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Who was Francisco Franco?

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Quick Answer

Francisco Franco was the Spanish general who led the right-wing opposition to the government during the Spanish Civil War. After the war ended, in 1939, Franco set up a fascist dictatorship with himself as the head of state.

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Full Answer

Francisco Franco was an enthusiastic young officer in the pre-revolution Spanish army and served with distinction in Morocco. While fighting in the colonies, Franco developed a reputation for loyalty and bravery that was somewhat tarnished by his equally accurate reputation for brutality toward defeated enemies. His service to the government earned him multiple promotions to, ultimately, the rank of major general and command of the Canary Islands garrison. It was there, in 1936, that Franco announced the coup that eventually toppled the leftist government in Madrid.

Franco relocated from the Canaries to Morocco and raised a fascist army to invade Spain. Aided by his fellow fascists, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, Franco won total victory in the war by 1939 and made himself Spain's dictator for life. During his reign, tens of thousands of left-leaning Spanish citizens were arrested and killed, though the dictatorship softened somewhat during the 1960s when Franco's health declined. Eventually, he ceded much of his power to a member of Spain's royal family and died peacefully in 1975.

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