Out of the Wings

You are here:

La elección de los alcaldes de Daganzo (1610-1615), Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

English title: The Election of the Magistrates of Daganzo
Notable variations on Spanish title: Entremés de la elección de los alcaldes de Daganzo
Date written: sometime between 1610 and 1615
First publication date: 1615
Keywords: morality, ideology > politics, identity > class/social standing, identity > race, identity > hierarchy, society
Genre and type: entremés

A local election in a small town brings together the ignorant, bigoted townsfolk to choose from a poor selection of potential magistrates.  The election is thwarted by an elderly sexton and the arrival of some singing and dancing gypsies.


Four town officials interview four potential candidates for the position of magistrate of Daganzo. The rustic candidates are comically unsuitable for the role, with the one exception of Peter Frog, who shows a glimmer of promise. The proceedings are interrupted by an aged sexton, whose reproaches about the proceedings are met with a traditional punishment - being tossed in a blanket by the townspeople. Musicians and gypsies come along to add a jovial note with music and dancing, and the court adjourns in song with Peter Frog the favourite candidate.  The election is postponed to the following day.


Historically, the feudal lord of a region had the right to approve or reject the magistrates elected by the townspeople under his power. In Cervantes’ time, such a lord in a town called Daganzo had rejected the election choices made by the town officials, ‘on the grounds that they were incompetent to serve’ (Smith in Cervantes 1996: 25). For background on the historical source, see (Cervantes 1995 ed. Spadaccini), Salomón 1965: 118-20 and Asensio 1973: 183.

Critical response

Critics have seen the play as both a satire of rustic ignorance and bumbling town officials, and a specific examination of the obsession with purity of blood; the latter theme is apparent when the characters reiterate their own status as members of the ‘Old Christian’ community with no trace of Jewish or Muslim blood in their family history (Smith in Cervantes 1996: 26). Prejudice and anti-Jewish attitudes are taken to the extreme and critics are careful to note Cervantes’ satirical use of these characters, suggesting that he himself did not hold these views (Salomón). Sevilla Arroyo and Rey Hazas mention that the play may not have been amusing to all of Cervantes’ audience; many would have seen themselves portrayed negatively in the town officials and would have been insulted (Cervantes 1998: xxx).

  • Cervantes, Miguel de. 1995. ‘Entremés de la elección de los alcaldes de Daganzo’. In Entremeses, ed. Nicholas Spadaccini, pp. 143-70. Madrid, Cátedra

  • Cervantes, Miguel de. 1998. ‘Entremés de la elección de los alcaldes de Daganzo’. In Entremeses, eds. Florencio Sevilla Arroyo and Antonio Rey Hazas, pp. 63-83. Madrid, Alianza

Useful readings and websites
  • Asensio, Eugenio. 1965. Itinerario del entremés: desde Lope de Rueda a Quiñones de Benavente. Madrid, Gredos (in Spanish)

  • Asensio, Eugenio. 1973. ‘Entremeses’. In Suma cervantina, eds. J. B. Avalle-Arce and E. C. Riley. London, Tamesis (in Spanish)

  • Asensio, Eugenio. 1971. Itinerario del entremés desde Lope de Rueda a Quiñones de Benavente, 2nd edn Madrid, Gredos (in Spanish)

  • Beardsley, Jr., Theodore S. 1986. ‘Cervantes on Stage in the United States’, Hispanic Review, 54, 4, 397-404

  • Casalduero, Joaquín. 1966. Sentido y forma del teatro de Cervantes. Madrid, Gredos (in Spanish)

  • McKendrick, Melveena. 2002. ‘Writings for the Stage’. In The Cambridge Companion to Cervantes, ed. Anthony J. Cascardi, pp. 131-59. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

  • Salomón, Noël. 1965. Recherches sur le thème paysan dans la comedia au temps de Lope de Vega. Bordeaux, Féret et fils (in French)

  • Spadaccini, Nicholas and Jenaro Talens. 1993. Through the Shattering Glass: Cervantes and the Self-Made World. Minneapolis and London, University of Minnesota Press

Entry written by Kathleen Jeffs. Last updated on 7 May 2012.

Tag this play

You must be logged in to add tags. Please log in or sign up for a free account.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. Please log in or sign up for a free account.

  • King's College London Logo
  • Queen's University Belfast Logo
  • University of Oxford Logo
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Logo