Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Illustrated timeline of the Spanish Civil War (in-depth)

A short, simplified version of this timeline is also available

Most of the images are from documents made available online as part of our Spanish Civil War digitisation project.

Click on the highlighted words in the text to search for that keyword in our database of Spanish Civil War archives.

 

15 January 1936

Centre-left and left political parties agree to jointly contest parliamentary elections as the ‘Popular Front’.

 

16 February 1936

Elections held. The ‘Popular Front’ win a majority in the CortesLink opens in a new window (parliament).

 

19 February 1936

Republican ‘Popular Front’ government formed, with Manuel AzañaLink opens in a new window as Prime Minister.

The new administration declares an amnesty of political prisoners, many of whom had been imprisoned since October 1934 (following a violently suppressed uprising in AsturiasLink opens in a new window and CataloniaLink opens in a new window against the LerrouxLink opens in a new window government).

 

22 February 1936

General Francisco FrancoLink opens in a new window removed from his position as Chief of the General Staff in Madrid, and made military commander of the Canary Islands.

 

26 February 1936

GeneralitatLink opens in a new window of CataloniaLink opens in a new window re-established, with Lluis CompanysLink opens in a new window as President.

 

28 February 1936

General Emilio MolaLink opens in a new window relieved of his command in charge of the Army of Africa, and posted to the provincial garrison at Pamplona.

 

8 March 1936

Meeting of officers in Madrid (including General MolaLink opens in a new window and General FrancoLink opens in a new window) to discuss military coup to be headed by General SanjurjoLink opens in a new window.

 

15 March 1936

The fascist organisation the FalangeLink opens in a new window is outlawed by the government following attempts by its members to assassinate Luis Jiménez AsúaLink opens in a new window, a Socialist member of the CortesLink opens in a new window, on 10 March, and the trade union leader Francisco Largo CaballeroLink opens in a new window on 14 March. Its leader, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, is arrested for illegal possession of weapons.

 

7 April 1936

Niceto Alcalá ZamoraLink opens in a new window removed as President of the Spanish Republic.

 

3 May 1936

French general election won by the Popular Front - a coalition of socialist, radical and communist parties.

 

10 May 1936

Manuel AzañaLink opens in a new window becomes President of the Spanish Republic.

 

13 May 1936

Santiago Casares QuirogaLink opens in a new window becomes Prime Minister, after the post was refused by Indalecio PrietoLink opens in a new window.

 

25 May 1936

‘Instrucción reservada no.1’ sent by General Emilio MolaLink opens in a new window, regarding need to unite military and political groups behind a planned military coup.

 

4 June 1936

Léon BlumLink opens in a new window, leader of the Socialist Party, becomes Prime Minister of France. He forms a government composed of socialist and radical politicans.

BlumLink opens in a new window served as Prime Minister of the Popular Front government between 4 June 1936 - 22 June 1937 and 13 March - 10 April 1938. The Radical politician Camille ChautempsLink opens in a new window was Prime Minister between 22 June 1937 - 13 March 1938.

 

12-13 July 1936

Murder of Lieutenant José CastilloLink opens in a new window Seria (a socialist member of the Assault Guard) by Falangist gunmen in Madrid. Murder of Monarchist leader José Calvo SoteloLink opens in a new window in revenge.

 

17-18 July 1936

Start of military rebellion against government in North Africa, then mainland Spain.

 

19-20 July 1936

The military uprising is defeated in Madrid and Barcelona. Morocco, Galicia, Navarre, Old Castile and Seville soon come under the control of the rebels.

 

19 July 1936

José GiralLink opens in a new window Pereira becomes Prime Minister, following the collapse of the government of Santiago Casares QuirogaLink opens in a new window and the failure of Diego Martinez BarrioLink opens in a new window to form an administration. GiralLink opens in a new window dissolves the army by decree and orders arms to be handed out to workers' organisations.

 

20 July 1936

Death of General SanjurjoLink opens in a new window, the intended figurehead of the military coup, in an aeroplane crash in Portugal.

 

21 July - 27 September 1936

Members of the Civil Guard and military cadets are besieged in the AlcazarLink opens in a new window citadel, ToledoLink opens in a new window, by pro-government forces. After more than two months the siege was raised by Nationalist troops commanded by General FrancoLink opens in a new window.

The relief of AlcazarLink opens in a new window was seen as a great symbolic victory by the Nationalists, and stories of 'red' atrocities towards civilians during the siege were used in anti-government propaganda.

 

22-26 July 1936

Intended dates of the Barcelona Peoples’ OlympiadLink opens in a new window, organised as a socialist counterpoint to the Berlin Olympic games. It was cancelled due to the outbreak of war.

 

23 July 1936

Alternative military government - Junta de Defensa Nacional - established by the rebels at BurgosLink opens in a new window (President: General Miguel CabanellasLink opens in a new window).

 

Late July onwards 1936

ItalianLink opens in a new window and GermanLink opens in a new window military supplies, including aircraft, received by the rebels in North Africa and Spain. The Soviet UnionLink opens in a new window, through the CominternLink opens in a new window, agrees to send aid to the Republican side.

 

1 August 1936

The French Cabinet appeal to the British and Italian Governments for "the rapid adoption and rigid observance of an agreed arrangement for non-intervention in Spain". During August, key governments (including PortugalLink opens in a new window, GermanyLink opens in a new window, ItalyLink opens in a new window, the USSRLink opens in a new window, and Britain) state that "in principle" they will accept such an agreement, and not send military supplies to Spain.

 

6 August 1936

Arrival in Spain of General Francisco FrancoLink opens in a new window from North Africa.

 

8 August 1936

The French Government suspends arms sales and closes the border with Spain.

 

14 August 1936

Capture of BadajozLink opens in a new window, ExtremaduraLink opens in a new window, by Nationalist forces commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Juan Yagüe. The systematic massacre of an estimated 2,000 - 4,000 civilians followed.

Badajoz was used in Republican propaganda as a symbol of Nationalist barbarism. The Nationalists' use of MoroccanLink opens in a new window troops ("MoorsLink opens in a new window") to perpetrate atrocities against Spaniards in Badajoz and elsewhere was often highlighted.

 

18 August 1936

Arrest of the poet and playwright Federico García LorcaLink opens in a new window by Nationalists in GranadaLink opens in a new window. He is subsequently shot dead.

 

19 August 1936

British government ban on arms exports (including civil aircraft) to Spain comes into force.

 

19-24 August 1936

First MoscowLink opens in a new window Show Trial: 16 defendents sentenced to death for supposedly plotting to kill the Soviet leader Joseph StalinLink opens in a new window. Subsequent show trials of leading Bolsheviks take place in January 1937 and March 1938.

 

4 September 1936

Francisco Largo CaballeroLink opens in a new window replaces José GiralLink opens in a new window Pereira as Prime Minister. He heads a coalition of socialists, communists and Left Republicans.

 

5 September 1936

IrunLink opens in a new window is taken by the Nationalists.

Large areas of the town were set alight by Republicans (usually identified as militants of the anarchist CNTLink opens in a new window-FAILink opens in a new window) as they retreated. Nationalists would subsequently use the example of IrunLink opens in a new window as supporting evidence when they argued that the destruction of towns such as GuernicaLink opens in a new window was caused by Republican arson rather than Nationalist bombardment.

 

9 September 1936

First meeting of international supervisory committee on Non-InterventionLink opens in a new window in London. 26 countries are represented.

 

13 September 1936

The Nationalists take San SebastianLink opens in a new window.

 

13 September 1936

The Republican Council of Ministers authorises the transfer of gold and silver to MoscowLink opens in a new window, to obtain military aid from the Soviet UnionLink opens in a new window.

 

21 September 1936

Rebel leaders agree that General FrancoLink opens in a new window should be appointed supreme commander of the Nationalist forces (GeneralissimoLink opens in a new window).

 

28 September 1936

General FrancoLink opens in a new window announced as ‘Head of the Spanish State’.

 

30 September 1936

Pastoral letter praising the Nationalist ‘crusadeLink opens in a new window’ published by the Bishop of Salamanca, Plá y Daniel.

 

October 1936

Arrival of first International BrigadeLink opens in a new window (Brigadas InternacionalesLink opens in a new window) volunteers.

 

1 October 1936

General FrancoLink opens in a new window formally invested as CaudilloLink opens in a new window (leader) in throne room at BurgosLink opens in a new window.

 

1 October 1936

Formal establishment of Republic of EuzkadiLink opens in a new window (BasqueLink opens in a new window Country), under President José Antonio AguirreLink opens in a new window. Confimed at GuernicaLink opens in a new window on 7 October.

 

6 October 1936

Representatives of the Soviet UnionLink opens in a new window state that they will be no more bound by non-interventionLink opens in a new window than Germany, Italy and PortugalLink opens in a new window have been. Within a month tanks and fighter planes from the U.S.S.R. are in action on the Republican side.

 

18 October 1936

Republican government decree announces the creation of 'mixed brigades', combining members of regular army units and militia groups into a 'Popular Army'.

 

25 October 1936

Treaty of friendship signed between Italy and Germany, laying the foundations for the Rome-Berlin AxisLink opens in a new window.

 

2 November 1936

Nationalist troops capture BruneteLink opens in a new window.

 

4 November 1936

Representatives of the anarchistLink opens in a new window Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNTLink opens in a new window) - Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAILink opens in a new window) join the Popular Front government.

 

6 November 1936

Evacuation of Republican government from Madrid to Valencia. A Junta de Defensa, under General José MiajaLink opens in a new window, is left in charge of the capital’s defence.

 

7 November 1936

Start of Nationalist ground assault on Madrid.

 

Mid November 1936

Arrival of first contingents of the German Condor LegionLink opens in a new window. They are used as part of the Nationalist offensive on Madrid.

 

18 November 1936

GermanyLink opens in a new window and ItalyLink opens in a new window recognise the government of General FrancoLink opens in a new window as the legitimate government of Spain.

 

19 November 1936

Death of the anarchistLink opens in a new window Buenaventura DurrutiLink opens in a new window at Madrid. Three days later, nearly half a million people were estimated to have taken part in his funeral procession at Barcelona.

 

20 November 1936

Execution of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, leader of the FalangeLink opens in a new window, by Republicans at AlicanteLink opens in a new window.

 

28 November 1936

General FrancoLink opens in a new window signs pact with representatives of MussoliniLink opens in a new window, agreeing to Italian control of the MediterraneanLink opens in a new window in return for military aid.

 

6 December 1936

MussoliniLink opens in a new window agrees to send an expeditionary force - the ItalianLink opens in a new window Corpo di Truppe Volontarie (CVT) - to assist Nationalist troops in Spain. They arrive in Spain later in December.

 

6 February 1937

Start of the Battle of JaramaLink opens in a new window - a Nationalist offensive to cross the river Jarama, to the east of Madrid. It continued for most of February.

 

7 February 1937

The southern port of MalagaLink opens in a new window is taken by Nationalist forces.

 

8-18 March 1937

Battle of GuadalajaraLink opens in a new window (Nationalist offensive). The city of Guadalajara is 34 miles north east of Madrid.

 

30 March 1937

Start of Nationalist offensive on the northern front, commanded by General MolaLink opens in a new window.

 

31 March 1937

Bombing of the BasqueLink opens in a new window town of DurangoLink opens in a new window by German and Italian aircraft.

 

6 April 1937

Nationalists announce blockadeLink opens in a new window of Republican ports on the north (Cantabrian) coast.

 

19 April 1937

FrancoLink opens in a new window orders the amalgamation of political groups, including the FalangeLink opens in a new window, CarlistsLink opens in a new window and Renovación EspañolaLink opens in a new window, into one party (Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista), with himself as leader.

 

19 April 1937

Non-InterventionLink opens in a new window Committee scheme to patrol ports and frontiers comes into effect.

 

26 April 1937

Destruction of the BasqueLink opens in a new window capital of GuernicaLink opens in a new window by aerial attack from German ‘planes.

 

3-8 May 1937

‘Events of May’ in Barcelona: Divisions between different Republican groups (Communists, socialists and anarchists) result in street fighting. Those killed include the trade union leader and socialist politician Antonio SeséLink opens in a new window, and the Italian anarchists Camillo BerneriLink opens in a new window and Franco BarbieriLink opens in a new window.

 

17 May 1937

Juan NegrínLink opens in a new window López becomes Republican Prime Minister, replacing Francisco Largo CaballeroLink opens in a new window. His new government contains more Communists.

 

28 May 1937

Neville ChamberlainLink opens in a new window replaces Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister of the 'National' Government in the UK.

The National Government was first formed in 1931, following the collapse of the minority Labour government and in response to the international economic crisis. In theory it was a coalition of all major parties; in practice the Labour Party split over the issue, with the majority of Labour M.P.s refusing to support the policies of the new government. By 1937, the 'National' government was very much a Conservative dominated administration.

 

30 May 1937

GermanyLink opens in a new window and ItalyLink opens in a new window withdraw from Non-InterventionLink opens in a new window Committee.

 

3 June 1937

Death of the Nationalist commander General Emilio MolaLink opens in a new window in an aircrash.

 

12 June 1937

Start of Republican offensive against HuescaLink opens in a new window. The commander of the operation, General Lukács, is killed. Offensive abandoned on 19 June.

 

16 June 1937

Partido Obrero de Unificación MarxistaLink opens in a new window (POUMLink opens in a new window) declared illegal by the Republican government. Its leaders are arrested, (including Andres NinLink opens in a new window, killed several days later).

 

19 June 1937

Entry of Nationalist forces into the BasqueLink opens in a new window city of BilbaoLink opens in a new window.

 

1 July 1937

Spanish Bishops collectively endorse FrancoLink opens in a new window as legitimate ruler of Spain.

 

6-26 July 1937

Battle of BruneteLink opens in a new window - Republican offensive against Nationalist forces to the west of Madrid.

 

July 1937

First exhibition of PicassoLink opens in a new window's painting 'GuernicaLink opens in a new window' in the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exposition.

 

14 August 1937

Start of Nationalist offensive towards SantanderLink opens in a new window and AsturiasLink opens in a new window.

 

24 August 1937

Start of Republican offensive in AragonLink opens in a new window (Battle of BelchiteLink opens in a new window).

 

26 August 1937

Capture of SantanderLink opens in a new window by Nationalist forces.

 

28 August 1937

The VaticanLink opens in a new window recognises FrancoLink opens in a new window as ruler of Spain.

 

10 September 1937

Start of NyonLink opens in a new window Conference, in Switzerland, to discuss ItalianLink opens in a new window submarine attacks on international shipping.

 

21 October 1937

Capture of GijonLink opens in a new window (and AsturiasLink opens in a new window) by Nationalist forces. All of the Cantabrian (north) coast is now under Nationalist control.

 

Late October 1937

Republican government moves from Valencia to Barcelona.

 

12 November 1937

The anarchistLink opens in a new window Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) withdraws from the Popular Front government.

 

14 December 1937 - 22 February 1938

Battle of TeruelLink opens in a new window. Republican forces capture Teruel, before being forced to retreat by a Nationalist counter-attack.

 

30 January 1938

FrancoLink opens in a new window constitutes his first cabinet of ministers.

 

20 February 1938

Anthony EdenLink opens in a new window resigns as British Foreign Secretary in protest over the government’s policy of appeasement. Replaced by Lord HalifaxLink opens in a new window.

 

9 March 1938

Start of Nationalist offensive in AragonLink opens in a new window.

 

12 March 1938

Germany invades Austria.

 

16-18 March 1938

Major bombardment of Barcelona by Italian aircraft.

 

March-June 1938

Border with France temporarily reopened, allowing supplies to be transported by land to the Republicans.

 

10 April 1938

In France, the Radical politician Edouard DaladierLink opens in a new window replaces Leon BlumLink opens in a new window, a Socialist, as Prime Minister.

 

15 April 1938

CataloniaLink opens in a new window cut off from the rest of Republican Spain, as Nationalist troops take the Mediterranean coastal town of VinarozLink opens in a new window.

 

16 April 1938

Signing of Anglo-ItalianLink opens in a new window agreement, including provision that Italian troops should be entitled to stay in Spain until the end of the war.

 

25 April 1938

Start of Nationalist offensive towards Valencia.

 

1 May 1938

Issuing of NegrínLink opens in a new window’s 13 pointLink opens in a new window declaration of the war aims of the Republican government, intended as a formula for peace negotiations.

 

25 July-16 November 1938

Battle of the EbroLink opens in a new window. Republican troops launch an offensive across the River Ebro. Despite initial success, the Republican army is eventually forced back across the river by Nationalist counter-attacks.

 

21 September 1938

NegrínLink opens in a new window announces unconditional withdrawal of the International BrigadeLink opens in a new window in speech at the League of NationsLink opens in a new window.

 

30 September 1938

MunichLink opens in a new window Agreement, transferring the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia to Germany, signed by the leaders of Germany, Britain, France and Italy.

 

4 October 1938

Withdrawal of International BrigadeLink opens in a new window from the front.

 

11 October 1938

Start of trial of POUMLink opens in a new window leaders before Tribunal of Espionage and High Treason.

 

23 December 1938

Start of Nationalist offensive in CataloniaLink opens in a new window.

 

26 January 1939

Nationalist forces enter Barcelona. The Republican government had transferred from Barcelona to Figueras.

 

1 February 1939

Last meeting of Republican Parliament (CortesLink opens in a new window) in Spain (held at Figueras). It approves Dr NegrinLink opens in a new window's three points for the establishment of peace. Nationalist forces occupy Figueras seven days later.

 

9 February 1939

Law of Political ResponsibilitiesLink opens in a new window introduced by FrancoLink opens in a new window. It allows penalties (including imprisonment and confiscation of property) to be imposed on any supporters of the Republic, present or past.

 

10 February 1939

Fall of CataloniaLink opens in a new window. In the preceeding week thousands of refugees flee to France, including the President of the Republic, Manuel AzañaLink opens in a new window.

 

27 February 1939

Britain and France recognise FrancoLink opens in a new window’s government.

AzañaLink opens in a new window resigns as President of the Republic, succeeded by Diego Martinez BarrioLink opens in a new window, leader of the CortesLink opens in a new window.

 

5 March 1939

Successful coup d'etat in Madrid against the government of Juan NegrínLink opens in a new window. A Junta de Defensa is formed under the leadership of Colonel Segismundo CasadoLink opens in a new window, supported by Julian BesteiroLink opens in a new window and General MiajaLink opens in a new window. Fighting within the Republican ranks (between rival supporters of the Junta and Negrin) follows.

 

15 March 1939

Germany invades Czechoslovakia.

 

28 March 1939

Madrid taken by Nationalist forces.

 

1 April 1939

Republican armies surrender. FrancoLink opens in a new window declares war to be over.

 

September 1939

Outbreak of the Second World War:

The German army invades Poland on 1 September.

Britain and France declare war on Germany on 3 September.

Spain remains officially neutral throughout the Second World War.

 

This timeline was compiled using a range of archive materialLink opens in a new window and published sources.

Books used include: Antony Beevor, 'The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939' (Phoenix, 2006); Julian Casanova, 'The Spanish Republic and Civil War' (Cambridge University Press, 2010); Peter Darman, 'Heroic Voices of the Spanish Civil War' (New Holland, 2009); Andy Durgan, 'The Spanish Civil War' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Helen Graham, 'The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction' (Oxford University Press, 2005); and Gabriel Jackson, 'The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931-1939' (Princeton University Press, 1965).