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22 Pages

The Politics of Lope’s Fuenteovejuna

ByWilliam R. Blue

I n a Spanish village in 1476, the people rose up against their overlord and killed him, but exactly why they did it is still undecided. * The various versions of the event, the chronicles, the reports, the popular stories that arose, the histories, differ in their explanations, depending on who is telling the story, for what purpose, and from what point of view. The actual event, though perhaps motivated by economic interests, personal grudges, or royal influence, had definite political overtones especially coming as it did in the midst of a long and bitter civil war, a war that determined the future directions not only of the Kingdom of Castile, but, as it turned out, of Spain as well. About one hundred and fifty years later, one of Spain’s greatest dramatists took up the story of that small town and wrote what has become his best-known play, Fuente Ovejuna. Most of the interpretations of Lope de Vega’s drama, in one way or another, speak to its politics.