Ines De Castro: The Macarbe Story of Pedro I’s Skeleton Queen Part Two

Ellie Webster

Read part one of this article in Edition 18 of The Historians Magazine

Though he was not present during the events leading to her murder, the knowledge that his father had been the one to initially order the death of his love, the incensed Pedro waged war on Alfonso for several months. Alongside the support of Ines’ two Galatian brothers – Fernandez and Alvaro Perez, Pedro revolted throughout Portugal and laid siege to various cities, including that of Porto. Nonetheless, this familial dispute came to a subsequent end after the intervention of Queen Beatrice of Castile, wife to Alfonso and mother of Pedro: this intercession led to reconciliation between the two. By 1157, Pedro ascended to the throne as Pedro I. In spite of the fact that his reign marked a period of peace and financial prosperity, with the common population commemorating him as the Just, Pedro would quickly be designated the nickname ‘the Cruel’ for his ruthless persecution of two of the assassins who slaughtered Ines, Pero Coelho and Alvaro Goncalves. After successfully capturing two of Ines’ killers after an agreement with the King of Castile, the chronicle of Fernao Lopes document Pedro’s orders; that the two should be tied to posts and their hearts ripped out from the back. However, multiple versions of this gruesome tale exist: an alternate version documented that Pedro personally cut out their hearts, while they remained alive, after they had pulverized his own. Another legend suggested that, so deep was Pedro’s hatred, he destroyed the village of Jarmelo, the homeland of Coelho. However, this village had already been significantly depleted after ongoing wars with Castile and the Black Death.
Ines De Castro: The Macarbe Story of Pedro I’s Skeleton Queen Part Two
Ines de Castro

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On the other hand, more benevolently, Pedro supposedly demonstrated a forgiving nature to the third assassin, Diogo Lopes Pacheco.

Diogo, who fled to France, reportedly received clemency from Pedro on his deathbed. However, the story of Ines de Castro did not end with the ghastly punishments of her killers. Her legacy as Portugal’s Skeleton Queen would amass some five years after her death, whereby Pedro made sure she would be remembered in death as she should have been in life: as his legally bounded wife and queen. In June 1360, Pedro proclaimed that he had previously married Ines in secret, within the town of Braganca. To conclusively verify his claim, Pedro amassed two witnesses: the Bishop of Guarda and one of his servants. Even though no exact date was ever provided, Ines was thereafter recognised as the legitimate wife of Pedro, and by default Queen. As a result, Ines’ body was exhumed in 1361 from her resting place of Santa Clara, here she had spent her final years with Pedro and their children. From there, Ines was moved and reburied in Alcobaca, or the Tomb of Kings, in a funeral procession fit for royalty. This was a crucial step in the recognition of Ines as the king’s legitimate wife. Chronicler Lopes documented that: ‘Pedro ordered a tomb of white marble, finely surmounted by her crowned statue, as if she was a Queen; and then he caused the tomb to be placed in the Monastery of Alcobaça … escorted by many horses and noblemen and maids and clergymen. And all the way through, a thousand men were holding candles, in such a way that always the body was enlightened; and thus it arrived at the Monastery, which was seventeen thousand leagues away from Coimbra, where the body was buried with many religious services and great solemnity.’ According to Lopes, this was the ‘most magnificent translation ever seen in Portugal’. Also attributed to Ines’s posthumous recognition as queen was a hand-kissing ceremony, imposed on the Portuguese court and entire country. This ceremony consisted of courtiers ordered to kiss the hand of the corpse, who sat on the throne wearing the royal crown. Throughout the centuries, many artists have tried their hand at depicting the macabre scene, including The Coronation of Ines de Castro in 1361, painted by Pierre-Charles Comte in 1849. The grisly event also inspired various romantics, including Victor Hugo and Pierre-Simon Ballanche. Despite serving as a source of inspiration for art and literature, the event itself likely never happened. The first records only appeared in the sixteenth century, in a 1577 play by Jeronimo Bermudez titled Nise Laureada. Though her gallant funeral procession can be indeed verified, the macabre hand-kissing ceremony cannot. Notwithstanding, Ines remains Portugal’s only posthumous queen who, according to Camoes, ‘after being killed was queen.’ Still consumed by a ‘great madness’ for his beloved Ines, Pedro I reigned until his death six years later, at the age of forty-six. Through their collective tombs, Pedro paid his final homage to her. Situated in the Monastery of Alcobaca, Pedro and Ines were initially buried face-to-face, surrounded by angels as well as hybrids of humans and animals. By being buried facing one another, the eternal lovers would immediately lock eyes when Judgement Day arrived. However, records indicate that Pedro and Ines were initially buried beside each other but were shifted to a face-to-face position in 1780. In 1956, they were moved once again to the north and south transepts of the monastery. In both her life and death, Ines de Castro embodies the Portuguese concept of saudade, the mysterious longing for something that remains unfinished and will return. After the death of Fernando, the surviving son of Pedro and Constance, King Duarte would marry Leonor of Aragon, a great-granddaughter of Ines de Castro. Legend and history remain indistinguishably intertwined within the story of Pedro and Ines, though one thing is certain: Ines de Castro remains an everlasting muse whose story continues to capture the hearts and minds of artists alike.
Ancestry UK
Ines De Castro: The Macarbe Story of Pedro I’s Skeleton Queen Part Two

Ellie Webster

Ellie Webster is an 18 year old first year student studying History at Durham University. She has a deep passion for all things history, namely the Wars of the Roses and the Tudors. Heading off to university in September, Ellie enjoys analysing primary sources and forming her own interpretations from the authors she reads whilst challenging the everyday questions that come with studying history. She has previously written in multiple Historians Magazine’s releases: Key Events That Shaped History, All Things Tudor and Rebellions, Revolutions and Revolts, Medieval and Ancient History, Empires and multiple more. She is now part of The Historians Magazine team. You can find Ellie on Instagram, @elliewebstter.
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