In 1340, Spain was still divided into the minor kingdoms of Aragon and Castile, whilst Portugal had already incorporated the kingdom of the Algarve. Much intrigue took place and many diplomatic alliances were sought by the Spanish kingdoms to improve their power bases.
The Royal Marriage?
The Crown Prince of Portugal, Dom Pedro, waited in Bragança to greet his Aragonese Bride, Dona1 Constança, the daughter of Juan Manuel. Amongst the courtiers who travelled with her to escape the tyranny of the Castilian monarch was Inêz de Castro, the illegitimate daughter of the Spanish nobleman Pedro Fernandes de Castro who was himself a descendant of Sancho IV of Castile.
Inêz, as cousin of the bride, was to be a Lady-in-Waiting. When Pedro set eyes on her it was love at first sight. Almost immediately, it is said, the couple arranged to be secretly married at the church of St. Vicente in Bragança. Pedro planned that Inêz be established at a Quinta2, in Coimbra.
Shortly after the birth of the first Royal child, Luis, to whom Inêz had stood as godmother, King Afonso decreed that she be banished from Portugal because he believed the Castilians were becoming too powerful. The little Luis died before his first birthday.
On 31 October, 1345, the Infante3 Dom Fernando was born in Lisbon, the son of Crown Prince Pedro and Dona Constança. When Dona Constança died at the end of 1348 the Prince immediately ordered the return of Inêz from exile and started openly to live with her.
Two years later, as his marriage to Inêz was still not recognised, Pedro applied to the Vatican for a Papal Bull to legitimise both the marriage and their children. This was not forthcoming.
Suspected as a Spy
In Castile a group of nobles were in revolt against their King Pedro and, to obtain military help, they offered the crown of Castile to the Infante Dom Pedro. The liaison between the Prince and the conspirators was Inêz. The Portugese King, Dom Afonso IV, did not want to be involved in the Castilian squabble at all, and was very derogatory in his attitude to Inêz (whom he regarded as little better than a spy) and her brothers, who were also exerting their influence over Prince Pedro.
One day early in January 1355 the Portuguese courtiers, who were jealous of the authority of the Spanish at court, persuaded the King to dispose of Dona Inêz. The decision was taken in conference with his councillors at Montemor-o-Velho. Portugal wanted to stay well clear of the civil war that was brewing.
Accordingly, while his son was out hunting he visited their Quinta, at Coimbra. He was so affected by Inêz' beauty, her tears and those of her four young children, that he determined to spare her, much to the disgust of the three knights who had accompanied him. They were only waiting for his order to carry out the deed. The Quinta was thereafter called the Quinta das Lagrimas - the Farm of Tears.
The King's Problem Solved
Riding away, the knights worked on the fears of Dom Afonso and eventually persuaded him that she had to go. As soon as the King agreed, they returned with haste to the farm and there Dom Pedro Coelho, Dom Diogo Pacheco and Alvaro Gonçalves murdered the beautiful Inêz de Castro, 'wife' of Infante Dom Pedro, at the Fonte dos Amores, Coimbra. Dona Inêz was buried in the old Convent da Santa Clara, Coimbra.
There then followed the Portuguese Civil War between King Afonso and his son Prince Pedro, who was maddened with rage and grief. He was considered to be insane from the day that Inêz was killed until his death. (Yet despite his devastation, he still took lovers. On the 14th August 1356 his mistress Teresa presented him with João, who was to be the Master of the Order of Aviz, and later elected King.)
When Dom Pedro came to the throne, one of his first edicts was that of the Fontes dos Amores. This 'Fountain of Lovers' had a conduit that led to the Convent de Santa Clara. When King Afonso had confined Inêz to the convent, Dom Pedro had communicated with her through this watercourse. The Edict stated that whosoever should damage the conduit would be condemned to 30 days imprisonment.
The coronation of King Pedro I did not take place until 1361. Before the event Dom Pedro had sworn solemnly upon the gospels the reality of his private marriage with Inêz de Castro and insisted that she be taken from her tomb and crowned with him. At the coronation ceremony the nobles were expected to express their loyalty by kissing the decaying hand of the Queen. During the following banquet two of her three murderers were tortured and their hearts were torn from their living bodies outside the windows. The third murderer, Diogo Pacheco, is said to have escaped capture. After the ceremony the crowned Inêz was reburied as queen, with great pomp, in the magnificent sarcophagus prepared for her at the Cistercian Abbey Church of Alcobaça. The heavily carved tomb is decorated with scenes from her life, with a portrayal of the Crucifixion at the head and the Great Doom at the foot. Surrounded by angels, she lies supported on six gargoyle-like representations of her murderers and enemies.
King Pedro died in 1367. As he requested in his will, he was buried in a sarcophagus, the pair to that of Inêz, in the great Monastery church. Inscribed on his tomb are the words 'Até ao fim do mundo4'. In this Gothic monument the embellished tombs of Pedro and Inêz are still positioned strictly in accordance with his wishes, and against custom; the King lies in the South transept with his feet to the North, and Inêz in the North, with her feet to the South. Thus, on the Day of the Last Judgement, the first person who will greet the eyes of Pedro as he rises from his grave will be his beloved, fair Inêz.
That is, if there aren't any tourists getting in the way...