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The Spanish Civil War
There were several reasons for the war, many of them long-term tensions that had escalated over the years.
The 19th century was turbulent for Spain. The country had undergone several civil wars and revolts, carried out by both reformists and the conservatives, who tried to displace each other from power. A liberal tradition that first ascended to power with the Spanish Constitution of 1812 sought to abolish the absolutist monarchy of the old regime and to establish a liberal state. The most traditionalist sectors of the political sphere systematically tried to avert these reforms and to sustain the monarchy. The Carlistsâ€”supporters of Infante Carlos and his descendantsâ€”rallied to the cry of "God, Country and King" and fought for the cause of Spanish tradition (absolutism and Catholicism) against the liberalism and later the republicanism of the Spanish governments of the day. The Carlists, at times (including the Carlist Wars), allied with nationalists (not to be confused with the nationalists of the Civil War) attempting to restore the historic liberties (and broad regional autonomy) granted by the fueros (regional charters) of the Basque Country and Catalonia. Further, from the mid-19th century onwards, liberalism was outflanked on its left by socialism of various types and especially by anarchism, which was far stronger and more numerous in Spain than anywhere else in Europe aside from (possibly) Russia.
Spain experienced a number of different systems of rule in the period between the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century and the outbreak of the Civil War. During most of the 19th century, Spain was a constitutional monarchy, but under attack from these various directions. The First Spanish Republic, founded in 1873, was short-lived. A monarchy under Alfonso XIII lasted from 1887 to 1931, but from 1923 was held in place by the military dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera. Following Primo de Rivera's overthrow in 1930, the monarchy was unable to maintain power and the Second Spanish Republic was declared in 1931. This Republic soon came to be led by a coalition of the left and center. A number of controversial reforms were passed, such as the Agrarian Law of 1932, distributing land among poor peasants. Millions of Spaniards had been living in more or less absolute poverty under the firm control of the aristocratic landowners in a quasi-feudal system. These reforms, along with anticlericalist acts, as well as military cutbacks and reforms, created strong opposition.
1931-1936 The origins of the Spanish Civil War.