Don Carlos, the Infante of Spain, witnesses the love of his life, Elisabeth, princess of France, stolen by his father, Philippe II of Spain. The desolate Carlos is inspired by his friend Rodrigue to go and support the rebellion in Flanders. However, to Carlos's dismay, Rodrigue's bold and honest manner makes him a favorite of Philippe. The Spanish Inquisition, meanwhile, holds the country in terror. The ghost of Charles V, Carlos's grandfather, stalks gravely through the scenes of disaster, his faith in God's mercy echoed by the virtuous Elisabeth. Further complicating matters, Eboli, the King's mistress, becomes jealous after Don Carlos spurns her advances. She then plots to ruin Don Carlos and he is thrown into prison. Rodrigo, who visits him there, is shot by an assassin. Don Carlos, having been freed, makes a tryst with the Queen. Discovered by the King, he is handed over to the Inquisition to be put to death.
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