The Steel of Madrid

steel of madridEl acero de Madrid is a 1608 play by the Spanish writer Lope de Vega, famous for his contributions to the 'Spanish Golden Age of literature.

A common man, Lisardo, and a noble woman, Belisa, are the two lovers in this play. They first met after Belisa fainted to get away from Octavio and met Lisardo. The issue is that Belisa’s father has promised her to Octavio. With the knowledge that Belisa is often around her Aunt Teodora, Reselo, Lisardo’s good friend, pretends to court Teodora so Lisardo can meet with Belisa. This action of Reselo infuriates his lover Marcela at the worst time as Florencio is wooing her.

At some point in the play, Belisa drinks steel water to leave Octavio and meets Lisardio. This happened quite often in Spain because the uses of Steel water as a common remedy was quite common. In Madrid, women would pretend to faint to rid of suitors and ingest the steel water to ‘wake up’. This is noted in the title of the play, the Steel of Madrid, since the special properties of the steel water and the way that women would use it.

In the end after a series of trials coming from miscommunication and understanding the two lovers are married.

The play comes from Lope De Vega’s series called the Partes de comedias (The Comedy parts). This was his XI Parte of 1618. The way Lope de Vega intended his audience to view his works was by reading them at home. Lope De Vega created characters based on people he knew. Belisa was based off his wife, Isabel de Urbina, after he was exiled from Madrid.


  • Lisardo: A commoner who courts the Noble women, Belisa. He goes through a series of trials to talk and later marry her.
  • Belisa: A noble woman who loves a commoner, Lisardo, but is in a forced engagement with Octavia.
  • Octavio: Belisa’s Betrothed.
  • Belisa’s Father: Marries of Belisa to Octavio and doesn’t approve of Lisardo
  • Riselo: Lisardo’s best friend and lover to Marcela. He pretends to court Teodora so Lisardo can talk to Belisa causing issues with Marcela.
  • Teodora: Belisa’s aunt who is often near the young girl. She is “courted” by Riselo unaware of the plan to get Lisardo to talk to Belisa.
  • Marcela: Riselo’s lover enraged at him as he “courts” Teodora. Currently, she is being courted by Florencio
  • Florencio: A man courting the enraged Marcela