War and Conflict

Spanish Civil War

Who was Generalissimo Franco?

Generalissimo Francisco Franco (1892–1975) was the fascist leader of Spain from 1939 until 1973. He rose to power in the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) as he led a rebel nationalist army against the loyalist forces. Capturing Madrid in 1939, Franco assumed the role of head of government. Though he and the nationalists had received considerable help from Nazi Germany and fascist Italy to win the civil war, when fighting broke out in World War II (1939–45), Spain stayed neutral (at least nominally so). In 1947, with the fighting in Europe over, Franco declared himself monarch of Spain and ruled as an authoritative dictator. Two years before he died, he stepped down as head of state, though he retained the title generalissimo, meaning “commander in chief.” Franco named as his successor Prince Juan Carlos (1938-). When Franco died in 1975, Juan Carlos I became the first Spanish monarch to control Spain since his grandfather, King Alfonso XIII (1886–1941), was deposed in 1931 to make way for the brief republic (which was later overthrown by Franco and the nationalists). King Juan Carlos played an important role in transforming Spain into a modern democracy.


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