ANDREA, a Spanish courtier, has been killed in battle by Balthazar, Prince of Portugal. During his lifetime he was lover of Bel-Imperia, daughter of the Duke of Castile. Now when Andrea's ghost appears before Pluto to be apportioned its proper place in the world of shadows, Pluto permits the ghost, accompanied by the spirit of Revenge, to return to earth to see vengeance wrecked on his slayer.
Andrea's slayer falls prisoner to Lorenzo, Bel-Imperia's brother and to Horatio, son of Hieronimo, marshall of Spain. The King awards the ransom to Horatio and the custody of the royal prisoner to Lorenzo. In the Duke's household, Balthazar inevitably falls in love with Bel-Imperia, and the King conceives the idea that a marriage between these two would unite the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal more firmly than a dozen wars.
Bel-Imperia, however, has secretly taken Horatio for her lover because he was Andrea's friend and had given Andrea's body burial rites. Lorenzo, keen to forward Balthazar's suit, bribes Bel-Imperia's servant to betray her meeting with Horatio. Lorenzo and Balthazar with their servants hang Horatio and imprison Bel-Imperia so that she cannot spread the truth.
Hieronimo goes raving mad when he finds his son's body, but not too mad to plan a crafty revenge. Gossip begins to spread as to Lorenzo's part in Horatio's death. Lorenzo hires one servant to kill the other and then permits the first servant to be hanged for his crime. Thus he thinks to get rid of all witnesses. But a letter recounting the details of the slaying is found on the servant's body and brought to Hieronimo.
When, with many plausible speeches, Bel-Imperia is released for the royal betrothal ceremonies, Hieronimo manages speech with her long enough to plan for their double revenge. He arranges that a play of which he is the author shall be acted for the entertainment of the royal guests with Lorenzo, Balthazar, Bel-Imperia and himself as actors. During the course of the performance Hieronimo fatally stabs Lorenzo and Bel-Imperia kills Balthazar and herself. Before he attempts to hang himself, Hieronimo explains to his audience that the deeds of blood are real, not sham, and the reason for them. The party rushes down from the royal box to prevent his self-destruction before they can learn the names of his fellow conspirators. During the confusion Hieronimo finds an opportunity to stab the Duke of Castile himself. Thus the ghost of Andrea receives full satisfaction for Andrea's untimely death.
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