Chapter 16 Feelings

“Were you emotional before you died?” I ask.

“I was crying often because I imagined my children being harmed or my husband dying,” Queen Urraca says.

Afonso II says, “If I made the slightest comment, you cried. Sometimes, sobbing for days.”

“How was your breathing?” I ask.

“Nothing unusual, except a persistent cold. It started in the spring and stayed. I had runny nose, sticky gum in my eyes, a cough that didn’t go away, and difficulties speaking. In Obidos, I couldn’t clear my throat to speak to the congregation. It was embarrassing.”

“When you say it wouldn’t go away, what did you mean?” I ask.

“I awakened without a cold, then the next day it was back.”

“I have another question. Before your death, how would you characterize the inside of your mouth?”

The Queen tilted her head back and furrowed her brow, “I had cankers that went away and then reappeared within days. My tongue was coated with mucous, even after my maiden swabbed it with lemon juice. I thought it was a sign of aging because I had saliva in my mouth from the morning until I went to sleep. I even caught myself drooling when I met with the congregation in Torres Vedras, very embarrassing.”

I say, “Based upon your testimony, you had these symptoms:

Heart damage, showed by pounding in your chest. It’s called tachycardia.

Nerve damage, showed by leg pains and itching.

Optic nerve damage, showed by sensitivity to light and dizziness.

Muscle damage, showed by swelling of legs, sudden collapse of one or both legs and general weakness.

Brain damage, showed by unexplained crying, alternating inability to sleep and inability to wake up.

Respiratory damage, showed by cold symptoms such as mucous in nose, coughing, watery eyes, horse voice that persist for days then disappear and reappear. You experienced a cycle of symptoms and no symptoms for months.

Kidney damage, as showed by general swelling.

These symptoms might suggest kidney disease or other ailments, but one more set of symptoms joined with the symptoms just mentioned show Arsenic poisoning.

Can I ask you more questions?”

“Yes, please go ahead,” sighs the Queen.

“This had better be short, I’m losing patience,” says Afonso II.

“Go ahead and please show respect with your questions,” says Afonso III.

“Did you lose your appetite and food did not taste good anymore?” I ask.

“Yes, that is true. I lost weight,” says the Queen.

“I remember you didn’t eat sweets anymore. Even your favourite cake, Pão de Lo[1] on my tenth birthday,” says Afonso III.

“That is another sign. I have one last question… Did you miss days in a row in the week not going for your ‘constitutional’?” I asked.

“..hum..Yes” says the Queen.

“One last question..did you go many times a day and sometimes in a hurry to avoid embarrassment?” I inquire.

“Yes,” says the Queen while looking at her feet.

“Queen Urraca’s earlier testimony coupled with her suffering from alternating constipation and diarrhea, someone poisoned her over a period of months with a low level of Arsenic,” I say.

“My last memory when I was alive was that I was choking on liquid in my month and I couldn’t breathe,” says Queen Urraca.

“Yes, you died of pneumonia caused by the Arsenic. In 13th century Coimbra many people died of pneumonia in November with the cold and the rain. Your death would not be seen as unusual,” I said.

“Based on my mother’s testimony and the evidence regarding her grave opening by King Sebastião, someone poisoned my mother to death. Who did this?” says Afonso III.

My right eye and cheek are still twitching and I have a pounding headache. But I have to continue, it’s the right thing to do. Queen Urraca and King Afonso II are in purgatory.


[1] Pão de Lo – Traditional Portuguese sponge cake.

Read Chapter 17  I Didn’t Do It