Pedro I of Castile, called "the Cruel" by his detractors and "the Justiciero" by his supporters, reigned between 1350 and 1366, being one of the monarchs most historically linked to Seville. He established his capital in this city for a good part of his reign and his strong and conflictive character have made it possible to narrate numerous legends linked to his passing through the city even today.
One of the most famous is the one that has left its mark with the name of Cabeza del Rey Don Pedro street and the bust with the figure of him that can be seen in a niche at number 30 of the same. Legend has it that in one of his usual nocturnal raids, Don Pedro met a member of the rival Guzmanes family, supporters of the king's half-brother, Enrique de Trastámara, in the dispute between them for the throne of Castile.
Apparently, they got into a brawl and Don Pedro ended up killing his opponent, fleeing after him, confident that no one had witnessed the event. But an elderly neighbor from the same street was leaning out of her window, lighting herself up with a lamp and she was a witness to the events. The woman could not make out the faces of the knights, but she did recognize the king when he left, since the monarch suffered a slight limp and his knees produced a kind of squeak when he walked that was known to everyone in the world. town.
The following day, the Guzmanes went to the Alcazar demanding justice and, to quell rumors, Don Pedro offered a large reward to whoever was able to identify the author of the deadly attack. He further promised that he would place the killer's head in a niche above the crime scene.
The old woman responded to the appeal, but asked the king for privacy when revealing the information he had. When they were alone, she showed the monarch a mirror and indicated that in it she could see the perpetrator. The king was amazed, she declared that indeed the woman had revealed the responsibility of the crime and that she would comply by placing the murderer's head in the place that she had promised. However, she argued that the murderer was a very important person in the city and that his public exposure could cause disorder, so she arranged for the head to be placed in an oak box protected by a thick fence.
When in 1366, Enrique II managed to seize the throne after killing his brother in Montiel with his own hands, the Guzmanes rushed to open the box to find out the true identity of his murdered relative. It was then that all of Seville was perplexed when they saw that what the box housed was the stone effigy of Pedro I himself, who had used this ruse to fulfill his promise and protect his innocence at the same time.
Finally, it was decided that the monarch's bust would remain, now exposed, in the same place where we can see it today, as a testimony of what happened.
However, the original house where the king's head was located was demolished at the end of the 16th century and the figure of the monarch that we can see today is much later than the events narrated in the legend. It is a bust made by Marcos Cabrera around 1630, commissioned by the city council with the aim of perpetuating the memory of what happened. The sculptor represents Don Pedro in half body, in a pose of great dignity, wrapped in a cape and displaying the royal attributes: the crown, the sword and the scepter.
The original head was rescued from the demolition by the Adelantado Mayor of Andalusia Fernando Enríquez de Ribera, owner of the Casa de Pilatos, and can still be seen today in a niche at the halt of this emblematic Sevillian palace. In this case, the effigy, which is very deteriorated by the passage of time, shows a greater simplicity in its features. You can still glimpse the aquiline nose, a pronounced jaw and short hair that falls in two halves with bangs, covered by a kind of bonnet. The pedestal on which it is located, on which the arms of León and Castile and the name of the king appear, is certainly later.
As a summary, we can say that the head of this Castilian monarch is the central nucleus of one of the many and exciting legends that populate the streets of Seville, enlivened in this case by the stone busts that have survived to this day: both the original , today in the Casa de Pilatos, as the reconstruction of the seventeenth century, located in the place where the events were effectively framed.