Soldiers return victorious from the wars, and we are welcomed by Leonato, the governor of the city. Among the soldiers are a vengeful malcontent, the young Count Claudio, and Benedict, an eternal bachelor. Claudio falls in love with Leonato’s daughter Hero, and her cousin Beatrice (a confirmed spinster) is duped by her waiting women into believing that Benedict is in love with her – and she with him. Claudio is deceived by a malicious plot and denounces Hero as unchaste before they marry. She faints and is believed dead, but recovers to be proved innocent by a chance discovery. Benedict wins Beatrice’s love defending her cousin’s honour, and to his surprise, Claudio is reunited with Hero, who he believed dead.