History

Discuss in details the causes of the Spanish Civil War.

The Spanish Civil war occurred in 1936 and directly caused because of the take-over of the power by the General Franco. However it’s a reality that this civil war had been prepared for years before that: since the Spain lost its monarchy, the government had been unstable and troubled. During the 18th and the 19th centuries, Spain lost its great empire and its old prestige. The Spanish people were annoyed with that and they accused the monarchy. Consequently the Queen Isabella II was deposed. The First Spanish Republic was established. However this Republic was not stable. In 1875, after a military rising, a descendant of the monarchy became King; but it was a constitutional monarchy. The next Kings ruled in a more and more democratic way. The Spanish parliament was called the Cortes. Every men grown-up had the right of vote in the general elections. However, the Spain had difficulties with its colonies in Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. The Spanish felt humiliated by their lost, in consequence they tried to seized Morocco, but it was a disaster : the local population resisted harshly and caused a lot of trouble. The Spanish were defeated in 1921. The General Promo de Rivera caused lots of problems in Spain and contributed to warm the atmosphere. In fact he seized the power with the help of the King and of the army. He governed for seven years. He was an authoritative man and he demanded strict army discipline. Moreover he was farer of the Democracy than the Royal old regime: he did not care of the Cortes and closed it down. All political parties were banned. In 1930 the World Crisis hit the Spain as well as the other country and it had economic difficulties. Primo de Rivera did not get on with the King and he had lost popularity, so he had to resign. In 1931 there were municipal elections and the Republicans won a majority. There were a lot of specific problems to Spain. One of the most important was the importance of the division among many parts of the country. The regionalism was important, it means that people felt they belonged to one part of the Spain, on region, but not the whole country. They thought they should self-rule and did not want to have a united country. For example the people of Aragon had to promise loyalty to the King of Spain but they showed very little enthusiasm and they swore in a rather blurred way. The Separatism in Spain can be explicated to the divisions due to history and geography. Another example: The Basque Separatists wanted to preserve their own culture. They obtained independence in 1936. Catalonia had its own Parliament. The Catalans felt as a separated culture. They obtained a Statue of Autonomy in 1932. There were two kings of lands for agriculture in Spain; the latifundia and the minifundias. The first ones were great and owned by wealthy people and poor peasants were hired to cultivate them. But they were paid a misery so there were an enormous amounts of poor labourers in Spain in the 19320s: about 2,500,000. The second ones were fund mainly in Catalonia and Valencia. There were small farms and were too miserable to feed a family. The poor conditions of life led to agrarian violence. It’s an explication for the popularity of the communism among the poor: they promised them land, food and equality. Another problem of the country was the power of the Church. The Catholic Church was very wealthy, so it took the side of the rich in the arguments. It was a conservative institution. Consequently, except in the Basques region, the Clergy became unpopular among

the workers, who joined communist and anarchist groups. The Church was the symbol of the gap between rich and poor. The Army was too a conservative institution. It was fond of the old way of life and their officer came from aristocracy. It was too used to suppress the restless peasants. The Civil Guard was charged of that. A short-term cause of the Civil war was the decision of the Army to oppose the left-wing government. The arguments between the left and the right were frequent and were a source of division in Spain. The main conservative party was the Catholic one and led the opposition to the government. His leader, Gil Robles, publicly expressed his admiration for the Nazis. The Nationalist Bloc had for leader Calvo Sotelo and was a coalition of Monarchists, Fascists and other people of the right-wing. They wanted to fight the spread of communism and anarchism. The members of the left-wing were called the Republicans and favoured a constitutional democracy and it was led by Manuel Azana. The Socialist party wanted to change Spain by peaceful and democratic ways. The Communists and the Anarchists were members of the right-wing. Their main leader was Dolores Ibarruri, a great orator. The Anarchist aimed to destroy the government. Their leader was Buenventura Durruti. The most preoccupant problem of the Spain was the terrible situation of the landless peasants. A law was written: The Agrarian Law, in 1932, obtained land for peasants but it applied in very few areas. The government became impopular. The next elections provided right-wing government. Under the new government the last reforms were repealed. A military dictatorship was feared but the left-wing. Strikes and demonstrations occurred which were took over control violently by the general Franco. A coalition of the left-wing formed in 1936 a popular front. They won the elections in 1936. They wanted to introduce reforms and to reduce the strikes by giving land to peasants, but it was to late: many people took lands for themselves by force, churches were burned and disorder widespread. An army revolt was again feared, because the generals worried about collapse of law and order. The general Franco and other Generals decided in secret to make a coup d’état against the government of the “Godless republic”. The leader of the Monarchists party was assassinated, that decided them to act. The Civil War began few days later. The Army defeated the left-wing republican forces, and the war lasted six years. In conclusion, the Spanish Civil War did not happened in a short moment but the weakness of the regimes, the intense feeling of not-belonging, the division between rich and poor, right and left, Church and workers and the extreme poverty of most of the population created bad conditions and agitation in the whole country. The Army was the main mean to take the power and the officers and generals were powerful, that’s why such an insurrection had been possible. Finally, even if the Civil war had been bloody and the General Franco was not fond of liberty and democracy, he succeeded afterward to achieve a stable government.

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