Title: Sainthood in the theater of Lope de Vega
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00097959/00001
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Title: Sainthood in the theater of Lope de Vega
Physical Description: iv, 598 leaves. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Morrison, Robert Reid, 1929-
Publication Date: 1963
Copyright Date: 1963
Subject: Spanish thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Spanish -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis -- University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 582-598.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
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Source Institution: University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000546281
oclc - 13213347
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Dtcenmber, 1963


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.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . ... .. . . . . ii

INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . .


The Liturgical Drama in Spain
Early Religious Drama in the Vernacular
Dramatic Precursors of the Comedia de Santos
The Teatro de Colegio



Religion in Golden Age Spain
The Theater and Lope de Vega

IV. SAINTS AND SAIITHOOD . . . . . . 123

Saints in the Beginning
Veneration of the Saints
Early Hagiography
Beatification and Canonization
The Saints Today
The Saint Defined
The Hierarchy of Saints


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
Popular Piety

VI. THE PLAYS . . . . . . . . . . .

San Segundo
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
Carolina, 1938).



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

where appropriate.,

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.

3P. 45.

4pp. 143-144.

5P. 63.

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

1 ,
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

be determined.

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),
3 vols.

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

was born.1

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

uneducated audience.

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

Saviour's birth.

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.
2 3
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

in 1507.1

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

never performed,2

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:
L'Avenj, 1901.

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, Daniel.

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,

and others.3

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

real life.3

. .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),
pp. 538-539.

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),
pp. 620-621.

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.



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

well received.6

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.



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,
3 -
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
show themselves.3

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-

cia divina."6

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
the Saviour.

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),
pp. 130-131.

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
of religion.1

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,
pp. 147-148.

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
perdi6 jornada.1

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),
pp. 235-236.

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-
ducir aqui.

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.

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