The Kingdom of Spain as an allegory of Christ's Kingdom in five autos by Calderón

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Worley, Robert Donald, 1964-

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El nuevo palacio del Retiro (1634), El cubo de la Almudena (1651), La devoción de la misa (1658), and El santo rey don Fernando (first and second parts, 1671) are works of a religious literary genre unique to Spain: the auto sacramental. Until recently, such plays have suffered a lack of critical attention, possibly due to their complicated theological focus. Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600-1681), the master of this genre, is the author of nearly eighty of these one-act works celebrating the Eucharist. Of these, the most studied are those using biblical and mythological characters. Calderón's autos which use Spanish historical figures, such as the above five, have been the object of extremely few studies. Most of these analyses remain at a superficial level, focusing on the works' historical contents, rather than their central spiritual elements. These works illustrate the cosmography of the time and place of their conception. To uncover these autos' full meaning, it is necessary to interpret all other theatrical components in light of these works' primary topic: the Eucharist. Throughout El nuevo palacio del Retiro, El cubo de la Almudena, La devoción de la misa, and both parts of El santo rey don Fernando, the historical elements are framed by the spiritual. In the first, a competition in which the king participates is presented as an image of the transformation of Christ into the Eucharist. In the second, a historical Muslim siege of Madrid is used to assert the victory of Spain against historical and spiritual foes through the Sacrament. The third presents the devotion of a legendary soldier to the Mass as the source of victory in a historical battle. The two autos written on the occasion of the canonization of the medieval King Fernando III combine historical, legendary, and fictitious events to illustrate temporal and eternal victories through the Sacrament. As is evident in a more than superficial study, in these five autos, Calderón modifies history in order to convey an eternal message.