The Spanish Civil War: The History and Legacy of the Controversial Conflict that Established Francisco Franco’s Dictatorship in Spain

Written by Charles River Editors
Category: · History

*Includes pictures
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
*Includes a table of contents

“I’ve been in love (truly) with five women, the Spanish Republic and the 4th Infantry Division.” – Ernest Hemingway

The Spanish Civil War has exerted a powerful impact on the historical imagination. Without question, the conflict was a key moment in the 20th century, a precursor to World War II, and an encapsulation of the rise of extremist movements in the 1930s, but it was also a complex narrative in and of itself, even as it offered a truly international theatre of war. It marked one of the seminal moments, along with the 1929 Wall Street Crash, between the two apocalyptic wars of the early 20th century, and since it occurred between 1936 and 1939, Spain proved to be a testing ground of tactics, weaponry, and ideology ahead of World War II.

For the Allied powers Britain and France, Spain became a nadir of “appeasement,” yet, as the name suggests, the conflict had distinctly Spanish characteristics. The pressures that led to war were particular to the country, its social challenges, and its long and intricate history, and it was a conflict between two sides that included disparate elements like the clergy, socialists, landowners, and even anarchists. It is estimated that somewhere between 500,000-2,000,000 people were killed in the war.

Unlike World War II, the Spanish conflict attracted artists and writers, many of whom reflected upon events and even volunteered to fight. Pablo Picasso’s painting Guernica, journalist Martha Gellhorn’s reports, Robert Capa’s iconic photography, George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, and Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls are just some examples of the art and literature that documented the war, and 80 years later, the conflict and its causes still inspire musicians and writers.

Ultimately, the forces of reaction, led by General Francisco Franco, triumphed, and after his victory in 1939, Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist for 36 years. Upon his death, however, a reconstructed version of the Spanish Republic was enacted, albeit this time as a constitutional monarchy. Part of the tacit agreement which led to democracy in the 1970s was a burial of former grievances and the memory of the civil war, but a lack of reconciliation has left the conflict’s unresolved issues bubbling under the surface of Spanish society. In recent years, new material and accounts have been published, firmly demonstrating that the impact of the war is far from done.

The Spanish Civil War: The History and Legacy of the Controversial Conflict that Established Francisco Franco’s Dictatorship in Spain examines one of the 20th century’s most important wars, and how it affected the world. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Spanish Civil War like never before.


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