Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Settling Down: Itinerant Empire and the Ends of Conquest in El burlador de Sevilla

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2019), 96, (8), 799–814.


This article offers a reading of Tirso de Molina’s El burlador de Sevilla (1630) as a text concerned with the management of empire by drawing on comparisons to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century tracts that dispute the merits of conquest. Though the early modern transatlantic context has remained on the margins of scholarship on El burlador, this article illustrates that the play shares concerns with contemporary imperial tracts over the effects of mobility and conquest on the maintenance of Iberian empire. In the process, it shows that Don Juan’s sexual transgressions do not reveal a nascent individualism, but rather enact a disruptive praxis whereby conquest opposes the establishment of a stable imperial landscape. This reading of El burlador through an imperial lens highlights how the play reveals that an imperial system predicated on conquest cannot settle its subjects or its geography.

Access Token

Works cited

Adorno, Rolena, 2007. The Polemics of Possession in Spanish American Narrative (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press). Google Scholar

Alemán, Mateo, 2003 [1599]. Guzmán de Alfarache, ed. José María Micó (Madrid: Cátedra). Google Scholar

Arondekar, Anjali, 2003. ‘Lingering Pleasures, Perverted Texts: Colonial Desire in Kipling’s Anglo-India’, in Imperial Desire: Dissident Sexualities and Colonial Literature, ed. Philip Holden and Richard Ruppel (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), pp. 65–89. Google Scholar

Brickhouse, Anna, 2015. The Unsettlement of America: Translation, Interpretation, and the Story of Don Luis de Velasco, 1560–1945 (Oxford: Oxford Univerity Press). Google Scholar

Cascardi, Anthony J., 1997. Ideologies of History in the Spanish Golden Age (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press). Google Scholar

Certeau, Michel de, 1988. The Writing of History (New York: Columbia University Press). Google Scholar

Colón, Cristóbal, 1892. Relaciones y cartas de Cristóbal Colón (Madrid: Librería de la Viuda de Hernando y Compañía). Google Scholar

De Armas, Frederick, 2009. ‘From Goa to Lisboa: Imperial, Erotic and Hagiographic Storms in Tirso’s Escarmientos para el cuerdo’, in Hispanic Studies in Honor of Robert L. Fiore, ed. Chad M. Gasta and Julia Domínguez (Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta), pp. 123–40. Google Scholar

De Armas, Frederick, 2013a. ‘El cortesano endiosado: espetáculos paganos en El burlador de Sevilla’, Hipogrifo, 1.1: 173–84. Google Scholar

De Armas, Frederick, 2013b. ‘The Geography of Imperial Deceit: Misplacing Goa and Lisbon in El burlador de Sevilla’, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 90.4–5: 495–507. Google Scholar

Ercilla, Alonso de, 1998 [1597]. La Araucana, ed. Isaías Lerner (Madrid: Cátedra). Google Scholar

Fernández, James D., 1994. ‘The Bonds of Patrimony: Cervantes and the New World’, PMLA, 109.5: 969–81. Google Scholar

Fuchs, Barbara, 2001. ‘Empire Unmanned: Gender Trouble and Genoese Gold in Cervantes’s “The Two Damsels”’, PMLA, 116.2: 285–99. Google Scholar

García Santo-Tomás, Enrique, 2017. ‘Recasting Roque: Cervantes’s Bandits and the Politics of Drama’, The Modern Language Review, 112.1: 171–87. Google Scholar

Garza Carvajal, Federico, 2003. Butterflies Will Burn: Prosecuting Sodomites in Early Modern Spain and Mexico (Austin: University of Texas Press). Google Scholar

Greene, Roland, 1999. Unrequited Conquests: Love and Empire in the Colonial Americas (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press). Google Scholar

Hulme, Peter, 1986. Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492–1797 (London: Methuen). Google Scholar

Las Casas, Bartolomé de, 2013 [1552]. Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias, ed. José Miguel Martínez Torrejón (Madrid: Real Academia Española). Google Scholar

López de Gómara, Francisco, 1979 [1552]. Historia general de las Indias y vida de Hernán Cortés (Caracas: Ayacucho). Google Scholar

Lynch, John, 1992. The Hispanic World in Crisis and Change, 1598–1700 (Oxford: Blackwell). Google Scholar

Mandrell, James, 1992. Don Juan and the Point of Honor: Seduction, Patriarchal Society, and Literary Tradition (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press). Google Scholar

Maroto Camino, Mercedes, 2003. ‘“Las naves de la conquista”: Woman and the Fatherland in El burlador de Sevilla’, Bulletin of the Comediantes, 55.1: 69–86. Google Scholar

Montrose, Louis, 1991. ‘The Work of Gender in the Discourse of Discovery’, Representations, 33: 1–41. Google Scholar

Padrón, Ricardo, 2004. The Spacious Word: Cartography, Literature, and Empire in Early Modern Spain (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press). Google Scholar

Pastor, Beatriz, 1988. Discursos narrativos de la conquista: mitificación y emergencia (Hanover, NH: Ediciones del Norte). Google Scholar

Perry, Mary Elizabeth, 1978. ‘“Lost Women” in Early Modern Seville: The Politics of Prostitution’, Feminist Studies, 4.1: 195–214. Google Scholar

Rabasa, José, 1993. Inventing America: Spanish Historiography and the Formation of Eurocentrism (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press). Google Scholar

Raleigh, Walter, 1966 [1596]. The Discoverie of the Large, Rich, and Beautiful Empire of Guiana… (Cleveland, OH: World Publishing). Google Scholar

Rhodes, Elizabeth, 2002. ‘Gender and the Monstrous in El burlador de Sevilla’, MLN, 117.2: 267–85. Google Scholar

Roa-de-la-Carrera, Cristián, 2005. Histories of Infamy: Francisco López de Gómara and the Ethics of Spanish Imperialism (Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado). Google Scholar

Tirso de Molina, 1958. ‘En Madrid y en una casa’, in Obras dramaticas completas, ed. Blanca de los Riós. Vol. 4. (Madrid: Aguilar). Google Scholar

Tirso de Molina, 1995 [1630]. El burlador de Sevilla, ed. Alfredo Rodríguez López-Vázquez (Madrid: Cátedra). Google Scholar

Tirso de Molina, 2015 [1630]. El burlador de Sevilla, ed. Ignacio Arrellano (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe). Google Scholar

Vilches, Elvira, 2010. New World Gold: Cultural Anxiety and Monetary Disorder in Early Modern Spain (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press). Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Author details

Goldmark, Matthew