Inês de Castro

Inês de Castro

Recumbent effigy on the tomb of Inês de Castro (c. 1360), Alcobaça Monastery.
Queen consort of Portugal
Born 1325
Died 7 January 1355(1355-01-07) (aged 29)
Coimbra, Portugal
Burial Alcobaça Monastery
Spouse Peter I of Portugal
(secretly 1346, openly in Bragança, 1 January 1354)
Issue Beatrice, Countess of Alburquerque
John, Duke of Valencia de Campos
Denis, Lord of Cifuentes
Noble house Castro
Father Pedro Fernández de Castro
Mother Aldonça Lourenço de Valadares
Religion Roman Catholicism

Inês de Castro (Portuguese pronunciation: [iˈneʃ dɨ ˈkaʃtɾu], Inés de Castro in Castilian; 1325 – 7 January 1355) was a Galician noblewoman born of a Portuguese mother. She is best known as lover and posthumously-recognized wife of King Peter I of Portugal. The dramatic circumstances of her relationship with Peter I, which was forbidden by his father King Afonso IV, her murder at the orders of Afonso, Peter's bloody revenge on her killers, and the legend of the coronation of her exhumed corpse by Peter, have made Inês de Castro a frequent subject of art, music, and drama through the ages.


Inês was the natural daughter of Pedro Fernández de Castro, Lord of Lemos and Sarria and his noble Portuguese mistress Aldonça Lourenço de Valadares.[1] Her family descended both from the Galician and Portuguese nobilities. She was also well connected to the Castilian Royal Family, by illegitimate descent. Her stepmother was Infanta Beatrix of Portugal, the youngest daughter of Afonso of Portugal, Lord of Portalegre and Violante Manuel. Her grandmother was Violante Sánchez de Castile, Lady of Uzero, the illegitimate daughter of Sancho IV of Castile. Her great-great grandfather was Rodrigo Alfonso de León, Lord of Aliger, the illegitimate son of Alfonso IX of León. She was also legitimately descended from Infanta Sancha Henriques of Portugal, the daughter of Henry, Count of Portugal.

Inês came to Portugal in 1340 as a maid of Constance of Castile, recently married to Peter, the heir apparent to the Portuguese throne.[2] The prince fell in love with her and started to neglect his lawful wife, endangering the already feeble relations with Castile. Moreover, Peter's love for Inês brought the exiled Castilian nobility very close to power, with Inês's brothers becoming the prince's friends and trusted advisors. King Afonso IV of Portugal, Peter's father, disliked Inês's influence on his son and waited for their mutual infatuation to wear off, but it did not.

Constance of Castile died in 1345. Afonso IV tried several times to arrange for his son to be remarried, but Pedro refused to take a wife other than Inês, who was not deemed eligible to be queen. Peter's legitimate son, future King Ferdinand I of Portugal, was a frail child, whereas Peter and Inês's illegitimate children were thriving; this created even more discomfort among the Portuguese nobles, who feared the increasing Castilian influence over Peter. Afonso IV banished Inês from the court after Constance's death, but Peter remained with her declaring her as his true love. After several attempts to keep the lovers apart, Afonso IV ordered Inês's death. Pêro Coelho, Álvaro Gonçalves, and Diogo Lopes Pacheco went to the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha in Coimbra, where Inês was detained, and killed her, decapitating her in front of her small child. When Peter heard of this he sought out the killers and managed to capture two of them in 1361.[3] He executed them publicly, ripping their hearts out claiming they didn't have one having pulverized his own heart.

Peter became king of Portugal in 1357 (Peter I of Portugal). He then stated that he had secretly married Inês, who was consequently the lawful queen, although his word was, and still is, the only proof of the marriage. During the 1383–85 Crisis of royal succession in Portugal, João das Regras produced evidence that allegedly established that Pope Innocent IV had refused Peter's request to recognize his marriage to Inês and legitimize his children by her, the elder of whom, John, Duke of Valencia de Campos would have a strong potential claim to the throne of Portugal. By negating these children's claimed legitimacy, João das Regras strengthened the claim of another illegitimate child of Peter I of Portugal: John, Master of Aviz, who ultimately took the throne and ruled as John I of Portugal.[4]

Some sources say that after Peter became king of Portugal, he had Inês' body exhumed from her grave and forced the entire court to swear allegiance to their new queen: "The king [Peter] caused the body of his beloved Inês to be disinterred, and placed on a throne, adorned with the diadem and royal robes. and required all the nobility of the kingdom to approach and kiss the hem of her garment, rendering her when dead that homage which she had not received in her life..."[5] Some modern sources characterize the story of the Ines' post-mortem coronation is a "legend."[6] She was later buried at the Monastery of Alcobaça where her coffin can still be seen, opposite Peter's so that, according to the legend, at the Last Judgment Peter and Inês can look at each other as they rise from their graves. Both marble coffins are exquisitely sculpted with scenes from their lives and a promise by Peter that they would be together até ao fim do mundo (until the end of the world).

Inês de Castro and Peter I had the following children, who were legitimized by Peter I on 19 March 1361:

Inês de Castro in literature and music

Inês de Castro with Her Children at the Feet of Afonso IV, King of Portugal, Seeking Clemency for Her Husband, Don Pedro, 1335. Painting by Eugénie Servières, 1822.
Murder of Inês de Castro. Paiting by Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, ca. 1901/04.

Inês de Castro’s story is immortalized in several plays and poems in Portuguese, such as The Lusíadas by Luís de Camões (canto iii, stanzas 118-135), and Spanish, such as Nise lastimosa and Nise laureada (1577) by Jerónimo Bermúdez, Reinar despues de morir by Luís Vélez de Guevara, as well as a play by French playwright Henry de Montherlant called La Reine morte (The Dead Queen). Mary Russell Mitford also wrote a drama from the story entitled Inez de Castro. Inês de Castro is a novel by Maria Pilar Queralt del Hierro (es) in Spanish and Portuguese.

She is a recurring figure in Ezra Pound's The Cantos. She appears first at the end of Canto III, in the lines, Ignez da Castro murdered, and a wall/Here stripped, here made to stand.

There have been over 20 operas and ballets created about Inês de Castro.[8][9] Operas from the 18th and 19th centuries include:

In modern times, Inês de Castro has continued to inspire operatic works, including:

In addition, Portuguese composer Pedro Macedo Camacho (born 1979) composed the Requiem to Ines de Castro, first performed on March 28, 2012 in New Cathedral of Coimbra on the occasion of 650 years of the transportation of Ines de Castro's body from Coimbra to Alcobaça Monastery.[10]



  1. Diccionario histórico, genealógico y heráldico de las familias ilustres de la Monarquia Espanola, Ed. Luis Vilar y Pascual, Juan José Vilar Psayla, (Imprenta de D.F. Sanchez A Cargo de Augustin Espinosa, 1859), 253.
  2. Stephens, Henry Morse (1898). Portugal. New York: G.P. Putnam's sons. pp. 92–99.
  3. [Coelho and Gonçalves. Pacheco died in 1383]
  4. Livermore, H. V. (1969). A new history of Portugal. London: Cambridge University Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-521-09571-9. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  5. The Popular Encyclopedia. Edinburgh: Blackie & Son. 1836. p. 83. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  6. Douglas L. Wheeler; Walter C. Opello (2010). Historical dictionary of Portugal (3rd ed.). Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-8108-7075-8.
  7. Ferdinand II of Aragon, son of John II of Aragon, son of Eleanor of Alburquerque, daughter of Beatrice, Countess of Alburquerque
  8. Manuel Pereira Peixoto d'Almeida Carvalhaes (1908). Inês de Castro na opera e na choregraphia italianas: separata da obra em manuscripto intitulada: Subsidios a historia da opera e da choregraphia italianas, no seculo XVIII, em Portugal. Typ. Castro Irmão. p. 9.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 Dassori, Carlo (1903). Opere e operisti (dizionario lirico 1541-1902). Genova: Tipografia editrice R. Istituto sordomuti. p. 695.
  10. "Requiem a Inês de Castro fez estreia mundial em Coimbra". Rádio e Televisão de Portugal. Retrieved 2013-10-03.

See also


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