The role that popular tradition, invented or "genuine" but presented from a privileged position, plays in nationalist political movements is well known. Similar to other totalitarian systems, the Spanish Francoist regime (1939-75) appropriated and misused folklore in various ways. In this article I survey several of these uses, such as the strengthening of political legitimacy—actually enforced through a coup and a bloody civil war—by resorting to some supposedly pristine, spiritual values of the Spanish people, as symbolized by the peasantry. Other uses of folklore were the practical exploitation of models, symbols, and characters of traditional poetry to present an epic image of Franco and his regime and the recourse to folk music presentations abroad with diplomatic and propagandistic purposes.

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