A History of Mourning (1890)

A history of mourning, burial customs, and funerary rites.

"Then occurred an event unique in history," continues this naive contemporary chronicle. "The body of Inez was lifted from the grave, placed on a magnificent throne, and crowned Queen of Portugal. The clergy, the nobility, and the people did homage to her corpse, and kissed the bones of her hands. There sat the dead Queen, with her yellow hair hanging like a veil round her ghastly form. One fleshless hand held the sceptre, and the other the orb of royalty. At night, after the coronation ceremony, a procession was formed of all the clergy and nobility, the religious orders and confraternities which extended over many miles each person holding a flaring torch in his hand, and thus walked from Coimbra to Alcobaga, escorting the crowned corpse to that royal abbey for interment. The dead Queen lay in her rich robes upon a chariot drawn by black mules and lighted up by hundreds of lights."
The scene must indeed have been a weird one. The sable costumes of the bishops and priests, the incense issuing from innumerable censers, the friars in their quaint garments, and the fantastically-attired members of the various hermandades, or brotherhoods some of whom were dressed from head to foot entirely in scarlet, or blue, or black, or in white with their countenances masked and their eyes glittering through small openings in their cowls ; but above all, the spectre-like corpse of the Queen, on its car, and the grief-stricken King, who led the train when seen by the flickering light of countless torches, with its solemn dirge music, passing through many a mile of open country in the midnight hours was a vision so unreal that the chronicler describes it as "rather a phantasmagoria than a reality." In the magnificent abbey of Alcobasa the requiem mass was sung, and the corpse finally laid to rest.