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the first King of Romania
Prince Karl Eitel Friedrich was born in Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (south of present-day Germany) on April 20, 1839. He was educated at Dresden and Bonn, and at military schools in Munster and Berlin. As a Lieutenant during the Prussian War of 1864, he participated in the siege of Frederica Castle.
In February 1866, following the overthrow of Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the Romanian government asked Prince Karl to accept the Romanian throne. Initially reluctant, he ultimately agreed, and became Prince Carol I on May 10, 1866.
Carol's first years on the throne were difficult ones. He did not speak the language and was unfamiliar with the Balkanian ways of life, and almost abdicated in despair in 1870. His openly pro-German sentiments during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 almost led to his overthrow, but his popularity among the Romanian people defeated the attempt. On May 10, 1877, Prince Carol declared Romania's independence from the Ottoman Empire and took up arms with Russia during the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877-1878. Romania's independence was formally acknowledged by the Ottoman Empire in 1881. That same year, Carol declared Romania to be a kingdom, and he was subsequently crowned King Carol I.
On the eve of World War I, the Romanian government declared the country officially neutral in the conflict. Although King Carol personally favored the German Kaiser, the Romanian Constitution prohibited him from countering the National Assembly's declaration. He was attempting to negotiate a peaceful solution to the conflict via secret meetings with the Kaiser when he died at Sinaia on September 27, 1914. He was succeeded by his nephew, who took the throne as King Ferdinand I.
On November 3, 1869, Prince Carol married Elisabeth of Wied, who would later be known as the noted poet Carmen Sylva. Princess Maria, the first child born to the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Dynasty, was born on September 27, 1870, but died four years later. The couple had no more children.
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This page was last updated on September 26, 2017.