National Geographic : 1965 Oct
waiting for a boat that would never return (pages 476-7).* A scant seven miles from Nazare, in the town of Alcobaca, stands the grandiose Mon astery of Santa Maria. But few people enter the austere church to pray. They go rather to savor a strange and terrible love story. Save for a plain altar, the church contains only two caskets, each carved from a single block of white stone. To the right of the altar lies Dom Pedro I, King of Portugal from 1357 to 1367; to the left, his Spanish mistress Ines de Castro. On her head is a crown. And there in lies the story. Ines had borne Pedro-then the crown prince-several children. Because she was Spanish and because the children complicated the royal succession, certain counselors of Pedro's aging father, King Afonso IV, urged that she be killed. On a winter day in 1355, Afonso visited Ines. He made a final demand that the comely foreigner abandon his son. She refused. Before the day ended, his exe cutioners murdered her and interred her body in Coimbra. Sorrowing King Crowns a Dead Queen At the news of her death, the raging Pedro - who later swore that he and Ines had been secretly married by the Bishop of Braga rose in revolt against his father. In 1357, he mounted the throne. The guilty counselors fled, but Pedro managed to have two of them extradited from Castile. "In his cruel and pitiless rage," recounts a chronicler, "he put them to the question him self." He ended by tearing out their living hearts-one from the front, one from the back. Then, the story goes, Pedro exhumed Ines and had her body crowned in a solemn ceremony, then borne in torchlit procession to the tomb at Alcobaca. A few years later the king joined her in death. Now, in their immortality of white stone, the lovers lie foot to foot so that when they rise on Judgment Day, the first sight for each will be the other. And carved into a wheel of for tune on Pedro's sepulcher are the words "Ate o fim do mundo-Until the end of the world." Almost directly east of the somber resting place of Pedro and Ines, the town of Tomar nestles in the green valley of Rio Nabao. High above the houses, among pines and cypresses, sprawls the Convent of Christ-a summary in stone of Portuguese history. In 1160, the Knights Templar erected a fortress church on this spot, then the frontier between Christendom and Islam. When the 484 papacy suppressed the Templars in 1314, the Portuguese Order of Christ absorbed the knights' immense local holdings. The battlemented church still stands. From its octagonal sanctuary, a muted echo of By zantium in scarlet and dull gold, I passed into the Chapter Room. Here, on austere wooden chairs, the Knights of Christ had planned their campaigns. In a square cloister, where Gothic arches framed orange trees in bloom, my feet trod numbered slabs; each covered the remains of a knight, half-monk, half-war rior, who had wielded his sword for God and this little kingdom. Henry the Navigator, Grand Master of the Order of Christ from 1418 to 1460, diverted its wealth and manpower into his voyages of discovery, and the knights' red cross blazoned the sails of every caravel. Later, as treasure from the Orient poured into Portugal, the same Manuel the Fortunate who built Jer6ni mos added a nave to the convent-a nave so elaborately carved that "the stone sings." But, in the end, it is the stark simplicity of the Templar church that haunts the imagi nation. As I left, I noticed a blurred Latin *See "I Sailed With Portugal's Captains Courageous," by Alan Villiers, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, May, 1952.