This study examines issues in politics and political theory in selected works of Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600–1681), the major dramatist of the middle and later decades of the seventeenth century in Spain. By analyzing secular dramas (comedias) and religious plays (autos sacramentales), Stephen Rupp demonstrates Calderón's awareness of the ideas and institutions of power in Hapsburg Spain and explores the terms of his intervention in the long debate over the principles of Christian statecraft. Through references to Rivadeneira, Saavedra Fajardo, and Quevedo, Rupp describes the anti-Machiavellian theory of kingship that informs Calderón's political theater.
Rupp's argument proceeds from abstract principles of political theory to particular institutions and events at the Hapsburg court. Discussion of two comedias (La vida es sueño and La cisma de Inglaterra) and five autos (La vida es sueño, A Dios por razón de Estado, El maestrazgo del Toisón, El nuevo palacio del Retiro, and El lirio y la azucena) demonstrates Calderón's assimilation of true reason of state to providence, his attitudes concerning the conciliar system and the regime of the royal favorite or valido, and his allegorical treatment of significant state occasions.