Diversifying the Classics | A Wild Night in Toledo
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A Wild Night in Toledo

A comedy by Lope de Vega
Our Translation


Adrián Collado and Paul Cella

A Wild night in Toledo is one of Lope de Vega’s “comedias de amor,” or love plays. The action takes place almost entirely inside an inn in Toledo, a Spanish city where roads and paths cross, and where a multitude of characters of different ages, classes, genders and regions of Spain come to mingle and make love from dusk to dawn. If they have come to rest, they are in the wrong place: their passions, jealousies, and desires, their trickery, greed, and run-ins with the law will not allow them to sleep a wink during one wild night at this place. The play depicts a lively group of characters who run, jump, hide, and fight throughout the night in the name of love.

But this is more than a humorous story about love and lovers. Set in Toledo, a city strongly associated with Spain’s Catholic tradition and imperial power, the play nonetheless places religion and politics in the background, allowing the Spanish people to take center stage. In Spain’s “imperial city,” the country’s royal family and illustrious history are mentioned merely as matters of social convention, while the characters devote all their time and energy to what they really care about: intrigue, love, and sex. Characters’ attachments to conventions of social distinction prove to be but skin-deep, while it is as lovers that they reveal themselves in earnest. Though they may be military men, aristocrats, and gentlemen, they share a common desire to experience love in one way or another. Despite his aristocratic decorum, Fineo becomes infatuated with a lowly maid. Gerarda and Lucrecia claim they fear for their reputations, yet they will do anything to make their romantic adventures with Florencio and Beltrán possible. Captain Acevedo and Lieutenant Carrillo, the soldiers, are perhaps the bawdiest figures on stage. Lope’s characters are not primarily members of one class or another, but human beings responding to basic instincts.

The play’s Spanish title (La noche toledana) refers to the great city of Toledo and a popular saying, which is still in use. In Lope’s Spain, Toledo was a center of ecclesiastic and imperial power. It had been the ancient capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, which had unified the Iberian Peninsula under the Catholic faith. It served as a Christian stronghold against Muslims after the city was taken in 1085, although it was also the place where Christians first encountered the sophisticated arts and culture of Al-Andalus. It was the imperial capital under Charles V, (reigned 1516-1556), during the height of Spain’s power. As for the popular saying, there are three explanations for the origin of “pasar una noche toledana,” or to spend a night in Toledo. One suggests an allusion to a night in 8th century Toledo, on which a local Muslim governor invited to his palace a group of Muladis (Muslim converts of Iberian or Visigothic descent) under the pretense of a celebration, just to have them all beheaded. But there are also less violent explanations. One points to the legend according to which unmarried women used to stay awake during the night of San Juan (June 23rd) to hear the name of their future husbands. Another claims that on a night in Toledo the mosquitoes keep visitors up. The play seemingly alludes to all three potential origins, mixing the apparently playful stories of restless lovers visiting Toledo with allusions to Catholic tradition, conflict with Muslims, and empire.

A Wild Night in Toledo is at times reminiscent of Miguel de Cervantes’s great novel Don Quijote de la Mancha, published the same year as Lope’s play was written (1605). Lope’s leading duo, Florencio and Beltrán, like Cervantes’s Don Quijote and Sancho Panza, also represent finer feelings versus crass materialism—although, as we shall see, Lope does much to puncture any sense of Florencio’s superiority. Much of Lope’s play takes place in an inn, which functions here as a sort of microcosm of early 17th century Spanish society, as does Juan Palomeque’s venta in Cervantes’s novel.

The Plots

A Wild Night in Toledo is primarily the story of Lisena, a beautiful, smart young aristocrat from Granada. She has traveled to Toledo in search of her beloved Florencio, who had fled with his companion Beltrán after wounding (and possibly killing) a presumed rival in a jealous rage. Once in Toledo, the resourceful Lisena assumes the name Inés and adopts lower-class dress and speech to seek employment as a maid at a local inn. As she observes, Toledo is at the crossroads of Spain, and the inn gathers the city news: “This city is on the way to so many others, / and news— / high or low— / always comes to the inns / before it reaches the courts of kings” (vv. 633-640). There is no better place to feel the pulse of things and, therefore, no better place to begin looking for her man on the run.

As Lisena and Florencio arrive in the city, so do many others: military men, women of leisure, and a thwarted lover. A Wild Night in Toledo is also the story of how these characters meet in Toledo, experience erotic desire, and resort to deceit and dissimulation to achieve their conquests. Before Lisena can win Florencio back, Lope paints the stage with countless love triangles, squares, and pentagons, thus displaying his masterful ability to interweave plots and subplots.

As act I opens, Florencio and Beltrán have just arrived in Toledo. Florencio is romantic and sensitive, quick to fall in love with pretty women. His friend Beltrán is materialistic and pragmatic, chronically self-interested and never moved by sentimentality. If Florencio is the Platonist, the believer in pure forms of love and honor, then Beltrán is the Aristotelian, seeking truth empirically. I’ve got to see it to believe it, Beltrán might say.

Meanwhile, the aristocratic madrileñas Gerarda and Lucrecia pass through Toledo as Gerarda tries to escape her bothersome suitor, Fineo. They encounter a city preparing a grand celebration in honor of the newly born Prince Philip, son of King Philip III, and decide to stay. Florencio and Gerarda fall for each other at first sight, and after a brief conversation, they decide to spend the festivities, and the night, together. They enter the inn, with Florencio pretending to be Gerarda’s brother to maintain social decorum.

Lisena, calling herself Inés, comes to the city and begins working as a maid at the inn. The position gives her not only privileged access to information in her central location, but the ability to move through the inn and control the rooms. This unrivaled freedom will allow her to frustrate Florencio and Gerarda’s romance and manipulate the play’s lovers, most of whom are enamored of her, at will.

The next arrivals are Captain Acevedo and Lieutenant Carrillo, military officials who have come to Toledo to attend the royal festivities and recruit soldiers. The Captain is instantly attracted to Lisena/Inés and asks the Lieutenant to speak to her on his behalf. Instead, the Lieutenant courts her himself, claiming that the Captain is an arrogant and violent man. To complicate matters further, Lucindo (an old army friend of the Captain) and Riselo (another soldier) enter the inn. They are intoxicated by Toledo’s celebratory atmosphere and will try to sleep with Gerarda and Lucrecia. Finally, at the end of act I, Florencio and Lisena/Inés meet for the first time in the play, though they pretend not to recognize each other. Lisena’s presence threatens Florencio’s plans to sleep with Gerarda. Lisena, for her part, feels betrayed when she sees how quickly Florencio has replaced her with another woman.

Act II opens with a conversation between the play’s four soldiers, which ends with an agreement that each man will court the woman he has fallen for: the Captain and the Lieutenant will court Inés, Lucindo will court Gerarda, and Riselo, Lucrecia. The Captain immediately invites Inés to spend the night with him and she accepts, though she does not intend to show up for the rendezvous. Instead, her acceptance is the first step of an elaborate plan to separate Florencio from Gerarda and be reunited with her lost love. Gerarda, for her part, sees the attention that Inés is receiving and fears that her Florencio, too, will pursue romance with the beautiful maid. Lisena/Inés, eager to exploit her rival’s concerns, lies to her, claiming that Florencio, Gerarda’s supposed brother, is one of her many suitors. Gerarda is upset but returns to her lover’s arms when Beltrán convinces her that there has been a misunderstanding: Inés thinks he (Beltrán), not Florencio, is Gerarda’s brother. The misperception of identities here is conveyed through hilarious dialogues that make the spectator part of the confusion the characters experience.

The closing scenes of act II bring the first appearance of Fineo, the madrileño whom Gerarda is fleeing. Fineo happens upon his old friend the Lieutenant, with whom he briefly discusses the upcoming royal festivities and military matters, before their focus turns to sex and love —they ogle Inés, and Fineo relates to his friend his pursuit of Gerarda. Finally, act II ends with Inés further implementing her plan to renew her relationship with Florencio: she puts Gerarda and Lucrecia up at the inn, ostensibly to hide Gerarda from Fineo but really to keep her away from Florencio; she sets up two more phony late-night rendezvous with the Lieutenant and Fineo, asking them to wait for her in their rooms; and she sends Lucindo and Riselo to their rooms under the pretense that she has arranged for Gerarda and Lucrecia to pay them a visit after dark. By the end of act II, Inés’s effective power — her ability to determine others’ movements and locations—becomes clear. In a play full of soldiers and imperial celebrations, we are left to wonder where power lies and how it is exercised in Lope’s Spain.

As act III opens, night has fallen and Florencio is informed that officers of the law have been asking for him around Toledo. We are thus reminded that Florencio has either killed or seriously wounded a man. Florencio candidly explains his situation to the innkeeper, requesting a room for him and Beltrán to hide out. The innkeeper not only agrees to accommodate the men; he also lays out an escape route for them, describing the best way to sanctuary should the law come knocking at their door. The innkeeper unwittingly puts the men in the room where Inés has put Gerarda and Lucrecia, seemingly dashing Lisena’s hopes to keep Florencio away from her rival. But Lisena/Inés quickly regains control. Again, she manipulates the Captain, having him dress up as an officer to chase Florencio and Beltrán out of their hideout-cum-love nest. Just as the lovers’ romance begins to heat up, the Captain pounds on the door, causing Florencio and Beltrán to make their escape out a window.

The plot remains focused on the space inside the inn, as the two escapees immediately attempt to return, and as Lisena/Inés ably reconfigures her plan to thwart the romantic intentions of Gerarda and her own unwelcome suitors. Florencio and Beltrán race across rooftops, through chicken coops and away from dogs, as they try to make their way back to the inn and their interrupted assignations. They are arrested by local authorities, but manage to escape via an open sewer and get back to the inn. Meanwhile, Lisena/Inés continues her brilliant physical and psychological control of her rivals’ and suitors’ sexual appetites. Compared at one point to a master chess player, she moves her lascivious guests from room to room, promising with each transfer the satisfaction of their desires. In the play’s final sequence, her plots are fully revealed as, one after another, guests emerge from the dark rooms to which Lisena/Inés has sent them, each claiming to have been paired with the wrong lover: the Captain has ended up with the Lieutenant; Lucindo with Lucrecia; Fineo with Gerarda; Beltrán with Riselo, and Florencio with Lisena.

At this point, the authorities enter the inn, and the final scene consists in a confrontation between the law and the inn’s guests. The authorities propose an ultimatum to the couples: marry or go to jail. Everyone accepts, and Florencio sweetens the deal by bribing the officers. Thus, the “happy endings” result from coercive power rather than free choice, which, as the play has shown, leads to erotic indulgence over romantic devotion. Lope concludes his work with a hilariously subversive paradox: traditional social order has been restored by corrupt police officers, who prefer private gain to public retribution.

Toward a People’s History of Early Modern Spain

A Wild Night in Toledo is and is not about Spain’s celebration of the birth of King Philip III’s son, Prince Philip. In a sense, these events pervade the play — the royal fiestas are a frequent topic of conversation; they are the reason several characters travel to Toledo; and signs of the city’s preparation and anticipation are everywhere.[1] But this play is not at all about the fiestas insofar as it explores the disconnection between royal affairs and quotidian reality. Lope tells the story of two distinct spheres: one of political power and high society; another of the people and their private concerns. Thus, he establishes a compelling contrast: a defining moment of the Empire appears as a faint backdrop, while ordinary events are thrown into stark relief. We hardly see the imperial events themselves; rather, we see a simultaneous slice of life. Symbols of official power (e.g., fiestas, the Court, and Toledo’s palace and Catholic places of worship) appear in the background as the Spanish people take center stage.

Lope tells the story of an empire out of touch with its subjects. The upcoming festivities will be an opulent affair at a time when the people’s resources are scarce; or, as Beltrán says, when the silver “is all gone”[2] (v. 2405). The incongruence between Empire and society is evident not only in economics but in religion and culture, too. The Hapsburg monarchy identified with Spain’s Catholic (i.e., Roman and Visigoth) history and distanced itself from its Muslim and Jewish past.[3] To this end, Toledo was celebrated for having been the capital of the Visigoth Kingdom, and traces of Jewish and Muslim heritage were glossed over. It was socially advantageous to be able to claim purely Catholic lineage and any suspicion of Jewish or Islamic ancestry complicated social mobility. Fineo is the personification of this preoccupation with ethnic purity, which he manifests by saying that the wells of Toledo’s church welcome water from the River Tagus because the latter “kept its Latin name” (v. 1837) despite centuries of Muslim rule in the Tagus basin. The river’s untainted, Catholic waters are immediately compared to “a nobleman of the purest blood” (vv. 1842-43), making clear the coterminous relationship between status and Catholicism. In the context of Toledo, however, Fineo’s words can only be ironic. The Tagus’s name may not bear the mark of Islam but landmarks such as the Alcázar (Arabic for fortress and princely residence) and Zocodover square (Arabic for animal market) do, making a mockery of Fineo’s attempt to whitewash a diverse religious and cultural history.

The impossibility of a purely Catholic social elite is also suggested when Lucrecia describes Florencio and Beltrán as having a typically Andalusian “style and dress” (v. 321), which either means that the men physically look more Arab than, say, Castilians, or that they reflect a local culture fully reminiscent of Al-Andalus. Beltrán mockingly acknowledges his supposed Islamic roots by repeatedly likening himself to a dog, an anti-Muslim slur, which would make him a nobleman (un hidalgo) of mixed ancestry. He is also indecorously interested in money. One way to demonstrate noble extraction was to present oneself as being beyond material concerns, which had traditionally been the lot of Jews, Muslims, and Christian converts. Beltrán’s frequent references to monetary gain and commercial exchange are antithetical to the leisure class to which he is supposed to belong. Moreover, they are suggestive of the practical inadequacy of the official promotion of a society divided between idle, wealthy Catholics and everyone else, whether relatively poor but productive or wealthy and stigmatized.

Aside from pointing to how imperial policies do not fit with civilian realities, Lope turns the spectator’s attention from state to private matters by setting nearly all the play in a modest inn. This setting displaces the center from the palace to the people (as Lisena notes, “news / [. . .] always comes to the inns / before it reaches the courts of kings”); it is also the conceptual opposite of the space in which the royal festivities will presumably take place. The inn comes alive by night, while the fiestas will happen primarily during the day; the former provides an important measure of privacy, while the latter is necessarily public. At the inn, a supposed maid wields power over army officials and aristocrats, rendering irrelevant the social hierarchies that will be essential to the court’s celebrations, in which king and queen, dukes and counts will scrupulously perform their assigned roles.

The paths that several characters follow through the play similarly draw our attention away from the sphere of imperial power and toward private life. As the focus of these characters’ actions and speeches shifts from the former to the latter, so does ours. The Captain and the Lieutenant arrive in Toledo on a mission to recruit soldiers to secure the empire’s future—an unambiguous allusion to Spain’s overcommitted military. Yet they devote most of their energy to wooing Lisena/Inés, and practically none to growing the army. The Captain confines himself to the inn so he can continue to pursue Lisena/Inés: “I can’t leave this place. [. . .] Because of a certain woman” (vv. 913-15). By restricting his own movements, the Captain effectively rules out the possibility of searching for recruits on the streets and prioritizes his sexual appetite over the empire’s military might. In Fineo’s first appearance, he praises the empire and royal family, but his words smack of bombast. He has in effect disregarded the royal celebrations, preferring to spend the time following a circuitous route southward from Madrid in pursuit of Gerarda. His coming to Toledo is utterly incidental; he arrives not to pay homage to his king, but because he thinks it a likely place to find the woman he loves: “I heard about these festivities, / and I’ve come to see if she’s here” (vv. 1949-50). Second, Fineo instantly reveals himself as a flighty man. He claims to have come to Toledo to win Gerarda’s heart, but while speaking dejectedly to his friend the Lieutenant, he immediately begins ogling Lisena/Inés: “What a fierce maid! / [. . .] Is she an easy catch?” (vv. 1742-44). Fineo’s capriciousness belies any steadfastness. Finally, the inconstancy and neglect for imperial concerns demonstrated by all three characters (the Captain, the Lieutenant, and Fineo) are replicated in the play’s overall plot structure: the royal festivities appear in the background in acts I and II but are totally eclipsed in act III, which deals exclusively with the resolution of the characters’ love stories.

The disengagement from empire is further evident as characters’ lives diverge from the royal festivities. Lisena does not make a single reference to the fiestas and thus appears to exist wholly separate from them. Her coming to Toledo has nothing to do with the royal birth and is solely due to her love for Florencio: “I / [. . .] came / to Toledo chasing my fancy. / [. . .] I came here following Florencio” (vv. 3056-62). Instead, Inés becomes another, competing center of attention, a sort of rival to the fiestas as she becomes the one to influence the characters’ movements. Significantly, the characters move about the stage according to Lisena/Inés’s directions, not some official timetable. Her physical control over the characters is summed up by the Captain, who describes her as a sort of demiurge, moving the other characters at her will: “Inés is laying out her endgame / on the chessboard that is this place. / Taking pieces from her bag and / moving men from space to space” (vv. 2618-23). She symbolically replaces the fiestas as the city’s major attraction when the Innkeeper jokes that “[i]n four days, / she could match up enough people / to fill the town square!” (vv. 3037-40). The royals may fill the town square during the celebrations, but Lisena/Inés, a mere civilian, has beaten them to it with her schemes.

Florencio, too, represents popular separation from established order. A fugitive, he is literally trying to put distance between himself and the authorities. But he also distances himself figuratively from social authority, which takes the form of Catholic orthodoxy and conventional aristocratic morality. He defines himself as a private individual rather than a typical aristocrat. As mentioned above, Catholicism was an essential part of the aristocracy’s identity, as only people of pure Catholic lineage could claim elite social status. Catholic piety was a way to distinguish oneself from those barred from upper-class membership; namely, Muslims and Jews. Given the importance of devotion to official religion, it is clearly satirical that Florencio’s expressions of religious zeal are invariably short-lived and interrupted by opportunities for romantic encounters. From the play’s first lines there is tension between what Florencio is supposed to be and what he really is; between aristocratic propriety and private interest. At first, he appears to be a pious man, going to “see the main church” (v. 1). But he immediately abandons this plan to court Gerarda. Then, he explicitly puts his own interests ahead of Toledo (and its ecclesiastic and imperial significance): “I shall follow them / [. . .] and [. . .] see this storied city along the way” (vv. 127-30). From the first scene, the grandeur of Toledo—and Spain— are but an afterthought. And as the plot gradually pushes grand themes from a secondary position to near irrelevance, so does Florencio. By act III, act I’s fleeting piousness becomes blatant irreverence as Florencio runs over a convent’s roof to escape capture and return to Gerarda, blasphemously making a sacred place a means to his private ends.

But if this play is and is not about a royal celebration, it also is and is not about Florencio’s flouting aristocratic convention, as his behavior is both the antithesis and confirmation of what the aristocracy represents. He is clearly a transgressive figure. From the beginning, he is a confessed criminal and possible murderer who speaks callously of his victim: “Dead or alive, / Beltrán, / what’s done is done” (vv. 67-68). Such heartlessness complicates our sense of Florencio’s ethics. When he says Beltrán has “no shame” (v. 248) because he wants to walk right up and talk to Gerarda and Lucrecia; and when he ties fidelity to his social identity by saying “[i]f I do not remain faithful to a woman / I bring shame upon who I am” (vv. 84-85), one sees through the rhetoric of this violent man, who does not deserve the ethical stature he is assigning to himself. But from another perspective, the coexistence of his crime and superficial adherence to aristocratic civility indict Florencio’s entire class, as polite façades hide violent interiors. Significantly, the play begins and ends with Florencio’s transgressions; at first, he gravely wounds a man and eludes his legal responsibilities; at the end, he defies state justice by bribing the police to secure his freedom. Have corrupt official authorities reestablished the undermined social order via conventional marriages? Or has the aristocracy, simultaneously a pillar of traditional society and source of social violence, corrupted the state? In any case, the impending royal festivities will be a grand event.

Women, Disguise, and Identity

As is often the case in the comedia, female characters have significant agency, controlling their own desires and even manipulating those of others. Lisena, the play’s protagonist, embodies this model of an attractive, intelligent, and resourceful woman. Accompanied by Aurelio, she travels from Granada to Toledo in order to find Florencio and win back his love. Although Lisena/Inés refers to him as her uncle, he is more likely a servant, since no noble uncle would allow a niece to do what she is doing. In fact, the innkeeper questions Aurelio’s kinship to Lisena: “If you are her uncle, I will be like a father to her” (v. 667), commenting on the possibility of Aurelio’s disguise. In any case, Lisena reaches her destination, masquerades successfully as a peasant, and finds a job at the inn. Paradoxically, as the servant Inés she has more freedom to move and act as she wants than she did as a noble lady. She alone holds the keys to all the rooms in the inn: the innkeeper and the rest of the characters depend on her to open them. Her new identity allows her to control the desires of others, and will ultimately help her regain Florencio’s heart.

But Lisena is not the play’s only strong female figure. Gerarda is also a confident woman, unafraid of fulfilling her desires. She comes to Toledo with her friend Lucrecia to enjoy herself away from Madrid and the supervision of her family and her suitor Fineo. However, Gerarda, as a noblewoman, has to be more cautious than a maid like Inés. A noblewoman could not be seen with a man unless they were related or married; this would amount to a dishonorable stain on the whole family’s reputation. Gerarda is concerned about her honor and about what people would think if her promiscuous conduct became public, although she feels no guilt for her behavior. When Florencio propositions her, she responds: “I don’t know about that” (v. 511). Florencio tries to persuade her that they are safe because no one knows them in Toledo: “We’re both strangers here, / and nobody knows us” (vv. 513-14). For appearances’ sake, Florencio pretends to be her brother: “Make me your relative, say I am your brother” (vv. 521-22). As in the case of Lisena and Aurelio, a fabricated family member allows Gerarda to circumvent social surveillance of her honor, as she ostensibly complies with social norms while fulfilling her desires.

Again in act III, women use dissimulation to their advantage. Following Lisena/Inés’s instructions, Gerarda and Lucrecia both pretend to be Inés when they enter a room in search of their respective lovers. Lisena, once again controlling others’ fates, tells Lucrecia that passing as a maid will avoid social disgrace: “pretend you are Inés, so that / your good name is not sullied” (vv. 2844-45), insisting that lower-class women are under less scrutiny. Of course, this is Inés’s scheme to make sure that Gerarda and Lucrecia won’t reveal their real names and find out that they’ve been matched with the wrong lovers. But it also demonstrates the sophisticated techniques of concealment that these women use to elude social reproof.

While the play might bring to mind a modern bedroom farce, in which different characters obsessed with their sexual desires gravitate from room to room, opening and closing endless doors and moving through amusing plots, A Wild Night in Toledo offers a more complex account of social realities. Throughout the play, the female characters’ ability to construct reality with their performance, simulation, and stories is a predominant theme: Lisena disguises herself as a maid and furnishes herself with an uncle; Gerarda adopts a brother; and Lucrecia and Gerarda pretend to be Inés. Convention leads to transgression, as the characters imagine ways to undermine social constraints. In act III, the sheriff claims that travelers are primarily identified by their clothes: “[. . .] if the thief showed up here / wearing decent clothes, / they must have thought he was honest [. . .] / A guest’s clothing / is all the Innkeeper has to go by” (vv. 2931-35). But as Lisena’s transformation demonstrates, identity can be disguised, and clothing can easily deceive. Lope presents a malleable reality, produced by human ideas and interactions.

This Translation

This translation is a collaborative effort of UCLA’s working group, The Comedia in Translation and Performance, based on three editions of the play: the original 1612 publication, entitled Comedia famosa de la noche toledana, and editions by Juan Eugenio Hartzenbusch (1853) and Ignacio Sánchez Aguilar (2002). We have followed Sánchez’s text in most cases, diverging from his decisions on the few occasions when another edition seemed more appropriate. We have focused on making the text as fluent as possible for actors, while preserving the original. We have translated the text into prose, as we find it more conducive to successful productions in an Anglo-American context. 

Recent Performance History

In June 2013, Spain’s Joven Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico staged La noche toledana in Madrid under the direction of Carlos Marchena and with a cast of actors all under the age of 28.


Vega, Lope de. “La noche toledana”, in Tercera parte de las Comedias de Lope de Vega y otros

     auctores con sus loas y entremeses las cuales comedias van en la oja precedente. Barcelona:

Casa de Sebastián de Cormellas, 1612. (Web)

—. “La noche Toledana”, in Comedias escogidas de Frey Lope Félix de Vega Carpio. Ed. Juan Eugenio Hartzenbusch. Madrid: Atlas, 1853, pp. 203-225. (Print)

—. “La noche Toledana”, in Comedias de Lope de Vega. Parte III, coord. Luigi Giuliani, Lérida:

Milenio-Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, 2002, 3 vols. Ed. Agustín Sánchez Aguilar,

  1. 57-251. (Print)

[1] Lope was living in Toledo at the time and participated in the festivities. The local government hired him to organize a celebratory literary contest (una justa poética), which he himself opened with a poem in the prince’s honor. In act III of the play, there is a reference to this contest, when the Lieutenant encourages Fineo to participate in it: Lieutenant: “They also say there will be a literary contest, and since you touch on the poetic, you can write for the prize.” For more information about Lope’s role in the festivities, see Sánchez.

[2] Spain imported great amounts silver from its territorial possessions in the Americas, most of which was used to finance military campaigns (particularly in Flanders and against the Ottoman Empire) and pay off Italian creditors.

[3] The Hapsburgs’ predecessors, the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabel I of Castile, expelled the Jews from the peninsula in 1492. Philip III would decree the expulsion of the Moriscos—descendants of Muslims forcibly converted to Christianity— in 1609, not long after Lope wrote this play.


Professor Michael Hackett and first-year students in the MFA Acting and Directing Programs, Department of Theater, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, in a staged reading of Lope de Vega’s A Wild Night in Toledo, translated by The Comedia in Translation and Performance working group directed by Barbara Fuchs.
Photographer: Reed Hutchinson