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This Week in History

Listen to and learn about events that happened this week in history—including politics, war, crime, inventions, entertainment and fashion. An archive of events that have shaped history — for learners and teachers of English, with vocabulary, audio recordings and quick quizzes.

17 July 1936

Spanish Civil War Begins

Pro-fascist forces revolt against the government of Spain, and civil war ensues.

In 1936, pro-fascist elements of the Spanish army, with support from the Catholic Church and monarchists, staged a violent revolt and brought down the democratically-elected government. Supporters of the government began a resistance which led to civil war. The conflict continued until 1939 when the fascists, under General Francisco Franco, took control. Franco remained in power until 1975.

civil war (noun): a war within a nation; fighting between people of the same country
pro-fascist (adjective): supportive of a system of extreme right-wing authoritarian government
revolt (verb): rebel; fight against the leaders or authorities
monarchists (noun): people who support a system of ruling by a royal family (king, queen)
stage (verb): organize and participate in
resistance (noun): opposition, usually by force; an organization that resists or fights


Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)
This 1936 painting by famous Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali shows a grimacing dismembered body at once grasping upwards at itself and holding itself down underfoot - symbolic of the Spanish nation in civil war. Although Dali was a supporter of General Franco, he was vehemently opposed to war, and he used this painting to show it.

Test your understanding:

The Spanish Civil War began after the democratically-elected government was

  1. supported by Christians and monarchists
  2. violently overthrown by pro-fascist forces
  3. defeated in a free and fair election

The war continued until the people fighting for democracy were defeated by those fighting for

  1. General Franco's fascist forces
  2. the Spanish army
  3. the Catholic Church

A civil war is a conflict between armed forces from

  1. many different countries
  2. two different countries
  3. the same country
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Contributor: Matt Errey