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Until the End of the World
BY WENDY NAZAR
The Crown Prince, Dom Pedro, waited
in Bragança to greet his Aragonese Bride, Dona Constança, the daughter of Juan Manuel.
Amongst the courtiers who travelled with her, to escape the tyranny of
their own monarch, was Inęz de Castro, the illegitimate daughter of the Spanish nobleman,
Pedro Fernandes de Castro, and a descendant of Sancho IV of Castile. Inęz, as cousin of
the bride, was to be a Lady-in-Waiting. When Pedro set eyes on her it was love at first
sight. The couple are said to have arranged to be secretly married, almost immediately, at
the church of St. Vicente in Bragança. Pedro planned that Inęz be established at the
Quinta das Lagrimas, in Coimbra. On 31st October 1345, the Infante 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 openly lived with Inęz.
In Castile the 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 Inęz, already the mother of his children. Dom Afonso IV did not want to be involved in the Castilian squabble at all, and was very derogatory in his attitude to "this 'spy, Inęz" and her brothers, who were also exerting their influence over Prince Pedro.
One day, early in January 1355, his courtiers, who were jealous of the power of the Spanish at court, persuaded the King, Dom Afonso IV, to dispose of Dona Inęz. The decision was taken in conference with his councillors at Montemor-o-Velho.
Accordingly, while his son was out hunting, he visited their Quinta, at Coimbra. He was so affected by Inęz' beauty, her tears and those of her young children, that he determined to spare her, much to the disgust of the three knights who had accompanied him, and who were only waiting for his order to carry out the deed. The Quinta was thereafter called the Quinta das Lagrimas - the Farm of Tears.
Riding away, the knights eventually persuaded Dom Afonso that she had to go. As soon as the King agreed, they returned to the farm and Dom Pedro Coelho, Dom Diogo Pacheco and Alvaro Gonçalves murdered the beautiful Inęz de Castro, wife of Infante Dom Pedro, at the Fonte dos Amores, Coimbra.
Dona Inęz was buried in the old Convent da Santa Clara, Coimbra.
There then followed a Civil War between Dom Afonso and his son Dom Pedro, who was maddened by his rage and grief. He was considered to be insane from the day that Inęz was killed until his death.
Yet despite his devastation, he still took lovers, and on the 14th August. 1356, his mistress, Teresa, presented him with Joăo, 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 had a conduit that led to the Convent de Santa Clara. When King Afonso had confined Inęz to this 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 Dom Pedro did not take place until 1361. Before the event Dom Pedro swore solemnly upon the gospels the reality of his private marriage with Inęz 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 coronation 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 Inęz 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.
Dom Pedro died in 1367. As he requested in his will, he was buried in a sarcophagus, the pair to that of Inęz, in the great Monastery church. Inscribed on his tomb are the words "Até ao fim do mundo" Until the end of the world. In this Gothic monument, the embellished tombs of Pedro and Inęz 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 Inęz 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 Inęz.
That is, if there aren't any tourists getting in the way!
Inęz, her tomb effigy.
The gothic splendour of Inęz' tomb in the
Article and illustrations by kind permission of the author.
First published in Insight, February 2000, Volume 3, Issue 1 - the quarterly magazine of A.F.P.O.P. the Association of the Foreign Property Owners of Portugal.
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