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History Standard Essay Wednesday, 4th January 2017

Targets:

- write concisely throughout but maintain depth in each argument

- ensure a high level of supporting evidence is used consistently

Compare and contrast the causes of two twentieth century civil wars, both from a different region.

Intro:

When investigating the causes of the extensive Chinese Civil War from 1927-1949 and the events
that led to the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1939, obvious similarities arise. Both nations had a
history of monarchist ruling that was overturned shortly before the start of civil unrest and this
caused the newly established governments to be vulnerable to the introduction of extremist ideas
Communism in China and then the rise of Fascism within Spain. However, due the stark contrast
between the levels of religious involvement in the political stance of these countries and the
structure of each nations class system, with China having a huge peasant population, it is impossible
to only highlight the similarities between them. The main cause of both of these conflicts was,
arguably, regionalism as without the disparity between the different groups in Spain and their call for
regionalist attitudes, as well as the actions of the warlords in China after the changes in government,
it is unlikely that the wars would have developed to the scale they eventually did.

It could be argued that the regionalist attitudes of major groups within China and Spain were a
significant cause of the civil wars within both states. In Spain, which had once been split into much
smaller regions, there was still unrest within these areas and a disillusionment with the government
and its policies particularly in areas such as Catalonia and Andaluca whose foreign influences and
languages caused a division between them and much of Castilian Spain. Although China was
historically a united nation, after the fall of the Manchu dynasty and the establishment of the new
Chinese Republic in 1911, the instability that was created in the nation prompted the beginning of
the warlord era. Land owners in China would fight between themselves to gain sovereignty over a
certain area of land; the warlords would then try to self-govern these regions, each leader
implementing their own policies and procedures which created an overall incongruence between
regions a situation much like that in Spain in the 1930s. This regionalism in China then led to the
formation of the First United Front between the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] and the
Guomindang [GMD] which highlighted the conflict in ideologies that existed within the Chinese
leadership. This clash of political agenda was then carried through to the late 1920s after the
nationalist government had been set up and the massacres of those with communist ideas began
showing how the initial regionalism within China was a major cause of the civil war. In Spain, again,
regionalism caused the formation of the republican movement in opposition to the rise of
nationalism and the discord between these two groups, as was evident with the GMD and CCP,
meant it was impossible to unite Spain and so led to the outbreak of civil war.

Another clear area of comparison between the long term causes of the Spanish and Chinese civil
wars was in the rejection of their monarchies. In the case of both countries, the monarchy was
dissolved, but this occurred through a sequence of quite contrasting events. In China, the Manchu
dynasty was overthrown in the Double Tenth Revolution and the emperor was forcibly removed from
power, by those who called for the introduction of democracy. In Spain, however, a vote was held
unto whether the King should uphold power and, when the result went against Alfonso XIIIs ruling,
he was exiled from the country and a republic was established. In Spain, the removal of the monarch
brought a period of political instability and the empowered parties switched from centre-left to far
right and back again, creating a general cynicism within the country. This disenchantment grew and
then led to the polarisation of Spain into Nationalists and Republicans the two major groups who
fought between 1936 and 1939. The Chinese new governments democratic approach was
introduced rapidly and so unsettled the political state of the country. This then led to the rise of
regionalism and the fighting of the warlords and so increased tensions within China. The tensions
steadily grew as China, like Spain, was polarised into Communists and Nationalists and, as the parties
could not easily coexist, war broke out.

- Rejection of the monarchy

Contrasts:

- Political instability in the Spanish government/less so in China


- Religious involvement

Conclusion: