Spain: From Dictatorship to Democracy: 1939 to the Present

Spain: From Dictatorship to Democracy: 1939 to the Present

Spain: From Dictatorship to Democracy: 1939 to the Present

Spain: From Dictatorship to Democracy: 1939 to the Present

Synopsis

This comprehensive survey of Spain's history looks at the major political, social, and economic changes that took place from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the twenty-first century.
  • A thorough introduction to post-Civil War Spain, from its development under Franco and subsequent transition to democracy up to the present day
  • Tusell was a celebrated public figure and historian. During his lifetime he negotiated the return to Spain of Picasso's Guernica, was elected UCD councillor for Madrid, and became a respected media commentator before his untimely death in 2005
  • Includes a biography and political assessment of Francisco Franco
  • Covers a number of pertinent topics, including fascism, isolationism, political opposition, economic development, decolonization, terrorism, foreign policy, and democracy
  • Provides a context for understanding the continuing tensions between democracy and terrorism, including the effects of the 2004 Madrid Bombings

Excerpt

On May 19, 1939, a hundred and twenty thousand soldiers paraded before Franco in Madrid. The press hailed the ceremony as the victory following a second reconquest of Spain’s enemies. During the march-past, the general was awarded Spain’s highest military honor, the Grand Cross Laureate of San Fernando. Although the public was not informed, Alfonso XIII himself had written to Franco pledging his support. The king was unaware that the general was no longer a monarchist and indeed was now playing absolute monarch himself.

The celebrations continued with a religious ceremony the following day. Franco entered the Church of Santa Barbara beneath a palium – a treatment reserved for the Blessed Sacrament and for ruling monarchs. Awaiting him in the church was a selection of artifacts that evoked Spain’s past struggle against the Infidel. Every detail in the appearance of those present alluded to past tradition, not only the military uniforms and ecclesiastical robes but also the “Spanish mantillas worn with pride on tall combs” by the not very numerous women present. The climax of the religious ceremony was the moment at which Franco laid down his sword of victory before the Christ of Lepanto, brought all the way from Barcelona for the occasion. Everything combined to glorify the great leading figure of the entire ceremony. The Primate of Spain, Cardinal Gomá, prayed that God “in His mercy and in praise might look kindly upon you, forever protect you and protect the nation whose governance He has entrusted to your care.”

The entire ceremonial, which more properly belonged to a medieval warrior society in which military, political, and religious life were bound together, largely explains what happened after 1939. If ever there has been a crucial break in continuity in Spanish history it was at that moment, at the end of the Civil War. If the war had never happened, if it had not . . .

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