PEDRO AND INÊS – A Portuguese Medieval Love Story

Shakespeare wishes. On my trip to the north of Portugal I have been criss-crossing with one of the most beautiful love stories of the Middle Ages, which took place 200 years before Shakespeare’s fable of “Romeo and Juliet”. The Pedro and Inês love story is not only true but fully documented.

It started in 1340, when the heir to the throne of Portugal, Prince Pedro, was 20 years old.

His father, King Afonso IV, the 7th King of the newly created nation of Portugal, had secretly arranged by proxy the marriage of his son to Lady Constanza, a Castillian Princess. Pedro had not been consulted or informed of his arranged marriage because there had been an earlier episode of repudiation. When he was 14 and laid eyes on another Castillian Princess his father had planned to marry him to, he revolted and had the Princess returned to Spain. This time Pedro’s father had arranged that Lady Constanza arrive in Portugal as Pedro’s official wife and future Queen. The Prince was enraged with this “fait accompli”.

When Princess Constanza arrived, Pedro was smitten by one of her ladies-in-waiting, Inês de Castro. In the words of his chronicler, Inês was “...beautiful as a flower, blond as the sun, and extremely elegant.” Pedro fell madly, rapturously in love with her and they became inseparable lovers. The resulting scandal was such that the king ordered his son to stop seeing Inês. Pedro ignored his father’s demand and hid Inês in a castle away from the court.

This situation continued with the mounting disapproval of the King’s counselors, who began insinuating that the only solution was to kill Inês. Afonso IV resisted and instead exiled the young woman to Spain. The lovers were separated for two years, but Pedro, who had a deep romantic streak, stayed strongly connected to Inês through countless poems and love letters he wrote for her.

Princess Constanza died in 1345 while giving birth to a son. Poor Constanza, hers was an unhappy lot. Pedro immediately sent for Inês, ensconcing her in the Santa Clara convent in Coimbra, where Pedro thought she would be protected from the King and his counselors. The lovers met secretly at the nearby Quinta das Lágrimas – the Manor of Tears. Pedro insistently asked the King and the Pope for permission to marry Inês, but his requests were always denied.

With Princess Constanza’s death, Afonso IV’s advisors insisted on Inês’s demise so that Pedro would forget his obsession and consent to marry a princess who would ensure a peace treaty with the Kingdom of Castile.

Finally the King and three advisors planned her murder in all secrecy. They traveled to Coimbra, waited in hiding until the lovers, Inês and Pedro, bid farewell at the Fountain of Tears, and Pedro went off hunting. The assassins chopped her head off in the early morning of January 7, 1355.

Fountain of Tears

The death of his beloved Inês brought out Pedro’s dark side. He was profoundly altered by her murder and vowed to take revenge on her assassins. But he waited until he became King in 1357 upon his father’s death. The three murderers meanwhile fled Portugal, because they knew they would not be safe, and disappeared in Spain.

As soon as he became King Pedro I, with his heart black as tar, Pedro had Inês’s killers hunted down in Spain and brought back to Portugal. Two were found, but the third escaped to France. Pedro had the two men brought before him in the presence of his full court and had their hearts ripped out, one from the front, the other from the back. He then called for vinegar and bit into the still beating hot hearts of the assassins to inflict further insult.

The nobles of the court, the Pope and even Spanish Kings urged Pedro to re-marry, but he refused, saying that he needed time to honor Inês’s memory. Pedro had other ideas.

Seven years after Inês’s death, Pedro, claiming that he had married her in secret and that she was the true Queen of Portugal, had her body exhumed and, covered with a veil, sat on the throne next to his. The royal crown was placed on her head and Pedro ordered all the court nobles to kneel and kiss the dead Queen’s hand.

Pedro also had two magnificent stone sarcophagi sculpted, one for Inês and one for himself, and placed in the Monastery of Alcobaça. The tombs, his and Inês’s, were to be placed foot to foot so that when Judgment Day came and all souls would rise up, they would see each other before anything else.

Pedro took an interest in every symbolic message on the sarcophagi – down to the detail of having effigies of her assassins carved to support her sarcophagus, so they would bear the weight of their sin forever. The tombs, which can be seen today in the Monastery of Alcobaça, are wonderful. And to stand between them, looking from foot to foot, you almost wish you could be there on Judgment Day.

The effigy of one Inês’s murderers bearing the weight of his sin.

The Medieval depiction of the judgement of souls at the foot of Inês’s tomb.

The angels are to help Pedro and Inês rise up on Judgment Day.


  1. I am so glad that you are back in blogland and with a magnificent story to start off again. My first thought was "precocious little pair", but then the truly romantic tale and unhappy fate of the lovers moved me. The bloodthirsty revenge just before the preparations for eternal life is so very mediaeval, there was no forgiveness for wrong doing, was there?

  2. Wow, what an interesting post! This story would make a great novel or movie. Pedro is a fascinating and tragic character. But I wonder why the counselors thought murder was the only solution. As if having Ines as the prince's mistress was far worse!

  3. Maia this is wonderful what a story, although I think a little macabre, and the photos are magnificent, I would dearly love to see them in person but your story and the photos have almost made this unnecessary.

  4. Such a wonderful story that you told us in words and pictures. A sad fate for all in this story: no happy endings in this tale. Well, until the judgement day, that is. Thank you for sharing this story. And WELCOME back to the blog-o-sphere!

  5. We have to transport ourselves to the 1300s way of thinking and behaving. Portugal had a very dangerous and precarious relationship with the then Castille and Aragon (Spain later on). Marriage to a royal Castillian princess was usually a way to keep the peace.

    For all his madness Pedro I of Portugal was a very good king and his 10 years of reign were considered very rewarding by his subjects.

  6. Welcome back Celeste and the pictures and story is wonderful to read and see. You did a wonderful thing, to describe and snap a picture of all. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Such a sad story, and you told it so well. You have a wonderful way with words AND pictures. It's a pleasure coming to your blog.

  8. I have never heard this story. How sad for Pedro and Ines. Thank you for sharing this story with the beautiful photographs. Welcome back from your travels.

  9. What a story! Your photographs are absolutely wonderful!
    Your journey north must have been an exciting and rewarding one.

  10. Thank you. A beautiful narrative.

  11. Oh my! What a post! How rich with history and sadness! Thank you for sharing this.

  12. You made me feel like I was back taking a history class. Very good information that I would never know about. Thanks so much for sharing and paying me a visit.

  13. Wow Maia, you are quite the story teller, now aren't you. I loved this romance but how devastating the ending. So sad that he lost his beloved Ines. Thank you for the wonderful images to see along the journey.

  14. Yes, beautiful pictures and hard to get back to 1300 ways of thinking although I'm not sure we're doing much better today. Are you familiar with Carlos Ruiz Zafron? I guess "The Angel's Game" must be what they call "Gothic" genre which I don't usually like but this was hard to put down. But no wierder than the Pedro and Inez story.

  15. This is such a romantic story. Your pictures and narrative make it come so much alive. The sarcophagi are very intricate and beautiful and your pictures are very sharp. The story of royals in Europe is very bloody, in every country I believe. Thank you for your comment on my blog. As a coincidence when I received it I was purchasing tickets to see Cesaria Evora (do you know her?) in concert in November and thought that I wished I could speak Portuguese to understand her lyrics.

  16. What a beautiful post, Celeste!
    It is beautiful, and though slightly macabre and sad, it is also inspiring and uptlifting!
    A Prince more interested in love than in Politics, wanting to tell their story with such magnificent tombs!
    Thank you for this, we all need to aim for the highest love!

  17. Oh, thankyou for this story . Your words and images are quite. quite magical.

  18. As Romeo&Julia is one of my favourite stories ever, reading about those two was surely of much interest. Proofing another time, at least for me, that fighting for love is worth nearly everything.
    Brilliant photography accompanied an impressive story - what a joy to see/read in the moonlight tonight.
    Please have a nice Sunday. And thank you very much for your comment left as well.

  19. That is an absolutely amazing story that I hadn't heard of before! Amazing! And such lovely photos too. *sigh* Just wonderful - thank you dear.

  20. Next time I get close enough to a squirrel here I will ask him or her where they come from. lol I have used a little curry seasoning, but very carefully. since I seldom follow recipies. I am so glad you are back. I have changed carriers so would you please send your e-mail address to my Gmail address. I have it written down but I have misplaced it. I am so organized. lol

  21. Hi Celeste,
    WOW I was just fasinated to the end. What an incredible love story and you tell it so well. Your pictures are wonderful and add so much to the writing.
    Thank you for sharing the story in history. Your talent comes through in all your posts.
    Have a nice evening and great week ahead.
    BLessings, Celestina Marie

  22. Hello Celeste, wow! Outstanding! I love this story. And oh yes, I noticed your blog header title, 'Into the moonlight'...hmmm, love that.
    Can be joined to mine, 'a moonlight rendezvous', ha ha.

    I have read Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra, Lady Chatterley's lover, as well Ernest Hemingways many books like 'Farewell to arms' etc...but first time read this, love your this posted story....and especially the beautiful, exotic pics.

    Love is something eternal, the aspect may change, but not the essence. And who being loved is poor?
    By the way, have you read the book 'Love is a many splendoured thing' by author Dr. Han SuYin, and made into that famous movie of same name, also the song, sung by Nat King Cole?
    If you have not, try get that book, you'll love it. Movie actors were William Holden and Jennifer Jones.

    I love your style of writing Celeste, beautiful.
    Celeste, I read of you being a wife, mother and grandmother...but looking at your profile pic, you sure don't look like a grandmother, ha how shall I put it, hmmmm....okay.....
    Celeste, if you were to hold a bouquet of a dozen red roses in front of your mirror, you will see 13.

    You have a pleasant week and keep a song in your heart, best regards, Lee.

  23. Oh yes, despite the trend of work/money, there are some things in the past, well worth striving for again.

    Love stories are like that ; )

  24. Human love can turn so black, is it love or mere selfishness? I've never known and doubt I ever will. Perhaps it is the wrong question.

  25. Hola Celeste

    Have very much enjoyed my visit and learning about this Medieval love story, with stunning photos.

  26. hello again, dear lady - i must say i was so taken with this beautifully tragic story that i had to read more and more of it - it was one with which i was not familiar so i am grateful for your posting of it - lately i am attempting to dabble more into my own writing which i had allowed to fall by the wayside for too long - and so am putting together little bits and pieces over at my "gypsy on words unspoken" blog - if you've not browsed there yet, perhaps you might, should you be so inclined - i hope your day is treating you well - namaste' - jenean

  27. Hi Celeste, this is a powerful story of love and loss and quite gruesome as well. Imagine being forced to marry someone (and share a bed) with someone you have no feelings or attraction for as Pedro's father expected of his son. Imagine the reality of someone you loved deeply having their head cut off, how bizarre. History is filled with much brutality and violence juxtaposed with utter beauty and extraordinary acts of greatness by great people.

  28. Inês de Castro. In the words of his chronicler, Inês was “...beautiful as a flower, blond as the sun, and extremely elegant. May I use that description for myself, but I'm not blond :) may be black as a charcoal overtime a diamond lol. I knew it, I knew it, you've been to a heavenly place. Loved your post everytime. Nice to see you are back :) Muaahhh...

  29. This is so fascinating! Knew something new!!

    And thanks for recommending me to be a professional photographer. In fact I am trying to be it for a long now, but haven't earned a penny yet by that. If you can guide me, that will be very useful :)

    And yes, I had thought of giving a couple of my best shots to National Geographic, but haven't tried yet. I am still preparing those best ones.

    Thanks again :)

  30. Welcome back!!!

    Oh my, this post contains so many wonderful images and interesting information I don't know where to begin. Perhaps I'll just say that I love everything about it!!!

  31. Love the pictures, and LOVE the story! Wonderfully told. Thank you for sharing in your own inimitable way!

  32. Such a fascinating story! Thanks for the details and the pictures to go with them. The sculptures are amazing! I also especially loved the black and white sketch/painting of Ines brushing her hair. So beautiful!

    It was also interesting that Pedro continued to sleep with Constanza even while madly in love with Ines. And there is so much violence in our history ... people are really capable of the most brutality.

  33. What an amazing love story and the pictures are terrific. Lifts the heart, love in death as well as life.

  34. The story was riveting, but terrible. Your pictures, as usual, were stunning. Wonderful.

  35. Simply marvelous images, story, and research. You put so much work into these magical essays, and I wanted you to know I really appreciate every word and picture.

    For a lady who just recently began blogging, you have captured a wonderful readership.

  36. Celeste you inspire people and that is great. I see why I was not alone in missing you. I want to thank you for giving me a badly needed boost on my blog. You are always so cheerful and when I see your smiling face, it helps me be more positive. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  37. Celeste, i read your post avidly from the beginning till the end...such a romantic story !
    it beats Romeo and Juliette for sure
    i love the first two paintings

  38. You have a very interesting blog! I'll be sure to stop by often. I loved the photos!

  39. What a compelling post! The photos are amazing. And this is a true story? Whew!

  40. How gratifying to read of the tragedy of "Pedro the Just" or Peter 1, and his Ines, in such accurate detail. I've always held fast to this history (Lopes) and find it all too human in any age. Love will out no matter what arrangements are part of the culture, yes? Though many a Prince argued and eventually became the enemy of his father, I feel Peter 1 was perfectly sane in taking his unbearable heartache to another level: to insist even after Alphonso's death that his now dead love be recognized as his true wife and reigning queen, thereby legitimizing their 4 children. This true story has always held my heart and I thank you for sharing it with all bloggers. I enjoyed being once again reminded of the sweet, tragic and startling acts we humans are capable of, in the name of that elusive yet continually sought emotion.

  41. Hi Celeste, Now to show you how computer illiterate I am I was complaining about not being able to make the fonts large enough for the people I mail them to , be able to read them. So a lady said if I went into Live Writer I would be able to get various fonts and much more to do with making a blog. I asked her how it would transport into my blogger account and she explained that. so that was what surprised me and it had to have surprised the ones that I have been blogging with for a long time. It was a huge accomplishment for this 79 year old. lol

  42. I visited the tombs for the first time when I was 10 or 11(during a school trip). I never forgot Pedro and Ines story, as it was one of those romances that take over a little girl's imagination, especially one like I was so interested in history.
    Thank you for the wonderful photos. The details are simply extraordinaire aren't they!

  43. who is the author of this story?

    1. There isn't an author.
      This was a true story that happened in medieval times in Portugal.
      D.Pedro I (Peter I) was really King of Portugal.

  44. helo Celeste

    let me complement the true story and add some of the legend, for wich i am in loved too, maybe because my name is also Pedro:

    Jose Hermano Saraiva added on his famous tv programme, that it is certain that Ines was in fact pregnant!!...
    Another data wich is true, is that her transfer after death from Coimbra to Alcobaça was witnessed by thousands of people (estimation is between 500.000 and one million people!! At the time she was already considered a saint, so people traveled from everywhere to see the royal funeral, in a sort of way. All men had their hair cutted with their heads completely balled, in sign of respect. Its the biggest ceremony held of that kind ever in the world!!you cant forget that Ines was from Castela Reign, the enemy...
    She was really killed exactly at the fountain of tears, and on this fountain there is an algiae red coloured, very rare, wich the people say is her blood stain....
    Marvellous, hein?

    Best regards

  45. Pedro, pode-me mandar um contacto? Gostaria muito de lhe falar, obrigada.