Francisco Franco

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Francisco Franco
Paco Ibera - La Guerra Ha Terminado.jpg

Caudillo de España, por la gracia de Dios.

Born 4 December 1892
Ferrol, Galicia, Spain
Died 20 November 1975 (aged 82)
Madrid, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Occupation soldier, politician
Party FET y de las JONS
Religion Catholic
Spouse Carmen Polo, 1st Lady of Meirás

Caudillo of Spain
Term 1 April 1939 – 20 November 1975
Predecessor Manuel Azaña (as President)
Successor Alejandro Rodríguez de Valcárcel (for hand over to Juan Carlos I)

68th Leader of the Government of Spain
Term 5 February 1939 – 8 June 1973
Predecessor Juan Negrín
Successor Luis Carrero Blanco

General Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco y Bahamonde Salgado Pardo de Andrade (born on 4 December 1892 in Ferrol, Galicia, died on 20 November 1975 in Madrid), commonly known as Francisco Franco, was a military general, and head of state of Spain from October 1936 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. During his almost forty year reign, Franco’s governance went through various different phases, although the most common ideological features present throughout included a strong sense of Spanish nationalism and protection of the country’s territorial integrity, Catholicism, anti-communism, anti-masonry and traditional values.

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.[1] After returning to the Spanish mainland, he saw service supressing 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. Incidents of anti-clerical and anti-Catholic violence by subversive philobolshevik militants occurred[2] and also the assasination of José Calvo Sotelo, political leader of Acción Española.[3]

After winning the Spanish Civil War with military aid from Italy and Germany—while the Soviet Union were behind the reds—he dissolved the republican Parliament. He then established a national conservative government that lasted until 1978, when a new constitution was drafted. During the Second World War, Franco officially maintained a policy of non-belligerency and later of neutrality. However, the Blue Division volunteered on the Eastern Front.

After the war, Franco continued an authoritarian regime until his death in 1975. He was a reliable ally for the West during the Cold War. Franco restored the monarchy before his death, which made King Juan Carlos I his successor, who led the Spanish transition to democracy. After a referendum, a new constitution was adopted, which transformed Spain into a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy.

Franco served as a role model for several anti-communist regimes in South America. Augusto Pinochet is known to have admired Franco,

Regarding persecutions before, during, and after the Spanish Civil War, see the article on the Spanish Civil War.


Background and personal life

Franco with his older brother Nicolás in 1902, wearing uniform

Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco Bahamonde was born on 4 December 1892, in Ferrol, Galicia, a coastal-town and Spain's chief naval base in the north.[4] His father, Nicolás Franco y Salgado de Araújo (1855—1942), was an officer in the Spanish Navy; his ancestors were originally from Andalucia and over two centuries had produced naval officers for six generations uninterrupted.[4] His mother, María del Pilar Bahamonde y Pardo de Andrade (1865—1934), married in 1890, was a local Galician who worked as a school teacher. She was well-bred,[5] descended from the aristocratic Andrade family and through Fernando Rodriguez de Castro, 7th Count of Lemos (1505—1579), several medieval European monarchs.

His parents had starkly contrasting outlooks on life.[4] Nicolás was an agnostic, philosophically open to classical liberalism and in the navy was known to drink and gamble. Though he was still a disciplinarian regarding the children.[5] Unbeknownst to the family (until 1950), he fathered an illegitimate child while in the Philippines.[5] María, Franco's mother, was a decade younger than her husband, she was a strongly pious and stoic Catholic woman and a self-sacrificing wife and mother.[5] Paco, as Franco was nicknamed as a child, felt somewhat of an antipathy towards his father’s behaviour and strongly identified with the traditional values of his mother, though is said to have lacked her gentlesness.[5] His father abandoned the family and set up with a servant girl in 1912 as he was reassigned to Madrid.[5]

In any case, Franco had an otherwise normal and happy childhood. He was the second oldest child and had two brothers and two sisters—Nicolás, Pilar, Ramón and Paz. His brothers shared a competative zeal to be successful, driven on perhaps by their family military background.[6] The three boys would all have careers in the military; Franco's elder brother Nicolás was the only one able to carry on the navy tradition however.[6] During 1923, after gaining notability in the military, Franco married Carmen Polo y Martínez Valdés, a member of the Asturian nobility.[7] His military achievement meant that a representative of Alfonso XIII was sent to act as padrino (godfather).[8] The marriage was highly successful and the pair felt a genuine love for each other.[8] They kept a stable, conservative and Catholic household and had one child, a daughter named Carmen Franco y Polo (born 1926), later to be known as Duchess of Franco.[8] Since her grandson is Louis, Duke of Anjou (born 1974), Franco includes amongst his descendants the legitimist Bourbon line.

Europe’s youngest general

Service during the Rif War

Unable to join the navy after cut-backs, Franco was sent as a cadet to the Military Academy of Infantry in Toledo in 1907 and graduated three years later at the age of 17 as a second lieutenant.[6] Though his initial performance was not that distinguished he was known for his determination and hard-work,[6] picking up the nickname Franquito due to being the shortest graduate at just five-feet-four inches.[6] Assigned to combat service in the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco, Franco impressed on his first tour of duty in 1912—1916, mostly in the Regulares. Despite his young age, Franco was promoted to Captain in February 1914 after showing courage, discipline and ordered determination.[9] The Moroccan troops in the Regulares believed he had baraka (divine protection), due to only being wounded once—in the stomach at the Battle of El Biutz—despite leading from the front.[10]

Franco, November 1921, serving with the 1st Bandera in the Rif War of the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco.

While many of his comrades were instead carousing with playing cards, wine and whores, Franco applied himself more seriously to his work, particularly the tasks of maps, fortifications and technique preparation for the armed columns.[9] When Spanish officers were seriously injured in combat, they were often granted promotion. At age 23, he was first denied a promotion to major by the Ministry of Defence because of his youth, but this was taken all the way to the king, who overruled the objection, seeing him promotion in February 1917, becoming the youngest field grade officer in the Spanish Army.[11] From 1917 to 1920, he was posted on the Spanish mainland as an infantry batallion commander at the Oviedo garrison in Asturias.[11]

Spanish Civil War

Main article: Spanish Civil War

Tenants of his reign

Basic disposition, the Pragmatic Patriot

Personal coat of arms of Francisco Franco as head of the Spanish State.

Contrary to many of the autocratic governments of the 20th century, Franco was not the founder of an elaborate or specific political theory. Instead, his disposition mostly derived from that of a pragmatic national conservative military man, known in Spanish tradition as the Caudillo. He respected Miguel Primo de Rivera, 2nd Marquis of Estella, who had ruled as Prime Minister of Spain from 1923 to 1930 under Alfonso XIII of Spain and some consider his reign simply the institutionalisation of this. Franco was able to bring together into a unified national front the divergant strands of Spanish patriotism, opposed to the Red Terror. The most common tenants that these movements shared was patriotism, traditional values, Catholicism, opposition to both liberalism (including freemasonry) and international communism.

Franco brought the national cards into his chest and played whichever one was the most convenient for Spain at the time. During the earlier period, members of the Falange were prominent, due to the help Spain recieved from the fascist (broad sense) governments in Italy and Germany during the Spanish Civil War. In a similar sense, Franco lauded the traditionalism and piety of Carlism, while not upholding their concept of regionalism ("fueros"), nor their doctrinate support of a particular monarchial line. Franco was arguably closest to the Acción Española tendancy and his early military career connected him to the Alfonsist camp. When he had the most independence to act as he wished, Franco ran the country along neo-monarchial lines with himself as the Regent (regarding Juan de Bourbon as too "tainted"[12] by freemasonry).

Countering the Masons and Communists

We have torn up Marxist materialism and we have disorientated Masonry. We have thwarted the Satanic machinations of the clandestine Masonic superstate. Despite its control of the world’s press and numerous international politicians. Spain’s struggle is a Crusade; as soldiers of God we carry with us the evangelism of the world!

—Francisco Franco, to the Women's Section of the Falange in Madrid, 1945.[12]

After the reconquest, holding freemasonry and communism responsible for destroying the Spanish Empire and the anti-social crimes during the republic, Franco created legislature to abolish them. In March 1940 the Law for the Repression of Freemasonry and Communism was enacted and the people were protected. To be a communist or a member of a masonic lodge became a felony.[13] From the date of enactment "masons and communists, as defined in article no 4" were liable to serve a minimum jail term of 12 years and one day.[13] Those who had "obtained any of the Degrees from the 18th to the 33rd inclusive, having taken part in any Annual Communications or being part of any Committee or Board of the Grand Orient of Spain",[13] were guilty of Aggravated Circumstances and some of them recieved capital punishment.

Decorations and awards


  • Grand Master of the Imperial Order of the Yoke and the Arrows
  • Laureate Cross of Saint Ferdinand
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Military Merit
  • Grand Cross of Aeronautical Merit
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Hermenegild
  • Grand Master of the Order of Isabella the Catholic
  • Collar of Order of Alfonso X the Wise
  • Cross of Order of Maria Cristina
  • Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece
  • Gold Medal of the province of Segovia


  • Grand Cross of the Sash of the Three Orders
  • Grand Collar of the Order of the Tower and Sword
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Christ
  • Grand Cross of the Military Order of Aviz
  • Grand Cross of the Military Order of Saint James of the Sword


  • Knight of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy
  • Knight of Order of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta


  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Liberator General San Martín (Argentina)
  • Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece)
  • Knight of the Supreme Order of Christ (Holy See)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle in Gold with Star (Nazi Germany)
  • Pilot/Observer Badge of the German Luftwaffe (Nazi Germany)
  • Chief Commander of the Philippine Legion of Honor (Philippines)

See also




  1. Francisco Franco. (2 December, 2009).
  2. Blinkhorn 1988, p. 26.
  3. Beevor 1982, p. 49.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Payne 2000, p. 67.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Payne 2000, p. 68.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Payne 2000, p. 69.
  7. Payne 2000, p. 72.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Payne 2000, p. 73.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Payne 2000, p. 70.
  10. Rif War: Biographies of Key Players. Balagan (2 December, 2009).
  11. 11.0 11.1 Payne 2000, p. 71.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Freemasonry and the Spanish Civil War. Freemasonry Today (Autumn 2004).
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Freemasonry banned in Spain by General Franco. (2 December 2009).


  • Beevor, Anthony (1982). The Spanish Civil War. Penguin. ISBN 0141001488. 
  • Blinkhorn, Martin (1988). Democracy and civil war in Spain 1931-1939. Routledge. ISBN 0415006996. 
  • Payne, Stanley G (2000). The Phoenix: Franco Regime 1936-1975. Phoenix Press. ISBN 1842120468. 

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