[Back] [Blueprint] [Next]


From Peter the Cruel, The Life Of The Notorious Don Pedro of Castile Together With An Account Of His Relations With The Famous Maria de Padilla, by Edward Storer; London: John Lane, The Bodley Head; New York: John Land Company, 1911; pp. 110-123.





SOME families are marked out for adventure and romance by the high gods as surely as are certain animals in their earliest days by man for his diversion, sport, assistance, or food.

The Fates would seem to brand these creatures with extraordinary character, extraordinary beauty, or a sweet, perilous kind of folly, by which they can never be forgotten or mislaid.

“This one,” we may imagine them to say, “has a soul of wind and laughter. He shall dance for us when he grows up, in our theatre of Europe. And this woman’s beauty and charm will certainly afford us excellent entertainment by-and-by. So we will pitch her where she can set some man alight. The conflagration should prove amusing.”

Such folk, perhaps, were the daughters of Don Pedro de Castro, Juana and Inez. The superb love-story of Inez and the Infante of Portugal, certainly one of the most magnificent love-stories of all time, has received in Camoëns’ Lusiad a national and perhaps a universal tribute.1

Juana’s adventure is not so well known.

She was a careful, proper widow of youth and beauty, when someone told King Peter of her.


Passing her widowhood in retreat and in occupations suitable to her condition, says Mariana.

“She was,” says Sir J. Dillon, “one of the most beautiful and accomplished persons in Spain. Her manner was perfectly elegant, and she had great innate dignity of mind.”

We learn that so properly did she comport herself, that even the busy scandal of those days failed to infect the purity of her character with the least taint or stain.

Don Pedro had had a little quarrel with Maria, and so far had matters gone that the Padilla had announced her intentions of ending her life in the peace and solitude of a convent. Whether despair on her part at ever being able to hold the volatile and treacherous fancy of so wild a prince had brought her to this resolve is not known.

At any rate, it must have been a very real and protracted quarrel, for Pedro wrote to the Pope for authority to found a convent under the patronage of St. Clara, where Maria was to be the Mother Superior.

Don Pedro, who was glad of an opportunity to forget Maria’s exhibition of bad temper, proceeded to fall in love with Juana, almost at first sight. The young monarch approached the wooing of her with a desperate and passionate ardour.

But Juana was calm, dignified, and correct.

She was polite, flattered, but reserved.

It was all very well to win a monarch’s affections, but to become his mistress was hardly “an occupation suitable to her condition.” . . .


Pedro, made desperate by this coldness and unwonted resistance, spoke of marriage. Doña Juana saw then that the affair had become solely a matter of terms. A monarch who is prepared to commit bigamy for one’s sake is a very difficult suitor to refuse. It remained to discover if the King could offer marriage. Juana’s relatives were determined that, at any rate, the best arrangement possible for her should be made.

She was firm. She insisted on a marriage, so that there was nothing for Pedro to do but to assure everybody that his earlier alliance with Blanche was a mistake, a nullity; in fact, no marriage at all. By his immediate and most servile courtiers, this announcement was, of course, received with no surprise; indeed, it was duly endorsed. But Juana wished for something more definite and formal than this.

Two arbiters were appointed to decide the question of the King’s fitness and legal capacity for matrimony.

That her confidence might be strengthened, one of the men chosen was a relative of Juana, Enrique Enriquez by name. The other counsellor was Juan Rodriquez de Señabria, a knight of Galicia. The arguments employed to convince these judges may, as Mérimée says, be imagined. The custody of the castles of Jaen, Dueñas, and Castrojeriz was handed over to Enrique Enriquez; no doubt, that in the solitude and peace of their walls he might be able to give the proposition the calm consideration it needed.

To Cuellar, where the fair Juana was living in a 113 vortex of scruples and doubts, and harassed by the persuasions of her relatives, Don Pedro hurried with the glad tidings that he was free to marry the lady of his choice.

But Juana was apparently a shrewd young woman. Still there remained in the heart of her some obstinate waverings. To overcome these, she demanded the sanction of the Church. She desired that two prelates should confirm the verdicts of the lay arbiters in order that piety might be added to polity, and sanction to authority. Don Sancho, Bishop of Avila, and Don Juan, Bishop of Salamanca, were sent for, and asked by Don Pedro to declare it their profound and earnest belief that he was free to contract a marriage with whomsoever he should please. And, for the sake of their reputations, it is sad to relate that they acquiesced in the judgment of the two earlier arbiters.

It was no affair of castles or gold for them. They consented, says the chronicle, out of sheer fright, and Llaguno adds that they were afterwards summoned to Rome and severely reprimanded by the Pope.

The King’s fierce passion burnt itself out almost at once.

He kissed and ran away.

One day, and one day only, was Juana Queen of Castile, even de facto. One night, one night only, did she own the royal love.

Morning dawned on a frowning king, the fire of whose burnt-out passion remained only as ashes of sorrow in a woman’s soul.

Juana was given Dueñas, which was taken back 114 again from the too-complaisant Enriquez together with his two other castles.

Sacrilege, perjury, broken promises to man and woman, all in the course of a bare few days.

For Pedro went away, never to return.

And in her castle of Dueñas, poor Juana was left with her grief and bruised pride.


1  Lusiad, canto iii., stanzas 118-135.




AFTER the death of the Portuguese Minister, Alburquerque, his little army, faithful to its promise, allowed itself to be led by a ghostly commander-in-chief. From city to city, over mountain and plain, went solemnly in the van, covered with its cloth of gold, the corpse of the revengeful statesman — grim burden of its spirit’s strange conceit, never permitted the bedding of earth until its mission should be done.

But the war or revolt was conducted in a spirit of lethargy. Conferences took the place of battles.

It was like a parliament grown military and run amuck, or a host of soldiers, stricken with a foolish desire for speech.

The League of rebellious factions arrange a great conference and discussion with Don Pedro at Toro. The affording of hospitality to the ambassadors of the League was the cause of the King’s losing one of his closest adherents and friends.

Among the three men chosen by the confederates to lay their position and requests before his Majesty was Pero Carillo, who seems to have been unable to keep out of the front of things for any length of time.

It was particularly over the lodging and entertaining 116 of Pero that the quarrel between Fernando Alvarez de Toledo and Alfonso Jufre Tenorio arose. Pero was evidently a man of wit and influence, as we have seen him to be a man of character and initiative. Probably he was in good esteem with the leaders of the opposing hosts, and was a man whose favour it was desirable to enjoy. Tenorio and Alvarez came to blows over this dispute, and brought half a dozen other courtiers into their quarrel, which ended in the death of one of these men. The King, in deciding the merits of the case, seems to have favoured the position of Alvarez, which so offended the Tenorios, that they — Juan and Alfonso —  forthwith left Pedro and deserted to the allies.

The inclemency of the weather, and the unsuitability of the conditions for the feeding and supplying of a large army in the open country compelled the allied troops to remove from their encampments. They proceeded towards Morales, making, as they went, a show of arms and a great display of pomp before the eyes of their King. Pedro, seeing in this move an opportunity, left Toro with a hundred horsemen for the castle of Urueña, where Maria was. Hardly was the dust of his soldiers' horses settled, than Don Pedro suffered betrayal at the hands of one with whom he might at any rate have thought himself safe.

The Queen-mother, who had been left in charge of the little garrison at Toro, took the opportunity of bringing things to a head by inviting the approach of the Infante of Aragon, to whom she 117 promised the fortress’s surrender. She bade him come with all speed — no speed we may well imagine could have been too quick —  for when you are about to betray your son, it is stupid to be caught in the middle of your treachery by its object and victim.

The leaguers returned in haste. Now they had everybody on their side that they could very well have, except the King himself. Don Pedro had now neither money nor provisions; his army was reduced to a hundred soldiers; his only place of refuge was a castle which could not maintain a siege of many days. To Urueña the allies dispatched a deputation, primed this time with few and haughty words — a king is, after all, only the embodiment of the universal desire for submission in his subjects — and asked, demanded rather, Don Pedro’s return to Toro. And then followed a small, rather pathetic little council

There remained to the King Don Diego de Padilla, Master of Calatrava, Juan de Henestrosa, Gutier de Toledo then (for what it was worth) Repostero Major, Simuel Levi, and — Maria de Padilla.

Maria, at any rate, was faithful. She is the indubitable heroine of this Spanish melodrama, as spotless in Act IV. as in Act I. Hand in hand did the noble lovers con this lesson of sorrow and humility. Maria was there to salve those bitter hurts, stanch that great lesion of despair in the royal heart, comfort, console, allay.

Of the other counsellor, Diego Padilla was in no hurry to return to Toro, where he would have to 118 account to certain ones for the murder of Nuñez de Padro. And in a similar position was Toledo, in whose castle of Talavera poor Leonor de Guzman, Enrique’s mother, had met her death.

Here, in different forms, were excellent reasons why the Court should not return to Toro.

But Juan de Henestrosa thought otherwise. In a speech of apparent generosity and regard for the King, he advised his return to Toro. One cannot vouch for his disinterestedness: it can only be said that his interest in the matter is not patent, but it seems probable that Henestrosa was really a man of some innate generosity, to judge from his share in later happenings in Don Pedro’s reign.

“Juan de Henestrosa,” recites Ayala, “was a good knight, and he said to the King that his counsel was that he should go to Toro to the queens, Doña Maria, his mother, and Doña Leonor, his aunt, and all the great lords of his kingdom, and come to agreement with them, and not imperil his kingdom for his sake, nor for that of Don Diego Garcia, the brother of Doña Maria de Padilla. For the Infante Don Fernando de Aragon was on the other side, and he was the next heir to Castile since the King had no legitimate heirs, and they might make him King if things went on so ill as they did at present. And he said, moreover, that since he advised the King to go to Toro he would go with him, and though he knew those lords bore him ill-will because he was the uncle of Doña Maria de Padilla, not for this not for fear of death would he flinch from going with the King. 119 And the King held these words and counsel for good service.”1

Henestrosa prevailed; indeed there was little option left to Don Pedro in the matter. If he did not go to the allies, it was more than probable that they would come and fetch him in a manner too humiliating to think of.

So the King set out with his little escort all unarmed and mounted upon mules.

The master of Calatrava and Gutier Fernandez de Toledo asked to be excused and stayed behind.

This was a bitter hour for Peter the Cruel. At the head of a small and insignificant retinue, he came to the magnificent hosts of the confederates. These, well-mounted, and gorgeously attired in vestures through which swords and daggers were permitted to appear with ostentatious carelessness, surrounded their young king, in this his hour of humility and defeat.

Memories of the old times at Torrijos, when, among all his courtiers and in the company of his brothers, he had enjoyed days of sport and chivalry, and nights of pleasure, must have troubled his memory. Masters, servants, courtiers, friends, brothers — mother even, had proved false; Maria alone remained to him.

Still yielding their sovereign external signs of respect, the nobles and captains of the Confederates kissed his hands, and conducted him to the city with loud acclamations of joy, caracoling about him, 120 performing fantasias, pursuing one another, and hurling cañas in the Moorish fashion.

We may imagine with what feelings Don Pedro saw these exhibitions of joy, which were to him but witnesses to the delight of his jailers. When his brother Enrique came forward to greet him, it was more than a young king of twenty, broken in his pride, could endure.

That fierce and passionate heart, trembled at its desolation and despair. Supreme self-pity choked the royal breast and melted into tears.

“May God be merciful to you,” cried Pedro, “for my part I pardon you.” And if we may doubt the sincerity of the pardon, we must see here, at any rate, the cry of a hurt proud nature, the sob of a strong-willed boy whom fortune and favour have deserted. Almost like a naughty child, whose parents have gathered him within their authority once more, was the King compelled to listen to his mother’s reproof.

Pedro’s pride was counting up the toll of all these insults and humiliations against a terrible hour, a terrible day of revenge. A man who has been thoroughly a king, and has braved and lorded it for months, can hardly relish being treated again like a little boy. A king who had tender witnesses to his manhood and maturity, will not bear lightly the taunt of youth.

Don Pedro’s aunt, the Queen of Aragon, read him a little sermon, her second effort in this direction.

“Good nephew,” she said, “it becomes you well 121 thus to show yourself in the midst of all the grandees of your kingdom, instead of wandering from castle to castle to escape your lawful wife. But it is not your fault, youth that you are; it is all through these wicked men who have corrupted you, especially one Juan de Henestrosa, whom we see here with Don Simuel el Levi, and others like them. We will now have them removed, and will place about you men of character, who will care for your honour as well as your interests.”2

“Henestrosa has always served me faithfully,” cried Pedro. “I look to it that he will be treated with respect.”

As a matter of fact, he was placed in the custody of the Infante Don Fernando, while the others of the few officers who had remained faithful to their Sovereign suffered the immediate loss of their dignities and positions.

The King was a prisoner.

Though it was not as jailer that Don Fadrique was charged with the safe custody of Pedro, that was what his office actually meant. The allies spoke of Don Fadrique as the King’s Chamberlain, and, if Pedro was not near, no doubt they smiled. Don Fernando of Aragon became Grand Chancellor, the Infante Don Juan, Grand Standard Bearer.

The King was placed in an ecclesiastical palace, where his safe custody was immediately detailed to Don Lopez de Bendaña. One of Don Fadrique’s knights slept in the King’s chamber. Orders were 122 passed that he was not to be allowed out of sight for a moment, and his presence was forbidden to anyone without the express permission of the Master of Santiago. For the rest, the successful Leaguers spent most of their time in dividing the spoil of offices, honours, and castles among themselves.

One other thing was added to complete Don Pedro’s sorrow and misfortune. That pride of his, so much bruised and wounded of late, was to receive another shock.

Don Fernando de Castro, whose dignity had suffered by the King’s treatment of his sister, Juana, determined to avenge himself by a piece of retribution in keeping with that poetic justice which seems to have been so much in favour in these times.

He announced his intention of marrying the King’s half-sister, Juana, the daughter of Alfonso XI. and the De Guzman. Her dowry was, of course, regal, like that of all the children of Leonor.3

Peter protested in vain against this alliance, so humiliating to his family and himself. The Conde would also, one might imagine, have objected to this marriage of his sister beneath her rank, but he played instead the part of head of the family and gave his sister away at the wedding, which was celebrated with all magnificence in the cathedral of Toro.

A certain knight of the name of Pero Carillo watched this marriage with interested eyes for a reason that will later be noticed.


And now at length is the ghost laid.

Alburquerque’s remains were solemnly buried a day or two after this marriage. All classes and faction attended the ceremony, for the old statesman had inspired great respect during his life. At last might his bitter, revengeful heart sleep in peace, and his bones lie calmly in the earth with no tingle and jar of hate within him.

Sleep, old eyes! and drowse softly in death, out-worn wise old head: you were tutor to the last, and you teach, even from your tomb.

Now the earth will wrap you like a prayer that enfolds one’s misery and fear in peace, and your soul go singing to the stars for the sweet content put in the old shell of it.

No more your spirit, like a mateless thing, need wander over plains, and your army can go comfortably to perdition or success, with an ordinary, fallible commander of flesh and blood.


1  Ayala, 1354, Cap. XXXIV.

2  Ayala, 1354, Cap. XXXV.

3  De Castro was here able to please his inclinations as well, for Ayala says “he had loved her for a long time.”


[Back] [Blueprint] [Next]

For online additions, corrections, notes & design:
Copyright  © 2005-2018
by Elfinspell