Ana de Mendoza de la Cerda y de Silva Cifuentes was born on 29 June 1540 as the daughter of Diego Hurtado de Mendoza y de la Cerda and Catalina de Silva Cifuentes. As her father’s only child, she would become 2nd Princess of Mélito, 2nd Duchess of Francavilla and 3rd Countess of Aliano in her own right.
At the age of 13, Ana was married to Rui Gomes da Silva, 1st Prince of Éboli – who was a favourite of the future King Philip II of Spain. Their marriage was not consummated until 1557 due to her husband’s long absences abroad with Philip. She would go on to have ten children with her husband. Her unusual portrait suggests that she went blind in one eye during her lifetime, but contemporaries only speak of her beauty, and it is unknown why she wore an eyepatch. Ana was also known to be quite religious, and she founded a convent in the town of Pastrana.
After her husband’s death in 1573, she continued to play an active role at court and developed a (politically motivated) friendship with Antonio Pérez, who was one of King Philip’s private secretaries. She was later accused of the murder of another secretary called Escobedo alongside Pérez, and they were arrested in 1579. She was initially imprisoned in a castle at Santorcaz before being moved to her family’s palace in Pastrana where she was confined to a suite of rooms.
Her youngest daughter, also named Ana, attended on her during her confinement. She was allowed on the balcony overlooking the square for one hour a day. It is unclear why the King was so harsh towards Ana.
She would die in those rooms on 2 February 1592. 1