Biography of Lope de Rueda (1505-1565)

Spanish, born in Seville in date unknown (but presumably it was in the first decade of the 16th century) and writer who died in Cordoba in 1565, which is considered one of the great figures of the Spanish Renaissance theatre.

Lope de Rueda was able to put an end to the imitation of the Commedia dell'Arte to impose a genuine national theatre, with characters, themes, situations and ways of speaking of the Spanish people. His superb knowledge of popular language allowed him to introduce his large works dose of realism. It only departs from reality when it emphasizes the ridiculous or grotesque traits of his cartoonish figures, with the intention of provoking laughter from the audience.


Great thing about their early years of existence is not known. Apparently, he/she belonged to a poor family and had no access to a careful education.

He held the office of batihoja, consisting of rolling gold and other precious metals to get a material called "gold leaf", which was used in painting. He/She then left this profession to begin to represent theatrical works.

It is known that, in 1534 was an actor, because that year appeared in Toledo. In 1552 he/she married Mariana, Maid of the Duke of Medinaceli, woman who used to dress up like a man (trait of the character of comedians or actors of the time).

For many years, Lope de Rueda and Mariana had lawsuits with the Duke of Medinaceli, demanding him to pay wages owed to her former maid.

In 1554 he/she was, as well as actor, director of his own company. That year he/she was hired to act in Benavente (in the province of Zamora), before the Prince Felipe (future King Felipe II). This means that, by then, it must be one of the authors and most famous directors of the Kingdom.

Four years later it was still one of the leading comedians of Spain, as hiring in 1558 by the city of Segovia, that act at parties that celebrated the inauguration of its Cathedral.

In 1559 acted in the festivities of the Corpus of Seville (new shows its importance, since some such solemn celebrations attended only the most famous companies). Shortly after he/she triumphed in Madrid, in the presence of the Kings. There he/she saw him act a young Miguel de Cervantes, who was fascinated by her master.

He married Rafaela Angela, with whom he/she had a daughter in 1564 for the second time (i.e. When was already sixty years of age). He/She died shortly after in Cordoba, after having signed his will of March 21, 1565.


Lope de Rueda was a true genius of the theatre, activity which stood out in all its facets (authored works, director of company and actor). Its great merit is to have created a theatre truly popular prose, which reflects perfectly the language and the customs of the people.

Set on the techniques and the arguments used by the companies of the Commedia dell'Arte; but they learned these Italian models adapted to Spanish taste, and ended up writing a purely indigenous theatre.

He wrote comedies in which adapted to Spanish taste Italian actors techniques, and a series of short pieces, humorous tone, called steps. One of the greatest originality of his theatre is that almost all of his works are written in prose, in an era in which the theatre was in verse.


In his comedies, Lope de Rueda was inspired by arguments of other Italian theatre pieces. But he/she managed to reflect perfectly, with great realism, the mentality of the mid-16th century Spanish.

The titles of these comedies are: Eufemia, Armelinda, comedy of the deceived, Medora and discord and question of love, the only work that he/she wrote in verse.

Everyday (realism) got that perfect reflection of life, in part, thanks to his amazing mastery of the popular language. Lope de Rueda knows perfectly the expressions of the people of the village (sayings and proverbs) and write in prose, gets his characters speak as you would anyone in the street.

Even enters his works other typical traits of the colloquial language as speech of certain social groups (such as the Gypsies, who express themselves with their own twists and such).


The steps are the more famous works have given to Lope de Rueda, above even of its comedies. Short pieces of jocular tone that fulfilled a function: to be represented in the intermissions (or intermediate) more extensive works, so people are not bored during these breaks. A few years later, the end of the 16th century and beginning of the 17TH, these steps will be called starters.

The mastery of Lope de Rueda in these steps got to create a series of characters who had their own psychology, well known for the Viewer as soon as they came on stage. They were, on the one hand, typical characters of satirical and burlesque literature of the period (such as the doctor, the Sheriff or the student); and, on the other hand, characters who used to mock the people to accentuate his features more ugly or ridiculous, making them caricatures.

Lope de Rueda wrote ten steps: olives, the guest, the land of Jauja, the cover and the servants, horned and content, paid and unpaid, the cowardly ruffian, generous Workover and lackeys thieves

The rest of the dramatic production of Lope de Rueda comprises two pastoral conferences in prose, entitled Camila and Tymbria; a pastoral Conference in verse, love clothes; a dialogue in verse, very brief, entitled on the invention of the shims; and the car of Naval and Abrigail.