A company of soldiers commanded by Captain don Álvaro de Ataide arrives in the Extremaduran town of Zalamea de la Serena (Badajoz, Spain) on the way to Portugal. The captain stays in the house of a rich farmer, Pedro Crespo, whose daughter Isabel is raped by don Álvaro. Pedro Crespo tries to remedy the situation persuading don Álvaro to marry Isabel, but don Álvaro rejects her because she doesn't belongs to the nobility. This contempt hurts the honor of the entire Crespo's family. When his neighbors elect him mayor, and even without having jurisdiction over the military, Pedro Crespo orders to arrest don Álvaro and makes him execute by hanging on the gallows. Finally, the king Philip II of Spain revises the decision of the mayor, ratifies it and names Pedro Crespo perpetual mayor of Zalamea.