Inês Peres de Castro (in Portuguese - Inés Pérez in Castilian and Galician) (1325 – 7 January 1355) was a Galician noblewoman born of a Portuguese mother. She is best known as lover and posthumously exhumed and declared lawful wife of King Pedro I of Portugal, and therefore Infanta of Portugal by order of Pedro himself, as she died before he accessed the throne.
Inês was the daughter of Pedro Fernández de Castro, Lord of Lemos and Sarria and his noble Portuguese mistress Aldonça Lourenço de Valadares. 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 Infante Afonso, Lord of Portalegre and Infanta Violante Manuel of Castile. 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 Infanta Constance of Castile, recently married to Prince Pedro, the heir to the Portuguese throne. The prince fell in love with her and started to neglect his lawful wife, endangering the already feeble relations with Castile. Moreover, Pedro'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, Pedro'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. Pedro's legitimate son, future king Ferdinand I of Portugal, was a frail child, whereas Pedro and Inês's illegitimate children were thriving; this created even more discomfort among the Portuguese nobles, who feared the increasing Castilian influence over Pedro. Afonso IV banished Inês from the court after Constance's death, but Pedro 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 in Coimbra, where Inês was detained, and killed her, decapitating her in front of her small child. When Pedro heard of this he sought out the killers and managed to capture two of them in 1361. He executed them publicly, ripping their hearts out claiming they didn't have one having pulverized his own heart.
Pedro became King of Portugal in 1357. 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. Legend has it that he had Inês's body exhumed from her grave and forced the entire court to swear allegiance to their new queen by kissing the corpse's hand. She was later buried at the Monastery of Alcobaça where her coffin can still be seen, opposite Pedro's so that, according to the legend, at the Last Judgment Pedro 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 Pedro that they would be together até ao fim do mundo (until the end of the world).
Inês de Castro and Pedro I had the following children:
(Prince) Afonso (1346-1346), died young shortly after birth.
Infanta Beatriz, Countess of Alburquerque, (c. 1347–1381), married Sancho of Alburquerque aka Sancho of Castile, Count of Albuquerque & Haro.
John, Prince of Portugal (1349–1397), claimant to the throne during the 1383-1385 Crisis.
Denis, Prince of Portugal (1354–1397), claimant to the throne during the 1383-1385 Crisis.
Inês de Castro and Peter I of Portugal were the great-great-grandparents of Ferdinand II of Aragon. Ferdinand's wife Isabella I of Castile was a great-great-granddaughter of Peter I of Portugal and his mistress Teresa Lourenço.
Inês de Castro in literature and music
Inês de Castro’s history is immortalized in several plays and poems in Portuguese, such as The Lusíadas by Luís de Camões, and Spanish language, 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).
There have been over 20 operas, including
Ines de Castro by Niccolò Antonio Zingarelli (1798)
Ines de Castro by Giuseppe Persiani to a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano (1835)
Ines de Castro by Scottish composer James MacMillan was first performed at the 1996 Edinburgh International Festival
The opera Wut (Rage) in German by Swiss composer Andrea Lorenzo Scartazzini (born 1971) was performed for the first time at the Theater Erfurt, Germany, on 9 September 2006.
Ines de Castro by American composer Thomas Pasatieri premiered in 1976 with the Baltimore Opera
Ines by Canadian composer James Rolfe premiered in 2009 by the Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company in Toronto.