From Tolerance to Tyranny: A cautionary tale from medieval Spain

Christians, Muslims and Jews lived together in relative harmony in medieval Spain until the Spanish Inquisition came along. Writer Erna Paris, who passed away earlier this month, explored this history for IDEAS calling what happened in Spain "a cautionary tale for today."

The late Erna Paris explored how neighbours get turned into enemies

Detail from a painting by Pedro Berruguete of Saint Dominic presiding over an auto-da-fé (c.1495).

*This episode originally aired January 21, 2015.                   

Christians, Muslims and Jews lived together in relative harmony in medieval Spain. Then the Spanish Inquisition came along with its use of terror and racism, turning a pluralistic society into a police state.

Celebrated writer Erna Paris, who passed away in early February 2022, first explored this history for IDEAS in 1995. Reworking material from that first episode with producer Marilyn Powell, she created a new documentary in 2015, and in it calls what happened in Spain "a cautionary tale for today." 

From Tolerance To Tyranny: A Cautionary Tale from Fifthteenth Century Spain by Erna Paris is published by Cormorant Books. The Toronto-born writer and historian died at the age of 83 in early February 2022. (Helen Tansey)
Us and Them. The in-group and the outsider... Distrust of the Other seems to slumber within us, ready to erupt under certain conditions of Xenophobia and violence.- Erna Paris

Erna Paris passed away on February 3, 2022. She was the author of seven acclaimed works of literary non-fiction and the winner of 12 national and international writing awards for her books, feature writing, and radio documentaries. Her works have been published in 14 countries and translated into eight languages. Long Shadows: Truth, Lies, and History was chosen as one of The Hundred Most Important Books Ever Written in Canada by the Literary Review of Canada. Her most recent work, The Sun Climbs Slow: The International Criminal Court and the Struggle for Justice was first on The Globe and Mail's Best Book of the Year list and shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.

** This episode was produced by Marilyn Powell.

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