Ferdinand I of Bulgaria

Ferdinand I of Bulgaria

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Ferdinand born Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry, was the ruler of Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 from 1887 to 1918, first as knyaz (prince regnant, 1887–1908) and later as tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 (1908–1918). He was also an author, botanist
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

, entomologist
Entomology
Entomology is the scientific study of insects, a branch of arthropodology...

 and philatelist
Philately
Philately is the study of stamps and postal history and other related items. Philately involves more than just stamp collecting, which does not necessarily involve the study of stamps. It is possible to be a philatelist without owning any stamps...

.

Family background


Ferdinand was born in Vienna, a prince of the Koháry
Kohary
Koháry was an ancient Hungarian noble family with seats at Csábrág and Szitnya, now Čabraď and Sitno Castle within Slovakia. The Kohárys belonged among the magnates of Hungary.-Prince Koháry:...

 branch of the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He grew up in the cosmopolitan environment of Austro-Hungarian high nobility and also in their ancestral lands in Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

 and in Germany. The Koháry descended from a relatively wealthy Upper Hungarian (now Slovakian) noble family, who held the princely lands of Čabraď
Cabrad Castle
The Čabraď Castle is a castle ruin in Slovakia near the village of Čabradský Vrbovok, southeast of Krupina.It was built in the 13th century. In the 15th century, it was captured by the army of John Giskra for a while. In 1585 and 1602 it withstood attacks of Ottoman Turks. It was the residence of...

 and Sitno in Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

, among others. The family's property was augmented by Clémentine of Orléans
Clementine of Orleans
Clémentine of Orléans , princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and duchess in Saxony, was the sixth child of ten and youngest daughter of Louis-Philippe I, King of the French, and his wife Marie Amalie of the Two Sicilies...

' remarkable dowry.

The son of Prince August of Saxe-Coburg and his wife Clémentine of Orléans
Clementine of Orleans
Clémentine of Orléans , princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and duchess in Saxony, was the sixth child of ten and youngest daughter of Louis-Philippe I, King of the French, and his wife Marie Amalie of the Two Sicilies...

, daughter of king Louis Philippe I of the French, Ferdinand was a grandnephew of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and of Leopold I
Leopold I of Belgium
Leopold I was from 21 July 1831 the first King of the Belgians, following Belgium's independence from the Netherlands. He was the founder of the Belgian line of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha...

, first king of the Belgians. His father Augustus was a brother of Ferdinand II of Portugal
Ferdinand II of Portugal
Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha , named Prince Ferdinand Augustus Francis Anthony of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry, was King of Portugal as husband of Queen Maria II of Portugal from the birth of their son in 1837 to her death in 1853.In keeping with Portuguese law, only after the birth of his son in...

, and also a first cousin to Queen Victoria, her husband Albert, Prince Consort, Empress Carlota of Mexico
Charlotte of Belgium
Charlotte of Belgium is remembered today as Carlota of Mexico as empress consort of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, ex-Archduke of Austria.-Princess of Belgium:The only daughter of Leopold I, King of the Belgians by his second wife,...

 and her brother Leopold II of Belgium
Leopold II of Belgium
Leopold II was the second king of the Belgians. Born in Brussels the second son of Leopold I and Louise-Marie of Orléans, he succeeded his father to the throne on 17 December 1865 and remained king until his death.Leopold is chiefly remembered as the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free...

. These last two, Leopold and Carlota, were also first cousins of Ferdinand I's through his mother, a princess of Orléans. This made the Belgian siblings his first cousins, as well as his first cousins once removed (his father's first cousins). Indeed, the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha had contrived to occupy, either by marriage or by direct election, several European thrones in the course of the 19th century. Following the family trend, Ferdinand was himself to found the royal dynasty of Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

.

Ferdinand had some ancestry from medieval rulers of Bulgaria, descents from both his mother's and father's side.

Prince of Bulgaria



The first Knyaz (Prince Regnant) of the Third Bulgarian State, Alexander of Battenberg abdicated in 1886, only seven years after he was elected. Ferdinand was elected Knyaz of autonomous Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 by its Grand National Assembly on 7 July 1887 in the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 (the "New Style" used hereinafter). In desperate attempts to prevent Russian occupation of Bulgaria, the throne had been previously offered, before Ferdinand's acceptance, to princes from Denmark to the Caucasus and even to the King of Romania.
His accession was greeted with disbelief in many of the royal houses of Europe. Queen Victoria, his father's first cousin, stated to her Prime Minister, "He is totally unfit ... delicate, eccentric and effeminate ... Should be stopped at once." To the amazement of his initial detractors, Ferdinand generally made a success during the first two decades of his reign.

Bulgaria's domestic political life was dominated during the early years of Ferdinand's reign by liberal party leader Stefan Stambolov
Stefan Stambolov
Stefan Nikolov Stambolov was a Bulgarian politician, who served as Prime Minister and regent. He is considered one of the most important and popular "Founders of Modern Bulgaria", and is sometimes referred to as "the Bulgarian Bismarck".- Early years :Stambolov was born in Veliko Tarnovo...

, whose foreign policy saw a marked cooling in relations with Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, formerly seen as Bulgaria's protector.

Personal life


Ferdinand was thought to be bisexual throughout his life, but up to middle age, his proclivities for women predominated.

Ferdinand entered a marriage of convenience
Marriage of convenience
A marriage of convenience is a marriage contracted for reasons other than the reasons of relationship, family, or love. Instead, such a marriage is orchestrated for personal gain or some other sort of strategic purpose, such as political marriage. The phrase is a calque of - a marriage of...

 with Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma
Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma
Princess Maria Luisa of Bourbon-Parma was the eldest daughter of Robert I, the last reigning Duke of Parma. She became princess-consort of Bulgaria upon her marriage to Ferdinand of Bulgaria, the then prince-regnant...

, daughter of Roberto I of Parma and Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, on April 20, 1893 at the Villa Pianore in Lucca
Lucca
Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plainnear the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca...

 in Italy, producing four children:
  • Boris III
    Boris III of Bulgaria
    Boris III the Unifier, Tsar of Bulgaria , originally Boris Klemens Robert Maria Pius Ludwig Stanislaus Xaver , son of Ferdinand I, came to the throne in 1918 upon the abdication of his father, following the defeat of the Kingdom of Bulgaria during World War I...

     (1894–1943)
  • Kyril
    Prince Kyril of Bulgaria
    Prince Kyril of Bulgaria, Prince of Preslav was the second son of Ferdinand I of Bulgaria and his first wife Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma. He was a younger brother of Boris III of Bulgaria...

     (1895–1945)
  • Eudoxia
    Princess Eudoxia of Bulgaria
    Princess Eudoxia Augusta Philippine Clementine Maria of Bulgaria was the eldest daughter and third child of King Ferdinand of Bulgaria and his first wife Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma...

     (1898–1985)
  • Nadezhda
    Princess Nadezhda of Bulgaria
    Princess Nadezhda Klementine Maria Pia Majella of Bulgaria was a member of the Bulgarian Royal Family.-Life:...

     (1899–1958). Married Duke Albrecht Eugen of Württemberg.


Marie Louise died on 31 January 1899 after giving birth to her youngest daughter. Ferdinand did not think again about marriage until his mother, Princess Clémentine died in 1907. To satisfy dynastic obligations and to provide his children with a mother figure, Ferdinand married Eleonore Caroline Gasparine Louise
Eleonore, Princess Reuss-Köstritz
Princess Eleonore Caroline Gasparine Louise Reuss of Köstritz was Tsaritsa of Bulgaria and the second wife of Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria...

, Princess Reuss-Köstritz, on 28 February 1908.

Ferdinand's regular holidays on Capri
Capri
Capri is an Italian island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, in the Campania region of Southern Italy...

, then a famous haunt for wealthy gay men, were common knowledge in royal courts throughout Europe.
Stambolov's fall (May 1894) and subsequent assassination (July 1895) paved the way for a reconciliation of Bulgaria with Russia, effected in February 1896 with the conversion of the infant Prince Boris from Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. However, this move earned him the animosity of his Catholic Austrian relatives, particularly that of his uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I was Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow from 1848 until his death in 1916.In the December of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria abdicated the throne as part of...

.

Tsar of Bulgaria


On 5 October 1908 (celebrated on 22 September), Ferdinand proclaimed Bulgaria's de jure independence from the Ottoman Empire (though the country had been basically independent since 1878). He also elevated Bulgaria to the status of a kingdom, and proclaimed himself tsar, or king. The Bulgarian Declaration of Independence
Bulgarian Declaration of Independence
The de jure independence of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire was proclaimed on in the old Bulgarian capital Tarnovo by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria...

 was proclaimed by him at the Saint Forty Martyrs Church in Turnovo. It was accepted by Turkey and the other European powers.

Ferdinand was known for being quite a character. On a visit to German Emperor Wilhelm II
William II, German Emperor
Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe...

, his second cousin once removed, in 1909, Ferdinand was leaning out of a window of the New Palace in Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

 when the Emperor came up behind him and slapped him on the bottom. Ferdinand was affronted by the gesture and the Emperor apologised. Ferdinand however exacted his revenge by awarding a valuable arms contract he had intended to give to the Krupp
Krupp
The Krupp family , a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th...

's factory in Essen
Essen
- Origin of the name :In German-speaking countries, the name of the city Essen often causes confusion as to its origins, because it is commonly known as the German infinitive of the verb for the act of eating, and/or the German noun for food. Although scholars still dispute the interpretation of...

 to French arms manufacturer Schneider-Cruseot. Another incident particularly occurred on his journey to the funeral of his second cousin, British King Edward VII in 1910. A tussle broke out on where his private railway carriage would be positioned in relation to the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The Archduke won out, having his carriage positioned directly behind the engine. Ferdinand's was placed directly behind. Realising the dining car of the train was behind his own carriage, Ferdinand obtained his revenge on the Archduke by refusing him entry through his own carriage to the dining car. On 15 July the same year during a visit to Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 Ferdinand also became the first head of state to fly in an airplane.

Balkan Wars



Like many a ruler of an Orthodox land before him, Ferdinand had a "dream of a new Byzantium". In 1912, Ferdinand joined the other Balkan states in an assault on the Ottoman Empire to free occupied territories. He saw this war as a new crusade declaring it, "a just, great and sacred struggle of the Cross against the Crescent." Bulgaria contributed the most and also lost the greatest number of soldiers. The great powers insisted on the creation of an independent Albania. Soon after, Bulgaria attacked its recent allies Serbia and Greece and itself was attacked by Romania and the Ottoman Empire and was defeated. Nevertheless, the Treaty of Bucharest in 1913 gave some territorial gains to Bulgaria. A tiny area of land giving access to the Aegean Sea was secured.

First World War and abdication


On 11 October 1915, the Bulgarian army attacked Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

 after signing a treaty with Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 and Germany stating that Bulgaria would gain the territory she sought at the expense of Serbia. See Serbian Campaign (World War I)
Serbian Campaign (World War I)
The Serbian Campaign was fought from late July 1914, when Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia at the outset of the First World War, until late 1915, when the Macedonian Front was formed...

 for details. Ferdinand was not an admirer of German Emperor Wilhelm II (his second cousin once removed) or Emperor of Austria
Emperor of Austria
The Emperor of Austria was a hereditary imperial title and position proclaimed in 1804 by the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, and continually held by him and his heirs until the last emperor relinquished power in 1918. The emperors retained the title of...

 Franz Josef I whom he described as "that idiot, that old dotard of a Francis Joseph". But Ferdinand wanted extra territorial gains after the humiliation of the Balkan Wars. This did however mean forming an alliance with his former enemy, the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

.

At first the war went well, Serbia was defeated and Bulgaria took possession of most of the disputed territory of Macedonia. For the next two years, the Bulgarian army fought a defensive war against the Allied army based in Greece. Part of the Bulgarian army was involved in the conquest of Romania in 1916.

Then, in the fall of 1918, the Bulgarian army was badly beaten by an attack from the Allied forces in Greece. With his army shattered, Tsar Ferdinand abdicated
Abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

 to save the Bulgarian throne in favour of his eldest son who became Tsar Boris III on 3 October 1918. Under new leadership, Bulgaria surrendered to the Allies and as a consequence, lost not only the additional territory it had fought for in the major conflict, but also the territory it had won after the Balkan Wars giving access to the Aegean Sea.

Exile and death


After his abdication, Ferdinand returned to live in Coburg
Coburg
Coburg is a town located on the Itz River in Bavaria, Germany. Its 2005 population was 42,015. Long one of the Thuringian states of the Wettin line, it joined with Bavaria by popular vote in 1920...

, Germany. He had managed to salvage much of his fortune and was able to live in some style. He saw his being in exile simply as one of the hazards of kingship. He commented, "Kings in exile are more philosophic under reverses than ordinary individuals; but our philosophy is primarily the result of tradition and breeding, and do not forget that pride is an important item in the making of a monarch. We are disciplined from the day of our birth and taught the avoidance of all outward signs of emotion. The skeleton sits forever with us at the feast. It may mean murder, it may mean abdication, but it serves always to remind us of the unexpected. Therefore we are prepared and nothing comes in the nature of a catastrophe. The main thing in life is to support any condition of bodily or spiritual exile with dignity. If one sups with sorrow, one need not invite the world to see you eat." He was pleased that the throne could pass to his son. Ferdinand was not displeased with exile and spent most of his time devoted to artistic endeavors, gardening, travel and natural history. However, he would live to see the collapse of everything he had held to be precious in life. His eldest son and successor, Boris III, died under mysterious circumstances after returning from a visit to Hitler in Germany in 1943. Boris III's son, Simeon II, succeeded him only to be deposed in 1946, ending the Bulgarian monarchy. The Kingdom of Bulgaria was succeeded by the People's Republic of Bulgaria, under which his sole surviving son, Kyril, was executed. On hearing of his son's death he said, "Everything is collapsing around me." He died a broken man in Bürglaß-Schlösschen on September 10, 1948 in Coburg
Coburg (district)
Coburg is a district in Bavaria, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Kronach, Lichtenfels, Bamberg and Haßberge, and by the state of Thuringia . The district is surrounding, but not including the city of Coburg.- History :The history of the district is largely influenced by the city of Coburg...

, Germany, cradle of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty. His final wish was to be buried in Bulgaria, and for this reason his coffin lies in the crypt of St. Augustin's Roman Catholic Church in Coburg.

Ancestors





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