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Ines De Castro - Crowned Portugal Queen After Death
Inês de Castro was Spanish nobility, born around 1320 AD. She lived until she was 35 years of age. She died young, she died while she was still beautiful, still radiant – and she died at the hands of assassins sent by the Portuguese Royal Family.
She left behind a man who loved her most fiercely; a man who avenged her death in the most terrible of ways, a man that could not or would not accept that she’d been taken from him – Dom Pedro, heir to the Portuguese throne.
Inês de Castro was born the daughter of Pedro Fernandes de Castro, the illegitimate grandchild of King Sancho IV of Castile. Born during the 14th century in Spain, she was born into a time of religious and secular dominance – turbulent times by anyone’s standards.
In such times, Spain and Portugal were often in discord, settling many disagreements by way of marrying into each other’s aristocracy. Inês wasn’t earmarked to provide an end to yet another disparity between the countries, rather she was a lady-in-waiting to a woman that was - Dona Constança, the daughter of another highborn Spaniard.
Constança was to marry Dom Pedro, the son of King Alfonso IV of Portugal. Initially, Constança was not granted passage into Portugal and was thus married by proxy; such was the way of things in the 14th century.
She was finally allowed to enter Portugal in 1336 and live with Dom Pedro proper – accompanied by several attendants, one of whom was Inês de Castro.
From the moment Dom Pedro laid eyes upon his wife’s beautiful lady-in-waiting, he fell deeply in love. Pedro and Inês embarked upon an affair, falling foul of King Alfonso, a man of high moral standing and a monarch who was thought to have never sired illegitimate children during his lifetime.
He massively opposed the relationship and to that end, Inês was banished from the court and sent to live in Exile, in the castle of Albuquerque. Inês remained ensconced, in keeping with the conditions laid upon her by King Alfonso, until Constança died in 1345.
She returned to the royal court in Coimbra as the death of Constança removed all impropriety from their relationship. Inês bore four children to Dom Pedro, Alfonso (who died a baby), Beatrix, Joâo and Dinis.
The couple remained deeply in love and if anything, their love for each other blossomed still further. After years of having to live beyond royal patronage, they were by now allowed to live life as openly as was possible for the time. That Pedro and Inês cherished each other beyond measure was apparent – not least to King Alfonso.
The Throne Of Castile
What was equally apparent was the fact that Dom Pedro was growing increasingly close to Inês’ brothers – Alvaro and Fernando de Castro. It is said that they were encouraging Dom Pedro to consider taking the throne of Castile.
Of course, at the time, Spain and Portugal constantly walked on thin ice with each other. Such rumours were not the kind to be borne – they were only the kind to be taken seriously and dealt with accordingly.
Dom Pedro appeared persuaded as to his rights. He was, after all, a grandson of the King Sancho IV of Castile and to that end, must have thought himself a rightful candidate. For that reason, Dom Pedro declared his intentions.
King Alfonso could only foresee future power struggles for his kingdom. He knew that such a move would likely cause Spain and Portugal to become entrenched in further dynastic posturing. He had to further consider that the children of Pedro and Inês may well throw doubt on the legitimacy of Pedro’s son with Constança – and the only possible outcome was likely to be a civil war.
King Alfonso - The Solution
King Alfonso turned to his advisors, looking for a solution. And the only one that seemed likely to thwart any potential future wars was possibly the cruellest solution of all – to murder Inês.
Although Alfonso was originally closed to the idea, he soon changed his mind. On the 7th January 1355, he was apparently persuaded to allow the assassination of Inês to go ahead. The date was a prominent one – Dom Pedro was away from his home – and Inês was alone and vulnerable.
Alfonso's three men - Diogo Lopes Pacheco Álvaro Gonçalves and Pêro Coelho - arrived in Coimbra, to take Inês’ life. Though she was said to have appealed to them, to have pled for mercy, her cries went unheeded.
The men of the King, on his orders, took the life of the most precious and treasured person in the life of Dom Pedro. Inês was cruelly dispatched.
"Agora é tarde; Inês é morta" It’s too late – Inês is dead!
Dom Pedro - The Reaction
The moment the news of Inês’ death reached Dom Pedro, he flew into an uncontrollable frenzy. Barely able to believe the horrifying news, he immediately turned on his father, by way of an insurgency.
Pedro had the backing of Inês brothers and together, with their army, they stormed across Portugal, eventually arriving at Porto, whereby they laid siege to the city. Somehow, Dom Pedro’s mother, the Queen, managed to reunite father and son.
Pedro vowed to forgive his father and his accomplices for the heinous act that they’d committed against him. However, Pedro’s promise lasted only as long as his father remained alive.
Two years later, after the death of his father, Dom Pedro succeeded the throne of Portugal. Once he was King, he exacted a terrible revenge on those that had taken his beloved Inês from him.
King Pedro's Revenge
King Pedro’s revenge was as swift as it was cruel. He only managed to capture two of Inês’ assassins. They’d fled to Castile and were easily trapped. The fortunate man that escaped Pedro’s wrath had already fled to France – and safety.
The two men that Pedro did capture suffered an unusually torturous death, if not a symbolic one. Pedro had both men killed in a way that resembled his own grief at the death of his beloved.
Whilst sat observing, to the front of the Palace, Pedro had the hearts of the two men ripped out – one through the chest, the other through the back. Both men suffered as Pedro had – though arguably Pedro didn’t expire from his own terrible anguish.
Despite King Pedro’s pitiless vengeance, he was in fact a King that ruled with a just and righteous heart. He won the hearts of his people during his reign and was known for being anhonourable man.
He lived with the wellbeing of his own people at the forepront of his mind and if anything, his actions as a ruling monarch largely negated his first actions as the newly crowned King of Portugal.
However, his love of Inês didn’t end with the avenging of her death. On the 12th June 1361, King Pedro declared that he’d lawfully married Inês, in secret in Bragança, prior to her death.
As there was no way to refute his claim, Pedro had Inês exhumed and reburied with all the pomp and circumstance as befits a Queen of the realm.
Inês de Castro became a Queen after her death – and was finally laid to rest, among great ceremony, in the Monastery of Alcobaça on the 2nd April 1361.
And there she still lays, with her beloved Pedro still watching over her, his own tomb placed directly in front of hers, together in death, together for eternity.