Saturday, June 23, 2018

La Reine Morte (2009)

as the King of Portugal with as his daughter-in-law, Inês de Castro
The Murder of Inês de Castro
Prime Video offers many foreign dramas including La Reine Morte (2009), based upon the play by Henry de Montherlant about the doomed marriage of the future Pedro I of Portugal with Inês de Castro. As heir to the throne of Portugal, Prince Pedro must marry for reasons of state, but has already secretly married his lover Inês, a Spanish lady of illegitimate birth. When Pedro's father the King discovers his son's disobedience, his long-standing grudge against the young man is enflamed, and he becomes obsessed with destroying the couple. As the pair try to live in the present, relishing their time together, they know at any moment they might be separated; Inês prepares to give her life. Meanwhile, even though the King struggles with his conscience he gives in to evil advisors and decides to have Inês assassinated.

The fourteenth century Portuguese court is recreated thanks to authentic sets and costumes and gifted actors. Although the story-line veers from historical fact into fiction and legend, the film nevertheless does a masterful job at encapsulating the poignance and calamity of the union of Pedro and Inês. The lovers' joy in each other provokes jealousy, enmity and bitterness which in the film are shown as being motives behind the murder as well as the alleged political expediency. The final scene, in which Pedro, after becoming King, orders Inês' corpse to be exhumed and enthroned before the nobles, is breathtaking even as the heart breaks.

The real story is no less tragic. According to the Algarve History Association:
It is rare in Portugal to find a Castilian held in high historical regard, but so it is with Inês Peres de Castro e Valadares. In fact she was descended from noble Portuguese and Galician lines as well as illegitimately from the Castilian royal house. Every Portuguese schoolchild knows her story, and every visitor to the monastery at Alcobaça must have visited her magnificently carved tomb opposite the nearly identical tomb of her royal lover Don Pedro I, placed so that when they arise at the day of judgment, they may see each other first of all.

Inês de Castro arrived in Portugal in 1339 as a lady in waiting to Infanta Constanza of Castile, bride of Don Pedro, heir to the throne of Portugal. The Infanta Constanza bore three children, one of whom was Don Fernando, future king of Portugal. Dona Constanza died in November 1345, shortly after the birth of Don Fernando.

When Dona Inês arrived in Portugal, she was only 15 years old, and Don Pedro was immediately struck by a coup de foudre. What a situation, to be married to Constanza, and to be head-over-heels in love with one of her ladies in waiting. The solution was to carry on a secret adulterous love affair with Inês which became open after the death of Constanza. His father, Don Afonso IV King of Portugal, became alarmed at the behaviour of his son and heir, not because of the affair, but because Don Pedro began friendly relations with the brothers of Inês, who were also of course Castilian. Don Afonso feared for the independence of his country after his own death, and warned Don Pedro time and again to break off these relationships, but without success.

In 1344, Don Afonso ordered that Inês be incarcerated in the castle of Albuquerque on the Castilian frontier. Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder, and so it proved in this case. After the death of Constanza, Don Pedro recalled Inês against the will of his father the King, which led to a major disagreement between them. Don Pedro rejected a plan for another marriage to another Castilian princess, saying that he mourned for his dead wife. In the meantime, Inês bore four of his children, including two boys. Rumours began to circulate that the Castro family planned to disinherit Don Fernando the true heir to the throne in favour of the children of Inês. Amid rumours that Don Pedro and Inês had secretly married, and were living in the Convento de Stª Clara-a-Velha in Coimbra, Portuguese nobles pressed the king to resolve the issue. One morning in January, 1355 while Don Pedro was out hunting, the king and three assassins visited the Convento, and performed the dastardly deed. She was 29 years old.

The devastated Don Pedro began a civil war against his father, and upon ascending the throne in 1357, declared that he and Inês had been married in Bragança (on a date which he did not remember) so legitimising Inês´ children. Two of the assassins were executed by having their hearts torn out in front of the king. The third escaped. There is a legend that when he became king in 1357, Don Pedro exhumed the corpse of Inês and forced all of his court to kiss her hand as though she were a living queen. (Read more.)
Whether the enthronement story is true or not, King Pedro loved Inês until he died. On his tomb he had the following words inscribed: Até o fim do mundo...("Until the end of the world..."). And so, even now, they await the final resurrection together.
The Murder of Inês de Castro
The Enthronement of Inês de Castro
Pedro and Inês: "Until the end of the world..."


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