An example of romanticist drama, this play is based on an actual rebellion against the government of Venice and the Doge, Pietro Gradenigo, on June 15, 1310. The author, Martinez de la Rosa, based this play on the event, setting it around a young couple passionately in love. In 1700 a French prince came to Spain as King Philip V, the first Spanish monarch of the Bourbon dynasty that persists to today. With the ascension of this family also came the French taste for Neo-Classicism in arts and letters, a preference that continued into the nineteenth century until the death of Fernando VII in 1833. With his demise many exiled liberal dramatists returned to Spain and allied themselves with the widowed queen against the late King's brother. They brought with them from Italy, Germany, France and England experiences with the literary genre known as Romanticism. The flourish of this movement in drama sought out exotic settings in Iberia and the Mediterranean area with stories based on the rich history of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
The dramatist was free to create action longer than the time of performance, located in many different locations and with characters of varied social classes, thus ignoring the Neo-Classic rules of time, place and action. Laura, the heroine, is very young and has no mother. Her father is in military service and has been away for a long time with no communication with his daughter who is looked after by a loyal servant woman. The hero, Rugiero, a poor handsome young man of mysterious ancestry (not even he knows who his parents were) is a migrant to Venice who has attached himself to a rebel group dedicated to fairness and equality of the law and against the harsh rule of the wealthy elite. He is so attractive to Laura that they have married in secret without the proper permission of her honorable father. The actual date of the revolt was the Feast of St. Vitus, June 15, 1310, but the author chose to place it during Carnival just before Ash Wednesday, the date enhancing a festival mood with costumes for hidden and mistaken identity. Following the pattern of Romantic drama, the play has to end in tragedy.
Rugiero is condemned to death and discovers just before dying that one of the judges, a brother to Laura's father, is his father, and that Laura is his cousin. Martinez de la Rosa holds an imminent place in the Romantic criterion of Spain by staging this first of the genre in Madrid in April of 1834. The flourish of Romantic drama lasted ten to fifteen years and provided the plays used for several of the famous Italian operas that require a high style of language and scenes of great passion.