The One-Eyed Princess Nun

Came across one of these portraits in my research and it stopped me cold. This is Spanish princess Ana de Mendoza y de la Cerda. You may notice that she is missing an eye. Maybe you’re even wondering why! Well, the truth is, nobody knows for sure – most think it was a childhood fencing accident.

The princess herself was a spirited lass, well-liked and considered quite beautiful. She was pretty stylish, and even had different eyepatches to match her outfits.

She had a pretty good life, but it took a turn after her husband’s death. She ended up in a convent for a couple years, where she was known as The Princess Nun. After that, she was caught up in court politics and imprisoned on charges surrounding the loss of state secrets, despite seemingly not being involved much at all. She died in jail 13 years later, at the age of 51. Bummer.

She’s been the subject of a number of movies, one of the most recent of which was the 2008 Spanish film “The Conspiracy” (from which the photo with the nuns was taken).

And yes, she is holding a monkey in that picture. A monkey with a neck ruff. This was apparently a thing. In my research, I have come across no fewer than five European princesses who owned monkeys.

More info (lots of it) here!

  • Arabella Caulfield

    Hopefully she is a potential RP.

  • Oh man, I remember her as a secondary character in a Mexican soap opera from when I was a teen (back when you might still used a dial to tune in!) and she constantly brought up the fact that she was the granddaughter of Philip II of Spain… and Catalina de Erauso showed up as a secondary character-turned-best-friend/post-reveal love interest for the swashbuckling main character, too!

  • Olivia M. Giovetti

    Princess Eboli! She’s also a major character in the Schiller play Don Carlos, which also inspired an opera by Verdi of the same name. In that retelling, Philip II has married Elisabeth of Valois, but Elisabeth is in love with Philip’s son, Don Carlos, whom Eboli in turn loves unrequitedly. Shit gets real both personally and politically (the Grand Inquisitor makes a cameo) and she winds up telling the king that his son and second wife are in love and then decides to move to a convent out of guilt. Most of the time, she also rocks an eyepatch.

  • Arabella Caulfield

    Could you please name that soap opera? I’m currently learning Spanish and seriously hooked on Spanish-language period drama, so I might give it a try.

  • If you can find it… it’s from the mid-80s and it was titled “Martín Garatusa”. I believe the title character was an actual person, a swashbuckler by trade.

  • Arabella Caulfield

    ¡Grácias!

  • Did you ever find anything about it?

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  • Arabella Caulfield

    I actually found it!
    Thanks for asking!

  • That’s great! Mind if I ask where?

  • Arabella Caulfield

    It’s on Youtube. Don’t know whether all the episodes are there, though – it’s hard to check :)

  • Je-em Henryz Zuñega

    Is that really the real story of it? May I know if what are your references? Thank you.