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coinsbygary's Blog

20 Nov 2019

The Franco Years and the Peseta

Coins-World | coinsbygary

The 1957(65) 5-pesetas minted in Madrid has a mintage of 25,000,000. This copper-nickel coin weighs 5.75 grams and is 23mm in diameter. The central obverse device features a bust of Francisco Franco. The year of authorization is 1957 and the legend is translated, "FRANCISCO FRANCO LEADER OF SPAIN BY THE GRACE OF GOD." The obverse engravers are Manuel Marin and Mariano Benlliure. The central reverse device features St. Johns Eagle with a Spanish Coat of Arms. St. Johns Eagle is known by the halo around the eagle's head. The reverse legend on the ribbon held by the eagle's beak is translated, "One, Great and Free." The reverse legend on the ribbon crossing Hercules Pillars is translated, "Further beyond." On this piece the word "Plus" over the left pillar is unreadable. This defect appears mostly on coins struck before 1968. The denomination of the coin is 5 PTAS and the reverse engraver is Teodoro Miciano. The "65" stamped six-point star to the left denotes that the coin was manufactured in 1965 and struck in Madrid.

The loss of life at the end of the Spanish Civil War was staggering. This for a war that in the end amounted to a war fought by the nationalists to preserve Spain's religious institutions against the anti-Catholic government of the Second Spanish Republic. Make no mistake, just underneath the surface was Nazi Germany on the side of the nationalists fighting against the atheistic Soviet Union on the side of the republicans. Either of these two sides would have made Spain a puppet state. Ultimately though, the Soviet Union was denied a strategically critical western state by a nationalist victory in the Spanish Civil War. The loss of Germany in WWII preserved the nationalist state for Francisco Franco that was living under martial law up until 1948, nine years after the end of the civil war.

By the numbers the loss of life was staggering. 500,000 people were killed and of that number, an estimated 200,000 people were killed by mob violence. All total, 150,000 republican prisoners of war were put to death. Several million Spaniards were displaced and 500,000 republican refugees fled to France. Of that number 15,000 were sent to Nazi forced-labor concentration camps after France fell to Germany in 1940. In Spain, more than 500,000 people were rounded up and dispersed to 60 concentration camps. Of note, 7,000 Catholic priests and monks were killed by republican forces primarily at the beginning of the war.

In a war where there was no clear right and wrong side, the nationalists brought stability to a fractured government, albeit by a heavy hand. Today there are still those who revere Francisco Franco while at the same time there are others who still feel the pain of persons lost so long ago. Of those that revere General Franco, they remember that crime and unemployment were low under his rule. They felt secure under his leadership. In their minds, they gladly traded the freedom of speech, freedom of self-determination, freedom of expression, and other liberties westerners take for granted for security.

Francisco Franco was a shrewd and opportunistic leader. As time went on General Franco somewhat loosened his authoritarian and militaristic grip on the people of Spain causing his popularity to grow. Francisco Franco also restored the Bourbon Dynasty in the person of Juan Carlos I while he effectively became Spain's regent for life. Furthermore, one cannot forget how the nationalists restored the Roman Catholic Church to a place of prominence in Spanish society.

I read an opinion piece entitled, "Franco's Victory Was Necessary But, Ultimately Meaningless." In it, he wrote of the waning influence of the Catholic Church in Spain's culture. What the Second Republic could not do by force, time and culture has done by attrition. While I am not a Catholic, the church has served as a moral compass in society that is largely missing today.

The aforementioned piece also talks of the recent exhuming of Francisco Franco's body from the Valley of the Fallen to the Franco family mausoleum outside Madrid. The Valley of the Fallen is a memorial graveyard to the fallen soldiers of the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Supreme Court had just ruled that the prime minister of Spain could move Franco's remains. This was based on the fact that Francisco Franco had not died in the civil war and that he caused the civil war. Perhaps for some, there can be closure and healing while for others an affront. The remains were moved on October 24, 2019.

Through political instability, war, peace, economic growth, economic depression, and devaluation the Spanish Peseta has always been there for Spain safe and secure. Even in the most difficult of times, the peseta has been better off than many other of the world's currencies. In Spain, the Euro has some pretty big shoes to fill.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/francos-victory-was-necessary-but-ultimately-meaningless/

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/spanish-civil-war

https://www.npr.org/2019/10/24/773022042/spain-moves-dictator-francisco-francos-remains-after-months-of-legal-battles

Comments

user_7180

Level 5

Everyone loses in war. Everyone!

user_60297

Level 3

most people don't go into the history , this is great

Always liked the ferocious eagle on the reverse. That bird means business.

Longstrider

Level 6

It really is amazing the history lesson one can get by studying our coins. Another great example of the futility of war. Beauty of as coin. I like the reverses art deco look.. Thanks Gary. Well done..

coinsbygary

Level 5

Exactly on the futility of war. Even though I wanted to vilify Franco in my writing, I ended up treating him fairly and letting the facts speak for themselves and more importantly to let my readers come to their own conclusions. In the end, I thought he was the lesser of two evils.

"SUN"

Level 6

Another great story behind the coins. You do a great job writing your blogs.

coinsbygary

Level 5

Thank you for your kind comments. When I write, I try to tell a story in such a way as to have my readers relate to the characters in the story. Whether the characters are villains or heroes they are characters my readers can easily identify with and either love em or hate em. Your comment is valuable feedback to me, showing me that I am on the right track and that my pieces are good reads! When I do use technical data it is to describe the coin that only takes up a paragraph of the blog

It's Mokie

Level 6

Very interesting as always, Gary. I had a passing knowledge of Spain's civil war but you have definitely given me a much more detailed view. I plan on reading the opinion piece later today. Thanks for another fascinating blog.

coinsbygary

Level 5

I learned a lot about the Spanish Civil War in the last few weeks. Many have called it a "Dress Rehearsal" for WWII and I believe that is true. Looking into the past with hindsight has allowed me to see the bigger picture and how the events of world history fit together kind of like cause and effect. These kinds of things fascinate me along with the coins that serve as the mile-markers of human history.

Mike

Level 7

Another great coin and a another great history lesson. The Spanish civil war sounds like the bloodiest I have heard of. The numbers are beyond belief. General Francisco Franco was a vicious man who if I remember stayed out of wold war two even though he and Germany were very good friends supplying them with goods and ammunition. Even supplied there submarines in the Canary islands. Thanks Gary it's nice to sample up to a good blog and history.

coinsbygary

Level 5

If you are honest enough to let the facts speak for themselves, you can look at history and come to your own conclusions.

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