Ines de Castro and King Pedro
This true story that happened long before Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet. A story of love – tragedy – and of a haunting. Could this have been Shakespeare’s inspiration?
The summer when I was 12 years old, my parents took our family on a vacation back to Portugal. We traveled on a fabulous train ride through some incredible scenery from Lisbon to Porto, toured the famous castles, museums, gardens, and all the other famous sites that my brothers and sisters and I had never seen before since we had immigrated to America when we were young.
It was a trip of a life time, which has left fond memories in my heart. But of all the places I visited that summer, there was estate in Coimbra, that left the most vivid image in my mind. Perhaps it was that spooky story that was told to us by the tour guide on that hot summer day. The terrifying story made my skin crawl and gave me a sense that a ghost was watching me as I walked along the guided tour with my parents and siblings.
This story takes place at; “Quinta das Lágrimas“ (Estate of Tears), a famous estate in Coimbra, Portugal once inhabited by the Portuguese nobility. The original castle was built in the 14th century during the rein King Afonso IV. The estate had very lush and famous hunting grounds often visited by many kings and emperors of Europe.
Ines de Castro and King Pedro
Prince Pedro, the son of King Afonso IV was the heir to the Portuguese throne. When he was 19 his father had him marry Constança of Castile (Spain) in order to build an alliance in 1340.
Ines de Castro,a daughter of a nobleman from Castile, was a lady-in-waiting to the Princess Constance. Ines was a radiant beauty who stole Pedro’s heart and they quickly fell madly in love.
Legend even says that Pedro would send his love letters through channel named “Fonte dos Amores” a pipe that carried water from the estate of Quinta do Pombal to the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, where Ines lived only less than half a mile away.
According to the legend, if two people in love simultaneously drink the water as it pours from one channel to a lower one called “Pipe of Love” their love will be everlasting.
Quinta das Lagrimas Hotel
“Fonte dos Amores” – Fountain of Love
The affair caused great conflict between the two countries which made King Afonso . The Queen tried to end the affair by making Ines Godmother to her children but to no avail. King Afonso was furious at the their affair so he banished Inês from Court and sent her back to Castile in 1344. However, the distance between them did not end their love for one another. Pedro’s passion could not be subdued and he would often visit Ines in Castile.
In 1349 Princess Constance died. Dom Pedro brought Ines back to Portugal and settled her in Coimbra, where they would live together openly. The lovers were closer than ever, and they went on to have four children.
Pedro wanted to marry Ines to make her the lawful Queen but his father opposed it because he feared that Ines’s children would claim the throne one day rather than the legitimate children borne by Princess Constance.
The King wanted to end the relationship so when Pedro was away he decided the only way to end the relationship was to kill Ines. On Jan 7, 1355 the king sent three of his courtiers – Pêro Coelho, Álvaro Gonçalves and Diogo Lopes Pacheco – to Coimbra, to end her life.
The assassination took place in Santa Clara-a-Velha but the myth associates Inês’ tragedy with the Quinta das Lágrimas. It is believed that her blood still stains the red stone-bed of the natural spring on this estate which irrigates the estate’s farmland through channels. Thin grasses sway the water, representing Inês’ hair. This is said to be where Ines shed her last tears at the hands of the assassins thus giving the spring it’s name.
Pedro’s love for Inês lived on after her death. He waged war against his father for having killed her thus creating a Civil war in the country for two years until the Queen, Pedro’s mother arranged a truce between the father and Son. However, Pedro never forgave his father and when he became king in 1357 after his father died, Pedro exhumed Ines’s body from the Monastery of Santa Clara of Coimbra, built her a royal tomb, and crowned as queen, claiming that they had married in secret before she died.
The legend says that after forcing the members of his court to kiss her decomposing hand and swear allegiance to their new queen, Pedro tracked down her assassins and killed them, ripping out their hearts with his bare hands.
- “As filhas do Mondego, a morte escura
- Longo tempo chorando memoraram
- E por memória eterna em fonte pura
- As Lágrimas choradas transformaram
- O nome lhe puseram que ainda dura
- Dos amores de Inês que ali passaram
- Vede que fresca fonte rega as flores
- Que as Lágrimas são água e o nome amores“
- Os Lusíadas, canto III.
To ensure they would be together in the afterlife, Pedro installed Inês’ body in the monastery of Alcobaça and had his own sarcophagus placed at the foot of hers.