Having just crushed an uprising by his half-brother, Don John, Don Pedro of Aragon and his noblemen visit their friend Leonato in Messina. Accompanying Don Pedro is the witty Benedick, former lover of Leonato's equally sharp-tongued niece, Beatrice. Also present are Benedick's friend Claudio, a young count; and Don John who, despite his rebellion, has apparently reconciled with his brother. Claudio has been thinking of Leonato's beautiful daughter Hero since before he went to war, and returns to find her as attractive as ever. Don Pedro, learning of his friend's feelings, decides to act on his behalf and arranges the match at a party. An unrepentant Don John attempts to foil it, but unsuccessfully – the match is made. Needing something to pass the time until the wedding, Don Pedro decides to arrange a similar fate for Beatrice and Benedick, whose animosity for each other is clear.