Chapter 8 Kings and Queens

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Inside the church

We walk to the end of the church part of the monastery and pass by twenty rows of dark wood pews. Then we hang a right at the altar and enter the space with Pedro I’s sarcophagus. To the side is the sala dos tumulos– the Room of Tombs. The coffins of the Queens are opposite to the terracotta statue of the ‘Death of St. Bernard’. The standing tomb of Afonso II is on the right of St. Bernard and Afonso III is on the left.

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The terracotta statue of the ‘Death of St. Bernard’. The standing tomb of Afonso II is on the right of St. Bernard and Afonso III is on the left.

Standing in front of St. Bernard, I say to Dad “He was the Abbot at the Cisterian Clerveux monastery in France and an influential evangelical speaker as I said yesterday. Bernard of Clerveux wrote the vows for the powerful Knights Templar, a spin-off of the Cisterians. As well, he was the uncle of the first king of Portugal, Afonso I. Afonso was a Templar, and so were each of the Burgundian kings. St. Bernard was a promoter, on behalf of the Pope, of the Second Crusade.”

“Wasn’t the Second Crusade the one that was a failure except the crusaders helped Afonso I conquer Lisbon?”

“Yes, they didn’t vanquish the Muslim Turkish Empire in the holy land or avenge the conquest of Edessa.”

I put on the glasses and inspect the tomb of Afonso II next to the statue of St. Bernard.

“Nothing,”

Trying again and surveying the room, “I can make out something now. There is a person, I can peer through him except he has an opaque gold crown on.”

While Dad is viewing the tombs of the Queens, I open the compartment of the right arm of the glasses. Do I take the risk? I could end up having a seizure.

I think about it. If it happens, Dad should react and take care of me. So I slide the switch and put the glasses on with the band around the back of my head. I feel a mild tingling sensation. Glancing at my watch, I note it’s 10:30 in the morning.

I can… I can… hear something buzzing and crackling. It’s getting louder. There’s a voice mixed with patterns and pictures in my head. He is repeating something.

“He’s showing me his face… Ugh! A large chunk is missing where his left cheek should be, and his other cheek is puffy and wrinkled resembling an ugly fruit,” I say to Dad.

“What is he doing?”

“He’s saying ‘Gafo’ something.”

In my head, there’s a crowd of people yelling ‘EMBORA GAFO[1]. Then I make out a fenced in yard with people in it that are missing fingers and thumbs with disfigured faces. They’re dressed in rags. It looks as if it’s a place where people with Leprosy go.

“He wasn’t Afonso II, the Fat, as they say in the encyclopaedias. He was Afonso II, the Leper.”

“That’s a horrible disease and painful. He only lived to thirty-seven and had leprosy since he was fourteen, so most of his life.”

“I see a man walking through a market with lots of produce- turnips, cabbages, apples, and chickens hanging by their feet. The men are smiling and nodding as he walks by. He has small red patches on his face.”

“He started no wars with the Moors or the Castilians, there was peace and prosperity early in his reign.”

He’s still speaking.

“I’m visualizing soldiers charging forward on heavy horses. They have metal helmets with small slits and are dressed in white tunics with large crosses emblazoned on them. Behind the soldiers are thousands of men dressed in rough cut trousers and loose linen shirts, or are shirtless and most are shoeless, carrying axes and hoes. A bearded man with a crown is leading on a muscular white horse. With him is a standard bearer carrying a red flag with a picture of a yellow castle.”

“Afonso must be referring to when Alfonso VIII of Castile, Afonso II’s father-in-law, invaded Moorish territory and Afonso sent soldiers. They were not knights but peasants fulfilling their annual military duty for the King in exchange for land tenancy.”

My temple is throbbing. This experience is intense. I take off the glasses and slide the switch. Afonso is speaking words I don’t understand and I’m seeing images in my head.

“On the right is the tomb of Queen Urraca, the Castilian princess daughter of Alfonso VIII that Afonso II married. Sancho I, Afonso’s father arranged the marriage to have an alliance with Castile. Alfonso VIII had the largest kingdom with the most powerful army on the Iberian Peninsula and proclaimed himself to be the emperor of the entire of Espania[2],” Dad says.

Watching for any people walking by I slide the switch and put the glasses back on.

“Nothing. Maybe Urraca’s sarcophagus is too thick.”

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The tomb of Queen Urraca, the wife of Afonso II

“You’re looking up now and I saw your eyes widen,” Dad says.

Footnotes

[1] EMBORA GAFO – Away leper

[2] Espania is the name given to the grouping of Castile, Galacia and Leon kingdoms.

Read Chapter 9 Shimmering Blue and Silver

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