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60th anniversary of the death of Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria

60th anniversary of the death of Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria

9/10/2009 12:07:01 AM

Bulgaria replaced its first Prince, Alexander of Battenberg in 1886, only seven years after he had been installed. His successor was Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Ferdinand was proclaimed Prince Regnant of autonomous Bulgaria on 7 July 1887 in the Gregorian calendar (the "New Style" used hereinafter).The throne had been previously offered, before Ferdinand's acceptance, 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 of his reign.

Bulgaria's domestic political life was dominated during the early years of Ferdinand's reign by liberal party leader Stefan Stambolov, whose foreign policy saw a marked cooling in relations with Russia, formerly seen as Bulgaria's protector.

Ferdinand became Tsar of Bulgaria upon that country's declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire on 5 October 1908 (celebrated on 22 September). The Declaration of Independence was proclaimed at the Saint Forty Martyrs Church in Turnovo. It was accepted by Turkey and the other European powers.

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, Greece and Romania and was defeated. The Treaty of Bucharest in 1913 gave little territorial gains to Bulgaria. A tiny area of land giving access to the Aegean Sea was secured

On 11 October 1915, the Bulgarian army attacked Serbia after signing a treaty with Austria-Hungary and Germany which stated that Bulgaria would gain the territory she sought at the expense of Serbia. See Serbian Campaign (World War I) for details. Ferdinand was not an admirer of German Emperor Wilhelm II (his second cousin once removed) or Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I who 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.

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. A small 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 to save the Bulgarian throne in favour of his eldest son who became Tsar Boris III on October 3, 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.

His eldest son and successor, Boris III, died under mysterious circumstances after returning from a vist 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 Burglassschloßen on September 10, 1948 in Coburg, Germany, cradle of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty. Ferdinand I is buried there in St. Augustin's Roman Catholic Church.

info: Wikipedia 

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