Raymond Carr

Ethnic Cleansing Time

Isabel the Queen: Life and Times

By Peggy Liss

Oxford University Press 408pp 19.95 order from our bookshop

Queen Isabel the Catholic is not to everybody’s taste nowadays. Pressure for her sanctification has markedly dropped off lately.

Her emblem, the Yoke and Arrows, became the badge of the Fascist Falange. She was much admired by General Franco, for it was Isabel who forged the indivisible link between Catholicism and Spain’s identity and existence as a nation. To enforce this unity, she expelled Jews and Muslims, founding and fostering the Spanish Inquisition. As if this was not enough, to ecologists and Third Worlders, by backing Christopher Columbus in 1492, she was responsible for the destruction of rain forests and the genocide of pacific Indians. To wash away these stains Expo ’92 celebrated 1492 without mentioning Columbus, while King Juan Carlos visited a synagogue accompanied by the President of Israel.

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