Saturday, March 10, 2012

+ Ana Medina y Fernández de Córdoba, Countess of Ofalía (1940-2012)

Born on May 2, 1940, daughter of Doña Victoria Eugenia Fernández de Córdoba, XVIII Duchess of Medinaceli, and don Rafael Medina y Vilallonga. She bore the title of Countess of Ofalía and Marchioness of Navahermosa as eldest daughter of the House of Medinaceli.

She studied in England, St Mary's Shaftesbury, and in Lausanne, Switzerland. Of her marriage with Prince Maximilian von Hohenlohe-Langenburg she leaves three sons: Marco, Pablo and Flavia, and seven grandchildren.

Since the establishment of the Duchy of Medinaceli Foundation, she has served on the board of the same, as spokesperson of the family collective voice.

The Mass for her eternal rest and subsequent burial was held on Thursday March 8 at 1:00pm  in the crypt of the Hospital San Juan Bautista de Toledo, the pantheon of the Duchy of Medinaceli.

The Duchy of Medinaceli has its origin in the first-born offspring of Infante Fernando, known by the nickname "de la Cerda," eldest son and successor of King Alfonso X, the Wise, King of Castile and Leon. When Fernando predeceased his father, leaving two small children, his brother Infante Sancho rebelled.
The minority of the two young children of Fernando, known as the Infantes de la Cerda, opened a complex probate litigation that led to a long and intermittent civil war for which the oldest of the brother, Alfonso, according to the will of the king, his grandfather, was called king of Castile and Leon.

However, Alfonso's uncle Sancho was not having any of it. Sancho overthrew his nephew and installed his branch on the throne of Castille and Leon. Alfonso refused to accept his uncle's actions and rose against Sancho IV and his son and grandson. Even in his sixties Alfonso de la Cerda was recognized as the legitimate king. 

In exchange for a loose collection of territories known as "domains of the  recompensa," according to the chronicle of King Alfonso XI, his cousin "resigned and renounced all rights and claims to the the kingdoms of Castile and Leon" thus becoming known in Spanish history as "the disinherited".

La House of de la Cerda, known since the mid-fourteenth century by holding the vast County of Medinaceli, on the border of the kingdom of Castile with Aragon, has the representation of the legitimate eldest branch of the ancient kings of Castile and Leon. They have never questioned the royal claim and rights of their distant Bourbon cousins.

Throughout the fifteenth century the territorial base of the house grew through swaps and acquisitions, but basically doing so around Soria and Alcarrian of Medinaceli and Cogolludo. Particularly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, matrimonial alliances with big aristocratic houses of the various Spanish kingdoms led to a tremendous territorial expansion throughout Spain.

Due to subsequent deaths without issue, many of these the product of the persecution by King Peter, the bulk of the "estates of the recompensa" and the line representing the most disinherited of the Royal House of Castile and Leon went to his granddaughter, Isabel of la Cerda. In 1370, the Señora of Puerto de Santa Maria married Bernardo de Bearn, created Count of Medinaceli in his own right in 1368. Isabel received as gifts that county, holding it in her own right as Countess of Medinaceli. Thereafter, the House would be known by the name of the county near the town of Soria and the preponderance of the maternal line would be reflected in the fact that her offspring avoided using the name and arms of Foix, Bernardo's legacy. The Medinacelis from then onward would only use the arms of the lineage of la Cerda.

The youngest offspring of the Infantes de la Cerda, Fernando, for his marriage to Dona Juana de Lara, was perpetuated in the House of Lara and returned to the throne of Castile by marriage of a granddaughter of the former, Juana Manuel, to Enrique II . This marriage was used by the House Trastámara to legitimize their rights both to the Crown of Castile-Leon and the lordship of Biscay

On October 31, 1479, the Catholic Kings elevated the County of Medinaceli to the rank of duchy in the person of Count Don Luis de la Cerda, also elevating to a county the Medinaceli lands in the Port of Santa Maria, near Seville. Subsequently, in 1530, Emperor Charles V gave the Duke of Medinaceli, Juan de la Cerda, the title of Marquis of Cogolludo to distinguish the firstborn of his house.

If until the sixteenth century the House of Medinaceli had been growing continuously due to the incorporation of small territories, from the second quarter of the seventeenth century onward growth was the result of successive excellent dynastic marriages which, aided by chance inheritance, caused the confrontation, not necessarily sought, with the royal houses of Castile, Aragon and Portugal. The progressive concentration of land around the House of Medinaceli runs parallel with the progressive formation of Spain as a political unit.

We confine ourselves here to evoke the awe that such asset accumulation aroused among contemporaries, as appears, among other evidence, the description that Don Luis de Salazar did in the late seventeenth century, the ninth Duke of Medina, "is possessed of so many big states that are difficult to find in Europe as a vassal of a great power. The Medinaceli, suddenly, had become too powerful for the King of Spain's comfort.

King Felipe V became rather weary of the power concentrated in the hands of the a the Duke of Medinaceli, Don Luis de la Cerda y Aragon, who was arrested on royal orders. He died in prison in Pamplona in 1711, without having a clear idea of ​​the crimes he was accused and without being able to secure the succession of his House. He was the last male of the lineage of "la Cerda." The next Duke of Medinaceli was a son of Luis' sister, doña Feliche. Luis' nephew, don Nicolás Fernández de Córdoba and de la Cerda, Marquis of Priego and Duke of Feria, succeeded also as new Duke of Medinaceli.  

Since then the House of Medinaceli is preserved in the same family. They gained further territorial power with the addition of extensive estates in the provinces of Córdoba, and Badajoz. The growth of the family's power continued unabated.  In the eighteenth century two other houses would be added to the Medincaeli conglomerate, making the holder of the ducal title one of the most titled aristocrats in Europe, a dignified rival to the House of Alba.

The late Countes of Ofalía

In the XX century the bulk of the Medinaceli estates was inherited by doña Victoria Eugenia Fernández de Ceordoba, namesake of Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain. She had four children: Ana, Countess of Ofalía, Luis, Duke of Santiésteban del Puerto, Rafael, Duke of Feria, and Ignacio, Duke of Segorbe. The youngest child of the duchess is thus the oinly one surviving his mother. In 1985 he married Princess Maria da Gloria of Orléans-Bragança, former wife of Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia, as well as first cousin of King Juan Carlos of Spain.

The XVIII Duchess of Medinaceli resides in her magnificent palace, La casa de Pilatos, in Seville, Spain. She is approaching her ninety-fifth birthday and is in very weak health.

The Coat of Arms of the Dukes of Medinaceli

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