Eliza Alicia Lynch
By Pauline Hwang


Eliza Alicia Lynch was born in County Cork, Ireland, in 1835. Her childhood years she lived in Ireland, until her father died and her mother abandoned her and her brother. She went to live in France with her aunt, studying and marrying a French officer at fifteen, only to separate three years later. A courtesan, she lived glamorously and in high society, meeting royals and the crème de la crème of Paris. At nineteen she met Francisco Solano López, who was in France studying Napoleon’s manner and life. She became his mistress and bore him five sons, but they never married. When they left Europe for Paraguay in 1854, she took all her chic clothes, accessories, and furniture. Though she was admired for her style in Asunción, she was disliked by the upper-class women. Francisco Solano López became President of Paraguay when his father Carlos Antonio López died and Eliza Lynch became the First Lady. Lands bought by Francisco Solano were bought in her name and she became the greatest landowner in Paraguay. Liz had seven children before she turned thirty-two. La Lynch became a prominent lady through Francisco, owning lands in both Paraguay and Brazil, was appointed inofficial Minister, and according to some accounts was the richest woman in the world at her greatest moment. The Triple Alliance War began and she set up a Paraguayan women’s unit. Intelligent and ambitious, the charming Lynch was loved by the Paraguayan men. Paraguay went through hard times during the Triple Alliance War, losing both land and men. At the same time Lynch also lost parts of her land and by the end of the five-year war had lost almost everything. Towards the end of the war in 1870, Francisco Solano López and her son Panchito were killed. Lynch buried López and her most favorite son, Francisco “Panchito” junior, in a grave dug with her own hands. For her safety, Madame Lynch was escorted back to Europe and never returned to Paraguay. She first lived in London, spending about £300,000 fighting legal battles over property and land in Paraguay which she claimed. She wrote “Declaration and Protest,” a pamphlet defending herself against accusations of adultery, prostitution, and corruption. She lived in Paris in distress and deprivation until her death in 1886, where she was known as the widow of Francisco Solano López. She was not declared a national heroine until twenty-eight years after her death.

 

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