Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Subject Stages

Subject Stages: Marriage, Theatre and the Law in Early Modern Spain

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 240
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Subject Stages
    Book Description:

    Subject Stagesargues that the discourses and practices of marital legislation, litigation, and theatrics informed each other in early modern Spain in ways that still have a critical bearing on contemporary events in Spain, such as the legalization of divorce in 1978 and of same-sex marriage in 2005.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8651-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Performing Arts

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Author’s Note
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    Theatres of early modern Spain produced a number of comic scenes of marriage.¹ For the most part, these scenes ended a life of dramatic conflict and pretended to bring restoration to the social order. But the stages of theatre were not the only ones where the perils and pleasures of transcendental human unions were represented: legal codes, courthouses, and bureaucracy are a few other arenas where the sign of matrimony was invoked as well. This book begins with the premise that marriage circulated between the stages of theatre and the law, which in turn informed (and were informed by) stages...

  7. 1 Marital Law and Order in Early Modern Spain
    (pp. 15-31)

    The transformation of the pair man-woman into the juridical and theatricalpersonaeof husband-wife moved centre stage in sixteenth-century Spain. The strict defining lines of the Law reproduced the roles of these two subjects united in a transcendental, irrevocable relation of inequality. At the same time, some Laws were interpreted and applied ingeniously, and this paved the way for a flexible and diverse reproduction of husband, wife, and their affairs. Among many possible scenarios of marriage, this chapter considers three stages in which theatre and the law productively converged. We begin with the definition of marriage established by Sebastián de...

  8. 2 Marriage Scenes in the Archives
    (pp. 32-52)

    Between the years of 1588 and 1589 Doña Elvira Enriquez de Almansa y Borja, widow of Don Álvaro de Borja y Castro Marquis of Alcañices, faced a violent legal struggle to retain control over her persona and possessions. A certain Don Enrique Enrriquez and his brother Don Antonio bribed members of her family and servants to infiltrate the sanctity of her house, gradually penetrating her property and honourable home with the intent to force her to marry Don Enrique. Doña Elvira slapped Don Enrique with a lawsuit to stop the violation and deter the forced marriage. Her words of deposition...

  9. 3 The Birth of the Comedia and the Bride Onstage
    (pp. 53-76)

    Despite its small size, the town of Alba de Tormes occupies a rather visible place in Spain’s historical imaginary. The Mudéjar churches of San Juan and Santiago, the unfinished basilica, and its numerous convents and monasteries hold treasures such as the façade of the Dueñas, oil paintings by Luis ‘el Divino’ de Morales, or the V-shaped relics of St Teresa’s arm and heart, exposed next to her incorrupt body. Atop its tallest hill the Armory Tower stands as a vivid reminder of what once was the imposing house of the first Duke of Alba, Garci Alvarez de Toledo; inside the...

  10. 4 Foundational Violence and the Drama of Honour
    (pp. 77-98)

    The violence with which Don Gutierre Alfonso de Solís directs his anger against Doña Mencía de Acuña, his wife, is perhaps nowhere more exemplarily represented inEl médico de su honra(The Surgeon of His Honour) than when he orders Ludovico, the bloodletter, to execute her:

    Que la sangres,

    y la dejes, que rendida

    a su violencia desmaye

    la fuerza, y que en tanto horror

    tú atrevido la acompañes,

    hasta que por breve herida

    ella espire y se desangre. (198)

    (That you should bleed her, but in such a way

    That strength, surrendering to loss of blood,

    Will gently swoon...

  11. 5 Punishing Illicit Desire
    (pp. 99-124)

    The drama of honour unfolded as the theatrical convention par excellence to stage the crime and punishment of the wife’s adultery and permit the husband, brother, or male guardian of her honour to defend the family’s blood and name. A different, albeit related, dramatic conflict found its way onto the early modern Spanish stages and eventually became another great theatrical convention: the one experienced by subjects from differentestamentos(social strata), a condition of separation by birth, lineage, or social standing that made illicit the expression of desire between such subjects and their potential marital bond. As Edda Samudio Aizpúrua...

  12. 6 Woman in Breeches
    (pp. 125-147)

    From the onset of his dramatic life Don Gil de las Calzas Verdes finds obstacle after obstacle to exercise his capacity for self-fashion, in no small part because his interlocutors express doubts about his manliness, which puts him in an untenable position when the time comes to hire the services of Caramanchel, a lackey.² Abused at the hands of four masters who include a ‘pelón’ (poor, troubled person or man who lives off the labour of a prostitute) and a ‘moscatel’ (dumb, obnoxious person), the rogue seeks relief for his hunger and poverty but finds the idea of becoming the...

  13. Coda: The Musical Chairs of Divorce
    (pp. 148-160)

    Theentremés(hors d’oeuvre), loosely translated as ‘interlude,’ was the locus of bawdy dramatic representation where music, dance, foul language, desire, and sexual innuendo were unabashedly staged, in a melting pot of transgressions of the clearly defined boundaries of marital legislation.¹ This chapter analyses the interplay of characters inEl entremés del juez de los divorciosby Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra with various linguistic and theatrical rehearsals of divorce, a farcical marriage scene that melts down into music – the only sensible curtain call for the subject stage of divorce in early modern Spain.² This coda imagines a staging of this...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 161-168)

    My first research trip for this book took me to the Archivo General de Simancas, a small town near the city of Valladolid, in the fall of 1993. The Archive is housed in the Castle of Simancas, where it has been located since 1545 when King Felipe II established it as the depository of documents pertaining to all the institutions and representatives of the crown – the first Royal Archive of the Crown. The castle, originally commissioned in the fifteenth century by Don Fadrique Enríquez, admiral of Castile, was built among the ruins of an old fortress occupied alternatively by Arabs...

  15. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 169-172)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 173-210)
  17. Glossary
    (pp. 211-214)
  18. Works Cited
    (pp. 215-240)
  19. Index
    (pp. 241-254)