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the second King of Romania

King Ferdinand

Prince Ferdinand Viktor Albert Meinrad was born in Sigmaringen, Prussia (now in Germany), on August 24, 1865, the second of three sons of Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Infanta Antonia of Portugal. Following his primary and secondary studies in Dusseldorf, he attended the Military School in Kassel, graduating in 1887 with the rank of Lieutenant. He then attended the University of Leipzig and the School of Political Science and Economics in Tübingen until early 1889. Through a tutor sent by his uncle, King Carol of Romania, he also learned Romanian, and studied the literature, history and geography of his future homeland.

Because King Carol had no sons, the succession passed to his younger brother, Leopold. Leopold renounced his rights in 1880, however, as did his eldest son in 1886, making Ferdinand the heir-presumptive. He was formally recognized by the Romanian government as Crown Prince in 1889. As part of the agreement, he was permitted to retain his Catholic faith, but agreed that any children would be raised in the Orthodox church. As Crown Prince, he commanded the Romanian army during the Second Balkan War.

On January 10, 1893, Prince Ferdinand married Princess Marie, daughter of the Duke of Edinburgh and granddaughter of Queen Victoria and of Tsar Alexander II of Russia. The couple officially had six children (the two youngest are believed to have been fathered by Marie’s lover but were formally acknowledged by Ferdinand as his own): King Carol II; Princess Elisabeth, Queen of the Hellenes; Princess Maria, Queen of Yugoslavia; Prince Nicholas; Princess Ileana, Archduchess of Austria; Prince Mircea.

Prince Ferdinand succeeded to the throne upon the death of Carol on September 27, 1914.

Although he was a member of Germany's imperial family, King Ferdinand presided over his country's entry into World War I on the side of the Allied powers against the Central Powers on August 27, 1916, an act which led Kaiser Wilhelm to erase Ferdinand's name from the Hohenzollern House register. Romania found herself rapidly invaded and occupied by not one but two German armies, and Bucharest fell on December 6, 1916. Finding his support falling in the wake of such rapid defeat, and with the remnants of the Romanian army in full retreat to the north-east of the country, Ferdinand found that he could only maintain interest in army recruitment by promises of social and constitutional reform following the war. The promises worked, and the Romanian Army stopped a German advance into Moldavia in 1917. With an armistice agreed on December 9, 1917, German exasperation at Ferdinand's reluctance to agree to any actual peace terms prompted Germany to overrun the country in March 1918. Ferdinand continued his resistance against the Central Powers by refusing to sign the Treaty of Bucharest, which had been forced upon Romania by Germany. The collapse of Germany on November 10, 1918 allowed Romania to re-enter the war on the side of the Allies, and King Ferdinand triumphantly re-entered Bucharest on December 1, 1918.

The outcome of Romania's war effort was the union of Bessarabia, Bukovina, and Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania. Ferdinand was crowned King of all Romanians at Alba Iulia on October 15, 1922, and most of the rest of his reign was focused on rebuilding the country and returning it the once-flourishing region it had been.

In 1925, Ferdinand forced his son, the playboy crown prince Carol, to renounce his rights to the throne and, later, in his will secured the succession of his young grandson, Prince Michael. The king died of intestinal cancer on July 27, 1927, and was buried at the Curtea de Arges Cathedral.


Encyclopædia Britannica
First World War

See Also

King Carol
Balkan War
Queen Victoria
World War I
Kaiser Wilhelm

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The Robinson Library >> Romania >> 1866/1881-1944

This page was last updated on August 24, 2018.