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Don Carlos
Infante of Spain

Translation © 2018 Flora Kimmich, CC BY 4.0


PHILIP the SECOND, King of Spain


DON CARLOS, the Crown Prince

ALEXANDER FARNESE, Prince of Parma, nephew of the King

INFANTA CLARA EUGENIA, a three-year-old child

DUCHESS OLIVAREZ, chief lady-in-waiting

Ladies-in-waiting to the Queen:




Grandees of Spain:

MARQUIS POSA, a Knight of Malta


COUNT LERMA, captain of the Bodyguard

DUKE FERIA, Knight of the Golden Fleece

DON RAIMOND of TAXIS, postmaster general

MARQUIS POSA, a Knight of Malta


DOMINGO, the King’s confessor


the PRIOR of a Carthusian cloister

a PAGE of the Queen

DON LUIS MERCADO, the Queen’s physician

Ladies and Grandees, Pages, Officers, the Bodyguard, silent figures

Don Carlos. Steel engraving by Johann Leonhard Raab from a drawing by Friedrich Pecht. Friedrich Pecht, Schiller-Galerie (Leipzig, 1859),

Act One

The Royal Gardens at Aranjuez1

Scene One

Carlos. Domingo.

DOMINGO. Our lovely days here at Aranjuez

Are at an end. Your Royal Highness goes

From here no happier. We have come here

In vain. Do break this baffling silence, Prince;

Open your heart to meet your father’s heart.

Never too dearly can the Monarch purchase

Peace for his son, his one and only son.

(Carlos gazes downward in silence.)

Can there be yet a wish that Heaven would

Deny the most beloved of its sons?

I stood as witness at Toledo when, 10

As Crown Prince, Karl received the homage of

His lieges, when the princes pressed to kiss

His hand, and in one bending of the knee

Six kingdoms laid themselves before his feet—2

I stood as witness, saw the proud young blood

Color his cheeks, saw his breast rise with princely

Decision taken, his enraptured eye sweep

Over the gathered company, well up

In joy. This gleaming eye, my Prince, confessed,

“I am content.” 20

(Carlos turns away.)

This still and solemn sorrow,

Prince, that we read for eight months now in your

Regard, this bafflement for all the Court,

The fear of all the realm, has cost His Majesty

Much-troubled nights, your mother many tears.

CARLOS (quickly turning toward him).

My mother? Heaven grant that I forgive him

Who made of her my mother!3

DOMINGO. My good Prince?

CARLOS (bethinks himself and rubs his forehead).

Right Reverend Sir, I’ve such misfortune with

My mothers. My first act when I emerged

Into the light of day was to commit

A matricide.4 30

DOMINGO. Can this be, Gracious Prince?

Can this reproach yet weigh upon your conscience?

CARLOS. And my new mother—has she not cost me

My father’s love? My father scarcely loved me.

My one claim was to be his only son.

She’s given him a daughter now. And who

Knows what’s still sleeping in the depths of time?

DOMINGO. You’re mocking me, my Prince. All Spain adores

Its Queen. And you should look askance at her?

In contemplating her, should listen to

The voice of reason? Loveliest in all 40

The world, and queen—at one time your intended?

Not possible, unbelievable, cannot be!

Beloved of all the world, and Karl should hate her?

Karl does not contradict himself so strangely.

Be on your guard, my Prince, that she not ever

Discover how displeasing she is to

Her son. This news would cause her pain.

CARLOS. Indeed?

DOMINGO. Your Highness perhaps still recalls the recent

Tourneys at Saragossa?5 Where the King

Received a splinter broken from a lance?6 50

The Queen watched with her Ladies from the center

Tribune. And suddenly a shout goes up:

“The King is bleeding!” Great confusion.

A broken rumor reaches her. “The Prince?”

She cries, and moves to throw herself from her

High place. “The King himself!” one answers. She

Sighs deeply, orders: “Send for doctors then.”

(A silence.)

You’re lost in thought?

CARLOS. In admiration of

The King’s high-spirited confessor, who

Commands such skill in telling clever stories. 60

(Grave and dark.)

I’ve often heard that those who watch us narrowly

And carry stories do more worldly harm by far

Than poison in the murderer’s hand and knife blades.

You might have spared yourself the trouble, Sir.

And if it’s thanks you want, go to the King.

DOMINGO. My Prince, it’s well you’re on your guard, but with

Discretion: Do not rebuff a friend along

With hypocrites. For I mean well with you.

CARLOS. Mind you don’t let my father see that. Or

You’ve forfeited your purple.7 70

DOMINGO (starts). What’s that?

CARLOS. Well, yes.

Has he not promised Spain’s first purple to you?

DOMINGO. You’re making fun of me, Prince.

CARLOS. God forbid

That I make fun of one so terrible

That he can bind and loose my father’s soul!

DOMINGO. I’ll not presume to penetrate the worthy

Secret of your unhappiness, my Prince.

I only ask Your Highness to recall

The Church is an asylum for the troubled

Conscience to which a monarch has no key,

Where misdeeds even are protected under 80

The seal of sacrament. You understand me,

Prince. I have said enough.

CARLOS. No! Far be it

From me to tempt the keeper of the seal!

DOMINGO. Prince, this mistrust! How you mistake your most

Devoted servant.

CARLOS (taking his hand). Give me up then rather.

You are a holy man, as all the world

Well knows. Therefore admit: For me you are

Too busy. You’ve a long way to go, most Reverend

Father, before you seat yourself upon

Saint Peter’s throne.8 Much knowledge might but hinder 90

You. Tell that to the King, who sent you to me.

DOMINGO. Sent me to you?

CARLOS. That’s what I said. For I

Know all too well that I’m betrayed here at

This Court; one hundred eyes have been suborned

To keep a watch on me. I know King Philip

Has sold his son, has sold his only son to

The lowest of his menials and rewards each

Syllable carried back more handsomely

Than ever he rewarded a good deed.

I know— Enough! No more of this! My heart 100

Is full to bursting. I have said too much.

DOMINGO. The King’s disposed to go back to Madrid

Before the evening and the Court is gathering.

Have I the honor, Prince—

CARLOS. Yes, fine. I’ll follow.

(Domingo goes off. Short silence.)

Most pitiable Philip, like your son,

Most pitiable! I already see

Your soul bleed, bitten by suspicion’s viper.

Your ill-starred wish to know will overtake

Dreadful discoveries; they will drive you wild.

Scene Two

Carlos. Marquis Posa.

CARLOS. Who’s coming? What a sight! Oh, you good angels! 110

My Roderick!

MARQUIS. My Carlos!

CARLOS. Can it be?

Can it be really true? You? Oh, it’s you!

I press you to my heart and feel how yours is

Beating all-powerfully against my own.

Now everything’s all right. In this embrace

My ailing heart restores itself. I’m clasped

In my own Roderick’s arms.

MARQUIS. Your ailing heart?

And what is now all right? What needed to

Be made all right? You hear what startles me.


Brings you so unexpectedly from Brussels?9 120

To whom do I owe this surprise? But then

How could I ask? Forgive one drunk with joy,

Thou highest Providence, this blasphemy!

Who, if not you, most gracious one? You saw

That Carlos had no angel and you sent

Me this one. I could ask?

MARQUIS. Forgive me, Prince. I

Receive these stormy raptures with amazement.

This was not how I thought to find Don Philip’s

Son. An unnatural red flares on your cheeks,

Your lips are quivering as if in a fever. 130

Why, what am I to think, dear Prince? That’s not

The lion-hearted youth to whom I’m sent

By an oppressed, heroic people. For

I stand before you not as Roderick now,

Not as the playmate once of Carlos the boy.

A delegate of all humanity

Embraces you in me. In me it is

The Flemish provinces that weep in your

Embrace and beg you solemnly for rescue.

For all is lost to their beloved country 140

If Alba, hangman and fanatic, should

Beleaguer Brussels with his Spanish laws.10

On Emperor Charles’ illustrious grandson11 rest

The last hopes of these noble lands. That hope

Will fall in ruins if his most noble heart has

Forgot to beat for all humanity.

CARLOS. It falls in ruins.

MARQUIS. But no! What can this mean?

CARLOS. You speak of times that now are long, long past.

I too once dreamt a Karl whose cheeks glowed hot

To hear men speak of freedom. He’s long dead. 150

The one whom you see here is not the Karl

Who parted from you once at Alcala,12

Who in sweet raptures boldly believed he’d be

Creator of another Golden Age

In Spain. The notion! Child-like and yet god-like!

These dreams are done.

MARQUIS. Dreams, Prince? They were but dreams?


Me weep, weep hot tears on your breast, you my

One friend. Oh, no one—in the whole wide world

There’s no one; no one do I have. No place,

As far as Philip’s scepter rules, as far 160

As galleons carry Spanish flags, no place

Where I can find relief, can shed these tears, none

But here. By all that you and I yet hope

Of Heaven, Roderick, don’t send me away.

(The Marquis, touched, bends over him in silence.)

Imagine that I am an orphan child

That you picked up in pity at the Throne.

I still don’t know what “father” means: I am

A king’s son. Oh, but if it should be given,

As my heart says, that you among the millions

Have been sought out to know and understand me, 170

If it should be that Nature, in creating,

Repeated Roderick once again in Carlos

And in the morning of our lives tuned our

Souls’ tender strings together and alike,

And if a tear that brings me comfort should

Mean more to you than does my father’s favor—13

MARQUIS. Oh, more than all the world.

CARLOS. Oh, so deep have

I fallen now, so poor have I become

That I must call to mind our earliest years

Of childhood; I must ask that you repay 180

Debts that you’ve long forgotten, debts you made

In sailor suit. When we were growing up

Together, two wild boys and like two brothers,

No pain oppressed me but to see myself

So darkly overshadowed by your brilliance.

I finally vowed to love you boundlessly,

Because I’d lost all hope of matching you.

So I began to torment you with acts of

Kindness, a thousand shows of boyish love;

You, proud of heart, rebuffed them with all coldness. 190

I often stood there, my eyes welling up—

You never noticed—when you skipped me to

Embrace less ranking boys. “Why these?” I cried.

“Don’t I like you as much as they do?” You,

However, knelt before me, cold and joyless.

“Just this,” you said, “is what is owed a king’s son.”

MARQUIS. No more, Prince, no more of these childish tales.

They turn me scarlet now; I’m deeply shamed.

CARLOS. This I had not deserved of you. Disdain me

And lacerate my heart, these you could do, 200

But not remove me. Three times you dismissed

The prince and three times he returned to beg

Your love as your petitioner, to force

His love upon you with all violence.

Mere chance put right what Carlos never could have.

In games your shuttlecock once struck my aunt,

Queen of Bohemia, in the eye.14 She thought

It done on purpose, took it weeping to

The King. All the young people of the palace

Are summoned to denounce the guilty party. 210

The King swears he’ll avenge this piece of treachery

Most fiercely, and should it be on his own son.

I saw you lingering, frightened, at a distance.

So I stepped forward, knelt before the King,

And cried, “I did it. Punish me.” He did!

MARQUIS. The things that you’d have me remember, Prince!

CARLOS. Before the Court’s entire assembled household,

Watching in sympathy, he did. The way

A slave is thrashed. I fixed on you, I shed

No tear. In pain I ground my teeth and shed 220

No tear. My royal blood flowed shamefully to

Merciless blows. I fixed on you and shed

No tear. You came then, weeping loudly,

Fell at my feet. “My pride is overcome,”

You cried. “I shall repay you when you’re king.”

MARQUIS (extending his hand).

And so I shall, Karl. I renew this boyish

Avowal as a man. I shall repay you.

My hour may yet strike, too.

CARLOS. Oh, now, just now—

Don’t hesitate—the hour has struck just now.

The time has come for you to keep your promise. 230

I need your love. A dreadful secret burns in

My heart. It must come out. I want to read

My condemnation writ in your pale looks.

So listen—freeze in horror—but say nothing:

I’m in love with my mother.

MARQUIS. God in heaven!

CARLOS. Don’t spare me.15 Go ahead and say—I wish it—

That on this earth’s great orb no wretchedness

Can border on my own. So speak! Can I

Not guess, not know what you can say to me?

A son who loves his mother. World-wide custom 240

And Nature’s order, Roman law condemn this

Passion. My claim affronts my father’s rights.

I know these things, and nonetheless I love.

This way lies madness or the scaffold. I

Love hopelessly, profanely, fearing death,

In mortal danger; nonetheless, I love.

MARQUIS. The Queen’s aware of this affection?


Disclose it to her? She is Philip’s wife

And she is queen and this is Spanish ground;

Watched over by my father’s jealousy, 250

Hedged in on every side by etiquette—

How could I have approached her without witness?

Eight hellish, anxious months have passed now since

The King took me from the academy,

Since I’m condemned to see her daily and

Keep silent, silent as the grave. And for

Eight hellish, anxious months this fire has raged in

My breast, avowal reached my lips a thousand

Times and, affright, crept back into my heart.

Oh, Roderick, just a moment, a few moments 260

To be alone with her.16

MARQUIS. Your father, Prince?

CARLOS. Why would you speak of him just at this moment?

Tell me of all the terrors of bad conscience

But of my father not a word.

MARQUIS. You hate your father?

CARLOS. No! Oh, no indeed!

I do not hate him. Rather, I am seized

With fear and guilt, as if I had done something

Wrong, at the mention of this fearsome name.

Is it my fault if schooling like a slave’s

Stamped out the tender shoots of love in my 270

Young heart? I was already six years old

When first the fearsome man who was, they told me,

My father, came into my life. He had

That very morning doomed—without ado—

Four men to death. And ever after I saw

Him only when some punishment had been

Announced for a bad deed of mine. Oh, God!

I feel how I’m becoming bitter. Off!

Off and away! Away from here!

MARQUIS. Oh, no.

Open yourself, Prince. Words relieve the heart. 280

CARLOS. I’ve often struggled with myself. At midnight,

My Watch asleep, I’d throw myself in tears

Before the Blessed Virgin, beg a child’s

Pure heart. And I’d stand up unheard. Oh, solve

This mystery of Providence, Roderick:

Just why, among a thousand fathers, this one

For me? Among a thousand better sons,

This one for him? A pair worse matched than he

And I cannot be found in Nature’s circuit..

How could she force together two such ends, 290

Remote ends of the human race, force me

And him into a bond so holy? Why should

Two men who always shun each other meet

In one such wish? Why did this have to happen?

Two hostile stars, set perpendicular, crash

Together once, then speed apart again

For all eternity.

MARQUIS. I fear no good

Can come of this.

CARLOS. And so do I.

Like Furies from the deep, most dreadful dreams

Pursue me. Full of doubt, my better spirits 300

Wrestle with horrible designs; my hapless

Wits, star-crossed, fumble their way forward through

A labyrinth of sophistries, halt only

On the sheer brink of the abyss. Oh, Roderick,

If I no longer saw in him my father—

Your pallor tells me you have understood—

What care would I have of the King?

MARQUIS (after a silence). May I

Presume to make this one request of Carlos?

Whatever you are of a mind to do,

Just promise me you’ll venture nothing without 310

Your friend. You promise me this?

CARLOS. All things, all things,

All that your love would have me do. I throw

Myself into your arms.

MARQUIS. The Monarch is

About to go back to Madrid. Our time

Is short. If you would see the Queen in secret,

It can be only in Aranjuez:

The stillness here, the unforced manners—

CARLOS. That was

What I had hoped—in vain!

MARQUIS. No, not entirely.

I go now to present myself to her.

If she is here in Spain the self-same one 320

That she once was at Henri’s court in France,

I’ll find her open-hearted. And if I

See Carlos’ hopes reflected in her eyes,

Find her inclined toward such an interview,

If her attendants can be called away—

CARLOS. They’re mostly well-disposed toward me. I have

Won Mondekar especially: I chose

Her son to serve me as a page.

MARQUIS. So much

The better. You, my Prince, should be nearby

And show yourself when you have seen my signal. 330

CARLOS. I shall, I shall! Go now. Be quick about it.

MARQUIS. And I’ll not lose a moment. We’ll meet there!

(They go off to different sides.)

The Queen’s Court at Aranjuez

A simple rural setting intersected by an avenue ending at the Queen’s country residence17

Scene Three

The Queen. The Duchess Olivarez. The Princess Eboli and the Marquise Mondekar, who come up the avenue.18

QUEEN (to the Marquise).

It’s you I would have with me, Mondekar.

The bright eyes of the Princess here have pricked me

All morning. Look at her. She’s scarcely can

Conceal her joy to leave the country.

EBOLI. My Queen,

I’d not deny it. I have endless joy

To see Madrid again.

MONDEKAR. Your Majesty

Not too? You hate to leave Aranjuez

Behind? 340

QUEEN. To leave—the lovely spot at least.

This world’s as if my own, this place long since

My favorite. I’m greeted by the countryside,

The dearest friend of my first childhood years;

I find my childhood games again here, too;

Here blow the breezes of my much-loved France.

Do not hold it against me. All our hearts

Are drawn back to home country.

EBOLI. But how lonely,

How still and sad it all is here! You’d think

You’re at la Trappe.19

QUEEN. Why, quite the opposite.

I find Madrid is still.20 What says our Duchess 350

About these things?

OLIVAREZ. Your Majesty, I believe

It’s customary that we pass here one month,

The next one in the Pardo,21 winter in

The Residence, since there’ve been kings in Spain.

QUEEN. Well, Duchess, you must know that I’ve long since

Abandoned any quarreling with you.

MONDEKAR. How lively it will soon be in Madrid!

The Plaza Mayor’s being fitted for a

Corrida, an auto-da-fe is promised—22

QUEEN. Is promised! That from gentle Mondekar? 360

MONDEKAR. Why not? It’s heretics that we’ll see burnt.

QUEEN. I hope my little Eboli thinks different?

EBOLI. I? Why, Your Majesty, I bid you think

Me no worse Christian than the good Marquise.

QUEEN. And I forget just where I am.23 Let’s speak

Of other things. The country was our topic.

The month, I find, has gone past very quickly.

I promised myself much of our days here

And have not found what I had hoped for. Is

It so with all our hopes? And yet I can’t 370

Discover any wish that’s disappointed.24

OLIVAREZ. You’ve not yet told us, Princess Eboli, whether

Gomez can hope? Shall we see you a bride soon?

QUEEN. Thanks, Duchess, for reminding me.

(To the Princess.) I’m asked

To intercede for him. And yet how can I?

The man to whom I give my Eboli must

Be worthy of her.

OLIVAREZ. That, Your Majesty,

He is. A very worthy man, a man whom

Our gracious Monarch publicly distinguished

With royal favor. 380

QUEEN. That will make the man

Most happy. We would know, however, if he

Can love and if he merits to be loved.

I ask you, Eboli.

EBOLI (stands silent and confused, her gaze lowered, then falls to her knees).

Most Gracious Queen, do

Have pity on me. Don’t let me—for God’s sake—

Don’t let me— Don’t let me be sacrificed.

QUEEN. Be sacrificed? I need no more. Stand up.

It’s a hard thing to know one’s sacrificed.

I believe you. Do stand up. Has it been long

That you’ve rejected Gomez’ suit?

EBOLI (getting to her feet). Quite long. Prince

Carlos was still at the academy.25 390

QUEEN (starts and examines her sharply).

And do you also know your reasons?

EBOLI (with some vehemence). Never

Can I agree, my Queen, not for a hundred,

A thousand reasons.

QUEEN (very grave). More than one is quite

Enough. You can’t think well of him. That’s quite

Enough. We’ll speak of this no more.

(To her other Ladies.) I’ve not

Seen the Infanta yet today. Marquise, go

And bring her to me here.

OLIVAREZ (looking at her watch). Your Majesty,

It is not yet the hour.

QUEEN. Not yet the hour

When I’m permitted to be mother? A pity.

Do tell me when the hour is come. 400

(A Page enters and speaks softly with the Duchess,
who turns to the Queen.)

OLIVAREZ. The Marquis

Posa, Your Majesty.

QUEEN. The Marquis Posa?

OLIVAREZ. He comes from France and the Low Countries, begs

The honor of permission to deliver

Letters of the Queen Regent.26

QUEEN. That’s allowed?

OLIVAREZ (with reserve).

My protocol does not make mention of

The special case of a Castilian grandee

Entering the bower of the Queen of Spain to

Deliver letters from a foreign court.

QUEEN. I dare to do it then at my own risk!

OLIVAREZ. Your Majesty, in that case grant that I 410

Remove myself so long as—

QUEEN. Duchess, you are

Free to conduct yourself as you see fit.

(The Duchess goes off. The Queen signals the Page, who goes out.)

Scene Four

Queen. Princess Eboli. Marquise Mondekar and Marquis Posa.

QUEEN. I welcome you on Spanish ground, brave Knight.27

MARQUIS. Which I have never called my fatherland

With pride as justified as now.

QUEEN (to the two Ladies). The Marquis

Posa, who broke a lance in tourney with my

Father at Reims and took my colors three times

To victory. First of his nation, who

Taught me to feel the glory that is being

Queen of the Spanish. 420

(Turning to the Marquis.) When we last met in

The Louvre, Knight, you’d not have dreamt that you’d

Yet be my guest in Castile.

MARQUIS. No, great Queen,

For then I didn’t dream that France would lose

To us the one thing we had envied it.

QUEEN. Proud Spaniard! The one thing? That to a daughter

Of the great House Valois?

MARQUIS. That I may say

Your Majesty, for you’re now one of ours.

QUEEN. Your journey, so I hear, led you through France.

What do you bring me from my honored mother

And from my much-loved brothers? 430

MARQUIS (handing her the letters). Madame the

Queen Mother I found lying ill, renouncing

All worldly pleasure but to see her daughter

Happily established on the Spanish throne.

QUEEN. Mustn’t she be, now she’s remembered by

Such loving kin, now she remembers—28 You,

Brave Knight, have visited many courts along

Your way, seen many lands, known customs and

Men’s manners. Now, I hear, it’s your intention

To live but for yourself in your home country,

A greater prince within your quiet walls 440

Than Philip on the Throne—a free man, a

Philosopher! I doubt you’ll be content

Here in Madrid. One’s—quiet—in Madrid.

MARQUIS. That’s more than all the rest of Europe now


QUEEN. Yes, so they say. I’ve quite forgot all

Worldly exchange—almost forgot the memory.

(To Princess Eboli.)

I seem to see a hyacinth blooming there.

Princess, do gather it.

(The Princess goes to bring the flower. The Queen speaks more softly.)

If I am not

Mistaken, Knight, your coming here has made one

More happy man at Court? 450

MARQUIS. I found a sad one

Whom but one thing can—

(The Princess returns with the flower.)

EBOLI. Since the Knight has seen

So many lands, won’t he have marvels to

Tell us?

MARQUIS. Indeed he will. For knights must seek

Adventure. That’s well known. But their most sacred

Duty is to protect young ladies.


Giants! But now there are no giants left.


Is at all times a giant for the weak.

QUEEN. Quite right. We still have giants, but no knights.

MARQUIS. Just now, on my return from Naples, I

Was witness to a touching tale, which friendship’s 460

Most sacred legacy has made my own.

Did I not fear to tire Your Majesty

Relating it—

QUEEN. Have I a choice? The Princess’

Inquiring gaze admits of no suppression.

Now down to business, for I, too, love stories.

MARQUIS. Two noble houses in Mirandola,

Wearied of jealousy and enmity

Passed down from Guelf and Ghibelline for centuries,29

Resolved to join in peace eternal, bound

By tender bonds of kinship to each other. 470

Mighty Pietro’s sister’s son, Fernando,

And the divine Mathilda, Colonna’s daughter,

Were picked to bind this lovely band of union.

Never had Nature made two better hearts

For one another, never deemed the world,

Never a match so very fortunate.

Until this time Fernando had adored his

Amiable mistress only in her likeness,

And how he trembled whether he’d find true

What his most fiery expectations dared 480

Not trust themselves to believe about the picture!

In Padua, where his studies held him fast,

Fernando waited only to be granted

The moment when he’d kneel before Mathilda

And make a first confession of his love.

(The Queen becomes more attentive. The Marquis pauses, then continues, directing himself, as far as the presence of the Queen allows, more toward Princess Eboli.)

Meanwhile, his consort’s death leaves Pietro free.

With youthful ardor the graybeard consumes

The brilliant rumors being spread abroad

About Mathilda’s many excellences.

He comes! He sees! He loves! This new emotion 490

Drowns out the softer voice of Nature. Thus

The uncle sues for the intended of

His nephew, seals his theft before the altar.

QUEEN. What of Fernando now?

MARQUIS. On wings of love,

Unknowing of this terrible reversal,

He hurries to Mirandola, ecstatic.

His speedy beast attains the gates by starlight.

Bacchantic music, drums and violins,

Comes thundering from the lighted palace to

Receive him. Trembling up the stair, abashed, 500

He enters a tumultuous wedding hall un-

Noticed. Amid the drunken feasting of

His guests Pietro sits, flanked by an angel,

One whom Fernando knows, who never seemed

So brilliant even in his wildest dreams.

One glance tells him what he has once possessed,

Tells him what he now has forever lost.

EBOLI. Unfortunate Fernando!

QUEEN. Is your story

Now ended, Knight? It surely must be ended?

MARQUIS. Not yet entirely. 510

QUEEN. Didn’t you tell us

Fernando was your friend?

MARQUIS. I have none dearer.

EBOLI. Oh, do continue with your story, Knight.

MARQUIS. It now becomes quite sad. And thinking of it

Renews my pain. Let me not have to end it.30

(General silence.)

QUEEN (turning to Princess Eboli).

It’s surely granted me now to embrace

My daughter. Princess, go and bring her to me.

(Eboli goes off. The Marquis signals a Page in the background, who disappears. The Queen opens the letters that the Marquis has given her and seems surprised. The Marquis meanwhile converses softly with Marquise Mondekar. The Queen has read the letters and turns to the Marquis with a searching gaze.)

You’ve told us nothing of Mathilda? Perhaps

She doesn’t know how much Fernando suffers?

MARQUIS. No one has ever plumbed Mathilda’s heart.

But great souls suffer silently. 520

QUEEN. You look about? What is it you are seeking?

MARQUIS. I thought how happy one whom I can’t name

Would be here in my place.

QUEEN. Whose fault that he

Is not?

MARQUIS (in quick rejoinder).

Am I free to construe this as

I wish? He’d find forgiveness if he came now?

QUEEN (startled). Just now, Marquis? Now? What do you intend?

MARQUIS. He’s grounds for hope? He has?

QUEEN (in growing confusion). You frighten me,

Marquis. He surely would not—

MARQUIS. Here he is.

Scene Five

The Queen. Carlos.31

Marquis Posa and Marquise Mondekar step into the background.

CARLOS (kneeling before the Queen).

It’s come at last, the moment longed for so,

And Karl at last can touch this cherished hand! 530

QUEEN. A step like this! What criminal presumption!

You’re mad! Stand up! We’ll be found out! My Court’s here.

CARLOS. I’ll not stand up. I shall kneel here forever.

I’ll lie here, rooted to the spot, bewitched—

QUEEN. Why, you are raving mad! What cheek! Are you

Aware it is the Queen, it is your mother,

To whom you dare speak so? Are you aware

That I myself can tell the King—


Must die! Let them take me from here straight to

The scaffold! This one moment’s paradise 540

Is not too dearly purchased by my death.

QUEEN. What of your Queen?

CARLOS (stands up). Dear God! Dear God! I’m going—

I’ll leave you. Must I not, when you demand it?

Oh, Mother, Mother! How you toy with me!

One sign, a half-glance, one small spoken word

Determines me to be or not to be.

What would you have me do? What is there under

The sun that I’ll not rush to sacrifice

If you should wish it?

QUEEN. Flee from here.

CARLOS. Dear God!

QUEEN. The one thing, Karl, I beg of you in tears: 550

To flee this place before my Ladies—my jailors—

Find you and me together and then bring

This great news to your father’s ears.

CARLOS. Then I’ll

Await whatever Fate allots me, be

It life or death. Have I put all my hopes

In this one moment’s giving me you without

Witnesses, only to be cheated in

The end by empty fears? Oh no, my Queen!

The world may turn a thousand times about

Its poles before some chance renews this favor. 560

QUEEN. No chance is to renew it in eternity.

Wretched man! What is it you want of me?

CARLOS. My Queen, God is my witness: I have struggled

As mortal man has never struggled—in vain! I’ve

Exhausted all my courage. I surrender.

QUEEN. No more of this—to spare my peace of mind.

CARLOS. You, you were mine—were mine before the world,

Were promised me by two great thrones, you were

Conceded me by Heaven and by Nature,

And Philip, Philip stole you from me. 570

QUEEN. He is

Your father.

CARLOS. And your husband.

QUEEN. Who gives you,

As heir, the greatest realm in all the world.

CARLOS. And you for mother.

QUEEN. God above! You’re raving.

CARLOS. And does he know how rich he is? Has he

A feeling heart that knows to value yours?

I’ll not complain; indeed, I will forget

The boundless happiness I would have known

Having your hand, if only he is happy.

But he is not. And this is hellish torment!

He’s not, he’ll never be. And you, and you— 580

You took my heaven and destroyed it in

His arms.

QUEEN. Vile notion!

CARLOS. Oh, I know who was

The maker of this marriage, know how Philip

Can love, know how he courted. What are you in

This kingdom? Come, let’s hear it. Reigning queen

Perhaps? No, not in life! How could—where you

Are queen—the Albas rage and murder? How

Could Flanders bleed for its confession? Or are

You Philip’s wife? Not possible! Don’t believe it.

A wife possesses a man’s heart. And who 590

Has his? Why every stroke of tenderness that

Escapes him in a moment of arousal—

Must he not beg it of the scepter and

Of his gray hair?

QUEEN. And just who told you to

Lament my lot at Philip’s side?

CARLOS. My heart,

Which knows, at mine, how it would be content.

QUEEN. Vain man! If my heart told me differently?

If Philip’s tender honoring me should touch me

More intimately than his proud son’s bold

Facility with words? If the considered 600

Devotion of an aged—

CARLOS. Oh! that is different.

Why, then—forgiveness. It escaped me that

You love the King.

QUEEN. I’m pleased to honor him.

CARLOS. You’ve never loved?

QUEEN. Strange question!

CARLOS. You’ve never loved?

QUEEN. I love no longer.


Because your heart forbids it? Or your vows?

QUEEN. Take leave of me now, Prince, and never come

Again in hope of such an interview.

CARLOS. Because your vows forbid it, or your heart?

QUEEN. Because my duty— Oh, unhappy Carlos, 610

Why this grief-struck dissection of a fate

That you and I must heed?

CARLOS. We? Must heed? Must?

QUEEN. What would you say by such a tone?

CARLOS. This much:

That Carlos is not minded to say “must”

Where he can “will,” that he’s not minded to

Be the unhappiest man in this wide realm

When it costs but the overthrow of all

The laws to be the happiest.

QUEEN. Have I heard you

Correctly? You still hope? You dare to hope

When all, all, all—all has long since been lost? 620

CARLOS. For me the dead alone have all been lost.

QUEEN. And it’s for me, your mother, that you hope?

(She gives him a long, penetrating look. Then, with dignity and gravity)

Why not? The new king, just installed, can do

Yet more: can burn the last instructions of the

Deceased, pull down his statues, he can even—

Who hinders him?—can snatch the last remains

Of the dead man from rest in the Escorial32

Out into light of day and blithely scatter

His desecrated dust to the four winds;

At length, to reach a fitting end— 630

CARLOS. For love of God, do not complete that thought!

QUEEN. Can bind himself in marriage to his mother.

CARLOS. Accursed son!

(He stands for a moment frozen and speechless.)

Yes, it’s all over. It’s all

Over now. I see all too clearly what

Was to remain obscure eternally.

You’re lost to me. Lost, lost. Forever and

Forever and forever! The die is cast

And I have lost you. It’s a feeling full of

Pure hellishness, and hellish, too, the other:

The feeling of possessing you. I can 640

Not grasp it and my nerves are giving way.

QUEEN. Most pitiable, dearest Karl, I feel—

Feel it so deeply—all the nameless pain

That’s raging in your breast. As boundless as

Your love is this, your suffering. Boundless, too,

Though is the glory won by conquering pain.

Attain that glory, my young hero, a prize

That’s worthy of its high contender, of

The youth through whose veins courses all the virtue

Of hosts of kingly forebears. Be a man, 650

My noble Prince. The grandson of great Charles

Begins the fight where common mortals end it.

CARLOS. Too late! Dear God, it is too late!

QUEEN. To be

A man? Oh, Karl, how great our virtue is

When our heart breaks in our pursuit of it!

You were placed high by Providence, placed higher

Than many millions of your brothers. Partial,

She gave her favorite what she took from them,

And millions ask: Does he deserve from birth

To count for more than other mortals? Rise up! 660

And prove this disposition right and proper!

Deserve your precedence on all the world

And sacrifice what no one’s ever done!

CARLOS. That I can do. I have unbounded strength to

Do battle for you. To lose you I have none.

QUEEN. Admit it, Carlos. It’s defiance, it

Is bitterness and pride that draw your wishes

So wildly toward your mother. Love and longing

You throw away on me by right belongs to the

Kingdoms that will be yours to rule one day. 670

Just look how you are squandering your ward’s33

Entrusted assets. Love is your great office.

Till now, it’s wandered toward your mother. Bring

It to, oh, bring it to your future kingdoms

And feel, instead of pain of conscience, the transports

Of being god! Elisabeth was your

First love. Your second love be Spain! How gladly

Would I step back before that better love.

CARLOS (throwing himself at her feet).

How grand you are and how divine! Oh, all

That you desire—this will I do. So be it! 680

(He stands up.)

I stand here in the hand of the Almighty

And swear—swear you eternal—Oh! Eternal

Silence, but not forgetting.

QUEEN. How could I

Require of Carlos what I find no will

To do myself?

MARQUIS (hurrying from the avenue).

The King!

QUEEN. Dear God!


Away from here, my Prince!

QUEEN. If he should see you!

His terrible suspicion!

CARLOS. I shall stay!

QUEEN. And who shall be the victim?

CARLOS (drawing the Marquis with him). Off! Away!

Come quickly, Roderick.

(He stops and turns back.) What may I take with me?

QUEEN. The friendship of your mother. 690

CARLOS. Friendship! Mother!

QUEEN. And these tears sent me from the Netherlands.

(She gives him a handful of letters.34 Carlos and the Marquis go off. The Queen, uneasy, looks about for her Ladies. None appears. As she is about to move into the background, the King arrives.)

Scene Six

King. Queen. Duke Alba. Count Lerma. Domingo.35 A few Ladies and Grandees who remain in the distance.

KING (looks about astonished and in silence).

What do I see? You here! Alone, Madame?

And not one Lady to accompany you? This

Astonishes me. Where are all your women?

QUEEN. My gracious husband—

KING. Why are you alone?

(To his Attendants.)

An unforgivable mistake for which I

Demand the strictest possible accounting.

Who’s charged with keeping the Queen’s Court today?

Whose turn was it to be in her attendance?

QUEEN. My Lord, do not be angry. I myself, 700

I am the guilty party. On my orders

The Princess Eboli went out to call—


Your orders?

QUEEN. —call the waiting-lady because

A longing seized me to embrace the Infanta.

KING. And that is why you sent away your Ladies?

But that excuses only the first Lady.

Where was the second one?

MONDEKAR (who has returned, steps out from among the other Ladies).

Your Majesty,

I feel that I am culpable—

KING. That’s why

I grant you ten years’ time far from Madrid

To think about these things at leisure. 710

(The Marquise steps back, in tears. General silence. All those present, startled, look to the Queen.)


Marquise, who do you weep for?

(To the King.) If I have erred,

My gracious Lord, at least the Crown, which I

Have never reached for, should spare me this shame.

Is there a law here in this kingdom that

Summons a monarch’s daughter into court?

Does force alone keep watch on Spanish women?

Do witnesses protect them more than virtue?

Now, by your leave, my husband, it is not

My custom to dismiss in tears one who

Has served me gladly. Mondekar! 720

(She looses her girdle and gives it to the Marquise.)

It is

The King you’ve angered, not me. Take this then

As token of my favor and this hour.

Avoid this realm; yours is a Spanish crime.

In my beloved France one dries such tears

With pleasure. Must these thoughts forever haunt me?

(She supports herself on her Chief Lady and covers her face.)

In my dear France it was quite different.36

KING (rather shaken). Could a

Reproach caused by my love so sadden you?

A word so sadden you that only tenderest

Affliction could have laid upon my lips?

(He turns toward the Grandezza.)

Here stand the vassals of my Court and Kingdom. 730

Has ever sleep descended on my eyelids

But that I had at evening every day

Considered how the hearts of all my peoples

Beat in the furthest reaches of my realm?

Should I be yet more anxious for my throne

Than for the helpmeet of my dearest heart?

For all my many peoples my sword vouches,

My eye alone can vouch for my wife’s love.

QUEEN. Do I deserve this mistrust, Sire?

KING. I’m called

The richest man in all of Christendom; 740

The sun has never set on my great State.

All this another once possessed before me,

And many who come after will possess it.

This belongs to me alone. The King’s possessions

Belong to fortune; Elisabeth is Philip’s.

This is the spot where I am mortal.37

QUEEN. You’re

Afraid, my Lord?

KING. Should my gray head not be?

And if I once begin to fear, my fears

Are at an end.38

(To the Grandees.) I count the Grandees of

The Court and find the first one missing. Where’s 750

Don Carlos, my Infante?

(No one answers.)

The boy Don Karl

Begins to stir my fears. Since he returned

From Alcala, he shuns my very presence.

His blood is hot; why is his gaze so cold?

So measured and so formal his comportment?

Be vigilant, I urge you.39

ALBA. That I am.

As long as my heart beats against this breastplate,

Don Philip may lie down and sleep in peace.

Like God’s own cherub stood before His Eden,

Duke Alba stands before the Throne. 760


Most humbly dare to contradict the wisest

Of kings? For I revere the Majesty of

My King too deeply to condemn his son

So hastily and harshly. I fear much

Of Karl’s hot blood but nothing of his heart.

KING. Count Lerma, you speak well to soothe the father;

The Duke remains the mainstay of the King.

Enough of this.

(He turns to his Suite.) I hasten to Madrid.

My royal office calls me. Heresy

Is spreading like the plague among my peoples, 770

Unrest is growing in my Netherlands.

The time has come. A terrible example

Is to convert those who have lost their way.

Tomorrow I shall keep a solemn oath

To which all Christian kings have sworn40 by an

Assize without example, to which I

Now summon all the members of my Court.

(He leads the Queen away; the others follow.)

Scene Seven

Don Carlos, carrying letters;41 Marquis Posa from the opposite side.

CARLOS. My mind’s made up and Flanders must be saved.

She wishes it. Enough for me.

MARQUIS. Then there’s

No time to lose. Duke Alba, it is said, 780

Has been named governor.

CARLOS. Tomorrow I’ll

Request an audience with my father and

Demand this office for myself. This is

The first demand I’ve dared to make of him.

He can’t refuse me. He has long resented

My presence in Madrid. A welcome pretext,

This, to remove me, keep me at a distance!

Shall I admit to you that I hope more?

Perhaps, once we’ve come face to face, I can

Restore myself to his good graces. He 790

Has never lent an ear to Nature’s urgings.

Let’s see if he’ll heed my appeal to Nature!

MARQUIS. At last I hear my Carlos speak again.

You are your old self now once more.

Scene Eight

As above. Count Lerma.

LERMA. The Monarch

Has just departed from Aranjuez.

He gave me orders—

CARLOS. Very well, Count Lerma,

I’ll reach Madrid beside the King.

MARQUIS (as if taking leave; with ceremony). Your Highness

Has nothing more he would require of me?

CARLOS. Nothing, Knight. I wish you god speed on your

Arrival in Madrid. You’ll tell me more 800

Of Flanders when we meet again.

(To Lerma, who is waiting.) I’ll follow

In just a moment.

(Lerma goes off.)

Scene Nine

Don Carlos. The Marquis.

CARLOS. I have understood you.

My thanks. But this restraint we’ll practice only

Before third persons. We—are we not brothers?

This comedy of rank is to be banished

In future from our bond! Imagine we

Have met in masquerade: you as a slave

And I—on whim—concealed in royal purple.

As long as Shrovetide lasts we keep this pretense,

True to our roles with comic gravity, 810

All to preserve the gaiety of the crowd.

Behind the mask, though, Karl will signal you,

And you in passing press my hand, so that

We understand each other.

MARQUIS. What a dream! But

Will it not vanish? Is my Karl so sure he’ll

Fend off the charms of kingship without limit?

A day is yet to come—a great day—when

This heroism—I caution you—will falter.

Don Philip dies. To Karl will fall the greatest

Of all the thrones in Christendom. A chasm 820

Will open to remove him from all mortals;

Who was no more than man becomes a god.

He knows no weakness. For him the duties of

All time fall silent. Humankind—today

A word resounding in his listening ear—

Sells out and grovels at its idol’s feet.

His fellow-feeling dies out with his suffering,

His virtue slackens into self-indulgence,

Peru rewards his foolishness with gold

And his Court raises devils for his crimes. 830

He falls asleep besotted in this heaven,

One that his clever slaves have fashioned for him.

His godlikeness lasts long as lasts his dream,

And woe betide the pitying fool who’d wake him.

What then of Roderick? Friendship is true

And bold. A faltering, ailing Majesty

Cannot hold out against its fearsome beams.

You’d have no patience with a subject’s spite,

And I none with a prince’s pride.

CARLOS. Your picture

Of kings is true and terrible. I believe you. 840

But only pleasure opened them to vice.

I am still pure, a youth of twenty-three.

What thousands squandered wantonly before me

In hot embraces, spirit’s better half,

My manhood, I have kept for future kingship.

What could displace you in my heart, if women

Could not?

MARQUIS. I could. For could I love you, Karl,

If I must fear you?

CARLOS. That will never happen.

Do you have need of me? Have you desires

That beg before the Throne? Does gold charm you? 850

You are a richer subject than as king

I’ll ever be. You covet honor? No.

In boyhood you had more than its full measure.

Which one will be the lender? Which the debtor?

You’re silent? Tremble at the prospect? You

Are no more sure of yourself?

MARQUIS. All right. I yield.

My hand on it.

CARLOS. You’re mine?

MARQUIS. Both now and always,

In the most reckless meaning of the word.

CARLOS. As warm and true as now to the Infante

In future also to the King disposed? 860

MARQUIS. I swear to you.

CARLOS. Then, too, if flattery wrapped

Itself around my badly guarded heart?

And if this eye forgot the tears that it

Once wept? This ear locked out entreaty? Will

You, fearless keeper of my virtue, seize

Me firmly, call my genius by its great name?42

You will? Then one more favor! Call me brother.43

I’ve always envied those like you because you

Enjoy a right to easy intimacy.

This word as between brothers soothes my ear, 870

My heart with dreams that we are like and equal.

No protest. I can guess what you would say.

For you it is a small thing—that I know;

For me, a king’s son, it is much. Shall we

Be brothers now?

MARQUIS. Your brother!

CARLOS. To the King!

Now I have nothing more to fear.

With our arms linked I’ll call out all this age.

(They go off.)

Philip II. Steel engraving by Johann Leonhard Raab from a drawing by Arthur von Ramberg. Friedrich Pecht, Schiller-Galerie (Leipzig, 1859),

Act Two

In the Royal Palace, Madrid

Scene One

King Philip under a baldachin. Duke Alba at some distance from the King, hatted.44 Carlos.

CARLOS. The realm has precedence. Most gladly Carlos

Yields to His Majesty’s first minister.

He speaks for Spain. I’m but son of the house. 880

(He steps back with a bow.)

PHILIP. The Duke remains, and the Infante may speak.

CARLOS (turning to Alba).

And thus I must request the King as gift

Of your great magnanimity, Duke Alba.

A child, as you well know, can carry much

At heart intended only for his father,

Ill-suited to the witness of third persons.

The King will not be taken from you, Duke;

I merely seek a moment with my father.

PHILIP. He is your father’s friend.

CARLOS. Have I deserved

To think I see my own here in the Duke? 890

PHILIP. Or wanted to deserve? I’ve little love

For sons who know to choose more wisely than

Their fathers.

CARLOS. Can Duke Alba, knight and courtier,

Be witness to a scene like this one? I,

As surely as I live, would not accept—

Not for the world, not for a diadem—

The role of the importunate who little

Scruples to interject himself between son

And father, uninvited, who thus has

Condemned himself to stand there in the full 900

And pungent knowledge of his nullity.

PHILIP (leaves his seat with an angry glance at the Prince).

Remove yourself, Duke!

(The Duke turns to the main doors, where Carlos entered; the King indicates another door.)

Into my private study,

Until I call you.

Scene Two

King Philip. Don Carlos.

CARLOS (approaches the King as soon as the Duke has gone out and kneels before him; with heightened feeling).

Father once again,

Mine once again. My warmest thanks for this

Great favor. Let me have your hand, my father.

What happiness! The pleasure of this kiss

Was long not granted to your child. And why

Banish me from your heart so long, my father?

What is it I have done?

PHILIP. Infante, your heart

Knows nothing of such arts. No more. They irk me. 910

CARLOS (getting to his feet).

There! There I hear your courtiers. But, my father,

It is not good, not all is good, not all

A priest says, not all a priest’s creatures say.

I am not wicked, Father. Hot blood is

My wickedness, youth is my crime. But truly,

Wicked I never was. Though wild eruptions

Accuse my heart, that heart is good.

PHILIP. Your heart

Is pure, I know this, pure as is your prayer.

CARLOS. It’s now or never! We’re alone. The anxious

Barrier of etiquette has tumbled down 920

Between us. Now or never! Hope begins

To glimmer in me, a sweet premonition

Flits through my heart. All Heaven bends toward us

With bands of angels. Touched, the Three-Times-Holy

One contemplates this grand scene! Father, let’s

Make peace! (He falls at the King’s feet.)

PHILIP. Leave off! Stand up!

CARLOS. Oh, let’s make peace!

PHILIP (resisting Carlos’s approach).

I find this clowning forward—

CARLOS. Forward, your

Child’s love?

PHILIP. Now tears ! Unworthy sight! Be gone, you!

CARLOS. It’s now or never! Peace, my father!

PHILIP. Out of

My sight! Come from my battles covered with 930

Disgrace—my arms will open to receive you.

Not this way. Only craven guilt would wash

Itself in waters such as these. A man

Who does not scruple to repent will not

Be sparing with repentance.

CARLOS. Who is this?

By what misunderstanding did this stranger

Stray in among humanity? Tears are

The timeless guarantor of humanness.

His eye is dry. Oh, he’s not born of woman.

Force your unwetted eyes to learn tears now, 940

Or you might do so at a bitter moment.

PHILIP. Do you presume to shake your father’s doubts

With pretty words?

CARLOS. His doubts? I’ll crush these doubts.

I’ll hang myself on Father’s heart and rip

And rip until I’ve torn doubt from around

This father’s heart. Who are they, those who’ve driven

Me from the grace and favor of my King? The

Monk bid what monkish price to father for

His son? And Alba offers what to redeem

A life made trivial by childlessness? 950

It’s love you want? Here in this breast a spring

Surges more fresh, more fiery than in all

The sad and swampy vessels that alone

King Philip’s gold can tap.45

PHILIP. Impertinent boy!

Silence! The men whom you dare to despise are

The proven servants of my choosing. You

Will show them honor.

CARLOS. No, indeed, I won’t.

I feel my strength. What all your Albas do,

This Karl can do, and Karl does more. What is

The Kingdom to a hireling? He’ll not inherit. 960

What’s it to him when Philip’s gray hair whitens?

Your Carlos would have loved you. The very thought

Of sitting on a throne, alone—all, all

Alone—fills me with dread.

PHILIP (affected by these words, stands lost in thought. Pause).

I am alone.46

CARLOS (going to him, warm and vivid).

You have been. Do not hate me anymore;

I want to love you like a child, with ardor;

Just leave off hating me. How glad it is

To feel ourselves made glorious in one

Sweet soul and know our pleasure warms another’s

Cheek, that our fear quakes in another’s breast, 970

Our sorrows wet another’s eyes! How sweet

It is to wander back along youth’s rose-

Strewn way, to dream again life’s dream, go hand

In hand with a dear, much-loved son! How sweet

It is to last, immortal, undecaying,

In one’s child’s virtue, doing good for centuries!

How sweet to plant, the son to gather, to harvest

What flourishes for him, to know his bright thanks!

Father, your monks say nothing of this earthly

Eden, and they do well not to. 980

PHILIP (not without feeling). My son,

You speak your own damnation, paint with charm

A joy that you have never given me.

CARLOS. We’ll let all-knowing God be judge of that.

Yourself—you closed your father’s heart to me

And my participation in your rule.

Up to this very day. Was this well done?

In Spain, Spain’s own Crown Prince was made a stranger,

A prisoner on the ground where he’ll be king.

And this was just, was kind? How often, Father,

Did I look down in shame to learn Court news at 990

Aranjuez from foreign consuls, news sheets!

PHILIP. Blood runs too hot through all your veins, my son.

You’d only wreck things.

CARLOS. Give me things to wreck,

My father. High time! Twenty-three years old

And nothing done for immortality!

I’ve woken up, I feel my strength; my calling

Knocks; like a creditor it rouses me;

And all lost time from early years reminds

Me loudly of my debts of honor. It’s there,

The august moment that demands of me 1000

The interest owed on all my high endowments:

World history calls to me and renowned forebears

And the resounding trumpet blast of fame.

The time has come to open glorious gates

Of reputation to me. Now, my King, may

I dare pronounce the plea that brings me here?

PHILIP. Yet more required? Let’s hear.

CARLOS. The uproar in

Brabant has now grown threatening. Stubborn rebels

Call for intelligent and firm resistance.

To tame this rage the Duke’s to lead an army 1010

To Flanders, furnished with full royal mandate.

How honorable this office is, how suited

To introduce your son into Fame’s temple!

Give me, my King, give me this army. I’m loved

In the Low Countries. With my blood I’m bold to

Vouch for their loyalty.

PHILIP. You’re talking like

A dreamer. Such an office wants a man

And not a youngster.

CARLOS. Wants a human being,

Father, the one thing Alba never has been.

PHILIP. Terror alone will tame this insurrection. 1020

A show of mercy is pure madness. You are

Soft-hearted and the Duke is feared, my son.

Do not insist.

CARLOS. Dispatch me with your army

To Flanders. Take a chance with my soft heart.

The King’s son’s very name there, flying before

My banners, will make conquest; Alba’s hangmen

Can only ravage. On my knees I beg you.

The first request in all my life. My father,

Entrust me Flanders.

PHILIP (with a penetrating look).

And entrust as well

My strongest force to your ambition? A 1030

Keen blade for my assassin?

CARLOS. Oh, my God!

I’ve got no further? Can this be the yield of

A moment I’ve long hoped for, long requested?

(After reflecting, with milder earnestness.)

Give me a softer answer; don’t send me

Away like this! To be dismissed with such

An answer, be dismissed with heavy heart—

Treat me more graciously. This is my urgent

Request, it is my last, despairing try.

I cannot believe, cannot endure with firmness

That you refuse me all, all, all I’ve asked. 1040

I go from you deceived in all my feelings.

Your Albas, your Domingos throne in glory

Where your child weeps in deep humiliation.

Legions of courtiers, all your fluttering Grandezza,

Your guild of monks as pale as sinners—these

Were witness to your solemn grant of audience.

Don’t shame me, Father, wound me mortally,

Expose me to this Court crowd’s laughter, seeing

That strangers batten on your favor, Carlos,

However, can arrive at nothing. Make 1050

A gesture proving you would honor me

And send me with your army into Flanders!

PHILIP. No more of this, on pain of your King’s anger!

CARLOS. I’ll risk the pain of my King’s anger, I

Will ask one final time: Entrust me Flanders.

I ought, I must leave Spain. I live here in

The shadow of the gallows. Skies above

Madrid bear down on me like knowledge of

A murder. Only a quick change of sky

Can make me well. If you would save me— Send 1060

Me right away to Flanders.

PHILIP (with forced calm). You are ill.

Affliction such as yours, my son, requires

Good care and watchful presence of physicians.

You’ll stay in Spain; the Duke will go to Flanders.

CARLOS (beside himself).

Stand by me now, you kindly spirits.

PHILIP (taking a step back). Halt!

What does this mean?

CARLOS (his voice trembling). That’s your last word, my father?

PHILIP. You heard it from your King.

CARLOS. And that is that.

(He goes off, beside himself.)

Scene Three

Philip stands a while, reflecting darkly, then takes a few steps.
Alba approaches, ill at ease.

PHILIP. Expect your orders to depart for Brussels

At any moment now.

ALBA. All matters stand

In readiness, my King. 1070

PHILIP. Your mandate lies

Sealed in my study. Meanwhile take leave of

The Queen, present yourself to the Infante.

ALBA. With all the gestures of a man enraged

I just now saw him going out of here.

Your Royal Majesty is quite beside

Yourself and seem to be affected deeply.

Perhaps the content of your conversation?

PHILIP (having walked up and down).

The content was Duke Alba.

(Fixing Alba darkly.) Gladly I

Would hear that Carlos hates my counselors, with

Annoyance, though, that he despises them. 1080

ALBA (blanches; about to fly into a rage).

PHILIP. No need to answer now. You have my leave

To reconcile the Prince.

ALBA. Sire!

PHILIP. Tell me, now,

Who was it warned me first of my son’s treachery?

I listened then to you and not to him.

I’ll risk a trial. Henceforth, Duke Alba, Carlos

Stands closer to my throne. You are dismissed.

(The King retires to his study. Alba goes out by another door.)

An antechamber to the Queen’s apartment

Scene Four

Don Carlos comes through the center door in conversation with a Page.47
The Courtiers in the antechamber scatter into adjacent rooms.

CARLOS. A letter for me? And what’s this key for?

And both passed on to me so secretly?

Come here. Where did you get these things?

PAGE (mysterious). The lady

Gave me to understand she would be guessed 1090

And not described.

CARLOS (startled). The lady?

(He examines the Page more closely.) Who are you?

PAGE. A page who serves Her Majesty the Queen.

CARLOS (shocked, puts his hand over the boy’s mouth).

Now, on your life! Stop there! I know enough.

(He tears off the seal and goes to the far end of the hall to read the letter. Duke Alba enters meanwhile, goes past him unnoticed and into the Queen’s apartment. Carlos begins to tremble, reddens, then blanches. When he has finished the letter, he stares at it, speechless. Finally, he turns to the Page.)

She gave you this herself?

PAGE. With her own hands.

CARLOS. She gave you this herself? Oh, do not mock me!

I’ve never seen a thing that’s in her hand.

I have to believe you if you swear to it.

If you were lying, tell me freely now.

Don’t make a mockery of me.

PAGE. Of you?

CARLOS (looks again at the letter, then examines the Page narrowly.
He takes a turn through the hall)

You still have parents? Yes? Your father serves 1100

The King and is a loyal Spanish subject?

PAGE. He fell at Saint Quentin, a colonel in

The Duke of Savoy’s cavalry.48 He was

By name Alonzo Count of Henarez.

CARLOS (taking him by the hand and staring into his face).

The King gave you this letter?

PAGE (hurt). Gracious Prince,

Have I deserved this mistrust?

CARLOS (reading the letter). “This key opens

The rearward doors in the pavilion of

The Queen. The farthest of them all gives sideways

On a retreat no listener can creep up on.

Here love can confess freely and aloud what 1110

It long confided to mere gestures only.

Timidity will find a hearing here and

Modest endurance meet a rich reward.”

(As if coming to his senses.)

I am not dreaming, I’ve not lost my mind. This

Is my right hand, this is my sword, and these

Are written words. It is both real and true:

I’m loved; I am; indeed I am; I’m loved!

(Beside himself, he rushes through the room, his arms held high.)

PAGE. Then come, my Prince, and let me show the way.

CARLOS. One moment; let me first come to myself.

Am I not shaken by all Fortune’s terrors? 1120

Had I the pride to hope? Or trust myself

To dream? What mortal ever learned so fast

To be a god? Who was I once? Who now?

This is a different sky, another sun.

She loves me!

PAGE (trying to lead him away).

Prince, Prince! You forget. Not here—

CARLOS (freezes).

The King, my father!

(He lets his arms fall, looks around timidly, and begins to compose himself.)

This is dreadful. Yes,

Quite right, my friend. I thank you. I was not

Myself. Suppress it, wall up so much happiness

Inside this breast—it’s dreadful. Listen, now.

(He takes the Page by the hand and leads him aside.)

What you have seen and have not seen—you hear— 1130

Sink like a coffin deep into your breast.

Go now. I’ll find the way. Go. We cannot

Be seen here. Go.

(The Page is about to go.)

But wait! There’s something more—

(The Page comes back. Carlos lays a hand on his shoulder and looks him solemnly in the face.)

You’re carrying a terrible secret that,

Like powerful poison, bursts the vial that holds it.

Be careful of your looks, your gestures; your head

Never discover what your bosom harbors.

Be like a speaking tube: receive the sound

And pass it on and never hear it spoken.

You’re just a boy. That’s not to change now. Go on 1140

Playing the merry child. She chose you well,

The clever author of this letter. Here

The King will not go searching for his vipers.

PAGE. And I, my Prince, I’m going to be proud

To know I have a secret that the King

Does not—

CARLOS. Why, you conceited little dunce,

Precisely that is what you have to fear.

If you and I should meet in public, you

Approach me shyly, with submission. Let

Your vanity not lead you to give signs 1150

Of how you stand with the Infante. No graver

Crime, Son, can you commit than pleasing me.

Whatever you pass on in future, never

Put it in words or frame it with your lips.

Your news is not to take the common path

Of thought. Speak with your lashes, index finger;

I’ll listen to you with my glances. Air

And light around us belong to Philip, the walls

Are in his pay. What’s that?

(The door to the Queen’s apartment opens and Duke Alba emerges.)

Be gone! Adieu!

PAGE. Don’t miss the room you’re looking for, my Prince! (Exit.) 1160

CARLOS. The Duke! Oh, no. No, no! Well, let it be!

I’ll find a way.

Scene Five

Don Carlos. Duke Alba.

ALBA (intercepting him). Two words, my Gracious Prince.

CARLOS. Quite right—it’s fine—another time.

(He tries to pass.)

ALBA. The place

Is not ideal. Perhaps Your Royal Highness

Would rather hear me in your rooms?

CARLOS. What for?

That can be done here, too. But quickly and

In brief.

ALBA. What brings me here, in fact, is to

Render Your Highness humble thanks for something

Known to us both.

CARLOS. What thanks? For me? From Alba?

ALBA. For as you left the Monarch’s presence, I had 1170

Word to depart for Brussels.

CARLOS. Brussels! Well!

ALBA. To whom, my Prince, ought I ascribe it other

Than to your gracious application to

His Royal Majesty, the King?

CARLOS. Mine? No!

Not mine at all. No, truly, not to mine.

You’re leaving? Go with God!

ALBA. And nothing more?

That comes as a surprise. Your Highness would have

No further charge to lay on me for Flanders?

CARLOS. What further? Where?

ALBA. Not long ago it seemed

The destiny of all these lands required 1180

Don Carlos’ personal presence.

CARLOS. How was that?

Oh, yes. Yes, right. But that was then. And now

It’s also right, quite right—in fact, it’s better—

ALBA. I hear this with astonishment.

CARLOS (without irony). You are a

Great general. Who does not know this? Envy

Of you is proof. And I? I’m but a young man.

That’s what the King thought, too. And he is right,

Quite right. I see that now and am content.

Enough of this. I wish you a safe journey.

Just now, I cannot, as you see— I’m rather 1190

Busy—tomorrow more—or when you like—or

When you come back again from Brussels—

ALBA. What?

CARLOS (after a silence, when he sees that the Duke is lingering).

The season favors you. Your journey goes

Over Milan, Lorraine, and Burgundy,

And Germany, yes, Germany; it was

In Germany! They know you there!49 It’s April;

May, June; then in July, quite right, or at

The latest early August, you’ll reach Brussels.

No doubt, we’ll hear quite soon about your victories.

You’ll know to make yourself deserving of 1200

Our gracious confidence.

ALBA (with meaning). And do so with full

And pungent knowledge of my nullity?50

CARLOS (after a silence, with poise and dignity).

You feel offended, Duke, and you are right. It

Was less than sparing on my part, I must

Confess, to use against you weapons you

Are little able to reply to.

ALBA. Little


CARLOS (offering his hand with a smile).

A pity that I have no time to

Fight out this worthy match with Alba now.

Another time—

ALBA. Prince, we are wrong about

Each other in two ways. You, for example, 1210

Would see yourself at twenty years from now,

I, you exactly that much earlier.


ALBA. And it occurs to me to ask: How many

Nights passed beside his lovely Portuguese,

Your mother, had the Monarch given to

Gain for his Crown an arm like this one?

It will not have been lost on him how much

More easily one propagates a monarch

Than monarchies, how much more quickly one

Supplies a world with kings than kings with worlds. 1220

CARLOS. Most true, Duke Alba. Yet?

ALBA. And how much blood,

Blood of your people, had to flow before

Two drops could make of you a king.

CARLOS. Most true,

By God! In two words, all pride of desert

Has earned a right to say to pride of fortune.

The application now, Duke Alba?


Betide the cradled child called Majesty that

Would mock its nurse! How sweetly one can sleep

Among the cushions of our victories! On

The Crown pearls glimmer only, not the battle 1230

Wounds by which it was won. This sword inscribed

The laws of Spain on foreign nations, it

Shone in the vanguard of the Crucified,

Our Lord, turned over bloody furrows for the

Seed corn of Faith throughout this hemisphere.

God ruled in Heaven, Alba ruled on Earth.

CARLOS. God or the Devil, it’s all one. You were

His right arm. That is known to me. And now

No more of this, I bid you. I’ll protect

Myself from certain memories. I’ll honor 1240

My father’s choice. My father needs an Alba;

That he needs one is nothing that I envy.

You are a great man. That may be. I rather

Believe it. I fear, however, you have come

Too early by at least a thousand years.

For I would think an Alba were the man to

Appear among us at the End of Days,

Then when iniquity had eaten up

God’s patience, the rich harvest of misdeeds

Stood in full ear, required a reaper like 1250

None other. Then you’d be in your true place.

Oh, God, my paradise! My Flanders! But

I should not think of that, not speak of that.

They say you’re carrying advance supplies of

Death warrants signed already? That is prudent.

No need to fear chicanery. O, Father,

How badly I have understood you! I thought

You hard denying me where Albas excel?

It was your way to do me honor.

ALBA. Prince,

This word would merit— 1260

CARLOS (angry). What?

ALBA. But there the King’s son

Is safe.

CARLOS (reaching for his sword).

That’s fighting words! Draw, Duke!

ALBA (cold). On you?

CARLOS (bearing down on him).

Draw, or I’ll run you through.

ALBA (drawing). If it must be—

(They fence.)

Scene Six

The Queen. Don Carlos. Duke Alba.

QUEEN (emerging from her rooms, alarmed).

Bare swords here!

(To the Prince, unwilling and commanding.)


CARLOS (transfixed by the sight of the Queen, lets his arm sink, stands motionless, stupefied, then rushes to the Duke and kisses him).

Peace, Duke! We’ll forgive all!

(He throws himself at the Queen’s feet, stands up, and plunges out.)

ALBA (staring after him, astonished).

What in God’s name! Is that not strange!

QUEEN (stands for a moment, anxious and uncertain, then goes slowly toward her door; on the threshold, she turns).

Duke Alba!

(The Duke follows her through the door.)

Princess Eboli’s boudoir

Scene Seven

The Princess, beautifully and simply dressed, in keeping with her fancy, playing a lute and singing. Then the Queen’s Page.

PRINCESS (jumping up).

He’s coming!

PAGE (hurried). You’re alone? I thought I’d find

Him here already. He must come this minute.

PRINCESS. Must he? He wants to then. It’s all decided—

PAGE. He’s coming right behind me. Gracious Princess,

How you are loved! As loved as you, so loved,

No one can be or ever could have been. 1270

I saw a scene!

PRINCESS (pulling him toward her, impatient).

Quick! Tell me all about it!

You spoke with him? Come, tell me! What he said!

And what he did! And what his exact words were!

He seemed embarrassed? He seemed startled? Guessed

The one who’d sent the key to him? Quick, say!

Or didn’t guess? Or guessed the wrong one? Well?

Nothing? You tell me nothing? Shame on you!

You’ve never been so wooden until now.

PAGE. How can I get a word in, Gracious Lady?

I handed him the key and note in the 1280

Queen’s antechamber. I let slip a lady’d

Sent me; he started and he stared at me.

PRINCESS. He started? Excellent! Bravo! What else?

PAGE. I wanted to say more, but he turned pale

And snatched the letter from my hand, looked at

Me threateningly and said that he knew all.

He read the letter with amazement and

Began to tremble.

PRINCESS. Said that he knew all?

Said he knew all? That’s what he said?

PAGE. And asked

Three times, four, if you’d—you, yourself—had given 1290

Me the—

PRINCESS. I’d given you the letter? Named me?

PAGE. Named? No. No name. He said that lurking spies

Might hear us, tell the King.

PRINCESS (caught off-guard). That’s what he said?

PAGE. He said the King was greatly interested,

Immensely, really hugely interested

In finding out about this letter.


The King— Did you hear right? He said the King?

That was exactly what he said?

PAGE. Oh, yes.

He said this was a dangerous secret, warned

Me to be on my guard in word and gesture, 1300

So that the King would not become suspicious.

PRINCESS (having reflected, astonished).

It all makes sense. It can’t be otherwise. He

Must know about it.51 Unimaginable!

Who would have told him? Who? Who sees so sharp,

So deep—who but the falcon eye of love?

What else? Then what? He read the note?

PAGE. The note,

He said, contained a happiness that made

Him tremble. Never had he dared to dream such.

But then the Duke came in. We had to—

PRINCESS (annoyed). What

In all the world was the Duke doing there? 1310

Where is he, though? What’s keeping him? Why’s he

Not come? You see! It’s tales he’s telling you!

How happy he’d have been in just the time

It took to tell me that he wanted to be!

PAGE. The Duke, I fear—

PRINCESS. The Duke again? What business

Has he here? What’s this hero have to do

With my untold desires? Why, he could walk

Away! Send him away! Who can’t one? Truly,

This Prince of yours—he understands the ways

Of love as badly as he understands 1320

The ways of ladies’ hearts. He doesn’t know

How minutes count— Still! Footsteps. It’s the Prince!

(The Page slips out.)

Yes, go. Now where’s my lute? He’s to surprise me.

My song will be a signal for him.

Princess Eboli. Steel engraving by Conrad Geyer from a drawing by Arthur von Ramberg. Friedrich Pecht, Schiller-Galerie (Leipzig, 1859),

Scene Eight

The Princess. Then Don Carlos.

The Princess has thrown herself on an ottoman and is playing.

CARLOS (bursts in. He recognizes the Princess and stands thunderstruck).


Where am I?

PRINCESS (lets her lute drop and rises to meet him).

Why, Prince Carlos? Yes. In truth!

CARLOS. What is this? Where am I? Is this a trick?

I’ve missed the room.

PRINCESS. My! How well Carlos knows

To find where ladies are alone.

CARLOS. Princess—

Forgive me, Princess— I just found—I found

The entry open. 1330

PRINCESS. How can that be? I

Thought I myself had closed it and locked up.

CARLOS. You only thought that. Yes. You thought. For sure,

You’re wrong. You wanted to lock up. Yes, quite.

That I admit. I believe it, too. But locked up?

No. Not locked up. No, truly not. I hear

A lute—yes, someone playing on a lute. Was

It not a lute? (Looking around uncertainly.)

Right! There’s one over there—

And lute—God knows—lute I love madly. I

Am all ears, I forget myself entirely,

Burst in the room to look the charming artist 1340

Who touched me so, enthralled me, in the eye.

PRINCESS. Now there’s a charming curiosity.

You’ve stilled it rather quickly, I would say.52

(After a silence, with meaning.)

Oh, I must cherish one so modest as

To spare a woman shame by snaring himself

In such a web of lies.

CARLOS (sincerely). Princess, I feel

Myself that I am only making worse

Where I would make amends. Release me from

A role that I’m so unfit to go on with.

You only wanted refuge from the world. 1350

Unheard, and known by none, you wanted to

Live for the silent wishes of your heart.

Then I, son of misfortune, show up—and

This lovely dream’s disturbed. For that, a quick

Departure should remove me from this—

(He is about to go.)

PRINCESS (surprised and hurt, then quickly composed).


Oh, that was naughty.

CARLOS. Princess, I know well

What that glance means in this boudoir. I honor

This chaste embarrassment. Woe to the man whom

A lady’s blush encourages! I am

Confounded to see women tremble at me. 1360

PRINCESS. It’s possible? An unexampled conscience

In a young man and king’s son! Well, my Prince,

Now you must truly stay. Myself, I bid you.

At such restraint, a girl’s cured of her fears.

And did you know, your coming in so sudden

Startled me out of my best aria?

(She leads him to a sofa and picks up her lute again.)

The aria I’ll just have to play again.

Your price is that you’ll have to hear me.

CARLOS (seats himself with some constraint beside the Princess).


A price as favorable as my offense.

Truly, the story was so fine, so welcome, 1370

I’d like to hear it sung a—third—time.


You heard it all? Atrocious, Prince! It was,

I even believe, a tale of love?


Not wrong, of happy love. A lovely text

And in this lovely mouth. More lovely than true,

I have to fear.

PRINCESS. Not true? You have your doubts?

CARLOS (grave). I rather doubt that Carlos and the Princess

Can both agree where love’s the subject.

(The Princess starts; he notices and offers a gallantry.)

Who, then,

Would believe of roses in these cheeks that passion

Had ever writhed within this breast? A Princess 1380

Of Eboli should run the risk of sighing

In vain, without a hearing? Love is known

To him alone who’s loved without a hope.

PRINCESS (having recovered her gaiety).

Oh, quiet! That sounds dreadful. And, indeed,

This fate appears to torment you above

All others, and today of all days.

(Taking him by the hand, coaxing.) No,

You are not happy, Prince. You’re suffering. God knows,

You’re suffering positively. Can this be?

Why suffer, Prince, called as you are to enjoy

The world? With every gift of spendthrift Nature 1390

And every claim to worldly pleasures? You,

A great king’s son and more, far more than that,

Decked out already in the royal cradle

With gifts that eclipse even royal rank?

You who have captured judges sitting in the

Strict court of women, who alone decide

On men, their world, and reputation, and,

Having decided, brook no contradiction?

Who, where he only notices, has conquered;

Enflames where he stays cold; where he’d glow warm 1400

Must deal in paradises and dispense

The gods’ own happiness; the man whom Nature

Has graced with the same gifts to make the fortunes

Of thousands and of fewhimself should be

Unhappy? Heaven, you who gave him all things,

All, why deny him eyes with which to see

His conquests?

CARLOS (sunk in deep distraction this long time, rouses himself, startled,

at the silence). Oh, most excellent, superb,

Princess! Do sing this passage once more.

PRINCESS (astonished). Carlos,

Where were you all this time?

CARLOS (leaping up). Quite right, by God!

It’s good that you remind me. I must go. 1410

Go right now.

PRINCESS (holding him back). Where to?

CARLOS (terribly anxious). Out! To open air.

It seems the world is bursting into flames

Behind me. Let me go!

PRINCESS (holding him back forcibly).

What’s wrong? Why act

This way, so strange, so alien?

(Carlos stands still and reflects; she seizes the moment and draws him to her on the sofa.)

You need rest,

Dear Karl. Your blood’s in uproar. Sit down here

Beside me. No more gloomy fever dreams!

If you ask yourself honestly, does your

Head know what’s weighing on your heart? And if

It knows, is none of all the knights at Court,

Of all the ladies, not a single one 1420

Worthy to heal—I mean, to understand—

You? None?

CARLOS (unthinking). Perhaps the Princess Eboli?

PRINCESS (quickly, delighted).

In truth?

CARLOS. Just give me a petition, a

Proposal for my father. They say you

Have influence.

PRINCESS. Who says? (Ha! So this suspicion

Kept you from speaking!)

CARLOS. Probably you’ve heard

Already. I am taken with the notion

Of going to Brabant—to earn my spurs.

My father is against it. My good father’s

Afraid, if I commanded armies—that 1430

Could harm my singing.

PRINCESS. Carlos! You are shamming.

Admit it now! You used this snaky writhing

To try to get away from me. You look

Here, you dissembler! Eye to eye! Would one

Who dreams of knightly deeds stoop so low as to

Steal ribbons ladies lost and—you’ll forgive me—

(With a fingertip she flicks away his ruff and pulls out a ribbon hidden there.)

And safeguard them so preciously? Would he?

CARLOS (stepping back, offended).

No, Princess. This now goes too far. I feel

Betrayed. You can’t be fooled. You’ve made a pact

With spirits and with demons. 1440

PRINCESS. That’s a surprise?

What shall we bet, Prince? Shall I call up tales to

Your heart, tales— You just try me. Question me.

If a mere play of mood, a broken sound

Breathed out, a smile wiped out by a quick frown,

If moments, gestures unremarked by you

Have not escaped me, you judge if I knew you

In just the way you wanted to be known.

CARLOS. That’s daring much. Your bet is good. You promise

Discoveries on my own heart that I’ve

Not even known about. 1450

PRINCESS (a bit hurt; in earnest). Not ever, Prince?

Oh, think again. And look about you. This

Is not one of the galleries of the Queen where

One possibly admired that bit of masquerade.

You start? You turn bright red?53 Oh, who indeed

Would be so bent on spying and so idle,

So bold as to observe Don Carlos when

He believes that he’s not seen or heard? Who saw

How he forsook his lady on the dance floor—

The Queen at the Court ball—and forced his way

Into the nearest couple to extend 1460

His hand to Princess Eboli? A faux pas

Not lost, Prince, on the Monarch, who’d come in

That very moment!

CARLOS (smiling ironically). Even him? Yes, Princess,

For him precisely this was not intended.54

PRINCESS. As little as that scene in chapel that

Prince Carlos has forgotten. You were kneeling

Before the Holy Virgin, lost in prayer,

When certain ladies’ skirts—no fault of yours—

Rustled behind you. Whereupon Don Philip’s

Heroic son began to tremble like 1470

A heretic before the Holy Office.55

All prayer died on his lips and, overcome

By passion—such a touching comedy—

You seize the hand of Virgin Mary, rain

Down fiery kisses on cold marble.

CARLOS. You do

Me an injustice, Princess. That was worship.

PRINCESS. That’s something else, then. And it was just fear of

Losing when Carlos, playing with the Queen

And me, adroitly stole this glove of mine

(Carlos leaps up, astonished.)

And played it promptly like a card? 1480

CARLOS. Oh, God!

Oh, God! Oh, God! What have I done?

PRINCESS. Not what you’d

Recant, I hope. A fine surprise to find

A little note you’d hidden in this glove, the

Most touching short romance, Prince—

CARLOS (breaking in). Poetry,

Pure poetry! My musings blow such bubbles.

Soap bubbles that all burst as soon as they are

Blown. Trifles! We’ll pass over them in silence.

PRINCESS (astonished, moves away and observes him from a distance).

I am exhausted. All my probes glance off

This snaky odd one.

(She falls silent for a moment.)

What if it were no more

Than manly pride costumed as simpleminded 1490

Just to amuse itself the better—what if?

(She approaches the Prince and observes him, undecided.)

Prince, you tell me; I stand before a locked

Door; all my keys have failed me.

CARLOS. So do I.

PRINCESS (walks away quickly, then walks up and down, apparently considering something important; after a pause, serious and solemn).

All right. I’ll do it—force myself to speak.

I choose you as my judge. You’re honorable:

A man, a prince, a knight. I turn to you.

You’ll rescue me; if I’m beyond rescue,

Quite lost, you’ll weep for me in sympathy.

(The Prince moves closer, sympathetic and expectant.)

A shameless favorite of the Monarch is

Suing for me. Ruy Gomez, Count of Silva. 1500

The King’s inclined; they’ve reached agreement; I’m

As good as sold.

CARLOS (much affected). You’re sold? And sold again,

Again by him, famed Merchant of the South?

PRINCESS. Wait, let me tell you all. It’s not enough

That I am sacrificed to politics;

My chastity they’re after, too. Here, read this.

It’ll tear the mask from that great saint.

(Carlos takes the sheet but does not read it; he hangs on her words.)

Where should

I find protection, Prince? Till now my pride saved

My virtue, then—

CARLOS. You fell? You fell? Oh, no!

PRINCESS (proud and noble).

To whom? What sophistry! How small of these 1510

Great minds to think that woman’s favor, prize

Of love, is bought and sold like common wares!

This is the one thing on this earth that can be

Acquired but by itself alone. Love is

The price of love. This is the priceless diamond

That I’ll bestow or, unenjoyed, I’ll bury

Forever, like that merchant: unimpressed

By the Rialto’s gold, disparaging

All kings, he gave his pearl back to the sea,

Too proud to sell it under its true value. 1520

CARLOS. (God is my witness! Is this woman fine!)

PRINCESS. Just call it notions, vanity—who cares!

I’ll not divide my favors. To the man,

The one whom I have chosen, I’ll give all in

Return for all. I give but once, forever.

My love will make one sole man happy, but this

One like a god. The harmony of souls,

A kiss, the feast of pleasure at the twilight

Hour, beauty’s high and heavenly magic—these

Are all the sister colors of one beam, 1530

The petals of one flower. I’d madly give

Away one petal wrested from its chalice?

I’d mutilate a woman’s majesty,

The Godhead’s greatest single masterpiece,

To make a wastrel’s evening hours sweeter?

CARLOS. (Unbelievable! Madrid had such a girl

As this and I find out just now?)

PRINCESS. I’d long

Have left this Court, have left the world, had buried

Myself in sacred walls, but one bond binds

Me to this world, a fantasy perhaps, 1540

But one I cherish. This: I love and I—

Am not loved in return.

CARLOS (going to her, ardently). You are, you are!

I swear by God in heaven, you are, you

Are, beyond words.

PRINCESS. It’s you who swear it? You?

That was my guardian angel’s voice! If you

Would swear it, Karl, why then I believe it, then

I am.

CARLOS (taking her into his arms, full of tenderness).

You sweetest girl, so full of soul!

Adorable creation! I’m all ears,

All eyes, and all enchantment, admiration.

Who could have seen you, who on earth, and claim 1550

He’s never loved? But here at Philip’s Court—

What are you doing here, you angel? Here

Among priests and their kind? These are no skies

For flowers such as you. They want to break them?

They want to, yes, I believe it. As I live, no!

I’ll put my arm around you, take you in

My arms across a hell that’s full of devils!

Yes, let me be your angel.

PRINCESS (with an open look of love). Carlos! Oh!

How little I have known you! How your heart

Rewards the labor spent to understand it! 1560

(She takes his hand; about to kiss it.)

CARLOS (withdrawing his hand).

Princess, where are you now?

PRINCESS (fine and graceful, gazing into his hand).

How lovely is

This hand! How rich! This hand, Prince, has two gifts

To give: a diadem and Carlos’ heart.

And both to give one mortal? Only one?

A grand and godlike gift! For one perhaps

Too great! How would it be, should you decide to

Divide it? Queens love badly. Women who

Can love well have no feeling for a crown.

Prince, better to divide, to do so now, right

Now. Or have you already? Have you really? 1570

So much the better! Do I know her?

CARLOS. You shall.

To you, to you, I’ll tell. To innocence, to

A pure, undesecrated nature I’ll

Reveal it. You’re the first here at this Court,

The only worthy one to understand

My soul. It’s true. I love.

PRINCESS. You naughty boy!

Confession is so hard for you? I had to

Make myself pitiable for you to find

Me lovable?

CARLOS (starts). What’s this?

PRINCESS. To toy with me

That way! That was not handsome, Prince. And to 1580

Deny you had the key—

CARLOS. The key!

(A baffled silence.)

The key!

So that was it. The key! The— Oh, my God!

(His knees give way. He supports himself on a chair and covers his face.)

(Another silence.)

PRINCESS (with a loud cry, falls).

Atrocious! What have I done?

CARLOS (standing straight again; in great pain).

To fall so deep

From all my dreams! It’s awful.

PRINCESS (her face against a cushion). Must I hear this?

CARLOS (kneeling before her).

It’s not my doing, Princess. Passion only—

A terrible misunderstanding— God!

It’s not my doing.

PRINCESS (pushing him away). Out! Out of my sight!

For God’s sake—

CARLOS. Never! I should leave you in such

A state?

PRINCESS (pushing him away with force).

For mercy, pity, out of my

Sight! Do you want to murder me? I hate 1590

The sight of you!

(Carlos is about to go.)

My letter and my key.

And where’s the other letter?

CARLOS. Other letter?

What other letter?

PRINCESS. From the King.

CARLOS (stunned). From who?

PRINCESS. The one that I just gave you.

CARLOS. From the King?

Who to? To you?

PRINCESS. Dear God! What have I said!56

The letter! I must have the letter!

CARLOS. Letters

To you, and from the King?

PRINCESS. The letter! By all

That’s holy!

CARLOS. That would unmask someone? This one?

PRINCESS. I’m lost! I’m dead! Just give it me.

CARLOS. This letter—

PRINCESS (wringing her hands).

What have I done? What have I done? 1600

CARLOS. This letter

Came from the King? That, Princess, changes every-

Thing. That’s

(holding the letter triumphantly aloft)

a priceless, weighty, costly letter

That all the crowns of Philip are too light,

Too trivial to redeem. This letter I

Shall keep. (He goes off.)

PRINCESS (trying to block his way).

Dear God in heaven! I am lost!

Scene Nine

The Princess alone

She stands still stunned, beside herself; when he has left, she hurries after, to call him back.

PRINCESS. Prince, one more word! Prince, hear me! He is gone!

That, too, now. He despises me. And here

I am, in terrible solitude, cast off,


(She sinks into a chair. Pause.)

No! I’m only pushed aside, pushed

Aside; I have a rival. He loves someone. 1610

No doubt at all. He said as much himself.

But who’s the lucky one? This much is clear:

He loves what he ought not. He fears discovery.

He hides his passion from the King. But why

From him, who’d only wish it? Or perhaps

It’s not his father whom he fears in Father?

When he learned of his father’s amorous aims, he

Was overjoyed, beside himself. How came his

Strict virtue to fall silent here? Precisely

Here? What does he gain if the King betrays— 1620

(She stops suddenly, surprised by a thought. She quickly pulls

the ribbon Carlos has given her from her bodice, examines it,

and recognizes it.)

Why, what a fool I’ve been! Where were my wits? Now

I see. Why, they loved one another long

Before the King chose her. The Prince came only

When she was there. Then only. So she was meant—

And I was so sure I was loved!57 What a

Deceit! And I’ve betrayed my weakness to her.


Am I to believe that he loves without hope?

That can’t be true. A hopeless love cannot

Hold out in such a contest. To feast where

The world’s most brilliant monarch, unheard, must 1630

Go hungry— Hopeless love’s not equal to

That quest. How fiery his kiss was! How tender

That clasp against his heart! That sample was

Almost too daring for romantic58 trueness

That’s to go unrequited. He takes the key

He believes the Queen has sent him—really believes

In such a giant step of love; he comes,

Comes truly, comes—thinks Philip’s wife would fix

On such a deed— How could he, if he does

Not have real proofs that bolster his resolve? 1640

It’s clear as day. This love is heard. She loves him!

Heaven and earth! This saintly one has feelings!

Is she not sly! Before this paragon of

Virtue, myself, I trembled. Like a higher

Being she towered over me. Her brilliance

Eclipsed me. I begrudged her beauty all

That calm, that freedom from all mortal passion.

And all this calm was no more than apparent?

She’d want to feast at both those tables? Would

Have made a great display of all that virtue 1650

And dared to nibble secretly crime’s sweetmeats?

Could get away with that? And unavenged?

Since there was no avenger? No, by God!

I worshipped her. And this demands revenge!

The King should know of this deceit— The King?

(She stops to think.)

Yes, right—that is one way to reach his ear.59 (She goes off.)

A room in the Royal Palace

Scene Ten

Duke Alba. Father Domingo.

DOMINGO. What did you want to tell me?

ALBA. Of important

Discoveries I’ve just made. Some explanation—

DOMINGO. Discoveries? What?

ALBA. At noon today I meet

Prince Carlos in the Queen’s reception room. There 1660

I am insulted. We exchange words and

Our quarrel becomes noisy; we draw our swords.

The Queen, at this disturbance, opens her door

And puts herself between us, throws the Prince

A look of pure despotic intimacy—

A single look. He drops his arm, flies to

Embrace me—I still feel his kiss—and he

Is gone.

DOMINGO (after a silence).

I find that most suspicious. Duke, you

Remind me— Similar thoughts have long been sprouting

In my mind. I’ve avoided them, said nothing. 1670

There’re double-edged swords and unreliable friends.

I fear them. To distinguish men is hard,

And harder still is it to plumb men’s depths.

An ill-considered word will turn on you.

I buried my secret—till time bring it to light.

There’re certain services one does not render

Kings; risky throws that, if they miss their target,

Spring back upon the thrower. What I say

I’d swear upon the Host. Eye-witness, though, a

Word overheard, a scrap of paper: all fall 1680

Heavier into the scale than sharpest instincts.

Our luck to stand on Spanish ground!

ALBA. And why?

DOMINGO. At any other court a passion can

Forget itself. It’s cautioned here by frightening

Laws. Spanish queens have trouble wandering off

The straight and narrow, true enough—but our

Bad luck is, it is just exactly here

That, with best luck, we’d take them by surprise.

ALBA. There’s more yet. Carlos had an audience with

The King today. It lasted a full hour. 1690

He wanted the command of the Low Countries.

He pleaded loud and long. I heard it from

The private study. When I met him at

The door his eyes were red with weeping. Then,

At midday, I find him triumphant, charmed

The King has seen fit to give me his preference.

He thanks him. All is changed, he says, and better.

He never could dissemble. How to rhyme this?

The Prince is jubilant to be passed over,

And I receive a royal favor with 1700

A full display of rage! What should I think?

Why, this new rank of mine has every mark

Of banishment.

DOMINGO. So it has come to this?

An instant wrecks what we’ve been building now

For years? And you so calm and so composed?

Do you know him, this youngster? Have you thought

Of what awaits us when he’s king? The Prince—

I’m not his enemy. I’ve other cares,

Cares for the Throne, for God and Church. The Prince—

I know him, I see through his soul—is nursing 1710

A dreadful plan, a madness: he as regent

Plans to renounce our sacred faith—renounce it!

His heart is all alight for a new60 virtue

A virtue, proud, assured, and self-sufficient,

That nothing asks of any faith. He thinks.

He’s full of fire from a chimera, Duke:

He honors human beings. That as king?


Pooh! It could also be just youthful pride

That longs to have a role. Has he a choice?

This will all pass when it’s his turn to rule. 1720

DOMINGO. I have my doubts. He’s proud of all his freedom,

Little accustomed to compulsion, which

Is how one buys a right to use compulsion.

This overbearing turn of mind will break through

The lines of all our statecraft. This as king?

I tried without success to drain his willful

Spirit on the keen pleasures of our times. He

Withstood the test. This mind in such a body

Is terrible—and Philip turning sixty!

ALBA. You’re looking far into the future. 1730


The Queen agree. This innovator’s venom

Seeps, still concealed, into both breasts. Soon enough,

If it gains ground, it’ll seize the Throne.61 Well do

I know these Valois. We must fear this silent

Woman’s revenge if Philip shows a weakness.

Luck’s on our side. Let us anticipate.

We’ll catch the two of them in one net. Let’s give

The King a signal. Proven or unproven,

We’ve gained much if he hesitates. We have

No doubt, and when one is convinced, one can 1740

Convince. This cannot fail. And we’ll discover

More, knowing that we must discover.

ALBA. The most

Important question last: Who undertakes

To tell the King?

DOMINGO. Not you, not I. Learn now

What I’ve long worked in secret. To complete

Our league we need a third, essential person.

The King’s in love with Princess Eboli.

I feed this passion, fodder for my wishes.

He’s made me his ambassador. I’ll dress

Her for our plans. In this young woman, if 1750

My scheme succeeds, an ally blossoms for

Us and a queen. She’s summoned me herself

To meet her here. I have great hopes of this.

Those lilies of Valois62—a little Spaniard

Perhaps will break them in a single midnight.

ALBA. Amazing! I can hardly believe what I

Have heard. This blow will do it. I admire you,

Dominican. We’ve won!

DOMINGO. Still! Who is coming?

She’s here. In person.

ALBA. I’m in the next room—

If you should— 1760

DOMINGO. Excellent! I’ll call you.

(Duke Alba goes off.)

Scene Eleven

The Princess. Domingo.

DOMINGO. At your

Service, my Gracious Princess.

PRINCESS (with curiosity, following the departing Duke with her eyes).

Are we not

Alone? You’ve brought a witness?

DOMINGO. How so?


It has just left you?

DOMINGO. It’s Duke Alba, Princess,

Who asks leave also to be heard.

PRINCESS. Duke Alba?

What’s he want? What can he want? You’d know?63

DOMINGO. I? Without

Knowing what weighty change of fortune secures

For me at last the privilege of approaching

My gracious Princess Eboli once more?

(Pause, in which he expects her answer.)

Perhaps at last a circumstance presents

Itself, one favorable to our Monarch’s wishes? 1770

If I hoped rightly that mature reflection

Would reconcile you to an offer refused

Out of caprice? I am all expectation—

PRINCESS. You brought the King my recent answer?


Refrained from wounding him so fatally. You’ve

Yet time, my Gracious Princess, to relent.

PRINCESS. Inform the King that I expect him.


May take your words for truth, my lovely Princess?

PRINCESS. Most surely not for jest? You frighten me.

What have I done that even you blanch? 1780


Surprise, Princess. Who’d grasp—

PRINCESS. Your Reverence should

Not grasp. I would not have you grasp it. It’s

Enough for you that it is so. Do spare

Yourself the trouble puzzling out exactly

Whose eloquence to thank for this departure.

Be reassured: You have no part in this sin,

And just as little does the Church; though you’ve

Proved me that there’d be cases where the Church

Knew, even she, to use the bodies of her

Young daughters for her higher purposes. 1790

No, not the Church. Such pious grounds, your Reverence,

Escape me.

DOMINGO. I retract them gladly when

They prove superfluous.

PRINCESS. Entreat the Monarch

In my behalf not to mistake me here.

What I once was I am yet. Circumstances

Merely have changed. When I repulsed his offer,

Insulted, I yet believed him happy in

Possession of the best of Queens, thought her

A faithful consort worth my sacrifice.

I believed that then; now I know better. 1800

DOMINGO. Princess,

Say more, say more. I’m listening. You and I,

We understand each other.

PRINCESS. Enough that she’s

Been caught. For I’ll spare her no longer. Now

The thief’s been caught. The King, all Spain, and I—

We’ve been deceived. She loves. I know full well

She loves. I’ve proofs to make her tremble. The King’s

Deceived. Let him not be so, unavenged.

Her mask of highest superhuman, saintly

Renunciation I shall tear away

And show the world the face of sin. It costs me 1810

A monstrous price but—here’s my triumph—her

One greater yet.

DOMINGO. The time is ripe. Permit me

To call the Duke. (He goes out.)

PRINCESS (astonished). What is this?

Scene Twelve

The Princess. Duke Alba. Domingo.

DOMINGO (leading in the Duke). Our great news,

Duke Alba, comes a little late. The Princess

Reveals to us a secret that she was

Supposed to learn from us.

ALBA. My presence then will

Surprise her that much less. My eyes are worthless.

Discoveries such as this require a woman’s.

PRINCESS. Discoveries that you speak of—

DOMINGO. We would know,

Most Gracious Princess, a better place and better 1820

Hour to—

PRINCESS. That, too! Then I’ll expect you noon

Tomorrow. I have reason to withhold

My secret from the King no longer.

ALBA. That’s

What brings me here. The King must know this promptly,

Princess, know it through you. Who should he believe

If not the watchful intimate of his wife?

DOMINGO. Who more than you, who, wishing to, shall have full

Dominion over him?

ALBA. I am the Prince’s

Declared foe.

DOMINGO. That’s assumed of me as well.

The Princess Eboli is free. Where we must 1830

Keep silent, duty says that you must speak. If

That works, we have the King. We’ll do the rest.

ALBA. But it must happen soon. At any moment

I can be ordered to march out—

DOMINGO (after considering; to the Princess).

Can letters

Perhaps be found? From the Infante? That’d have

Effect. I believe you sleep in her same room?

PRINCESS. Right next to hers. Why ask?

DOMINGO. Someone who’s good

With locks! You’ve noticed where she keeps the key to

Her casket?

PRINCESS (reflecting). That could work. The key—it could

Be found, I think. 1840

DOMINGO. For letters there are bearers.

The Queen has a large retinue. If one

Got on the track— Gold would go far—

ALBA. Who’s seen

If the Infante has intimates?

DOMINGO. None. In all

Madrid, not one.

ALBA. Now, that is strange.

DOMINGO. Trust me. He

Despises the whole Court. I have my proofs.

ALBA. Can that be right? It seems to me I saw

Him standing with a page of hers. I had

Just left the Queen. The two spoke secretly—

PRINCESS (breaking in).

Oh, no. That can’t be right. That’s something else.


We know that? No. It sounds suspicious. (To the Duke.) Did 1850

You recognize the page?

PRINCESS. Tom-foolery!

What else can it have been? Enough; I know

All that. We’ll meet again before I see

The King. Meanwhile, much will emerge.

DOMINGO (taking her aside). The Monarch

Can hope? And may I tell him so? Quite sure?

And what well chosen hour might bring his wishes

To consummation? This, too?

PRINCESS. In a few days

I shall fall ill. One separates me from

The Queen. That’s customary, as you know.

I’ll keep my room. 1860

DOMINGO. Most excellent! And our

Great game is won. Defiance to all queens—

PRINCESS. Listen! They’re calling me. The Queen wants me.

(She hurries out.)

Scene Thirteen

Alba. Domingo.

DOMINGO (after a pause in which his gaze follows the Princess).

These roses, Duke, your battles—

ALBA. And your God—

Thus I await the bolt that’d topple us!

(They go off.)

In a Carthusian cloister

Scene Fourteen

Don Carlos. The Prior.

CARLOS (entering, to the Prior).

Already been here, you say? What a pity!

PRIOR. Three times since just this morning. It has been

An hour now since he left.

CARLOS. He’ll come again,

I hope? He left no message?

PRIOR. Before noon,

He promised.

CARLOS (looking out from the window).

Walls set back far from the road.

The towers of Madrid there in the distance. 1870

Quite right. The Manzaneres flowing past.64

A perfect landscape. Everything is still,

Just like a secret.

PRIOR. Like the entrance to

The next life, Prince.

CARLOS. Your probity protects,

Most Reverend Father, what to me remains

Most precious and most holy. Mortal man is

Never to know who I have met here and

In secret. I have every reason to

Deny him to the world. That’s why I chose

This cloister. We’re safe from betrayal here? 1880

PRIOR. Trust us, my Lord. Suspicious kings won’t sift

Through graves. And curious ears press only doors

To pleasure and to passion. Inside these walls

The world is at an end.

CARLOS. You think this caution,

This shyness shield a guilty conscience?

PRIOR. I think

Nothing at all.

CARLOS. You would be wrong to think

So, Reverend Father. My secret hides from men

But not from God.

PRIOR. My son, we little care. This

Refuge shields crime no less than innocence.

If good or evil, just or unjust, your 1890

Intention must be squared with your own heart.

CARLOS (warmly).

What we keep secret cannot smirch your God.

It’s His own work. To you I can disclose it.

PRIOR. And to what end? Spare me, dear Prince! The world

With all its chattels lies long since packed up

For that great journey. Why in this brief space

Before departure break the seals again?

One needs so little for salvation. I hear

The bell for Hora strike!65 I’m called to prayer.

(The Prior goes off.)

Scene Fifteen

Don Carlos. Marquis Posa enters.

CARLOS. At last, at last, at last— 1900

MARQUIS. And what a test for

A friend’s impatience! Twice the sun has risen,

Twice set since all has been decided. Only

Now do I get to hear it. Tell me, then—

You’re reconciled?


MARQUIS. Why, you with King Philip.

With Flanders it’s decided, too?

CARLOS. The Duke’s

To go tomorrow—that’s decided, yes.

MARQUIS. This cannot be. Can’t be. And all Madrid’s

Deceived? You had a private audience. The King—

CARLOS. Remained unmoved. And we’re divided now

Forever, more than ever— 1910

MARQUIS. You’ll not go

To Flanders?

CARLOS. No! No! No!

MARQUIS. My hopes! My dreams!

CARLOS. That by the bye. Oh, Roderick, since we

Last saw each other, what have I not been through!

But now I need your help. I have to see her—

MARQUIS. Your mother? No. What for?

CARLOS. I’ve certain hopes.

You blanch. Don’t worry. I’ll be happy yet.

But of that later. Now I need your help. I

Must see her.

MARQUIS. What is this? What grounds have you

For this new round of fever dreams?

CARLOS. Not dreams!

By God, who gives us wonders: Truth! Pure truth! 1920

(Producing the King’s letter to Princess Eboli.)

Contained in this important piece of paper!

The Queen is free: before the world and Heaven.

Just read it and stop marveling.

MARQUIS (opening the letter). What is this?

The King’s own hand?

(Having read the letter.) Who’s this addressed to?


The Princess Eboli. Two days ago a

Queen’s page brings me a letter and a key. I’m

Directed to the Queen’s pavilion, where

A lady I’ve long loved waits. I go—

MARQUIS. You go!

CARLOS. The hand’s unknown to me. There’s only one

Such whom I know. Who else would think Karl loves her? 1930

Sweetly confused, I fly to meet her. Singing

I hear tells me which room. I open, enter:

Who is it that I find? Conceive my horror!

MARQUIS. I’ve guessed it all.

CARLOS. I had been lost, Roderigo,

Had I not fallen into an angel’s hands.

Perverse luck! Wicked chance! Deceived by my

Rash glances, she had let herself believe she was

The object of my gaze. Touched by my suffering,

Her generous heart impulsively responds.

Respect for her, I find, imposes silence; 1940

She’s bold to break it and lays her heart open—

MARQUIS. You tell me this so calmly? She saw through you.

No doubt about it: she has pierced your secret.

She’s mortally insulted. And she rules

The King.

CARLOS (confident). She’s virtuous.

MARQUIS. Because it serves

Her love. This virtue, I regret to say,

I know it; know how little it attains

To that Ideal, conceived in grace, that springs from

The fruitful seedbed of the soul and, with

No gardener’s help, blooms with extravagance. 1950

This is an alien branch forced with shammed warmth

In colder, rawer latitudes. Call it

Good manners or high principle, it is

An innocence acquired, rung from hot blood

By struggle and by guile, ascribed with care

And conscience to whatever heaven fosters

It and makes it worthwhile. Decide yourself:

Can she forgive it of the Queen that a man

Went past her hard-fought virtue to consume

Himself in hopeless love for Philip’s wife? 1960

CARLOS. Do you know Princess Eboli that well?

MARQUIS. I’ve hardly seen her twice in life. I’ll just say:

I found her skilled in skirting signs of vice

And noticed she knew all about her virtue.

And then I saw the Queen. Karl, what a difference!

In native, natural quiet glory, so with

Heedless frivolity as with decorum’s

Hair-splitting calculations unacquainted,

As far removed from rashness as from fear,

Firm like a heroine, she keeps the narrow 1970

Middle way of what is becoming, never

Knowing how she compels devotion, she who

Has never dreamt that she would be applauded.

Does my Karl recognize his Eboli

In such a mirror now? The Princess held firm

Because she loved. Love was expressly a

Condition of her virtue. You refused. She

Will fall.

CARLOS (emphatically). Oh, no! No!

(After walking up and down.) No, I tell you. If

Roderigo only knew how it befits him

To rob his Karl of his most god-like joy, 1980

His belief in human excellence!


Deserve that? No, my soul’s beloved, that I

Did not intend. This Eboli, though— Were she

An angel, honorable like you, I’d kneel

Before her, had she not found out your secret.

CARLOS. No need to fear. Does she have proofs that do

Not shame her? Would she let revenge cost her

Her honor?

MARQUIS. Others have redeemed a shame by

Disgracing themselves.

CARLOS (jumping to his feet). No, that is too hard!

She’s proud and noble. I know her and I 1990

Fear nothing. You’ll not scare away my hopes.

I’ll see my mother.

MARQUIS. Now? And to what purpose?

CARLOS. I’ve no need to forbear now. I must know

My fate. Arrange for me to see her.


Show her this letter? Would you?

CARLOS. Do not ask.

A way to see her!

MARQUIS (with meaning). Did you not say you loved her?

And you’d show her this letter?

(Karl looks down in silence.)

Karl, I see

Something in you— It’s new, not seen till now.

You turn away? Why turn away? It’s true?

Did I read right? Let’s have a look— 2000

(Carlos gives him the letter. He tears it up.)

CARLOS. You’re mad!

(Less irritated.)

Truly. I counted on that letter.

MARQUIS. That’s why

I tore it up.

(The Marquis lets his eyes rest on the Prince, who returns his gaze uncertainly. Long silence.)

Just tell me now: What exactly

Have desecrations of the royal bed

To do with you—and with this love of yours?

Was Philip dangerous to you? What can

Connect the husband’s violated duty

With your audacious hopes? Has he offended

There where you love? At last I see you. And

How badly have I grasped your love till now.

CARLOS. How, Roderick? What’s your meaning? 2010

MARQUIS. Now I feel

What I must live without. Once it was different.

You were so rich, so warm. A world entire

Had room in your great heart. That’s gone, devoured by

One single passion, a bit of self-seeking.

Your heart has died. No tear for the hard fate of

The provinces, no tear! Oh, Karl, how poor

You have become, how very poor, now that you

Love no one but yourself!

CARLOS (throws himself into a chair. Pause. On the verge of tears).

I know you don’t

Respect me anymore.

MARQUIS. Not so, dear Karl!

I know these feelings—worthy feelings gone wrong. 2020

The Queen had belonged to you; the Monarch robbed you.

You doubted you had rights. Perhaps the King

Deserved her. You held back from judgment. Then

The letter judged: You were the worthier one.

Proudly, with pleasure, you saw Fate convicted

Of tyranny and robbery. It pleased you

To be the one offended, for injustice

Flatters great souls. But here your fantasy went

Astray: your pride found satisfaction and

Your heart took hope. You see, I knew it: You 2030

Misunderstood yourself this time.

CARLOS (touched). You’re wrong.

Nothing so noble did I think as you

Would have me believe.

MARQUIS. Do you know me so little?

Look, Karl, when you go wrong, I try to guess

Which virtue among hundreds is to blame.

Now that we understand each other better,

So be it! You shall see the Queen; in fact,

You must—

CARLOS (embracing him).

Oh, how you shame me!

MARQUIS. You’ve my word.

Leave all the rest to me. For a wild thought,66

A bold and happy one is rising in my 2040

Imagination. You shall hear it from

Another. I shall reach the Queen. Perhaps

We’ll have an outcome early as tomorrow.

Till then, Karl, don’t forget that an attempt born

Of higher reason, forced by human suffering,

Ten thousand times defeated, never can be

Abandoned. Clear? Remember Flanders!

CARLOS. All, all

That you and higher virtue ask of me.

MARQUIS (going to the window).

Our time is up. I hear your retinue.

Crown prince again and vassal. (They embrace.) 2050

CARLOS. Straight to town?

MARQUIS. To town.

CARLOS. Just one word more. How easily

Forgotten! Most important: Letters to

Brabant are opened by the King. Be careful!

The imperial post has secret orders—


Do you know this?

CARLOS. Don Raimond Taxis is

My friend.

MARQUIS (after a silence).

That, too! They’ll go by way of Germany.

(They go off by different doors.)

Marquis Posa. Steel engraving by Albrecht Fürchtegott Schultheiss from a drawing by Friedrich Pecht. Friedrich Pecht: Schiller-Galerie (Leipzig, 1859),

Act Three

The King’s bedroom

Scene One

Two lights burn on a night table. In the background, Pages on their knees, fast asleep. The King, half undressed to the waist, stands at the table, one arm braced on a chair, in an attitude of reflection. A medallion lies before him and some papers.67

KING. She’s always been excitable—that’s clear.

I couldn’t give her love, but did she miss it?

It’s proven: She is false.

(He makes a motion that brings him to himself and looks about, startled.)

Where was I? Is

No one awake here but the King? What’s this? 2060

The candles all burnt down and not yet day?

I’ve lost the night. It belongs to you now, Nature.

A king has no time to retrieve lost sleep.

Now I’m awake; let it be day.

(He puts out the candles and opens a curtain. As he walks up and down, he notices the sleeping boys and stops to consider them; then he pulls the bell.)


Too, in my anteroom, perhaps?

Scene Two

The King. Count Lerma.

LERMA (startled on seeing the King). Why, is

Your Majesty not well?

KING. Fire in the left

Wing. You heard the alarm?

LERMA. No, Majesty.

KING. No? I’d have only dreamt it? That’s not chance.

The Queen, I believe, sleeps in that wing?

LERMA. She does,

Your Majesty. 2070

KING. The dream has frightened me.

In future let the Watch be doubled there.

You hear? At nightfall. But in secret. I’ll

Not have it that— Do you examine me?

LERMA. I see a burning eye that longs for sleep.

Dare I remind Your Majesty how precious

Your life? Of subjects who will note the trace

Of sleepless nights with deep misgiving? Only

An hour or two of troubled sleep—

KING (with wild eyes). Of sleep?

Sleep I shall find in my Escorial. Kings

Who sleep will lose their crowns and husbands lose 2080

Their wives. No, that is a slander. Was is not

A woman told me that?68 Her name is slander.

The crime’s unproven till a man has said it.

(To the Pages, who have woken up.)

Call for Duke Alba!

(They go out.)

One step closer, Count.

It’s true? (He stands before the Count and fixes him.)

One heartbeat’s worth of certainty!

Your oath! It’s true? I am deceived?

LERMA. My great,

My best of Kings—

KING (stepping back). Oh, king and king again!

No better answer than an empty echo?

I strike this rock, want water for my fever,

And get but glowing gold. 2090

LERMA. If what were true,

My King?

KING. Oh, nothing, nothing. Leave me. Go.

(The Count is about to go. The King calls him back.)

You’re married? Father? Yes?

LERMA. Yes, Majesty.

KING. You’re married and would dare to watch the night

Through for your master? Silver-gray and not

Ashamed to believe your wife is honest? Oh,

Go home. You’ll find her in the incestuous arms of

Your son. Just believe your King and go. You’re startled?

You look at me with meaning, since my hair, too,

Is gray? Bethink yourself. No queen will smirch

Her honor. You’re lost if— 2100

LERMA (heated). Who doubts? Who can?

In all my King’s estates, who’d dare to stain

This virtue by suspicion? She, the best of—

KING. The best? And your best, too? She has warm friends

About me here, or so it seems to me.

That must be costly. More, I’d thought, than she

Can give. You are dismissed. Admit the Duke.

LERMA. I hear him in the anteroom. (About to go.)

KING (more mildly). Count! What you

Remarked just now is true—true after all.

My head’s aglow with sleeplessness. Forget

What I said in a waking dream. You hear? 2110

Forget it. I’m your Very Gracious King.

(He offers his hand for Lerma’s kiss; Lerma opens to the Duke and goes off.)

Scene Three

The King and Duke Alba

ALBA (approaching the King uncertainly).69

An order so surprising for me at

This unaccustomed hour, my Liege?

(Taken aback on observing the King more closely.)

What a sight!

KING (has sat down and picked up the medallion on the table.

He regards the Duke silently).

It’s true? I have no faithful servants?

ALBA (stops short, shamed). How’s that?

KING. I’m mortally insulted. They know it and

No one who warns me!

ALBA (with a look of astonishment).

Insult that intends

My King and it escaped my notice?

KING (showing him the letters). This hand

Is known to you?

ALBA. It is Don Carlos’ hand.

(Pause in which the King observes him sharply.)

KING. You can’t yet guess what’s here? You warned me of his

Ambition? Was ambition all I had 2120

To fear of him?

ALBA. Ambition is a big—

A broad word. It means many, many things.

KING. You’ve nothing more specific to disclose?

ALBA (after a silence, with a closed face).

It is the realm Your Majesty laid on

My vigilance, the realm to which I owe my

Most secret knowledge and my insight. What I

Presume or believe, know otherwise, is mine

Alone. For slave or vassal these things are

Inviolate, may be withheld from all

The kings on earth. Not everything that I see 2130

Clearly is ripe to tell my King. Would he be

Contented, I bid him not question me

As master.

KING (giving him the letters).


ALBA (reads and, alarmed, turns to the King).

What madman played this in-

To my King’s hands?

KING. Aha! I see you know

Who is intended here? And yet I know

The name has been suppressed.

ALBA (starting back, caught). I was too hasty.

KING. You know?

ALBA (after hesitating). I’ve let it slip. My lord commands;

There’s no retreat. It’s true: I know this person.

KING (getting to his feet, very aroused).

Help me invent a new death, god of vengeance!

So clear, notorious, and public, this 2140

Collusion; one sees it at first glance. Too much!

I didn’t know. Not I! I am the last

Man in my Kingdom to find out.

ALBA (throwing himself at the King’s feet). Yes, I

Admit my guilt, my Gracious King, shamed by

A timid cleverness that counseled silence

Where my King’s honor, justice, truth demanded

Loudly enough my speaking. Since all others

Fall silent and the magic spell of beauty

Binds all men’s tongues, let it be dared: I’ll speak.

For well I know that a son’s flattering avowals, 2150

A wife’s seductive charms, her tears—

KING (swift and emphatic). Stand up.

You have my royal word. Stand up. Speak freely.

ALBA (standing). Your Majesty perhaps remembers in

The garden at Aranjuez: you found

The Queen abandoned by her Ladies, all

Alone, distraught in a far bower.


What’s coming? Yes?

ALBA. The Marquise Mondekar

Was banned because she quickly, generously

Came forward to protect her mistress. Now

We’re told the Marquise did no more than she was 2160

Ordered: the Prince had been there.

KING (incensed). Been there? Well, then—

ALBA. A man’s tread in the sand was found between

The bower and a grotto, there a hand-

Kerchief he’d lost—a gardener met him just

Exactly as Your Majesty reached the bower.

KING (emerging from dark reflections).

And she shed tears at my displeasure! Shamed me

Before my Court! Before myself! I stood

Like one convicted by her virtue—

(Long silence. He sits down and covers his face.)


Duke Alba. You are quite right. That could lead me

To something terrible. You’ll let me be 2170

Alone a moment.

ALBA. That does not decide

The case, my King.

KING (reaching for the papers). And this does not? And this?

And this as well? And how these things all prove

One thing? It’s clear as day. I’ve always known it.

The crime began as I received her from

Your hands here in Madrid.70 I see her still,

Gazing, white as a ghost, at my gray head,

At my gray hair. There it began, this falseness!

ALBA. Don Carlos lost a bride when he acquired his

Young mother. They had shared their dreams and wishes, 2180

Reached understanding in fiery feelings their

New status now forbade. But shyness such as

Attends a first confession—that was past.

Seduction spoke more plainly in shared pictures

Of things they could recall without offense.

Akin by harmony of thought and years,

Enraged by one compulsion forced on both,

They gave themselves to passion the more boldly.

But politics took precedence on preference:

Are we to believe, Your Majesty, that she 2190

Conceded to the State such primacy?

And mastered lust that she might test more closely

Decisions that your Cabinet had taken?71

She had expected love and she received—

A diadem.

KING (injured and bitter).

Distinctions you make—wisely,

Duke. I admire your eloquence. And thank you.

(Getting to his feet, cold and proud.)

You’re right. The Queen was much in error to

Conceal such letters from me, to make secret

The Prince’s presence in the garden. It was

False magnanimity.72 I’ll find meet punishment. 2200

(He pulls the bell.)

Who else is in the antechamber? I’ve

No further need of you, Duke Alba. You

May go.

ALBA. I’d have offended once again,

Your Majesty, by eagerness to serve?

KING (to an entering Page).

Send for Domingo. (The Page goes off.)

I forgive you that for

Almost two minutes you’d have made me fear a

Crime that can be committed against you.

(Alba goes off.)

Scene Four

The King. Domingo.

KING (walks up and down, collecting himself).

DOMINGO (enters a few minutes after the Duke’s departure, approaches

the King, and regards him in solemn silence).

How happily astonished I am to see

Your Majesty so resolute and calm.

KING. Astonished— 2210

DOMINGO. Providence be thanked, my fear

Was quite without foundation! I may hope now.

KING. Your fear? Your fear of what?

DOMINGO. Your Majesty,

I’ll not conceal: I know already of

A secret—

KING (menacing). Have I expressed a wish to share

It with you? Who dared anticipate me so,

Unbidden? By my honor, rash enough!

DOMINGO. My Liege, the place, occasion of my learning,

The seal on what I learned exonerate me.

It was confided at confession,73 confided

As a misdeed that burdens the confessor’s 2220

Sensitive conscience, which now seeks Heaven’s mercy.

Too late the Princess rues a deed that she

Has reason to expect will have the gravest

Consequence for her Queen.

KING. Does she indeed?

How good of her— You have guessed rightly why

I had you called: You’re to conduct me out of

A labyrinth, one that blind eagerness

Has flung me into. I expect truth of you.

What should I believe and what decide? I charge

Your office to speak truth.74 2230

DOMINGO. Sire, even if

My station laid upon me no sweet duty

To spare, I’d still entreat Your Majesty,

Entreat you for your peace of mind, to halt

At what you know and to abandon searching

A secret that can bring no happiness.

What is already known can be forgiven.

Just one word from the King—the Queen has never

Strayed. Royal will confers both happiness

And virtue, and alone the King’s unwavering

Tranquility strikes down the whisperings 2240

That slander can indulge in.

KING. Whisperings?

Concerning me? Among my subjects?


Damnable lies! My word of honor, Sire.

But there are cases where the people’s belief

Becomes no less important than the truth,

Unproved as ever it may be.

KING. By God!

And it would be perhaps just here—

DOMINGO. Good name

Is the most precious single good for which

The Queen competes with burghers’ wives.

KING. For which,

I hope, we have no grounds to tremble? 2250

(He gazes at Domingo doubtfully. A silence.)


I am to get bad news from you. Delay

No longer. I can read it there in your

Funereal face. So out with it, whatever

It is, and torment me no longer! What

Is it they believe?

DOMINGO. The people, Sire, may err.

Most certainly, they err. And what they say

Ought not to shock the King. But that they dare

To say such things—

KING. What things? Must I ask you

At endless length for bitter medicine?

DOMINGO. The people think back on the month that brought 2260

Your Majesty so close to death. They learned

Thirty weeks after that of the successful


(The King stands up and pulls the bell. Duke Alba enters.)

DOMINGO (startled). I’m astonished, Sire!

KING (going toward the Duke). Toledo!

You are a man. Protect me from this priest.

DOMINGO (exchanging uneasy glances with Duke Alba).

If we’d known in advance the messenger

Would have to bear the punishment—

KING. Bastard, you say?

I was, you say, not yet returned from death’s door

Just when she knew herself with child? That was,

If I am not mistaken, when you praised

Our good Saint Dominic in every church 2270

For miracles he’d wrought on me? What was

A miracle then now is one no longer?

Or then or now you lied to me. Which is it?

Oh, I see through you. If your plot had been

Ripe then, the saint had lost his fame.

ALBA. Our plot!


Two come together in such harmony,

Such unexampled harmony, sameness of

Intention, and have not agreed among

Yourselves? You would persuade me so? Me? I

Should not have noticed with what eagerness 2280

And greed you stoop upon your quarry? How

You feast upon my pain and bursts of anger?

I should not see the way the Duke burns hot

To intercept the favor given my son?

And how this pious man here armed his many

Petty resentments with my giant’s rage?

I am the bow, you seem to think, that one

May bend at pleasure? I still have a will,

And if I am to entertain a doubt,

I’ll start with you. 2290

ALBA. Our loyalty did not

Expect quite this construction.

KING. Loyalty!

Loyalty warns us of impending crimes,

Vengeance of those already long committed.

Just tell me: What has all your eagerness

To serve then gained me? If what you claim is true,

What choice have I but separation? And

The sad triumph of vengeance? Oh, no. You, you

Tell me, you merely fear; you offer me

Surmises, leave me hanging on the brink

Of Hell, and scatter. 2300

DOMINGO. Can proof be adduced

In absence of eye witnesses?

KING (after a long pause; turned to Domingo; solemnly).

I shall

Convene the Grandees of my Kingdom, myself sit

In judgment. You come forward there before

The world—if you have courage—name her an

Adulteress. She shall die the death—no mercy—

She and the Prince. But! Take note! Should she clear

Her name, then you shall die. You’ll honor truth

By such a sacrifice? Make up your minds!

Or not? Do you fall silent? Liars’ courage.

ALBA (who has stood at a distance; now cold and calm).

I’ll do so. 2310

KING (wheels around and stares at the Duke).

That is bold! But I recall

You’ve risked your life in battle for far less,

Risked it, like throwing dice, to win fame’s rubbish.

What is your life to you? I’ll not stake royal

Blood on a madman with no higher hope

Than to give up a trivial life sublimely.

Your offer is contemptible. Go! Await

My further orders in the presence chamber.

(They both go off.)

Scene Five

The King alone75

KING. Give me a man now, kindly Providence.

Much have you given. Now give me a man.

You—you who are alone and singular, 2320

For your eyes see and test the hidden things,

I bid you send me a good friend, for I

Cannot know all, like you. The aides you have

Accorded me—you know what they amount to.

What they are worth, that they have meant to me.

Their feeble vices, hedged about, have served

My purposes, as your storms cleanse the world.

It’s truth I need. Uncovering its source

In all the rubble error pitches up

Is not the lot of kings. Give me the rare 2330

Man with pure open heart, clear mind, sharp eyes

Who’ll help me find it. I heap up

The lots; among the thousands fluttering about

A lofty sun let me find one.

(He opens a casket and takes out a writing tablet, which he leafs through.)

Mere names.

Mere names stand here, not even the deserts

That brought them here. Forgetful gratitude!

This other tablet though shows the offense

Recorded each time with precision. Vengeance

Requires such aids to memory? (Continuing to read.)

Count Egmont?

What is he doing here? Saint Quentin is long 2340

Undone.76 I toss him in among the dead.

(He erases the name, writes it on the other tablet, goes on reading.)

The Marquis Posa? Posa? Posa? Can scarce

Remember anything about the man!

Twice underlined: I meant him for great things!

This man kept from my presence until now?

Escaped the notice of his royal debtor?

In all the ambit of my States, by God,

The only one who has no need of me!

If he were greedy or ambitious, he’d

Have shown himself before my throne long since. 2350

Risk it with such an odd one? A man who

Can live without me will have truth for me.77

(He goes off.)

The presence chamber

Scene Six

Don Carlos in conversation with the Prince of Parma. Dukes Alba, Feria, and Medina Sidonia. Count Lerma and other Grandees carrying papers. All waiting for the King.

MEDINA SIDONIA (conspicuously avoided by all present, turns to Duke

Alba, who is walking up and down, solitary and self-absorbed).

You’ve spoken to our Liege, Duke Alba— How

Did you find him disposed?

ALBA. Extremely badly

For you and for the news you bring.


Of all the English battery was less hard

On me than standing here upon these tiles.78

(Carlos, who has noticed him sympathetically, approaches and presses his hand.)


My best thanks for this generous gesture, Prince.

You see how they avoid me. Surely my

Undoing’s been decided. 2360

CARLOS. Hope for the best of

My father’s mercy and your blamelessness, friend.

MEDINA SIDONIA. I lost a fleet for him like none seen on the

High seas. What’s such a head as this against

Seventy sunk galleons? But five sons, Prince, hopeful

As you—it breaks my heart—

Scene Seven

The King enters, in his robes. As above.

All remove their hats. They step back on both sides and form a semicircle before the King. General silence.

KING (with a fleeting look about the circle). Cover yourselves!

(Don Carlos and the Prince of Parma approach first to kiss the King’s hand. He turns to Parma in friendly fashion, ignoring his son.)

Your mother, Nephew,79 would know how we like

You in Madrid.

PARMA. Let her not ask before my

First battle’s been decided.

KING. Be content.

Your turn will come when this branch fails.

(Turning to Duke Feria.) What have

You brought for me? 2370

FERIA (dropping to one knee). The Knight-Commander of

The Calatrava Order died this morning.

His Cross returns to you.80

KING (taking the medal and surveying the circle before him).

Who is most worthy

To bear it after him?

(He signals Alba, who drops to one knee before him,
and hangs the cross around his neck.)

Duke Alba, you are

My foremost field commander. Be no more.

My favor then will never fail you.

(He notices Duke Medina Sidonia.) Here is

My admiral!

MEDINA SIDONIA (approaches uncertainly and kneels before the King,
his head down)

This, great King, is all I bring back

Of Spanish youth and the Armada.

KING (after a long silence). God

Stands over me. I sent them against men,

Not storms and reefs. Be welcome in Madrid.

(He extends his hand to be kissed.)

My thanks that you’ve preserved this worthy servant 2380

For me! My Grandees, it is thus I know him;

It’s thus I wish that he be known to you.

(He signals Medina Sidonia to stand and cover himself, then turns to the others.)

What else is there?

(To Don Carlos and the Prince of Parma.)

My thanks to you, my Princes.

(They go off. The other Grandees approach and extend petitions, kneeling. The King looks through them fleetingly and passes them to Duke Alba.)

Present these in my study. Is this all?

(No one responds.)

How is it then that among all my Grandees

No Marquis Posa shows himself? I know

Full well that he has served me with distinction.

Is he perhaps no longer with us? Why

Does he not come?

LERMA. The Knight is just returned

From travels through all Europe. He awaits but 2390

The Public Day81 to kneel before his King.

ALBA. The Marquis Posa? Right! That is the bold

Maltese, esteemed King, whose romantic exploit

Lives on in reputation.82 When at the

Grand Master’s levy, the knights returned to Malta,

Besieged by Soliman, there vanished, too,

From Alcala an eighteen-year-old youth.

Unsummoned, he came to Valette. “They bought

A cross for me,” he said, “and now I’ll earn it.”

And he was one among those forty knights 2400

Who held the castle at Saint Elmo at

High noon against three storms by Ulucciali,

Mustafa, Hassem, and Piali. When

The castle falls at last, and all the knights

Around him, he throws himself into the sea

And comes, the lone survivor, to Valette.

After two months the enemy vacates

The island, and the knight comes back, completes

The studies he has interrupted.


This Marquis was the one discovered the 2410

Conspiracy in Catalonia. He

By his great skills was able to preserve for

The Crown its most important province.

KING. I am

Amazed. What kind of man is this to’ve done

Such things and found among the three I ask

Not one who speaks of him with envy? Quite sure,

He has a most unusual character

Or none at all. For wonder, purely, I

Must see him. (To Duke Alba.)

After Mass has ended bring

Him to me in my private study. 2420

(The Duke goes off. The King calls Feria.)

You’ll take

My place today before the Privy Council.

(He goes off.)

FERIA. Our master is most gracious.


He is a god. That’s what he was for me.

FERIA. How you deserve your great good fortune! I

Am happy for you, Admiral.


A SECOND. And I am, too.

A THIRD. My heart beats high for you.

Such a deserving general!

THE FIRST. Why, the King

Was hardly gracious toward you, merely just.

LERMA (leaving, to Medina Sidonia).

How rich two words have made you of a sudden!

(All go off.)

The King’s private study

Scene Eight

Marquis Posa and Duke Alba

MARQUIS (entering).

It’s me he wants? Me? That’s not possible. 2430

You have the name wrong. What can he then want

Of me?

ALBA. He wants to get to know you.


Mere curiosity. So much for these lost

Moments. Life runs its course so quickly.


Deliver you to your good stars. The King

Is in your hands. Avail yourself now of this

Moment as best you can, and blame yourself

If it is lost. (He goes off.)

Scene Nine

The Marquis alone

Well said, Duke. One must use

The moment that will come but once. In truth,

This courtier teaches me a useful lesson— 2440

If not in his sense useful, then in mine.

(He walks up and down.)

What is it brings me here? Perversity

Of moody chance, and nothing more perhaps,

Would let me see my image in these mirrors?

Would seize on me, one of a million and

The most improbable? Was that which could

Revive me in the memory of the King?

Mere chance? Might it not have been more? Much more?

For what is chance if not the unhewn stone

That takes on life beneath the sculptor’s hand? 2450

It’s Providence provides a chance. It’s man

Must furnish it with form. Well, then: Whatever

The King may want with me, it’s all the same.

I know what’s up to me—me—with the King,

And if it be a flare of truth, no more

Than that, flung boldly into that despot’s soul—

How fruitful in the hand of Providence!

What seemed mere whimsy could turn out to be

Most purposeful and well thought out. Could be

Or not. All one! I’ll act in this conviction. 2460

(He walks up and down, then pauses calmly before a painting. The King appears in an adjacent room, gives a few orders, and enters. Unnoticed, he pauses on the threshold to observe the Marquis.)

Scene Ten

The King and Marquis Posa

The Marquis notices the King and approaches. He bends one knee and stands again, giving no sign of confusion.

KING (with a look of astonishment).

Already come before me?


KING. You made

Yourself deserving of the Crown. Why then

Evade my thanks? There’re many men who crowd

My memory. There’s but One knows all. It was

Your place to seek the notice of your King.

Why did you not?

MARQUIS. I’ve been but two days in

The Kingdom, Sire.

KING. I’m of no mind to stand

Indebted to my subjects. Beg a favor

Of me.

MARQUIS. I have protection of the laws.

KING. So does the murderer. 2470

MARQUIS. And all the more

An honest citizen. I am content, Sire.

KING (to himself). Much confidence and courage here, by God!

That was to be expected. Proud is how

I like my Spaniards. Even if the cup

Spills over, I quite like it.

(To the Marquis.) You have left

My service, as I hear.

MARQUIS. To make way for

A better man, I’ve gone into retirement.

KING. That I regret. How great a loss for my

State when such heads make holiday. Perhaps

You fear to miss the sphere that’s worthy of 2480

Your gifts?

MARQUIS. Oh, no! I’m certain one who knows

Men’s souls, who’s practiced, seasoned in these things,

Sees at first glance what I am good for, what not.

I’m humbly grateful for the grace bestowed on

Me by Your Majesty’s high estimate,

But— (He stops.)

KING. Do you hesitate?

MARQUIS. I am—I must

Confess, Sire—not prepared, not right away,

To clothe what I have thought as citizen of

This world in words such as become your subject.

For at the time I settled with the Crown, Sire, 2490

I thought myself released from any need

To give it grounds for taking such a step.

KING. So feeble are your grounds? Are you afraid

To risk—

MARQUIS. If I gain time t’exploit them fully—

My life at least, Sire. But if you deny me

This favor, I’ll set forth a fuller truth.

I’m left to choose between the King’s displeasure

And his contempt. If I’m to be forced to

Decide, I’d rather see myself dismissed here

For a miscreant than a fool. 2500

KING (expectantly). And so?

MARQUIS. I am not one to serve a prince.

(The King regards him with astonishment.)

I’ll not

Deceive the buyer, Sire. For if you think

Me worthy of employment, you will want

Of me deeds previously decided solely.

You’ll want my arm, my courage in the field,

And my good head in council. Not the deeds

Themselves, approval they find at the Throne

Would be the purpose of my deeds. For me,

However, virtue is its own reward.

The happiness the King creates with my hand 2510

I’d make myself; I’d choose, myself take pleasure

In what becomes mere duty in king’s service.

Is this your disposition, Sire? Can you

Endure a foreign worker in your workshop?

Am I to be the chisel, no more, there

Where I could be the sculptor? I love all

Humanity. In monarchies I may

Love no one but myself.

KING. An admirable

Fire. You can do much good. Just how can be

Indifferent to the wise and patriotic. 2520

Choose for yourself a post in all my Kingdoms

That lets you satisfy these noble urgings.

MARQUIS. I find none.

KING. How’s that?

MARQUIS. What Your Majesty

Gives men by my hand—is that happiness?

Is that the happiness that my pure love

Would grant mankind? This happiness would make

Majesty tremble. No! Crown politics

Made a new happiness, a happiness

That it is rich enough yet to distribute,

Made in men’s hearts new needs and urgings that let 2530

Themselves be stilled by just this happiness.

And it lets truth be struck in its own coin,

Such truth as it is able to endure,

And throws away the stamps that don’t match this one.

What serves the Crown—is that enough for me?

May brother-love be used to harm one’s brother?

I’d find him happy when he may not think?

I’m not the one to choose, Sire, to distribute

Such happiness as you stamp us. I must

Decline to circulate such coin as this. 2540

I am not one to serve a prince.

KING (somewhat hasty). You are

A Protestant.

MARQUIS (after reflecting).

Your faith, my Liege, is mine.83

(After a pause.)

I’ve not made myself clear. That’s what I feared.

You see my hand expose the secrets kept

By Majesty. Who guarantees I’ll still

Revere what I have ceased to fear? I seem

A threat, for I reflect upon myself.

I’m not, my King. My wishes perish here.

(His hand on his breast.)

This rage to renovate, so laughable

Because it seals the chains that it would break, 2550

Will never warm my blood. The century

Is not yet ripe for my ideal. I live

A citizen of centuries yet to come.

Can a mere painting spoil your peace? You can

Erase it with one breath.

KING. Am I the first

To know you from this side?

MARQUIS. From this one— Yes!

KING (stands up, takes a few steps, and pauses before the Marquis.

To himself).

At least this tone is new! No use for flattery.

A man of parts scorns imitation. Now an

Approach the other way. Why not? Surprise

Prepares good fortune. 2560

(To the Marquis.) If you understand

It thus, then fine. I shall address myself

To a new service to the Crown—to one

For gifted minds.

MARQUIS. I note, my King, how small,

How lowly you think human dignity—to

Hear even in the speech of a free man

Just artful flattery, and I think I know what

Gives you the right to. Men have forced this on you.

They’ve given up their nobleness, have freely

Descended to this lower level, flee

In fear before the ghost of inner greatness, 2570

Pleased to be poor and to festoon their chains

With timid wisdom, thinking it a virtue

To carry them politely. It was thus

The world came down to you, and thus it was

Transmitted to the King, your noble father.

Thus maimed, what claim had men on honor from you?

KING. There’s truth in what you say.

MARQUIS. A pity though!

When you received man from his Maker’s hand

And changed him into your own handiwork,

Then gave yourself to this new-molded creature 2580

As god—you overlooked one thing: that you

Yourself stayed human, from the hand of God.

Mortal, you suffered still and still desired.

You are in need of sympathy, but to a

God one can only sacrifice or tremble,

Or raise a prayer! Regrettable, unnatural

Exchange! Now you’ve reduced man to a mere stringed

Instrument, who’ll sing harmony with you?

KING. (By God, he grips me in my soul!)


This forfeiture means nothing. You, instead, are 2590

Unique, one of a kind—that is the price

You pay for being God. The worse were it

Not so, if for the trampled happiness

Of millions you’d won nothing! But what if

The freedom you’ve destroyed were the one thing

That’s fit to realize your wishes? Sire,

I ask you to dismiss me. For my subject

Has overcome me and my heart is full,

The urge too strong, as I stand here before

The one to whom I would disclose it. 2600

(Count Lerma enters and speaks softly with the King, who then signals him to go and remains seated as before.)

KING (to the Marquis when Lerma has gone off). Go on!

MARQUIS (after a silence).

I feel, my Liege, how great the honor—

KING. Finish!

There’s more you want to say to me.


I’ve just arrived from Flanders and Brabant—

So many rich and blooming provinces!

A strong, great people, also a good people—

God-like, I thought, to be this people’s father!

But then I came upon men’s charred remains—

(He falls silent, gazing at the King, who tries to return his gaze but looks down instead.)

You’re right. You must. And that you can do what you

Have seen you must, filled me with wonder. It’s a

Pity, though, that the victim, soaked in blood, 2610

Is little suited to begin a hymn

In praise of who performed the sacrifice!

That men, mere men, not higher beings, write

World history! Gentler centuries to come

Will push aside King Philip’s times and usher

In milder forms of wisdom. Civic contentment

Will go about at one with princely greatness,

The stingy State not throw away its children,

And human, too, will be necessity.

KING. When, do you think, would these so human centuries 2620

Appear, if I had trembled at the curse

Of this one? Look about here in my Spain.

Civic contentment blooms in cloudless peace here.

This quiet I would grant to all the Flemings.

MARQUIS (quickly).

The quiet of a graveyard! You would hope

To end what you’ve begun? Would hope to stop change

Now ripe and due in Christendom? To stop

The spring that now renews the world? Alone in

Europe, you’d throw yourself against the wheel

Of universal destiny in full turn? 2630

Throw your mere human arm into its spokes?

You’ll not succeed! Already thousands have fled

Your countries, poor and happy. Citizens lost

To Spain for their confession were your noblest.

With open arms Elizabeth receives them,

The arts of our land blossom there—for Britain.

Granada lies deserted by its busy

New Christians, and all Europe laughs to see

Its old foe bleed from self-inflicted wounds.

(The King is moved; the Marquis notices and moves closer.)

You want to plant for all eternity, 2640

And you sow death? So forced an enterprise

Will not survive its author’s spirit. You’ve

Built everything for thanklessness; in vain

You’ve struggled with unyielding Nature and

In vain you’ve sacrificed a great king’s life

Upon designs that only can destroy.

Mankind is more than you have believed of it.

For it will break the bonds of its long sleep,

Demand return of its most sacred rights,

And toss your name among the Neros and 2650

Busiris.84 That—pains me, for you were good.

KING. Just who has made you all that sure of this?

MARQUIS (very fiery).

Yes, by almighty God. Yes, I repeat:

Return to us what you have taken! And,

Magnanimous, becoming to the strong, let

Men’s happiness stream from your horn of plenty.

Minds are maturing in your universe!

Return to us what you have taken. Become

Among a myriad of kings, a king.

(He approaches the King boldly, with a steady, fiery gaze.)

Oh, if I could but have the eloquence 2660

Of all the thousands who have part in this great

Moment, to flame the spark that I see flashing

In your eyes ! Oh, abandon the unnatural

Idolatry that crushes us. Become

A model of the True and Lasting. Never

Was mortal, god-like, so free to use so much.

All Europe’s kings revere the Spanish name.

Put yourself in the van of Europe’s kings.

One pen stroke and the world is made anew. Grant

Us freedom of thought— 2670

(Throwing himself at the King’s feet.)

KING (surprised, his face turned away from, then toward the Marquis).

Curious enthusiast!

But—stand up—I—

MARQUIS. Just look about in His

Grand Nature. Freedom is its basis. And

How rich it is through freedom! He, the great

Creator, puts a worm into a dewdrop,

Lets willfulness disport itself in dead

Wastes of decay. But your creation, how

Poor and how narrow! Rustling of a leaf

Alarms the lord of Christendom. How you

Must tremble before every virtue. He, not

To spoil a charming show of freedom, would 2680

Let evil’s grisly army rather rage

In all his universe. Of Him, the artist,

We never are aware: He wraps himself

In His eternal laws. These a free thinker

Sees, not Him. Wherefore God? says he. The world’s

Enough. No Christian’s devotion can do Him

More honor than free thinkers’ blasphemy.

KING. And you would undertake to imitate this

Exalted pattern in my mortal states?


You can, who else? Commit your ruling power 2690

That’s prospered but to serve the Throne to your

Own people’s happiness, restore mankind’s

Lost nobleness. Let citizens become

Again what they once were: the Crown’s first purpose,

Bound by no duty but their brothers’ same rights.

When man, restored to himself, feels his worth,

When freedom’s virtues, proud, sublime, grow strong,

When you have made your realm the happiest, then, Sire,

Your duty is to conquer all the world.

KING (after a great silence).

I’ve let you finish speaking. Unlike others’, 2700

I understand full well, is this man’s vision,

Nor would I force on you a faulty standard.

I am the first to whom you say these things;

I believe it since I know it’s so. Now for

This reticence, for keeping silent until

This day convictions like these, framed in fire,

For modest prudence such as yours, young man,

I shall forget that I have heard them, how I

Heard them. Stand up. I would disprove this hasty

Youngster as an old man and not as King—would 2710

Because I would. I find that even poison

Becomes benign in goodly natures. But

Beware my Inquisition. I’d regret—

MARQUIS. Really? You would regret it?

KING (lost in contemplating him). Never have I

Seen such a man. Oh, no, Marquis! You do

Me too much honor. I would not be Nero.

I’ll not be that, will not be that toward you.

Not every happiness should wither under

Me. You yourself—you, under my gaze, should go

On being human. 2720

MARQUIS (quickly). And my fellow citizens?

Oh, not for me, Sire, not for my cause have

I pleaded. And your subjects, Sire?

KING. If you

Are so sure how the time to come will judge me,

We’ll let it see in you just how I dealt

With men when I found one.

MARQUIS. Let the most just

Of kings not be at once the most unjust.

In Flanders there are thousands better far

Than me. And you—may I confess it—you

Perhaps see freedom now in softer image?

KING (with milder seriousness).

No more of this, young man. I know that you’ll 2730

Think differently, once you know men as I do.

I don’t want to have seen you for the last time.

How shall I bind you to me?

MARQUIS. Let me be

Just as I am. What would I be to you, Sire,

If you could bribe me, too?

KING. I’ll not endure

Such pride. From this day on you’re in my service.

No protest! I would have it so. (A pause.) But then,

Was it not truth I wanted? Here I find

Yet more. You’ve found me out here on my throne,

Marquis, and not yet in my house? 2740

(The Marquis seems to hesitate.)

I know.

But even were I the unhappiest of

All fathers, could I not be happy as

A husband?

MARQUIS. A son full of promise, the

Most lovable of consorts—if these things

Give mortals right to such a name, you are

The happiest in both.

KING (darkly). No, I am not!

And that I’m not I’ve never felt more deeply

Than now. (He regards the Marquis sorrowfully.)

MARQUIS. The Prince thinks nobly, he is good.

I’ve never found him otherwise.

KING. But I have.

What he has taken from me no crown can 2750

Make good. So virtuous a queen!

MARQUIS. Who’d dare,

My Liege?

KING. The world! Its slander! I myself!

I have here evidence that damns her; there’s more

That makes me fear the worst. And yet it’s hard, hard

For me to believe one thing. Who will accuse her?

Could she dishonor herself so, then how

Much more am I entitled to conclude

An Eboli is slandering her. The priest—

Does he not hate my son and her, too? And

Do I not know that Alba’s hatching vengeance? 2760

My wife’s worth more than the whole lot of them.

MARQUIS. And something lives in woman’s soul, Sire, that

Is pure beyond appearances and slander—

They call it woman’s virtue.

KING. That I say, too.

To sink as low as one accuses her

Is costly. Easily as they hope to

Persuade me, sacred bonds of honor do

Not break. Marquis, you know men. Such a man

I’ve long lacked. You are good and cheerful and know

Men, too. It’s thus that I have chosen you— 2770

MARQUIS (surprised and shocked).

Me, Sire?

KING. You stood before your master and

Requested nothing for yourself. That’s new

To me. You will be just; no passion will

Obscure your gaze. Gain access to my son,

Explore the Queen’s heart. I’ll send you a warrant

To see her privately. Now leave me. (He pulls the bell.)


With one hope answered? This then is the finest

Day in my life.

KING (extending his hand to be kissed).

In mine it is no lost one.

(The Marquis stands up and goes off. Count Lerma enters.)

Henceforth the Knight’s admitted unannounced.

Elisabeth of Valois. Steel engraving by Moritz Lämmel from a drawing by Arthur von Ramberg. Friedrich Pecht, Schiller-Galerie (Leipzig, 1859),,_Schiller-Galerie,_Friedrich_von_Schiller,_Sammelbild,_Stahlstich_um_1859,_Elisabeth_von_Valois_aus_Don_Carlos,_M_Lämmel_Carl_Karl_Moritz_Lemmel.jpg

Act Four

Hall in the Queen’s apartments

Scene One

The Queen. The Duchess Olivarez. The Princess Eboli.
The Countess Fuentes and other Ladies.

QUEEN (getting to her feet; to her Chief Lady-in-Waiting).

The key’s not to be found? The casket must 2780

Be broken open then. And right away—

(She notices Princess Eboli, who approaches and kisses her hand.)

Welcome, dear Princess! I am pleased to see

You well again—though still quite pale—

FUENTES (a bit malicious). Fault of

The wicked fever. It attacks the nerves so.

Doesn’t it, Princess?

QUEEN. How I wished to visit

You, dear. But that, you know, is not permitted.

OLIVAREZ. The Princess Eboli, however, suffered

No want of company—

QUEEN. That I can believe.

What’s wrong? You’re trembling.

EBOLI. Nothing, Madame, nothing

At all. I beg permission to withdraw— 2790

QUEEN. You’ve

Not told us just how ill you are? You find

It hard to stand? Here, Countess. Help her to

A tabouret.85

EBOLI. I need fresh air. (She goes off.)

QUEEN. Go with

Her, Countess. What a change in her!

(A Page enters and speaks with the Duchess,
who turns to the Queen.)

OLIVAREZ. The Marquis

Posa, Your Majesty. He comes here from

His Majesty the King.

QUEEN. Say I await him.

(The Page goes off, opening the door to the Marquis.)

Scene Two

Marquis Posa. As above.

The Marquis drops to one knee before the Queen, who signals him to stand.

QUEEN. What orders from my Lord? I’m openly to—

MARQUIS. My errand intends Your Majesty alone.

(The Queen signals her Ladies, who remove themselves.)

Scene Three

The Queen. Marquis Posa.

QUEEN (amazed).

What’s this? Am I to believe my eyes, Marquis? You

Dispatched to see me by the King? 2800

MARQUIS. Does that seem

So very curious to Your Majesty?

To me it’s not at all.

QUEEN. The world has slipped

Out of its orbit. He and you? I must


MARQUIS. That it sounds more than strange? That may

Well be, my Queen. The present moment is

Fertile in many more miraculous things.

QUEEN. Hardly in greater.

MARQUIS. What if I had been

Converted finally? What if I had tired

Of playing the eccentric here at Court?

Eccentric! What’s the use of that? One who 2810

Would make himself of use to mankind must

Try to make himself equal to them first.

Why wear the showy costume of a sect?

What if— Who is so free of vanity

That he would not solicit for his beliefs?

What if I went about with the intention

Of setting mine upon a throne?86

QUEEN. Oh, no. Not

Even in jest, Marquis, would I want to

Impute this boyish fantasy to you.

You’re not the dreamer who’d begin something 2820

That never can be ended.

MARQUIS. That precisely

Would be the question, it would seem.

QUEEN. The most

I could impute to you, Marquis—what could

Estrange me from you almost, would be—would be—

MARQUIS. Duplicity. Could be.

QUEEN. Unforthrightness,

At least.87 The King, I doubt not, didn’t send

You here for what you’re going to say.


QUEEN. Tell me:

Can a good cause ennoble doubtful means?

And can—forgive me my uncertainty—

Your noble pride lend itself to this office? 2830

I scarcely believe it.

MARQUIS. Nor do I, assuming

The matter here were to deceive the King.

That’s not what I intend. Instead, I think

To serve him so more honestly than he

Has charged me.

QUEEN. In that I recognize you. But

Enough of these things! What is on his mind?

MARQUIS. The King’s? It seems that I’ll soon be avenged

On my most stringent judge. What I’m in no

Great hurry to relate, Your Majesty,

It seems, is in much smaller hurry yet 2840

To hear. Heard, however, it must be!

The Monarch calls upon Your Majesty

Not to receive the French ambassador

Today. This was my charge. It’s now discharged.

QUEEN. That,

Marquis, is all you have to tell me from him?

MARQUIS. It is more or less all by which I have

A right to be here.

QUEEN. I shall be content not

To know what must perhaps be kept from me—

MARQUIS. It must, my Queen. Were you not you, I’d hasten

To tell you a few things, to warn of certain 2850

Persons. That needn’t be in your case, though.

Danger may dawn and set around you, you need

Know nothing of it. None of this deserves

To chase sweet sleep from your angelic eyelids.

That, furthermore, is not what brings me here.

Prince Carlos—

QUEEN. How did you leave him?

MARQUIS. Why, like

The only wise man of his time for whom

It has been made a crime to worship truth,

His high heart no less fixed than was that man’s88

On dying for his love. I bring few words; 2860

Here he is. (He gives the Queen a letter.)

QUEEN (having read the letter).

He must speak with me, he says.

MARQUIS. I say so, too.

QUEEN. Will it make him more happy

To see with his own eyes that I am not?

MARQUIS. Not happier but more active, more determined.89

(The Queen makes a questioning gesture.)

Duke Alba has been named for Flanders.

QUEEN. Named. So

I hear.

MARQUIS. The King can never countermand.

We know him. This is also true: the Prince

Cannot remain here, certainly not now,

And Flanders can’t be sacrificed.

QUEEN. Can you

Prevent it? 2870

MARQUIS. Yes. Perhaps. The means perhaps is

No better than the threat—a desperation.

I know none other.

QUEEN. Name it me.


And you alone, my Queen, dare I reveal it.

Only from you can Carlos hear it, un-

Appalled. The name it will acquire, however,

Sounds rather rude—

QUEEN. Rebellion—

MARQUIS. The Prince

Must fall away from Philip. He’s to go

To Brussels secretly, where Flanders awaits

Him. All the Netherlands will rise up at

His word, and their good cause is strengthened by a 2880

King’s son. Let his arms shake the Spanish throne.

And what the King refused him in Madrid

He’ll grant him once in Brussels.90

QUEEN. You have spoken

To him today and you can say that?

MARQUIS. Because

I spoke to him today.

QUEEN (after a pause). The plan that you

Propose alarms and—charms me. You, I believe,

Are not mistaken. The idea is bold—

That’s why it pleases me. I’ll mull it over.

The Prince knows it?

MARQUIS. I thought he’d hear it first

From you. 2890

QUEEN. A grand idea, no question! If

His youth—

MARQUIS. Will do no harm. He’ll find an Egmont,

A Prince of Orange91 there, Emperor Charles’ fine fighters,

Clever in Cabinet, fearsome in the field.

QUEEN (vivid). No! The idea is grand and fine. The Prince

Must act. I feel that keenly. For the role

One sees him play here in Madrid oppresses

Me in his place. France I can promise him,

Savoy, too. I’m of your opinion, Marquis:

He must take action. But the scheme takes money—

MARQUIS. That too is ready— 2900

QUEEN. I know ways—

MARQUIS. You’ll let me

Encourage him about a meeting?

QUEEN. I’ll give

It thought.

MARQUIS. He presses me for a reply,

Your Majesty. I promised not to come

Back empty. (Offering his writing tablet.)

Two lines? That’s enough—

QUEEN (after she has written). Shall I

See you again?

MARQUIS. As often as you command.

QUEEN. As often as I—Marquis, how am I

To understand this freedom?

MARQUIS. Harmlessly,

As you are wont to. We enjoy it. That’s

Enough. For you, my Queen, enough.

QUEEN (concluding). What joy,

Should freedom find this refuge yet in Europe! 2910

Find it through him! Count on my silent support.

MARQUIS (with fire). I knew it—knew I’d meet with understanding.

(Duchess Olivarez appears in the doorway.)

QUEEN (stiffly). All things that reach me from my lord the King

I humbly honor with the force of law.

Go now. Assure him of my deep submission.

(She signals him to go.)

A gallery

Scene Four

Carlos and Count Lerma

CARLOS. Here we’ll not be disturbed. What would you tell me?

LERMA. Your Highness had a friend here at this Court.

CARLOS (startled). Unknown to me? What is it that you mean?

LERMA. I beg your pardon that I heard more than

I ought. To reassure Your Highness, I 2920

Have it from trusted hands, that is, my own.

CARLOS. Who’re

We speaking of?

LERMA. Of Marquis Posa—


LERMA. If he should know more of Your Highness than

He ought, as I must almost fear—

CARLOS. How fear?

LERMA. He saw the King.


LERMA. Two full hours it lasted—

A very private conversation.

CARLOS. Really?

LERMA. And no small matter.

CARLOS. That I believe.

LERMA. Your name

Was often mentioned.

CARLOS. No bad sign, I hope.

LERMA. This morning in his Majesty’s bedchamber

The Queen was mentioned too, was mentioned strangely. 2930

CARLOS (taking a step back).

Count Lerma?

LERMA. When the Marquis went away, I

Was ordered to admit him henceforth un-


CARLOS (pauses in surprise). Truly that is much.

LERMA. Without

Example, Prince, in all my royal service.

CARLOS. Much! Truly much! And how—how did you say

The Queen was mentioned?

LERMA (stepping back). No, Prince. That’s against

My duty.

CARLOS. Strange! You tell me one thing and

Withhold another?

LERMA. I owed you the first, the

Second I owe the King.92

CARLOS. Quite right.

LERMA. The Marquis

I’ve always known as man of honor. 2940


Have known him well, then.

LERMA. Every virtue, though,

Is spotless, till it’s tested.

CARLOS. Here and elsewhere.

LERMA. A great king’s favor, I should think, deserves

The question. On this golden hook strong virtue

Itself is captured.

CARLOS. That is true.

LERMA. And it is

Wise to disclose what cannot be kept secret.

CARLOS. Yes, wise. But, as you say, you’ve known the Marquis

As man of honor?

LERMA. If he still is, then

My doubts make him no worse, and you, my Prince,

Win doubly. (He is about to go.) 2950

CARLOS (follows him, touched, and presses his hand).

Triply, worthy noble man.

I’m richer by one friend and it does not

Cost me the one I had already.

(Lerma goes off.)

Scene Five

Marquis Posa comes through the gallery. Carlos.

MARQUIS. Karl! Karl!

CARLOS. Who’s calling? Oh, it’s you. Quite right. I’ll rush

Ahead and see you in the cloister. (About to go.)


Two minutes only.

CARLOS. And if they surprised us?

MARQUIS. They won’t though. All we need is just two seconds.

The Queen—

CARLOS. You’ve been to see my father? Have you?

MARQUIS. He summoned me, yes.

CARLOS (expectantly). And?

MARQUIS. It’s all arranged:

You’ll see her.

CARLOS. And the King? What is it that

The King wants? 2960

MARQUIS. Him? Not much. Just curious. Wanted

To find out who I am. Unbidden zeal

Of some good friends. Whatever. Offered me

His service.

CARLOS. You refused?

MARQUIS. Why not?

CARLOS. How did

You part?

MARQUIS. On good terms.

CARLOS. And no talk of me?

MARQUIS. Of you? Oh, yes. In general.

(He takes out his notebook and gives it to the Prince.)

For the moment,

Two lines the Queen has sent you. I’ll know when

And where tomorrow—

CARLOS (reads, distracted, pockets the notebook, and is about to go).

We’ll meet at the priory?

MARQUIS. But what’s your hurry? No one’s coming.

CARLOS (with a forced smile). Have

We really switched our roles? Today it’s you

Who feel so safe. 2970

MARQUIS. Today? But why today?

CARLOS. What does the Queen write me?

MARQUIS. But you’ve just read

What she has written.

CARLOS. Have I? Oh, yes.


The matter? What is this?

CARLOS (reads the note again; charmed and fiery).93

Oh, heavenly angel!

I will be—will be—worthy of you. Love

Makes great souls greater. Be it what it may,

What you bid me, I do. She writes me to

Prepare for great decisions. What’s her meaning?

Do you know?

MARQUIS. If I know, Karl, are you of

A mind to hear?

CARLOS. I have offended you?

I was distracted. Do forgive me, Roderick. 2980

MARQUIS. Distracted? And by what?

CARLOS. By—I don’t know.

The notebook is now mine?

MARQUIS. Well, not exactly.

Rather, I’ve come to ask for yours.

CARLOS. For mine?

But why?

MARQUIS. For every little thing you have

That can’t fall into strangers’ hands—for letters,

Drafts, too, in short for your whole note case—

CARLOS. But why?

MARQUIS. It’s just in case. Who’s sure against surprise?

I’ll not be searched. Give here.

CARLOS (very uneasy). This is too strange.

Why suddenly this—

MARQUIS. Do not worry. I’m

Not hinting anything. It’s caution before 2990

The danger. I have no wish to alarm you.

CARLOS (surrendering his note case).

Do keep it safe.

MARQUIS. Indeed I shall.

CARLOS (with a meaningful glance). Roderick,

I give you much.

MARQUIS. Less than I have already.

And here, the rest. For now, farewell! Farewell!

(He is about to go.)

CARLOS (struggling with himself, calls after him).

Give me the letters just a moment. There

Is one from her to me at Alcala, when

I nearly died. I kept it ever after.

To part with it just now is more than hard.

Just leave me that one. You can take the rest.

(He takes out the letter and returns the note case.)

MARQUIS. Unwillingly, Karl. Just this letter is 3000

The one I wanted most to keep.

CARLOS. Farewell!

(He moves away slowly. On the threshold he stops and turns;

bringing back the letter.)

Here. Take it.

(His hand shakes. He bursts into tears and falls into the Marquis’s embrace.)

He can’t do it, can he, Roderick?

My father cannot do it, can’t do that?

(He goes off quickly.)

Scene Six

The Marquis looks after him, astonished.

It’s possible? Could this be? I’d have known him

But incompletely? Not entirely? In

His heart I’d missed this wrinkle? Truly missed it?

Mistrust toward his one friend? But no. Not that.

That’s calumny. What has he done that I,

The weakest of the weak, should fault him for it?

What I blame him for, that I shall— (Pause.) Put off— It 3010

May put him off. That I can believe. But when

Did he assume this closed demeanor toward

His friend? (Pause.) And cause him pain. That I can’t spare you.

I must go on tormenting your good soul, Karl.

The King gave credence to the vessel where he’d

Conferred his sacred secret; credence lays claim

To gratitude. And what would chatter count for,

Say, if my silence didn’t cause you pain?

It spares you pain perhaps? Why show the sleeper

The thundercloud that hangs above his head? 3020

I make it pass. You, waking, see bright skies.94

(He goes off.)

The King’s private study

Scene Seven

The King, seated in a chair; beside him, the Infanta Clara Eugenia.

KING (after a deep silence).

No. It is nonetheless my daughter. How

Can Nature lie with such a show of truth?

Blue eyes like these are mine. Do I not see

Myself expressed in each one of these features?

Child of my love is what thou art. I press

Thee to my heart. Th’art my own blood.

(He stops suddenly.) My blood!

Is that not what I fear the most? My features,

Are they not his no less than mine?

(He has picked up the medallion and looks from it into a mirror opposite.

He finally throws it on the floor, stands up, and pushes the Infanta away.)

Off! Off!

In this abyss I’ll founder. 3030

Scene Eight

Count Lerma. The King.

LERMA. Just at this moment

Her Majesty the Queen has come into

The antechamber—

KING. Now?

LERMA. —and begs the favor

Of kind admission.

KING. Now though? Now? At such

An unaccustomed hour? Oh, no! Now I

Can’t see her—not now—

LERMA. Here is Her Majesty— (He goes off.)

Scene Nine

The King. The Queen enters. The Infanta.

The child flies to embrace her mother. The Queen falls to her knees before the King, who stands silent and confused.

QUEEN. My Lord and my most honored husband, I am

Forced to seek justice at your throne.

KING. Justice?

QUEEN. For here at Court I’m met unworthily.

My casket has been broken into—

KING. What?

QUEEN. And objects of great value to me vanished— 3040

KING. Great value to you—

QUEEN. By the meaning someone

Brazen and uninformed were able—

KING. Brazen—

And uninformed— But stand up.

QUEEN. Not until

You’ve bound yourself by promise to extend

Your royal arm and to my satisfaction

Produce the doer of the deed. Which failing,

To separate me from a household that

Harbors a thief—

KING. Stand up, I say— In this

Position— Stand up—

QUEEN (stands up). That he is of rank

Is clear. The casket held both pearls and diamonds. 3050

He was content with letters—

KING. That I’d like—

QUEEN. Gladly, my husband. Letters and a medallion

From the Infante.

KING. From—

QUEEN. The Infante, your son.

KING. To you?

QUEEN. To me.

KING. From the Infante? And you’d

Say that to me?

QUEEN. Why not to you, my husband?

KING. You’d have the face—

QUEEN. What do you mean? I’d think

That you’d remember still the letters that

Don Carlos sent to me at Saint Germain95

In keeping with the wishes of both Crowns?

Whether the portrait that accompanied them 3060

Was stipulated in this liberty

Or if his fervent hope permitted him

This step, I’ll not make bold to judge myself.

If this was excess, the most innocent—

That I can warrant. At the time he’d have had

No way of knowing it was for his mother—

(She notices how affected the King is.)

What’s wrong?

(The Infanta meanwhile has found the medallion on the floor and played with it. She now brings it to the Queen.)

INFANTA. Look, Mother! The pretty picture—

QUEEN. Why, my—

(She recognizes the medallion and falls silent. They gaze at one another long and steadily. A great silence.)

In truth, my Lord! This means to test a consort

Seems noble to me and quite kingly. But I’ll

Allow myself yet one more question. 3070

KING. It’s

My turn to question.

QUEEN. My suspicion, at least,

Should cause no injury to guiltless persons.

Thus if this theft was at your orders—

KING. Yes.

QUEEN. Then I have no one accuse or to

Regret but you, to whom that consort was not

Given with whom such means succeed.

KING. That language,

Madame, is known to me. It’ll not deceive

Me yet again as at Aranjuez.

The Queen, all innocence, so proud in her

Defense, I know her better— 3080

QUEEN. What would you say?

KING. In brief, Madame, and with all clarity:

It’s true, still true, you spoke with no one there?

With no one? True?

QUEEN. I spoke with the Infante

There, yes.

KING. So now we know. Such insolence!

So little sparing of my honor!

QUEEN. Honor?

If honor was endangered there, it was

A greater one than Castile brought me as

A morning gift.96

KING. And why deny it to me?

QUEEN. Because I’m not accustomed, Sire, to being

Interrogated in presence of your courtiers, 3090

As if I had done wrong. I’ll not deny

The truth if it’s demanded decently.

Was that the tone I heard Your Majesty

Adopt with me there in Aranjuez?

The lords of Spain compose a fitting tribunal

Before which queens account for their small deeds?

I gave the Prince the meeting he’d requested

With urgency. I did it, Husband, because

I wanted to, because I’ll not set custom

As arbiter of what I know is blameless. 3100

And I concealed it there because I had no

Desire to quarrel with Your Majesty

For such a liberty before my suite.

KING. You’re speaking boldly, Madame, very—

QUEEN. Also,

I want to add, because his father’s heart scarce

Affords the Infante fairness he deserves.

KING. That he deserves?

QUEEN. For why should I conceal it,

Sire? I prize him and love him as my dearest

Kin, once found worthy of a name more dear still.

I’ve not yet learned to understand why he 3110

Should now be stranger to me than all others

Because he once was dearer than all others.

If your state maxims would forge bonds just as

They choose, they ought find it harder to

Dissolve them. I’ll not hate whom I’m appointed

To. Now I’m finally forced to speak, I’ll not—I’ll

Not see my choice as bound.

KING. Elisabeth!

You’ve seen me at weak moments. That makes you

So bold. You trust in powers you have tested

Often enough on my firm will. Thus you 3120

Should fear the more. For what’s brought me to weakness

Can also bring me to unbridled rage.97

QUEEN. What is my crime?

KING (taking her hand). If it should be—and is

It not already?—if the measure of

Your heaped up fault should grow by one hair’s breadth,

If I’m the one’s deceived— (He lets her hand fall.)

I can stamp out this

Last weakness, can and will. Then woe betide

Us both, Elisabeth!

QUEEN. What is my crime?

KING. Then let blood flow—

QUEEN. It’s come to that? God!

KING. Myself

I hardly know, no custom do I honor, 3130

No voice of Nature and no treaty of

The nations—

QUEEN. I lament Your Majesty.

KING (beside himself). Lament? The sympathy of a loose woman—

INFANTA (clinging to her mother).

The King is angry and my mother’s weeping.

(The King pushes the child roughly away from her mother.)

QUEEN (gently and with dignity, her voice trembling).

I’ll not let this child be mishandled. Come,

My daughter. (She picks up the child.)

If the King won’t know you, I must

Call sureties from beyond the Pyrenees to

Defend our cause. (She is about to go.)

KING (abashed). My Queen?

QUEEN. I’m at a loss.

This is too much.

(She moves toward the door and falls at the threshold, the child in her arms.)

KING (rushing to her, dismayed).

What’s this?

INFANTA (cries out, frightened). My mother’s bleeding! (She runs out.)

KING (anxiously attending her).

How dreadful! Blood! Have I deserved this? Stand up. 3140

Collect yourself. They’re coming! Do stand up!

Is my whole Court to see this spectacle?

I have to beg you to stand up?

(She gets up, helped by the King.)

Scene Ten

As above. Alba, Domingo enter, alarmed. Ladies follow.

KING. The Queen’s

Not well. Let her be brought to her apartments.

(The Queen goes off, accompanied by her Ladies. Alba and Domingo approach the King.)

ALBA. The Queen in tears, blood on her face—

KING. Amazing

The devils who’ve misled me.


KING. Who’ve said

Enough to make me wild and nothing to

Persuade me.

ALBA. What we know, we said.

KING. May Hell

Give you its thanks. I rue what I have done.

Was that the language of a guilty conscience? 3150

MARQUIS POSA (still behind the scene).

May one approach the King?

Scene Eleven

Marquis Posa. As above.

KING (rising quickly on hearing the Marquis’s voice and going toward him).

Ah! There he is!

I welcome you, Marquis. Duke Alba, I’ve

No further need of you now. Leave us.

(Alba and Domingo look at one another in wonderment
and leave the scene.

Scene Twelve

The King and Marquis Posa


The old man who faced death for you in twenty

Battles will find it hard to be dismissed

In such a fashion!

KING. Marquis, it behooves

You to think so, to act so behooves me.

What you’ve become to me in a few hours

He’d not become in a whole generation.

I make no secret of my grace and favor; 3160

The seal and signal of your King’s good will

Shall shine both far and wide from your bright forehead.

The man I’ve chosen for a friend—I’ll see

Him envied.

MARQUIS. Even if obscurity

Alone has made him worth that name?

KING. What brings

You to me?

MARQUIS. As I crossed the antechamber

I heard a rumor that I could not believe—

A quarrel—blood—the Queen—

KING. You come from there?

MARQUIS. Appalling, were the rumor not mistaken,

Had something taken place here— Most important 3170

Discoveries I have made change all.

KING. Well?

MARQUIS. I found

Occasion to remove the Prince’s note case,

With papers that, I hope, throw light—

(He gives Carlos’s note case to the King.)

KING (searching the case eagerly). A letter

From Emperor Charles, my father— How’s that? I

Don’t think I’ve ever known of it till now?

(He skims it, lays it aside, hurries through the other papers.)

Plans for a fortress—Tacitus in excerpts—

What’s this now? I should know this hand! It’s from

A lady.

(He reads attentively, softly and aloud by turns.)

“This key—rearward doors—pavilion—

The Queen”— What’s this? “Here love can confess freely—

A hearing—rich reward”— Satanic treachery! 3180

Oh, now I know. It’s her. It’s her hand.


The Queen’s? Impossible that—

KING. Of the Princess

Of Eboli—

MARQUIS. It would be true, then, what

The page Henarez told me recently,

Who brought the letter and the key.

KING (seizing the Marquis’s hand, much aroused).


I find myself in the most frightful hands!

This wench—I do confess it— Marquis, hear

Me: this wench forced the casket of the Queen.

She was the first to come and warn me. Who knows

How much the monk may know about this. I 3190

Have been misled by pure malicious roguery.

MARQUIS. Then it is well that—

KING. Marquis, I begin

To fear I’ve gone too far here with my wife.

MARQUIS. If there has been a secret understanding

Between the Crown Prince and the Queen, it was

Of far, far different nature than was said.

I have reliable report the Prince’s

Wish to be sent to Flanders leads back to

The Queen.98

KING. I’ve always thought it did.

MARQUIS. The Queen’s

Ambitious. If I may say more: She sees 3200

Herself deceived in her proud hope, sees herself

Excluded from a part in ruling. There

The Prince’s fervid youth gave her the means

For her far-reaching plans. Her heart, however—

I doubt, I truly doubt that she can love.

KING. Her great plans for the State don’t frighten me.

MARQUIS. If she is loved? If something worse is to

Be feared of the Infante? This question seems

To me worth a pursuit. For here, I think,

A stricter vigilance is needed— 3210


Must answer for him.

MARQUIS (after reflecting). If Your Majesty

Should find me fit to exercise this office,

Then I must ask that it be put entirely

In my hands.

KING. That shall be.

MARQUIS. At least that no

Assistant, of whatever name, disturb me

In undertakings I’d consider needful—

KING. There’ll be none. That I promise. You were my

Good angel. How much thanks I owe you for what

You tell me!

(To Lerma, who enters at these last words.)

How did you last find the Queen?

LERMA. Deeply exhausted still from having fainted. 3220

(He gives the Marquis a doubtful look and goes out.)

MARQUIS (after a pause).

One more precaution would, I think, be called for.

The Prince, I fear, can yet receive a warning.

He has good friends in number, contact, too,

Perhaps with Ghent and the rebellion. Fear could

Lead to his undertaking desperate designs.

Thus I’d advise preventive measures—

KING. Quite right.

But what?

MARQUIS. A secret warrant for arrest

In my possession, to be used in an

Emergency, a royal warrant—

(The King seems to hesitate.)


Would be state secret until— 3230

KING (going to his writing desk). The whole realm

Is now at risk. Extraordinary measures

In face of urgent danger. Here, Marquis.

I needn’t tell you to use caution—

MARQUIS (receiving the warrant). In

Extremis, Majesty.

KING (laying a hand on his shoulder). Now go, Marquis,

Restore peace to my heart, sleep to my nights.

(They go off to different sides.)

Scene Thirteen

A gallery

Carlos enters in great anxiety. Lerma comes to meet him.

CARLOS. It’s you I’m looking for.

LERMA. And I for you.

CARLOS. It’s true? In God’s name, is it true?

LERMA. What then?

CARLOS. That he unsheathed his dagger at her and

That she was carried bleeding from the room?

By all that’s sacred answer me! 3240

LERMA. She fell

Fainting and grazed herself in falling, that

Is all.

CARLOS. And otherwise she’s not in danger?

LERMA. The Queen is not. But you are all the more.

CARLOS. My mother’s not! Oh, God be praised! I heard

The King was raging against child and mother,

Some secret was exposed.

LERMA. That last can well

Be true—

CARLOS. Be true? How so?

LERMA. My Prince, one warning

I’ve given you today, which you despised.

Use this one better.


LERMA. If I’m not wrong, Prince,

I saw you recently, a letter case 3250

Of sky blue velvet in your hand, all worked

With gold thread.

CARLOS (uneasy). Such a one is mine. And so?

LERMA. A silhouette encased in pearls as cover?

CARLOS. Exactly.

LERMA. Just now when I entered the

King’s private study unannounced, I thought

I saw the same one in his hand. The Marquis

Was standing there beside him.

CARLOS (after a stunned silence, brusquely).

That is not true.

LERMA (insulted). Then I’m a liar.

CARLOS (staring at him). You are one.

LERMA. I forgive that.

CARLOS (walks up and down, much aroused, then halts before Lerma).

How has he ever harmed you? What have bonds

Like ours done you that you should want to break them? 3260

LERMA. I honor pain that makes you unjust, Prince.

CARLOS. Oh, God protect me from suspicion!


Recall the King’s own words: What thanks, he said

As I came in, I owe for what you tell me.

CARLOS. Oh, quiet! Quiet!

LERMA. Duke Alba’s fallen, they say,

And Prince Ruy Gomez stripped of the Great Seal;

It’s been awarded the Marquis—

CARLOS (baffled). And I

Heard nothing? Why’d he tell me nothing?


Whole Court’s agape, thinks he’s almighty minister

And boundless darling of— 3270

CARLOS. He loved me, truly

Loved me, as dearly as his life. I have

A thousand proofs of that. But shouldn’t millions,

His country, too, mean more than merely one?

His bosom was too large for one sole friend,

And Carlos’ fortunes too small for his love.

He’s sacrificed me to his higher calling.

Can I reproach him for that? It is certain,

Now it is more than certain: I have lost him.

(He goes to the side and covers his face.)

LERMA (after a silence).

My best of Princes, what can I do for you?

CARLOS (without looking at him).

Go to the King, betray me to him, too. 3280

I’ve nothing I can offer.

LERMA. Would you want to

Await what then may follow?

CARLOS (supports himself on the balustrade and stares straight ahead).

I have lost him.

And now I have been utterly abandoned.

LERMA (approaching him, touched).

Do you not want to think of your own welfare?

CARLOS. Of my own welfare? Excellent man!

LERMA. And you’ve

No reason to fear for another?

CARLOS (suddenly roused). God!

What you do not remind me of! My mother!

The letter I gave back to him! Did not

Want him to have and then gave back!

(Walking up and down, wringing his hands.)

How did she

Deserve this of him? Her he could have spared! 3290

Couldn’t he, Lerma?

(Suddenly resolved.) I must get to her,

Must warn her, must prepare her. Who to send?

Do I have no one anymore? Aha!

There is someone. Thank God for that! One friend.

And I have nothing more to lose. (He rushes off.)

LERMA (follows him and calls). Prince! Where to? (Exit.)

Scene Fourteen

A room in the Queen’s apartments

The Queen. Alba. Domingo.

ALBA. If it is granted us, my Gracious Queen—

QUEEN. What would oblige you?

DOMINGO. True alarm about

The noble person of Your Majesty

Forbids us to conceal an incident

That threatens your security. 3300

ALBA. We rush

To warn you, break up a complot against you—

DOMINGO. To lay our zealous service at your feet.

QUEEN (looking at them with wonderment).

Most Reverend Father, and you, noble Duke,

You take me by surprise, for I did not

Suspect the presence of devotion of

This order in Domingo and Duke Alba.

I know to value it. You speak of a

Complot? Am I to know—

ALBA. We bid you take

Precaution with a Marquis Posa, who serves

His Majesty the King in secret things. 3310

QUEEN. I’m pleased to hear the Monarch’s chosen well.

The Marquis is long known to me as a

Good man, indeed a great one. Never was

The very highest favor shown more justly—

DOMINGO. More justly? Oh, no. We know better.

ALBA. It’s no

Secret how this man lets himself be used.

QUEEN. What?

May I know more? You make me curious.


Your Majesty looked in your casket lately?

QUEEN. What?

DOMINGO. Did you miss nothing there of value?

QUEEN. How so?

What I miss there is known to my whole Court. 3320

But Marquis Posa? What’s he doing here?

ALBA. Rather a lot, Your Majesty. The Prince, too,

Has missed important papers, seen today in

The King’s hands, when the Knight had secret audience.

QUEEN (having reflected).

Most strange, by God, and very odd! I find

A foe here whom I never dreamt and friends

I don’t recall I ever had. For truly,

(with a penetrating gaze at both)

I must confess I was in danger of

Forgiving you the bad turn done me with

My Lord. 3330



DOMINGO. Duke Alba! Us!

QUEEN (still gazing at them). How glad

I am to’ve seen my haste in timely fashion.

Still, I’d resolved to ask His Majesty to

Bring forward my accuser here today.

So much the better now! I can now cite

Duke Alba’s witness,

ALBA. Witness? Mine?

QUEEN. Why not?

DOMINGO. Undo the hidden service—

QUEEN. Hidden service?

(Proud and grave.)

I’d like to know, Duke Alba, what it is

That your King’s wife would have to settle with you,

Or with you, Priest, of which her husband’s to

Know nothing. Am I innocent or guilty? 3340

DOMINGO. You ask!

ALBA. And if the King were less than just?

At least in this case.

QUEEN. I must wait then till

He’s just again. A blessing on the one

Who benefits when he once more becomes so!

(She bows to them and goes off. They go off to the other side.)

Princess Eboli’s room

Scene Fifteen

Princess Eboli. Then Carlos.

EBOLI. Can it be true—the extraordinary news

That fills the Court?

CARLOS (entering). Don’t let me startle you,

Princess. I’ll be as gentle as a child.

EBOLI. Prince—this surprise

CARLOS. Are you offended still?

Yet still?

EBOLI. Prince!

CARLOS (insistent). Are you still offended, Princess?

Please tell me. 3350

EBOLI. How am I to understand this?

You seem to have forgotten, Prince— What do

You want of me?

CARLOS (seizing her hand). Can you hate me forever?

Offended love cannot forgive?

EBOLI (trying to pull back her hand). What you

Make me remember, Prince!

CARLOS. Your kindness, Princess,

And my ingratitude. I know, I know!

I’ve hurt you, Girl, I forced tears from these angel’s

Eyes. And I’ve not come now to say I’m sorry.

EBOLI. Prince, let me go—

CARLOS. I’ve come because you are

A gentle girl, because I’m counting on your

Sweet nature, on your goodness. Listen, my girl, 3360

I have no friend in all the world but you.

You liked me once, and you’ll not always hate me,

Be always unforgiving.

EBOLI (turning her face away). Oh, be quiet!

No more, for God’s sake, Prince.

CARLOS. Let me remind

You of that Golden Age, remind you of

Your love for me and my unworthy answer.

Let me make good what I once meant to you,

My girl, and what your heart’s dreams gave me. This once,

This once, imagine me as I was to

You then and give this figment what you never 3370

Can give to me again.

EBOLI. Oh, Carlos, how

You toy with me!

CARLOS. Be greater than your sex99

And do what woman never did before you

And never will again. I ask of you

Unheard of things, on bended knee I ask:

Forget the insults, let me see my mother,

Two minutes, for two minutes. (He kneels before her.)

Scene Sixteen

As above. Marquis Posa bursts into the room, followed by two Officers of the Royal Bodyguard.

MARQUIS (throwing himself between them, breathless).

What has he

Admitted? Do not believe him.

CARLOS (still on his knees, raising his voice). I entreat you

By all—

MARQUIS (vehemently). He’s mad! Don’t listen to this madman.

CARLOS (louder and more urgent).

It’s life or death. Just bring me to her. 3380

MARQUIS (pulling the Princess away with force). If

You hear him, I shall murder you. In the

Name of the King. (He shows the warrant.)

(To one of the Officers.) Count Cordua, the Prince is

Your prisoner.

(Carlos stands thunderstruck. The Princess screams and tries to escape. The Officers show astonishment. A long pause. The Marquis, trembling and hardly in command of himself, turns to the Prince.)

I request your sword. You, Princess,

Must stay. (To the Officer.) You warrant that His Highness speaks

To no one—even you—on pain of death!

(He speaks a few words with the Officer, then turns to the others.)

I go to give account before the King (to Carlos)

And you. Expect me in an hour, my Prince.

(Carlos, wordless, lets himself be led away. He casts one dying glance at the Marquis, who conceals his face. The Princess tries once more to escape; the Marquis leads her back by the arm.)

Scene Seventeen

Princess Eboli. Marquis Posa.

EBOLI. By all that’s sacred, let me go! Oh, let

Me leave this place, let go!

MARQUIS (bringing her far forward, with deadly earnest).

What did he tell you,

Unhappy creature? 3390

EBOLI. Nothing. Let me go—

MARQUIS (holding her back by force; yet more earnest).

How much have you found out? You will not get

Away from me. And you’ll not tell it to

Another living soul, no more.

EBOLI (looking him in the face, frightened). Dear God!

What do you mean by that? You wouldn’t kill me—

MARQUIS (drawing a dagger).

In fact, I am much minded to do so.

Be quick now.

EBOLI. Me you’d kill? Me? What have I done?

Oh, God of Mercy!

MARQUIS (holding the dagger against her breast).

There’s still time. You’ve not

Spilled anything just yet. I’ll smash the jar

And all remains the same. That’s how it is:

The fate of Spain against a woman’s life! 3400

(He holds his position, still uncertain.)

EBOLI (sinks against him and looks him square in the face).

What are you waiting for then? I’ll not beg

For mercy. I’ve deserved to die, deserve

To and I want to.

MARQUIS (drops his hand and reflects briefly).

That’s as craven as

It is barbaric. No, oh no, indeed.

Praise be to God! There are yet other means!100

(He drops the dagger and rushes out.
The Princess rushes through another door.)

A room in the Queen’s apartments

Scene Eighteen

The Queen to Countess Fuentes.

Oh, what is all this uproar in the palace?

This clatter here today makes me uneasy.

Countess, do go. See what’s the matter and

Come tell me what it means.

(Countess Fuentes goes out and Princess Eboli plunges into the room.)

Scene Nineteen

The Queen. Princess Eboli.

EBOLI (breathless, pale, disfigured, kneeling before the Queen).

My Queen, oh, help!

He’s taken prisoner. 3410


EBOLI. The Marquis Posa

Just took him prisoner. Orders from the King.

QUEEN. But who? Who then?

EBOLI. The Prince.

QUEEN. Are you quite mad?

EBOLI. They’ve just now taken him away.

QUEEN. Who took

Him prisoner?

EBOLI. Marquis Posa.

QUEEN. Well, then. God

Be praised that it was Marquis Posa took

Him prisoner!

EBOLI. You can say that, Queen, so calm,

So cold? Oh, God! You’ve no idea—

QUEEN. Why he

Was taken prisoner? For some foolishness,

I’d think; he’s young, impulsive—

EBOLI. No, oh no!

I know much more. Oh, Queen! A deed too awful! 3420

He’s lost! No saving him! He’ll die!

QUEEN. He’ll die?

EBOLI. And I have murdered him!

QUEEN. He’ll die! But this

Is madness! What can you be thinking?

EBOLI. And why,

And why he’ll die! If I had only known

That this is what it’d come to!

QUEEN (taking her kindly by the hand). Princess! Hear me!

You’re still beside yourself. Collect your feelings.

And then speak calmly. Not in dire expression

That makes me shudder. What has happened here?

What is it that you know?

EBOLI. No more of such

Angelic condescension, oh, my Queen! 3430

No more such kindness! It burns in my conscience

Like flames of Hell. I am not worthy to raise

My sullied gaze up to your glory. Crush

The wretched one, contrite with rue and shame

And self-contempt, that writhes here at your feet.

QUEEN. Child, what would you confess to me?

EBOLI. Oh, angel

Of light, great saint, you don’t suspect the demon

You’ve smiled on. Learn to know him now. I was

The one who robbed you.


EBOLI. And then turned over

Those letters to the King. 3440


EBOLI. I made bold to

Accuse you—

QUEEN. You, you could?

EBOLI. Revenge. Love. Madness.

I hated you, loved the Infante—

QUEEN. It was

Because you loved him?

EBOLI. Because I told him and he

Did not return my love.

QUEEN (after a silence). Oh, now it all

Makes sense. You loved him. I’ve forgiven all.

Forgotten all. But do stand up. (She offers her arm.)

EBOLI. No! No!

I have a terrible confession still

To make. Great Queen, until I—

QUEEN (attentive). What shall I

Be yet obliged to hear? Come, speak.

EBOLI. The King—

Seduction— Do not turn away— I see 3450

Repugnance on your face. The crime that I

Accused you of—is what I have committed.

(She presses her glowing face against the floor. The Queen goes off. Long pause. Duchess Olivarez comes from the adjoining room, where the Queen has gone, and finds the Princess in her same position. She approaches her without speaking. Hearing her approach, the Princess straightens up, then leaps wildly to her feet when she does not see the Queen.)

Scene Twenty

Princess Eboli. Duchess Olivarez.

EBOLI. God! She’s abandoned me! It’s over!

OLIVAREZ (coming closer). Princess—

EBOLI. Duchess, I know why you have come. The Queen

Has sent you to tell me my fate. Be quick!

OLIVAREZ. The Queen commands me to receive your Cross

And keys.

EBOLI (removing the cross of a religious order and handing it to the Duchess).

It’s granted me to kiss her hand

Once more?

OLIVAREZ. You’ll hear what’s been decided in

The Cloister of Our Lady.

EBOLI (bursting into tears). I’ll not see

The Queen again? 3460

OLIVAREZ (embraces her without looking at her).

May you live happily!

(She goes off quickly. The Princess follows her to the door of the adjoining room, which falls to after the Duchess. The Princess kneels before the door, silent and unmoving, then stands up abruptly and hurries away, covering her face.)

Scene Twenty-One

The Queen. Marquis Posa.

QUEEN. At last, Marquis! How good that you have come!

MARQUIS (pale, his features distorted, his voice unsteady, solemn and deeply moved throughout the scene).

Your Majesty’s alone? No one can hear us

In the adjoining rooms?

QUEEN. No one. But why?

What news have you?

(She looks at him more closely and steps back, startled.)

But how you’ve changed! What’s this?

You frighten me, Marquis. Yours is the face

Of death—

MARQUIS. You know already, I presume—

QUEEN. That Karl’s been taken prisoner, and by you,

They say. It’s true? I’ll believe it only if

You say so.

MARQUIS. It is true.

QUEEN. And at your hand?

MARQUIS. At mine. 3470

QUEEN (gazing at him, puzzled).

I honor all your actions, no

Less those I cannot grasp. But do forgive

An anxious woman: Isn’t this a daring


MARQUIS. Which I have lost.

QUEEN. Dear God in heaven!

MARQUIS. Be reassured, my Queen! Provision’s made

For him. I’ve lost it for myself.

QUEEN. What must

I hear! Dear God!

MARQUIS. For who said I should risk

It all—all—on a single throw? Should tempt

The gods so desperately, so confidently?

Who is the man who would make bold to take

The helm of chance—and not be one who knows all? 3480

Oh, it is right and proper. But why speak

Of me? For time is precious, like a man’s life!

Who knows if from the Judge’s grudging hand

The last drops are not falling for me?

QUEEN. Judge’s

Hand? What a solemn tone! I can’t conceive

What this talk means. It scares me—

MARQUIS. He’s been saved!

Saved at what price—who cares! But only for

Today. He has but little time. Tonight

Yet he must leave Madrid.

QUEEN. Tonight yet?


Arrangements have been made. The Mail awaits him 3490

At the same Charterhouse that served our friendship

As refuge. Here are notes for all the wealth

This world has given me. The rest you will

Provide. And I’d have much to say to him

That he must know. But I may not have leisure

To say all. You will see him here this evening,

And so I turn to you.

QUEEN. To spare my peace

Of mind, Marquis, speak clearly. No more talk

In riddles. What has happened?

MARQUIS. I still have

A great confession to confide in you. 3500

A happiness that’s known to few was mine:

I loved a prince’s son. My heart, devoted

To one alone, embraced the world entire!

In my Karl’s soul I built a paradise

For millions. Oh, what dreams were mine! But it

Pleased Providence to call me early from

My plantings. He’ll not have his Roderick long. His

Friend passes the baton to his Beloved.

Right here, upon this sacred altar, his

Queen’s heart, I lay my last, most prized bequest, 3510

That he may find it there when I’m no more—

(He turns aside, his voice breaking.)

QUEEN. That’s how the dying speak. I hope it’s just

Excitement. Or does it have sense?

MARQUIS (has tried to collect himself and now speaks more resolutely).

Tell him—

The Prince—that he is to recall the oath

That we swore in those rapturous days upon

A Host we shared. My own I’ve kept, been true

To him till death. It’s his turn now—

QUEEN. Till death?

MARQUIS. Let him—oh, tell him so—make that dream true, the

Heroic dream of a new state, the godlike

Child of our friendship. Let him lay first hand 3520

On this yet unhewn stone—to finish it

Or not, let that not matter. He lay hand on.

When centuries have flown past, Providence

Will set a prince’s son, like him, upon

A throne, like his, inspire him with the same

Enthusiasm. Tell him to respect

The dreams of youth when he’s a man, not open

This godly blossom to the deadly insect

Of vaunted better reason, that he should

Not falter when mere mortal wisdom maligns 3530

Enthusiasm, daughter sent from Heaven.

I told him once before—

QUEEN. How’s this, Marquis?

Where does it lead—

MARQUIS. And tell him, too, that I

Lay human happiness upon his soul,

That dying I require it of him, require!

And was entitled to. It would have been

For me to lead in a new morning for

These realms. The King gave me his heart. He called

Me his own son. I am the bearer of

His seals; his Albas are no more. 3540

(He stops and gazes silently at the Queen.)

You’re weeping?

I know these tears, you lovely soul. It’s joy

That makes these tears flow. But what’s done is done.

It’s Karl or me. The choice was swift and terrible.

And one was lost. I want to be this one,

Better me. Question me no further.

QUEEN. I now

Begin to understand. What have you done?


Two evening hours to save a summer’s day. I

Give up the King. What can I be for him?

In that hard soil no rose will ever bloom.

The fate of Europe ripens in my great friend! 3550

Spain I commend to him. Till then we’ll let

It bleed in Philip’s hand! But woe betide us,

Both me and him, if I should once regret,

Should find I’d chosen wrong! But no. I know

My Carlos. That will never be. And you,

Queen, are my guarantor!

(After a silence.) I saw it sprout,

This love, saw the most dire of all the passions

Strike root in his young heart. Then it was in

My power to oppose it. I did nothing.

I fostered it; it favored me. The world 3560

May judge it otherwise; I’ve no regrets.

My heart does not accuse me. I saw life

Where they see death—in this flame without hope

I early saw a beam of hope. I wanted

To lead him on to greatness, raise him to

The highest beauty. Mortalness denied me

An image, language, words, and I turned him

Toward this. All my direction aimed to make

His love more clear to him.

QUEEN. Marquis, your friend filled

You so that, over him, you took no thought of 3570

Me. Could you truly believe me loosed from all

My womanness when you made me into

His angel? And added virtue to his weapons?

You’ll not have thought what we risk for our hearts

When we ennoble passion with such names.

MARQUIS. True of all women save one. I swear by one.

Or are you shamed by the noblest of desires:

To be creator of a hero’s virtue?

Whatever is it to King Philip if his

Transfiguration in the Escorial 3580

Enflames a painter with eternity? The

Sweet harmony in a stringed instrument,

Does it belong to the buyer who safeguards it

With deaf ears? He’s acquired the right to smash it,

But not the art to call forth its sweet tone

And lose himself in its ecstatic song.

Truth’s there for wise men, beauty for hearts that feel.

You two belong to be one for another.

No craven notions will destroy this belief.

Promise me to love him forever, not 3590

Tempted by fear of men, false heroism, to

Contemptible denial: always, ever

To love him. Do you promise me, my Queen,

And give your hand?

QUEEN. My heart, I promise you,

Alone and ever, rules my love.

MARQUIS (withdrawing his hand). Now I

Can die in peace. My work is done.

(He bows to the Queen and is about to go.)

QUEEN (following him with her eyes). You’d go,

Marquis, and not tell me when we—how soon—

Shall see each other next?

MARQUIS (retraces his steps, his gaze averted).

Why, certainly!

We’ll meet again.

QUEEN. I’ve understood you, Posa—

Have understood you clearly. Why have you 3600

Done this to me?

MARQUIS. It’s him or me.

QUEEN. Oh, no!

You’ve flung yourself into this deed, which you

Think is exalted. Don’t deny it. I

Know you! You’ve hungered for this—hungered! Break

A thousand hearts, what do you care, as long

As your own pride is satisfied. Oh, now

I’ve seen you! Paying court to admiration.101

MARQUIS (startled, to himself).

That I was not prepared for. No.

QUEEN (after a silence). Marquis!

Is nothing to be saved here?

MARQUIS. Nothing.

QUEEN. Nothing?

Consider carefully. Not possibly? 3610

Not through me either?

MARQUIS. Not through you.

QUEEN. You know

Me only half. I have much courage.


I know.

QUEEN. No saving anything?


QUEEN (quitting him and covering her face).

Go, then!

I value no man anymore.

MARQUIS (deeply moved, kneeling before her).

My Queen!

Oh, God! Oh, life is beautiful!

(He leaps up and goes off quickly.
The Queen goes into the adjoining room.)

The King’s antechamber

Scene Twenty-Two

Duke Alba and Domingo stand apart and walk silently up and down. Count Lerma emerges from the King’s private study. Then Don Raimond Taxis, postmaster general.

LERMA. No sign of the Marquis? Still none?

ALBA. Still none.

(Lerma is about to go in again.)

TAXIS (entering). Count Lerma, please announce me.

LERMA. No one sees

The King.

TAXIS. Say then that I must see him. Matters

Of last importance to His Majesty.

Be quick. It suffers no delay. 3620

(Lerma goes into the study.)

ALBA (approaching the Postmaster General).

Dear Taxis,

Accustom yourself to great patience. You’ll

Not see the King—

TAXIS. And why not?

ALBA. —had you not

The prudence to agree admission with

The Knight of Posa, who’s made prisoners of

Both son and father.

TAXIS. Posa? Who? Quite right!

The man from whose hand I received this letter—102

ALBA. Letter? What letter?

TAXIS. That I was to forward

To Brussels—

ALBA (alert). Brussels?

TAXIS. That I bring now to

The King—

ALBA. You heard that, Chaplain? Brussels!

DOMINGO (joining them). That

Is most suspicious. 3630

TAXIS. And how urgently,

How anxiously was it pressed—

DOMINGO. Anxiously? So!

ALBA. To whom is it addressed?

TAXIS. The Prince of Nassau

And Orange—

ALBA. William? Chaplain, this is treason!

DOMINGO. What else! Oh, yes, indeed. This letter must be

Turned over to the King. What faithful service

Rendered our King!

TAXIS. Most Reverend Father, I

Did no more than my duty.

ALBA. You did well.

LERMA (emerging from the study, to the Postmaster General).

The King will see you.

(Taxis goes in.)

The Marquis’s not come?

DOMINGO. They’re looking everywhere.

ALBA. Most strange, most odd.

The Prince a prisoner of the State, and even 3640

The King’s uncertain why?

DOMINGO. He didn’t once

Present himself to give him an account?

ALBA. How did the King receive all this?

LERMA. The King has

Not said a word.

(Noise in the study.)

ALBA. What was that? Still!

TAXIS (from the study). Count Lerma!

(Both go in.)

ALBA (to Domingo).

What’s going on here?

DOMINGO. This tone of pure fright!

This intercepted letter— Duke, I see

No good to come of this.

ALBA. Lerma he calls!

And has to know that you and I are waiting—

DOMINGO. Our time is past.

ALBA. Am I not still the one

For whom all doors once opened? Now how changed 3650

It is, how strange it’s all become—

DOMINGO (has gone quietly to the door and stands listening).


ALBA (after a pause). It’s

As still as death in there. You hear them breathe.

DOMINGO. The double tapestry—it dampens sound.

ALBA. Back! Someone’s coming!

DOMINGO (moving back from the door). All’s so tense and still—

This moment will decide some—

Scene Twenty-Three

The Prince of Parma, Dukes Feria and Medina Sidonia, with other Grandees, enter. As above.

PARMA. Is the King



PARMA. No? Who is with him?

FERIA. Marquis

Posa, no doubt?

ALBA. He’s momentarily


PARMA. We have only just come in

From Saragossa. All Madrid is thunder-

Struck. Is it true? 3660


FERIA. True? He’s arrested?

By the Maltese—

ALBA. It’s so.

PARMA. And why? What’s happened?

ALBA. Why ask? It’s known to none but to the King

And Marquis Posa.

PARMA. No consulting with

The Cortes of the realm?103

FERIA. Woe to whoever

Took part in this sedition.

ALBA. So say I. Woe!



ALBA. Who’ll follow me into

The study? I shall throw myself at the

King’s feet—

LERMA (plunging from the study).

Duke Alba!

DOMINGO. Finally! Praise God!

(Alba hurries in.)

LERMA (breathless, agitated).

The Maltese, when he comes—the Master’s not

Alone just now. He’ll have him summoned— 3670

DOMINGO (to Lerma, as all gather around him curiously).


What’s happened? You’re white as a sheet.

LERMA (about to hurry away). Infernal!

PARMA and FERIA. What is? What?

MEDINA SIDONIA. How’s the King?

DOMINGO (simultaneous). Infernal? What?

LERMA. The King wept.


ALL (together, embarrassed and astonished).

He wept? The King? He wept?

(A bell rings in the study. Lerma runs in.)

DOMINGO (after him, to hold him back).

Count, one more word. One moment, please. He’s gone!

(They all stand frozen, horrified.)

Scene Twenty-Four

Princess Eboli. Feria. Medina Sidonia. Parma.
Domingo and other Grandees.

EBOLI (in haste, beside herself).

Where is the King? I have to see him. Where?

(To Feria.)

You, Duke. You’ll bring me to him. Now!

FERIA. The King

Cannot oblige just now. No one’s to be


EBOLI. Has he signed the warrant yet?

Oh, he’s been lied to. I can prove it. Lied

To! 3680

DOMINGO (signaling her from a distance).

Princess Eboli!

EBOLI (approaching him). You here? Priest, you’re

The one I need. You’ll vouch for me.

(She seizes his hand to pull him with her into the study.)

DOMINGO. Me, Princess?

Are you in your right mind?

FERIA. Stay back. The King will

Not hear you. Not now. No.

EBOLI. He must hear me.

He must hear truth—hear simple truth, and be he

Ten times a god.

DOMINGO. Stay back! Stay back! Or you

Put everything at risk. Keep yourself back!

EBOLI. Look! You can tremble at your idol’s rage. I

Myself risk nothing.

(As she is about to enter the study, Duke Alba plunges out.)

ALBA (his eyes shining, his gait triumphant, hurrying to Domingo and embracing him).

Order a Te Deum

In all the churches. Victory is ours.


ALBA (to Domingo and the other Grandees).

You’ll yet hear more from me. Now to the King. 3690

Duke Alba. Steel engraving by Georges François Louis Jaquemot from a drawing by Arthur von Ramberg. Friedrich Pecht, Schiller-Galerie (Leipzig, 1859),

Act Five

A room in the Royal Palace, separated by an iron grating from a large courtyard in which Guards walk up and down

Scene One

Carlos sitting at a table, his head resting on his arms, as if he were asleep. In the background, a few Officers locked in with him. Marquis Posa enters quietly and speaks with the Officers, who remove themselves. He approaches Carlos, who is unaware, and observes him silently and sadly. He finally makes a motion that rouses Carlos.

CARLOS (stands up, notices the Marquis, and starts. He gazes at him as if

uncomprehending, then sweeps his hand over his forehead,

as if recovering a memory).

MARQUIS. It’s me, Karl.

CARLOS (offering his hand). You have even come to me?

That’s good of you.

MARQUIS. I thought that you could use

A good friend here.

CARLOS. You did? You really thought so?

I’m glad. I’m truly glad. I thought—I knew—

We were still friends.

MARQUIS. And I’ve deserved it of you.

CARLOS. Oh, yes! We understand each other still.

I like that. Gentleness and mildness become

Great hearts like yours and mine. We’ll grant that one

Of my demands was proud and wrong—must you

Deny me right ones? Virtue can be hard 3700

But never cruel, never inhumane.

It cost you much! I think I understand

How much it hurt your heart as you prepared

Your victim for the sacrifice.

MARQUIS. Carlos!

How do you mean that?

CARLOS. You will now complete what

I should have and could not. You’ll give the Spaniards

The golden days they hoped from me. I’ve lost

My chance, lost it forever. You saw that.

This dreadful love swept all my mind’s first bloom

Away. I failed of your great hopes. Then chance 3710

Or Providence brings you the King. It costs

My secret, and he’s yours; you can become

His angel. There’s no saving me now—Spain,

Perhaps. Oh, nothing here’s detestable but

My raving blindness—not to have seen until

This day that you’re as great as you are kind.104

MARQUIS. No, that I’d not foreseen: not that a generous

Friend could be more inventive than my worldly

Scheming. My edifice comes crashing down,

For I forgot your heart. 3720

CARLOS. Could you have just

Spared her! I would have thanked you endlessly.

Could I not bear it all alone? She had

To be the second victim? But enough!

I’ll not reproach you. What’s the Queen to you?

Do you love her? Your stringent virtue should

Consult my love’s small cares? I was unjust.

MARQUIS. You are. But not for this reproach. If I

Deserved one, I deserved all—and I’d not be

Standing this way before you.

(He takes out his letter case.) Here are letters

You gave me— 3730

CARLOS (looks, amazed, from the letters to the Marquis).


MARQUIS. Returned because they’re safer

In your hands now than mine.

CARLOS. What’s this? The King’s

Not read them? He’s not even seen them?


CARLOS. You didn’t show him all?

MARQUIS. Who said I’d shown

Him any?

CARLOS (astonished). Why, Count Lerma—

MARQUIS. He did? Now

It all makes sense. Who’d have foreseen it? Lerma!

He’s never learned to lie. But yes, that’s right:

It’s other letters in the King’s possession.

CARLOS (stares at him, speechless).

What am I doing here, then?

MARQUIS. A precaution.

Before you choose an Eboli to be

Your confidante again— 3740

CARLOS (as if waking from a dream). Ha! Now at last

I see. It’s clear as day.

MARQUIS (moving toward the door). Who’s coming there?

Scene Two

Duke Alba. As above.

ALBA (approaches the Prince respectfully; his back is turned to Posa
throughout the scene)

Prince, you are free. The King has sent me here

To tell you.

(Carlos looks at the Marquis in wonderment. All are silent.)

I consider myself favored

That I should be the first—

CARLOS (regards them both with utter amazement. After a pause, to the Duke).

I am imprisoned

And then set free and don’t know why I have

Been either?

ALBA. A mistake, my Prince, to which,

I believe, some—cheat—induced the King.

CARLOS. But it

Is at the Monarch’s orders that I find

Myself here?

ALBA. By an error of the King.

CARLOS. I’m truly sorry, but—when the King errs, 3750

It falls to him alone to mend the error.

(He seeks Posa’s gaze and toward the Duke observes a proud disparagement.)

They call me here Don Philip’s son. On me

The eyes of calumny and prying rest. What

His Majesty has done me out of duty

I’ll not appear to owe to royal grace.

I’m quite prepared to go before the Cortes.

I’ll not accept my sword from such a hand.

ALBA. The King will have no scruple to admit

Your justified desire, if you will grant that

I might accompany you— 3760

CARLOS. I shall stay here

Until the King—or his Madrid—conduct

Me from this jail. Bring him this answer from me.

(Alba removes himself. One sees him in the courtyard
giving orders to the Guard.)

Scene Three

Carlos and Marquis Posa

CARLOS (astonished and expectant, once they are alone).

But what is this? Are you not minister?

MARQUIS. I was once, as you see.

(Going to him, very moved.) Dear Karl, success!

Praise God! It has succeeded.

CARLOS. What’s succeeded?

I don’t know what you’re saying.

MARQUIS (seizing his hand). You are saved,

You’re free. And I— (He stops.)

CARLOS. And you?

MARQUIS. And I—I press

You to my heart, the first time with good right.

I purchased it with everything that’s dear

To me. How sweet the moment for me, Karl. 3770

I am content with myself.

CARLOS. What sudden change

In you! I’ve never seen you so. You stand

More proudly and your eyes shine.

MARQUIS. We must part,

Karl. Don’t be startled. Promise me, whatever

You hear, you’ll not make parting harder by

Unbridled grief, unworthy of great souls.

You’ll lose me, and for years. A fool would say


(Carlos withdraws his hand, stares at him, and says nothing.)

Be a man. I’ve counted on you.

I’ve not avoided passing this fraught hour

That’s called the last with you. Should I confess it? 3780

I have looked forward. Come, let’s sit together.

I feel exhausted.

(He moves close to Carlos, who is still frozen and
numbly lets himself be seated.)

You don’t answer? Where

Are you? Just hear: When we’d met at the cloister,

Next day the King sent for me. The outcome

Is known—to you and all Madrid. What you

Don’t know is that your secret had been betrayed

To him, that letters found in the Queen’s casket

Witnessed against you, that I heard this from

Himself, and I became his confidant.

(He pauses, expecting Carlos’s answer.)

True, Karl. I broke good faith by words I said. 3790

I also led the plot that undermined you.

The deed was all too clear; it was too late

To exculpate you. I could only draw

His vengeance down on me. Thus I became

Your enemy to serve you all the better.105

Are you not listening?

CARLOS. I am listening. Go on.

MARQUIS. I’m guiltless to this point. But soon the un-

Accustomed warmth of royal favor betrays

Me. You hear of these things, as I foresaw.

But I, seduced by false consideration, 3800

Blinded, conceited, thinking I can finish

This piece of daring all alone, conceal

My dangerous secret from our friendship. That

Is where I overstepped! A great mistake.106

My confidence was madness. I relied

On your eternal, never wavering friendship.

(He falls silent; Carlos is now alert and attentive.)

What I feared, happens. Baseless rumors scare you.

The Queen in her own blood, the palace loud

With frightful echoes, Lerma’s hapless zeal,

My baffling silence: all this storms your feelings. 3810

You waver, then despair. Too noble, though,

To doubt your friend’s good faith, you glorify

His breach of faith and dare to call him faithless

Because you can admire him, faithless, still.

Abandoned by your only friend, you throw

Yourself at Eboli—she was the one

Betrayed you!

(Carlos stands up.)

I see you go, rush after—too late!

You’re kneeling at her feet, you’ve confessed all,

No saving you—

CARLOS. No! She felt touched. You’re wrong!

MARQUIS. And everything goes black for me. I’m trapped! Quite 3820

Helpless! Despair turns me into a beast, a

Fury! I draw my blade upon a woman.

But then I see a ray of light:107 If I

Should dupe the King? Myself appear the guilty

One? Believable or not, it’s believable

Enough for Philip, bad enough for him. I

Dare do it. A thunderbolt perhaps will stop him.

He hesitates and Karl escapes to Flanders.

CARLOS. You’d do a thing like that?

MARQUIS. I write to William

Of Orange, say I loved the Queen, escaped 3830

Suspicion when the King suspected you,

Gained liberal access to the Queen through him.

I say I fear discovery, that you, knowing

These things, have gone to Eboli, perhaps

To warn the Queen, and that I took you prisoner.

Since all is lost, I write, I’d come to Brussels.

This letter—

CARLOS (interjecting). You did not give to the post?

You know all letters to Brabant and Flanders—

MARQUIS. Are opened by the King. It seems that Taxis

Has done his duty. 3840

CARLOS. God! Then I am lost!

MARQUIS. Why you?

CARLOS. And you’re lost with me. This deception

My father never can forgive.

MARQUIS. Deception?

Who’ll say it was deception?

CARLOS (staring at him). Who, you ask?

I shall. (About to leave.)

MARQUIS. You’re mad! Stay here.

CARLOS. Away! Away!

He’s hiring his assassins as we speak.

MARQUIS. Our time is the more precious. We’ve much to say.

CARLOS. While he’s already—

(He tries again to go. The Marquis holds him back by the arm and gives him a meaningful look.)

MARQUIS. Listen, Carlos—I

Was not in such a hurry, was I, when you—

A boy—took punishment for me?

CARLOS (touched and full of admiration). Good angels!

MARQUIS. Oh, save yourself for Flanders! See! The realm 3850

Is your appointed task. To die for you

Was mine.

CARLOS (takes him by the hand, deeply moved).

Oh, no. He can’t, he won’t resist a

Deed so sublime. We’ll go together to him.

Father, I’ll say, see what a friend’s done for

His friend. And he’ll be touched. He’s not without

Humanity, my father isn’t. He’ll shed

Warm tears, and he’ll forgive us.

(A shot through the grating. Carlos leaps up.)

Who was that for?

MARQUIS. I think for me. (He collapses.)

CARLOS (with a shriek of pain, falls next to him).

Oh, merciful God!

MARQUIS (his voice breaking). He’s swift,

The King— I’d hoped for longer— Save yourself—

You hear? Your mother knows of all— It’s over— 3860

(Carlos remains lying beside the body. After a while the King enters, accompanied by many Grandees. He starts back at the sight.108 A long pause. The Grandees stand in a semicircle around father and son, looking from one to the other. Carlos lies without a sign of life. The King observes him thoughtfully.)

Scene Four

The King. Carlos. The Dukes Alba, Feria, and Medina Sidonia.
The Prince of Parma. Count Lerma. Domingo and many Grandees.

KING (speaking kindly).

Your wish is met, Infante. I’ve come, myself,

With all the Grandees of the realm, to set

You free.

(Carlos looks up and around as if waking from a dream. His eyes rest on the King, then on the body. He does not answer.)

Receive your sword back. One was hasty.

(He offers Carlos his hand and helps him stand up.) My

Son’s not in his right place. Stand up. Come into

Your father’s arms.

CARLOS (receives the King’s embrace, then catches himself

and looks at him more closely).

You smell of murder. I’ll not

Embrace you.

(He pushes him back; a movement ripples through the Grandees.)

Don’t be so appalled! Say, what’s

My dreadful deed? Well? Touching God’s anointed?

No need to worry. I’ll not lay hand on him.

Can you not see his forehead’s marked? God’s marked him.

KING (breaking off).

My Grandees, follow me. 3870

CARLOS. Not from the spot, Sire—

(He holds him back with both hands. One hand falls on the sword the King has brought; the sword slips from its scabbard.)

KING. A sword drawn on your father?

ALL THE GRANDEES (drawing their swords). Regicide!

CARLOS (holding the King with one hand, the bare sword with the other).

Put up! What is this? You think I am mad?

I’m not. And if I were, you’d do well not to

Remind me I hold him at sword’s point. Keep

Your distance. Temperaments like mine, they must

Be soothed. My business with the King is no

Concern of vassals and their fealty. See!

`See how his fingers bleed! Just look at him!

You see? And now look here. That’s what he’s done,

This artist. 3880

KING (to the Grandees, who want to surround him).

All step back! What’s to be feared?

Are we not son and father? I’ll just see what

Crime Nature—

CARLOS. Nature? I know none. The password’s

Murder. The bonds that bind us all are broken.

You’ve torn them, Sire, in all your kingdoms. I

Should honor what you scorn? Oh, look! Look here!109

No murder such as this has ever been.

Is there no God? May kings camp so in His

Created world? I ask, is there no God?

Since mothers have borne young, but one alone,

But one has died so undeservedly. 3890

And do you know what you have done? Why, no.

He doesn’t—doesn’t know that he has stolen

A life from this world, dearer, nobler, more

Important than is he with all his century.

KING (mildly). If I have been too hasty, ought you, for whom

I was, to call me to account?

CARLOS. What’s this?

You cannot guess what this man was to me?

Oh, tell him! Help his great mind solve the riddle.

The dead man was my friend. Why did he die?

It was for me he died. 3900

KING. What I suspected!

CARLOS. Forgive me, dead friend. I profane what I

Pronounce to ears like these. Let this great judge

Of men sink down in shame that a smart youth

Outwitted all his hoary wisdom. Sire!

Brothers is what we were to one another,

Brothers by bonds more noble than those forged

By Nature. His life’s course was love, and love

For me his grand and handsome death. He belonged

To me, was mine, while you made show of his

Esteem and while his jesting eloquence 3910

Played games with your monstrous intelligence.

You thought that you ruled him—and were the pliant

Tool of his higher plans. Captivity

For me was his deliberate work of friendship.

To save me he wrote Orange that letter—his

First lie in life. To save me he threw himself

Into the death he suffered. You heaped favor

On him; he died for me. You forced your love

And friendship on him, and your scepter was his

Plaything. He tossed it all away and died 3920

For me.

(The King stands motionless, staring at the floor. The Grandees look toward him, frightened and uneasy.)

And you could believe so crass a lie?

How he must have despised you as he set

Out to suffice you with his bag of tricks!

You dared to court his friendship and you failed

This simple test! Oh, that for you was not

A man. He knew that very well when he

Tossed you aside with all your crowns. You broke

This lute with brazen hands, you who could only

Kill him.

ALBA (has not let the King out of his sight and has observed the motions of

his face with growing unease; he now approaches him, fearful).

Sire, not this deathly silence. Look

About you. Speak to us. 3930

CARLOS. Oh, you were not

Indifferent to him. No. He looked on you

With sympathy. Perhaps! He could have made

You happy. So rich was his heart, he could

Have fed you with its excess. Fallen shards of

His spirit had made you a god. You’ve robbed

Yourself. What will you offer to replace

A life like this one?

(Deep silence. Many Grandees avert their gaze or cover their face with their cloak.)

Oh, you who stand here silent with amazement

Or horror, don’t condemn the youth who speaks

So to his father and his king. Just look here! 3940

He died for me! Do you have tears? Does blood

Flow in your veins, not red-hot iron? Look here

And don’t condemn me!

(He turns to the King with greater composure.)

You perhaps are waiting

To see how this unnatural story ends?

Here is my sword. You are my king again.

You think I tremble at your vengeance? Murder

Me, too, the way you murdered one so noble.

My life is over. What is life to me? I

Renounce all that awaits me. Go and find

A son among strange peoples. Here lie my kingdoms. 3950

(He sinks down on the body and takes no part in what now follows. One hears a distant tumult: voices and a mob. All is still around the King. He surveys the circle and no one meets his gaze.)

KING. Well? No one speaks? Averted eyes! Veiled faces!

My judgment’s pronounced. My subjects all condemn me.

(Silence still. The tumult comes nearer.
A murmur and exchange of gestures courses through the Grandees; Count Lerma finally goes to Alba.)

LERMA. In truth! We’re stormed!

ALBA (softly). That’s what I fear.

LERMA. They’re up

The stairs. They’re coming in.

Scene Five

An Officer of the Bodyguard. As above.

OFFICER (urgent). Rebellion!

Where is the King?

(He works his way through the crowd and arrives before the King.)

Madrid is up in arms!

Thousands surround the palace—soldiers, mob.

Prince Carlos, they are saying, is arrested,

His life in danger. They would see him still

Alive or put the torch to all Madrid.

ALL GRANDEES (moving about).

Protect, protect the King! 3960

ALBA (to the King, who is calm and unmoved).

Take flight, my King!

There’s danger. No one knows who’s armed the mob—

KING (wakes from his numbness and stands up straight;
he goes among them with majesty)

My throne still stands? I am still King of Spain?

No more. Faint hearts shed tears here, softened by

A boy. One only waits to hear the word to

Abandon me. Betrayed by rebels!

ALBA. Sire,

What fantasy!

KING. There! Bow down over there!

Before the young king in full flower! I am

Nought. Powerless. A graybeard.

ALBA. This is what

It’s come to! Spaniards!

(All gather around the King and kneel before him, swords drawn. Carlos remains beside the body, forsaken and alone.)

KING (tears off his mantle and tosses it away).

Clothe him with this royal

Ornament, carry him upon my trampled 3970

Corpse— (He faints in Alba’s and Lerma’s arms.)

LERMA. Help! Oh, God!

FERIA. God! What mischance!

LERMA. He’s fainted—

ALBA (leaving the King in Lerma’s and Feria’s hands).

Bring him to bed directly. I meanwhile

Go to restore peace to Madrid.

(He goes off. The King is carried off, accompanied by all Grandees.)

Scene Six110

Carlos remains alone with the body. Luis Mercado appears, looks about timidly and remains standing behind the Prince, who does not notice him.

MERCADO. I come from

Her Majesty the Queen. I’m called Mercado.

(Carlos looks away and gives no answer.)

I am Her Majesty’s physician. My


(He shows a seal ring. Carlos remains silent.)

Madame wishes to see you

Today yet—matters of importance—

CARLOS. Nothing

Is of importance to me in this world.

MERCADO. A charge, she says, that Marquis Posa left—

CARLOS (leaps to his feet).

What? Right away. (He is ready to go with him.) 3980

MERCADO. Not now, my Prince. You must

Wait for the night. The entrances are guarded

And Watches doubled. That wing can’t be entered


CARLOS. But how—

MERCADO. One way remains. The Queen

Proposes it. It’s bold and strange—

CARLOS. And is?

MERCADO. You know the story that at midnight under

The cloistered arches of the castle wanders

In monk’s attire the ghost of our late Emperor.

The people believe this story and the Watches

Take up their posts with horror. You, if you

Assume this guise, can pass all Watches untouched 3990

And reach the chamber of the Queen, which this

Key opens. You will find the robe and mask in

Your rooms. But I must bring the Queen your answer


CARLOS. The time then?

MERCADO. Is at midnight.

CARLOS. Your Mistress may expect me at that hour.

(Mercado goes off.)

Scene Seven

Carlos. Count Lerma.


Yourself, my Prince. The King is raging at you.

Your freedom’s threatened, or your life. I’ve stolen

Away to warn you. Ask no questions. Take flight!

CARLOS. A mighty hand shields me.

LERMA. The Queen tells me you’re

To flee Madrid tonight for Brussels. Don’t 4000

Delay. The uproar favors you. That’s why

The Queen has raised it: You’re now safe from force.

The Mail awaits you at the cloister; here

Are weapons—

(He gives him a dagger and pistols.)

CARLOS. Thanks, Count Lerma!

LERMA. What I saw

Today has touched me. Friends no longer love

That way! Our patriots all weep for you. More

I cannot say.

CARLOS. Count Lerma, my late friend

Called you a noble man.

LERMA. Farewell, my Prince!

There’re better days to come—days I’ll not see.

Receive my homage here. (He drops to one knee.) 4010

CARLOS (tries to stop him, very moved). Not so, not so, Count.

You touch me and I’ll not be weak.

LERMA (kissing his hand). King of

My children! Oh, my children shall be able

To die for you. Not I. Remember me

In these, my children. Come to Spain again

In peace. Bring humanness to Philip’s throne.

You, too, have learned to suffer. Nothing bloody

Against your father, Prince. No. Nothing bloody.

Philip the Second forced his father from

The throne; today this Philip trembles before

His son! Remember these things; go with God! 4020

(He goes off quickly. Carlos is about to go off to another side. He turns and throws himself on the body once more, then goes off quickly.)

The King’s antechamber

Scene Eight

Duke Alba and Duke Feria enter, in conversation.

ALBA. The town is still. How did you leave the King?

FERIA. In the most dreadful mood. He’s locked himself in,

Refuses to admit a soul. The Marquis’s

Treason has altered his whole nature. We

Don’t know him anymore.

ALBA. I have to see him.

No sparing him. A new discovery.



ALBA. A Carthusian monk who’d stolen

Into the Prince’s rooms, heard Posa’s death

Recounted there, attracts my Guards’ attention.

He’s questioned. Frightened, he surrenders to us 4030

Papers of greatest interest the deceased

Had charged him give the Prince, should he himself not

Appear before sundown.


ALBA. Letters there

Say Carlos is to leave Madrid between

Midnight and morning.

FERIA. What?

ALBA. A ship at Cadiz

Lies under sail and bound for Flushing,111 where

The Netherlandish states await him to

Throw off their Spanish chains.

FERIA. Ha! What is this?

ALBA. Letters there also tell us that a fleet

Of Soliman has sailed from Rhodes in league 4040

For an attack upon the Spanish king.

FERIA. That’s possible?

ALBA. And now I understand

The travels of this Maltese throughout Europe.

These were to arm all northern powers, no less, in

Behalf of Flemish freedom.

FERIA. That was him!

ALBA. And, last, there is a detailed plan of war

To separate the Netherlands from Spain

Forever. Nothing is omitted: force and

Resistance calculated; sources, powers

Enumerated; orders to be followed, 4050

Alliances to be concluded. Devilish,

This project. But in truth, it’s no less god-like.

FERIA. What an impenetrable traitor!

ALBA. This

Same letter cites a secret meeting that

The Prince is to keep with his mother on

The evening of his flight.

FERIA. But that’s tonight.

ALBA. This midnight. I have given orders for this

Event. You see we cannot lose a moment.

Admit me to the King.

FERIA. There’s no admission.

ALBA. I’ll enter. This is urgent. 4060

(As he approaches the door, it springs open and the King emerges.)

FERIA. Ha! Himself!

Scene Nine

The King to join the others. All shrink back at the sight of him and respectfully let him pass among them. He moves in a waking dream, like a sleepwalker. His figure and his dress reflect the disorder in which his faint has left him. He walks slowly past the Grandees, stares at each without seeing. He stops, gazing downward, until his feelings frame themselves in words.

KING. Deliver this dead man to me. I want

Him back again.

DOMINGO (softly to Duke Alba).

Say something to him. Speak.

KING. He thought me little and he died. I want

Him back. He must think otherwise of me.

ALBA (approaches him fearfully).


KING. Who is speaking here? (Looking about slowly.)

Have you forgot

Who I am? Why not on your knees? I am

Still king. Submission’s what I want. Do all

Now put me last, since one despised me?

ALBA. Speak

No more of him, my King! A new foe, graver,

Far graver, rises in the land. 4070

FERIA. Prince Carlos—

KING. He had a friend who died for him—for him!

With me he would have shared a kingdom.112 How he

Looked down on me! That proudly one does not look

Down even from a throne. Could one not see

How much that conquest raised his sense of worth?

His pain acknowledged what he’d lost. One does

Not mourn that way for a mere mortal. (Pause.) Were

He still alive!113 I’d give an India!

Wretched Omnipotence that cannot reach

Into the grave, correct a bit of haste 4080

With human life! The dead shall not arise.

Who’d say I’m happy? In the grave lies one who

Refused me deference.114 What are living men

To me? A spirit, one free man, arose in

This century—one. He despises me

And dies.

ALBA. We’ve lived in vain! Let’s seek our graves,

Spaniards. In death, no less, this man steals our

King’s heart!

KING (seating himself and propping his head on his hand).

Had he but died for me! I loved him,

Loved him like my own son. In him a new

Dawn broke for me. Who knows what I’d kept open 4090

For him! He was my first great love. All Europe

Curse me! Curse me it may. From him I have

Earned thanks.

DOMINGO. What evil spell—

KING. Who did he do

This for? That little son of mine? Oh, no. I’ll

Not believe that. No Posa dies for a mere boy.

Friendship’s poor flame can’t fill a Posa’s heart.

It beat for all humanity. His bent

Was all the world and coming generations.

To meet it, he should find a throne—and pass

It up? He should forgive himself this treason 4100

On his humanity? I know him better.

Oh, he did not choose Carlos over Philip.

He chose the young man, his disciple, over

The old. The father’s setting sun’s not worth his

New labors. These he saves for the son’s rising.

Oh, they just wait for me to go.

ALBA. You’ll find

That said quite clearly in these letters, Sire.

KING (getting to his feet).

Perhaps he has miscalculated. I’m

Still here. I feel a young man’s strength in my

Sinews. I’ll make of him a laughing stock. His 4110

Virtue be idle dreams. May he have died

A fool. His fall take down his friend, his century!

We’ll see how they get on without me! I

Command the world one evening more. I’ll use

That evening to insure no sower harvests

Among these ashes for ten generations.

He sacrificed me to humanity?

Humanity may pay for it! I’ll start

Out with his puppet. (To Duke Alba.)

What was that with the

Infante? Repeat it for me. What is in 4120

These letters for me?

ALBA. In these letters, Sire, you’ll

Find the Marquis’s bequest made to Prince Carlos.

(The King runs through the letters, closely watched by all those present. When he has read for a while, he lays them aside and walks silently about the room.)

KING. Summon the Cardinal Inquisitor.

I ask of him one hour.

(One of the Grandees goes out. The King takes up the letters again, reads, lays them aside.)

This very night?

TAXIS. At two o’clock the Mail halts at the cloister.

ALBA. My men have noted baggage with the royal

Arms carried to the cloister.

FERIA. And great sums

In the Queen’s name are said to have been raised

By Moors and payable in Brussels.

KING. Where

Did one last see the Prince? 4130

ALBA. Beside the body.

KING. There’s light in the Queen’s rooms?

ALBA. It’s quiet there.

And she dismissed her Ladies earlier

Than usual. Duchess Arcos, who last saw

Her, left her in deep sleep.

(An Officer of the Bodyguard enters, draws Duke Feria aside, and speaks with him softly. Feria turns to Duke Alba, others join them, a murmur rises.)

FERIA, TAXIS, DOMINGO (together). How very strange!

KING. What’s this?

FERIA. Sire, a report one cannot believe—

DOMINGO. Swiss Guards come from their posts—ridiculous—

One can’t repeat it—

KING. Well?

ALBA. They say that in

The left wing of the palace they have seen

The Emperor’s ghost go past them solemnly.

And all the Watch throughout the wing concur 4140

And add the wraith then vanished in the Queen’s


KING. What form did he take?

OFFICER. The habit

Of a monk of Jerome that he took at

San Yuste.115

KING. Of a monk? How did the Watch then

Know him as Emperor? They did not know him

In life.

OFFICER. The scepter that he carried told them.

DOMINGO. They say he’s often seen in just this form.

KING. And no one spoke to him?

OFFICER. We didn’t dare.

The Watch pronounced its prayers and let him pass

Straight through. 4150

KING. And disappeared into the Queen’s rooms?

OFFICER. The antechamber of the Queen.

(General silence.)

KING (turning swiftly). What say you?

ALBA. We’re dumbstruck, Sire.

KING (after reflecting, to the Officer).

Put my Guard under arms,

Block every entrance in that wing. I’d like

A word with this our ghost.

(The Officer goes off. A Page enters.)

PAGE. The Cardinal

Inquisitor, Sire!

KING (to those present). Leave us.

(The Cardinal Inquisitor, ninety years old and blind, leaning on a staff and led by two Dominicans. As he goes through the rows, all Grandees kneel and touch his hem. He blesses them. They all go off.)

Scene Ten

The King and the Grand Inquisitor

Long silence.


Before the King?

KING. Yes.

GRAND INQUISITOR. I had not thought so.

KING. Here I renew a scene from bygone years.

The Infante Philip seeks good counsel from

His teacher.

GRAND INQUISITOR. Your great father, Charles, my pupil,

Never sought counsel. 4160

KING. He was that much happier.

I have committed murder, Cardinal. No peace—

GRAND INQUISITOR. The reason why you murdered?

KING. A deception



KING. You know?


What you found out at sundown.

KING (deeply startled). He was known

To you?

GRAND INQUISITOR. His life lies mapped from first to last in

The holy registers of Santa Casa.116

KING. And he went free?

GRAND INQUISITOR. He fluttered on a long,

Strong string.

KING. Beyond my borders, too?


Was, I was, too.

KING (walking up and down, annoyed).

They knew whose hands I lay

In—and said nothing? 4170

GRAND INQUISITOR. I give you this question

Back: Why did you not ask before you threw

Yourself at him? You knew him! One glance showed you

The heretic. What licensed you to hide

This victim from the Holy Office?117 Does

One play with us this way? If Majesty

Would deal in stolen goods, bargain with our

Worst enemies, what’s to become of us?

If one is spared, what right to sacrifice

One hundred thousand?

KING. He is sacrificed—

GRAND INQUISITOR. He’s murdered! Shamefully! Disgracefully! 4180

The blood that was to flow to our great glory

Was wasted at a foul assassin’s hand.

That man was ours. What authorized you to

Lay hand on holy assets of our Order?

To die by our hand he was there. God gave

Him as a gift to our time’s penury,

In order to expose to common view

The sacrilege of his mind’s vainglorious reason.

That was my well-considered plan. It’s lost now,

This labor of long years! We have been robbed, 4190

And you are left with bloody hands.

KING. It’s passion

Drove me to do it.

GRAND INQUISITOR. Passion? Infante Philip

Answers, and I’m the only old man here?

Passion indeed!

(Shaking his head indignantly.)

Release all consciences

In lands you rule when you have put yourself

In chains.

KING. I am a child in this. Have patience.

GRAND INQUISITOR. I’m ill-content with you. To blacken all

Your previous rule! Where was the Philip whose

Firm soul stood like the polar star, unchanging,

Turning eternally about itself? 4200

The past entire had disappeared? The world

Was not the same when you gave him your hand?

Poison not poison? Had the wall between

Evil and good and true and false collapsed?

What’s men’s good faith? What constancy? What is

Resolve, if one weak moment melts a rule

Of sixty years like women’s moods?

KING. I looked

Into his eyes. Forgive this lapse into

Mere mortalness. The world has one less passage

To reach your heart: Your eyes admit no light. 4210

GRAND INQUISITOR. Why did you want this man? What new thing could

He bring, to’ve caught you unprepared? Do you know

Fantastics, new order they invent so little?

You’d never heard the boastful speech of world

Reform? The house of your convictions, if

It falls before mere words, with what effrontery,

I ask, did you condemn one hundred thousand

Poor souls who climbed the pyre for nothing worse?

KING. I longed to have a man. Domingo here—

GRAND INQUISITOR. Why men? Men are for you mere numbers, no more. 4220

And I must hear my graybeard scholar here

Recite the elements of kingly rule? May

The world’s own god learn not to be in need

Of what can be refused him! If you whine

For sympathy, have you not deemed the world

Your equal? What right can you claim then to

Command your peers?

KING (throwing himself into a chair).

I am a little man,

I feel it. Of the creature you require

What only the Creator can attain.

GRAND INQUISITOR. No, Sire. One doesn’t go behind my back. 4230

You are perceived. You wanted to evade us.

Our Order’s heavy chains chafed you. And you,

You wanted to be free and peerless.

(He stops. The King remains silent.)

We are

Avenged. Be grateful to a Church that is

Content to punish you as would a mother.

The choice that you made blindly was chastisement

Enough, and you have learned your lesson. Now

Return to us. Did I not stand so now

Before you, as God lives, tomorrow you’d

Have stood so before me. 4240

KING. Don’t speak to me

That way! Restrain yourself, Priest! Such a tone

I will not suffer.

GRAND INQUISITOR. Why invoke the shade of

Samuel?118 I gave the Throne two kings and hoped.

To leave behind a firmly founded work.

I see my life’s work lost. Don Philip shakes

My building. (Pause.) Tell me, Sire, just why have I

Been called? What would you have me do? I’ve no

Desire to come again.

KING. One task remains,

The last. And then you may depart in peace.

The past is past. Let us be reconciled. 4250

We are at peace?

GRAND INQUISITOR. If Philip is contrite.

KING (after a pause).

My son is planning insurrection.


Have you decided?

KING. All or nothing.


KING. To let him flee if I cannot condemn him.



KING. Can you found a new religion for me

That justifies the murder of one’s child?

GRAND INQUISITOR. To reconcile eternal justice God’s own

Son died upon the Tree.

KING. You’ll spread this notion

Throughout all Europe?

GRAND INQUISITOR. As far as the Cross

Is honored. 4260

KING. I commit a crime against all

Nature. This fearsome voice you’ll silence?


No voice of Nature where there’s faith.

KING. I lay

My judge’s office in your hands. May I

Step back entirely?

GRAND INQUISITOR. Give him to me.

KING. He is

My only son. For whom have I then gathered?

GRAND INQUISITOR. For putrefaction better than for freedom.

KING (rising).

We are at one. Come.


KING. To receive

The sacrifice now from my very hands.

(He leads him away.)

Final Scene

The Queen’s apartments

Carlos. The Queen. Then the King with retinue. Carlos in monk’s habit, behind a mask that he removes; an unsheathed sword under his arm. It is very dark. He approaches a door, which opens. The Queen emerges, in night dress, carrying a light. Carlos drops to one knee.

CARLOS. Elisabeth!

QUEEN (contemplating him with quiet sadness).

It’s thus we meet again!

CARLOS. It’s thus we meet again. 4270

(A silence.)

QUEEN (composing herself). Stand up, Karl! We’ll not

Show weakness to each other. The great Dead

Would not be celebrated by feckless tears.

One weeps for smaller sorrows! He gave himself

For you: he bought your life with his.119 This blood

Was shed for a phantasm? Carlos! I

Myself have vouched for you. My surety let

Him go from us in greater peace. You’ll not

Make me a liar?

CARLOS (with great warmth). I shall set for him

A monument like none set for a king.

A paradise shall bloom upon his ashes! 4280

QUEEN. That’s how I wanted you! That was the great

Intention of his death. And he made me

Executor of his last will. I caution

You: I’ll hold to fulfillment of this oath.

Dying, he laid another legacy

Upon me. I gave him my word. I’ll tell

You. He entrusted Karl to me. And I’ll

Defy appearances: I’ll fear no man,

Will be as bold as friend can be. My heart

Shall speak. He called our love a virtue? This 4290

I believe of him. And never shall I let

My heart—

CARLOS. You needn’t finish, Queen. I’ve lain

In a deep sleep, a dream. I loved. And now

I have awakened.120 We’ll forget what’s past.

Here are your letters back. Destroy my own.

You needn’t fear my feelings. It is over.

A purer fire has purged my being. My

Passion lies in the grave beside the dead.

No mortal longing can divide my heart.

(After a silence, taking her hand.)

I’ve come to take my leave. I see at last, 4300

Mother, there is a higher good than to

Possess you. One short night gave wings to my

Slow run of years, made me so soon a man.

I have no further task in life than memory

Of him! My harvests are all done.

(He approaches her; she covers her face.)

You’re silent,


QUEEN. Pay no attention to my tears, Karl.

There is no help for them. But I admire you,

Believe me.

CARLOS. You were our league’s sole confidante.

This name makes you my dearest in the world.

My friendship’s yours alone, as yesterday 4310

My love. And I shall deem the royal widow

Sacred, should Providence lead me to take

The Throne.

(The King, accompanied by the Grand Inquisitor and by his Grandees, appears in the background, unnoticed.)

I now go out of Spain. My father

I’ll never see again, not in this life.

I value him no more. My heart is dead

To Nature. Be a wife to him again.

He’s lost his son. Take up your duties. I fly

To lift my hard-pressed people’s tyranny.

Madrid sees me again as king or never.

And now a last farewell! (He kisses her.) 4320

QUEEN. Oh, Karl, what is

It that you make of me? I dare not lift

Myself to such men’s greatness. But still, I’m able

To understand you and I can admire you.

CARLOS. Am I not strong, Elisabeth? I hold

You in my arms and do not falter. From

This spot death’s pressing terrors had not torn

Me yesterday. (He releases her.)

That is now over. I

Defy all fate that mortal man encounters.

I held you in my arms and did not falter.

Still! Do you hear? 4330

(A clock strikes.)

QUEEN. I hear the clock that tolls

Our parting knell.

CARLOS. Good night, then, Mother. From Ghent

You will receive a letter that announces

The secret of all our contacts. I go now

To undertake a public round with Don

Philip. I would that there be nothing secret

Among us now. You needn’t fear the world’s

Inquiry. May this be my last deception.

(He reaches for the mask. The King steps between them.)

KING. Your last indeed!

(The Queen falls fainting.)

CARLOS (rushes to her and receives her in his arms).

She’s dead? Oh, God in heaven!

KING (cold and calm to the Grand Inquisitor).

I’ve done my part here, Cardinal. Do yours now!

(He goes off.)