Chapter 22 The Cafeteria in the Monastery

In the cafeteria they serve traditional Portuguese Petiscos[1]: Bacalhau– Cod cakes, Rissois– little shrimp pies, Bifanas- hot pork sandwiches, and Croquetes– breaded meat rolls. For drinks they have: Pedras– Portuguese mineral water, Delta- a brand of strong coffee, and universally available, Coca-Cola before, during and after a meal.

We grab a table and go to the counter to order our lunch. The women behind the counter says, “What would you like, Sir?” in perfect English.

I use my best pronunciation of, “Uma Bacalhau e uma Pedras, savage favour[2].

“Superb,” she says.

“Obrigado,” I say.

“But, Sir, it’s ‘um Bacalhau’.”

Muito obrigado[3],” I say.

“What did you think so far?” I ask Dad.

“I thought the architecture of the church with its high ceilings- 50 feet high and the room of the kings were great,” he says.

“Not that stuff. I mean the glasses,” I say.

“Oh that. Neat,” says Dad.

I feel exhausted and I eat my meal without thinking. I feel better and my headache has gone completely.

“Do you know the story of Queen Beatrix and Afonso III?” Dad asks.

“I researched a while ago,” I say.

“And?” Dad asks with mocking tone and Jim Carrey facial expression.

“Afonso III replaced Sancho II who upset the aristocracy by increasing their taxes and giving more rights to the merchants. He taxed the church because they held large landholdings in Portugal. It was a country within a country,” I answer.

“How did that happen?” Dad asks.

“Afonso I, the founder of Portugal, gave land to the church to have the countryside settled by people after he conquered the land from the Moors. When Sancho II was taxing the church land and repossessing large tracks of it, Pope Honorius III excommunicated him. The new Pope, Innocent IV, was so powerful he had Sancho II removed from power. He asked Sancho’s younger brother, who was next in line, to take over.”

“That is as if the Pope today removed the President of the United States and put the Vice-President in power,” Dad says.

“Yep. Afonso III was in France at the time married to the Princess of Bologne. He gathered an army marched to Portugal and took over the throne. Sancho II fled to Toledo in Castile and died there not long after.”

“Then what happened?”

“Afonso III rearranged the finances of the country and made administrative changes that pleased both the merchants and the aristocracy. In addition, he took the Algarve away from the Moors.”

“He was a successful King?”

“Yes and no. When he took over the Algarve he upset the King of Castile because the King had been collecting taxes from the Moors in the Algarve. The Moors paid taxes to the King of Castile to not invade. It’s the same as stores paying protection money to street gangs. To placate the King of Castile, he had to marry his bastard daughter, Biatrix.”

“Yet another arranged marriage. She was pleased to be a queen?”

“Afonso III upset Biatrix because when Afonso III married her, he was still married to the Princess of Bologne. The Pope was not pleased either.”

“Ha Ha,” Dad laughs. A belly shaker at that!

“It gets more complicated, the Pope created an exception for Afonso III to make his children he had had with Biatrix legitimate. Afonso III had made enemies within the clergy and aristocracy and they protested to the Pope in Rome. Clement IV agreed with the protests and excommunicated Afonso III. To make it worse, Dinis, his son and heir to the throne, sided with the aristocracy and the church. Dinis gathered a small army and marched against his father. Before it got messy Afonso III agreed to pass the throne to Dinis. Afonso III died a couple years later. Dinis turned out to be one of Portugal’s best kings.”

“Biatrix and Afonso had an arranged marriage. In most cases the couples aren’t attracted to each other.”

“That explains why Afonso III had at least two other women he was seeing on the side. He had children with both of them. They could have contested the throne.”

I realize now, both Afonso II and Afonso III had been excommunicated. Maybe that explains why they and their wives are in purgatory here in the monastery. How do they get out?

“It’s after two o’clock and I want to view Pedro and Inês. He is my namesake,” I say.

I hope I don’t get a headache again wearing the glasses.


[1] Petiscos – Portuguese tapas.

[2] A cod and a Pedras, please.

[3] Thank-you very much.

Read Chapter 23 The Story of Pedro and Inês