Born in the 16th Century, Ana De Mendoza was Spanish, Cancerian, an avid reader and a keen sportswoman – she apparently lost her right eye in a swordfight. Still, a woman of her era had no intrinsic value other than beauty, breeding and/or material wealth.
Rich in all three, she was married off to the Prince of Eboli at the age of 13, although the much-older groom gallantly (sarc) decided to not consumate the marriage until de Mendoza was 15, on account of her slight build. She bore ten children to him – six survived babyhood – and became a skilled money manager.
Her core astrological signature was Venus conjunct Uranus in unsubtle, dazzling Leo – an alignment that would have been practically impossible to channel in the rigid, patriarchal hiearchies of Inquisition-era Spain. Still, she was critcized for swearing, being too boisterous and having terrible handwriting.
She also had Mars square her Cancerian Sun and Venus was not only conjunct Uranus, it was trine Neptune in Aries and opposite Pluto in Aquarius. Self-possessed, imaginative and ambitious, she was not a good fit with her era. When her husband died, she fled to a convent that she’d founded but got along so badly with the nuns that they all ran away in the middle of the night.
Thirty-three and with six children to support, De Mendoza was summoned to court, essentially to find another husband whether she wanted one or not. Her unique style and interests (falconry, sword-fighting, writing political pamphlets – think 16th Century activist zines) drew intrigue and snark. She was nicknamed Jezebel, as well as La Canela – literally ‘the cinnamon.’
Jezebel, a priestess of Astarte who married an Israelite King, was a common slur against any woman not in the narrow mold of the time but the ‘cinnamon’ reference was probably racist. While portraits of her show practically alabaster skin, she was Basque – Mendoza is Basque for ‘cold mountain’ – and could easily have had a browner or more golden skin tone than depicted.
Her detractors said she was gay, sleeping with the king and/or profligate with the Eboli money, even though she’d provided most of it. Yet she was also the most educated woman in Spain and had already survived an extremely difficult childhood, the marriage etc. She could have made it through. Unfortunately, she hooked up with Senor Wrong and this is where her story becomes sad.
The chief secretary of state for King Philip II, Antonio Perez was a Capricornian-Gemini hybrid with a vast degree of cunning. Skilled in perfume, poisons, blackmail and triple-crossing or framing people, he was also living way beyond his means.
Perez was as ingenious, witty and charming as he was ruthless. For instance, he acquired or invented a then completely unheard of dental health method. It used tooth powder and, for flossing, feathers. In a realm when most people’s breath stank and a tooth infection could be deadly, his sweet breath regime won many a fan.
Additionally, Perez was armed with interesting morsels of information from his “astrologer in waiting” – whom he later poisoned – and good at sending sucky notes with lavish gifts. Ana de Mendoza initially found him repugnant but he won her over with the promise of helping her gain more influence and independence. They may or may not have been lovers.
If only she’d listened to her first instinct: In 1579, at the age of 39, she was arrested in relation to the assassination of a key political player who’d actually been killed by Antonio Perez, probably on the orders of the despotic King.
The actual plot is ridiculously complex and layered so I won’t attempt to summarize it here but long story short, Perez escaped – she didn’t. King Philip, with whom she may have had an affair at some point, never charged her with a crime or gave her a trial.
Her popularity and title meant that the princess could not be executed but she lost guardianship of her children and had all her property confiscated. She was imprisoned in a series of castles before being finally locked in one room of her house, now under the management of one of her enemies. She was allowed out on a tiny balcony, see below, for an hour a day.
Her last source of support in this dark time seems to have been her daughter, who stayed with her the entire time. Ana De Mendoza died of an undisclosed illness in February 1592. It was two years after the King had ordered the windows be shut up so she could not see or go outside.
It was, he said to prevent an escape but references were also made to her ‘disquieting, labyrinthine womanliness’ and ‘haughty, arbitrary and imperious character.’ She had, according to Gregorio Maranon, the author of Spanish Traitor, a “tendency to engage on tasks involving management, with a keenness and an efficiency more properly masculine.” She was even disparaged because her lack of two eyes did not ‘crush her vanity.’
For years, historians more or less portrayed De Mendoza as a conniving upper class bitch who was jailed for plotting against the king, whatever, but really, you can see that her punishment was more for being ‘uppity’ and with Venus in loud Leo, amped by all three outer planets, it would have been nigh impossible to keep the light down – even for survival.
FYI: the disastrous enmeshment with the assassination, intrigue and vengeful King was all around Saturn in Scorpio: It was square her Venus, Uranus and Pluto. The King had it approaching his Mars at the time. This config, under the circumstances, put her at risk of being ‘boxed in’ and also diminished one of her most potent astral assets.
For the already grim King Philip, Saturn on his Mars made him more rigid and suspicious. Did the astrologically obsessed Perez deduce this and pull her into this complexity at the worst possible time?
While most of her writings were destroyed, they’ve been painstakingly collected by two historians: Helen Reed and Trevor Dadson. They rescued her reputation from the often warped lens of historians and revealed her courage.
She fought the whole way through her imprisonment, writing impassioned letters and statements, lobbying everyone possible to try and get a fair trial – or even a charge – and regain control of her affairs.
As for Antonio Perez, he wound up in England, where Shakespeare apparently based a character in Love’s Labor Lost on him; Don Adriano de Armado, “an affected Spanish braggart.”
Venus-Uranus from my Astral DNA birth chart report:
Venus conjunction Uranus
The natal Venus reveals your love nature, personal aesthetic, and go-to artistry styles. Uranus is an outer planet, a more rarified frequency that most people experience at a distance. It’s revolutionary and a known catalyst: you channel Uranian energy via your romantic life, fashion, and creativity.
You have higher-than-usual personal space needs and you’re not dependent on other people’s approval. Whether or not they’re overtly unconventional, Venus-Uranian people are an exciting presence. Your space-hippy allure draws attention, and you always stand out. The latter is frustrating when you’re trying to fit in for whatever reason.
Some classic Venus Uranus people: Kate McKinnon, Gwendoline Christie, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Linklater, Rose McGowan, Miley Cyrus, and Guillermo Del Toro: “Disobedience is the beginning of responsibility.”