Chapter 25 The Cross Examination

Mestre Vicente looms before me and asks, “Why am I here?”

I’m still shocked by Pedro and Inês and my ‘event’. My left hand has a shake that I hope no one notices. I put it in my pocket.

“The Sisters brought you here as part of the inquiry into the death of Queen Urraca of Portugal,” I answer.

Mestre Vicente is a thin, old man with bony hands and an ashen grey face. He squints as the potential gravity of the problem hits him. He snaps his head back and widens his eyes.

“The Friars Minor foretold God’s plan that she die when the King’s brother Pedro returned the Friars bones from Morocco,” he says with a smug smile.

“Yes, the Chronicle of King Afonso II says that,” I answer.

“Then I can leave. Please Sisters take me back home.”

“Stay here!” I say in my sternest voice.

“Don’t be insolent! I was a bishop, a respected author, a lawyer and the chancellor of the Kingdom of Portugal.”

He purses his lips and stares at me with startling intensity.

I swallow hard. Take a deep breath as fast as I can and blurt out, “This inquiry is serious. We have two Kings, two Queens and three Saints here to solve this mystery. Who murdered Queen Urraca?”

Mestre Vicente looked around the room. He nodded to Afonso II and Queen Urraca. He acknowledges the Saints with a nod.

Afonso III steps forward. Ok, floats over. Queen Biatrix comes forward too.

He says, “I’m King Afonso III of Portugal and I’m the judge at this trial. I have these people to help decide who murdered Queen Urraca. We have listened to the testimony of King Afonso II and Queen Urraca and we concluded that the person who committed this act of regicide is you.”

“Who are you to keep me here and force me to listen to this…” the Mestre turns to leave.

Everyone, except Dad and me, surround Mestre Vicente and push him back and forth. The air above the group glows pale pink. His eyes widen and flutter as his head reaches back and his mouth opens wide. His shoulders slump and his knees buckle.

“Are you going to leave?” says Afonso III.

“No, I will not try to again,” says Mestre Vicente.

“You may continue,” says Afonso III motioning me.

“You’re all crooked! God willed the Queen to die. I had nothing to do with it,” says Mestre Vicente.

“In 1218, were you not replacing the Bishop Soeiro of the Lisbon Sé?” I ask.

“I don’t know. When I consider it, maybe.”

“What happened when the Bishop returned?”

“I don’t remember. It was a long time ago.”

“Let me help you. The Bishop returned and several priests approached him concerning your behaviour…”

Mestre Vicente interrupts me, “They’re over fed liars.”

“No more interrupting,” says Judge Afonso III.

Everyone, except me and Dad, close in toward Mestre Vicente. He relaxes his face and raises his hand. Everyone moves back.

“Ask your questions,” says Mestre Vicent

“Were you a friend of Bishop Soeiro?” I ask.

“No, but we were cordial to each other,” he answers.

“Pope Honorius III summoned you to a tribunal in Évora, to resolve your differences with the Bishop. Correct?”

“Yes, the trumped up charges against me. The priests accused me of changing the rules of procedure in the Sé without the Bishop’s consent. This charge is false. And the priests said I stole vessels and ornaments from the Sé. That charge is false too.”

“Have you heard the name, Padre Gonçalo Martim?” I ask.

He stammers, “Where did you get that name?”

Read Chapter 26 Alexandre Herculano