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Pedro I was the eigth king of Portugal, he was born in Coimbra on April 8, 1320, and died in Estremoz, January 18, 1367; he was nicknamed The Cruel', 'The Just' and 'The Vindictive'.
"Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing." - L. Buscaglia.
While politics have always been dirty, in past centuries being born a king or a noble person wasn't a guarantee of anything. You had to be more ruthless than anyone else, just in order to stay alive.
Pedro I was the son of Afonso IV of Portugal and belonged to the House of the Capets; Pedro marred three times and allegedly had two lovers, one of whom became his second wife. But the true nature of Pedro's relationships is really not well known and there are some contradictions in various documents found. Nevertheless, he had several recognized children.
His first marriage was to Blanca of Castilla y Aragón, but the whole affair failed. The, while still a prince he married Constanza Manuel de Castilla and had three children:
Luis, who was born and died in 1340.
Fernando (1345-1383) who became king Fernando I, and the last Capet of Portugal.
While Constanza was still alive - she died giving birth to Fernando - Pedro had an affair with Lady Inés de Castro (see Inés de Castro, Queen After Death). Later, after the death of his first spouse, Pedro claimed that he had secretely married Inés, but produced no tangible proof of the even. However, he recognized all her children as his own and legitimate heirs. They were
Afonso, who died in childhood.
João (1349-1387), Duke of Valencia de Campos
Then, he had a relationship with Teresa Gille Lourenco, which was considered legitimate. They had one son:
João (1357-1433), who became King João I of Portugal and founder of the House of Aviz (see João I de Portugal).
However, threr are some doubts about both children named João, since existing documents are not completely clear. They might have been the same person, altought the most common interpretation is that they were two different sons from the same father but different mothers. One of the connections between the House of Aviz and us is indeed João I, who married Philippa of Lancaster. Some of their descendants, still within the House of Aviz, began using the surname (title) of Philippa, who was one of the daughter of John of Gaunt, as their own. Soon it evolved into its Portuguese variant, which is Lancastre.
From this branch of the House of Aviz (or Avis, in its modern spelling) some generations later appears Ana de Lancastre[1.6], who married Dom Bartholomew de Schoenenberg, son of Dom Iago de Sampayo y Belmonte and María Mascarenhas, and in turn, from Bartholomew and Ana descend all the members of the Schoenberg family up to the present (see Dom Iago de Sampayo y Belmonte).
Once crowned as king, Pedro fought to lessen the influence of the church over Portugal, and persecuted the assasins of his second wife, Inés. In the process, he earned the nickname "El cruel" due to the way in he had the perpetrators executed, by taking out their hearts while still alive.
Many of the events related to the murder of Pedro's second wife are legendary or have been reinterpreted for several reasons thorough many centuries; even artists have been inspired by the story, so the details might not be accurate. The essence, however, is that Pedro, then a prince going to be the heir of a kingdom not only lost a person whom he loved, but also his leadership was questioned right before the beginning of his rule. He had to retaliate.
The murder of his wife was something that he could not afford; not even today a person in a position of leadership could accept such a blow expecting to have his or her power remain intact un less the questioned leader comes up with something that would take advantage of the fact to send a yet more powerful message. The way in which Pedro had the perpetrators executed was precisely that. It wasn't only a thing of passion, but a matter of survival: If someone could perpetrate such a conspiracy to kill a future queen, they could do the same and get rid off the king as well.
According to various sources, the punishment he inflicted on the perpetrators in particular, and the court in general only if as a warning, was extremely harsh. Two of the killers had their hearths ripped from their bodies while they were alive and conscious, in front of other members of the court. But he also made the whole court pay homage to the corpse of his wife when he was crowned. In fact, he had her crowned queen after her death, and whomever might reject the idea of honoring the rotten carcass that was literally put in a throne, would be executed immediately.
Seen from afar, the actions of Pedro might seem exaggerated, but actions cannot be understood outside their historical context. The king was right in many ways: He evidently had good leadership skills, a good survival intinct and the ruthlessness required to deal with a murderous court that could produce new killers at any instant.
Nobody ever questioned him again.
Pedro I de Portugal y Algarve.
From Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia. Public domain
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