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In 1907, he entered the Infantry Academy in Toledo, graduating in 1910 as a lieutenant.

Two years later, he obtained a commission to Morocco.

By the 1950s, the nature of his regime changed from being openly totalitarian and using severe repression to an authoritarian system with limited pluralism.

During the Cold War, Franco was one of the world's foremost anti-Communist figures: his regime was assisted by the West, and it was asked to join NATO.

With the death of the other generals, Franco quickly became his faction's only leader.

Franco gained military support from various regimes and groups, especially Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, while the Republican side was supported by Spanish communists and anarchists as well as the Soviet Union, Mexico, and the International Brigades.

His survival marked him permanently in the eyes of the native troops as a man of baraka (good luck).Not needing any more officers, the Naval Academy admitted no new entrants from 1906 to 1913.To his father's chagrin, Francisco decided to try the Spanish Army.His mother was María del Pilar Bahamonde y Pardo de Andrade (15 October 1865 – 28 February 1934) and she was an upper middle-class Roman Catholic. The young Franco spent much of his childhood with his two brothers, Nicolás (Ferrol, 1891–1977) and Ramón, and his two sisters, María del Pilar (Ferrol, 1894 – Madrid, 1989), and María de la Paz (Ferrol, 1899 – Ferrol, 1903). Nicolás was later a naval officer and diplomat who in time married María Isabel Pascual del Pobil y Ravello.

Ramón was a pioneer aviator, a Freemason with originally leftist political leanings who was killed in an air accident on a military mission in 1938. Francisco was to follow his father into the Navy, but as a result of the Spanish–American War the country lost much of its navy as well as most of its colonies.

This period in Spanish history is commonly known as Francoist Spain.