Carmen Franco, 1st Duchess of Franco

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María del Carmen Franco y Polo
Dowager Marquise of Villaverde
Coat of Arms of Carmen, 1st Duchess of Franco, Spanish Grandee.svg
Coat of Arms for the Dukedom of Franco
Duchess of Franco
Tenure 20 November 1975 – present
Heir apparent María del Carmen Martínez-Bordiú y Franco
Born (1926-02-14) 14 February 1926 (age 91)
Oviedo, Asturias, Spain
Spouse Cristóbal Martínez-Bordiú, 10th Marquis of Villaverde (m.1950–1998)
Issue María del Carmen, Duchess of Anjou and Cádiz
María de la O Martínez-Bordiú
Francisco Franco, 11th Marquis of Villaverde
María del Mar Martínez-Bordiu
José Cristóbal Martínez-Bordiú
María de Aránzazu Martínez-Bordiú
Jaime Felipe Martínez-Bordiú
Father Francisco Franco
Mother Carmen Polo, 1st Lady of Meirás

Doña María del Carmen Franco y Polo, 1st Duchess of Franco, Grandee of Spain, Dowager Marquise of Villaverde (born 14 February 1926) is the only child of Spain's Caudillo, dictator General Francisco Franco[1] and his wife Carmen Polo y Martínez-Valdès. In Asturian fashion, she is known by many nicknames such as Nenuca, Carmelilla, Carmencita, Cotota and Morita.

Family life[edit]

Franco was born in Oviedo, Asturias, Spain. On 10 April 1950, in El Pardo, she married Cristóbal Martínez-Bordiú, 10th Marquis of Villaverde (1 August 1922 Jaén, Mancha Real – 4 February 1998 Madrid).[2] Villaverde was a prominent surgeon. In 1968 he conducted the first heart transplant operation in Spain. The couple had seven children:

  • María del Carmen Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (b. El Pardo, 26 February 1951), who married Alfonso, Duke of Anjou and Cádiz, son of Infante Jaime of Spain, Duke of Segovia and grandson of King Alfonso XIII of Spain; and had issue:
  • María de la O "Mariola" Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (b. El Pardo, 19 November 1952), married in El Pardo on 14 March 1974 to Rafael Ardid y Villoslada (b. 1 February 1947), and had issue:
    • Francisco de Borja Ardid y Martínez-Bordiú (b. Madrid, 20 December 1975), married in Ciudad Real on 23 July 2005 María Ruíz y Vega
    • Jaime Rafael Ardid y Martínez-Bordiú (b. Madrid, 28 September 1976)
    • Francisco Javier Ardid y Martínez-Bordiú (b. Madrid, 7 April 1987)
  • Francisco Franco, 11th Marquis of Villaverde (b. 9 December 1954)
  • María del Mar "Merry" Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (b. 6 July 1956), married firstly at the Pazo de Meirás on 3 August 1977 and divorced in 1982, Joaquín José Giménez-Arnau y Puente (b. 14 September 1943), and had issue, and married secondly in New York City on 4 August 1986, and divorced in 1991, Gregor Tamler, without issue:
    • Leticia Giménez-Arnau y Martínez-Bordiú (b. 25 January 1979), married on 8 August 2008 to Marcos Sagrera y Palomo
  • José Cristóbal Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (b. El Pardo, 10 February 1958), married civilly in New York City, New York, on 23 November 1984 and religiously in Madrid on 27 October 1990 to model Josefina Victoria Toledo y López (b. San José de Tirajana, Canary Islands, 1963), and had issue:
    • Daniel Martínez-Bordiú y Toledo (b. Madrid, 11 June 1990)
    • Diego Martínez-Bordiú y Toledo (b. Madrid, 4 May 1998)
  • María de Aránzazu "Arantxa" Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (b. 16 September 1962), married at the Pazo de Meirás on 27 July 1996 to Claudio Quiraga y Ferro, without issue
  • Jaime Felipe Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (b. 8 July 1964), married in Madrid on 24 November 1995 to Nuria March y Almela (b. July 1966), and had issue:
    • Jaime Martínez-Bordiú y March (b. Madrid, 13 November 1999)

Shortly after her father's death in 1975, King Juan Carlos created her Duchess of Franco and a Grandeza de España in her own right, with the honorific of Doña and a Coat of Arms of new creation. These Arms are a variation of the Arms of the de Andrade family of Galicia, from whom she is twice descended from the Pardo de Andrade branch, and twice again from the 7th Counts of Lemos and Sarria.[citation needed]


In 2008 the Duchess collaborated with Stanley G. Payne and Jesús Palacios Tapias to write Franco, My Father, a biography of her father from her point of view. She described her father as a warm person. With regards to the White Terror, she noted that "he didn't talk about it at home".[3] Franco is referred to as "Generalísimo" or "Head of State", who was an "intelligent and moderate", a "brave and catholic" man and who established an "authoritarian, but not totalitarian" régime.[4][5]

Franco chairs the Foundation "Fundacion Nacional Francisco Franco" which is under permanent criticism for its revisionist opinions e.g. by calling the Spanish coup of July 1936 an "armed referendum". Spanish historian Borja de Riquer called this a euphemism with reference to an era in which approximately 140,000 Spaniards were executed in a reign of terror by Falange, Guardia Civil and other fascist organisations.[6] During the premiership of José María Aznar the foundation received financial support from the Spanish Minister of Education and Culture. The funding was terminated in 2004. She is regarded as an icon by the remaining followers of Francoism.[5]




  1. ^ Staff (20 December 1954). "Milestones". Time. Time Inc. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  2. ^ "María del Carmen Franco y Polo, 1ª duquesa de Franco". 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Ingendaay, Paul (2011-06-13). "Franco, der Tapfere". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 2017-02-28. 
  5. ^ a b Jan-Henrik Witthaus; Patrick Eser (2015), Machthaber der Moderne: Zur Repräsentation politischer Herrschaft und Körperlichkeit (in German), 68 (Edition Kulturwissenschaft ed.), Transcript Verlag, p. 224, ISBN 9781594039003 , online: Machthaber der Moderne, p. 224, at Google Books
  6. ^ Streck, Ralf (2003-08-26). "Im Bett mit Franco". Telepolis (in German). Retrieved 2016-02-28. 

External links[edit]

Spanish nobility
New title Duchess of Franco