#redirectTemplate:Dated maintenance category
Francisco Franco Bahamonde (4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975), commonly known as Franco (), was a Spanish military general and head of state of Spain from October 1936 (whole nation from 1939 onwards), and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November 1975. As head of state, Franco used the title Caudillo de España, por la gracia de Dios, meaning Leader of Spain, by the grace of God.
From a military family, originally intent on entering the Spanish Navy, Franco instead became a soldier. He participated in the Rif War in Morocco, becoming the youngest general in Europe by 1926. After returning to the Spanish mainland, he saw service suppressing an anarchist-led strike in 1934, defending the stability of Alcalá-Zamora's conservative government. Following the formation of a Popular Front government, made up of Marxist, liberal republican and anarchist factions, instability heightened. Violence between militant groups spiraled out of control with assassination of conservative parliamentary leader José Calvo Sotelo in retaliation for the killing of José Castillo. Franco and his co-conspirators used Calvo's death as their pretext for war, even though they had already initiated the plan for their rebellion.
Franco and the military participated in a coup d'état against the Popular Front government. The coup failed and devolved into the Spanish Civil War during which Franco emerged as the leader of the Nationalists against the Popular Front government. After winning the civil war with military aid from Italy and Nazi Germany—while the communist Soviet Union and various Internationalists aided certain forces of the left—he dissolved the Spanish Parliament. He then established a right-wing authoritarian regime that lasted until 1978, when a new constitution was drafted. During World War II, Franco officially maintained a policy of non-belligerency and later of neutrality. However, he supported the volunteer Blue Division who fought with the Axis on the Eastern Front.
After the end of World War II, Franco maintained his control in Spain through the implementation of austere measures: the systematic suppression of dissident views through censorship and coercion, the imprisonment of ideologically opposed enemies in concentration camps throughout the country (such as Los Merinales in Seville, San Marcos in León, Castuera in Extremadura, and Miranda de Ebro), the implementation of forced labor in prisons, and the use of the death penalty and heavy prison sentences as deterrents for his ideological enemies. During the Cold War, the United States established a diplomatic and trade alliance with Spain, due to Franco's strong anti-Communist policy. American President Richard Nixon toasted Franco, and, after Franco's death, stated: "General Franco was a loyal friend and ally of the United States." After his death, Spain gradually began its transition to democracy. Today, pre-constitutional symbols from the Franco regime—such as the national Coat of arms or flag with the Imperial Eagle—are banned by law in Spain.
Francisco Franco was born on 4 December 1892 in Ferrol, Galicia, which is Spain's chief naval base in the north. The Franco family was originally from Andalucia. Furthermore, "a significant portion of the Spanish and Portuguese populations have some remote Jewish ancestry; if this were true of Franco he would simply be in the position of millions of other Spaniards."=""ancest"/> Furthermore, "a significant portion of the Spanish and Portuguese populations have some remote Jewish ancestry; if this were true of Franco he would simply be in the position of millions of other Spaniards."" note="note"/> Since relocating to Galicia they were strongly involved in the Spanish Navy and over two centuries produced naval officers for six generations uninterrupted, right down to Franco's father Nicolás Franco y Salgado-Araújo (22 November 1855 - 22 February 1942).
Franco's mother was María del Pilar Bahamonde y Pardo de Andrade (1865 - 28 February 1934), and his parents married in 1890. The young Franco spent much of his childhood with his two brothers, Nicolás (Ferrol, 1891 – 1977), a naval officer and diplomat who in time was married to María Isabel Pascual del Pobil y Ravello, and Ramón (a pioneering aviator and a member of Esquerra Republicana), and his two sisters, María del Pilar (Ferrol, 1894 - Madrid, 1989), later wife of Alonso Jaráiz y Jeréz, and María de la Paz (Ferrol, 1899 - Ferrol, 1900).
Francisco was to follow his father into the Navy but as a result of the Spanish-American War the country lost much of its navy as well as most of its colonies. Not needing more officers, entry into the Naval Academy was closed from 1906 to 1913. To his father's chagrin, he decided to join the Spanish Army. In 1907, he entered the Infantry Academy in Toledo, from which he graduated in 1910. He was commissioned as a lieutenant. Two years later, he obtained a commission to Morocco. Spanish efforts to physically occupy their new African protectorate provoked the protracted Rif War (from 1909 to 1927) with native Moroccans. Tactics at the time resulted in heavy losses among Spanish military officers, but also gave the chance of earning promotion through merit. It was said that officers would get either la caja o la faja (a coffin or a general's sash). Franco soon gained a reputation as a good officer. He joined the newly formed regulares, colonial native troops with Spanish officers, who acted as shock troops.
In 1916, at the age of 23 and already a captain, he was badly wounded in a skirmish at El Biutz and possibly lost a testicle. His survival marked him permanently in the eyes of the native troops as a man of baraka (good luck). He was also recommended unsuccessfully for Spain's highest honor for gallantry, the coveted Cruz Laureada de San Fernando. Instead, he was promoted to major (comandante), becoming the youngest field grade officer in the Spanish Army. From 1917 to 1920, he was posted on the Spanish mainland. That last year, Lieutenant Colonel José Millán Astray, a histrionic but charismatic officer, founded the Spanish Foreign Legion, along similar lines to the French Foreign Legion. Franco became the Legion's second-in-command and returned to Africa. On 24 July 1921, the poorly commanded and overextended Spanish Army suffered a crushing defeat at Annual at the hands of the Rif tribes led by the Abd el-Krim brothers. The Legion symbolically, if not materially, saved the Spanish enclave of Melilla after a three-day forced march led by Franco. In 1923, already a lieutenant colonel, he was made commander of the Legion.
The same year, he married María del Carmen Polo y Martínez-Valdès; they had one child, a daughter, María del Carmen, born in 1926. As a special mark of honor, his best man (padrino) at the wedding was King Alfonso XIII, a fact that would mark him during the Republic as a monarchical officer. Promoted to colonel, Franco led the first wave of troops ashore at Al Hoceima in 1925. This landing in the heartland of Abd el-Krim's tribe, combined with the French invasion from the south, spelled the beginning of the end for the short-lived Republic of the Rif. Becoming the youngest general in Spain in 1926, Franco was appointed in 1928 director of the newly created General Military Academy of Zaragoza, a new college for all Army cadets, replacing the former separate institutions for young men seeking to become officers in infantry, cavalry, artillery, and other branches of the army.
With the fall of the monarchy in 1932, in keeping with his long-standing apolitical record, Franco did not take any notable stand. But the closing of the Academy, in June, by War Minister Manuel Azaña, provoked his first clash with the Republic. Azaña found Franco's farewell speech to the cadets insulting. For six months, Franco was without a post and under surveillance.
On February 5, 1932, he was given a command in A Coruña. Franco avoided involvement in José Sanjurjo's attempted coup that year, and even wrote a hostile letter to Sanjurjo expressing his anger over the attempt. As a side result of Azaña's military reform, in January 1933, Franco was relegated from the first to the 24th in the list of Brigadiers; conversely, the same year (17 February), he was given the military command of the Balearic Islands: a post above his rank.
New elections held in October 1933 resulted in a center-right majority. In opposition to this government, a revolutionary movement broke out 5 October 1934. This uprising was rapidly quelled in most of the country, but gained a stronghold in Asturias, with the support of the miners' unions. Franco, already general of a Division and aide to the war minister, Diego Hidalgo, was put in command of the operations directed to suppress the insurgency. The forces of the Army in Africa were to carry the brunt of this, with General Eduardo López Ochoa as commander in the field. After two weeks of heavy fighting (and a death toll estimated between 1,200 and 2,000), the rebellion was suppressed.
The insurgency in Asturias sharpened the antagonism between Left and Right. Franco and López Ochoa—who, prior to the campaign in Asturias, was seen as a left-leaning officer—were marked by the left as enemies. At the start of the Civil War, López Ochoa was assassinated. Some time after these events, Franco was briefly commander-in-chief of the Army of Africa (from 15 February onwards), and from 19 May 1935 on, Chief of the General Staff.