Escena: En Toledo, León y otros lugares


D. Alvaro

caballero, traidor


fraile, religioso

Antón Centeno



pastor, alcalde, aldeano



Crespa Pablos

pastora, mujer de Juan


pastora, aldeana


criado de D. Juan de Benavides

D. Diego López de Haro

conde, vizcaíno (Señor de Vizcaya), Conde de Bermeo, preso

D. Enrique

infante, traidor, privado, tío de D. Juan

Fernando IV

rey, niño antes, hijo de Da. María


pastor, aldeano

Gil Costal





médico hebreo, traidor, judío

D. Juan

infante, traidor, preso, privado

D. Juan Alonso Car(a)vajal

hidalgo, preso

D. Juan Alonso Benavides


Juan Pablos


D. Luis


Da. María

reina, madre, viuda

D. Melendo de Saldaña


Miguel Brunete



pastor, aldeano

D. Nuño

caballero, traidor



D. Pedro Car(a)vajal

hidalgo, preso, hermano de. Juan Alonso Car(a)vajal

Pero Gordo


D. Tello

caballero, traidor

Teresa de Benavides

dama, hermana de Juan Benavides, cásase con D. Juan Alvaro Car(a)vajal


pastor, aldeano

P. anón.: vecinos armados (gritan de dentro v. 352, v. 360); un criado (habla v. 369); caballeros (acot. ant. del v. 795, hablan vv. 845-851, también hablan unos de dentro vv. 845-851); otros (acot. ant. del v. 875, no hablan); un criado (habla v. 853); un mayordomo (habla v. 1519); un mercader (habla v. 1570); soldados (acot. ant. del v. 1820, no hablan); otros (acot. ant. del v. 2135, no hablan); un criado (habla v. 2135); soldados (acot. ant. del v. 2143, no hablan); pastores (acot. ant. del v. 3084, no hablan).


Don Enrique, Don Juan and Don Diego all want to marry the queen, Doña María. Each of these nobles also has a claim to the throne of Castile and Leon. Enrique, Juan's uncle, is the brother of Alfonso X; Juan is the brother of Sancho el Bravo; and Diego is a "primo" (actually a brother-in-law) of Sancho el Bravo. The Queen, however, has installed her three-year-old son, Fernando, as King.

Angry at this move by the Queen, Juan and Enrique both plot to get possession of the throne. Diego, on the other hand, supports the Queen, whom he loves, and devotedly stands by her. Because of the rebellion of Juan and Enrique, the Queen flees to Leon, her homeland.

The Caravajal brothers, Don Juan Alonso and Don Pedro, remain loyal to the Queen. Juan Alonso is to wed Teresa, the sister of Juan Benavides. When he learns of this, the latter is indignant that his sister would consider marriage to Juan Antonio, since the Caravajals are long-time enemies of the Benavides family and Juan Benavides deems Juan Antonio unworthy of his sister. He goes to León to stop the marriage, but when he arrives he discovers that it is too late, that Teresa is already espoused to Juan Antonio. Considering this an affront to his honor, Juan Benavides seeks vengeance. The Queen arrives, however, and shows them the King, Fernando, hidden in a tree trunk, and asks their aid in restoring him to the throne. In the face of this threat to the Queen and her son, the Caravajals and Juan Benavides reconcile their differences and agree to give their support to the Queen.

Meanwhile, Juan has established himself as king, abetted by Aragon and Portugal. His cause is furthered somewhat by the fact that there is a question about Fernando's right to the throne because his parents (María de Molina and Sancho el Bravo) were first cousins and a Papal dispensation is necessary to make him the legitimate heir, and such a dispensation has not as yet been granted. Juan's rule comes to a quick end however, when the Queen, Benavides, the Caravajal brothers, and their followers take both him and Enrique prisoner. The Queen mercifully pardons them and lets them go free after they have sworn loyalty to her. She appears in this last scene seated on a throne, wearing a breastplate and holding an unsheathed sword.


Juan has persuaded Ismael, the doctor, to poison Fernando, who is ill with smallpox. With Fernando out of the way, his path to the throne would be easier, and he promises Ismael that he will be kinder to the Jews. When Ismael starts to go into Fernando's room with the poison, however, he is stopped by the sight of a portrait of the Queen. His second attempt to enter is thwarted by this same portrait, which falls and blocks the doorway. At this moment the Queen enters, and observing that Ismael is trying to flee and has become pale, she become suspicious. When she questions Ismael he explains that Juan wants him to poison Fernando and that he is pretending to go along with the idea, but that in reality the potion he has for Fernando is not poisonous. Suspicious, the Queen forces him to drink some of the potion or be tortured, so he drinks and falls dead.

The Queen is confronted by financial problems throughout the realm. She is selling all of her property in order to have money to meet expenses. Enrique and Juan are of no help to her, only adding to her woes by asking for money to pay the soldiers. Benavides offers to help by giving the Queen money, but she refuses to accept it. She sells her jewels in order to pay off more creditors, and finally only Juan is left, asking for funds to pay the soldiers in Extremadura. The only item remaining for the Queen to sell is her headdress, but the merchant will not take it, offering to give her the money without it. She reprimands Juan, who would see his Queen bareheaded (destocada), while the merchant would not deprive her of her headdress (which she compares to a man's beard as a symbol of honor). She then insists that the merchant take the headdress.

Aware of the treachery of Juan, the Queen dictates to him a letter, addressed to "Infante," in which she speaks of a plot to kill the King but adds that a king has two guardian angels, so that the plot failed. The letter ends with a warning of loss of life should the treason continue. The Queen then leaves, after saying that a person in the next room will reveal the identity of the traitor to whom the letter is directed, whereupon Juan looks into the room and sees Ismael's corpse. Realizing that the letter is for him he takes the cup of poison, planning to drink of it, too, but the Queen enters and prevents him from doing so, telling him that Ismael said that Juan had put him up to poisoning Fernando, but that she does not believe it, implying that Ismael should not be trusted because he was a Jew.

Juan Alonso Caravajal and a group of soldiers bring Diego, whom they have taken prisoner, to the Queen. They are accompanied by Don Nuño and Don Alvaro. Juan Alonso explains that Diego wanted to marry the Queen and was seeking help in Aragon, thereby putting his loyalty in doubt. The Queen ignores Diego when he tries to explain and withdraws to talk further with Alonso. Juan tries to take advantage of the situation in order to solicit support from Diego by telling him that the Queen was to have Fernando killed (whereupon he shows him Ismael's body) so that she could marry Juan Alonso Caravajal, who has promised to kill Teresa in order to be free to marry the Queen. Juan says that he caught Ismael about to poison Fernando and that Ismael confessed everything to him after being forced to drink some of the potion to prove that it was not poisoned. Although Diego finds Juan's story impossible to believe, Alvaro and Nuño confirm what Juan says, declaring that they doubted at first but now they believe him. At this moment the Queen returns, indicating that she has overheard what Nuño and Alvaro have said against her and warning them to be careful.

The Queen is thanking Juan Alonso for all of his help when Don Melendo informs her that they have no food. He is particularly distressed because Juan has the means to give a grand banquet that night for all the nobles. Quickly realizing that the banquet will be the occasion for a conspiracy, the Queen says that it is in her honor and asks Juan Alonso to gather his men and her followers and await her orders.

At the banquet Juan, Diego, Nuño and Alvaro are discussing the situation. Juan offers to prove to Diego that the Queen and Juan Alonso are conspiring together and are to marry. Diego recognizes that Juan is a traitor, but he maintains silence. Nuño suggests that Juan be named governor and guardian of the King after they take over.

As those inside are engaged with their plans, the Queen, Juan Alonso and their followers have surrounded Juan's palace. The Queen, when she confronts Juan, asks him who ordered Fernando poisoned, reminding him that she has given him life twice. Juan admits that he asked Ismael to poison the King. Upon command, Juan is take prisoner. The Queen forgives the other nobles, asking them to support the King from their estates. Diego is given the title of Conde de Bermeo, for the Queen realizes that he did not believe Juan and has been loyal to her all the time.


The Queen is leaving Fernando, who is now sixteen about to marry Constanza, the daughter of King Dionís of Portugal. In a long speech (reminiscent of Polonius) she advises him to serve God, not to be unduly influenced by privados, to treat everyone equally and generously but not to be so familiar as to lose the respect of his vassals, to go out in public so that his people can see him, not to use the court jugglers as advisers, to hold the armed forces in esteem and to entrust his health to good doctors. Before departing she reminds him that he owes the throne to Juan Benavides and the Caravajal brothers.

The King remarks that he is glad to be free of his mother's control; Alvaro and Nuño speak unfavorably of the Queen. When Benavides interrupts to disagree with them, the King says that no one will dare to speak badly of his mother in his presence, and tells Benavides to return to Leon. The King is supposed to go to Ciudad Rodrigo for the Cortes (Parliament), but he plans to dismiss the Cortes so that he can go hunting.

Don Tello, who is helping Enrique, tries to get Diego to turn against his mother by telling him that she hopes to marry an Aragonese prince, Don Pedro, and rule all of Spain. His theory is that Diego can profit from such a situation because if the Queen's position is shaky and she loses Fernando's support she will marry Diego, as he wishes. At the same time Enrique's position with the King will improve because Fernando will not pay attention if the Queen speaks against Enrique. Indignant, Diego tells Tello that Enrique can seek his own means of ingratiating himself with Fernando. He, for his part, is loyal to the Queen.

While they are out hunting, the King and his party meet Juan, who is dressed as a laborer.  He speaks to Fernando, identifying himself, and telling him that he has been imprisoned on the Queen's orders for ten years because he discovered her ploy to marry a vassal and do away with Fernando when he was just a child.  After learning that Fernando had become King (the Regency being over), Juan managed to slip down the wall of the castle where he had been confined, using bed sheets as a rope. He has been living as a peasant for the four months since his escape. The King, who is greatly enjoying the hunt, forgives Juan and promises to restore his property to him. Enrique reports that the Queen and Juan Alonso, offending the memory of Fernando's father, are conspiring against the King now. The Queen plans to marry her daughter, Isabel, to the Prince of Aragon and then she and the Caravajals intend to usurp the throne. The Queen has already withheld a large amount from him to help her in her purpose.  Fernando finds this hard to believe, but all the nobles affirm that it is so. After giving orders that the Caravajals and Juan Benavides are to be taken prisoner, the King departs. The remaining nobles, Juan, Enrique, Alvaro and Nuño, devise a plot whereby the Queen, rejected by her son, will marry Juan, who loves her, and then the two of them will rule, giving to each of the other three nobles a territory to rule as well. They agree to sign a statement of support for the Queen in order to further their cause with her.

The Queen receives an affectionate, but amusing, welcome from the villagers at Becerril, where she has gone to live, accompanied by the Caravajal brothers. Soon Juan, Nuño, and Alvaro arrive there to take the Caravajals prisoner for being traitors. Upon learning that they are acting on Fernando's orders, the Queen accedes, declaring that good vassals must obey their king, and the brothers are taken away by Nuño and Alvaro. Juan tells the Queen that the Caravajals have turned against her, and when she doubts this he says that they have told the King that she has stolen a large sum of money from his estate and that she loves the Prince of Aragon and plans to hand over Castile and Leon to him. He continues, telling her that the King ordered him to take her prisoner and get an accounting of the money, but when he saw the Caravajals he ordered them seized.  She pleads with him to let them go free.  In order to prove his loyalty to the Queen, Juan shows her the paper that he, Enrique, Nuño, and Alvarez signed, swearing to support her, if she will marry Juan, and to remove Fernando from the throne, thereby restoring her to it. She takes the paper to keep as proof of their support and of their disloyalty to the King, putting it away and then pulling out another, which she tears up (pretending it is the first one), saying that it is better to destroy it. She goes to prepare her accounts for Juan to take to the King, and reminding him of the account that he owes her: his life three times.

Accompanied by Don  Melendo, who vouches for the Queen's loyalty, the King arrives at Becerril. He speaks with Juan, informing him that he has come to find out the truth for certain. Juan replies that the Caravajal brothers are prisoners, that the fearful Queen has promised to marry him and is urging him to rebel against Fernando. He says that she offered him Fernando's crown and begged him on bended knee to go to Aragon with her to get arms and support so that he could be crowned first in Leon and then in Castile. His devotion to Fernando, he adds, prevented him from agreeing to her proposals.  He advises Fernando to take her prisoner, but not to speak with her because she would not tell the truth and he would be moved to pity since she is his mother.  The King refuses Juan's suggestion, saying it neither reasonable nor just.

The Queen comes and tells the King the truth about the rebellion led by Enrique and Juan, about the attempted poisoning by Ismael, about how she sold her jewels and even her headdress to help him and about her continued support of her son. As a final proof she produces the paper that Juan and the other nobles had signed in favor of her as ruler rather than Fernando. Juan has to acknowledge his signature on the paper, and Fernando now sees the truth. Diego arrives with Pedro and Juan Antonio Caravajal, whom he has rescued from Nuño and Alvaro, and the King explains to them that he now realizes what has been going on.  Benavides also appears and is forgiven by Fernando.  The King orders Enrique, Nuño, and Alvaro imprisoned, but Pedro says that they have already fled to Aragon. Fernando puts Juan's fate in his mother's hands, and she orders him exiled and that his property be given to the Caravajal brothers and Juan Benavides.  The King rejoices in the fact that in Spain there are brave and prudent women, and Diego promises a sequel about "los dos Caravajales."


List of Plays

Lists of Characters