History Files: The Tragedy of Pedro and Inês de Castro

Pedro and Inês loved each other. And than the realm bled.
Pedro and Inês loved each other. And than the realm bled.

Portugal, 1355. Its a well known fact, that when it comes to royalty or nobility, you rarely marry for love. They are usually arranged by the respective families, having their influence, wealth and general interests in mind, with the bride and groom having little to say about it. These political arrangements were essential in the power plays and love had no room in it. In case of Prince Pedro of Portugal and Lady Inês de Castro, they were willing to defy this notion. However not even the a king's forbidden love was safe from fate's cruel designs and the court's cruel plots.

Don Pedro I was born in Coimbra in 1320. He was the only son of King Alfonso IV and Queen Beatrice, heir of the throne of Portugal. He was only a boy when he was married to Lady Constansa Manuel of Castela and Leão. Pedro didn't love her, but he had nothing to say about his own political and love future in regards to his duty to the realm, that he would eventually rule after his father's death. Even though he was already married, he fell in love with other woman, his own wife's lady-in-waiting Inês de Castro, a young woman of immense beauty and elegance, with blonde hair fair as summer and eyes blue as the clear sky. Inês was a Galician noblewoman, not quite a good fit for a King, but she returned his feelings. Their relationship however was not very discreet, and Pedro's father Alfonso tried to set them apart by exiling her to Albuquerque, Castella. Even then, they still exchanged letters between them as the distance wasn't enough for their love.

Pedro didn't care for anything else, he would have given up the crown and his realm to be with Inês.
Pedro didn't care for anything else, he would have given up the crown and his realm to be with Inês.

In 1345, Constansa dies during childbirth and Don Pedro, now free of his arranged marriage's bounds, brings his beloved Ines back from exile to marries her. Their union caused a great scandal among the court and the people because their tie with the kingdom of Castela was now over with Constansa's death. Pedro refused to marry any princesses that his father suggested as a mere noblewoman from Galician was a poor match for the future King, as she had little influence to offer to Portugal through their marriage.

They needed to teach Pedro a lesson, so he took the thing he most valued in the world.
They needed to teach Pedro a lesson, so he took the thing he most valued in the world.

King Alfonso was outraged over this, as the marriage between Inês and Pedro threatened the fragile relationship between Portugal and Castella, and a war would erupt between the two kingdoms. He was convinced by three of his noble that Inês needed to die to ensure stability to the realm once again. In January 7, 1355, when Don Pedro was off hunting, three men were sent to his seat Coimbra and found Inês with one of her children, and murdered her in front of her own child, by viciously decapitating her in the spot.

When Don Pedro returned and learned his father was behind Inês' death, he was driven mad with grief, for he loved her more than anything in this Earth. Such was his fury, that Pedro desire revenge his own father and declared war against the King, launching Portugal into a civil war. The conflict ended however, when the Queen-Mother Beatrice, intervened between the two and proposed a truce before kin would spill the blood of the other. Even then, Pedro was reduced to a shadow of his former self.

Love can make you do crazy things, like digging up your girlfriend's corpse and force the entire scheming and conniving court to pay respect and kiss her hand.
Love can make you do crazy things, like digging up your girlfriend's corpse and force the entire scheming and conniving court to pay respect and kiss her hand.

In 1357, King Afonso dies and Pedro ascends to the throne of Portugal. Still heartbroken and enranged over Inês' death, his first act as King was to hunt down all conspirators in her murder, most of them found asylum in Castella. In a move that made him extremely unpopular, he had exchanged Castellan fugitives that were residing in Portugal for the three nobles that murdered Inês, even though one of them was able to get away. In a extremely hardcore and brutal fashion, the king had then executed by ripping their hearts out, one from the chest and the other from the back. While they were still alive. Ooooooooooooouch... He did that because the men who were as cruel to kill his innocent wife didn't have a heart... (hehe)

You think this is over? Oh, no. Pete was only getting started. He had Inês's body exhumed from her grave in the church of Santa Clara, dressed in regal garbs and her decomposed corpse sit in the throne beside him. King Pedro then forced the noblemen, the clergy and the peasants to bow before his dead queen and kiss her hand. Just to remind you, her corpse is over two years old at that point. Ewww... As a king, however, Pedro revealed to be a great administrator who defended his realm against the papal influence and also helped the least favored parts of the populace. He was noted however for applying justice in the most brutal manner, often carrying out the execution himself rather than leaving to servants. Some say he threw a feast while watching the conspirators being tortured and he personally ripped out the hearts of the conspirators with his bare f**king hands, making him a very scary motherf**ker. This earned him two titles that seem to contradict each other: Pedro o Justiceiro (Peter the Just) and Pedro o Cruel (Peter the Cruel).

I think Pedro the Punisher would have been a better title.
I think Pedro the Punisher would have been a better title.

Nonetheless, he was beloved by the smallfolk and during his ten-years reign it was said "que taes dez annos nunca houve em Portugal como estes que reinara el Rei Dom Pedro" (For these ten years, there never was in Portugal one like the one that reigned King Dom Pedro). True to this statement, his rule was the only one in the 14th century without war in Portugal and marked by immense prosperity.

And so he rests in front of his queen, for when the end of times come, they will rise one in front of the other so that they may embrace.
And so he rests in front of his queen, for when the end of times come, they will rise one in front of the other so that they may embrace.

Pedro died in 1367, with his body buried next to his beloved Inês in the Santa Maria Abbey in Alcobaça. The tombs were not put with one beside the other in the usual manner, but facing each other with the words "Até o fim do mundo..." ("Until the end of time...") marked in the marble. This tragedy inspired the French dramatist Henry de Montherlant to write a play in 1942 "Le reine morte" (The Dead Queen) while it was featured heavily in "The Lusiads", a epic poem by Portuguese poet Luis de Camões and considered the Portugal's national epic and inspired many other plays and books.

Thank you guys for reading it, I appreciate the comments and what you think of this historical event. Until next time =)

21 Comments