The Valley of the Fallen

Lead: At his death in 1975, the remains of Francisco Franco were interred in a elaborate basilica carved from a mountain and topped with a 500 foot stone cross in El Valle de los Caidos, the Valley of the Fallen. It is an exquisite obscenity.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the 1940s Francisco Franco, Spain’s Head of State and leader of the victorious Nationalist insurgents in the bloody Spanish Civil War, like many tyrants before him, entered his Egyptian phase. He began to build his tomb. 

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Sir Francis Drake III

Lead: His voyage around the world behind him, Sir Francis Drake, Queen Elizabeth's Golden Admiral, intensified his campaign to make miserable the life of the King of Spain.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Returning from the East in 1581, Drake made Plymouth his home and was elected mayor of the town. He served with distinction, revamping the municipal water system with such care that his improvements lasted for decades. Ever restless, he returned to the sea which was both the love of his life and source of his fortune. In 1585 Elizabeth sent Drake back to the Caribbean where, over a period of months, he renewed his reputation as the scourge of Spain. His occasionally brutal capture and sacking of Cartagena in Columbia, St. Augustine in Florida, and Santo Domingo, combined with attacks on the Cape Verde Islands, were not as successful or lucrative as previous forays, but caused enormous financial distress to the Spanish and confirmed their hatred for el draque or the dragon, as he was coming to be known. This campaign and other conflicts with England so incensed Spanish King Philip II that he made the fateful decision to assemble a huge naval Armada to invade the island kingdom.

Sir Francis Drake II

Lead: Commissioned by Queen Elizabeth to forage and loot the lands of the Spanish King, Francis Drake embarked on a voyage that took him around the world.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1572, after a lengthy apprenticeship, Drake took two tiny ships on a cruise into the Caribbean. His vessels may have been small but his ambition was hefty. He attacked the town of Nombre de Dios in Panama and though not completely successful since he was wounded in the attempt, the foray netted substantial plunder and made him a rich man. Ever the adventurer, he and a small group of his men crossed the Isthmus of Panama and from a high western ridge vowed that he would someday explore the vast Pacific Ocean that lay before him. Elizabeth was engaged in one of her occasional diplomatic flirtations with the Spanish government and, while privately pleased at Drake’s success, could not acknowledge him publicly. For several years, he dropped out of the public eye, quietly helping to suppress a rebellion in Ireland.

Sir Francis Drake I

Lead: Part scoundrel, part tyrant, part patriot, Francis Drake, for generations of his countrymen, was the symbol of England’s greatness.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Drake was born in Devonshire, southwestern England in the early 1540s, the last years of the reign of King Henry VIII. His father was a tenant farmer, but also an ardent Protestant lay preacher. In 1549 the family had to flee to southeast England during one of the Catholic uprisings common to the West Country. In those the years the nation was struggling over whether to stay with Protestantism or return to the Roman Catholic Church. Drake’s lifelong and enthusiastic commitment to the Protestant faith and apparent delight in tweaking the tail of Catholic Spain may be traced to the experiences of his troubled youth.

The Long Death of Francisco Franco – II

Lead: In the early 1970s the hopes of conservative Spaniards to resist social and political change were dependent upon the continued survival of Francisco Franco. Their hopes and his prospects were increasingly bleak.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Sensing his own mortality and the increasing liberalism of large segments of Spanish society, Francisco Franco, in the 1960s began to cast about for a way to perpetuate his rule. He chose to restore the Bourbon monarchy. This institution had been supplanted in the 1930s with the coming of the Spanish Republic. With the republic’s 1939 defeat in the Civil War Franco ruled Spain himself. His choice as successor was Juan Carlos, the son of Franco’s bitter enemy, Don Juan, the rightful heir to the throne, living in Italian exile. Yet, despite a military education in Spain, supervised by Franco himself, young Juan Carlos, early on began exhibiting a careful, but serious flirtation with liberal ideas and policies.

 

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The Long Death of Francisco Franco – I

Lead: For nearly four decades Francisco Bahamonde Franco was a significant if not dominant figure in the life of Spain, but by the early 1970s his resistance to the modern world just as his health was failing. 

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts. 

Content: A wag once expressed little surprise at the explosive and swift transformation of Spain to democracy and a liberated society after 1975. He said, “Well, if you shake a bottle of champagne for forty years, you should not be shocked at the eruption when you finally pop the cork.” In the thirty-six years following 1939, the end of the Spanish Civil War, the cork in the Spanish champagne bottle was clearly Francisco Franco. He and his political and religious allies clung to the hope that through repression and control they might prevent Spain from adopting the moral and economic freedom that was proving inevitable course in the modern non-communist world. As long as Franco was alive they might succeed, but increasingly after 1970, as the health of Spain’s last caudillo began to fail, it was clear that their hopes were built on shifting sand.

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Juana La Loca, Queen of Castile I

Lead: Ignored by her philandering husband, imprisoned by a calculating son, few figures in modern European royalty equal the tragic misery of Juana La Loca, the Mad Queen of Castile.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Juana or Joanna was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of the united Spanish kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. She was the third child and surviving heir to the dual kingdom. Her younger sister, Catherine, became the Queen of England, married to and then controversially divorced from King Henry VIII.

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Guernica II

Lead: In April 1937 the town of Guernica in the Basque region of Spain was virtually leveled by German bombers in a brutal act of terror bombing.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Spanish Civil War pitted the Nationalist rebels under General Franco against the Republican Army, but it revealed many of the divisions in Spanish society. The fighting was brutal and atrocities were committed by both sides. Thousands died during the three-year conflict and many more were executed in its aftermath. What made the war especially harsh was outside participation.