Enter Álvar Sánchez and Mendo with reeds in their hands, and Doña Sancha and Doña
My shot was outstanding!
Nobody has hit the target.
The target is still shaking.
And more than one heart is offended.
Is there a more gallant knight than Álvar Sánchez?
It was a good shot, but I know seven more knights whom I expect to have better shots.
Doña Sancha, your sons, and my nephews, are strong, worthy of the highest praise and
deserve their reputation, but Álvar Sánchez, my brother, has no equal in Castile.
The town is amazed by the strength of your arm and hand; the knights envy you and
the ladies love you.
They give you a thousand blessings.
At his wedding to doña Alambra, cousin of the Count of Castile, Ruy Velázquez showed
all the opulence of his heart, as the festivities, the tournaments, the galas, the
endeavours, the trophies and the copious feasts lasted more than seven weeks. Both
local and adventurous knights that one can see in Burgos compete against each other.
From Extremadura and Navarre, from Portugal and Aragon, magnificent and gallant people
came on such a just occasion. And, Mendo, even though they all tried to hit the target
today, I think I am among the most acclaimed. All the windows being full of ladies,
I took a shot, and with the reed I reached the sovereign lights. As it got higher
than them when you saw it go up, I can rightfully say I went beyond the stars.
Doña Sancha is envious to see that during these festivities her seven sons are left
without fame because of your bellicose reputation. Some of them formed small groups;
they’ll want to take a shot, but they won’t be able to get as far as you did, even
if all seven joined their forces into one arm and one heart.
Gonzalillo is heading to the target: his proud arrogance is promising!
He is the best of the seven brothers, though the youngest.
And the town is applauding and praising him.
It would have been better if the one who just took it didn’t show envy.
If Gonzalo weren’t my son and your nephew, doña Alambra, that reasoning would show
anger and rancour. But, given your nobility, I infer that you mean to praise his worth.
Are you saying Álvar Sánchez’s shot isn’t better?
Maybe, but ask the town if a better shot has been seen.
Everybody loves Gonzalo; nobody will tell the truth.
Enter Gonzalo González and Lope, his squire, with reeds in their hands.
My shot regained the honour of the Infantes of Salas.
It stole the wings from the wind and the speed from the lightning. May God bless the
strength of your arm and of your heart, as with a single reed you took revenge for
all that envy. If they could stop in that region where the wind blows, we would see
reeds sprout over its clear element. And as a result of such deeds, it would be a
great honour for the earth if the sky had in that area a thatched roof.
Gonzalo, as a child, you come bragging about your vigour, which could make one feel
ashamed, if he didn’t have my own. The javelin I threw triggered immediate envy, because
until now no one was strong enough to reach as far as I did. And you could apologize
for stirring up the people and for trying to deprive me of my honour in the presence
of the Count. But why blame you when you’re nothing but a reckless lad?
Álvaro, you lied about everything.
Are you talking to me, villain?
Don’t! Or I will respond with my sword!
Who of the two is winning?
By God, he gave him a light stab!
Ah, my relatives, he killed me!
If the Count doesn’t restore...
Don’t speak through your teeth, Mendo. Careful or the young boy you’ve just murmured
about, you being Álvar’s beneficiary, will turn you into choirboy.
I will complain to the Count.
Take this on your way there! He flees.
How is such madness possible? No one to avenge me. How is such evilness, such betrayal
I will step away from here because I don’t want to give her the chance with my presence.
Exit Doña Sancha.
Oh, my coward relatives! How can my blood be shed like this?
Ruy Velázquez, with a baton in his hand.
Oh, strong Rodrigo, my sister-in-law’s sons defied my blood.
Not all of us; it was just me.
He gave Álvar Sánchez...
Gonzalillo, how dare you?
Look, honour calls for rage, rage calls for the arm and the arm for the knife. The
first movement is not a man’s fault.
Yes, but in order to get some sense into you, and to teach the others a lesson, this
baton, nephew, will punish your foolishness.
You killed me, my lord and uncle; you killed me for no reason! But I ask my brothers
not to hold you responsible for my death.
This is how I punish vain foolish boys.
If you weren’t my uncle, my mother’s brother...
Don’t hit me again, uncle, or you know my temper, I can’t take it.
That is too much! Take this!
By God, he punched him.
We all know how to harm.
I am dead! Take out your weapons, my friends! Take out your weapons, my vassals, my
Even if you try to take revenge, Heaven is my witness that you gave me reasons.
Enter Albendari and Estébañez.
What is this, Ruy Velázquez?
This infamous lad brought me to this state.
Enter Fernán Bustos and Diego González.
How is such insanity possible?
Gonzalo, my brother, what’s this?
This is how the tyrant Ruy Velázquez, your uncle, treats me.
Uncle, how can you mistreat your own blood like this?
And what about the blood that my face is shedding, nephews, doesn’t it count to you?
He hit him first, for no reason.
I had enough reason, as he injured Álvar Sánchez, my relative and renowned knight.
The swords must be the judges in this matter.
The event will tell the truth.
As they are about to attack each other, enter Count Garci Fernández and Gonzalo Bustos.
Count, your intervention is necessary.
Only my lord the Count, whom I honour, can temper my sword.
My lord, as your loyal vassal, I surrender my sword to you.
Does a festivity that started so well have to end so badly? Is this the proper respect
you owe your lord? You deserve to be punished, and I promise I will punish you. Gonzalo,
do you forget that doña Alambra is my cousin and that those who respect my blood,
if you boast about your loyalty, mustn’t attempt against her blood? And you, Rodrigo,
can’t you see you and Bustos share the same blood?
Count, and lord, it would be better to end this peacefully. What’s done is done and
it cannot be repaired, but I, as his father, will punish the boy. Leave him to me,
my lord, and you, my brother-in-law, be sure that if you had killed him, I wouldn’t
hold a grudge. He’s a lad, we were all young once. Ask him for forgiveness, boy.
Uncle, the motive we had in this matter excuses us both; but I am willing to be considered
guilty. I humbly ask you and the Count for forgiveness.
My nephew, apologize to the Count, on behalf of the two of us here.
I absolve you of the affront.
Doña Alambra is on her way to Barbadillo and she’s waiting querulously for you.
I think you should all go there, as accompanying her is the right thing to do, also
as a confirmation of this reconciliation.
And it is only fair we all please you.
Remember I will be angry if I receive any complaints in Burgos.
I am very grateful to you! Let me kiss your feet!
The wounds are minor, we can walk.
[Aside] Oh, I will take revenge even if I were to lose my life a thousand times!
Enter Nuño Salido as all the others exit.
Lope, stop and tell me what’s happening; while hunting a raven, I couldn’t bring back
my goshawk, so I couldn’t get here faster.
Nuño Salido, your present reputation praises you highly, as the best tutor princes
and kings have ever had. Alexander’s tutor was Aristotle and Cyrus the Great’s was
Xenophon, whom Antiquity reveres and loves, but you oppose them both in competence,
as you raised seven such Infantes.
What a misfortune having gone hunting in the mountains today!
Knights were throwing thousands of javelins with dexterous arms and gallant care at
a target set by Ruy Velázquez. At the applause and clamour, the deaf air resounds
when the bowstring releases the bow, like a flock of thrushes which take flight all
at once. Álvar Sánchez, hitting the frame of the target, looked more arrogant than
Caesar in Amyclas’ boat. Doña Alambra praised him in the presence of doña Sancha,
Gonzalo’s mother, who instantly gave her a resentful look. The boy, as fast as the
wind, with his reed rent and pierced the wind, which happily obeyed it. The shot caused
such general joy that don Álvaro, envious, said to him I don’t know what impertinent
rudeness. The intrepid Gonzalo stabbed him and, at the cries of his aunt, Rodrigo,
her husband, rushed furiously, hurting him with the baton he had in his hand. However,
in his turn, Gonzalo, with a punch, turned his face into a stream of blood. And the
whole quarrel ends with all of them now heading to Barbadillo, accompanying the newlywed
I am amazed by this boy’s courage, but I fear this presumptuous woman if she ever
receives them in her castle.
Can’t you see that Garci Fernández, Count of Castile, with his powerful hand, made
this peace, and that it requires obligatory loyalty? The seven Infantes whom you tutor
go along the green bank of the Arlanza River, hunting down to the end of the village.
The bright sun helps them by tempering its rays, the air offers them its scent, the
river its freshness, the forest its shadow and May its garlands.
Well, let’s all follow him; I believe in God and in the word given to the Count, that
doña Alambra’s vigour will cease.
I’m not sure, because she’s a woman and she’s angry.
Exeunt and enter Doña Alambra and Estébañez.
Is this what takes away your sleep?
I am afflicted by fate to such extent that my life lies in his death.
Well, as long as Gonzalillo is not suspicious of your wrath, can’t you think of a
trap so that his remains become food for the birds in this forest?
I can’t decide on anything.
Serene your beautiful eyes and think of a way to take revenge.
I’m afraid of Ruy Velázquez.
Focus on how you can satiate your fury and leave me hope.
The seven Infantes occupy the fresh bank of Arlanza, arrogantly hunting herons with
their falcons, that kiss the bright diamonds in the celestial balconies. If you, famous
Estébañez, if you, brave gentleman, as soon as the treacherous boy separates from
his people, approach valiantly, with a determined heart, not in order to pull out
the sword, but to affront him, my soul would be happy to see his avenged.
Do you doubt me in that respect? By God, I only respect the Count and I am ready to
lose my life for you.
Listen to me carefully.
Go there, and when he turns his shoulder, so that he is taken by surprise if he sees
you coming, throw a cucumber full of blood at his face. You know this is the biggest
affront in Castile. I will protect you in case someone attempts to pursue you.
Are you pleased with that?
With this affront, I am.
I’m going to do it, then.
He’s bathing his falcon in that clear spring.
You’ll see how strongly I’ll hit him.
The Indian elephant falls on the dragon that bit him, and in the meadow, driven by
revenge, the asp bites the leg that stepped on it. The bull, jealous, denudes the
green forest with its ferocious roaring and the painted tiger throws itself into the
water hastily, defeated by the hunter chasing it. The thirst for revenge does not
make only beasts and animals resort to frauds and deceit; women’s character, which
is immutable, is based on two poles, love and revenge.
Enter lady Constanza, Doña Alambra’s cousin.
What are you doing here all alone?
I am absent, cousin, like the one who loves, fears, hopes and regrets.
Did Ruy Velázquez leave?
Yes, because the Count, my lord, sent for him yesterday.
What does he need from him?
They say that king Almanzor sends two captains to disturb the frontiers of Castile.
And when do you expect him back?
I would like him to come back later to take with him vassals in order to serve the
Count, as they will know how to resist the Moor’s power.
Who accompanied him?
Cousin, you know he always entrusts the important things to Ruy Velázquez: have faith
and patience, although, it is normal that you, as newlywed, feel the solitude of his
Why did you leave doña Sancha?
Because she entered the town and because the echo brought me news of your sad complaints.
I believe it was Gonzalo’s will that brought you here, rather than the desire to do
me a favour.
Do you think I know where he is?
You discretely ask about him; invention of love that wants to express in one phrase
many things at once.
Gonzalo González is your nephew.
Well, there is no other greater interest in my will.
Listen, Constanza, my friend, a wise man painted love’s beautiful face (in order to
better declare how it conceals its pain) covered with a crystal cloak, under which
it can hardly hide its thoughts and concerns. It boasts that it can hide them only
by covering its face, but, as the cloak is made of crystal, anyone can see them.
I won’t deny I have a certain inclination towards Gonzalo, but they are two different
Constanza, for me they are equal because inclination and love are the same thing,
as that loving star inclines to favour it. And now that you’ve admitted to it, you
made a bad choice.
Isn’t Gonzalo wellborn? Isn’t he your brother-in-law’s son? Isn’t doña Sancha his
mother, your Rodrigo’s sister?
I say this because in many other aspects he does not take after his father, as he’s
an arrogant, haughty, impudent, furious and ill-bred lad.
No one come near to defend him or I will end his life!
I hear people screaming. What can it be?
We can see if he is crazy when he asks for help.
If my aunt sent him, she will help him.
Enter Estébañez running.
Help me, as I did as you wished.
Cover yourself with my skirt, since they are all coming to get you.
Enter Gonzalo, with his face full of blood and the brothers with their swords unsheathed.
Is Alambra protecting him?
Nephews, don’t hurt him. Careful, you could injure me, look how pregnant I am; show
me proper respect.
I come to take firm revenge. If it were Garci Fernández, I know he would have protected
him, and I also know you sent him to do this because the nobleman wouldn’t have done
such nonsense without a reason.
I was the one who sent him?
Well then, if you didn’t, leave him.
He already took refuge under my protection, nephew.
Don’t talk about the respect we owe you, because we must kill him.
There is room for you behind and I promise I will leave him to you.
Stab him, Fernando!
Ah, cruel beings! How can you do that?
He runs away.
You deserve, aunt, to be treated like this.
Let’s take my mother to Salas, Diego, where we will later inform my father about this
dishonour. Cucumber full of blood thrown at me? Such an insult to my face?
Oh, you traitors!
Remember that they have their people with them here and that your husband is away.
Are you going to pay any attention to him? Don’t you know it’s true that he is insane
If he was hit in the face, as he claims, on whose account do you want this affront
Well, say: was I the one who ordered it?
I’m not saying that, but, all in all, the nobleman was held responsible.
They affronted me twice, they want to finish me off. Gonzalillo killed two of my relatives:
one in Burgos and this one here. But neither of them comes close to the disturbance
caused by the killing of a nobleman who was under the protection of my skirt. He should
hold me in high regard at least for my royal blood, if not for being his aunt.
You are not wrong, since he didn’t miss the opportunity, as he wanted to avenge himself.
Look, cousin, how they left my veils, all covered in blood. If only I had never gone
through with this wedding… What did the Count win from all this? Weren’t there a thousand
knights like Ruy Velázquez?
No, because none of them equalled him in blood and courage; being lord of Villarén
is the least of Rodrigo’s attributes.
If he doesn’t come up with a great punishment, cousin, he doesn’t love me. I will
dress for mourning; I want to wait for him like this, in floods of tears, in order
to pay tribute to the sea of my honour. Blood on my veils? How could Sancha’s sons
do this to me?
Cousin, widen your heart, don’t narrow it like this, let this offense fit within it.
When I have that cruel heart between my teeth, if Ruy Velázquez avenges me! I will
not rest until I eat it in big mouthfuls roasted by the fire of revenge.
May Heaven never allow that the best heart to eternally honour the Castilian value
be subjected to such misery, but on the contrary, may its owner enjoy soft peace,
pleasant dreams, long life, sacred tranquillity; but oh, I fear and suspect they will
write about all this to Rodrigo.
They say that herons were flying into the sky around here. Nuño goes on one path,
I on another, without seeing any trace or sign.
What’s going on, Lope?
Oh, my lord Gonzalo’s sweet, beloved darling! I am lost looking for him.
They all went to Salas. Hasn’t the echo spread the rumour?
What? So quickly and in the absence of their uncle?
This beast, doña Alambra, I wish to God I could get out of my veins the blood I share
with her, caused Estébañez, her relative, a sad accident.
She ordered him to hit Gonzalo with a cucumber covered in blood and, as he put her
plan into action, she protected him with her skirt, where, killed by sword wounds,
he stained her veils with his disloyal blood. How could I describe to you the exaggerations,
the chimeras she made and the fierce screams she gave?
I imagine seeing tigers, snakes, bulls, vipers, dragons, crocodiles and lions and
various other animals. Accompanying the Infantes is the right thing to do: may God
be with you.
Listen to this for a moment: Ruy Velázquez is a crazy man who, pushed by his hard
feelings, will punish Gonzalo in some way. Lope, tell him to disappear, if he sees,
if he knows, if he feels that his life is my soul. His father will restore peace,
or the Count, if necessary.
Well, how will I convince him that you do him this favour?
By giving him this ring.
Tell him that I remain restless among these people.
If you want him to secretly come to Barbadillo to see you, don’t doubt that he will.
In Salas he is safe.
That’s discrete advice.
I wish I could be discrete and not love someone who didn’t interest me; but, as my
love happened by accident, I cannot unlove what love loves. I love and I will love,
as those who wait in love, already feel the beginning of its possession and those
who enjoy it have no reason to try to get away from the good that has begun. Love
causes me troubles, but it also offers me the victories suffered by the evil in the
shadows of the good. This is what the pleasure of its memories can do, even sorrows
seem glories to those who deserve love.
Enter Ruy Velázquez and Mendo.
Mendo, say no more. I feel like I’m losing my mind.
They went to Salas with your sister.
Doña Sancha scolded them a lot, she said many things to them, the truth is she loves
Oh, I wish she hadn’t been born from the chest that gave her birth! What do her sons
think? Where does their haughtiness come from?
Sir, from being your nephews.
A gentleman from my house, such a wellborn man? Wasn’t Álvar Sánchez enough?
This Gonzalillo is a devil; killing a man with just one punch… This has never been
Well, some man will eventually kill him.
Listen to the strange sound of your wife sobbing.
What a pleasant welcoming…
Gonzalo Bustos, afflicted, went to Salas to scold this brave rascal.
Mendo, my friend, what’s the use of doña Alambra’s crying and why did she dress for
mourning even the walls?
Enter Doña Alambra.
Why are you dressed in mourning if I return alive?
Because I’m asking you to take revenge on your infamous nephews; I am in mourning
for my honour, which is already dead.
Not dead, but offended.
What man from this entire world did the Count, my cousin, marry me to, a man who lost
the respect of a villain, a lad, a knight that yesterday was playing with other children
and today kills a man under my veils, a good man among all my kinsmen. This is his
blood, this, this is his blood, Rodrigo! Say you don’t want to take revenge, and I’ll
make of this spinning wheel a sharp point and a few blades, to punish the affront
of this lad! How could Gonzalo González do this to me? Oh, God, I have no husband!
I won’t wash these veils unless I do it with my own tears, until I rip Gonzalillo’s
haughty heart out of his chest.
Shut up, shut up, doña Alambra! Be quiet, be quiet, light of my eyes! The Infantes
of Salas are my honourable nephews! It’s not fair for relatives to take revenge on
one another, nor did God make laws of satisfaction, but of forgiveness and forgetfulness.
Go, Mendo, reach Bustos, tell him that I beg him to meet me on the spot. Yesterday
the Count told me to ask him for a piece of advice.
I’ve never seen you wiser. It’s much better to have concord among relatives!
That’s my point exactly.
Tell him to come back later.
Do you call yourself a man? You, the one who’s feared by the Cordovan Moors? You,
the one whose famous portrait my cousin showed to me in Burgos in order to convince
me to marry you, in which you were dressed in shining armour, surrounded by thousands
of Moorish banners, heads and broken scimitars, with a wide sign of your blood and
of your deeds, one of the many reasons I chose you to be my husband?
Shut up, Alambra, and don’t shout! When it comes to being shrewd you must conceal
Instead of your clean armour you should wear these bloody veils and this helmet of
pines, hair partings instead of your red, white and yellow crest, chopines instead
of spurs, and instead of the Moorish banners chests of makeup and colour, and a spinning
wheel instead of sword. Among your infamies, Gonzalillo, the youngest of the Infantes
of Lara, killed two of my relatives and with a male falcon that he snatched boldly
from the hand of a squire who came from the mountains, before the Count’s eyes, in
Burgos, slashed your beautiful face, making your mouth, nose and ears bleed. Leave,
and don’t ever see me again, nor come back to Barbadillo, since you suffer on your
own skin the affronts they told you about.
The sweet language of misleading style of a fabulous flattering friend, the feather
of the cautious coward, burning double-edged sword, the fake tears of the crocodile,
the dangerous siren calls, the hungry lion, the poisonous asp whistling along the
banks of the Nile, the fury of the ones who, by speaking, pour out invectives against
the absent, when the occasion is past in order to satisfy their decay, the villainous
sword in the surrendered, don’t match the wrath or the tongue of a woman who irately
Enter Mendo, Gonzalo Bustos and his sons.
Noble Ruy Velázquez, on the way I found your brother-in-law Gonzalo Bustos, who, so
that you don’t think he has a double agenda, arrives obeying your orders. There is
no flower in the valley, or oak in the mountain, that was not moved or hurt by the
feeling provoked by your sorrow, making somebody else’s fault its own. He brings his
sons so that you punish the one who disobeyed you.
My lord and brother-in-law, Heaven be my witness that I feel your anger in my heart.
My sons, as you can see, accompany me so that the one who’s guilty is severely punished.
Seize, kill those who caused you pain, any one of them is a vein of my arm. Make bleed
the one you consider most blameworthy, as they are all veins of the head. I will be
left with the biggest pain for having engendered them, which is sadness. Is it Diego,
is it Nuño, is it Álvar the one who caused your grief, proving unkind to my nobility,
or was it, perhaps, Ordoño, who is short-tempered and inexperienced when he speaks?
Could it be Fernando, by any chance, even though he is too humble to offend anyone
and has good judgment? Is it Alfonso, the eldest, or maybe Gonzalillo who, finally,
as a lad, can be mischievous? Draw your sword and slash them in revenge for their
foolish acts. Just spare one of them so that he can inherit my house and to whom I
can leave my family estate.
Gonzalo Bustos, my dear brother, Alambra got angry; she deserves to be excused because
when it comes to the changing female temper, any anger swiftly turns into rage. I’m
not as arrogant, or as vain, as these knights think. They are my nephews, my sister’s
sons, and they are more worthy of forgiveness than of punishment. Estébañez, my relative,
deserved his death, as the one who offends another person for no reason is either
insane or he was paid by previous agreement, proving not to be wise by accepting to
do it. If he weren’t dead, I assure you I would have killed him myself, to make just
amends, in defence of my offended blood. Doña Alambra swore to me that she had no
fault in this, and that this vile coward was only driven by envy in his villainous
behaviour, which scorches and burns me with fury. Then, if Alambra withheld her rage
and wants to be respected, don’t get frightened, because she’s a woman and she’s mine,
the Count’s cousin and besides, your aunt. Give me a hug, my nephews! Come, Gonzalo,
don’t hesitate! Why are you looking for ways to seem humble, when you are all my equals,
both in blood and heart?
Sir, I am the only one to blame. You, the nobility and the honour of the Goths, grant
me forgiveness, or else cut my head off with that very sword.
I want you to live many years, nephew, because if the prediction is right, when at
war, you must make your homeland famous, and lead it to peace with your sword. Let’s
put an end to this conversation. It all comes down to the fact that the one who honours
his superiors is fortunate: God extends his life.
May He prolong and save yours.
Get some rest, sons, it’s late, and your father and I need to talk.
Should we kiss my aunt’s hands?
As a woman, she will act extremely crazy. Let’s leave this at least for tomorrow,
maybe she’ll be less upset.
Let’s go then, there will be plenty more days when we can see her.
What can I do for you?
Bustos, I would like to talk to you in depth.
Well, listen carefully, this is very important to me. Gonzalo Bustos, Almanzor the
Cordovan, fearing the damage I can do at his frontiers with my men – the vassals from
the Villarén, Burueba, Barbadillo and la Torre villages, doña Alambra and I have –
for when I got married, – and this is confidential – promised me six thousand doubloons
of fine Moroccan gold; apart from this, twenty horses of those famous colts that graze
the hay meadowsN
XNota del traductor
Hay meadows. In the original play by Lope de Vega, gamenosas. This Spanish word does not appear in the Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española, by Sebastián de Covarrubias, or in the Diccionario de Autoridades, nor was it found in the DRAE. Lope de Vega refers with this term to the fields of grass abundant in gamones, where horses graze. Consequently, the playwright created the word “gamenosa” as
a derivative of /gamón/ through a process of suffixation. According to the DRAE, gamón is a plant of the lily family, with erect, long, sword-shaped leaves and white flowers
with a reddish line on each petal.
of Guadalquivir; twelve carpets from Meknes and twelve scimitars of Toledan steel,
adorned with gold and iron damask; ten Tunisian harnesses, with the bits in filigree
and other such riches from the African kingdoms. Now, as you can see, I am married
and you know I was left poor after all the money I spent in Burgos seven weeks in
a row. The parties, the jewellery, the feasts, the dishes brought me both honour and
poverty. I barely have a horse if I want to go out to the fields. There is no crockery
in my house. Yesterday I pawned my gold and silver to a Jew, with high interests.
I swear to the eternal God, I can’t borrow money because I think I’d blush with shame.
We’ll soon have children, I can already see signs of it in doña Alambra, and my home
will require new expenses. I want to write a letter to King Almanzor and I want you,
brother-in-law, to give it to him, if you please. Because one cannot send plebeians
as ambassadors, but noble gentlemen and, if possible, relatives. Gonzalo Bustos, if
you accept to be that noble messenger, so that the Moor keeps his promise to me, we
will share like brothers whatever he sends me. I don’t want anything from what he
may give to you, as I think you need it for the mandatory support of those seven brave
sons, who, hopefully, will give you sweet grandchildren.
If you think, my brother, lord and friend, that my mediation can help you reach your
goal, leaving aside vain prologues and compliments, I invite you to write the letter
so I can depart straight away. Sancha won’t need me at home for the management of
the house, as she is accompanied by our seven sons who do a better job than I, who,
as you can see, am old, but not decrepit, thank God. Even though, as you can see,
the weapons weigh down on me, I am very prompt and agile when it comes to being at
Gonzalo, meanwhile please go calm Alambra down.
I’m going. God bye you!
Ali! What am I saying? Hello, Moor!
Enter Ali, captive.
Tell Mendo to give you ink and paper.
Starting from now the infamy of those of Lara leaves the kingdom of Castile and from
now on I will be rid of its sons. Now I want Alambra to know how much I love her.
According to wise men, betrayal and love were related from the beginning of time.
Here is ink and paper.
Well then, write in Arabic the following… Why are you looking at me so surprised?
Fold the paper while I shut the door.
[Aside] Oh, revenge is so sweet! “To you, Almanzor, supreme King of Spain, Ruy Velázquez,
the Castilian, wishes health.”
“Today I want to give you Castile.”
“Because that brave old man is Gonzalo Bustos.”
“He is the father of seven knights, the best ones in the entire Castile, with the
most dashing courage. Cut his head off his shoulders right away so that Garci Fernández
is left without his wisest counsellor. I promise I will take the seven sons to the
fields of Almenar by deceiving them and that they will be accompanied by few people.”
Have you written that?
“Send your captains with a numerous army, and these captains be Viara and Galve…”
“I will hand the brothers over to them. Rest assured that, once they are dead, you
will be able to enter Castile without any resistance, and be certain that another
count called Julian puts at your service his chest.”
And by stabbing yours, this case remains secret.
He stabs him with a dagger.
Enter [Mendo and Almendar].
I killed this Moor for reasons that have to do with my honour. You two throw him silently
into the river.
Grab him by that side.
[Exeunt Mendo and Almendar.]
I want to seal this letter with my own signature and stamp and then give it to Gonzalo
Bustos. This is a temerarious deed, but love and offence need neither peace, nor advice.
I love and I am offended; I am a traitor, but I have an excuse.
End of the first act.
Enter King Almanzor and his captains, Viara and Galve.
A messenger of Ruy Velázquez wanting to see me?
You can call him his ambassador, my lord, as he claims he is his relative and knight.
Then he should be given a seat.
After finding out the reason of his coming here, you can, if you so desire, honour
Let the Christian in, then.
May God, who has the lives of all men in his hands, extend yours, as much as a king
Arise, Christian ambassador, and tell me briefly what brings you here.
Sir, Ruy Velázquez, the Castilian, that brilliant, brave fighter, who is Numa Pompilius
when it comes to peace advice and Horace, the defendant of the bridge, at war, with
due humility took the quill and wrote here his thoughts to you. In these brief words
I have described my mission.
Your age, your value, your wisdom, would give credit to the owner of this letter and
to his intention, if he weren’t my friend. Allah is my witness that I don’t envy your
Count for the beautiful land he owns in Castile, although I do consider him my enemy.
I don’t envy victories subjected to changes, or riches opposed to the furies of what
the Moorish spear can do, or the magnificent mountains of Asturias, powerful defence
against our lightning and sacred laurel of its offenses. May his captain, his tutor,
be Ruy Velázquez, the best sword the relics of Pelagius have. I will read the letter,
glad about this mission, as if the caliph, whom I adore, had written it himself; that
is how pleased I am with his affection.
He reads aside.
Your value suits your decorum, as honouring the meritorious is justice. And the way
the bright sun generates gold, honour derives from the king who only wishes to give
his praise to the good.
How is your militia over there? Is your army full of those famous Castilian soldiers?
It preserves the value of the old days. Castilian men, mostly those who are true Asturians,
were born with weapons in hand. You have experienced what our men are capable of!
I tested your borders, Christian, and I fought hand-to-hand against more than one
of your brave men. I already crossed the banks of the Tagus River and the files of
my camp ploughed the snows of the high Guadarrama.
I know you by your reputation and I’ve seen you before.
I’ve read the letter. Are you Bustos?
That is how they call me in Castile.
Are the seven Infantes, Castile’s shield, descendants of your brave blood?
I am their father, and I was also their teacher.
Your illustrious name is worthy of eternity, but your life will be short, if I look
after my interest and not your age. They wrote me asking me to kill you.
I don’t deserve that correspondence from my brother-in-law, I don’t know how he can
be so noble and so treacherous. If I came here deceived by that barbarian because
of the quarrels between my sons and his wife, in which I haven’t taken part and of
which I’m not responsible, you, as king, with your generous hand will set me free
if you don’t want to be part of the perfidious betrayal of a barbarian.
I can certainly spare your life, Bustos, my friend, but I can’t save you from prison,
because sending you to prison is reason of state. This is all I can do for you. Take
his sword away.
I will give it to a King, treacherous brother-in-law, backstabbing Rodrigo. How vile
vengeance is when it comes with betrayal!
You must have given him a reason.
Me? None whatsoever, which comforts me in my misery.
Bustos, you are a wise and generous man, in this matter that bothers you now, bear
your fortune with patience.
I know I’m fortunate to be your slave.
Exit Almanzor and Bustos remains alone. Where do I begin to complain about my fate? How will I invoke death to give me life?
I don’t know any other form of freedom that can let me live, only death can give me
freedom, and here the biggest cruelty is wanting to defer it. Ruy Velázquez, as barbarian
of the Nile, took revenge; he made the blade for my neck out of a letter. His fake
style killed me. Oh, poor Gonzalo Bustos! I deserve my sorrow, as, having the chance
to avoid it, I came to Cordoba to die, victim of unjust deeds. Ruy Velázquez of Lara,
sadly my brother-in-law, I was a fool and you were disloyal, who would have thought?
I would have avoided my misfortune if I hadn’t trusted you. My age is to blame for
this, not your fake treasures, as my delusions led me to die among Moors. Oh, I was
so wrong to trust a false, offended man! I have brought my own death upon myself,
whom can I blame? How many times, passing by these foreign valleys, talking in these
moments of delusion with the oaks and the beeches, the eco told me: “Don’t go where
misfortune is misfortune.” But the things that happen in life, as life is nothing
but deception, pass through this rigour, until their fatal fall, through their sharp
vanity, their pleasures and sorrows, until their just limits. And when you come out
of this sea of troubles, you realize that the sorrows are sorrows and that the pleasures
are not pleasures.
Enter Arlaja, a Moor woman.
Are you, Christian, fortunately, the prisoner of the King, who is my brother?
Fortunately I am Christian and unfortunately I am prisoner. Let me kiss your feet,
Arise, you don’t need to do that.
I am free after seeing you, therefore you should let me kiss them. Do me such high
favour in my bitter incidents. Let me kiss those feet, as feet are the only thing
prisoners need. I was right when I said I was free from the moment I laid my eyes
on you because I saw in you the image of piety. We, in Castile, believe in omens;
if I were to judge by the first ones, my imprisonment will be short. You being the
first thing I saw after my imprisonment is a sign of my blissful freedom.
The King took so much pity on what happened to you that after some time in prison
he will set you free. Gonzalo, if he hadn’t considered your nobility, your deception
and your courage, his ministers would have had your head in a pole a long time ago.
And Christian, notice how he looks after you, as he handed me the key of your cell.
I am your warden, I am in charge of guarding you.
Then I say this imprisonment is not punishment, but my rest and comfort. You will
see that I came innocent to the imprisonment that awaits me and not to the present
glory, if they sent me a guardian angel. Even if you are a Moor, the comparison seems
appropriate, as virtue and beauty deserve the name of angel. What are you going to
do to me?
I will take care of you, saddened by your imprisonment.
I forgive him for his betrayal thanks to you, as wanting to hurt me with that fake
letter, instead of death he gave me life and instead of deception he gave me glory.
Have you heard of me?
I know you due to your reputation and a prisoner who loves you also told me some things
about you. Rest assured that my love was so discrete, that Almanzor wanted to marry
me to someone and I refused. Only you in the entire world influenced my inclination,
as it is based on the good opinion I have about your qualities. I don’t look at age
and juvenile courtesy. The soul is age, nobility, beauty and quality.
I believe that Heaven, and I believe this for a reason, touched by the evilness of
the traitor who sold me out, today, in its omnipotence, moves your will so that you
offer me consolation, as all this compassion can only come from Heaven. I give you,
my lady, the seven sons that God gave me, as guarantors of my indebtedness to you.
Don’t cry, Bustos, and don’t worry, come with me.
I pray to God to repay you for your compassion.
He will give you freedom.
I expect it from both sides: from God by justice and from you by compassion. A compassionate
woman can be Heaven for me.
Exeunt and enter Almanzor, Viara and Galve.
The troops must leave as fast as possible the borders where they are and march towards
the fields of Almenar. Ruy Velázquez writes to me that that’s where he weaves the
ruse for the Infantes. He will hand them over to you two so easily that the vilest
soldier of our army will be able to cut their heads off their shoulders.
I would have thought, my lord, that it was a ruse to do you harm if I hadn’t seen
Gonzalo Bustos in prison and Ruy Velázquez asking you determinately to put Bustos
to death. This is undoubtedly a sign of friendship on the part of the Christian. He
is instigated by the hatred he feels for them and by the interest he has in your affection.
And this friendship is so strong that if I hand over these seven bellicose lads to
you, you can consider yourself the king of Castile and Garci Fernández your prisoner.
They are the best defence of their frontiers, the worst assault of our walls and their
spears are the only spears your soldiers fear. There is no other thing that fame spreads
through the wind and carries to sea on its golden wings than the bright bravery of
the Infantes of Salas, of the Infantes of Lara, the courageous and robust sons of
captain Gonzalo Bustos.
My lord, some things are said about one of the lads, who seems to have been breastfed
by lions, the youngest of the brothers, but the strongest, things that brought him
the admiration of the world: to kill a man he rarely takes out his sword if he has
it with him, because with a punch he engraves his knuckles on the brain.
Don’t waste any time. Grab your horses. Give orders to my brilliant army to cross
the border and to go as quickly as possible to the meadow of Fabros and to wait in
Almenar. I must then immediately be informed. I want to cut off the seven heads of
Bustos’s snake, as Alcides did, in the person of those seven Infantes or lions, falcons
in the defence of Castile.
You are beholden to Ruy Velázquez.
I am grateful for the treacheries, but I won’t pay the traitor because I loathe him.
Exeunt and enter Ruy Velázquez and some of the Infantes.
My nephews, while your valiant father is in Cordoba, although he will be back soon
because the generous Almanzor will want to dispatch him already, I want to go to Almenar
with my people. Taking advantage of the leader’s absence, the impudent and insolent
Moor dares to attack it. I can’t leave my sword to rest because sheathed it doesn’t
honour one, on the contrary, it discredits him. I like it more stained in blood than
with golden adornments. Meanwhile I leave you my house, nephews, consider it as your
Uncle, we are worthy of more honour, if not for our courage, at least for our blood.
You want to leave us here, while you fight, clean and cross the country? You want
to go to war with your sword on the fields of Almenar, while our swords remain sheathed
with their golden adornments when you say this doesn’t give honour, as the sword loses
that glow blood gives to it? No, uncle, you have no reason to cut off our wings like
this. Respect our opinion, uncle; the Infantes of Salas are your own blood. Take with
you these seven soldiers you have at your side. Even if you bring your own soldiers,
there aren’t many as honourable as us, or better trained. The Moor already knows those
of Lara, he knows our courage.
This is an outright offense, uncle, forgive me, sir, for saying it to your face. What
are we, housewives, to tell us to remain in your house while you go to war?
Don’t exaggerate, Gonzalo!
Always resorting to who you are… Don’t swords match our condition? If, by any chance,
other knight said that…
Hold, Gonzalo, I want to embrace you and tell you that it’s not that I doubt your
heroic bravery; I was afraid of upsetting your mother.
Sir, you will upset her more if you leave us with her. She is your sister and you
know she has your courage.
Then bring me her permission.
There’s no need for permission. We’re already preparing the horses.
This is what must be done.
Well then, I’ll go see what vassals I take with me this time around – I won’t need
many, if you join me – to punish my enemy. And now that you’re going to war, listen
carefully to what I have to say: arm yourselves and follow me; I’ll wait for you in
the meadow of Fabros; we will there anticipate the arrival of the Moor.
Goodbye, beloved nephews.
Those of you who don’t have horses and clean swords, go find some straight away, so
that you make a magnificent impression when you leave.
You probably want to ride your hunt horses, Gonzalo.
What are you planning to do?
I need to talk to Constanza.
Is this the time for love?
It influences bravery.
We’ll wait for you there.
[Exeunt the Infantes, except for Gonzalo.]
Do you know we’re leaving?
My fear revealed it to me.
It wouldn’t be right that, while Ruy Velázquez goes to war against this insolent Moor,
the banner of Lara remained folded in Salas, despite his tutor’s absence.
It’s good that you accompany him. This behaviour is honourable and worthy of the blood
you have and of the bravery you inherited. However, asking someone who loves not to
fear is like asking ice from the sun and fire from the moon.
Constanza, there is no greater Spaniard in this world than Ruy Velázquez, my uncle.
This reputation alone will make the Moor from the border lose his vigour.
My dear Gonzalo, that’s not what I fear and why I weep, my fear is based on past situations
in which you were both involved. If you stop to think of all the different sorts of
treachery doña Alambra tried to put into action, you will see that my fear is founded
and that love prophecies are usually not vain.
I know the inhuman entrails, the rage and fury of doña Alambra, my aunt, but Ruy Velázquez
is noble and courageous. Treachery is cowardly and he is not capable of coward deeds.
The clock is ticking. Give me an embrace, Constanza. I hope to see you soon.
I feel sorry for you.
And I am yours, dead or alive. My lady, remember from now on these words I’m saying
to you, with one foot already in the stirrup. May they prove the fidelity of my love
during these painful moments because saying these words while I depart is like saying
them in the pangs of death.
If you intend to persuade me, the way to make me commit is to love me and write to
me; by writing to me and loving me you keep me committed and consistent.
Take into account that if I live I will dedicate myself more to the battle, wanting
to fight, rather than saying to you: “my lady, I’m writing this to you”.
How is a soldier’s bravery affected if he softens when he’s in love?
He fears he might die fighting and fear is an infamous thing. But if I can’t see you
I will be free to write to you. I couldn’t live with the excessive pain of your absence
as I can barely depart alive. And if separation equals death, of what do I have to
persuade you? This being my fate, I won’t be able to write to you, let alone see you
Is that supposed to console me?
Constanza, the horses already summon me with their feet ploughing the soil to grab
my spear so that we take flight. Goodbye and don’t forget me.
I was born to be yours.
Someday I will be yours and you will be mine.
What are you doing here, sir? Can’t you hear how restless the horses get at the sound
of the trumpet?
Are my brothers leaving?
The gallant Fernán Bustos is brandishing the shaft of a spear. The brave Diego González,
wearing a yellow and dun smock which covers his white armour reveals his nobility
that promises to bring him so much fame. The valiant Álvaro Bustos who rides a magnificent
sorrel, whose haunch and forehead are covered in armour, covers the shining harness
with a red overcoat. Don Alonso rides a sorrel that flies like a falcon, with a flank
strap of bells, embroidered with honey-coloured sashes and roundels. Ordoño González
wears a white surcoat from the gorget to the greave and rides a filly that runs like
the wind. Nuño Bustos, wearing a green smock, guides a strong bay horse whose extremities
and mane are black. It launches hail from the mouth, thunders from the feet and lightning
from the eyes. And last but not least Nuño Salido: though old, riding a brown horse
dyed by white flies, came out from the Jordan River and thus, they call him Salido.
Come on, what are you waiting for?
Then, Lope, get my buckskin horse ready, as I’m boiling with envy.
Oh, good knight, fame is waiting for you.
Exeunt and enter Ruy Velázquez, Viara and Galve.
Noble Ruy Velázquez, I moved the bellicose people I had at the border with the requested
[Aside.] A double-dealer cannot be called noble.
This infantry is so brilliant it can resist, immovable, the world and the soldiers
can take their horses to Mars through its bright sphere. This is what Almanzor, my
sovereign King, ordered and this is what I obey, being at your service.
Even though your soldiers are not extremely good, – and I know their courage –, there
is nothing to be afraid of here.
I fear no one and by your blood and loyalty I deduce you wouldn’t cause Bustos such
damage if you intended ruse and treachery.
Why didn’t your King Almanzor cut off my brother-in-law’s head?
It was part pity, part nobleness, but he is imprisoned and maltreated. Don’t doubt
that sadness is killing him, an invisible dagger for a miserable man. In cases of
such fierce harshness, pain cuts as deep as steel.
I suppose my nephews are here, I’m hearing some murmur among my people.
Where do I have to hide, Velázquez?
In the pine forest you see in front of you. I will hand you over the seven brothers
in such a way that you can cut off their throats easily.
How many soldiers have they brought with them?
Few and poorly armed.
They will redden my sword like lambs.
Exeunt and enter Nuño, the Infantes and Lope.
My sons, I advise you to return from this meadow. The omens I saw gave me deadly signs.
On top of that crude holm oak a sinister raven sings its mournful dirges in a funereal
voice. Over there, seven pigeons, injured by that majestic eagle, sow the air with
drops of blood. Look at the fiery fight in those beeches of two jealous birds which
are at each other’s throats. The sun came out crowned by red bloody clouds, flying
through the saddened air with black wings. Black are all the birds that fly in front
of the horses, hopping intermittently. The horses snort when they see them. In the
nearby river which crosses these meadows Gonzalillo lost a piece of his armour. My
sons, don’t go any further from here, return to Salas or to Barbadillo.
What vile deed, what dishonour! And did you, Nuño, raise us?
Gonzalo, may God prevent me from ever advising you infamies, dishonours or vile deeds!
I taught you how to use weapons and I was never the last one to use them in battles.
You advise them in vain, mostly with omens condemned by the Church, contrary to our
faith and to all discrete intention. Why does it matter if owlets, owls and ravens
sing or mourn here or if black birds hop? They sing because they have peaks and beautiful
voices, they fly because they have wings, they hop because they have legs. Come, sirs,
let’s move on.
Lope, you’re nothing but a vile squire, you shouldn’t have the audacity to contradict
I am an honourable highlander, born in the lineage of Vega and I mustn’t go back.
You should better return, Nuño, you’re already old for matters of war.
Yes, Nuño, go back to Salas, take your walking stick and your account books.
Do you want me to go back?
It’s the right choice.
Nuño Salido got old.
When blood cools down, vigour begins to decrease.
Enter Ruy Velázquez, Mendo and soldiers.
Gallant nephews, you arrived just in time to defend your land. Oh, what brave soldiers,
what figures, what courtesy! The Moors will be on their guard the moment they see
you! It seems to me that you will return full of riches from the Cordovan Moors who
shiver at the sound of your name. Oh, by the time Bustos comes, you should wear a
crown of evergreen laurel on your heads. Let me embrace you all. I would be so happy
if Count Garci Fernández could see you!
Your blood runs through our veins and the mission that brought us here is no less
than a holy mission. Sir, we are convinced that things will go so well that we will
bring your wife thousands of riches from this war.
How are you, Gonzalo?
I only wish to serve you.
You are the honour of Lara.
And you are our honour.
Nuño Salido returns.
My heart doesn’t stand to scorn with such sad presentments the children I raised.
The old man came back, sir, because he says he fears the bad consequences of your
What despicable intention is that? Nuño is always against me. But what can I expect
from him if through his veins runs such infamous blood?
I told them to go back not because I am coward, but because I suspected treachery.
It’s not fair to say those words about someone who is not present, Rodrigo. If someone
says I lack nobility they lie. Yes, I’m old and I don’t have enough blood left, but
the one I have is good.
Are you going to tolerate this, knights from my house?
Step aside. He must die!
Oh no, you won’t, Mendo, he raised me. Restrain that flattering sword. I will knock
you down with a punch.
He killed him with a punch.
Take out your swords!
No, nephews, no, leave your swords where they are. Mendo is already dead. What does
it matter? This weighs on me, so let’s leave it like that, no more, Nuño Salido. Let’s
pursue with patience what matters to our honour.
Sound of drums. The Moorish drums are resounding. I’m going to order my people. Sirs, gather yours
and let’s attack the Moors. This isn’t the time to quarrel.
He’s going to order his people.
The Moors are already coming out from the pine forest in those mountains, heading
to the meadow.
Ah, my sons, it seems numerous!
Oh, how many white flags appear from under those branches! Oh, how many horsemen with
My children, you were sold out. The army is surrounding you. Are these the allegedly
And by God, Velázquez is pulling away and it looks like his soldiers aren’t fighting.
Wasn’t my advice adequate? Well, sons, you can still run away.
And what will Velázquez say when he returns to Burgos, father?
Doesn’t the truth prevail?
The truth prevails, but many times it is oppressed by lies and in the meantime innocence
We’d rather lose our lives than our honour!
Sounds of war. Enter Ruy Velázquez alone.
Now I will make you pay, villainous sons of Bustos, for all the unfair distress you
put doña Alambra through. Those who offend and think they’re safe expose themselves
to vengeance. The fields of Arabiana will be your tomb. May your blood redden this
sombre pine forest, as the fact that I knew how to take revenge must not be forgotten.
The Moors have already surrounded them. They defend themselves bravely and seeing
that death awaits them gives them more courage. Gonzalillo runs covered in blood from
one place to another through the Moorish banners. But there are ten thousand against
one hundred. Here, doña Alambra, bathe your chest in this blood. My vengeance made
you the second Cava of Spain.
Sounds of war. The Moors and the Infantes enter fighting, followed by Lope.
Since these poor knights’ death is so imminent, what are you waiting for, vile sword,
while their blood is being shed? But if I return to the battle, and I die next to
them here, we’ll thus take the truth to the grave; no one will live to tell it. Therefore,
it would be better for the honour of the Infantes of Salas if the wind gave me its
wings and fear its spurs. In every battle there’s a messenger who brings the news,
and in order to bring the news I leave the battle. This isn’t what a highlander would
do, but it’s important not to die here if I have to speak later.
Sounds of war again. Enter Gonzalo covered in blood, with his sword unsheathed.
Where are you, vile coward? Come drink blood, come. You took revenge late, but you
took revenge well. Come on, author of such marvellous deeds, kill me face to face.
Even if you had your back at me, you are just as double-faced. Does the blood of Lara
run through your veins? Come, infamous knight, I will be the first to slash them open.
But I won’t do it, because you’ll run away from me. I’m dying! Oh, father! Oh, Sancha,
my dear mother! Receive this embrace I’m sending you, my beloved father, and give
me your blessing. Oh, cousin Constanza, I left without hope, suspecting this treachery.
Oh, if you could only see me dying, though I am trying to fight death! Where are you,
my lady, that you don’t suffer because of my misfortune? Where are you, that you don’t
suffer because of these miserable circumstances, the way sweet lovers do in the final
moments of their lives? Doesn’t your soul tell you how much I am suffering right now?
You either don’t know anything about this, my lady, or you are false and disloyal.
Nonetheless, accusing you of disloyalty is not right. I silence the soul because I
live in myself. I remember you used to treat my mild wounds with compassion when you
thought they could drift us apart. I am your first love, Constanza, I was your husband.
Even though I didn’t deserve you, I was worthy of your favour. I saw you cry a thousand
times for smaller wounds, and now, you don’t feel any sorrow for the mortal ones.
But what thoughts distract me, making me rest my hands infamously, when I already
lost four brothers, when Nuño Salido is already dead? Gather up the courage, brave
sword, rather to die, than kill. Let’s finish avenging an angry woman.
Exit and enter Constanza and Alambra.
These are the rumours.
Well, Constanza, don’t believe it until you see it.
They are enough to affect me.
Who could have defeated the Infantes of Lara, even though Ruy Velázquez, my husband,
did not protect them? These are nothing but vulgar rumours that, as you can see, prophesy.
They make me deeply melancholy.
You’re already showing a lot of passion.
Tell me they’re dead and you’ll see more of it.
Through my veins runs the blood of Lara and I don’t say things that are not certain.
Enter Ruy Velázquez and soldiers.
Is a victorious husband worthy of your arms?
Yes, because I have placed in you all my crown and glory.
You won, victory is yours!
They are dead, those who affronted you.
Not your arms, give me your feet.
I need your arms more.
Who’s dead, sir?
The villains of my honour, shred to pieces by the Moor.
You mean the Infantes?
So you sold them out.
So are you, Constanza. Do you have any idea of what you’re saying?
Yes, in spite of just decency you sold your blood to a Moor and by doing that you
I am appalled to hear those words coming from your mouth.
Don’t mind her, she went crazy out of love for Gonzalillo.
For love is insanity, I won’t cut your chest open.
With all the treacheries you did, this can’t be the biggest. Oh, infamy of those of
Lara, may Heaven avenge me of you!
Run away from here!
I wish he’d kill me!
Take her away from here, soldiers.
Take me to Salas, gentlemen.
They take her away.
You know that the mistakes made out of love are the most excusable; forgive her inconsistency.
Was it alright for her to say that even if she said it when she was the craziest?
They should show her the way to Salas as soon as possible. To tell you the truth,
she is pregnant with Gonzalo’s child. They got secretly married.
Then she must pay for her promiscuity.
Tell me, light of my eyes, is Gonzalillo already dead?
Their bodies are scattered on the desert sand and the Moors are taking their heads
This news brings me rich and bright treasures. I’ve never seen you more handsome since
I married you.
Oh, what contentment can do!
My arms will show it to you.
Constanza is on her way.
There is nothing more satisfying than winning an unjust dispute and carrying out a
Enter Gonzalo Bustos and Arlaja.
Why are you so sad and why all these vain fears?
Arlaja, since your hands have done so many great things for my delight and consolation,
you should know that my soul regrets that I’m away from home.
Doesn’t the sky shelter you here? Is this place, by any chance, a prison to you?
That’s true, and the biggest freedom is being the prisoner of your affection. Nevertheless,
I’m concerned about my sons.
I’ll soon give you one. Although I am who I am, I gave you my honour with confidence.
I’m jealous to see you sad about your sons.
They are so worthy of my affection. You will see that for yourself as soon as one
of them arrives to Cordoba. I think some of them will come here. And the child I’ll
have from you does not exist yet, so until he’s brought into the world, Arlaja, he
doesn’t require my love.
Bustos, my sovereign the King, – there is nothing that doesn’t equal virtue and nobility
– wants you to have lunch with him.
Those he has inside of him give distinction to my baseness. But the King with a captive!
Check if you have the name right.
I’m telling you that you’re the one he sent me to.
I’m receiving a remarkable favour. I’m leaving, Arlaja.
I think he will set you free today.
May Heaven have mercy on the pain I’m enduring.
Galve, I believe the Christian senses his tragedy.
What did you tell him?
I didn’t tell him anything about his misfortune or your expedition.
I didn’t want to give him such bitter news, though the King had informed me.
Arlaja, it was striking to see how the traitor took the seven Infantes to the meadow
of Fabras where later Viara and I came out from a pine forest together with the bravest
troops Ruy had at the frontier, forming a forest of spears. Then an old man, who,
as they say, was the tutor who taught these deceased lads the use of letters and weapons,
yelled: “Treason!” But he didn’t turn his head and he immediately saw his white hair
reddened by his blood and ours. We surrounded them for a long time, after a great
battle, where they would have starved to death, which would have turned our victory
into infamy. We, their own enemies, took pity on them and gave them food because no
one likes to see the misery of others. But then Ruy Velázquez, stroking his beard,
swore to inform Almanzor about our disobedience and its cause. We were afraid, we
had been sold out; so a Moor took out his sword and cut off their heads. But a lad
who was said to be the youngest of the Infantes of Lara, judging by his bravery and
age, attacked the Moor and punched him so hard that he instantaneously blew his brains
and teeth out. He did such amazing deeds before he died that not even a fierce lion
of Albania would surpass them.
They are coming out.
Is he coming back alive?
Don’t be surprised if the pain is excruciating.
Enter the King, Gonzalo and Viara.
Sir, I don’t deserve all your favours and I don’t have enough words to show you my
gratitude. But I am confused to see you take me here, saying you want to serve me
the dessert, if any was missing.
You should know, Gonzalo Bustos, that I won a bloody battle in the fields of Arabiana.
Viara, my general, brought me eight heads today and I’d like you to meet them; they
say they are from Salas.
If they are from Salas, sir, and if they belong to the noble class, who doubts that
they are related to me? I can already feel it. My heart is telling me, not with words,
but through pangs, that there is blood of mine around here.
Draw that curtain, Arlaja!
With the customary trick she unveils the seven heads, disposed separately, in seven
places, on a table.
Not surprisingly the soul, as it sometimes rejoices when joys approach, especially
today, when blood hurts the most, predicted such torturing events. I don’t need much
revealing. These seem to be my sons. Oh, my sons! Oh, my scions, cut off ahead of
time! Oh, sweet objects of my love, born to be my tragedy!
Gonzalo Bustos removes that bloody cloth with a thousand suspicions born out of love.
He moves the heads covered in dust, blood and pain, recognizing the jewels of his
soul. He says to them, bathing them in tears: “Oh, sweet objects of my love, born
to be my tragedy!”
Oh, my sons, what order, what commandment led you to such disaster? Oh, glory of my
white hair, you’ve turned my white garments in eternal mourning clothes and grief.
Oh, my Gonzalo! Oh, my beautiful tender child! Oh, green oaks, gone too soon! Oh,
untimely withered flowers! Oh, sweet objects of my love, born to be my tragedy. Nuño,
is this how you took care of my sons? But you’ll say that you also got killed together
with them and that you therefore nobly fulfilled your duty. It’s true that you gave
them good advice. I wish my sad eyes could shed blood now instead of tears; but what
greater wound is there other than despising life? Fernando, Álvaro, Ordoño, Alonso,
Diego, Nuño and you, my beloved Gonzalo, don’t blame me if I come here alive to kiss
your remains with my lips. If I haven’t died yet it’s because I want to avenge you
first and because sometimes the pangs of a deep sorrow put death on hold. Death comes
looking for a man and finds a strong marble. I swear by the law I adore and believe
in, that if I regain my freedom, and if life offers me the opportunity to put into
practice my desire, I will take just revenge on the traitor. What great news, Sancha,
and good use of our succession, house, hope, lineage, properties and name! May Heaven
console your mourning and tears!
Your misfortune moves the stones and moves them in such a way that, although I am
your enemy, my merciful heart rains tender tears on your ardent pain. I can’t stand
to see you in so much pain. Go to Castile, Bustos, and console the members of your
family, who only have you for support. I regret deep in my heart this mission. I wouldn’t
have ordered it if I had met you. And you will believe me when I say I regret what
happened because your touching case drives me to tears.
Exeunt the King and his suite.
The desserts on your table are terrible. I wish I had never eaten in Cordoba! Everything
you served me is my own blood. I ate on my own expense on this dreadful day.
My dear Gonzalo, I dare not talk to you.
Don’t even try if you don’t want to force me to respond.
What can I say, if I have something good to give you, that will be the living portrait
of who you are?
If you give birth to a girl, you will raise her here on your own and if it’s a boy,
send him to Castile when he grows up to take charge of my properties and vassals.
In Cordoba there are captive priests. Baptize him, so help you God.
Oh, my dear Bustos!
For God’s sake, don’t unsettle my soul by doubling my distress. On the contrary, you
should better observe my patience when hell, heaven and the entire universe seem to
be punishing me.
I won’t say anything else, as the pain forces me.
As you can see, I split this ring in half: give this half here to the son you’ll give
birth to. It will help me recognize him, if, like I said, it’s a boy.
I ask Heaven to give me patience in times of such hardship!
Blessed is he who dies in his misfortunes!
There are poisons, there is fire, if there aren’t swords.
Oh, sweet objects of my love, born to be my tragedy!
Enter Arlaja and Viara.
What is the King doing?
He is entertaining himself playing chess with Mudarra.
He does well, enjoying the peace.
You’re being ironic.
While the troops of the Count of Castile bathe in blood and ravage the shore of Guadalquivir,
instead of scimitar, horse and harness, he arms the brave Mudarra with chess pieces.
In his free time he seeks deplorable entertainment with wooden horses, misdirected
pawns and fake queens and kings. Is he leading deceitful battles on the chessboard
now? Is he planning ruses now, while the Castilian is making schemes? He acts slowly;
he gives him a bad example, he offers him bad guidance.
I want to pull the curtain. They are in this hall.
Almanzor and Mudarra are seated on a stack of pillows playing chess and musicians
and other Moors are on their knees.
From the towers of Jaen Abenamar is watching the field of Christians who dare to besiege
it. Their captain is Martin Enriquez of Lara, who led them to the meadow of Granada.
His love for a Christian captive transformed the King into a coward and split between
love and honour, he cries, without sheathing his sword: “To arms, to arms, to arms!
Send my spears to war, send my shields to war!” But then he says to the beautiful
Christian: “Only your eyes can put me through war.”
Check out from here!
Check out, I say!
It is forbidden.
This queen, where is she planning to enjoy her freedom?
Who’s pursuing her?
This rook I’m waiting to captivate her with.
The king throws the chessboard over.
Go to hell, bastard!
How can this game bring you over the edge like this?
Only you could call me that. I blame my naivety for that insult because I thought
I was as well-born as you.
Barbarian, stranger to our blood, to our nobility and even to our law!
So I’m not your son, King?
If you didn’t wear that crown on your head…
I’m getting away from you. You’re insane!
Exit the King.
Listen, mother, I want to have a word with you, if being who you are improves my status.
Have you witnessed this?
Well, then what does your honour feel about my misery? How could I live all these
years in a lie? How could I be subject to such despicable disillusion because of you,
mother? Who am I, Arlaja, or who are you, as the rigour of heaven put men’s honour
in women’s weaknesses. The King called me a bastard, stranger to his blood and law.
And although the King doesn’t offend me, and I’m not searching for satisfaction, I
am, however, offended. Even though I don’t know how the nature of his insult affects
me as long as I don’t know who I am. So tell me, treacherous mother, who is my father?
Judging by how I feel, my father is of noble descent. If I have to deduce who my father
is based on my instinct, I’d rather you told me who he is. My thoughts are as high
as the sky, to such extent that if the sky gave birth I imagine I would be its son
and I wouldn’t have the blood of the earth. But it gives birth to the sun, it may
well be the sun, so that it can immediately be seen that I am its Spanish ray.
Mudarra, since your care and my misfortune cannot conceal the secret of your birth,
listen from your mother Arlaja the story she kept silent about all these years because
she didn’t want to alter your tranquillity, which wouldn’t have been possible without
this deceit. In Castile, in Burgos, a famous Spanish town, lives a brave knight called
Ruy Velázquez, married to his own disgrace to one of Count Garci Fernández’s first
cousins, whose name is doña Alambra. She had seven nephews who, being men and not
buildings, could surpass in fame the rarest wonders of the world. You must know that
the Infantes of Lara were treacherously killed in the fields of Arabiana. Their father
came from Salas to Cordoba, carrying a deceitful letter from his brother-in-law, that
asked the King to cut his head off, as revenge on Gonzalico’s outrages, the youngest
of the Laras. This lad had gained so much fame for mastering weapons and so much value
as a person in the dawn of his life that envy pursued him until he killed the bravest
knight who had ever girded sword in Castile. The King refused to kill their father
and stain with blood his nobility in his white hair. He imprisoned him and asked me
to guard him. I fell in love not with his body, but with his soul, with his reputation,
with his courage, with his refined wit and pure blood. If the weakness of a woman
is excused by her love, mine was solely based on the desire of having the children
of a man who was the glory and the honour of his country. I succeeded, as being born
from this Christian, Mudarra, you inherit his courage and you raise high expectations.
Almanzor showed Gonzalo Bustos – that is your father’s name – your brothers’ sad seven
heads, cut off more by treason than by force in the bloody battle, on the same day
Viara brought them to him. Seeing his grief and moved by his agony, Almanzor set your
father free, while I was carrying you in my womb. When we parted we made an agreement
that if there were no problems with my pregnancy and I gave birth to a girl, I would
raise her on my own, but if it was a boy, as soon as he girded sword, I would send
him to Castile to take charge of his house. He parted a ring in half when he parted.
I’ve always kept one half, this one here, my son, so that, when you go meet him, he
recognizes who you are, if his heart doesn’t reveal it to him.
I kiss your hands, mother. Let me kiss your feet for this honest revelation of the
truth. I should be more grateful to you than to the father who left me here because
of you. Pardon my frankness, but he gave me a mother who made me lose something, as
she obeys a barbarous law, while you gave me a father whose noble descent is doubled
by the Christian law. You gave me a better father than he gave me mother. Therefore,
I owe you more, my lady. I am consoled at being a bastard. I accept it because being
a bastard made me Christian. I thought you were the King’s wife. Today he yelled angrily
this new name at me. Being a Moor’s wife imposes less honour than being a Christian’s
friend. As I put him in check with a rook, jeopardising his queen, while playing,
the King told me, without touching any chess piece: “Check out from here!”, divesting
me of my fame. This insult made me furious. It’s not pride, mother. It is called honour.
Nonetheless, I am glad this happened because it helped me discover I was that wellborn.
Almanzor can have more pearls than the ones the sea contains in its shells and more
diamonds than the ones the earth guards in its mines, but I don’t need his barbarous
turbans. I choose instead this law whose light you showed me. Mother, I will avenge
the seven Infantes if you allow my departure. I will bring that Gonzalo back to life;
I am his barbarous branch. While Ruy Velázquez is in Burgos and doña Alambra takes
pride in the blood of the seven brothers, I wear turbans, I go to the mosque and I
take part in Muslim festivities, with my skullcap crowned by feathers. Even though
the Alhambra of Granada, which promises to last forever, defended them both, the way
my wrath will take revenge for this offense. I’ll take this ring with me as proof
that I am of the same blood as the Laras. If so far I showed only small signs of courage
maybe someday they will be greater.
Stop, son! Think of the danger you’re exposing yourself to.
Mother, if you think of the trunk whose branch I am, why are you having all these
doubts? Or are you lying to me? Because you’re not helping me.
I’m telling you the truth.
I’m off and will labourN
XNota del traductor
Labour. Lope de Vega creates a pun in this line, and in the one following it, with the double
meaning of the word “parto”: on the one hand the verb “parto” (“I leave”) from the
infinitive partir (to leave) and on the other hand, the noun “parto” (“labour”), that derives from
the verb parir (to give birth). I have tried to maintain this pun in English, by adapting the text
and using the word “labour”, first as a verb, and immediately after, in Arlaja’s intervention,
as a noun. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, one of the meanings of the verb to labour is “To strive or endeavour strenuously to accomplish, bring about, or do something; to exert oneself for an end.” Examples: True Affliction labours to be invisible. (R. Steele, Spectator, No. 95, 1711); I have systematically laboured to reduce them to good order & discipline.
(W. S. Churchill Let. 23 Apr. in W. S. Churchill & C. S. Churchill, Speaking for Themselves, 1999, iv. 84)
to avenge my brothers, mother.
Your deeds will honour my labour, but your today’s departure is killing me.
Only God knows how much it pains me to separate myself from you.
Wait one more year.
Mother, you don’t know what you’re saying.
I regret your absence.
It’s too late for that. You were driven by pleasure and I am by affront.
Enter Gonzalo Bustos, old and blind, with a walking stick, and Nuño, his servant.
Stop crying, sir; all these tears have blinded you.
I’m no longer afraid of becoming blind, Nuño. Don’t worry if you see me crying. If
I stop and think about the cause, I paid my debts to the pain by being blind.
Well, why are you crying, sir?
To see if I can drown myself in tears. However, as I see myself like a forge, all
the water I shed cannot consume me, and the more I wish to die, the more I add fuel
to life. There is a relief for my eyes in this doubtful sorrow, though: their blessed
blindness which prevents them from seeing Ruy Velázquez and his wife, doña Alambra.
And even if I hadn’t gone blind, I lost my sight, Nuño, that needs no light since
my sight died when I saw my sons. My eyes went blind in their presence and my joys
came to an end in their absence, as there is barely any difference between eyes and
sons. I only wish I lost my hearing ability as well, like I did my vision, so as not
to hear the tyranny with which Alambra reminds me each and every day my fierce sorrow.
She throws seven penetrating stones at my window before dawn, as a reminder of that
tragic story, the death of my seven Infantes.
Don’t cry like that, sir!
Is my troubadour here?
Enter Paez, musician.
Paez is right here, sir.
Alleviate my pain, my friend.
Listen to this ballad.
In the fields of Arabiana great chivalry died because of Ruy Velázquez’s treachery
and doña Alambra’s envy.
The old man sits down. The seven Infantes, who were the flower of Castile, died. The Moor carries their heads
soiled with dust and blood. King Almanzor invited me to lunch one day. After we had
lunch he served me the dessert:
The old man becomes agitated. They throw a stone. I recognized my sons’ heads and their tutor’s, the one who raised them. My tender
tears softened the stones.
Another one. The King gave me back my freedom and then he sent me to Castile.
Another one. But death didn’t give me freedom, as he didn’t take my life. I came to Burgos, where
my eyes went blind for crying for my misery, begging Heaven for justice, as there
is no justice on Earth.
Another one. Every day at dawn, doña Alambra, my enemy, reminds me of my misery with the seven
stones she throws.
They throw three stones.
I’ve kept silent so far, but now I lost my patience. I could dissimulate the pain
caused by the first six stones, but my heart couldn’t take it anymore, it couldn’t
bear the last one. I endured in silence the stones corresponding to Álvaro, Ordoño,
Fernando, Nuño, Alfonso and Diego, but when it comes to Gonzalo, I break the silence
bursting into tears. Because when I most calmly want to listen satisfied that suffering
is glory, the six stones pierce my chest, but the last one my soul. Vile author of
treason, I hope your heart gets speared like this!
Take your hands off your hair, sir!
My white hair is at fault for this. I had white hair, I should have known better than
to fall for that day’s ruse, which was the cause of all my misery. They don’t throw
the stones in vain. Those stones are bells they ring to make me pull out my damned
white hair. As I’m not paying my debt to love anyway with this white hair I’m pulling
out, I give pain a blank check. My age helps me with my debts, so that love eliminates
them, as I pay with the silver in my hair, a coin that is unceasingly falling.
Restrain your anger, sir, leave your white hair alone!
There will be enough remains of time. New white hair will grow, as I won’t cease to
water it with my tears.
Enter Mudarra and Zayde.
You know this land very well, Zayde.
If I’m not mistaking, we are close to Burgos, generous Mudarra. The war introduced
me to this land, maybe to my own misfortune.
I was stunned by the imposing sierra, which, covered either with snow, or with a green
coat, separates Castilians and Andalusians, the White Crescents and the Red Crosses.
Mudarra, our Moors crossed many times these mountains with their weapons, weaving
harnesses for their horses and stealing Catholic treasures. These trees here were
witnesses, and even the earth, whose green pores drank the noble Castilian blood shed
by the African belligerent sword.
Castile is strong.
It is strong because of its location, but even more so because of its brave inhabitants.
Enter Lope dressed as a hunter.
The sun is already spreading its rays over the West. Let’s gather our things, noble
hunters! But, alas! It is my own death that is being chased. The ruse is my hunter
and my feet are the goshawks. This is a Moorish ambush.
Don’t run away, Christian, nor defend yourself! I am a messenger of the Moorish King
Welcome, though it’s because of him that our most precious treasure lies in the field,
killed by treason. From dawn till the West is painted in shades of gold and purple,
my soul laments that name on a miserable day.
Did Cordoba hurt you? And does its King make you cry, noble Christian?
Oh, I wish I had never heard of your name! Your hand sickled seven lives!
Christian, your tears show me that my instinct didn’t bring me in vain to this path.
Those whose death I came to avenge are also seven.
The tears I shed are for seven brothers, honour of the world and objects of a traitor’s
Seven are also the brothers who gave my hands the hope to avenge their blood.
The ones I mourn were Christians.
They seem similar to the ones I mourn.
Mine were seven Infantes.
Don’t be shocked, but the ones I’m talking about are also seven Infantes.
I don’t know exactly what I saw in you, but your face resembles so much that of the
youngest brother that it amazes me, it scares me and it makes me lose my mind!
You mean Gonzalo?
What were the odds? I am the brother of these Christians you cherish.
Yes, their father gave me in Cordoba a barbarous mother. My friend, I am Mudarra,
son of Arlaja, the King’s sister, and of Gonzalo Bustos who outranked her in law,
not in blood.
Oh, righteous Heavens, you work in mysterious ways! Your face itself is proof of all
the information. If pleasant things can be expected after such devastating pain, I
trust you to make them happen. Let me kiss your feet, my dear sir! I am Lope de Vivar,
Gonzalo González’s squire. Although it might surprise you, I escaped from that battle
running stealthily. I didn’t want to die there, nor win the reputation of loyal gentleman
and noble knight. It was as if Heaven saved me for the pleasure of meeting you on
this fortunate day.
You mean you saw my seven brothers die?
And the honourable tutor who died with them. Then I saw the hoary mountains cry, drenching
their stiff hair in tears. Today the two tyrants who unjustly took revenge on them
Well, I come to punish them so severely that their blood will flood Burgos.
At the root of this cliff there is a wooded valley of beeches, which overshadow a
mansion where a lady lives, whose figure brought her the nickname of Spanish Phoenix.
She is now resting, exhausted by the heat of the sun, near a clear spring of water
on the green carpet of a meadow, under lugubrious cypresses. She’s the daughter of
your brother, that Gonzalo who was killed by the Moors, and of Constanza, a lady whom
I consider equal in virtue to the one now fame graces best. Constanza is a nun in
Burgos. She gave up her worldly life for the bars of the convent, without seeking
revenge for the death of her husband. Her beautiful daughter spends the hot days of
July in this mansion, dressed as a man, being born after the death of her father and
my lord. But, what else can I say? Now you’ll have a clearer view on things, as this
is the part I witnessed.
Enter doña Clara, dressed as a cowboy, with a spear.
Solitudes of an arid desert, where I freely chase a wild beast, where are you taking
me, if it’s not my star?
She is extremely beautiful.
Oh, gentle murmur of clear springs, which, coming out from those candid crystals,
reduce the unbearable heat, bathing the field in oriental pearls. Oh, impossible thoughts,
temper my disproportionate imaginings! It’s not fair that one who has never been in
love find in you an example of love and a warning to error. I am free; my mother told
me about her tragic love story, which drove me to tears. What do you want from me,
if my interest is sound asleep and I run from the idea of love?
Is this how Christian women are?
It seems to me that this lady and you share the same way of thinking through your
I want to talk to her.
Leave it to me! My lady!
Don’t be nervous, this Moor is a half-brother of Gonzalo, your father.
Now that you know this, I can ask you for your hand. Bustos, who is my father and
your grandfather, has set such a natural connection between us, my lady, that, even
if I ask you for your arms, it’s not an offense.
Is he telling the truth?
Imagine that you’re looking at your father. There has never been seen such a resembling
I am willing to offer you my arms as my uncle, although your barbarous garments scare
I’m a Christian, I believe in God alone. You will soon see me give up my Arabian turban
and my African overcoat . Christian lady, I am your father’s brother.
Your mother’s status is not detrimental to you: in Castile, the horse carries the
saddle, sir. Offer him your arms, because Mudarra is bound to be the eighth wonder,
the most astounding, compared to the other seven.
I come alone from Cordoba to Castile to frighten his Leon and his Navarra and to lay
Ruy Velázquez’s head at your feet, as soon as possible.
Oh, Mudarra! If you saw my grandfather’s hardships, anxieties and pains inflicted
upon him by the angry Heaven because of those traitors’ fierce cruelty… But you will
be a consolation in the midst of all this suffering, and if it brings greater consolation,
I’ll go with you to Burgos.
I kiss your feet two thousand times!
You are the way you seem to be.
Since now, seeing you two so brave, I’m beginning to believe that love, which gives
birth to legitimate bastards, brings blood together and leads to marriage.
My sun rose among dark clouds.
Are you content with your niece?
What do you think of the Moor?
He’s a good uncle, an uncle who is worth more than gold.
Exeunt and enter Gonzalo Bustos.
Those who live a long life should expect to see many things over the years. And those
who wish for the final end of life to come ahead of time are deeply mistaken. The
most robust, strong and arrogant are as weak as the humblest reed, they don’t find
joy in the riches they own and they are humiliated and broken by all evil. Everything
challenges the one who didn’t see or doesn’t feel. What is he thinking, he who struggles
to live, if his death is imminent, at any time? In brief, death must come beyond the
shadow of a doubt, and as it is such a fearless enemy, it is not wise to wait for
it without strength.
Sir, although it weighs on me to bring you such bad news, I must inform you.
There is no room left for more pain in my senses.
Doña Alambra is here.
Oh, God! What does she want from me, Nuño? If she comes to ask me for forgiveness,
tell her she cannot do that, when I am the one who’s dying. If she’s here to give
back my beloved offsprings, please forbid her to enter, as she cannot give me life
that can compensate for the loss of seven such precious lives.
I rather think she comes to cause you a lot of trouble with some complaints she has.
Don’t let her in! Rodrigo is already stopping her from coming in!
Enter doña Alambra.
Let me in, squires!
Tell me, Gonzalo, is this worthy of a knight, ordering your crossbowmen to kill the
object of my delight? Is this a proper way to avenge affronts, ordering your men to
shoot my dovecote, to kill some of the doves, to drive away others, just to annoy
me? Remedy this outrage or I will take their lives.
These complaints are typical of you.
How could I not take offence, when you gave me so many reasons?
A woman of your social status comes to make such complaints because of a dove?
This whim entertains me.
It’s not a bad form of entertainment, but compare our complaints: I blame you for
the death of my seven sons, while you accuse me of the death of a dove. I am not the
one who took the shots, Alambra, I assure you, as those who shoot close one eye, and
both my eyes are blind. And stop saying nonsense; you make vile complaints! My eyes
are closed not because I mourn doves, but because I mourn the lives of my dead sons.
This is how the world works: many of the powerful ones seek severe punishment for
the killing of their birds, while others, for the killing of their children, do not.
But don’t complain about the one who in your opinion takes such vile revenge, as you’ll
surely not die like a dove because you have a lot of bile.
Bustos, you are the living proof that what they say about the tongue is true: it comes
to life again as one gets old and life comes to an end. Such is your tongue; at this
advanced age, while strength diminishes, all the fervour of the hands passes to the
tongue. You should see that our complaints and disputes are uneven, and that your
weeping is exaggerated, as your dead sons were ravens and these are my doves.
You judge well our differences. You’re right, Alambra, I mourn their remains in vain.
My sons are ravens because they plucked out my eyes. I became blind for crying for
them. Now I ran out of tears, but I am grateful to my children because thanks to them
I can’t see your face, dear sister-in-law, and for that I don’t regret losing my sight.
Damn that Almanzor, that insolent, decrepit old man who let you live only to make
It didn’t affect your vengeance; as you know I’m still alive, you found a way to torture
me with those seven stones you throw, the awakening knell of my grief and your rage.
This clock announces sad hours. You rejoice every time this clock torments me because,
though I’m blind, you make me awake at seven.
Oh, Almanzor, treacherous Moor, how could you spare the life of this immortal fervour?
Shut up, Alambra, there is no life without its Almanzor. I will soon die, death will
come for me.
It’s already late!
It won’t be late any longer. But go away from here and it will arrive as soon as you’re
gone. Out of fear of seeing you, death itself won’t dare to come because it will be
afraid that you will kill it.
I won’t listen to any more nonsense!
Exit doña Alambra and enter Paez.
Fierce and relentless!
Three Moors have just arrived, although two of them are servants.
Wanting to see me at such an advanced age? Tell them to come in. Moors? Me?
Enter Mudarra, Zayde and Lope, dressed as Moors.
Which one of you, sirs, is the master of this house?
This blind man is, noble Moor, Gonzalo Bustos de Lara, or rather the one who once
used to be. You have nothing to add? Why don’t you speak?
I am astounded to see you. That venerable white hair imposes reverence.
If only I could also see you... I would be glad. Are you a youth?
I’m in the prime of my years.
At your age, you can’t lie through your teeth. Why are you here?
I bring you news from a friend.
Prisoner in Cordoba?
No, because Cordoba is his homeland. He is both Christian and Moor, as he is your
son and Arlaja’s, a sister of Almanzor.
What are you saying?
Did Arlaja give birth?
To this friend I’m telling you about.
You have just made my heart beat fast. Although he comes from a Moorish mother, I
am delighted and glad to have a son in the end.
Arlaja is the sister of a king.
You’re right. She is already of noble blood. How is she?
She was fine when I left.
And the son, is he brave?
Like a branch that sprang from your trunk.
That of your son.
All those who know him.
What entertains him?
Does he know I am his father?
Isn’t coming to see you enough proof that he does?
Does he esteem the name of Lara?
Is that a question?
Then tell me, why hasn’t he come to Burgos or to Salas to see me in all these years?
Because he was misled into thinking that the King was his father. But one day, playing
chess, the King called him a bastard. He wanted to know why and his mother revealed
him the cause, nourishing his hope of coming here to become Christian.
Come and embrace me for this good news!
I will, because I want to.
Why do you want to hold me in your arms?
Your news left me with a strange feeling in my gut. My soul now wants to measure you
up so that you fill the void left by my sons. You seem to have good intentions, my
friend, but why don’t you tell me the truth? Are you my son? Are you?
Oh, father, I am Mudarra, Mudarra González. If you still have the other half of this
ring you will see it fits this half here.
It won’t be necessary. The voice of blood states it more strongly. Oh, my offspring,
born to be my happiness! Oh, God, if only I could see you! Oh God, if only I could
see your face! I went blind mourning the death of my sons who were killed in Arabiana.
If only I could regain my sight! Oh, strange nature, this is a miracle from Heaven!
All that sadness blinded me and this joy gave me back the sight I had lost. My son,
I can see you!
Sir, it can’t be, don’t let this joy affect your judgement.
Nuño, let’s thank God for this! I see you clearly and I also see Paez and for more
proof, one of the Moors that accompany my dear Mudarra looks extremely like Lope,
a servant from my house who used to serve Gonzalico.
This is enough proof to believe you: I am Lope de Vivar, servant of doña Clara, your
granddaughter, where Mudarra rested tonight. I came with him in disguise, because
in order to take revenge it’s better to come like this.
The house is stirred up and so will the town be.
Before the news reach Ruy Velázquez and the Count, I have to go somewhere.
Where are you going?
Wait, I need to talk to you.
Let’s go and we’ll talk, sir, but tell them not to reveal my secret.
Keep silent, my friends!
What’s going on, Lope?
This haik will be the net which will catch a beast that is now wandering in those
I see courage in Mudarra.
You will soon witness the revenge he will take on Ruy Velázquez for the death of the
Infantes of Lara.
Exeunt and enter Ruy Velázquez, Ortuño and Iñigo, hunters.
You don’t have to search anymore, nor cross the mountain.
I am tired of hunting.
The sun begins to touch the line of the horizon.
There is still much light left in the day. Did you tie up my Andalusian horse?
Tied at the foot of this hill, it’s trying to swallow the snaffle bit like an ostrich.
Don’t you want to hang the snaffle bit on the saddle tree as there is plenty of green
grass and fertile hay here?
I bridle with a short bit the vigour it gains without it.
Does Bustos have any property around here?
I don’t know, but people from his house do.
Yesterday I saw them for the first time.
Well, Bustos has to pay for some crossbow shots that made Alambra cry.
Some villain disturbs your dovecot with his crossbow, but don’t think that Bustos
knows about it.
I will make sure he doesn’t brag about this.
Do you want to rest?
I would like to make of this cold spring a harbour of sleep for my ship.
It’s calling you and, as its veins are spreading through the sand, they seem to be
I hope they cool down the blood in my own veins.
They will; there is no better music than their murmur.
In the meantime you two can go find a place to hide from this heat.
In my case it is not so much the heat, but the concern and the fear that trouble me.
I want to lie down here, although my anguish doesn’t let me sleep. All these days
I’ve been imagining things. I envision the death of my nephews and their burning remains,
which in many ways stirs in me mixed feelings of fear and anger. As soon as I’m alone
I have the impression I see them and so in order not to see them I try to avoid them.
The shadows I keep seeing seem as real as the truth. Nuño is there, all broken and
disarmed; there is Fernando, with his face covered in blood; over there Ortuño complains
irately about my cruelty; there Gonzalo, the youngest of all, seems to pounce on me,
calling me traitor. Finally, all seven are frightening me. Leave me alone, imaginings!
Soul of mine, why do you torment me with such sombre chimeras?
Enter Mudarra, Lope and Zayde.
It’s him, I recognize him.
Hold! Let’s think this over!
If this traitor knows you have been looking for him, Mudarra, how can he live and
pass the time like that? How can he rest so freely, with his sword in the scabbard,
on a hill next to Burgos, in the shadows of a beech tree?
I’ll wait here, it’s him alright.
Ruy Velázquez is lying down under those green branches, tired of hunting. I think
you should nail him to the ground with that spear.
I can’t do that, he must know why he dies and who kills him. Listen to me, Ruy Velázquez,
whom the Moors call the Brave, who is both traitor and valiant: traitor to the Count,
your master, as you deprived his war and armies of seven soldiers that are worth as
much as the Nine Worthies; traitor to your own country, as you deprived your country
of seven walls, of seven towers and of the best barbican; traitor to your noble blood,
as you sold the blood of Lara to your enemies in exchange for your revenge; traitor
to your friend and kinsman, whom you sent with a letter to a Moor asking the latter
to put a knife to his throat; traitor to Heaven, as you gave blood of Christian law
to the Cordovan Moors who have been slandering you for the past twenty years. This
is how old I am, as I am the son of Bustos and Arlaja, conceived by them in prison,
while she was guarding him. Heaven made a new branch spring from this old trunk when
you, as a villain, stripped it of so many. I am Mudarra. What are you looking at?
They call me Mudarra, living portrait of Gonzalillo, doña Alambra’s worst nightmare.
Come on, brave Ruy Velázquez, Mudarra is waiting for you to kill you hand-to-hand,
one-on-one on the battlefield. Although you killed my seven brothers like a traitor,
I as loyal soldier avenge them with my spear and buckler. Come on, as my wife and
niece Clara, granddaughter of Gonzalo Bustos, daughter of doña Constanza, Gonzalillo’s
wife, is waiting for me! Come on! What are you expecting? What are you waiting for?
On my mother Arlaja’s side the blood of the King of Cordoba runs through my veins.
On Bustos’s side, my brothers are the seven Infantes of Lara whom you treacherously
killed in the fields of Arabiana.
You’re lying, infamous Moor! Galve and Viara killed your brothers in a hand-to-hand
battle in Fabros. I forgive you for your shamelessness, as neither your blood, nor
your beard obliges you to have shame. Mudarrilla, my name is Rodrigo, Rodrigo de Velázquez
and Lara; it makes the Moors from Jaen, Cordoba and Baza tremble at the sound of it.
From Sierra Morena to Sierra Nevada, I’m not afraid of little bastards, sons of their
own infamy. You’re a bastard.
You’re lying, if you’re infamously calling me a bastard! In my homeland words are
the only weddings and according to our law, marriage is determined by the will of
the souls. Come fight me in the fields!
I challenge you to a duel, Rodrigo! Heaven, be the judge of your cause!
Zayde, if those squires try to defend him, take out your sword.
What mighty blows the valiant Mudarra strikes at him!
Can’t you see he is backed up by blood, reason, honour and reputation?
Exeunt fighting and enter Count Garci Fernández, Gonzalo Bustos and doña Clara.
Bustos, I couldn’t rest until I saw you. What? You regained your eyesight! Curious
I came here, great lord, to obey your wish.
And I gladly welcome you.
I’d like you to meet my granddaughter Clara. Heaven was generous enough to leave me
an offspring of my blood who will inherit my fortune.
Is she the daughter of the youngest of the Laras?
Of Gonzalo, my son.
I humbly stand at your feet.
Arise, Clara, and may Holy Heaven prolong your life!
Given that her mother found refuge in religion, Clara should ask for your protection
and serve the Countess, my lady, from now on.
I’m pleased to offer her protection and I promise you I will be like a father to her
and, at the same time, her sovereign.
Enter Ortuño and Iñigo.
Where is the Count?
Iñigo, why all the fuss?
To show you my pain.
What do you mean?
That Bustos, the one who came to your service, pretending to honour you, secretly
brought from Cordoba…
Whom did he bring?
A Moor, a certain Mudarra, his alleged son, who killed Ruy Velázquez on a hill and
who says he wants to burn down his house because he’s like the African Rodamonte.
What’s this all about, Bustos?
Without extending myself too much, be prepared to shed some tears while listening
to my story. I confess I had this Mudarra when I was in prison, with a sister of Almanzor.
He came to avenge his blood, which, as you know, is justice of Heaven and not malice.
If you think I am guilty, you can put an end to my life which already covets death.
I don’t want you to praise revenge, but I do want you to praise justice. If God, who
is the Creator of the world, brought him, do you, by any chance, want to get in the
Why didn’t you tell me that he was coming?
I kept silent because I wanted to make him Christian first.
Enter Mudarra carrying the head, Lope and Zayde.
No one dare hinder my revenge!
How ferocious and irate!
Famous Count, may Heaven prolong your illustrious life and may your noble state expand
to the farthest pole from ours. My name is Mudarra. I am not one of your vassals.
As nephew of Almanzor, I set out to behead this tyrant. In case that was a mistake,
I stand at your feet and I ask your nobility to excuse my crime. I decided to come
here in person as soon as I found out about his baseness and my noble Christian parentage,
for which, due to such sacred law, I have double respect. If you show empathy for
my vengeance, honourable Castilian, I will give you three things: first, a soldier,
whose spear will make the African savage tremble; second, as I hope, a Christian Prince
for your Church; third, the peace with the King, my uncle, and his support out of
respect for me. But for each thing you must give me something in return: forgiveness
for the first one, Clara’s hand in marriage for the second and for the third, sir,
Mudarra, your miraculous revenge will receive even greater rewards through fame. I
accept this agreement on the three accounts: my forgiveness, your marriage and my
I jump and dance of joy! I am not a Moor, I am Lope de Vivar, the Asturian.
I’ll give you a harness made of gold and silver.
And I a vigorous Cordovan horse.
Baptize me, as I believe in Christ.
I will be your godfather.
I’m finally a Christian.
And this is how this extraordinary story ends, the story of the bastard Mudarra and
the seven Infantes of Lara.