The Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was an armed conflict between the Republicans and the Nationalists led by General Francisco Franco.


When did the Spanish Civil War start? Who won the Spanish Civil War?

Read on to get your Spanish Civil War facts straight.

The Spanish Civil War took place in Spain between 1936 and 1939. How did it all start? In 1936, Manuel Azaña, a democratically elected Republican, was serving as the president of Spain when a group of the most influential generals from the part of the Spanish army based in Morocco carried out a coup d'etat led by General Francisco Franco. Spain quickly erupted into civil war.

The left side, known as the Republicans, was formed by the Spanish government together with unions, communists, anarchists, workers, and peasants. On the other side were the Nationalists, the rebel part of the army, the bourgeoisie, the landlords, and, generally, the upper classes. Although it was a civil war, several foreign entities also joined the conflict. For different reasons closely linked to the European context of the time, the Republican side was supported by the Soviet Union and the European democracies, while the Nationalist side had the support of fascist Germany and Italy, which meant that the latter was better armed.

The war was one of the hardest Spain has ever faced. After the Nationalist victory, a dictatorship ruled the country for almost 40 years, from 1939 to 1975, when the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco died. Although Franco's side had received German aid during the Spanish Civil War, he decided not to get directly involved in World War II because Spain was in terrible conditions after suffering the civil war. The only support Spain sent to Germany was a small group of volunteers.

Spain suffered continuous international isolation during the entire Franco dictatorship, but it weakened over the years. The Spanish dictator wanted the country to be recognized by the international community, and little by little the people began to see certain improvements in their social life. In the 1950s, Spain was accepted as a member of the United Nations. Then in 1970, Franco appointed Prince Juan Carlos as his successor.

Francisco Franco’s idea was for Juan Carlos to continue as the head of the dictatorship that had ruled Spain for so many years, but when he was finally crowned after the death of the dictator in 1975, instead of continuing the dictatorship King Juan Carlos I helped Spain return to democracy. The country has been a constitutional monarchy ever since.