Have you ever wondered why King D. Pedro was known as “the cruel”? This King, who became famous in the History of Portugal for having the heart ripped out of the men who murdered his lover Inês de Castro (see my blog: post of 10 August 2020) and for demanding that they kiss her corpse while she was sitting on the throne, used to make justice by your own hands, all over the country.
D. Pedro I traveled frequently in Portugal and liked to hear the stories and complaints of those who had been wronged and, instead of going to court, he was the one who handed down the sentences and often practiced them. There are several stories of justice attributed to him.
In Santarém lived a rich farmer with whom the king got along. One day, being in that city and as he did not see the man, he asked about him and found that his son had stabbed him, leaving a scar on his face. The king then ordered him to be called and asked him to tell how things had gone.
The farmer narrated the discussion he had with his son and the aggression he had been the victim, in the presence of the woman. “Send your wife and your son to me here,” ordered the monarch. When the woman arrived, she asked him: “Listen, whose son is it?” She stammered, “My husband’s and mine, sir.” The king stroked his beard. “Hum !, I don’t believe it. If your husband had been the real father, he wouldn’t have shot you that way. ”
The farmer eventually admitted that the boy was the son of a confessing friar who would have raped her. The next day, D. Pedro went to hear mass in the church where the violation had occurred. The ceremony concluded, he looked for the religious.
After a short exchange of words, the king ordered the rapist to be boxed and sawed in half. As the king was not an illusionist of those who were women without being pinched, the bastard died a horrible death.
The episode of the Bishop of Porto is still well remembered. D. Pedro was told, without evidence, that the prelate had intimate relations with a married woman. It was enough for him to enter the episcopal palace and, taking the whip, punish him. Another time, when he learned that a woman was cheating on her husband, he sentenced her to death. And the deceived begged on his knees for the forgiveness of his wife, whom he certainly loved.
But there is a less known aspect of D. Pedro I’s life. Chronicler Fernão Lopes narrates that the sovereign had an overwhelming passion … for his squire Afonso Madeira, whom he “loved more than one should say here”.
As he had an affair with one Catarina Tosse, the king, furious, “ordered him to cut off those members that the men in greatest esteem have, so that there was no flesh left to the bone that everything was not cut”. Poor Afonso, according to Lopes, was treated, “he healed, he thickened his legs and body and lived a few years with a face and no beard and died after his natural death”.