Birthday: December 4, 1892
Died At Age: 82
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Also Known As: Francisco Franco Bahamonde
Born Country: Spain
Born in: Ferrol, Spain
Famous as: Former Caudillo of Spain
Height: 5'4" (163 cm), 5'4" Males
political ideology: Political party - Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS
Spouse/Ex-: 1st Lady of Meirás, Carmen Polo
father: Nicolás Franco y Salgado-Araújo
mother: María del Pilar Bahamonde y Pardo de Andrade
siblings: María de la Paz Franco, María del Pilar Franco, Nicolás Franco, Ramón Franco
children: 1st Duchess of Franco, Carmen Franco
Died on: November 20, 1975
place of death: Madrid, Spain
Cause of Death: Septic Shock
Diseases & Disabilities: Parkinson's Disease
education: Infantry Academy of Toledo
Who was Francisco Franco?
Francisco Franco was a Spanish general who took control of Spain after the ‘Spanish Civil War,’ which took place from 1936 to 1939. He established a military dictatorship which he presided over until his death in 1975. An authoritarian ruler, he was highly ambitious from a young age. Hailing from a military family background, he went on to become the youngest general in Spain in the 1920s; he was also one of the youngest generals in Europe. His rapidly progressing military career was temporarily stalled after the fall of the monarchy in 1931, following which the leaders of the newly established Spanish Republic undertook a major military reform. His military career was eventually restored and he was appointed chief of the Spanish army’s general staff. He then conspired with several others and planned to overthrow the republic. He started a coup which led to the fierce ‘Spanish Civil War’ and quickly emerged as the war’s leading military figure. He received considerable support from several fascist groups, especially Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy, and went on to win the bloody war which left half a million dead. Establishing an autocratic dictatorship, he ruled as the nation’s undisputed leader until his death in 1975. He restored the monarchy before his death, making King Juan Carlos I his successor.
Childhood & Early Life
Francisco Franco Bahamonde was born on 4 December 1892, in Ferrol, Galicia, Kingdom of Spain. His father Nicolás Franco y Salgado Araújo was an officer in the ‘Spanish Naval Administrative Corps.’ His mother María del Pilar Bahamonde y Pardo de Andrade was from an upper-middle-class family.
He grew up with two brothers and two sisters, and was very close to his mother. He had a troubled early life as his father was an eccentric and wasteful man.
He entered the ‘Infantry Academy’ at Toledo in 1907, aged just 14. He graduated three years later as a second lieutenant.
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In June 1912, when he was just 19 years old, Francisco was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant. The following year, he was transferred to the newly formed regulares.
An ambitious and determined young man, he was made captain in 1915. He was also chosen to be second in command of the Spanish Foreign Legion in 1920, taking full command in 1923. His stature as a military officer continued to rise rapidly. In 1926, at age 33, he was promoted to brigadier general.
He was appointed the director of the newly organized ‘General Military Academy’ in Saragossa in 1928. This was a tumultuous period in the nation and in 1931, Spanish King Alfonso XIII was pressurized to hold democratic elections. People voted for a republic nation and this led to the fall of the Spanish Monarchy. The former king left Spain and went into exile.
The leaders of the newly formed Spanish Republic initiated a major military reform which stalled Franco’s flourishing career. In addition, the ‘General Military Academy’ was dissolved and he was placed in the inactive list.
In 1933, the conservative forces gained control of the republic and Franco’s military career was re-established. He was promoted to major general in 1934. The same year, he was called to quell a revolt by the Asturian miners. He was successful in his mission and this earned him respect as a military leader.
As his reputation began to rise, he started consolidating his powers. In May 1935, he was appointed chief of the Spanish army’s general staff; in this position, he began strengthening military institutions.
Political chaos in the country continued and the Spanish parliament was dissolved following a slew of scandals. New elections were announced for February 1936, in which the leftist Popular Front won. However, the new government proved to be weak and was unable to stop the nation’s social and economic structure from crumbling further.
As the Spanish political system continued to disintegrate, Franco joined a group of rebels to plot a military conspiracy against the government. On July 18, 1936, Francisco Franco broadcast his manifesto, announcing a full military rebellion, thus marking the beginning of the ‘Spanish Civil War.’ The war resulted in the death of thousands of men and raged on for three years before the rebel government seized the reins of the country in 1939.
Already proclaimed as “Generalísimo” by the rebels, Franco was now recognized as the Spanish head of state by Britain and France. Taking over the control of the Spanish government, he assumed the official title of ‘Su Excelencia el Jefe de Estado’ (His Excellency the Head of State). He intended to restore Spain to her past glory, but the economic and social condition of the nation had deteriorated so much that his aim could not be achieved.
He began his rule as a dictator and Spain reeled under his oppression for several years following the end of the ‘Civil War.’ He killed thousands of his political opponents, a number estimated to be somewhere between 15,000 and 35,000. Women were severely suppressed and subjected to numerous restrictions, and many of the citizens were forced into labor under the most undignified conditions.
His rule had become less violent by the 1950s. However, the suppression on non-government trade unions continued.� Also, political opponents from communist and anarchist organizations and liberal democrats were suppressed.
A brutal authoritarian, Francisco was not a popular ruler. However, his regime did bring about considerable economic development during the 1960s. Aging and ailing, Franco was now viewed as an elder statesman. Unlike most dictators, he acknowledged his impending death and named Prince Juan Carlos, the grandson of Spain’s last ruling king, as his successor.
Francisco Franco ruled over Spain as a dictator for 36 long years. A ruthless ruler, he was notorious for the numerous politically-motivated violent acts that he instigated, mostly against political and ideological enemies. He is believed to have caused an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 deaths. The final years of his rule were relatively more liberal and Spain made considerable economic progress during the last two decades under him.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1923, he married María del Carmen Polo y Martínez-Valdès. The couple had a daughter.
He suffered from Parkinson’s disease during his later years and died on 20 November 1975 from heart failure in Madrid, Spain.