Ines, Queen after Death
And here in cold and silence I lie.
How long? I have lost count.
I am only aware of the passing of time since he last looked into my soul through my eyes, since his
tender lips warmed mine, since his last embrace, his passionate kisses that ignited my entire body,
his loving calling of my name near my ears, his touches, his connecting our sources of life itself,
making it complete…
God be merciful to forgive my thoughts on such carnal joy.!
Isn’t death the end of all things temporal on earth? How can a corpse yearn for pleasure, a skull to be
kissed, a skeleton to be embraced? Isn’t the very idea in itself profane? Is it not that a departed soul
should be drawn to the realm of God? Or be cast into everlasting fire of Hell?
Why am I subjected to both at the same time: bliss through memories and torment through longing?
Why was I not even granted the silent slumber, the peace that is the domain of lifeless souls?
The questions are self-defeating, I know. The answer is plain: I do not wish it end. I know it has not
ended and it cannot end this way. There is an unfinished part awaiting for me to play and somehow, I
feel now the hour approaching. I stir in my disturbed sleep, patience worn thin and fear of unknown
consequence harbored in a hollow rib-cage, not unlike the hours of labor that preceded delivery of
my first born, expectant yet...
And while I wait, I recall: how it all came to pass, the spark, the ecstasy, the horror…the resignation
and then this long, wintery wait….
I will always remember the first say I arrived Lisbon. Or should I say, returned, as half of my blood
through my mother came from this very land? I was born in Galicia, reared by my uncle since
orphaned and joined as a lady-in-waiting to Constance, Infanta of Castile. I was in my late teens then,
innocent as a lily, blooming as a summer rose. I was aware of the constant changes of my body, the
filling of its contours, the cresting breasts; I knew from the reflection of polished mirrors that my face
was not unpleasant to look upon, that heads of young nobles, Castilian or Portuguese alike, when the
hem of my taffeta dress glided past, of their quiet whispers discussing the choice of perfume that I
wore, the many poems declaring undying love from suitors known or incognito. All these I brushed
aside as inconsequential, that they were mere fleeting flatteries typical of young men of the courts.
No, I must not pretend that I was not interested, not flattered, or even tempted. But in my heart, I
knew I was destined for something more, something grander, something that would make me
different and that he would be somewhere waiting for me, waiting for that precise moment of mutual
recognition that finally would unite us in undying love. For him, I was willing to refrain from silliness
of youth, the pleasure of young flesh, to endure the passing of warm nights in my chamber while
others indulge themselves in secret pleasures next door.
I served the Infanta well and she, a beauty in herself, regarded me as a pleasant enough companion
and took me as part of her entourage to her wedding to the crown prince of Portugal.
And then I met Pedro.
Why has it have to be Pedro, of all people?
I knew who he was: Prince, fiancé of my lady Constance, the Infanta, one on whose shoulders rested
the heavy burden of a kingdom. And who am I ? A bastard daughter of an obscure Galician noble, a
young woman without heritage or dowry, a lady-in-waiting to the very woman he was supposed to
I should have refused, run, died.
I did not.
I fell, willingly, as if a rat cornered by a approaching serpent in its cave, unable to escape, nor react.
Only this serpent did not kill with bite but love and this rat, a willing accomplice to a crime of treason:
he against his wife, the wish of the King and the burden of a future monarch, I, against my honor and
We made love in his hunting lodge. He had several for he was keen on wolf hunting. That summer
day, he became a wolf himself, devouring my body and soul. His lips served as his fangs as he
sucked at my throat, his tongue dampened my skin behind my ears, making any resistance from me
impractical, his strong hands grab and tore at my riding attire which I willingly offered to him, ribbons
and buttons parted between his fingers, breasts bared and cupped, nipples kneaded and as my
boots kicked aside. My eyes shot open wide as he deflowered me, his cry of conquest echoing my
“I have become a whore, Your Highness.” I whispered with my head resting on his broad chest after
the storm had passed.
“No, Ines de Castro, you are wrong. You are my love, my eternal love.” He had held me tight, his gray
eyes looking at the ray flooding in. “One day, you will be my queen. I swear this upon the names of my
fathers. I will make you queen, no matter what comes.”
“I need no crown, Your Highness. I deserve none. I only long for your love…”
I did not finish my sentence. His lips closed in towards mine and my suppressed moaning wafted in
the lodge being warmed up by the heat of the morning sun.
Scandals can penetrate even the thickest walls.
The Infanta learnt of my betrayal before the summer was out. If this happened in Castile, I would be a
dead woman before the end of the day. Here, in Lisboa, her power was constrained. Still, she
stormed into the presence of the king and threatened to return to her native kingdom, jeopardizing
the alliance between Portugal and Navarre-Castile.
The king was furious.
Knowing his son, he tried first to plead to Pedro’s sense of duty. When this failed, he threatened
more dire measures: my imprisonment, confinement to a nunnery, banishment and even execution.
Pedro remained defiant to the first three, saying that he would find me and get me out in a week, As
to the last, he paled but swore revenge of the most terrible kind if his father went a step further than
They were never a cordial pair, King Alfonso and his son. But enmity did not change the fact that
Pedro was the only heir apparent and one day, king. I shuddered to think if it was otherwise, if he
was not irreplaceable. Fro King Alfonso, it was duty as a monarch that came before anything. In a
way I admired him for that, as a king. Pedro was more sentimental, more human.
The tug-of-war between father and son threatened to tear the court apart. I knew it was not just
morality of our affair that was in question. The party that favored more ties with Castile and those
who opposed it was using it to gain influence over the king. In such conflict, there was no definite
front, no drawn up order-of-battle of friends, no apparent foes to vanquish. Battles were fought
behind closed chambers, a whisper could more sinister than squadrons of charging knights, a
slender more deadly than a flight of quiet crossbow bolt.
Pedro sheltered me with all his might, showered me with love that I had once thought only exist in
heaven. In return, I gave him mine, unreserved, unrelenting despite the guilty, undying. I also gave
him children, four in succession, three boys and a girl. He adored them as much as their mother. In
our guarded haven of his small fortified palace, we created a dream-world, a paradise, a haven from
the gathering storm. His love did not diminish with the passing of years, nor with my seemingly
unending cycles of pregnancy. If anything, it grew stronger. I was blessed with a figure that did not
deteriorate after motherhood. My face remained girl-like, much to the astonishment, and envy, of
others. But there was no surprise to me. I knew I was nurtured by the most powerful substance in
the universe: my Pedro’s pure love.
The Infanta fell to a fever and died. They accused me of being the cause of it, that she had died of a
broken heart. Those who had served her knew better. It was her broken pride that killed her. She
had never loved Pedro and even openly bad-mouthed her husband in public. To her, glory and pomp
held more sway than something insignificant called Love.
Pedro was not grieved over the passing of the Infanta. To him, it was an opportunity for him to make
good his promise: to make me his wife, and hence one day, Queen.
Alfonso would have none of it. The battle continued. The ear of the king won over gradually by
those who sought the disgrace of the prince. Three of them were the main proponents of a solution
to end the embarrassment of my presence: Pêro Coelho, Álvaro Gonçalves, and Diogo Lopes
Pacheco.. Alfonso was abhorred by the suggestion at first. But the words of conspirators were
always dipped in honey and finally, the king was won over.
Pedro was sent away on royal order. His suspicion was removed by Alfonso’s apparent reconciliatory
attempts. He left guards to protect me, never understanding that their loyalty was compromised by
their fear of the wrath of the king.
I knew my end was at hand when they first came in. I was not afraid to die. I was blessed with so
many years of bliss that I never dreamed of possessing. The thought of never seeing Pedro again
saddened me and the knowledge that my children would be without their mother broke my heart. I
pleaded for their sake though I knew it would not be any use. They took me into the deep of the
woods. I was tied to the trunk of a tree, my velvet gown of sapphire and my under-shift were torn
down to my waist. They stared at the full breasts which I had milked my children. For a brief moment,
I could see the lust in their eyes and I trembled at the idea of being ravished by these despicable
murderers. But their fear overcame their desire: it would be unforgivable to violate the mistress of
the prince. Alfonso would not forgive them even if they had acted out his order to have me killed. I
was relieved when they drew out their daggers. Death was nothing now that my honor would be
preserved. I closed my eyes, thinking hard on how Pedro and I first made love on that glorious
morning, and braced my bosom for the pain.
The first stab went into my right breast, puncturing my lung. In spite of myself, I screamed out in
pain, blood coughing out and splattered on the one who made the move. I open my eyes. It was Pêro
Coelho, his handsome face now distorted with hatred. And jealousy. I remembered him well, during
the days when I had refused his advances, his flatteries of my unparalleled beauty, that he would
worship me like an angel.
“Die! Whore!” He swore.
I made a sad smile, not for me, but for his very soul.
His hand on the hilt trembled. Then, with renewed resolve, he twisted the dagger of which blade had
sunk into my body, drawing a spurting of blood. The others followed.
I could feel cold steel being planted into my breasts, my sides, my back, my navel…
I twisted in pain but refused to cry out again, not for the agony, not for mercy. I endured it for the
dignity of the woman worthy of my Pedro’s love. I prayed that he would not be too sorrowed by my
death, nor so blinded by the thought of revenge, though knowing him, I knew he would not stop until
all these men would pay their prices.
Finally, a blade was put across my throat.
“Say your last prayer, bitch!” It was Diogo Lopes Pacheco.
I uttered my last words. “I forgive you.”
They cut off my head and presented it to Alfonso.
He recoiled in terror at the unnecessary cruelty.
I was buried in haste in a humble church in Coimbra.
Pedro returned. There was civil war. Pedro lost to his father and was imprisoned.
But the conspirators had little time to rejoice.
The king was ill, and died shortly afterwards.
Pedro became king.
The punishment he meted out for my murderers was a horror. Brought to face Pedro and the whole
court, Pedro ordered their hearts be torn out, alive, two from their open up breasts and one from the
back. That won him the infamous name of Pedro the Cruel.
And then he came for me.
I could hear the digging sound now, hammer against the marble sarcophagus that had been my
resting ground all this time.
What would he think of me when his eyes set of my remains?
The fair cheeks that he had brushed the back of his hands against had dissolved, hollow sockets
where once my sky-blue eyes danced to his delight would greet his stare, the bosom on which he
had once lain his head was now nothing but a rib-cage. Only the blonde cascade of my hair was left,
a dry mess a shadow of its former splendor. My soul trembled at his coming shock at my appalling
state. Would it destroy his fond memory of his Ines? Would the memory in his heart be obliterated
by the foul carcass that would appear before the eyes of my Pedro?
More digging…it was coming louder now…any moment…
And then, there was light.
Amid the chant of a choir in fear, what had been the fine body of Ines of Castro was brought again to
the light of day, before the eyes of the new King of Portugal!
I saw him again. He had become so much older; his side-burns had whitened, his cheeks sallow, his
eyes filled with pain.
But there was no shock, no rejection.
There was only grief, and love!
Careful hands lay my skeleton on a prepared throne. A velvet of purple was placed over the bones
and a coronet upon the crown of my skull. Pedro walked up and held up my hand, flesh long gone
“Kneel! Kneel you all! Swear allegiance to your Queen! The Queen of Portugal!” The voice of the King
rang in the nape of the church, carrying with it the threat of thunder.
None dared remain standing.
I was carried from Coimbra in stately form all the way to the Monastery of Alcobaca.
A coffin with ready marble sarcophagus was waiting. On it were the beautiful carved scenes of our
happy days together and a motto undoubtedly chosen by Pedro: (até ao fim do mundo (until the end
of the world). It was to be my final resting place. An identical one lay on the opposite. I knew what it
meant. One day, Pedro would join me and here, we would patiently wait for the Day of Last Judgment.
And we I rose, as promised in the Scripture, I would find him waiting, having risen from his own
coffin. And our eyes would meet, our hands locked as we rose and walked together towards the
Almighty God to face His judgment of infinite justice without fear, be it eternal bliss of Heaven or the
fires of Hell.
I have always wanted to write about Ines de Castro, after my visit to Portugal and heard of her story. I
only gathered enough material recently, thanks to the discovered play by "Henry de Montherlant". I have
named my story "Ines, Queen after Death", exactly same as Monsieur Montherland had named his
The love story of Pedro and Ines was more touching, to me, than even Romeo and Juliet. The latter died
young, together, in the heat of love. That was not too difficult.
Kings, however, could have so much at his finger-tips: power, wealth, the fairest maidens of the realm
and even some from other lands.
Pedro did not forsake his love of his life even after he became king. Their coffins could still be seen in
the Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça, facing each other, awaiting for their eternal reunion.
How much more can a love story be closer to eternality?
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Comment from: Nastassja
Date: November 13, 2011
What an amazing, compelling tale, Hitomi! I had never heard of Ines de Castro, but after
reading your story I spent some time online reading her history...and it is just as you've
presented it! It's an almost unbelievable love story, and yet there is her sarcophagus
still in Portugal, giving eloquent testimony to its truth.
Your style in writing this is remarkable, too. It seems to me that the story is narrated by
Ines after her own death...a masterstroke on your part, as it echoes the wondrous
circumstance of her actually becoming Queen after dying.
Once again, you impress me so much with your storytelling. I read your tales again and
again, and find new depths that I missed the first time around. Never put down your pen,
Comment from: Othello
Date: November 13,2011
I am very familiar with Henri de Montherlant, Hitomi...he also wrote a poetic story from
Greek Myth, actually illustrated by the incomparable Matisse! (Here's a peek at it...)
It's a "Holy Grail" wish of mine to someday find a copy for my personal library. Someday I
would love to see how you would write the tale of Pasiphae! And this tale of Ines, as
Nastassja says, is a love story of incredible power. You do it full justice, as always,
bringing the illumination of your fine writing to pierce the crypt where she lies...
Comment from: Hitomi
Date: November 13, 2011
I am at work now and cannot write in length. But thanks for the encouragement.
And Othello, may be this can help in your Holy Grail chase.
Comment from: Hitomi
Date: November 14, 2011
Ines is little known outside Portugal and if I did not go there for tour,I might never learn
about her story. Glad you like it.
Pasiphae would be a real challenge. Since she was supposed to be immortal, it would
be very difficult to fit her into "erotic death". To do that, I have to give the story a
totally different interpreation. It may be some time that I can come up with a credible
Which story are you going to post up next? The Sacrifice?