Honors Thesis Spotlight: Corporatist, Catholic, Catalyst, Crank: Patrick Belton’s Role in Ireland’s Involvement in the Spanish Civil War

In the summer of 1936, a civil war erupted in Spain and changed the course of the nation’s history, laying bare the worst-case scenario of partisanship, factionalism, and religious zeal. As much as the conflict affected Spain, however, it also led to a reckoning in surrounding states as they grappled with how to handle the conflict. The ultimate response of the Non-Intervention Agreement was, in the eyes of many, a failure—not just diplomatically or politically, but also morally.

Some, however, were not content to sit back while Spain battled itself. Irish politician Patrick Belton helped form the Irish Christian Front, a massive popular movement which swept over Ireland during the early days of the war and whose immediate goal was to aid General Francisco Franco’s Nationalist cause, which they saw as the last protector of the Catholic faith in Spain. The ICF was short-lived, yet moved hundreds of thousands of people and raised significant donations for the movement.

This paper seeks to examine the role Belton played in shaping and mobilizing public opinion in support of Franco. Belton’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War is too often overshadowed by the more well-known figures of the day; this paper will argues that while his fraught political ambitions ultimately led to his downfall, Belton played an instrumental role in molding the public response in support of the Nationalist uprising in Spain. This thesis examines newspaper sources, government records, and journal entries in addition to analyzing existing scholarship.

Kate McMahon is a MSc Candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This post is based on Kate’s honors thesis abstract. You can learn more about this project here. You can learn more about Kate here.

The feature image is from Wikipedia.

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