Fuente Ovejuna
Lope de Vega
(Acad., X, 529-561)


Setting: Fuente Ovejuna (All)

I
Rodrigo Téllez Girón, youthful Grand Master of Calatrava (Gran maestre de Calatrava), succeeds in capturing Ciudad Real, but only after much bloodshed and with the help of Fernán Gómez de Guzmán, Grand Commander of the Order (Comendador mayor). In Fuente Ovejuna, where he lives, the Commander makes himself obnoxious by trying to force his attentions on the local peasant girls, especially Laurencia. After two regidores from Ciudad Real appeal to Ferdinand and Isabella for help, the scene returns to Fuente Ovejuna, where the commander attempts to violate Laurencia after she has been talking with Frondoso, another peasant. Frondoso, who has hidden up to this point, comes forth, seizes a crossbow that the Commander has left on the ground, and threatens him with it. Laurencia makes good her escape, and the Commander leaves, vowing revenge.
II
After the Commander and his followers on the one hand, and the villagers on the other, discuss the situation, it is learned that Ciudad Real is about to fall to the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella; and the Commander prepares to hurry to its defense. He finds time, however, to kidnap Jacinta, another village girl, and have some of his men administer a savage beating to Mendo, who has tried to defend her. When Jacinta continues to reject his advances, the Commander delivers her up to his soldiers. In the meantime, Frondoso obtains Laurencia’s permission to speak to her father, Esteban, the mayor of the town, who gives his sanction to their marriage. As the wedding feast is being celebrated, however, the Commander returns from Ciudad Real, which Ferdinand and Isabella have captured, stops the festivities, and has the bride and groom carried off as prisoners.
III
While several men of the town are holding a meeting to decide what to do, Laurencia appears, disheveled, denounces them for the cowardice they have displayed by their failure to take action, and leaves to tell Pascuala, a neighbor, of her plan to form an army of women to avenge the Commander’s misdeeds.
The Commander and his followers torture Frondoso and plan to hang him; but before they can do so, a group of townsmen, stung by Laurencia’s taunts, come to his house, seeking vengeance. They are closely followed by the women, who seize Flores, one of the Commander’s servants, and wound him severely. He goes to Ferdinand and Isabella, reports the Commander’s death, and asks that the guilty parties be punished. The King calls a doctor to treat Flores’ wounds, and promises to send a judge to Fuente Ovejuna to investigate the case.
Back in Fuente Ovejuna, the townspeople, realizing that someone is bound to be send to investigate their uprising, agree that everyone who is questioned will say that the town acted as a unit in killing the Commander. When the investigator arrives, they follow this resolution unswervingly, in spite of the tortures inflicted upon them; and the investigator, seeing that he can accomplish nothing with the rack, goes to report this latest development to Ferdinand and Isabella. The Catholic Sovereigns are intrigued by his account, and even more so when the entire population of Fuente Ovejuna appears at the court. After Esteban, Frondoso, and Mengo tell what happened, the King decides to take over the rule of the town himself until such time as a more suitable Commander can be found.