Democracy, Trade Unions and Political Violence in Spain

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More About This Title Democracy, Trade Unions and Political Violence in Spain


Valencia has traditionally been seen as somewhat exceptional within Spain: a prosperous, agricultural export-oriented economy dominated by small- and medium-sized farmers. This tranquil image of Levante feliz contrasts sharply with those of rebellious, proletarian Barcelona, or impoverished, feudal Andalusia, with which the CNT and the Spanish anarchist movement is most closely associated. However, this new study shows that Valencia in the 1920s and 1930s was anything but tranquil. The vertiginous growth of the CNT between 1918 and 1920 led to the province being a major target of government repression. In providing the first English-language study of this important movement, Richard Purkiss fills a significant gap in the historiography of the Spanish Left. Drawing on a wide range of previously underused primary sources, he shows that not only was Valencia a hugely important source of anarchist support, but that the local movement was far more radical than has previously been thought. He thus provides a vital insight into the origins of the revolutionary and anticlerical violence that swept the province in the early months of Civil War, introducing us to the “expropriators” and “men of action” whose activities terrified bourgeois Valencia in the 1930s.


Richard Purkiss recently completed his PhD at Lancaster University. His research interests include the Spanish Left in the 1920s and 1930s, the history of trade unions, and interwar Europe. He is particularly focused on bringing the understudied region of Valencia to the attention of Anglophone readers.