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Ferdinand II (10 March 1452 – 23 January 1516), called the Catholic, was King of Aragon from 1479 until his death. In 1469, he married Infanta Isabella, the future queen of Castile, which was regarded as the marital and political "cornerstone in the foundation of the Spanish monarchy". As a consequence of the marriage, in 1474 he became de jure uxoris King of Castile as Ferdinand V, when Isabella held the crown of Castile, until her death in 1504. At Isabella's death the crown of Castile passed to their daughter Joanna, by the terms of their prenuptial agreement and Isabella‘s last will and testament, and Ferdinand lost his monarchical status in Castile. Joanna's husband Philip became de jure uxoris King of Castile, but died in 1506, and Joanna ruled in her own right. In 1504, after a war with France, he became King of Naples as Ferdinand III, reuniting Naples with Sicily permanently and for the first time since 1458. In 1506, as part of a treaty with a France, Ferdinand married Germaine of Foix of France, but Ferdinand's only son and child of that marriage died soon after birth. (Had the child survived, the personal union of the crowns of Aragon and Castile would have ceased.) In 1508, Ferdinand was recognized as regent of Castile, following Joanna's alleged mental illness, until his own death in 1516. In 1512, he became King of Navarre by conquest.
Christopher Columbus encountered the cacao bean on his fourth mission to the Americas on August 15, 1502, when he and his crew seized a large native canoe that proved to contain among other goods for trade, cacao beans. His son Ferdinand commented that the natives greatly valued the beans, which he termed almonds, "for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen."
Throughout the winter of 1808, French agents became increasingly involved in Spanish internal affairs, attempting to incite discord between members of the Spanish royal family. On 16 February 1808, secret French machinations finally materialized when Napoleon announced that he would intervene to mediate between the rival political factions in the country.
The 19th century was a turbulent time for Spain. Those in favour of reforming Spain's government vied for political power with conservatives, who tried to prevent reforms. Some liberals, in a tradition that started with the Spanish Constitution of 1812, sought to limit the power of the monarchy of Spain and to establish a liberal state. The reforms of 1812 were overturned when King Ferdinand VII dissolved the Constitution and ended the Trienio Liberal government.
Spain was neutral in World War I. Following the war, wide swathes of Spanish society, including the armed forces, united in hopes of removing the corrupt central government, but were unsuccessful. Popular perception of communism as a major threat significantly increased during this period.
The consolidation of various militias into the Republican Army had started in December 1936. The main Nationalist advance to cross the Jarama and cut the supply to Madrid by the Valencia road, termed the Battle of Jarama, led to heavy casualties (6,000–20,000) on both sides. The operation's main objective was not met, though Nationalists gained a modest amount of territory.
Violently thrown out of his paternal home on 28 December 1929. Dalí's relationship with his father was close to rupture. Don Salvador Dalí y Cusi strongly disapproved of his son's romance with Gala, and saw his connection to the Surrealists as a bad influence on his morals. The final straw was when Don Salvador read in a Barcelona newspaper that his son had recently exhibited in Paris a drawing of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, with a provocative inscription: "Sometimes, I spit for fun on my mother's portrait". Outraged, Don Salvador demanded that his son recant publicly. Dalí refused, perhaps out of fear of expulsion from the Surrealist group, and was violently thrown out of his paternal home on 28 December 1929. His father told him that he would be disinherited and that he should never set foot in Cadaqués again.
Support for the Rivera regime gradually faded, and Miguel Primo de Rivera resigned in January 1930. He was replaced by General Dámaso Berenguer, who was in turn himself replaced by Admiral Juan Bautista Aznar-Cabañas; both men continued a policy of rule by decree. There was little support for the monarchy in the major cities. Consequently, King Alfonso XIII gave in to popular pressure for the establishment of a republic in 1931 and called municipal elections for 12 April of that year. The socialist and liberal republicans won almost all the provincial capitals, and following the resignation of Aznar's government, King Alfonso XIII fled the country.
Fascism remained a reactive threat, helped by controversial reforms to the military. In December, a new reformist, liberal, and democratic constitution was declared. It included strong provisions enforcing a broad secularisation of the Catholic country, which included the abolishing of Catholic schools and charities, which many moderate committed Catholics opposed.
In 1933, the parties of the right won the general elections, largely due to the anarchists' abstention from the vote, increased right-wing resentment of the incumbent government caused by a controversial decree implementing land reform, the Casas Viejas incident, and the formation of a right-wing alliance, Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Right-wing Groups (CEDA). Another factor was the recent enfranchisement of women, most of whom voted for centre-right parties.
On 5 October 1934, in response to an invitation to CEDA to form part of the government, the Acción Republicana and the Socialists (PSOE) and Communists attempted a general left-wing rebellion. The rebellion had a temporary success in Asturias and Barcelona, but was over in two weeks. Azaña was in Barcelona that day, and the Lerroux-CEDA government tried to implicate him. He was arrested and charged with complicity. The October 1934 rebellion is regarded by historians as the beginning of the decline of the Spanish Republic and of constitutional government and constitutional consensus, as the Socialists and left Republicans had been integral to the new system and had governed for two years, yet the Socialists were now attempting a revolt against the democratic system and the left Republicans provided a sort of passive support for them.
After the ruling centre-right coalition collapsed amid the Straperlo corruption scandal, new elections were scheduled. Two wide coalitions formed: the Popular Front on the left, ranging from Republican Union to Communists, and the Frente Nacional on the right, ranging from the centre radicals to the conservative Carlists. On 16 February 1936, the left won by a narrow margin.
On 12 June, Prime Minister Casares Quiroga met General Juan Yagüe, who falsely convinced Casares of his loyalty to the republic. Mola began serious planning in the spring. Franco was a key player because of his prestige as a former director of the military academy and as the man who suppressed the Asturian miners' strike of 1934. He was respected in the Army of Africa, the Army's toughest troops. He wrote a cryptic letter to Casares on 23 June, suggesting that the military was disloyal, but could be restrained if he were put in charge. Casares did nothing, failing to arrest or buy off Franco.
With the help of the British Secret Intelligence Service agents Cecil Bebb and Major Hugh Pollard, the rebels chartered a Dragon Rapide aircraft (paid for with help from Juan March, the wealthiest man in Spain at the time) to transport Franco from the Canary Islands to Spanish Morocco. The plane flew to the Canaries on 11 July, and Franco arrived in Morocco on 19 July.
On 12 July 1936, Falangists in Madrid killed police officer Lieutenant José Castillo of the Guardia de Asalto (Assault Guard). Castillo was a Socialist party member who, among other activities, was giving military training to the UGT youth. Castillo had led the Assault Guards that violently suppressed the riots after the funeral of Guardia Civil lieutenant Anastasio de los Reyes. (Los Reyes had been shot by anarchists during 14 April military parade commemorating the five years of the Republic.)
From 24 July a coordinating junta was established, based at Burgos. Nominally led by Cabanellas, as the most senior general, it initially included Mola, three other generals, and two colonels; Franco was later added in early August.
In July 1936, British officials convinced Blum (the prime minister) not to send arms to the Republicans and, on 27 July, the French government declared that it would not send military aid, technology or forces to assist the Republican forces. However, Blum made clear that France reserved the right to provide aid should it wish to the Republic: "We could have delivered arms to the Spanish Government [Republicans], a legitimate government... We have not done so, in order not to give an excuse to those who would be tempted to send arms to the rebels [Nationalists]."
On 1 August 1936, a pro-Republican rally of 20,000 people confronted Blum, demanding that he send aircraft to the Republicans, at the same time as right-wing politicians attacked Blum for supporting the Republic and being responsible for provoking Italian intervention on the side of Franco.
However, the Blum government provided aircraft to the Republicans covertly with Potez 540 bomber aircraft (nicknamed the "Flying Coffin" by Spanish Republican pilots), Dewoitine aircraft, and Loire 46 fighter aircraft being sent from 7 August 1936 to December of that year to Republican forces.
The Republic proved ineffective militarily, relying on disorganised revolutionary militias. The Republican government under Giral resigned on 4 September, unable to cope with the situation, and was replaced by a mostly Socialist organisation under Francisco Largo Caballero. The new leadership began to unify central command in the republican zone.
On 21 September, with the head of the column at the town of Maqueda (some 80 km away from Madrid), Franco ordered a detour to free the besieged garrison at the Alcázar of Toledo, which was achieved on 27 September.
On 21 September it was decided that Franco was to be commander-in-chief (this unified command was opposed only by Cabanellas), and, after some discussion, with no more than a lukewarm agreement from Queipo de Llano and from Mola, also head of government. Emilio Mola y Vidal, 1st Duke of Mola, Grandee of Spain was one of the three leaders of the Nationalist coup of July 1936, which started the Spanish Civil War.
On the Nationalist side, Franco was chosen as chief military commander at a meeting of ranking generals at Salamanca on 21 September, now called by the title Generalísimo.
On 1 October 1936, General Franco was confirmed head of state and armies in Burgos. A similar dramatic success for the Nationalists occurred on 17 October, when troops coming from Galicia relieved the besieged town of Oviedo, in Northern Spain.