Early Modern Exchanges


The Spanish comedy 'El saco de Amberes' as a window to the past

28 November 2023, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

De Spaanse Furie, anonymous, ca 1585, Wikimedia Commons

Work-in-progress seminar with Elena Truan Aguirre (University of Salamanca).

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students




Sam Brown


IAS Common Ground
G11, ground floor, South Wing
UCL, Gower Street, London
United Kingdom

El saco de Amberes is a Spanish Golden Age play attributted to notorious playwright Calderón de la Barca (1600-1681) and which has remained unedited due to the doubts around its authorship. Revolving around the days previous to the Sack of Antwerp of 1576, this comedy, despite posing a simple structure and following the common topics and plotlines for similar contemporary plays -such as honour restoration, military duties to religion and country, and foreign love interest for the Spanish heroic soldier- also manages to highlight significative issues of the Eighty-Years War.

Following the plot of the play, we encounter a specific interest in geographical accuracy of 16th-century Antwerp; an undeniable military and urbanistic protagonism of the now gone Antwerp citadel; a religious perspective on the mutineed soldiers in the Spanish army during the Dutch Revolt; and more than one female role that finds its place in a predominantly male environment such as active military during an armed conflict. In an attempt to fit these pieces together, the research around El saco de Amberes also brings to the table a comparative analysis with the English play A Larum for London, which also recounts the sack of Antwerp from an anti-Spanish perspective, and the exercise of translation to English of a comedy which conforms a theatrical puzzle of war, religion, romantic plot, and even archaeology.

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This event is part of the PREM seminar series, and supported by Early Modern Exchanges (EME).

PRE-MODERN (PREM) is a new research cluster that explores the wide and varied topics of medieval and early modern studies. PREM events are intended to encourage a collaborative and productive research relationship between like-minded staff and students. Everyone with an interest in medieval and/or early modern studies is warmly invited to attend.

If you would like to present at a seminar, or you have an idea for a session, a question or feedback to share, please contact the convenors: Victoria Rasbridge (victoria.rasbridge.19@ucl.ac.uk) and Sam Brown (samantha.brown.18@ucl.ac.uk).

Image credit: De Spaanse Furie, anonymous, ca 1585, Museum aan de Stroom , CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

About the Speaker

Elena Truan Aguirre

at University of Salamanca

Elena Truan has a degree in English Studies from the Complutense University of Madrid (2017) and a master's degree in Book and Digital Media Studies from the University of Leiden (2018), where she began working on the editing of ancient texts and developed the first phases of which is now his doctoral research. She is currently working on the edition and translation into English of the work The Sack of Antwerp , along with the development of a hypothesis of her authorship. Additionally, she is working on conducting a comparative analysis with the English work A Larum for London , which deals with the same historical event as the work on which she focuses her research, under the English prism of the time.

More about Elena Truan Aguirre