Texto completo

Escena: En Cleves, en una quinta del Duque a diez leguas de allí, y en otra inmediata. todos son alemanes.



Duque de Cleves

Cleves, Duquesa de

duquesa, esposa del Duque de Cleves


caballero, bastardo, Conde de Moncastel después, secretario, mayordomo, Duque de Lotoringio o de Lotoringia después, hermano de la Duquesa de Cleves

Geldres, Duquesa de



dama, noble, hermana del Duque de Cleves


noble, viuda, hermana del Duque de Cleves, cásase con Enrique

Liébana, el de


Lotoringia, Duque de

duque, padre de la Duquesa de Cleves = el de Niveres


marqués, preso, primo del Duque de Cleves

Niveres, el de

= Duque de Lotoringia


viejo, capitán

P. anón.: dos criados (166c, acot. 2; R II, 1094b, acot. 3; no hablan).

Todos son alemanes.  


Leonora, a widow and the sister of the Duque de Cleves, is in love with Enrique, who has just visited her, reaching her room by means of a rope ladder. After he leaves she throws the ladder down to him, but at this moment the Duke, who has been hunting, discovers Enrique's presence and demands that he identify himself since it is dark. Enrique refuses, and he and the Duke fight. Enrique disarms the Duke, takes his sword and leaves his own. The Duke finds the ladder, which Enrique forgot, and also pieces of notes that Leonora had written to Enrique. He recognizes Leonora's writing and thus knows that it is she, and not their sister, Isabela, who has the lover.

Returning home, Enrique talks to Ricardo, whom he thinks to be his father, and tells him that now that he has studied arms and letters he is anxious to be presented at the court of the Duke. They practice fencing and Enrique, distracted, wounds Ricardo slightly. When Enrique, repentant, bemoans having wounded his father, Ricardo explains that he is not really Enrique's father, and that he does not know who Enrique's father is.

Enrique meets Ludovico, the Duke's cousin, whose horse stumbled and caused his sword to break. He asks Enrique for a sword, so Enrique gives him the Duke's. Ludovico asks Enrique to accompany him to the Duke's estate, and Enrique agrees to do so. Meanwhile, in order to protect Enrique, Leonora has told the Duke that although Ludovico was in love with Isabela he has changed his mind and is now her (Leonora's) lover. The Duke vows to make Ludovico restore Leonora's honor.

When the Duke confronts Ludovico with references to his activities of the previous night and to the fact that he has the incriminating sword of the Duke, Ludovico becomes very confused, since he has no idea what the Duke is talking about. Finally the Duke has Ludovico taken prisoner. Leonora confides to Enrique that the Duke found the note that she had written to him, and she identified Ludovico as her lover.


Enrique relates to Ludovico his version of why the Duke had him taken prisoner. He says that he was courting Isabela, but was caught by the Duke. Enrique got away with the Duke's sword, however, which was the one he gave to Ludovico. The Duke, therefore, thought Ludovico was the culprit when he saw him with the sword. Enrique adds that the Duke assumed that Leonora, rather than Isabela, was involved because Leonora was so upset when Ludovico was imprisoned. He advises Ludovico to go along with the Duke's idea that he marry Leonora to restore her honor. He also tells Ludovico that he loves Isabela and was Ludovico's rival for her.

Because of the pleas of Isabela and the Duchess, the Duke frees Ludovico. Enrique relates to Leonora what he has told Ludovico, and, jealous, he suggests that she ought to choose Ludovico rather than him because Ludovico is noble and rich. They argue, and Leonora finally tells him to visit Isabela. She then informs Isabela that the Duke plans to marry Ludovico to the Duquesa de Geldres and advises her to make Ludovico jealous by flirting with Enrique. She praises Enrique, but when Isabela agrees, she begins to speak ill of him, thus making Isabela suspicious of Leonora's feelings for Enrique.

The Duchess wants to raise Enrique's status so that Ludovico will be more jealous of him as a rival for Isabela. The Duke's mayordomo dies, and on the Duchess's recommendation, the Duke makes Enrique his new mayordomo. Upon her further insistence, the Duke names Enrique his secretary, after the Duchess has given him the title of Count of Moncastel.

When Enrique, Leonora, Ludovico, Isabela and the Duchess all meet, all the jealousies among the four lovers are revealed. Enrique kisses Isabela's hand, while Ludovico kisses Leonora's. Enrique follows Leonora as she leaves, affirming his love for her. Isabela, meanwhile, realizes that Ludovico is going to marry Leonora, not the Duquesa de Geldres. Ludovico accuses Isabela of unfaithfulness, referring to the ladder, which she does not understand at all. She is unhappy at this turn of events, and Ludovico does not know whether to be jealous of Enrique as a rival for Isabela or as a rival for Leonora, since he has just heard him (Enrique) refer to Leonora as "mi cielo."


The Duke has grown suspicious of the Duchess's feelings for Enrique because she has asked so many favors for him. He decides, however, that Leonora must marry Ludovico that day. With the pretext that she does not want to hurt Isabela, Leonora pleads to postpone the wedding. The Duke tells her that Isabela loves Enrique now, but Leonora still wishes to delay the wedding and tells the Duke to ask Enrique why. The Duke informs her that Enrique has already advised him to hurry up the wedding. He explains to her that he knows from Isabela that Enrique has been Leonora's lover, and that he is going to punish Enrique, who is not of high enough station for her. Leonora accuses Isabela of being jealous, repeating that Ludovico is really her lover, that he does not deny it and he has the Duke's sword. She declares that she will marry Ludovico, and at the same time she makes veiled accusations about the Duchess's relationship with Enrique. The Duke thinks again about his suspicions of the Duchess and Enrique, but he decides to stay his anger.

Ludovico tells the Duke that Isabella was the one who was visited by the man with the ladder, and that he has been protecting this unknown lover. The Duke shows Ludovico the note in Leonora's handwriting in order to convince him that it was Leonora, not Isabela. Ludovico then questions Enrique about the note, but Enrique responds that Leonora wrote it for Isabela because the latter was ill. In the meantime Leonora tells Enrique that the Duke plans to kill him because Isabela has told him about Leonora and Enrique. Leonora decides on a plan whereby Enrique will write a love note to Isabela, scorning Leonora, to see if Isabela will be placated and, in turn, placate the Duke.

Isabela is now angry because Leonora has the affections of both Enrique and Ludovico. She asks Leonora to marry Ludovico and let Isabela have Enrique. When Leonora questions whether such an arrangement would please Enrique, Isabela replies that he has been courting her, writing her letters, etc. Leonora surprises her by responding that he is full of deceit because he has been her "esposo" for a year. This information perturbs Isabela, who now wants to love Ludovico.

Isabela and Ludovico meet, and when he speaks to her of the ladder, she does not know what he is talking about. He relates how Leonora wrote a note for her, and she becomes angry, saying that he ought to think better of her than that or else that he is trying to discredit Enrique. She goes on to tell him that Enrique is Leonora's "esposo." This news leaves Ludovico upset and confused. The Duke, meanwhile, does not know what to think about the Duchess and Enrique. Enrique brings a letter for Isabela, and the Duke, believing it is for the Duchess, wants to see it, but Enrique refuses to show it to him, telling him that it is to Isabela. He confesses the truth to the Duke -- that he was the man with the ladder and that this letter is just to appease Isabela in the hope that she will intercede with the Duke on Enrique's behalf. The Duke, who really likes Enrique, forgives him. At this moment the Duchess enters with Ricardo and announces that Enrique is really her father's illegitimate son, who was hidden away until after her mother died, and that her father is coming to recognize him. Ludovico, Leonora and Isabela all enter, demanding vengeance on Enrique. The Duke tells them that Enrique and Leonora can marry and that they are to go and meet the Duchess's father, who will explain everything.


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