Ferdinand I of Romania

Ferdinand I

Ferdinand I of Romania
King of Romania
Reign 10 October 1914 – 20 July 1927
Coronation 15 October 1922
Predecessor Carol I
Successor Michael I
Born (1865-08-24)24 August 1865
Sigmaringen, Germany
Died 20 July 1927(1927-07-20) (aged 61)
Sinaia, Kingdom of Romania
Burial Curtea de Argeș, Romania
Spouse Marie of Edinburgh
Issue Carol II, King of Romania
Elisabeth, Queen of the Hellenes
Maria, Queen of Yugoslavia
Prince Nicholas
Ileana, Archduchess of Austria-Tuscany
Prince Mircea
Full name
Ferdinand Viktor Albert Meinrad
House Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
Father Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern
Mother Antónia of Braganza
Religion Roman Catholic

Ferdinand I (Ferdinand Viktor Albert Meinrad; 24 August 1865 – 20 July 1927), nicknamed Intregitorul ("the Unifier"), was King of Romania from 10 October 1914 until his death in 1927.

Early life

Born in Sigmaringen in southwestern Germany, the Roman Catholic Prince Ferdinand Viktor Albert Meinrad of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. The name was later shortened simply to Hohenzollern after the extinction of the Hohenzollern-Hechingen branch in 1869. The princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen had ruled the principality until 1850, when it was annexed to Prussia.

Ferdinand I was the son of Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, and Infanta Antónia of Portugal (1845–1913), daughter of Queen Maria II and King Ferdinand II, a Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and heir to the Slovakian-originated Hungarian magnates of Kohary on his mother's side.[1]

Following the renunciations, first of his father in 1880 and then of his elder brother Prince Wilhelm of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in 1886, young Ferdinand became the heir-presumptive to the throne of his childless uncle, King Carol I of Romania, who would reign until his death in October 1914.[2] In 1889, the Romanian parliament recognized Ferdinand as a prince of Romania. The Romanian government did not require his conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy from Catholicism, as was the common practice prior to this date, thus allowing him to continue with his born creed, but it was required that his children be raised Orthodox, then the state religion of Romania. For agreeing to this, Ferdinand was excommunicated from the Catholic Church, although this was later lifted.

Ferdinand's mother's first cousin Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria sat on the throne of the neighbouring Bulgaria beginning in 1887 and was to become the greatest opponent of the kingdom of his Romanian cousins. The neighboring Emperor Francis Joseph, monarch of Austria-Hungary and as such, ruler of Transylvania, was Ferdinand's grandmother's first cousin.

Ferdinand, a complete stranger in his new home, started to get close to one of Queen Elisabeth's ladies in waiting, Elena Văcărescu. Elisabeth, very close to Elena herself, encouraged the romance, although she was perfectly aware of the fact that a marriage between the two was forbidden by the Romanian constitution (according to the 1866 Constitution of Romania, the heir-presumptive to the throne was not allowed to marry a Romanian).

The affair caused a sort of dynastic crisis, in 1891. The result of this was the exile of both Elisabeth (in Neuwied) and Elena (in Paris), as well as a trip by Ferdinand through Europe in search of a suitable bride, whom he eventually found in Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Princess Marie of Edinburgh.


Wedding Medal of Ferdinand I of Romania 1893 by Anton Scharff. Obverse
Wedding Medal of Ferdinand I of Romania 1893 by Anton Scharff. Reverse

In Sigmaringen on 10 January 1893, Prince Ferdinand of Romania married his distant cousin, the Lutheran Princess Marie of Edinburgh, daughter of Anglican Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and the Orthodox Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia. Marie and Ferdinand were third cousins in descent from Franz Frederick Anton, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Marie's paternal grandparents were Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Her maternal grandparents were Alexander II of Russia and Marie of Hesse and by Rhine. The reigning Emperor of the neighbouring Russia, at the time of the marriage was Marie's uncle, Tsar Alexander III, who would be succeeded by his eldest son, Marie's cousin, Tsar Nicholas II, the following year.

The marriage produced 3 sons: Carol, Nicholas and Mircea (one of whom, Mircea, died in infancy) and 3 daughters: Elisabeta, Maria (Mignon) and Ileana. The marriage was unhappy and the couple's two youngest children, Ileana and Mircea, are generally acknowledged to have been sired by Marie's long-time lover, Barbu Știrbey.[3][4]

King of Romania

Romanian Royalty
House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
House of Romania
Carol I
Princess Elisabeth of Wied
Princess Maria
Ferdinand I
Princess Marie of Edinburgh
Carol II
Elisabeth, Queen of the Hellenes
Maria, Queen of Yugoslavia
Nicholas, Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
Princess Ileana
Prince Mircea
Carol II
Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark
Michael I
King Michael I
Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma
Crown Princess Margareta
Princess Elena
Princess Irina
Princess Sophie
Princess Maria
Prince Nicholas

Ferdinand succeeded his uncle on the latter's death (Carol I died without surviving issue) as King of Romania on 10 October 1914, reigning until his own death on 20 July 1927.

He was the 1,174th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Austria in 1909 and the 868th Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1924.

World War I

Further information: Romania during World War I

Though a member of a cadet branch of Germany's ruling Hohenzollern imperial family, Ferdinand presided over his country's entry into World War I on the side of the Triple Entente powers against the Central Powers on 27 August 1916. Thus he gained the nickname the Loyal, respecting his oath when sworn in before the Romanian Parliament in 1914:'I will reign as a good Romanian'.

Wilhelm and Ferdinand (British World War I poster)
Ferdinand I depicted on a 50 bani fractional note (1917)
Ferdinand I depicted on a 50 bani fractional note (1917)

As a consequence of this "betrayal" toward his German roots, Kaiser Wilhelm II had Ferdinand's name erased from the Hohenzollern House register.

Despite the setbacks after the entry into war, when Dobruja and Wallachia were occupied by the Central Powers, Romania fought in 1917 and stopped the German advance into Moldavia. When the Bolsheviks sued for peace in 1918, Romania was surrounded by the Central Powers and forced to conclude the Treaty of Bucharest, 1918. However, Ferdinand refused to sign the treaty. When the Allied forces advanced on the Thessaloniki front, they knocked Bulgaria out of the war, and Ferdinand ordered the re-mobilization of the Romanian Army. Romania re-entered the war on the side of the Triple Entente.

The outcome of Romania's war effort was the union of Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. Ferdinand became the ruler of a greatly enlarged Romanian state in 1918–1920 following the Entente's victory over the Central Powers, a war between the Kingdom of Romania and the Hungarian Soviet Republic, and the civil war in Russia, and was crowned King of Romania in a spectacular ceremony on 15 October 1922 at the historic princely seat of Alba Iulia, in Transylvania.

A new period of Romanian history began on the day of the Union of Transylvania with Romania (Great Union Day, Marea Unire).[5][6][7] This period would eventually come to an end with the international treaties that led up to World War II. These ceded parts of Romania to its neighbors. As such, they are widely seen as an attempt to provoke the country into taking sides and joining the war.[8][9][10]

After the war

Domestic political life during his reign was dominated by the conservative National Liberal party led by the brothers Ion and Vintilă Brătianu. The acquisition of Transylvania ironically enlarged the electoral base of the opposition, whose principal parties united in January 1925 – October 1926 to form the National Peasant Party.

Ferdinand died in Sinaia in 1927, and was succeeded by his grandson Crown Prince Michael, under a regency. The regency had three members, one of whom was Ferdinand's second son, Prince Nicholas.

Titles, styles and honours

Styles of
King Ferdinand I of Romania
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir
National honours
Foreign honours



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Media related to Ferdinand I of Romania at Wikimedia Commons

Ferdinand I of Romania
Cadet branch of the House of Hohenzollern
Born: 24 August 1865 Died: 20 July 1927
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Carol I
King of Romania
10 October 1914 – 20 July 1927
Succeeded by
Michael I
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