The two Spains

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Francisco de Goya's black painting Fight with Cudgels can be seen as a premonition of the civil wars of Spain.

The two Spains (Spanish: las dos Españas) is a phrase from a short poem by Spanish poet Antonio Machado. The phrase, referring to the left-right political divisions that later led to the Spanish Civil War, originated in a short, untitled poem, number LIII of his Proverbios y Cantares[1] (Proverbs and Songs).

Antonio Machado himself is an example of this split. While he wrote a poem to honor the Communist General Enrique Líster,[2] his brother Manuel Machado dedicated another poem to the saber of the rebel Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

The idea of a divided Spain, each half antagonistic to the other half, dates back at least to 19th-century Spanish satirist Mariano José de Larra, who, in his article "All Souls' Day 1836" ["Día de difuntos de 1836"] wrote "Here lies half of Spain. It died of the other half."[3] Later, philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, Machado's contemporary, developed the idea through the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau struggling for dominance in their mother's womb, as in the article "Rebeca" (1914), which may pre-date Machado's quatrain. But historians trace the idea still further back, to the 17th and 18th centuries and the formation of the Spanish character.[4][5]

Historian Charles J. Esdaile describes Machado's "two Spains" as "the one clerical, absolutist and reactionary, and the other secular, constitutional and progressive," but views this picture of the first Spain as "far too simplistic", in that it lumps the enlightened absolutism of the 18th century Bourbon monarchs with the reactionary politics that simply wanted to restore the "untrammeled enjoyment" of the privileges of the Church and aristocracy. In addition, he states that the populacho—the mass of the common people "pursuing a dimly perceived agenda of their own"—were not loyal to any of these on any long term basis.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Proverbios y Cantares Archived 21 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine, LIII, Antonio Machado.
  2. ^ A Líster, jefe en los ejércitos del Ebro, Antonio Machado, June 1938.
  3. ^ de Larra, Mariano José (2 November 1836). "El Día de Difuntos de 1836: Fígaro en el cementerio. "Aquí yace media España; murió de la otra media."" (in European Spanish). Archived from the original on 9 July 2018.
  4. ^ Ramón Menéndez Pidal, "The Two Spains," in "The Spaniards in Their History," transl. Walter Starkie. New York: Norton, 1966, pp. 102-43.
  5. ^ Fidelino de Figueiredo, "As Duas Espanhas" (1932).
  6. ^ Charles J. Esdaile, Spain in the Liberal Age, Blackwell, 2000. ISBN 0-631-14988-0. p. 40–41.

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