|José Sanjurjo y Sacanell|
Picture of General José Sanjurjo
|Nickname(s)||"El León del Rif" (The Lion of the Rif)|
March 28, 1872|
Pamplona, Navarra, Spain
|Died||July 20, 1936
|Buried at||Valley of the Fallen ( )|
|Allegiance||Kingdom of Spain (-1931)
Second Spanish Republic (1931-1936)
Nationalist Spain (1936)
|Battles/wars||Cuban War of Independence
Rif War (1909)
Rif War (1920)
|Awards||Laureate Cross of Saint Ferdinand
Order of Charles III
General José Sanjurjo y Sacanell, 1st Marquis of the Rif (March 28, 1872 – July 20, 1936) was a General in the Spanish Army who was one of the chief conspirators in the military uprising that led to the Spanish Civil War.
He served in Cuba in 1896, in the Rif War (1909) in Morocco, and in the Rif War (1920), including the reconquest of lost territory in Melilla after the Battle of Annual in 1921. In 1922, he was assigned to investigate corruption in the army command of Larache. He was High Commissioner of Spain in Morocco and reached the rank of lieutenant general. In 1925 he participated in the amphibious landing at Alhucemas. With the completion of the 1920 Rif War, King Alfonso XIII awarded him the Gran Cruz de Carlos III on March 28, 1931. In 1928 he was made chief of a main directorate of the Civil Guard.
During the Second Republic
Miguel Primo de Rivera came to power in a military coup in 1923. He ran Spain as a military dictatorship. Gradually, his support faded, and de Rivera resigned in January 1930. General Dámaso Berenguer was ordered by the king to form a replacement government. This annoyed Sanjurjo, who considered himself far better qualified. Berenguer's dictablanda dictatorship failed to provide a viable alternative to de Rivera. In the municipal elections of 12 April 1931, little support was shown for pro-monarchy parties in the major cities, and large numbers of people gathered in the streets of Madrid. Asked if the government could count on the support of Sanjurjo's Civil Guard, he rejected the suggestion. King Alfonso XIII abdicated. The Second Spanish Republic was formed.
Despite Azaña's military reforms of 1931, Sanjurjo kept his post as the commander of the Civil Guard, under his command they continued to use their traditionally brutal tactics such as the "ley de fugas", the excuse of shooting prisoners and later claiming that they were attempting to escape during an incident of unrest in Seville.
Sanjurjo became one of the first generals appointed to the command of the Spanish Republican Army. His sympathies, however, remained with the monarchist cause. When he clashed with Prime Minister Manuel Azaña over the military reforms, he was replaced by General Miguel Cabanellas. He was demoted to chief of the customs officers in 1932 as a result of the events of Castilblanco and Arnedo. His confrontation with the ministry, Azaña's military reforms, and the grants of regional autonomy to Catalonia and the Basque Country, led Sanjurjo to plot a rebellion with some Carlists of Fal Conde, the conde de Rodezno, and other military officers. This rebellion, which was known as the sanjurjada, was proclaimed in Seville on August 10, 1932. Sanjurjo asserted that the rebellion was only against the current ministry and not against the Republic. It achieved initial success in Seville but absolute failure in Madrid. Sanjurjo tried to flee to Portugal, but in Huelva he decided to give himself up.
He was condemned to death, a sentence which was later commuted to life imprisonment in the penitentiary of the Dueso. In March 1934 he was granted amnesty by the Lerroux government and went into exile in Estoril, Portugal.
When on May 10, 1936, Niceto Alcalá-Zamora was replaced as President of the Republic by Azaña, Sanjurjo joined with Generals Emilio Mola, Francisco Franco and Gonzalo Queipo de Llano in a plot to overthrow the leftist Popular Front government. This led to the Nationalist uprising on July 17, 1936, which started the Spanish Civil War.
Sanjurjo died in Estoril in a plane crash on July 20, 1936, when he tried to fly back to Spain. He chose to fly in a small biplane aircraft piloted by Juan Antonio Ansaldo. One of the main reasons for the crash was the heavy luggage that Sanjurjo insisted on bringing. Ansaldo warned him that the load was too heavy, but Sanjurjo answered him:
- I need to wear proper clothes as the new caudillo of Spain.
Ironically, Sanjurjo chose to fly in Ansaldo's plane rather than a much larger and more suitable airplane that was available. It was an 8-passenger de Havilland Dragon Rapide, the same one which had transported Franco from the Canary Islands to Morocco. Sanjurjo apparently preferred the drama of flying with a "daring aviator". (Ansaldo survived the crash.)
When Mola also died in an aircraft accident, Franco was left as the effective leader of the Nationalist cause. This led to rumors that Franco had arranged the deaths of his two rivals, but no evidence has been produced to support this allegation.
The opening of the alternate history fiction writer Harry Turtledove's novel Hitler's War in his series The War That Came Early begins with Sanjurjo's flight from Portugal. The point of divergence is that he accepts the pilot's advice and abandons the luggage, the flight no longer being overloaded and thus arriving safely. His behaviour from that point on is described as if he diverged from that of the actual Franco, with Spain taking a less isolated role in World War II.
- Thomas (1961). p. 16.
- Preston (2006). p. 34.
- Preston (2006). p. 36.
- Preston (2006). p. 37.
- Beevor (2006). p. 18.
- Thomas (1961). pp. 18–19.
- Beevor (2006). p. 19.
- Beevor (2006) p. 2
- Paul Preston. The coming of the Spanish Civil War: reform, reaction, and revolution in the Second Republic. 2nd ed. Routledge, 1994. Pp. 51.
- Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2001. pp.95-97
- Jose Sanjurjo at www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk
- Beevor, Antony (2006). The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-84832-1.
- Preston, Paul (2006). The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution, and Revenge. New York: W. W. Norton and Company. ISBN 0-393-32987-9.
- Thomas, Hugh (1961). The Spanish Civil War (1 ed.). London: Eyre and Spottiswoode. OCLC 395987.