Bizarre Homage To A Queen: The Story of Ines’ de Castro
The elaborately carved sarcophagus shown above belongs to an ancient Queen. Her given name was Ines’ de Castro, and she lived in Coimbra, Portugal. But her story is as bizarre as anything you’ll ever read. She wasn’t always allowed to slumber so peacefully as this tomb would suggest. She found true love and tragedy before finding her eternal rest.
In the 1300s, young Prince Peter of the Royal house in the Portuguese city of Coimbra had fallen in love with Ines’ de Castro, the lady-in-waiting to his wife, Constance of Castile. Their passion knew no bounds and it was widely known in the circles of nobility. Shortly, the Prince’s father, King Alphonso of Coimbra, got wind of the affair and became very angry. He was also fearful the affair might cause hostility and instability in his kingdom with the kingdom of Castile. In his mind, there was only one thing to do: He had to rid the kingdom of the lady-in-waiting. Oh, he was not thinking of sending her somewhere else, but thinking of permanently doing away with her. To be certain he made his point to his errant son, he had de Castro beheaded. The Prince was devastated and grief stricken, of course.
Suppressing his grief and anger, the Prince bided his time. Then, five years later in 1357, when his father died, he became King. He was now free to express his rage and heartbreak at the murder of his beloved. Upon becoming crowned, he had the assassins who had murdered his sweetheart seized and thrown in jail. Then he publicly had their hearts torn out of their living bodies.
But that wasn’t enough for the newly crowned King. He had the skeleton and head of his loved one exhumed, arranged on the throne and crowned Queen of Coimbra. Then he forced the highest dignitaries of the realm, all the nobility, to pay homage to Queen Ines’ de Castro. They were to approach the throne where she sat and kiss the skeletal hand. Even those who were bystanders felt shivers down their spine as they saw these nobles bowing and making obeisance to the skeleton sitting on the throne. Ines’ de Castro was now the recognized Queen of Coimbra, and there was no doubt about it throughout the kingdom.
Eventually, after King Peter’s own death, Ines’de Castro, as the reigning Queen of the kingdom, was interred in the elaborate tomb shown above, which now rests in the Monastery of Alcobaca, opposite that of her King. This was done, so that on the day of judgment, they can rise and look at each other. Ahh, true love lasts forever they say, even after death!