Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-768dbb666b-jrcft Total loading time: 0.539 Render date: 2023-02-04T21:59:18.365Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

4 - Playing the palace

Space, place and performance in early modern Spain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Maria M. Delgado
Queen Mary University of London
David T. Gies
University of Virginia
Get access


Early modern Spanish drama was born ‘playing the palace’ and continued to play in and for the palace throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. To say this is not to ignore the importance of the church and religious theatre in its development, nor the continuity between medieval and early modern religious drama as the Christmas and Easter tropes and the Corpus Christi processions evolved from late medieval to early modern forms. Nor is it to deny the significance of paratheatrical events and performance traditions in the public plaza, the activities of jongleurs, mimes and Carnival that would ground the rapid development of popular theatre in the sixteenth century. In fact, performance practices originating in the palace, church and plaza would continue to overlap in the seventeenth century. Comedias written for the public corrales (courtyard playhouses) were performed in noble and royal palaces, and palace plays were simplified for corral performance. Religious theatre and Jesuit school drama nourished the taste for plays about saints; the autos sacramentales (allegorical religious plays) written for performance in the plazas and streets of Madrid and other cities and towns for the Corpus Christi celebrations were sometimes repeated in corrales for a paying audience; and Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600–81) rewrote as autos several comedias he had crafted for corral or palace performance. While recognising those overlapping practices, this chapter focuses on palace theatres and paratheatrical practices staged by and for royal audiences. Describing them requires retrospective reference to late medieval performances, when these events are first documented with terminology and motifs that persisted in the early modern period.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2012

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Burningham, BruceRadical Theatricality: Jongleuresque Performance on the Early Spanish StageWest Lafayette, INPurdue University Press 2007Google Scholar
Stern, Charlotte‘The Medieval Theatre: Between and ’Gies, David T.The Cambridge History of Spanish LiteratureCambridge University Press 2004 115Google Scholar
Habermas, JürgenThe Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois SocietyCambridge, MAThe MIT Press 1991 7Google Scholar
Hernández Ferrero, Juan A.Palacios reales del Patrimonio NacionalBarcelona and MadridLunwerg 1997 12Google Scholar
de los Ángeles, MaríaSamper, Pérez‘Barcelona, corte: Las fiestas reales en la época de los Austrias’Luisa Lobato, MaríaGarcía García, Bernardo J.La fiesta cortesana en la época de los AustriasValladolidJunta de Castilla y León 2003 139Google Scholar
Ferrer Valls, Teresa‘Fiesta, literatura y sociedad cortesana,’García García, Bernardo J.Luisa Lobato, MaríaDramaturgia festiva y cultura nobiliaria en el Siglo de OroMadridIberoamericana; Frankfurt: Vervuert 2007 151Google Scholar
del Río Barredo, María JoséUrbs regia: La capital ceremonial de la Monarquía CatólicaMadridMarcial Pons 2000 126Google Scholar
Ceriol, FurioEl concejo i consejeros del PríncipeValladolidJunta de Castilla y León 2002 59Google Scholar
Ferrer Valls, Teresa‘La representación y la interpretación en el siglo ’Huerta Calvo, JavierHistoria del teatro español 2 MadridGredos 2003Google Scholar
Stern, CharlotteThe Medieval Theater in CastileBinghamton, NYSUNY, Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies 1996 74Google Scholar
Grazia Profeti, MaríaIntroduzzione allo studio del teatro spagnoloFlorenceLa Casa Usher 1994 35Google Scholar
Shergold, Norman D.A History of the Spanish Stage: From Medieval Times Until the End of the Seventeenth CenturyOxfordClarendon Press 1967 144Google Scholar
Ferrer Valls, TeresaLa práctica escénica cortesana: De la época del Emperador a la de Felipe IIILondonTamesis 1991 19Google Scholar
de Cervantes, MiguelEl ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la ManchaMadridEspasa-Calpe 1985 494Google Scholar
Carrión, María M.‘Here Comes the Real Bride: Anna de Austria and the Birth of Theater in Spain’Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 40 2006 113Google Scholar
Wright, ElizabethPilgrimage to Patronage: Lope de Vega and the Court of Philip III, 1598–1621Lewisburg, PABucknell University Press 2001 52Google Scholar
Bances Candamo, FranciscoTheatro de los theatros de los passados y presentes siglosMoir, Duncan W.LondonTamesis 1970 29Google Scholar
Stein, Louise K.Songs of Mortals, Dialogues of the God: Music and Theatre in Seventeenth-Century SpainOxfordClarendon Press 1993 68Google Scholar
Matluck Brooks, LynnThe Dances of the Processions of Seville in Spain's Golden AgeKasselReichenberger 1980 159Google Scholar
Cruickshank, Don W.Don Pedro CalderónCambridge University Press 2009 6Google Scholar
Arata, Stefano‘Proyección escenográfica de la huerta del Duque de Lerma en Madrid’Civil, PierreSiglos dorados: Homenaje a Augustín Redondo 2 MadridCastalia 2004Google Scholar
de Vega Carpio, LopeLa fábula de Perseo, o la bella AndrómedaMcGaha, Michael D.KasselReichenberger 1985 3Google Scholar
Greer, Margaret R.The Play of Power: Mythological Court Dramas of Pedro Calderón de la BarcaPrinceton University Press 1992 43Google Scholar
Ruano de la Haza, José María‘La escenografía del teatro cortesano’María Díez Borque, JoséTeatro cortesano en la España de los AustriasMadridCompañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico 1998 137Google Scholar
Stein, ‘Florentine Opera Comes to Spain: Lope de Vega's ’Journal of Hispanic Philology 9 1984 43Google Scholar
Cruickshank, Don Pedro CalderónFalerina's Garden 1649Google Scholar
Calderón, Celos aun del aire matanStroud, Matthew D.San Antonio, TXTrinity University Press 1981 68Google Scholar
Greer, Margaret R.Varey, John E.El teatro palaciego en Madrid: 1586–1707. Estudio y documentosLondonTamesis 1997 28Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats