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Back to the Rise and Fall of the Empire

The beginning of the 20th century saw developments in industry which were concentrated in Catalunya and Basque, while the rest of the country remained agricultural. Much of the land however was unproductive and Spain struggled to produce enough food.

There was a significant movement in population from rural areas to the cities by those seeking work, while others migrated to South America. Many of those who moved to the sites however still found it difficult to find work and lived poor conditions, leading to unrest.
In the meantime, Spain remained divided between the church and the liberals, the church having regained much of the power that it had lost due to liberalisation in the 19th century.

King Alfonso XIII,who came to the throne in 1902 insisted on involvement with political affairs, including the sacking of ministers and prime-ministers. From 1902 to 1923, there were 33 different governments.
Anarch was also growing, evidenced at the king's wedding in 1906, when a bomb thrown at the royal carriage killed 24 people and two of the horses drawing the carriage. The king and queen were unhurt.


Spain stayed neutral in World War 1 of 1914 to 1918 but had enough turmoil of it's own with political violence on the increase.
The military were consuming a large proportion of the national budget but it's effectiveness was causing constant criticism.
An army uprising in 1923 led to 6 years of military dictatorship which the king went along with, against the constitution to which he had sworn.
The country however made economic progress during this dictatorship, with money being invested in the right places, though the Wall Street crash of 1929 caused a downturn in Spain's economy.

In 1930, unrest in the military caused the king to sack the General dictator, Primo, and call an election. However, the people had turned against the king and a republic (Spain's second) was formed in 1931, the king heading for exile in Italy.

During the republic, the political scene became more and more unstable with many opposing groups,including Fascists, Communists, Carlists, and the church. At the end the situation was extremely volatile with frequent assassinations and many churches attacked.
Things came to a head after a prominent politician was taken and murdered by a group of off duty policemen and the army began plotting to rise against the republic.

And so the Civil War of 1936 to 39 began with a revolt of the army which succeeded in places and failed in others, leaving the country split, with half the army remaining loyal to the republic.
Although the UK and France officially stayed out of it, supporters of the republic received weapons and volunteers from the Soviet Union, while the nationalists, under three generals (including General Franco) received assistance from Germany and Italy.

This was a bloody civil war that turned brother against brother and neighbour against neighbour. It has been estimated that half a million died in the war or were executed afterwards. Many churches were destroyed and priest, monks and nuns were killed.

On to the time of Franco - 1939 to 1975