Staging of the King-Noble Conflict: Collective and Personal Power


The conflict between kings and nobles, a commonly treated theme of Golden Age drama, reflects the struggle for political power that took place in the late Middle Ages. This essay, starting with an intriguing article by Ortega y Gasset on the significance of medieval castles and their inhabitants, seeks to analyzes the way that seventeenth- century dramatist dealt with it. The origin of the conflict was the struggle between the holders of the privileges enjoyed by regional lords and the kings whose drive for the centralization of authority changed the political system. Ortega advances the observation that the feudal lords and their castles represent freedom from the imposition of authority and as such are the forerunners of liberalism. However, by the seventeenth century, victory had already been achieved by the monarchy and the dramatists following the prevailing wind, found themselves exalting royal absolutism and condemning what they viewed as feudal anarchy. (FPC)