalena, written in the last part of the
thirteenth century,1 speaks further of the search for inspiration
in the pious traditions of the peninsula.2
The Vida de Sanct Ildefonso, written in the early years of the
fourteenth century by Beneficiado de Ubeda, is a simple account of the
life of this disciple of St. Isidore.3
The legend of St. Patrick is traced, in Spain, to a Leonese
version of the widely read Tractatus de Purgatorio by the monk
Enrique de Saltrey. The first Catalan translation, by Pray Ramon
Ros de Tirraga, was done in 1320. Toward the end of the same century,
the vizconde Ramon de Perell6s placed the legend in an autobiographical
work called Viatge d'en Perrell6s al Purgatori.4
Under the reign of Juan II (1406-1454), a number of works were
written about the traditions of the ancient church. Frequently held
up as "maestros venerable y acabados nodelos de prelados catolicos"
were St. Isidore and "su dulce disclpulo" St. Ildefonso. About 1444
there appeared an outstanding example of literature in their honor:
LThe reader's indulgence is requested as we jump back to the
century in which we began to trace the development of the Legenda Aurea.
2Amador de los Rios, IV, 62. 3Ibid.
4This account was translated into Latin in 1621 by Philip
O'Sullivan, an Irish Jesuit. The popularity of the legend is indi-
cated by the success of the novel devota entitled Vida y purgatorio
de San Patricio, by Juan Perez de Montalbin. It is possible that
Lope's El mayor prodigio y el purgatorio en vida and, later, Calder6n's
El purgatorio de San Patricio owe something to Montalban's book and
its success. --Maria Rosa Lida de Malkiel, "La vision de trasmundo en
las literaturas hispfnicas," printed as an appendix in Howard R. Patch,
El otro mundo en la literature medieval (Mexico City: Pondo de Cul-
tura Econ6mica, 1956), p. 377.
Martinez de Toledo's Vidas de San Isidoro y de San Ildefonso.
Occasional rhymed passages indicate a possible acquaintance with the
Poema de San Ildefonso, written more than a century earlier.1
The epistles of Juan Ruiz de Corella were also written during
the reign of Juan II, They included the following: La istoria de la
gloriosa santa Magdalena, La vida de la gloriosa santa Ana, and La
vida de la Sacratissima Verge Maria, Mare de Deu, Senyora nostra, en
Among other religious works from the period of Juan II are the
Istoria del Dienaventurado Seior Sant Millin . escripta et ordenada
por Sant Braulio, obispo de Qaragopa, and the Istoria de la translacidn
del glorioso cuerpo de Sant Felices. These works, translated by the
monks of San Millan de la Cogolla, indicate the growing popularity of
the vernacular even within the cloister.3
A Dialogo de San Gregorio appears in one manuscript from this
period, in addition to the Istorias just mentioned and a translation
into romance of twenty-five Sermones de San AgustCn.
Pedro Martin in 1425 offered his Sermones en romance. These
were four discussions: "Vicios y virtudes," the "Padre Nuestro,"
"Los mandamientos de la ley de Dios," and "Las Obras de misericordia."
The book presents a strange gathering together of David and Aristotle,
1Amador de los Rios, VI, 241-246.
2Ibid., VII, 18-19. 3Ibid., VI, 309-312.
4Ibid., p. 314, footnote.
St. Isidore and Petrarch, as well as Sts. Paul, Bernard, John
ChryOostom, and Augustine.1
In a letter of 1490, the chronicler Alfonso de Palencia men-
tions his Vita Beatissimi Ildefonsi archiepiscopi Toletani. The work
was not printed.2
Also about 1490, and apparently in Zaragoza, Gonzalo Garcca
de Santa Maria published Las vidas de los sanctos religiosos, a trans-
lation of St. Jerome's I: Vitas sanctorum patrum.3
La Vida de San Josafat, by the Catalan Francisco de Alegre,
was published in Barcelona in 1494. This book was purchased by
Columbus' son in 1513 for one real.4
Perhaps this not unreasonable price suggests the popularity
and wide availability of books about saints. Certainly the number
of sixteenth-century books about saints and pseudo-saints indicates
a wide reading, not only among the playwrights, but among the reading
public. There were, indeed, so many works about saints in the six-
teenth century that we are forced merely to list them as possible
sources of information for Lope and the other authors of comedias
de santos. Appendix D contains this list.
1Ibid., p. 320. 2Ibid., VII, 154-155.
3Pennev, p. 135. 4parinelli, p. 314.
TWO PROMINENT FORCES IN SEVE TEENTH-CErnURY
SPANISH LIFE: RELIGION AND LOPE DE VEGA
Religion in Golden Age Spain
The Political, Cultural, and Social Scene
Politically, the Spain of the time of Lope de Vega still
held first rank among world powers, but during the reign of Philip
II (1556-1598) the first symptoms of exhaustion could be seen.
Although Philip had taken Portugal and was looking hungrily toward
France and England, the Low Countries, pushed to extremes by
religious persecutions, in shaking off Philip's authority announced
to the world the weakening of Charles V's great empire. This decay,
however, was not so readily apparent as it would have been at a
later time. Great empires tended to live for a while on memories
of faded power; and Spain still had vast possessions, treasures
from the New lWorld, and famous armies.1
Culturally, Spain was at a peak seldom described in the pages
of history. There was, during the reigns of the first four Philips,
splendor not only in literature, but also in sculpture, painting,
architecture, and music. Men of philosophy, history, science, law,
1Louis de Viel-Castel, Essai sur le theatre espagnol
(Paris: Charpentier, 1882), 1, 18-20.
and theology were all productive.1 Franoois Pietri, writing on
the cultural importance of the Golden Age, said, "I1 stable qu'aucun
pays, a aucun moment de son histoire, et sans excepter la Renaissance
italienne ou notre 6tincelant XVIIe siecle, n'ait jamais fourni un
aussi volumineux tribute a 1'histoire de la pensee et au progris de
la civilisation."2 Pietri uses the term "siecle d'or" to refer to
a period reaching from the last years of the fifteenth century to the
middle of the seventeenth, a period don'tt la splendeur, dans le domaine
de la pensee et de l'art come dans celui de la puissance politique,
demeure, senble-t-il, inegalee."3
Socially, Lope's Spain retained a characteristic vigor, a
deep feeling of national grandeur, great respect for royalty, enthu-
siasm for military glory, a taste for adventure, an impassioned
gallantry, and a most fervent religious zeal. The patriotism and the
piety of the period are called exaggerated by some. The combination
of these characteristics produced a way of life somewhat different
from that in most of Europe. It was original and picturesque, but
did not assure the well-being of the individual; public morals had
elegance of form, but an undercurrent of energy frequently resulted
in revenge and murders; laws had little control over personal matters,
but this liberty allowed passions to break out more freely.
1Nicholson B. Adams, The Heritage of Spain (rev. ed.; New
York: Henry Holt and Co., 1959), pp. 134-138, 194-206.
2Pietri, p. 7.
3Ibid., p. 11.
S'il y a jamais eu un etat social favorable au developpement
de l'art dramatique, c'etait sans doute celui-la, puisque,
sans cesser d'etre la vraie et sincere expression du pays
et du temps, il pouvait presenter ces tableaux extraordi-
naires, ces scenes romanesques, ces traits vigoureux et
originaux don't 1'effet est si puissant sur les imaginations,
mane aux eoques ou ce ne sont plus que des peintures de
The Religious Scene
Of all the traits of the Spanish people, religion has been
said to be so important in their life and soul that it is their
most distinguishing characteristic.2 The great intellectual
questions of the day were religious, and these rose "over any
other economic or political problem whatsoever."3 Knthleen Pond
wrote of Spain:
.. It is outstanding among those European countries
in which the roots of Catholicism have penetrated most
deeply. . TheSpanish outlook on life is essentially
that of the Faith, a preoccupation with the spiritual to the
neglect, sometimes of the material. . It is a country
where people do not shrink from paying the price for spiritual
These deep roots of Catholicism, of course, reach far back
into history. Valbuena Prat puts it this way: . Un hilo de
oro de teologia y piedad fervorosa ata al mundo celeste las letras
de todo nuestra historic, Cultura espafola, cultural cat6oica, por
Viel-Castel, pp. 21-22.
2David Rubio, The Mystic Soul of Spain (New York: Cosmo-
politan Science and Art Service Co., 1946), p. 39.
31bid., p. 55.
4Kathleen Pond, The Spirit'of the Spanish Mystics (London:
Burns and Oats, 1958), p. v.
esencia."1 David Rubio commented that it is not strange "that Spain,
from the moment she embraced Catholicism, has adhered to its every
precept with all the tenacity inborn in the race."2 This determined
consistency of religious tradition has been mentioned by Josh Mar/a
Peman: ... Bspaia fue el pals que continue todos los valores
espirituales, literarios o cientfficos, de la tradition medieval,
enriqueciendolos con nuevas aportaciones renacentistas."3 Canete
has written, "Para el espanol de la Edad Media lo primero en su
corazon, como en el de la sociedad, era la creencia religiosa:
Dios antes que el hombre."4 If, indeed, spiritual matters were
first in the mind of the medieval Spaniard, and all spiritual values
of Medieval Spain continued through the Golden Age, it is not sur-
prising that Spain was the great bulwark against the Protestant
Reformation, and that Valbuena Prat concluded, "La tonica de la
epoca era la del triunfo de la vida religiosa sobre la heroic y
cortesana." He goes on to cite the interesting example of Sor
Margarita de la Cruz, daughter of Maximilian II, who preferred the
convent of the Descalzas Reales above marriage to Philip II.5
1Angel Valbuena Prat, Antologia de poesia sacra espaiola,
(Barcelona: Editorial Apolo, 1940), p. 11.
Rubio, p. 39.
3Jose M. Pemfn, Algunos valores fundamentals del teatro
de Lope de Vega (Buenos Aires: Cumbre, 1942), p. 18.
4Caiete, Teatro espanol, p. 75.
5Valbuena Prat, La vida espanfola en la edad de oro, segun
sus fuentes literarias (Barcelona: A. Martin, 1943), p. 99.
The close relationship between secular and religious life
was one of the medieval traditions maintained in the Golden Age.
The heroism of the cloister was as much admired as that of the
battlefield, and exploits, whether military or religious, were
accomplished through the same sort of determination.1
Sanchez Albornoz also places the saint with the hero.
Todo el pueblo no vivio, claro esta, heroic ni santa-
mente, pero se dej6 seducir por el arquetipo human del
heroe o del santo y reverencio, honro, exalto, venero,
imit6 a quienes daban muestras de santidad o de heroLsmo;
y se enorgullecio de ellos como de s res de excepci6n y
les otorg6 el aliento de su credito.
The vast number of paintings and statues of saints, the
importance and number even today of processions and romerias,
testify as to the place held by these pious heroes and heroines
in the mind of the seventeenth-century Spaniard.3
Of course, some scholars assert that Spain's religion in
the seventeenth century was little more than a composite of outward
appearances. Kathleen Gouldson, for example, has this to say:
The seventeenth century in Spain was an age of reflected
glory and idealism. Although the visionary fervour of the
conquistadores and inquisitors had degenerated into mere greed
and jealousy, this was not always apparent to the superficial
observer. The outward forms of religion with which people
still occupied themselves were now little more than a social
1Amador de los Rios, II, 185; Miguel Pigueroa y Miranda,
El sentido barroco de la obra de Lope de Vega (La Habana: Cultural,
1935), p. 47.
2Claudio Sanchez Albornoz, Espara, un enigma hist6rico
(Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1956). II, 584.
3A. Serrano Plaja, EspaHa en la edad de oro (Buenos Aires:
Editorial Atlantida, 1944), p. 79.
duty. Traditionally, therefore, religion continued to be a
prominent factor in Spanish life, and as such finds its way
into the drama of the period,1
No attempt will be made here to decide whether religion was
primarily a social duty in seventeenth-century Spain; but we do agree
that "it continued to be a prominent factor in Spanish life"--not only
in the Golden Age, but, with marked durability, in modern times.
Havelock Ellis observes an outward laxity, but does not consider it a
sign of irreverence. After mentioning children playing in the corners
of the church, a dog curled up in the chair by the high altar at
Tudela, and a cat strolling around and being petted during mass at
Gerona, he continues:
It would be a serious mistake to see here any indifference
to religion; on the contrary, this easy familiarity with sacred
things is simply the attitude of those who in Wordsworth's
phrase "lie in Abraham's bosom all the year," and do not, as
often among ourselves, enter a church once a week to prove
how severely respectable, for the example of others, they can
For further evidence that much of the Spain here under con-
sideration still exists, the reader is referred to Ortiz Echague's
Espaia MIstica,3 in which 310 illustrations reveal practices, cos-
tumes, statuary, bodily attitudes, etc., that would almost make one
1Kathleen Gouldson, "Religion and Superstition in the Plays
of Rojas Zorrilla," in Spanish Golden Age Poetry and Drama ("Liver-
pool Studies in Spanish Literature," second series; Liverpool:
Institute of Hispanic Studies, 1946), II, 89.
2Havelock Ellis, The Soul of Spain (New York: Houghton-
Mifflin Co., 1931), p. 14.
3jose Ortiz Echague, Espaha mistica (San Sebastian: M. Conde
L6pez, 1943), 248 pp.
believe, if it were possible, that the photographs were taken
during the Middle Ages.1
There is, then, no reason to doubt that religion was a
prominent part of life in the Spain of Lope de Vega.
Es seguro que durante los siglos XVI y XVII Espaia se dio
toda al servicio de su creencia, mientras en los otros pueblos
de Occidente los intereses nacionales triunfaron sobre el
servicio de la fe.2
When a nation gives itself over to its religious beliefs, the in-
fluence of the church filters down to the very details of daily
life. This influence had been strongly reinforced by a series of
drastic reforms carried out by Queen Isabella and Cardinal Jimenez
de Cisneros. . The Church in Spain presented a moral and
intellectual standard which was probably unequalled elsewhere in
Europe at the time."3 It has been estimated that a quarter of the
adult population of Spain was, by 1570, clerical; and a statement
of the Cortes of 1626 indicates that there were, excluding nunneries,
9,088 monasteries in the nation.4
The great number of the clergy, and their active roles in
all aspects of ordinary life, contributed to the keeping fresh of
1Yet another indication that Roman apostolic Christianity
still permeates Spanish life was observed recently (1962) when a
University of Florida Spanish professor was told by a Madrid land-
lady that she could not conceive of a man's being good without
being a Catholic.
2Sanchez Albornoz, II, 242. 3Davies, p. 10.
4Ibid., p. 289.
religious traditions in the minds of the populace.1 Jesuit colleges
and missions were in every important town, and the preaching of the
Jesuits, who spearheaded the Counter-Reformation, "had an immense
effect on the revival of religious zeal during the latter part of
the sixteenth century."2 We can agree, then, that "the religious
tendency of the Spanish drama is a faithful reflection of the age
in which it was created."3
The obvious result of the influence of religion upon all
aspects of life was a remarkable national unity. "In court, in
camp, and in everyday life the atmosphere of rigid unified religion
enveloped all things and persons."4
Pocos pueblos, como el espa~ol de la edad de oro, prenen-
tari una tal cohesion en su estructura ideol6gica. La poll-
tica, la literature, el arte y por tanto la vida toda de la
que aquellas actividades son manifestaciones superiors, estan
impregnadas de una misma substancia spiritual y esta es la
religion. Mas ain: la religion catolica, cuyos principios
substantivos eran comunes a todos.5
This does not mean, however, that religious attitudes in
Spain were identical to those of other lands.
1Jose Deleito y Piiuela, La Espana de Felipe IV, Vol. VII:
La vida religiosa espanola bajo el cuarto Felipe; santos y pecadores
(Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1952), p. 14.
2Davies, p. 288. Menindez y Pelayo joins Davies in attributing
to the reforms started by Cisneros and to the Jesuits the failure of
the Reformation in Spain.--Historia de los heterodoxos espafoles
(Santander: Aldus, 1946-1948), IV, 404-405.
3Davies, p. 288.
4lartin A. S. Hume, The Spanish People (New York: Appleton,
1914), p. 376.
55errano Plaja, p. 74.
Hard, severe, and ascetic, as a protest against Moorish
grace, cleanliness and elegance, and equally against the
sensuous beauty with which the Italians had invested their wor-
ship, the Spanish mind revelled in the painful, self-sacri-
ficing side of religion, which appealed to their nature.
They became a nation of mystics, in which each person felt
his own community with God, and, as a consequence, capable
of any sacrifice, any heroism, any suffering in His cause.1
The "pueblo de teologos."--That seventeenth-century Spaniards
were a "nation of mystics," a "pueblo de teologos," is the next point
we wish to make. The religious plays of the time of Lope, even those
dealing with the most profound religious questions, were not above
the heads of the audiences. After mentioning the "profundo senti-
miento religioso" of Lope's Spain, Ricardo del Arco y Garay continues:
El sentimiento catolico es el alma de toda nuestra
cultural y de nuestras grandezas en aquel pernodo . Bra
Espafa un pueblo, no ya de cat6licos, sino de teologos. .
Lope puso sus piedras en el grandiose monumento del Catolicismo
Menendez y Pelayo has written, '"ien puede decirse que todo
espanol era teologo entonces. . Espafa podia llamarse con todo
rigor un pueblo de teologos."3 Another student of Golden Age Spain
defines a "tesoro comun de todo el pueblo: la religiosidad espafiola,
la herencia de los padres, la nota fundamental del caracter national."4
The popular theology of the day was characterized by a profound
1Hume, p. 376. (Italics inserted.)
2Arco y Garay, p. 70.
3Heterodoxos, IV, 407-408.
4Pfandl, Iistoria de la literature, p. 130.
familiarity with things religious.1 Writing on the comedies a lo
divino, another scholar has asserted that the public which enjoyed
and even demanded them must have had a thorough acquaintance with
ecclesiastical history and monastic life, and even the interiors of
religious establishments; otherwise many details and allusions would
be meaningless.2 Sainz y Rodriguez leans on documents pertaining to
the trials of heretics as proof that the general populace was well
acquainted with matters of theology, and declares that there were
cases where congregations protested flaws in the sermons they heard
from orthodox priests.3 J. D. M. Ford wrote, "It cannot be repeated
too often that unreserved religious faith and blind patriotism
infuse the spirit of the Golden Age as exhibited in the vast dramatic
output of the time. .. .*"4 Gonzalez Ruiz describes the Spectator
of Golden Age dramatic performances in Spain as modest and simple,
commonly illiterate or with only slight schooling, but with a bomb-
proof faith and a theological knowledge which enabled him to grasp
the greatest complexities and deepest abstractions of the autos
sacramentales.5 Wardropper concludes, "La teoria del <
te6logo> es la unica que se ajusta a los hechos hist6ricos."6
lIbid., p. 68.
2Viel-Castel, I, 124.
3Pedro Sainz y Rodriguez, Introduccion a la historic de la
literature mistica en fEspafa (Madrid: Voluntad, 1927), p. 200.
4J. D. M. Ford, Main Currents of Spanish Literature (New
York: Henry Holt & Co., 1919), p. 121.
5Gonzalez Ruiz, I, lii. 6Wardropper, p. 87.
Religion in daily life.--We wish now to mention some of the
particular manifestations of religion among this "pueblo de teologos."
It is generally agreed that the influences of religion filtered down
to the smallest details of everyday life: "La religion penetraba y
regulaba today la vida espanola, mezclandose hasta en lo mas nimio,
familiar y profano."1 Americo Castro asserts that these matters,
rather than internal, were largely external; that rather than of a
concept of a spiritual organization headed by Christ, "la petrificada
armaz6n de la Iglesia . consistia para la inmensa mayoria desus
adeptos (que lo eran todos los cristianos espaioles) en rezos, en
ceremonies, en cultos de santos, en residios de viejas supersticiones,
en multitud de cosas, en suma bien visible y terrenas."2
Entertainments--dramatic and otherwise--were not exempt from
the influence of religion.
S. La nation entire a tellement associe la religion a
tous les actes de sa vie que, meme dans ses plaisirs, elle a
aim6 a en trouver l'image.3
The Spaniard, says Lucien Dubech, "mele a tout la religion,
en particulier au spectacle pour lequel il a un gout extraordinaire.
Si le theatre sortit partout de la religion, en Espagne il n'en
sortit pas, il y resta.4
1Deleito y Piiuela, p. 11.
2Americo Castro, "Lo hispanico y el erasmismo," Revista de
Pilologia Hispfnica, Vol. II, No. 1 (1940), p. 2.
3Reynier, p. 825.
4Lucien Dubech, Histoire generale illustre du theatre (Paris:
Librairie de France, 1931-1935), II, 168.
In one region, religious feast days consumed a third of the
days of the year. Fields, rivers, winds--there was nothing that was
not blessed. In times of fear or drought, the bodies of saints were
brought out in procession.1 It can hardly be denied that superstition
is here closely linked to religion. Deleito y Piiiuela suggests that
religion became more and more materialistic and external as the
seventeenth century progressed, leaving aside the simpler faith of
the sixteenth century for the superstitions of the seventeenth.2 The
power of the evil eye, the omens of the flight of birds, the exist-
ence of good and bad days, the influence of the stars on human lives,
and appearances of the dead were a few of the principal superstitions.
"A la vida, al pensamiento, al arte, a todas las manifestaciones de
la sociedad, alcanzaron las supersticiones en la Espaia austriaca."3
An important manifestation of superstition, says Deleito y
Pifuela,4 was the awesome auto de fe, such as that of Lograno (1610),
those of Cordoba (1625 and 1627), and these of the Castilian Inquisi-
tion. An all-day auto de fe of 1632, which might today be called an
outburst of anti-semitism, was attended by throngs, including the
1Deleito y Pinuela, pp. 27-28.
2Ibid., pp. 26, 96, 184-186. The Tribunal de supersticion
ladina (1W3bi, by the Aragonese cleric Gaspar Navarro, is cited as
an example of contemporary awareness of superstitious practices.
3Ibid., pp. F16-187. Not every one, particularly among the
cultured class, subscribed to these beliefs. Calderon, for example,
fought astrology directly in El astrologo fingido and condemned black
magic in El magico prodigioso.
4Ibid., p. 183.
king and queen. It punished a group of judaizantes accused of
heaping indignities upon an image of the crucified Christ. Popu-
lar enhancement of the story had the image weeping, bleeding, and
miraculously resisting fire.1 Lope de Vega's play, ll nino inocente
de la Guardia, suggests the violent popular resentment of the day
against those who practiced Hebrew rites.
Demonology was another prominent factor in the religious
beliefs of the seventeenth century. Whether called brujos, duendes,
denonios, hechiceros, or diablos, these devils--and the business of
dealing familiarly with them--were considered quite real. Some in-
formed persons scoffed at them, "pero el vulgo sentta hacia ellos
verdadero pinico." Many persons refused to go to bed until dawn,
since only the crowing of a rooster brought relief from the nocturnal
power of the witches. Pacts with the devil and possession by demons
were frequently mentioned in books, sermons, and street-corner con-
versations. The records of the Inquisition indicate that in 1641
a certain Isabel Bautista had at her command seven devils in the
form of toads. Satan himself, it was believed, sometimes appeared
as a toad, and occasionally as a dog, cat, rooster, black hog, or
a dark-colored mule. More frequently, however, he appeared as a
goat; once in a while he appeared as a man dressed in black. It has
been said that the devil was so constantly feared by seventeenth-
century Spaniards that he served as the explanation for all morbid
mysteries, in much the same way as the microbes of today.2
1Ibid., pp. 357-366. 2Ibid., pp. 214, 249-255.
Magic, witchcraft, and other occult beliefs in the drama
of the Siglo de Oro stem from at least four principal sources:
Greek and Roman literature, romances of chivalry, oriental and
Moorish folklore, and local folklore.1
The Moors were noted for their occult arts; and the trans-
lation into Spanish of the Picatrix, an Arabic book full of magic,
did much to popularize magic in Golden Age drama. Moorish magicians
and astrologers appear in a number of plays; and "Rojas' La Celestina
was unquestionably a great factor in popularizing witchcraft in the
drama of the Siglo de Oro."2
Magic, witchcraft, and other occult beliefs were, of course,
motifs used in the drama of other European countries as well as Spain.
These motifs are on occasion merely comic or theatrical devices; but
the attitude of most authors is revealed as holding that man's free
will cannot be coerced by any occult power.3
Among the conjurers, interpreters of dreams, readers of clouds,
and casters-out of evil spirits were the saludadores, who claimed
the power to heal with their breath, saliva, or even mere sight and
touch. The cure of madness was claimed as a special gift, and these
powers were attributed to either Santa Catalina or Santa Quiteria.4
The names of the saints, the Virgin--and God--were continually
heard; this was another manifestation of religion in seventeenth-
lMario N. Pavia, Drama of the Siglo de Oro: A Study of
Magic, Witchcraft, and Other Occult Belices (New York: Hispanic
Institute, 1959), p. 149.
2Ibid., p. 150. 3Ibid., p. 151.
4Ibid., pp. 254, 258.
century Spanish life, and one with direct bearing on the present
The cult of the saints.--The seventeenth century has been
called Spain's century of the saints.2 That saints were looked upon
as heroes has been established,3 and one writer refers to them as
"hombres elevados hasta Dios."4 Vossler5 comments on the ease with
which saints move through everyday currents of life:
En las cronicas, en los cantares de gesta, en los romances
y en la escena de los espanoles . se mueven heroes y santos
de una nanera tan viva y natural como si no hubieran muerto
nunca. En la manera de ver el mundo, y en el arte de los
espaioles, lo divino esta en intima relacion con lo humano"
In support of this last statement, Vossler offers Tirso's play,
Santo y sastre, in which San Homobono, a tailor of Cremona, rises
to heaven with a cross in his right hand and scissors in his left.
Regional saints, such as Isidro of Madrid and Perm-n of Panplona,
were held in great esteem by their respective townspeople, and "el
espaiol creyente contaba entire la innumerable series de sus santos
los mejores y mas poderosos medianeros entire los hombres y la justi-
1Saints and sainthood will be taken up in chapter IV; here
we are dealing with the cult of the saints.
2Figueroa y Miranda, p. 47. 3Above, p. 79.
4Sanchez Albornoz, I, 264.
5Karl Vossler, Algunos caracteres de la cultural espanola
(Buenos Aires: Espasa-Calpe, 1942), pp. 69-70.
6Ludwig Pfandl, Introduccion al studio del siglo de oro,
trans. Pelix Garcia (Barcelona: Araluce, 1929), pp. 149-150.
Los santos varones eran venerados con humilde devocion por
los reyes, los magnates y el pueblo. Se escuchaban sus con-
sejos, se accedia a sus demands, se les buscaba como inter-
mediarios en las guerras. . Se recogian y honraban sobre toda
ponderacion los cuerpos de los martires y varones piadosos que
la devoci6n popular santificaba.1
Commanding prominence was given to the personalities of the
saints, first to Mary, next to Santiago, and then to the others. A
substantial importance was attached to the Child Jesus, with the
adult Saviour often relegated to an unobtrusive role. These attitudes
very clearly had roots in the Middle Ages.2
Images of the Virgin Mary were meant to represent the Divine
Mother. It is assumed that Christ had become too awesome a figure to
serve as a personal idol; the saints were closer to the penitent or
supplicant human being. Mary was early elevated to first place among
those who intercede on behalf of mortals; she became the favorite of
men and women who gave up tangible gods but still felt the need of
praying to a visible deity.3 Many times it was neither Mary the
mother of Jesus nor Mary the powerful saint to whom prayer was
offered; it was rather the very present and local saint, Santa Maria
de Salas, Santa Maria del Puerto, or Nuestra Seiora de Atocha. In
the minds of the common folk there were as many Marys as there were
1Sanchez Albornoz, I, 325-327.
2Callcott, pp. 130-131. That many legends about the saints
were widely known as early as the time of Alfonso X el Sabio is
indicated by Las Cantigas de Santa Maria, which, according to
Callcott, contain 353 miracles attributed to the Virgin alone, not
including those ascribed to other saints.
3Cheney, p. 153.
shrines; all these images, however, had a connection with the mother
of Christ in some mysterious way which the plain folk did not feel
obliged to explain.1
The extensive and historic cult of the Virgin Mary received
new impetus in Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
through the interest there in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
Long before Clement XI made it an official point of doctrine, the
Immaculate Conception was insistently taught in Spain, and was mani-
fested in such dramatic works as Lope de Vega's La limpieza no
manchada and Calder6n's Auto de las 6rdenes militares. Isabel de
Bourbon displayed, especially in 1624, great devotion to the Virgin
of Almudena in Madrid, and thus lent prestige to the cult of that
Sdnchez Albornoz comments on the difficulty the modern man
encounters as he tries to understand the fervent devotion to Mary
of Spaniards of earlier times, and their audacious demands for her
".Ahi estas, somos tuyos, sacanos del aprieto, cuidado con lo
que haces!" gritaban a la Virgen su patrona, sin sospecha de
afrentamiento y de irreverencia. . Los peninsulares lle-
garon a considerar a sus patrons celestiales obligados a favo-
recerles con milagros, a su antojo. . Los hispanos haclan
intervenir a Maria no solo en graves y apuradas circunstancias
sino para conseguir menudos y vulgares favors: para recuperar
halcones perdidos . ; para favorecer la cria de gusanos de
seda o evitar la pcdrea de una viia . ; en los toros, en las
construcciones, en las industries, etc., etc. . Cretan que
la Virgen y los Santos a quienes habian tomado por patrons
1callcott, p. 83.
2Deleito y Pinuela, p. 22.
y a quienes servian como senores tenian el deber de protegerlos,
y porque lo crelan con fe viva, les enfrentaban o los afrontaban
cuando llegaba el caso. Y asi por los siglos de los siglos. ..
That the views of the seventeenth-century Spaniard on saints
in general and Mary in particular were not exaggerated in comparison
with modern views can be seen from the following statements:
To the Catholic the saints are not mere exalted patterns of
behavior, but living members, and even constructive powers of the
Body of Christ. They possess, therefore, not merely a moral, but
also a religious significance. . That which is valid of the
saints in general, holds in the highest measure of the Queen of
all saints, Mary the Mother of God. . Without her consent
there had been no redemption, and therefore is she for us all
the "Gate of Heaven." . The Catholic acknowledges in
heaven not only a Father, but also a mother. Though by her
human nature she is infinitely distant from the Father, yet her
special graces have raised her to a wonderful nearness to God,
and as mother of the Redeemer she reflects God's goodness and
bounty with an inwardness and a truth that are possible to no
other creature. When the Catholic speaks of his Heavenly Mother,
his heart is full with all the strength of feeling that is con-
tained in that word. . 2
On a later page by the same author, we read, "The Catholic
regards Mary's intercession as all-powerful with God, and Catholic
Christianity is becoming more and more clearly conscious that as
mother of the Redeemer and as aware of every pulsation of her Son's
heart, Mary is the mother also of all His grace."3
Sanchez Albornoz, pp. 332-334.
Karl Adam, The Spirit of Catholicism, trans. Dom Justin
McCann (rev. ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1955), pp. 125-130. Mary
is here called 'the Queen of all angels and saints," "the Queen of
prophets," "the Queen of martyrs," "the Queen of Evangelists," and
"the Queen of Apostles."
Ibid., p. 137. Mira de Amescua's El amparo de los hombres
teaches that Mary's clemency extends even to those who have renounced
Other favorite saints were also looked to as mediators.
Principal among them was Santiago, special protector of Spaniards.
Christians fought under his name for the defeat of the Moors; and
pilgrims came from much of Europe to venerate his remains.
The history of Spain cannot be understood without a bnow-
ledge and understanding of the veneration paid to St. James
the Apostle and of the pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela.
That is to say, the history of Spain would have been entirely
different without the belief that in that city reposes the body
of one of Christ's disciples and companions, beheaded in Pales-
tine and translated to Spain by miraculous means; thus he re-
turned to the land formerly Christianized by him, according
to a tradition about which there would be no point in arguing,
a tradition which had existed since before the arrival of the
Arabs. Faith in the physical presence of the Apostle gave
spiritual support to those who fought against the Moors. . .
If Spain had not been submerged by Islam, the cult of Santiago
of Galicia would not have prospered.
Santa Teresa ranked after Santiago. In a curious attribution
of human emotions to the saints, the question arose as to whether
Santiago would be offended by Teresa's elevation to the status of
patroness of Spain.2
The next step down in the church hierarchy was the hermit,
who, though he had not arrived at sainthood, was on the way toward it.
He was perhaps the only figure connected with the church, other than
the saints, who did not receive abuse from many writers of the time.
If there is one man who for the dramatist before Lope de
Vega embodies the highest virtues and is free from worldly
temptations, it is the man who decides to retire from the
world and spends his days in solitude. It is paradoxical
1Americo Castro, The Structure of Spanish History, trans.
Edmund L. King (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954),
2eleito y Piiuela, p. 23.
that the person whose ties with the organized Church are
much less strong than those of priests and monks should be
presented as the one who most closely follows the precepts
The hermits were looked upon as wise, fatherly, learned, and
kind, offering in their humble retreats a refuge where one might
always find consolation and advice.2
Lay organizations.--As a logical result of the intense and
growing cult of the saints, according to Pfandl, came the cofradias
or hernandades and the disciplinantes.3 The cofradfas were made up
of lay members pledged to complete fulfillment of their religious
duties, as well as assisting the clergy whenever possible. The
disciplinantes, with their mortifications and penances, represent an
adaptation among the laity of the disciplines practiced in religious
retreats from the eleventh century; this group should not be confused
with the flagellators found elsewhere in Europe. Both the cofradfas
and the disciplinantes were prominent in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, and are seen as typical and characteristic of religious
life in Spain. The vast number of persons in these organizations
suggests a general responsiveness to things religious on the part
of the populace, and not just among the clergy.
1Gabriel H. Lovett, "The Hermit in the Spanish Drama Before
Lope de Vega," Modern Language Journal, XXXV (May, 1951), 340.
2Ibid., p. 355.
3Pfandl, Introducci6n al studio del siglo de oro,
Customs and attitudes.--Popular responsiveness to the reli-
gious tone of life in seventeenth century Spain can also be deduced
from the number of customs rigidly observed by thousands. Among these
customs were the use of scapularies and medals, the keeping of blessed
branches from Palm Sunday, and the blessing of horses and flocks on
the day of San Antonio. Matters such as attendance at mass were, of
course, taken for granted.
La vida religiosa ordinaria se reducla al cumplimiento field
o a la observancia rigida de los mandamientos. Deberes ordinarios
e inexcusables de todo cristiano espanol eran la asistencia a la
Santa Misa, recepci6n de los Sacramentos, santificaci6n de los
dfas festivos y la practice del ayuno todos los viernes del afo.
Un antiguo refran rezaba: por olr nisa y dar cebada nunca se
Proverbs such as the one just cited reveal the thinking of a
people. "Si Dios quiere" was frequently heard; and "Ha venido Dios
a verme" surprises us with all that it could mean. Still another
frequent expression was "Todo sea por Dios," reflecting resignation
and trust.2 Sanchez Albornoz observes that the frequency with which
saints are mentioned in proverbs indicates the extent to which they
were a part of daily thought.3 'Desnudar a un santo para vestir a
otro" is the equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul; "se le fue el
santo al cielo" means some one has forgotten something; and "quiere
llegar y besar al santo" means some one wishes immediate blessings.
1Ibid., p. 146.
2Rafael Altamira y Crevea, Los elements de la civilizaci6n
y del carficter espaRoles (Buenos Aires: editoriall Losada, 1950),
3Sanchez Albornoz, I, 374.
Some of these expressions, like "PIate de Ia Virgen y no corras,"
are bold. At least two proverbs reveal that the popularity of
the saints may rise or fall: "A santo que esta de moda, acude la
devocion toda." "Santo que ayer tuvo los devotos a millares, hoy
no los tiene ni a pares."1 Many show a sarcastic skepticism
toward human qualities such as gratitude: "El rio pasado, el santo
olvidado." "Rogar al santo hasta pasar el tranco."2 The pungent
"Entre santa y santo, pared de cal y canto" reveals a certain dis-
trust of the saints themselves.
Y el bajo pueblo no solo ha blasfemado quiza como ningun otro
pueblo cristiano del mundo, sino que ha asociado vocablos de
direct significacion religious, como el superlative "santisima,"
con palabral y expresiones tan raheces que no me atrevo a repro-
These proverbial expressions indicate that saints and saintliness
have, often with vigorous, uninhibited terms, entered into the common
language, infiltrated into many aspects of Spanish life, and colored
1P. RodrIguez MarIn, 12,600 refranes mis no contenidos en
la colecci6n del maestro Gonzalo Correas (Madrid: Tip. de la
"Revista de archives, bibliotecas y museos," 1930), p. 126. See
also Jose Maria Sbarbi y Osuna, Gran Diccionario de refranes de la
lengua espafola (Buenos Aires: J. Gil, 1943), pp. 893-896, for a
rich compilation of proverbs about saints.
2Gonzalo Correas (d. 1631), Vocabulario de refranes y frases
proverbiales (Madrid: J. Rates, 1906). On the sarcasm and skep-
ticism of proverbs such as these, see Prancis C. Hayes, "Sarcasm of
'don' Juan del Pueblo," Hispania, XXXV, No. 1 (February, 1952),
3Sanchez Albornoz, I, 374.