VALENCIAVALENCIA.COM - Valencia City Guide and Travel / Tourist Information

Political Turmoil, Civil War and Franco Dictatorship
1898 - 1975

Civil War and the Franco Regime in the History of ValenciaValencia entered the XX century on a very liberal streak, with Blasco Ibanez elected into the government. Popular with the working class and of a socialist tilt, Blasco Ibanez contributed strongly to Valencia's leftist political evolution.

The 1898 war with the United States left Spain in economic and social turmoil, leading to proliferation of radical movements (from socialist to fascist). King Alfonso XII resolved the situation by appointing General Primo de Rivera as dictator in 1923. Rivera's rule was a genuine temporary fix patch and he was generally well accepted by the people of Spain.

However, by the end of the 1920s the Spanish economy had new troubles and once Rivera saw that the public opinion turned against him, he voluntarily left his post.

King Alfonso abdicated in April 1931, following a Republican victory in municipal elections. Spain was proclaimed a Republic, under a center-left government.

In 1933 women were allowed to vote for the first time and many shared more conservative views. As a result, a right-wing government came to power on a narrow margin. In 1936 this narrow margin occured again, but in favour of the left. Intensely polarised and radicalised, the two sides gave a call to arms.

Valencia followed these general trends throughout the period, overall remaining on a moderate left. A stereotypical Valencian family of the time is joked to have been a socialist manifest branding husband and a fevereshly praying conservative wife. Now that the Civil War had started, Valencia found itself deeply inside the Republican (left) front, combating the Nationalist (right) forces of General Francisco Franco.

As early as November 1936 the capital of the Republican government was moved to Valencia, amidst fears of losing Madrid, and remained there until the end of the war in 1939. The frontline never reached Valencia, although bombings were frequent. Valencia turned into the reddest spot on the map of Spain, with the Republican elite flocking to the capital.

On 30 March 1939, after the fall of Catalunia and most other Republican territory, Valencia capitulated to Franco's forces, thus ending the war.

Civil War and the Franco Regime in the History of ValenciaOnce victory was announced, General Franco began his rule as a dictator. Those were hard times for Valencia, as for the rest of Spain. Although the anti-separatist repressions were fairly mild here (due to Valencia's traditionally more moderate stance than that of Catalunia and the Basque Country), economic hardship was dark as Spain became politically and economically isolated due to its links with fascist regimes. While cultural nationalism was strongly discouraged, Valencian identity remained largely preserved since it relied less on institutional education (such as language and legal framework) and more on the cultural events (read: fiestas) with a strong Catholic aspect, thus being to the taste of ultra-Catholic Franco.

Franco had a design for every region of Spain and the strength of Valencia in times of an economic crisis was its vast agricultural assets. While Barcelona, for example, was seen by him as more of an industrial powerhorse, Franco boosted Valencia to become Europe's orange plantation. In 1950s Valencia's orange exports became famous throughout the world.

The year of 1957 is a major memory for Valencia, although of strictly local importance. River Turia (then flowing through the middle of the city) flooded, killing many people and ruining the city. Valencia received disaster aid from the rest of Spain and next year made a special edition of the Fallas, inviting all Spanish regions to turn it into a national event, and hosting Franco as the guest of honour. River Turia was consequently diverted to the south of the city and the former river bed was converted into a lush leisure garden, giving Valencia much of its emblematic charm today.

The 1960s-70s were an era of Development by the Franco regime, with much of Valencia re-shaping its infrastructure and modernising.

Civil War and the Franco Regime in the History of Valencia Civil War and the Franco Regime in the History of Valencia Civil War and the Franco Regime in the History of Valencia

© 2006