Till death do us part

Discover the legendary love story of Inês de Castro & Peter I of Portugal

By Alcobaça Monastery

Monastery of Saint Mary of Alcobaça (12th-18th centuries)Alcobaça Monastery

Once upon a time...

The legendary love story between Infante Peter and Inês de Castro, lady-in-waiting to his wife Constanza Manuel has been an inspiration to many artists, leaving an indelible mark on the history and heritage of Portugal. The couple rests in the Monastery of Alcobaça, in magnificently carved tombs which are considered masterpieces of Portuguese Gothic sculpture.

‏‏‎ Tomb of D. Pedro I, From the collection of: Alcobaça Monastery
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Peter I, son of King Afonso IV and Queen Beatriz de Castela, was King of Portugal from 1357 until his death in 1367.

‏‏‎ Tomb of D. Inês de Castro, From the collection of: Alcobaça Monastery
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Inês de Castro was a Galician noblewoman born of Pedro Fernández de Castro, a Galician nobleman, and Aldonça Lourenço de Valadares, a Portuguese noblewoman.

D. Inês arrived in Portugal in 1340, as a maid of D. Constanza Manuel, newly married to D. Pedro, heir to the Portuguese throne.
D. Pedro and D. Inês fell in love almost immediately, beginning a clandestine love affair that would prove to be tragic. King D. Afonso IV, D. Pedro's father, feared that D. Ines's influence on the Prince would endanger Portugal's relations with the Kingdom of Castile, and in 1344 expelled D. Inês from the court.

Here we can see the gardens of Quinta das Lágrimas ("The Estate of Tears") in Coimbra, where the loving couple had their secret meetings.

In the following year, after the death of D. Constanza, against the will of his father, D. Pedro brought D. Inês back to the court. Refusing to marry any other noble chosen by the King, D. Pedro decided to live with D. Inês, with whom he would have four children.
D. Afonso IV, more and more afraid of the consequences of this relation for the future of the Kingdom of Portugal, ordered the killing of D. Inês. Executed in Coimbra, she was buried in the Monastery of Santa Clara, which today is called the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha.

According to the legend, the blood of D. Inês still stains the stone bottom of the "Fonte Das Lágrimas" ("Fountain of Tears), where she would have been dead. The legend also says that you can still hear D. Inês crying in the gardens of Quinta das Lágrimas, eternally searching for Pedro, her lost love.

Monastery of Saint Mary of Alcobaça - main gate (16th-18th centuries)Alcobaça Monastery

The posthumous queen

When D. Pedro I ascended the throne in 1357, he executed with his own hands two of the murderers of D. Inês. Claiming to have secretly married D. Inês, D. Pedro I ordered to burry her next to him, in the church of the Monastery of Alcobaça, commissioning the erection of the tombs. In 1362, D. Inês's body was exhumed and transported in a funeral procession from Coimbra to Alcobaça, where she was crowned Queen and finally buried in peace.

‏‏‎ Tomb of D. Inês de CastroAlcobaça Monastery

The tomb of Inês de Castro rests on six hybrid figures with human faces the bodies of beasts.

‏‏‎ Tomb of D. Inês de CastroAlcobaça Monastery

The sides of the tomb are fully decorated with scenes from the New Testament, culminating in the head side with a depiction of the Crucifixion.

‏‏‎ Tomb of D. Inês de CastroAlcobaça Monastery

‏‏‎ Tomb of D. Inês de CastroAlcobaça Monastery

At the foot end, the side features a representation of the Final Judgement in three registers along a sinuous line that starts at the mouth of Leviathan.

Christ in his majesty presides over the Divine court. One can identify the Virgin Mary on her knees surrounded by angels and apostles and the miracle of the Resurrection.

‏‏‎ ‏‏‎ (14th century)Alcobaça Monastery

The recumbent figure of Inês de Castro wears a crown and her head and mantle are borne by four angels accompanied by two incense swinging angels.

‏‏‎ ‏‏‎ Tomb of D. Pedro IAlcobaça Monastery

The sides of the D. Pedro's tomb are fully decorated with scenes from the life of Saint Bartholomew.

‏‏‎ Tomb of D. Pedro IAlcobaça Monastery

At the head end, we find the most charismatic element of the tomb: the Wheel of Life - a rosette formed by eighteen relief sculptural scenes in two concentric circles, in which the interior represents the Wheel of Fortune and the exterior represents the Wheel of Life.

Reading from left to right in an ascendant direction, the scenes depict joyous moments; while tragedy is depicted on the other side on the way down, most notably King Pedro in his shroud in his tomb, with an image of the King in all his majesty being the opposite image. There is also an inscription beneath the recumbent figure of Pedro which reads “H(ere) ends the Wo(rld)”.

‏‏‎ Tomb of D. Pedro IAlcobaça Monastery

The foot end of the tomb features representations of the last rites of a good death: the Viaticum and the Extreme Unction.

‏‏‎ ‏‏‎ Tomb of D. Pedro IAlcobaça Monastery

The figure of D. Pedro I appears crowned, with the sword in his hands. He is flanked by four angels who support his head and shoulders, followed by two thurifer angels.

At his feet is a dog lying crosswise to his figure.

‏‏‎ Tomb of D. Pedro IAlcobaça Monastery

An heraldic frieze with the shields of Portugal ends the top of this tomb, which rests on six lions.

Pedro e Inês (2013/2013) by ARM ColletiveGaleria de Arte Urbana

"Até o fim do mundo..."

The tombs of D. Pedro I and D. Inês de Castro are located in the monastery church, to where they were transferred in 1957. The coffins are in opposite to each other so that, according to the legend, at the Last Judgment Peter and Inês can look at each other as they rise from their graves. On the marble there is written "Até o fim do mundo..." ("Until the end of the world...").

Credits: Story

Text: Wikipedia; Alcobaça Monastery
Street Art mural: Galeria de Arte Urbana

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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