Franco and the Spanish Civil War

By Filipe Ribeiro De Meneses | Go to book overview

the independence of most of its Latin American colonies at the start of the century. The realization of this lack of prestige, and of what it meant in practical terms, took a long time to sink in. The final shock of defeat at the hands of the United States, in 1898, was needed for the state of the country to be fully appreciated, and then only in a mood of panic. Cuba was Spain's prized colony, but the failure to reach a compromise with an increasingly assertive independence movement led to war and the eventual military intervention of the United States, by then looking for colonies of its own. Spain's army and navy were comprehensively defeated by more modern American forces, a humiliation made harder to digest by examples of corruption and incompetence that marred Spain's war effort. Spain's last remaining colonies-Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines-were lost. In the space of four years, 200,000 soldiers were sent from Spain in her vain bid to retain a colonial empire. Because exemptions from military service could be bought even in times of war, it was the poor who suffered most from the conflict. The Spanish-American War highlighted both Spain's military and diplomatic weaknesses and the need for radical change if Spain was once again to pursue successfully her interests on the international stage. This change could be made by moving either to a truly democratic constitutional framework, which might tap into the country's energy and human potential (a revolution from below), or, conversely, to a more authoritarian and nationalist solution which would sacrifice political and even economic liberty for the sake of order and progress (a revolution from above). The political debate that ensued attracted Spain's leading intellectual figures, collectively known as the 'Generation of '98', who made public their gloom and despair, adding a tone of urgency to the need for a solution to be found but finding little practical response to their calls for reform from either the public or the state.

Part of this gloom and despair grew from the fact that Spain's economy, seemingly backward and rural, did not appear capable of generating the wealth required to close the gap with the more developed powers of Europe. Spain was, however, poised for an important industrial leap forward, which was to come as a result of the First World War. Economic development in Spain, though rapid in the early twentieth century, would retain its uneven course, with serious consequences, as we shall see, for the fate of the Second Republic in the 1930s. In its infancy, Spanish industry had been

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Franco and the Spanish Civil War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Maps x
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter One - The Origins of the Spanish Civil War 1
  • Chapter Two - The Spanish Army and the Rise of Franco 23
  • Chapter Three - The Course of the War 38
  • Chapter Four - The Republicans' War 59
  • Chapter Five - The Nationalists' War 81
  • Chapter Six - Contrasting Visions of Spain 98
  • Aftermath 119
  • Chronology 125
  • Personalities 129
  • Bibliography 135
  • Index 143
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