Queipo de Llano

Queipo de Llano

Gonzalo Queipo de Llano was born in Tordesillas, Spain, on 5th February, 1875. He was educated in a seminary but he runaway and joined the Spanish Army as a gunner. He later became a cadet in the Royal Cavalry Academy. As a cavalry officer he fought in Cuba and Morocco, where he got a reputation for his swashbuckling cavalry charges.

In 1923 Queipo de Llano reached the rank of brigade general. He was highly critical of the Spanish Army and as a result Miguel Primo de Rivera relieved him of his command and had him imprisoned.

Queipo de Llano was released from prison in 1926. He continued to criticize the government and in 1928 he was dismissed from the army. Two years later he became leader of the Republican Military Association. He also became associated with the National Revolutionary Committee, a group plotting to overthrow Alfonso XIII. The revolt failed and Queipo de Llano fled to Portugal.

When the king abdicated in April 1931, Queipo de Llano returned home and was given the important post as commander of the 1st Division in Madrid. Later he was appointed head of the military staff of president Niceto Alcalá Zamora.

Queipo de Llano supported the Popular Front and in April 1936 became director-general of the Customs Guards. However, he was critical of some of its policies including the agrarian reforms that penalized the landed aristocracy. Other measures included outlawing the Falange Española and granting Catalonia political and administrative autonomy. On the 10th May 1936 Niceto Alcala Zamora was ousted as president and replaced by the left-wing Manuel Azaña.

Soon afterwards Queipo de Llano, Emilio Mola, Francisco Franco, and José Sanjurjo, began plotting to overthrow the Popular Front government. This resulted in the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War on 17th July, 1936. Queipo de Llano, with only 200 men, successfully took control of Seville.

On 17th January 1937, General Queipo de Llano and the Nationalist Army launched an attack on Málaga. It eventually fell to the Nationalists on 8th February. Over the next few weeks an estimated 4,000 supporters of the Popular Front government were executed. He also distributed the lands of these people to supporters to the Nationalists.

At the end of the Spanish Civil War he was promoted to lieutenant general and General Francisco Franco sent him as head of the Spanish Mission to Italy. Gonzalo Queipo de Llano died at his country estate near Seville on 9th March, 1951.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Luis Bolin, Spain, the Vital Years (1967)

During the latter part of King Alfonso's reign. General Queipo de Llano had been an open critic of the Monarchy. When the Republic was established he enjoyed the confidence of its first President, Alcala Zamora, whose son had married one of his daughters, and whose successors in due course appointed him. Inspector General of the Carabiniers, or Coastguards, a post of some importance which he still held when the time came to rebel against the Republican Government. Strongly as Queipo de Llano may have believed that a republic was the best possible solution, when the regime went from bad to worse he joined those who wished to overthrow it. In Andalusia, where he was sent by the leaders of the revolt to investigate the existing possibilities, he found a small minority determined to act and a majority unwilling to do so, but despite the highly pessimistic account which he gave of the situation he was chosen to lead the rising in southern Spain, a decision probably influenced by a widespread confidence in his resourcefulness.

(2) Arthur Koestler, Dialogue With Death (1942)

For the last six weeks there had been a lull in the fighting. The winter was cold; the wind from the Guadarrama whipped Madrid; the Moors in their trenches caught pneumonia and spat blood. The passes in the Sierra Nevada were blocked the Republican Militiamen had neither uniforms nor blankets and their hospitals had no chloroform; their frozen Sneers and feet had to be amputated without their being put to sleep. At the Anarchist hospital in Malaga a boy sang the Marseillaise while they sawed away two of his toes; this expedient gained a certain popularity.

Then spring came and all was well again; the buds on the trees opened and the tanks started on the roads. Nature s benevolence enabled General Queipo de Llano to launch, as early as mid-January, his long-planned offensive against Malaga.

This was in 1937. General Gonzales Queipo de Llano, who not so long ago had conspired against the Monarchy and proclaimed his sympathies with communism to all and sundry in the cafes round the Puerta del Sol was now in command of the Second Division of the insurgent army. He had a microphone installed in a room at his G.H.Q. in Seville and talked into it every night for an hour. "The Marxists;" he said, "are ravening beasts, but we are gentlemen. Senor Companys deserves to be stuck like a pig."

General Queipo's army consisted of approximately 50,000 Italian troops, three banderas of the Foreign Legion and 15,000 African tribesmen. The rest of his men, about ten per cent, were of Spanish nationality.

(3) The Manchester Guardian (14th December 1936)

Seville, the future capital of Spain according to the rebel authorities, is full of life. The factories are working day and night. General Oueipo de Llano, who spends half an hour before the microphone every night passing judgement on international politics and advising Great Britain and France to follow the example of Italy and Germany, is one of the principal diversions of the people of Seville, educated and uneducated alike. I sought in vain for a room in any of the splendid modem hotels of Seville. They are all full of Germans and Italians - diplomats, aviators, press agents, and, above all, future soldiers in Franco's army. Hitler and Mussolini have sent to Seville and Salamanca their best technicians in the field of propaganda. The Fascist emissaries from Rome are giving instructions to the Spanish 'Falangistas' on the organisation of syndicates and on the technique of the conquest of power. They say that neither Hitler nor Mussolini was satisfied with the Spanish Fascist movement, which is too revolutionary, too violent, too much inclined to the elimination of political enemies by death.