This article argues that Cervantes’s early play, La destrucción de la Numancia, appealed to a public avid for a front-row seat at that most static, yet also most savage of early modern spectacles: the military siege. With the advent of the star fort or traza italiana, the focus of military strategy during Cervantes’s lifetime moved away from open field skirmishes toward the attack and defense of heavily fortified citadels. The most effective means for overpowering such a fort was to block its trade routes by laying a siege. This shift from offensive to defensive warfare generated fearful scenari-os throughout northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and the New World that inspired painters, poets, and dramatists alike. Cervantes’s La Numancia stages identifiable features of positional warfare—its implacable logic, its engineering, and its toll in human suffering—as visual, rhetorical, and dramatic tropes that promised to regale theatergoers and readers with the awesome spectacle of siege.


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pp. 11-28
Launched on MUSE
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