The Catholic Monarchs gave the castle to Cardinal Mendoza, their advisor, who played an important role in the Christian conquest of Granada. He in turn willed it to his illegitimate son, Rodrigo de Vivar y Mendoza, the first Marquis of Cenete. Rodrigo was the protagonist of a typically medieval love versus duty intrigue.
When his wife Leonor de la Cerda died, he visited Italy and then returned with a bunch of Italian architects, sculptors and artists, and a few wagons loaded with Carrara marble to embellish his abode.
While in Italy, all was not art and culture; he also captivated a 15-year-old beauty, María de Fonseca.
Her father wasn’t too keen on the match and so Rodrigo married her in secret, which greatly annoyed Isabel la Católica, who threw a fit and had Rodrigo imprisoned. When Isabel died, Rodrigo was released and immediately liberated María from the convent where she’d been incarcerated.
They moved into the castle with their marble, had two kids and lived happily ever after.