José Sanjurjo
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 José Sanjurjo y Sacanell, 1st Marquis of the Rif
The Rif or Riff is a mainly mountainous region of northern Morocco, with some fertile plains, stretching from Cape Spartel and Tangier in the west to Ras Kebdana and the Melwiyya River in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the river of Wergha in the south.It is part of the...

(March 28, 1872 – July 20, 1936) was a General in the Spanish Army
Spanish Army
The Spanish Army is the terrestrial army of the Spanish Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is one of the oldest active armies - dating back to the 15th century.-Introduction:...

 who was one of the chief conspirators in the military uprising that led to the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...


Early life

Sanjurjo was born in Pamplona
Pamplona is the historial capital city of Navarre, in Spain, and of the former kingdom of Navarre.The city is famous worldwide for the San Fermín festival, from July 6 to 14, in which the running of the bulls is one of the main attractions...

. His father, Captain Justo Sanjurjo Bonrostra, was a Carlist
Carlism is a traditionalist and legitimist political movement in Spain seeking the establishment of a separate line of the Bourbon family on the Spanish throne. This line descended from Infante Carlos, Count of Molina , and was founded due to dispute over the succession laws and widespread...

. His mother was Carlota Sacanell Desojo.

Early career

He served in Cuba
Cuban War of Independence
Cuban War of Independence was the last of three liberation wars that Cuba fought against Spain, the other two being the Ten Years' War and the Little War...

 in 1896, in the Rif War (1909)
Rif War (1909)
The Second Melillan campaign was a conflict in 1909 and 1910 in Morocco around Melilla. The fighting involved local Rifains and the Spanish Army.- Prelude :...

 in Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, and in the Rif War (1920)
Rif War (1920)
The Rif War, also called the Second Moroccan War, was fought between Spain and the Moroccan Rif Berbers.-Rifian forces:...

, including the reconquest of lost territory in Melilla
Melilla is a autonomous city of Spain and an exclave on the north coast of Morocco. Melilla, along with the Spanish exclave Ceuta, is one of the two Spanish territories located in mainland Africa...

 after the Battle of Annual in 1921. In 1922, he was assigned to investigate corruption in the army command of Larache. He was High Commissioner of Spain in Morocco and reached the rank of lieutenant general. In 1925 he participated in the amphibious landing at Alhucemas
Al Hoceima
Al Hoceima is a city and port in the north of Morocco and in the center of the Rif Mountains. The Al Hoceima city region has a population of 395.644 and is the capital of the Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate region...

. With the completion of the 1920 Rif War, King Alfonso XIII awarded him the Gran Cruz de Carlos III on March 28, 1931. In 1928 he was made chief of a main directorate of the Civil Guard.

During the Second Republic

Miguel Primo de Rivera
Miguel Primo de Rivera
Miguel Primo de Rivera y Orbaneja, 2nd Marquis of Estella, 22nd Count of Sobremonte, Knight of Calatrava was a Spanish dictator, aristocrat, and a military official who was appointed Prime Minister by the King and who for seven years was a dictator, ending the turno system of alternating...

 came to power in a military coup in 1923. He ran Spain as a military dictatorship. Gradually, his support faded, and de Rivera resigned in January 1930. General Dámaso Berenguer
Dámaso Berenguer
Dámaso Berenguer y Fusté, Count of Xauen was a Spanish soldier and politician.Berenguer was born in San Juan de los Remedios, Cuba, while that island nation was still a Spanish province....

 was ordered by the king to form a replacement government. This annoyed Sanjurjo, who considered himself far better qualified. Berenguer's dictablanda
"Dictablanda" is a word used by political scientists to describe a dictatorship in which civil liberties are allegedly preserved rather than destroyed. The word dictablanda is a portmanteau of the Spanish words dictadura and blanda...

 dictatorship failed to provide a viable alternative to de Rivera. In the municipal elections of 12 April 1931, little support was shown for pro-monarchy parties in the major cities, and large numbers of people gathered in the streets of Madrid. Asked if the government could count on the support of Sanjurjo's Civil Guard, he rejected the suggestion. King Alfonso XIII abdicated. The Second Spanish Republic
Second Spanish Republic
The Second Spanish Republic was the government of Spain between April 14 1931, and its destruction by a military rebellion, led by General Francisco Franco....

 was formed.

Thus he became the first general appointed to army command by the Revolutionary Committee of the Republic. However, Sanjurjo was known to be a monarchist
Monarchism is the advocacy of the establishment, preservation, or restoration of a monarchy as a form of government in a nation. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government out of principle, independent from the person, the Monarch.In this system, the Monarch may be the...


However, Sanjurjo clashed with Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 Manuel Azaña
Manuel Azaña
Manuel Azaña Díaz was a Spanish politician. He was the first Prime Minister of the Second Spanish Republic , and later served again as Prime Minister , and then as the second and last President of the Republic . The Spanish Civil War broke out while he was President...

 over military policy and was replaced by General Miguel Cabanellas
Miguel Cabanellas
Miguel Cabanellas Ferrer was a Spanish Army officer during the Spanish Civil War.A cavalry officer, as a major he managed the creation of the African Regular troops . In 1921 he participated in the reconquest of the Rif after the Battle of Annual...

. He was demoted by Azaña to chief of the customs officers in 1932 because of the events of Castilblanco and Arnedo. This confrontation with the ministry, and Azaña's military reforms, and grants of regional autonomy to Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

 and the Basque Country, led him to plot a rebellion with some Carlists of Fal Conde, the conde de Rodezno, and other military officers. This rebellion, which was known as the sanjurjada, was proclaimed in Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 on August 10, 1932. Sanjurjo asserted that the rebellion was only against the current ministry and not against the Republic. It achieved initial success in Seville but absolute failure in Madrid. Sanjurjo tried to flee to Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, but in Huelva
Huelva is a city in southwestern Spain, the capital of the province of Huelva in the autonomous region of Andalusia. It is located along the Gulf of Cadiz coast, at the confluence of the Odiel and Tinto rivers. According to the 2010 census, the city has a population of 149,410 inhabitants. The...

 he decided to give himself up.

He was condemned to death, a sentence which was later commuted to life imprisonment in the penitentiary of the Dueso. In March 1934 he was granted amnesty by the Lerroux
Alejandro Lerroux
Alejandro Lerroux y García was a Spanish politician who was the leader of the Radical Republican Party during the Second Spanish Republic...

 government and went into exile in Estoril
Estoril is a seaside resort and civil parish of the Portuguese municipality of Cascais, Lisboa District. The Estoril coast is close to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. It starts in Carcavelos, 15 kilometres from Lisbon, and stretches as far as Guincho, often known as Costa de Estoril-Sintra or...

, Portugal.


When on May 10, 1936, Niceto Alcalá-Zamora
Niceto Alcalá-Zamora
Niceto Alcalá-Zamora y Torres was a Spanish lawyer and politician who served, briefly, as the first premier minister of the Second Spanish Republic, and then — from 1931 to 1936—as its president....

 was replaced as President of the Republic by Azaña, Sanjurjo joined with Generals Emilio Mola
Emilio Mola
Emilio Mola y Vidal, 1st Duke of Mola, Grandee of Spain was a Spanish Nationalist commander during the Spanish Civil War. He is best-known for having coined the term "fifth column".-Early life:...

, Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 and Gonzalo Queipo de Llano
Gonzalo Queipo de Llano
Gonzalo Queipo de Llano y Sierra, 1st Marquis of Queipo de Llano, a title bestowed upon him, to crown his professional career at the service of the "New" Spain forged by Dictator of Spain, 1939 - 1975, General Francisco Franco on 1 April 1950, once he had decided Spain would be again a Kingdom...

 in a plot to overthrow the leftist Popular Front government. This led to the Nationalist uprising on July 17, 1936, which started the Spanish Civil War.


Sanjurjo died in Estoril in a plane crash on July 20, 1936, when he tried to fly back to Spain. He chose to fly in a small airplane piloted by Juan Antonio Ansaldo
Juan Antonio Ansaldo
Juan Antonio Ansaldo y Vejerano was a Spanish aviator and monarchist activist and conspirator. A great admirer of Charles Maurras and Action Française, he flirted with various shades of far right politics before and during the Spanish Civil War....

. One of the main reasons for the crash was the heavy luggage that Sanjurjo insisted on bringing. Ansaldo warned him that the load was too heavy, but Sanjurjo answered him:
I need to wear proper clothes as the new caudillo of Spain.

Ironically, Sanjurjo chose to fly in Ansaldo's plane rather than a much larger and more suitable airplane that was available. It was an 8-passenger de Havilland Dragon Rapide
De Havilland Dragon Rapide
The de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide was a British short-haul passenger airliner of the 1930s.-Design and development:Designed by the de Havilland company in late 1933 as a faster and more comfortable successor to the DH.84 Dragon, it was in effect a twin-engined, scaled-down version of the...

, the same one which had transported Franco from the Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 to Morocco. Sanjurjo apparently preferred the drama of flying with a "daring aviator". (Ansaldo survived the crash.)

When Mola also died in an aircraft accident, Franco was left as the effective leader of the Nationalist cause. This led to rumors that Franco had arranged the deaths of his two rivals, but no evidence has been produced to support this allegation.

In fiction

The opening of the alternate history fiction writer Harry Turtledove
Harry Turtledove
Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.- Life :...

's novel Hitler's War in his series The War That Came Early
The War That Came Early
The War That Came Early is an alternate history series by Harry Turtledove, in which World War II begins in 1938 over Czechoslovakia. The number of volumes has not been set. The first volume, Hitler's War, was released in hardcover in 2009 without a series title. Subsequently, the paperback...

begins with Sanjurjo's flight from Portugal. The point of divergence
Point of divergence
In discussion of counterfactual history, a divergence point , also referred to as a departure point or point of divergence , is a historical event with two possible postulated outcomes...

 is that he accepts the pilot's advice and abandons the luggage, the flight no longer being overloaded and thus arriving safely. His behaviour from that point on is described as if he diverged from that of the actual Franco, with Spain taking a less isolated role in World War II.


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