► I will reign as a good Romanian*
Ferdinand – Romania 1996 – prepaid envelope - (24 August 1865-20 July 1927) was the King of the Romanians from 10 October 1914 until his death. Born in Sigmaringen in southwestern Germany, the Roman Catholic Prince Ferdinand Viktor Albert Meinrad of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, later simply of Hohenzollern, was a son of Prince Leopold 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.
Following the renunciations, first of his father (1880) and then of elder brother Prince Wilhelm of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, in 1886, young Ferdinand became the heir to the throne of his childless uncle, King Carol I of Romania – in November 1888. In 1889, the Romanian parliament recognized him as a prince of Romania. The Romanian government did not require his conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy from Catholicism, allowing him to continue with his born creed, but it was required that his children be raised Orthodox, then the state religion of Romania.
Ferdinand’s mother’s first cousin Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria sat on the throne of the neighboring Bulgaria since 1889 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, a province with a clear ethnic Romanian majority, was Ferdinand’s grandmother’s first cousin.
His aunt, queen Elisabeth, plotted that he would marry Elena Vacarescu. This was sort of dynastical crisis, in 1891.
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 neighboring Russia was Marie’s first cousin Tsar Nicholas II.
The marriage produced 3 sons (one of whom, Mircea, died in infancy) and 3 daughters. Ferdinand’s wife was reportedly adulterous in later stages of the marriage, and thus Mircea is thought to have been the biological child of Prince Barbu Ştirbey. However, Ferdinand reportedly wanted to avoid any scandal, and accepted Mircea as his own son.
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 gained the nickname the Loyal, respecting his oath when sworn in before the Romanian Parliament in 1914: I will reign as a good Romanian.
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