The Spanish right-wing politician Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera was born on this day. He was the founder of the Spanish Falange, a right-wing party with fascist characteristics. Interestingly, the Falange under Primo de Rivera was not a monarchist and conservative-oriented party, but – on the contrary – republican and modernist. In this respect, it was somewhat similar to Italian fascism.
José Antonio Primo de Rivera had an aristocratic background and an excellent right-wing pedigree. In fact, he was the eldest son of the Spanish military dictator Miguel Prima de Rivera, who ruled Spain from 1923 till 1930. As the son of the reigning dictator, young and wealthy José Antonio was a sort of champion among the nation’s youth. He was interested in aristocratic occupations such as horseback riding and hunting. He graduated from law school and became a Doctor of Law. When his father, the dictator, died, José Antonio inherited the title of Marquis of Estella (marques de Estella) at the age of 26. Estella is a town in Navarre, close to Pamplona, famous for the event where bulls run through the streets.
The young Marquis of Estella i.e. José Antonio Primo de Rivera founded the Falange Party in October, 1933. At that time, Hitler had already come to power in Germany. It is very interesting that Francisco Franco did not at first appreciate José Antonio Primo de Rivera and reportedly described him as a dandy and a playboy.
Primo de Rivera was finally killed by the Republicans when he was only 33 years old. It was at the very beginning of the Spanish Civil War. In fact, he was arrested with illegal firearms and was then tried for conspiracy and military insurrection. The verdict was – death by firing squad. After Primo de Rivera was killed, Franco integrated Falange, and even part of the cult of personality of the murdered marquise, into his movement. In 1948 Franco even posthumously promoted the late falangist leader to the Duke of Primo de Rivera (duke is the highest aristocratic title in Spain).