The last words of Queen Philippa to her sons

January 27, 2014

Philippa of Lancaster, Queen consort of Portugal

Philippa of Lancaster, Queen consort of Portugal

It was to [Prince Edward], as her eldest son, that the Queen turned first.

“God has chosen you to be the heir to this kingdom,” she said. “I know your virtue and your kindness, so I give you this sword of justice. With it you will govern both great and small, when at your father’s death this land shall be yours. I commend the people of Portugal to you. I pray you to defend them with steadfastness of soul. Do not suffer any to do wrong, and see always that right and justice are served. And when I say justice, my son, I mean justice with mercy—for justice without mercy is no more than cruelty. Take this sword, then, with my blessing.…[A]nd with the blessing of those from whom I am descended.”

Edward, King of Portugal

Edward, King of Portugal

Prince Peter then knelt to receive his sword and his mother’s injunction that whereas she had commended the people of Portugal to his brother, on him should rest the duty of protecting the women of the land…. Courageous and proud in her last hours, the Queen smiled at Prince Henry.

“I give you this third sword,” she said. “It is strong as you are. To you I commend all the lords, knights, squires, and those of noble blood. It is true that all of them are servants of the King, nevertheless they will require this special protection which is now your charge…. I give you this sword with my blessing. I desire that with it you shall be knighted.” (…)
“Remain always as you have been, my sons—loving and united.” (…)


“In my country,” she said, “they tell a story about the arrow. Take one arrow by itself, and it is nothing—you can break it in your hands. But if you take many of them together, it is beyond your strength to break them.”



Ernle Bradford, A Wind From the North: The Life of Henry the Navigator (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1960), 8-9.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 354


Previous post:

Next post: