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Manuel Azaña y Díaz


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(b. 10 Jan. 1880, d. 3 Nov. 1940).

President of Spain 1936–9 Born in Alcalá de Henares, he graduated with a doctorate in jurisprudence from the University of Madrid in 1900. After working in the Ministry of Justice, Azaña turned to writing and journalism. In 1925 he created Acción Republicana in opposition to Primo de Rivera, and in 1930 became co-sponsor of the Pact of San Sebastian to abolish the monarchy. He emerged as Minister of War in the newly formed Republican government of 1931, and within days reformed the military by releasing more than half of the officer corps from their duty. He was also a chief architect of the removal of the Roman Catholic Church's control of health, education, and welfare. As Prime Minister (1931–3) he granted Catalan autonomy. He was briefly Prime Minister after the Popular Front's victory in 1936, and became President on 10 May 1936. He failed, however, to reconcile the various factions of the government, and was unable to rally greater international support for the Republican forces. He also had an uneasy relationship with his Prime Ministers, Largo Caballero and Negrín. He resigned after fleeing to Paris, on 5 February 1939. He died in poverty in Bordeaux.

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