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Death and legacy
The general and dictator Francisco Franco ruled over Spain from until his death. Some of these restrictions gradually eased as Franco got older, and upon his death the country transitioned to democracy. Until age 12, Franco attended a private school run by a Catholic priest. He then entered a naval secondary school with the goal of following his father and grandfather into a sea-based military career. In , however, the cash-strapped Spanish government temporarily suspended the admission of cadets into the Naval Academy. As a result, Franco enrolled at the Infantry Academy in Toledo, graduating three years later with below-average grades.
This period in Spanish history, from the Nationalist victory to Franco's death, is commonly known as Francoist Spain or the Francoist dictatorship. Born in Ferrol, Spain into an upper-class military family, Franco served in the Spanish Army as a cadet in the Toledo Infantry Academy from to While serving in Morocco , he rose through the ranks to become brigadier general in , aged 33, becoming the youngest general in Spain. As a conservative and monarchist , Franco regretted the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of the Second Republic in He was devastated by the closing of his Academy, but nevertheless continued his service in the Republican Army.
Although Franco had visions of restoring Spanish grandeur after the Civil War, in reality he was the leader of an exhausted country still divided internally and impoverished by a long and costly war. The stability of his government was made more precarious by the outbreak of World War II only five months later. The period of ostracism finally came to an end with the worsening of relations between the Soviet world and the West at the height of the Cold War. His international rehabilitation was advanced further in , when Spain signed a year military assistance pact with the United States, which was later renewed in more limited form. Franco said that he did not find the burden of government particularly heavy, and, in fact, his rule was marked by absolute self-confidence and relative indifference to criticism. He maintained a careful balance among them and largely left the execution of policy to his appointees, thereby placing himself as arbiter above the storm of ordinary political conflict. To a considerable degree, the opprobrium for unsuccessful or unpopular aspects of policy tended to fall on individual ministers rather than on Franco.