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WHAT IS LOVE? : Medieval Portuguese royalty sheds a gruesome light on love

My personal history with romantic love has left me in a grayish limbo I like to call "Kermudgenville". I'm hesistant when it comes to intimate relationships beyond the physical, and nothing less than skeptical when I hear flowery words from a prospective suitor. I sneer at your rom coms; don't ever invite me to watch "the notebook", unless you want sarcastic commentary throughout, akin to the heckling of the two old guys on the balcony in the muppets. I've resigned myself to this role, and I'm okay with it.

So when I read the story of Infante Pedro and Ines De Castro, I was like, "Nah this has to be some dark Disney, Grimm Brothers tale or something."

When I think of romance in the dark ages, I think of arranged marriages, of incestuous, pedophilic pairs, thrust together for the sake of royal households and bloodlines. Love seemed even less a thing in history books than it does now, in our world of tinders and hinges and grinders. But the tale I'm going to relay to you here, is one of the most romantic things i've ever heard, in a Tim Burton-y, fucked up sort of way.

It began in the 14th century, when Pedro, son of King Alfonso IV, was wed through an arranged marriage to Constance of Castile. Though Pedro wasn't really feeling Constance, he become deeply enamored with her lady in waiting, Ines. So when Constance died giving birth to their child, Pedro saw his opportunity to come clean to the kingdom about his true love for Ines.

King Alfonso was not pleased with this, as Ines was not deemed eligible to be queen, but he figured the infatuation harbored by the two young fools would die off sooner, rather than later. It did not. Pedro and Ines had their own children and were secretly married, despite being forbidden to do so.

Pedro began to spend more time with Ines' brothers, which was worrisome for the royal family. The King was bothered by the idea of the increasing Castilian influence over his son, knowing that he would be next to take the throne. He decided it was finally time to deal with his son's inappropriate love affair.

After banishing Ines from court in 1344 didn't work, King Alfonso decided it was time for a more permanent decision. He ordered her to be killed, and had three of his men decapitate Ines in front of her small child.

Pedro was devastated. He vowed to start a war with his father, but after his Mother Queen Beatrice pled for peace he gave up the idea...for the time being.

When King Alfonso IV died and Pedro became in the new king in 1357, he declared that he had secretly married Ines before her murder, and thusly she was the kingdom's rightful queen. Ines' body was exhumed and adorned with jewels and a crown; the court was made to swear their loyalty to her as the new Queen of Portugal.

That wasn't enough for King Pedro, though. In 1361, the King tracked down the men responsible for his wife's murder, and had them publicly executed by ripping their hearts out. He told them the men that they didn't deserve hearts after pulverizing his own.

So there it is. It may not be "Sleepless in Seattle", but it surely is one hell of a true love story. Next time you think you could be in love, ask yourself, "would I start a civil war with my father for this person?" or even "would i exhume this person's corpse to be kissed and crowned ruler of my nation?" If the answer is no, keep it moving, partner.

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Mar 17, 2023

This made me believe in love again! Beautifully told and gorgeous artwork!

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