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  • Writer's picture@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

Portugal: Immortal Love of Pedro and Ines

Some say that Ines’ sudden and violent death rendered her stranded between worlds, searching eternally for her beloved in the Jardins da Quinta das Lagrimas in Coimbra, which the public can visit Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The gardens are around the corner from the Quinta das Lagrimas, which is now a luxury hotel. (Photo by Coimbra Municipality)


From Camoes’ 1572 epic Os Lusiadas to the eponymous 2018 film, the forbidden love of Pedro and Ines has harbored in the national imagination for hundreds of years and fascinated that of foreign lands.

The 14th-century love affair has been a frequent subject of prose, plays and poetry in Portuguese, French, Spanish and English. Ines, for example, is a recurring figure in American Ezra Pound’s The Cantos, which has been hailed as the most significant work of 20th century modernist poetry. The story also has been the subject of art and music. It has been told in more than 20 ballets and operas in Italian, German and English.

With the passage of time, the historical story of Portuguese Crown Prince Pedro and Ines de Castro, the Castilian lady-in-waiting of Pedro’s first wife, Constança of Castile, has transformed itself into legend. Some aspects of the story can be proven as fact, and others not.

Against the backdrop of political intrigue to amass land and power through marriage as well as the military campaigns against Muslims, the unimaginable introduced itself: romantic love.

Who Was Constança Manuel

Constança Manuel, a noblewoman, was the daughter of Constança of Aragon and Joao Manuel of Castile, a powerful aristocrat who coined his own currency. She was the queen of Leon and Castile before becoming consort of Infante Dom Pedro and mother of King Fernando of Portugal.

When Constança was about 9, Joao Manuel tried to form a powerful alliance by arranging a marriage between her and a recently widowed noble. The union never took place because King Afonso XI of Leon and Castile, Joao Manuel’s pupil, asked for Constança’s hand and ordered the assassination of the nobleman.

The union would not be consummated. Afonso XI, interested in an alliance with Portugal, repudiated and imprisoned Constança. The following year, in 1328, he married Maria of Portugal, daughter of King Afonso IV.

Then, the Portuguese king arranged a marriage for his son, Prince Pedro (1320-1367) and Constança (c. 1316- c. 1349), Pedro’s second cousin. Afonso XI, the Castilian king, consented to the marriage but would not allow Constança to leave Castile. In 1336, the marriage took place by proxy at the Convent of Sao Francisco in Evora.

Who Was Ines de Castro

Finally, the pope brought about reconciliation between Afonso XI and Juan Manuel, Constança’s father. In 1340, the armies of Afonso XI, with Juan Manuel’s support, as well as those of King Afonso IV of Portugal allied against those of Sultan Abu al-Hassan ‘Ali of the Marinid Dynasty and Yusef I of Granada in the Battle of Rio Salado. It was a decisive defeat for the Marinid Sultanate, a Berber Muslim empire from the mid-13th to the 15th century.

In the same year, the wedding of Pedro and Constança was celebrated in Lisbon, attended by the principals.

Ines de Castro (1325-1355), daughter of a powerful nobleman, also arrived in Portugal as her relative’s lady-in-waiting. The prince, a passionate man, would fall in love with her, endangering the already feeble relations with Castile. Moreover, their love brought the exiled Castilian nobility close to power as Ines’ brothers became Pedro’s friends and advisors. Pedro’s father, King Afonso IV, disliked Ines’ influence on his son.

Constança and Pedro had three children. When their first child, Luis de Portugal, was born, Constança invited Ines to be the godmother. At the time, the godparents and the parents of the baptized created a moral kinship, which she hoped would out the fire of the love affair. However, Luis died in a week. The romance continued even after Pedro’s father unsuccessful exiles of Ines.

Constança died in her 30s, some say of childbirth, others say by displeasure of her husband’s affair. The king tried to arrange another marriage for his son. However, Pedro refused to take a wife other than Ines, who was deemed ineligible to be queen.


At the Jardins da Quinta das Lagrimas, the besotted leave behind the hope that their love also will surmount all obstacles. (Photo by Yuriko Shoji)


Quinta das Lagrimas

Pedro and Ines had trysts at the Jardins da Quinta das Lagrimas, the Gardens of the Estate of Tears, in Coimbra, near the Monastery of Santa Clara. After Constança's death, the couple lived together more openly. They had four children.

Then, in 1355, the gardens became the setting where Pedro’s father maneuvered to end their love.

Three of the king’s henchmen spilled the blood of Ines by beheading her.

Legend has it that the tears of Ines formed the Fonte das Lagrimas – Camoes wrote “tears are water and the name is love” -- and that Ines’ blood would color forever the fountain’s stone.

However, the father did not kill his son’s love for Ines nor hers for him.

Pedro ordered the search and arrest for Ines’ assassins. A few years later, he captured two of the three. He executed them publicly by ripping their hearts out, claiming that they did not have a heart after pulverizing his own.


On a cigarette label, the legend of nobles kissing the hand of the corpse of Ines at her coronation


When Pedro became king of Portugal, he said that he and Ines had married secretly. He legitimized their children.

Also, the story goes that he had Ines’ body exhumed for his queen's coronation in which Pedro forced the nobles to kiss the hand of her corpse.


Tomb of Ines de Castro at the Monastery of Alcobaça


Pedro ordered the construction of a pair of elaborately carved Gothic tombs at the Monastery of Alcobaça. After a procession worthy of a queen, Ines’ body was transferred into one. Twelve years later, when Pedro died, he was laid to rest in the other tomb near his beloved. Forever.


Tomb of Pedro I at the Monastery of Alcobaça


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