Pedro and Ines … love, tragedy, myth, legend, reality … today’s story has been told so many times that it is difficult to distinguish what is fiction and what is reality. Let’s try to clarify what is known to have really happened, where there are doubts and what is really legend!
Due to family intrigues, family revenge, and a forbidden love, the story of Pedro and Ines is often compared to that of Romeo and Juliet. Still, unlike Shakespeare’s tale, this one is very real and ended up influencing the History of Portugal! Perhaps that is why it was so marked in the Portuguese imagination. But let’s go to our story.
Who are Pedro and Ines?
Inês de Castro was a Galician noblewoman born in 1320 (or 1325), daughter of D. Pedro Fernandes de Castro, one of the most powerful men of Castile’s kingdom. He, therefore, came from an important and ambitious family, both in Portugal and in Castile. She arrived in Portugal as a maid of D. Constança Manuel, engaged to Pedro I, the royal infant of Portugal.
Pedro, son of D. Afonso IV and future king of Portugal, married in 1339 with D. Constança Manuel. As it was the norm at the time, this was a marriage of convenience, and it would be for Inês de Castro that he would fall in love. Pedro, known as the crude, the cruel, the punisher, was, in fact, an excellent ruler, and that his reign was the only one in the 14th century without war and marked with financial prosperity. In his chronicles, Fernão Lopes even says that “ there were never ten years in Portugal like these that King Dom Pedro reigned “
- Curiosity: Inês de Castro was the illegitimate great-granddaughter of D. Sancho de Castela, father of D. Beatriz de Castela who was the mother of D. Pedro. Thus, Inês de Castro was a cousin of D. Pedro.
The Romance of Pedro and Ines
The romance started almost immediately and quickly began to be talked about and frowned upon. In an attempt to hinder the romance, D. Constança made Inês de Castro, the godmother of one of her sons. Nowadays, this may seem very strange, but at the time, the godmother was practically family, and this would make the relationship between Pedro and Inês incestuous. At the same time, but as early as 1344, King D. Afonso IV discovered the relationship and exiled Inês de Castro to Albuquerque Castle.
In 1345, D. Constança died shortly after the birth of D. Fernando ( another future king of Portugal), and D. Pedro brought Inês de Castro back from exile and moved with her to Coimbra. This caused quite a stir in the courts and obviously did not please his father.
In Coimbra, the couple would live in a palace attached to the Convent of Santa Clara-a-Velha, next to the Mondego river and (the to be) Quinta das Lágrimas. With this attitude, Pedro and Inês make their relationship public once and for all, causing a scandal in the city, in the country, and a dispute between the King and the Infante begins.
During the time they lived in Coimbra, the couple frequented the gardens and woods of the future Quinta das Lágrimas. We shall remind that Queen Santa Isabel had bought this land to supply the Santa Clara convent and mostly because the place was quite pleasant. Between 1346 and 1354, Inês had 4 children with Pedro (Afonso, Beatriz, João, and Dinis), which further aggravated the position towards the nobility and the King.
- Curiosity: In 1351, Pedro asked the pope to grant him leave to marry Inês. Since they were cousins, the degree of kinship that prevented the marriage, according to Canon Law at the time, this request was denied.
The Death of Ines de Castro
The relationship between D. Pedro and D. Inês also meant the proximity and influence of the Castro family over Pedro, the heir to Portugal’s throne. This proximity did not please D. Afonso IV or the Portuguese nobility because they feared that the Castro would want to take the Portuguese crown. These fears were heightened by rumors that Pedro and Inês were married, and that the bastard children could claim the throne. Remember, the Castro family was Galician.
Thus, pressured by the nobility to remove Inês de Castro and with that the Castro’s influence, king D. Afonso IV orders her death. Well, in reality, It was a summary trial in Montemor-o-Velho that sentenced her to death.
In January 1355, taking advantage of Pedro’s absence, the executioners (Pêro Coelho, Álvaro Gonçalves and Diogo Lopes Pacheco) entered the Paço de Santa Clara and beheaded Inês de Castro, according to the record in the Book of Noa, “ brief chronicle ”by the Crúzios friars. Other chronicles say they were stabbed and beheaded.
Legend has it that the King was present and when the time came, he was supposedly so moved to see his grandchildren that he canceled the order. However, the killers convinced him, and he left the room saying, “do as you like”!
Another legend tells us that the tears shed by Inês’s death created the source of the tears (in the Quinta das Lágrimas, and that the rare red algae that grow there are her spilled blood. Quinta das Lágrimas means literally “estate of the tears.”
Consequences of murdering Ines de Castro
Pedro’s reaction to the murder of Inês de Castro was violent, starting a revolt against his father and consequently a civil war that lasted for months, until Queen Beatriz intervened and forged a peace between father and son. However, in 1357, just two years after the death of Inês, D. Pedro ascends the throne of Portugal due to the death of D. Afonso IV.
Pedro and Ines marriage
In June 1360, D. Pedro I made the famous declaration of Cantanhede, where he claims to have secretly married Inês de Castro sometime earlier, in Bragança in a religious ceremony celebrated by the Deão de Braga. Although there were no documents, the words of the King, the now Bishop of Guarda and a witness were sufficient to authenticate the marriage, and to legitimize the children of Inês de Castro, which was the first goal of D. Pedro.
Homage to Queen Inês
In 1361 Pedro ordered the transfer of the remains of Inês de Castro from the Convent of Santa Clara to the Monastery of Alcobaça, in a funeral procession worthy of a queen and which would remain in the memory of the people for a long time!
For this tribute, for the declaration of Cantanhede and for all the legends that have emerged, it is said that Inês de Castro is the first and only posthumous queen of Portugal. Or as Camões says, “who after being killed was queen”.
The very famous coronation and hand-kissing ceremony (imposed on the court and the whole country) to dead queen D. Ines de Castro never actually have happened. The first records appeared only in the 16th century. Although the funeral procession is real, what is probably one of the strongest images of popular Portuguese culture is just a legend. This legend probably surged as a consequence of the impressive royal procession of the Inês to Alcobaça.
But the story doesn’t end here, Pedro I started the persecution of Inês’s murderers in 1357, and in 1961 he finally managed to catch 2 of the 3 executioners, Pêro Coelho and Álvaro Gonçalves who had fled to Castile. D. Pedro I agreed with the king of Castile an exchange of prisoners that guaranteed the return of the assassins. The third fled to France and was never caught. It is said that Pedro had forgiven him at the end of his life.
Pedro’s revenge is carried out in Santarém, and with details of exquisite evil. According to the chronicles of Fernão Lopes, D. Pedro I ordered the prisoners to be tied to posts and the executioner to take their hearts one from their back, and the other from their chest! In the end, he tore the hearts to end the revenge.
Another version says that Pedro “personally cut out both hearts, opening the chest to one and the back to the other while still alive, saying that men who had killed an innocent woman could not have a heart.”
Finally, a third legend tells us that Pedro’s hatred was such that he destroyed the village of Jarmelo, the land of Pêro Coelho, one of Inês’s assassins. In reality, the village was already in decline due to successive wars with Castile and the Black Death.
Tombs of Pedro and Inês
Pedro’s final homage to Inês was done through their tombs. Pedro had two fabulous tombs built, true masterpieces of Portuguese Gothic. These were placed in the transept of the Monastery of Alcobaça. Inês’s body was transferred, in the queen-worthy procession we spoke about earlier, while Pedro joined in 1357.
The legend says that they are face-to-face, so the resurrected eternal lovers can immediately look eye to eye on Judgment’s day. In reality, the tombs’ initial position was side by side, having been changed in 1780 to the face-to-face position, and in 1956 to the current position with D. Pedro in the south transept and D. Inês in the north transept.
- Curiosity: D. João I, Master of Avis and founder of this dynasty, is a bastard son of D. Pedro. Not with his 1st wife, D. Constança Manuel, nor with his beloved second wife and posthumous queen of Portugal, Inês de Castro, but with Teresa Lourenço. D. João I was born in 1357, 2 years after the death of Inês de Castro, but being Pedro I, the king of Portugal.
This is a story in which reality and legend go side by side, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish them even though they are relatively well documented. Although naturally, everything revolved around D. Pedro I, it was Inês de Castro who paid the maximum price for this novel. For this very reason, she is, in our opinion, the real heroine of this story.