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© 2018 Flora Kimmich, CC BY 4.0

1. Aranjuez, south of Madrid, was the summer residence of the Spanish kings.

2. Toledo, southwest of Madrid, was the summer residence of the kings of Castile. There, in 1560, the estates of Castile and Aragon paid homage to Prince Carlos, recognizing him as heir to the Spanish throne.

3. The crux of the domestic drama in Don Carlos. Elisabeth of Valois had been betrothed to Prince Carlos when King Philip, widowed for the second time, took her as his wife instead.

4. King Philip’s first wife, Maria of Portugal, died soon after the birth of Prince Carlos, Philip’s first son.

5. The capital of Aragon.

6. Schiller’s transposition of a historical event. Elisabeth’s father, Henri II of France, received a splinter in the eye at a tourney held to mark her betrothal to King Philip. The wound proved fatal.

7. “Purple” is the color of a cardinal, a rank to which King Philip could propose a candidate to the pope.

8. Saint Peter’s throne is the seat of the pope.

9. Brussels at the time was the seat of the governors general of the Spanish Netherlands.

10. Duke Alba was known then, as now, for his zeal and cruelty.

11. The Emperor Charles V, Carlos’s grandfather, who ceded the Spanish throne to his son Philip in 1556.

12. Alcala, east of Madrid, was the foremost Spanish university at the time.

13. Carlos’s friendlessness and his fatherlessness, both mentioned here, are recurrent motifs in the play and important motivators of the action.

14. King Philip’s sister Maria, married to the German emperor Maximilian II.

15. The beginning of a rhetorical crescendo intended to underscore the gravity of the domestic crime.

16. Carlos’s request to meet the Queen will set the plot into motion.

17. The rural setting of the Queen’s residence contrasts with the formal royal gardens of scene 1 and reflects the tastes and qualities of the Queen.

18. The tightly composed conversation that follows characterizes the Queen, Princess Eboli, and Duchess Olivarez.

19. A monastery in Normandy, famously under a rule of silence.

20. The stillness of Madrid—and elsewhere—returns as a motif.

21. A summer residence built by Philip north of Madrid.

22. Auto da fe is Latin actus fidei: act of faith. It was an elaborate execution of condemnation by the Inquisition, most notoriously, by fire.

23. Elisabeth of Valois is not happy in Spain. She longs for France, and her French loyalties will inform her role in the play.

24. The Queen cannot name the source of her sense that something is lacking.

25. Eboli’s mind, no less than the Queen’s, is running on more than one track. Schiller is a master of representing buried mental operations in inadvertencies of speech.

26. Catherine de’ Medici, widow of Henri II, was regent for her minor son.

27. Marquis Posa is a Knight of the Order of Malta.

28. The Queen refrains from pursuing her memories.

29. Guelf and Ghibelline were two parties in medieval Italy, loyal to the pope and to the German emperor, respectively, and famously at war with one another in the cities. The piquancy of Posa’s tale lies in its running on two levels, one for young Princess Eboli, the other for the Queen.

30. Posa is satisfied that the Queen has understood.

31. This is the interview Carlos has never had with the Queen (see above, lines 260–261). After a long exposition, it marks the beginning of the action.

32. A palace and a monastery northeast of Madrid, burial site of the Spanish kings.

33. That is, the lands that Carlos will hold in custody.

34. These are the letters Posa brought her (scene 4).

35. Scenes 1 through 5 have belonged to Carlos, the Marquis, and the Queen. Now King Philip enters, accompanied by Duke Alba and Domingo. The presentation of contenders in the coming contest is complete.

36. The Queen finds herself caught in a conflict between French manners and Spanish protocol.

37. This is the great motif of Philip the man versus Philip the king.

38. The sense of this assertion is that Philip will take proper measures against any fear that he has cause to feel.

39. Philip’s second great motif: just as Carlos finds himself fatherless, Philip feels himself childless

40. Philip had sworn to defend the Inquisition against apostates and to force his subjects to obey its orders.

41. These are the letters the Queen handed him (scene 5).

42. “Genius” in this usage denotes a native spirit, in-born qualities, a guiding force, a better self.

43. To this point, Posa has addressed Carlos, who is royal, as Sie, while Carlos has addressed Posa as du, as he did when they were school boys. Carlos now offers parity. That desire reflects the loneliness of royal rank and Carlos’s sense of friendlessness. The parity established here enables further development of the plot.

Act Two

44. The privilege of wearing one’s hat in the presence of the king was the mark of the very highest nobility and of the king’s particular favor.

45. The contrast made here is between the King’s son and his paid—or bribed—courtiers.

46. Philip, too, is marked by the solitude of royalty and by friendlessness. The motif will return.

47. The comedy that follows here is a variant on the set piece of the misdirected letter and a further complication of the plot.

48. The Duke of Savoy commanded the Spanish troops that defeated the French at Saint Quentin in 1557.

49. Alba had been present in the Schmalkaldic War, a confessional conflict in eastern Germany (1547), where he became known for his cruelty.

50. See Act II, scene 1, lines 900–901.

51. What Eboli is thinking will be disclosed at the end of this episode.

52. Eboli is expressing doubt about the truth of Carlos’s elaborate lie. We know from her early mention of Carlos (Act I, scene 3, lines 389–390) that she has long been interested in him; her belief that he is interested in her prompted her to write him and informs her responses here to his evasions.

53. Carlos feels himself exposed, and Eboli, seizing her advantage, adopts a tone of raillery.

54. Eboli has misconstrued the first incident she recounts.

55. The Holy Office is the Inquisition.

56. Eboli has just betrayed her unspoken thought at scene 7, above, lines 1302–1303: “He must know about it.”

57. Eboli is now in a position to understand Carlos’s abandoning the Queen on the dance floor when the King appeared (scene 8, above, lines 1457–1461).

58. “Romantic” here in the sense of belonging to the literary genre called “romance.”

59. Eboli’s unspoken thought becomes concrete in the figure of the first speaker in the next scene.

60. The word “new,” and its synonyms, occurs frequently in the text henceforth. New things are deeply inimical to a conservative regime such as Spain’s Catholic monarchy during the Counter-Reformation. Latin nova res (new thing) denotes what is new in the sense of being revolutionary, and that meaning is present here.

61. The mixed metaphor is present in the German.

62. The lily was the heraldic device of the house of Valois.

63. Eboli had thought she was embarking on an amorous intrigue in the private sphere, urged by a pandering priest. She wonders why the King’s first minister keeps turning up.

64. The river of Madrid.

65. For hourly prayer. Latin hora is “hour.”

66. Posa’s long sifting of Carlos’s motives prepares the way for a new departure of the plot. The focus of the play has begun to shift from the figure of Carlos to that of Posa.

Act Three

67. These are items from the Queen’s casket and place the scene in the early morning hours after Eboli’s visit to the King.

68. The King is remembering the night just past.

69. Alba is uncertain of the result of his conspiracy with Domingo to send Eboli to the King.

70. Elisabeth of Valois had been married to Philip II by Alba’s proxy and then brought to Madrid.

71. Alba is contrasting a marriage for political reasons and a love match.

72. The Queen’s concealing Carlos’s presence was indeed magnanimity—a truth the King does not recognize.

73. A half-truth, at best. See Act III, scenes 10–12.

74. Philip’s appealing to Domingo for truth shows just how friendless and exposed he is at his own court.

75. The soliloquy that follows is the hinge of the play.

76. Egmont led the Spanish cavalry in Spain’s victory over France at Saint Quentin.

77. Philip’s tragedy is that his search for truth about his slandered wife will lead him to fall into another trap.

78. The destruction of the invincible Spanish armada actually took place much later (1588).

79. Philip’s half-sister Margaret was married to Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma. Historically, she was governor general of the Spanish Netherlands, 1559–1567. Alba succeeded her.

80. Calatrava was a prestigious knightly order of which the King was grand master.

81. The day of public audience.

82. Alba relates an incident in the Turkish siege of Saint Elmo, stronghold of the Knights of Malta, 1565. La Valette is the grand master of the order. Soliman is the Turkish sultan, Piali one of the commanders of the Turkish fleet, Ulucciali a corsair, Mustafa the commander of the Turkish army, and Hassem, king of Algiers. The German for Posa’s “romantic” exploit is schwärmerisch: effervescent, enthusiastic, spirited, vaporous, slightly mad. The word was used commonly in Schiller’s time to describe a certain personality type, usually a young woman, sometimes a young man.

83. Posa’s reply to the King’s question about his confession is open to more than one interpretation.

84. As examples of cruel tyrants.

Act Four

85. A high stool on which certain noblewomen were permitted to be seated in the presence of a queen.

86. Posa’s hypotheticals are not altogether without basis in fact. The passage bears close reading.

87. The Queen’s first expression of her reservations about Posa.

88. Galileo is meant here.

89. What follows here is Posa’s suppressed thought toward the end of Act II: “a wild thought, a bold and happy one” (lines 2039–2041).

90. This thought, mentioned only here, would seem to be the intention of Posa’s attempt to reorient the King’s thinking in scene 12, below, but the point is not developed.

91. William, Prince of Orange, champion of the Protestant cause in the Netherlands.

92. Lerma is distinguished by his loyalty.

93. Posa has finally succeeded in changing the subject.

94. Posa has said much the same thing to the Queen. See above, scene 3, lines 2852–2853.

95. At the time, just outside Paris and a residence of the French kings.

96. A morning gift is brought a bride by her new husband on the morning after the wedding night.

97. The King said much same thing to Alba at the outset of this marital crisis. See Act III, scene 3, lines 2169–2170.

98. But see above, scene 3, lines 2876–2881.

99. These unpleasant sentiments belong to an ancient catalogue of commonplaces about the nature of women.

100. Another turning of the plot, again suppressed. It will be disclosed in Posa’s long narrative of events to Carlos, Act V, scene 3.

101. See the reservations the Queen expresses at scene 3, above, lines 2828–2830.

102. To advance the action quickly, Schiller resorts to a remarkably indiscreet postmaster general.

103. The Cortes was a court council composed of noblemen and churchmen.

Act Five

104. The Queen assesses Posa rather differently. See Act IV, scene 21, lines 3602–3607.

105. We hear this sentiment from Posa for a second time. See Act IV, scene 3, lines 2833–2835.

106. Posa’s earlier word for his concealments was “duplicity” (Zweideutelei), Act IV, scene 3, line 2825.

107. This is the turning of the plot suppressed at Act IV, scene 17, line 3405.

108. It seems the order did not come from Philip. See the stage direction for Alba leaving the prison at the end of scene 2, above.

109. Carlos’s tribute to Posa is an Ecce homo (Behold the man), spoken by Pilate showing Jesus to his accusers (John 19, 5). The elevation of Posa to tragic stature begins here.

110. Here begins a long coda that will bring the action to an end. It is composed of brilliant scenes (scene 9, scene 10) connected by extended passages that are more narrative than dramatic and more prosaic than poetic. Here the writing is colored by the poet’s impatience to be done at last with a sprawling play over which he has lingered too long.

111. Cadiz is a Spanish port in Andalusia, Flushing a Dutch port and scene of rebellion.

112. “He” is Carlos.

113. “He” is Posa.

114. Philip’s eulogy to Posa begins here. Carlos’s eulogy has preceded, the Queen’s will follow.

115. When Emperor Charles V abdicated in 1556, he retired to the monastery San Jeronimo de Yuste, where he died in 1558.

116. The Santa Casa was the prison of the Inquisition.

117. The Holy Office is the Inquisition.

118. King Saul, facing defeat in battle and hearing nothing from his appeal to the Lord, had the Witch of Endor summon the shade of Samuel (1 Samuel 28). The analogues, while obscure, seem to be Saul’s calling up the shade of Samuel and Philip’s resorting to Posa.

119. This is the vocabulary of Crucifixion and Redemption.

120. Carlos’s transformation—and that of his love—follows Posa’s elevation.