Le Couronnement d’Ines de Castro en 1361’ (The Coronation of Ines de Castro in 1361) by Pierre-Charles Comte (

Was a Portuguese Queen Really Exhumed for her Coronation?

(Read the article on one page)

According to legend, in the mid-14th century a heart-broken King Peter (Pedro) I of Portugal exhumed the corpse of his lover to have her posthumously crowned queen. The romantic scandals of European royalty could fill a library so it can be difficult to find a story of a torrid liaison that stands out. But the tale of the coronation of Inês de Castro , the Corpse Queen of Portugal, is difficult to forget.

Inês de Castro was born sometime in 1325 to a noble family of Castilian descent from the Kingdom of Galicia , which was located in the northwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula. In 1340, when she was just 15 years old, Inês was sent to the court of Crown Prince Peter I of Portugal to be the lady-in-waiting to his wife, Constanza of Castile. However, the Peter and Inês fell in love and they started an affair.

Constanza died five years later, in 1345, shortly after she gave birth to Ferdinand I , who was the future king of Portugal. After Constanza’s death, Peter asked his father, King Afonso IV , for permission to marry Inês. Afonso hoped to make a better match for his son and wanted his affair with her to end. So, in addition to refusing his son’s request, Afonso banished Inês from court. But her exile didn’t prevent the couple from continuing their relationship.

Peter and Inês moved to a villa near Coimbra that was dramatically dubbed the Villa of Tears. Between 1346 and 1354, Inês and Peter had four children, though only three survived infancy.

King Afonso IV and his advisers were afraid that Inês’ relationship with Pedro gave the Spanish influence over his son. So, he sent three assassins to Inês and Peter’s home in 1355 to put a violent end to their illicit affair. When the killers arrived at the villa, they found Inês and her children sitting near a fountain but Peter was nowhere to be found. Some sources say that she was stabbed to death another says she was beheaded in front of her children. Inês’ body was eventually buried at the Monastery of Santa Clara in Coimbra.

Murder of Inês de Castro. Painting by Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, ca. 1901/04.

Murder of Inês de Castro. Painting by Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, ca. 1901/04. ( Public Domain )

When Afonso died in 1357, Peter inherited the throne and immediately set about getting revenge. He brought two of Inês’ three murderers to justice and had their hearts ripped out while he watched.

Peter declared that he and Inês married in secret and that she was the rightful queen of Portugal. He then ordered that her corpse be crowned during his coronation ceremony (another article says that her body was exhumed and crowned in 1361).

While this gesture was romantic, albeit creepy, it was also practical because it was attempt by Peter to legitimize his children with his lover.

Inês’ decomposing body was clothed in royal robes, a crown was placed on her head, and she was placed on a throne next to Peter in the Cathedral of Coimbra. Then he made all of the nobles line up to kiss her decaying hand.

An issue of Dublin Magazine published in 1852 describes the ceremony:

“Pedro, on occasion of his coronation, in the Cathedral of Coimbra, caused the corpse of Inez, in the Convent of Santa Clara, to be taken out, after having lain there from 1355 to 1357, dressed in royal robes, and placed on a throne beside him. He publicly swore to the fact of their marriage at Braganza, by a dispensation from Rome, caused her to be proclaimed queen, and crowned as such; and compelled all the nobles to do her corpse homage, and kiss the cold dead hand, jealously watching for any symptom of repugnance.”

After the ceremony, Inês’ body was taken to the Monastery of Alcobaça and placed in a tomb with her effigy. Her tomb faces Peter’s so they will rise facing each other during the Last Judgment.

The effigy on the tomb of Inês de Castro at the Monastery of Alcobaça

The effigy on the tomb of Inês de Castro at the Monastery of Alcobaça. ( Public Domain )

Many people believe the coronation of the Corpse Queen of Portugal is merely a legend and didn’t happen. This is probably because the idea of exhuming a dead body for a ceremony seems ridiculous. But the Catholic Church actually exhumed a dead pope for a trial known as the Cadaver Synod in 897 and asked him questions. So, the coronation of a dead queen is no less believable.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

The Spirit of the Dead Keeps Watch’ (1892) by Paul Gauguin.
A belief in ghosts is held by many cultures (both modern and ancient) around the world. Some of these ghost beliefs are well-known, whilst others, such as those held by the Polynesians, are less so. In terms of geography, Polynesia covers a large area in the central and southern parts of the Pacific Ocean.

Myths & Legends

An image of Enki from the Adda cylinder seal.
In the belief system of the Sumerians, Enki (known also as Ea by the Akkadians and Babylonians) was regarded to be one of the most important deities. Originally Enki was worshipped as a god of fresh water and served as the patron deity of the city of Eridu (which the ancient Mesopotamians believe was the first city to have been established in the world). Over time, however, Enki’s influence grew and this deity was considered to have power over many other aspects of life, including trickery and mischief, magic, creation, fertility, and intelligence.

Human Origins

Detail of ‘God creating the Sun, the Moon and the Stars’ by Jan Brueghel the Younger.
Although most mainstream scientists and most of the developed world now accept the theory of evolution and the scientifically established age of Earth and the universe, there is still a group of people that resist the status quo and insist, based on a particular literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 in the Hebrew Bible

Ancient Technology

Representation of an ancient Egyptian chariot.
The wheel can be considered mankind’s most important invention, the utility of which is still applied in multiple spheres of our daily life. While most other inventions have been derived from nature itself, the wheel is 100% a product of human imagination. Even today, it would be difficult to imagine what it would be like without wheels, since movement as we know it would be undeniably impossible.

Opinion

El Caracol Observatory at Chichen Itza (Wright Reading/CC BY-NC 2.0) and Composite 3D laser scan image of El Caracol from above
In 1526, the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo arrived on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and found most of the great Maya cities deeply eroded and unoccupied. Many generations removed from the master builders, engineers, and scientists who conceived and built the cities, the remaining Maya they encountered had degenerated into waring groups who practiced blood rituals and human sacrifice.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article