Postcard from... Granada


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The Independent Online

Given that she led the bloody re-conquest of Spain in the 15th century, bumping off lord knows how many of her opponents (largely Muslims and Jews who would not convert to Christianity) it was probably wise to wait a good few decades after her death to defy Queen Isabella’s dying wish.

One half of Spain’s Catholic Monarchs, along with her husband King Ferdinand, Isabella is credited with being one of the driving forces behind the reunification of Spain and for re-establishing Christian rule in the country.

Ferdinand and Isabella ruled Spain together until her death in 1504 (their daughter was Catherine of Aragon, the ill-fated first wife of Henry VIII). Their marriage brought together two of Spain’s most important kingdoms and they spent much of their time touring the country and shoring up support for their rule.

According to her wishes, she was buried in Granada’s old fortress, the Alhambra, under a simple slab of stone, which chimed with her generally pious and austere life.

That was until her grandson came along. Carlos I of Spain thought it was fitting that The Catholic Monarchs be united again in Granada’s Royal Chapel, which he built a short distance from the Alhambra. Carlos was also the Holy Roman Emperor and a pretty powerful chap in his own right, but still it would take brave man to move Isabella.

Today, thousands of tourists file past Isabella’s coffin every year. You can’t tell whether she’s still spinning in her grave or not, but one can only imagine that she wouldn’t be amused.