One of the most important personalities of the history of Romania is King Ferdinand I (1914-1927), as he was the central figure of the moment of the Great Unification.
Prince Ferdinand Victor Albert Mainrad of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was born on August 12/24, 1865, in the town of Sigmaringen in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
In 1881, at the age of fifteen, Prince Ferdinand first came to Romania to attend the ceremonies on the occasion of the proclamation of Romania as a kingdom and his uncle being crowned as Carol I of Romania.
In 1886, Prince Ferdinand began a military career, being drafted, with the rank of second lieutenant, in the Romanian Armed Forces. He has been an army officer for 38 years, gradually advancing through all the ranks, all the way up to Marshal.
Two years later, at the age of 23, in November 1888, he officially became the Crown Prince of Romania. For 26 years, Ferdinand was the King’s heir, showing a great loyalty to King Carol I, preparing himself discreetly and thoroughly to take over the Steel Crown of Romania.
King Carol I paid a visit to London and Windsor in 1892, asking Queen Victoria for the hand of Princess Mary of Edinburgh in marriage for his nephew. Ferdinand married Mary, Princess of Great Britain and Ireland, Princess of Edinburgh and Princess of Saxony-Coburg-Gotha, in Sigmaringen, on January 10, 1893.
Ferdinand ascended to Romania’s throne on 28 September / 11 October 1914 and reigned for 13 years until his death on 20 July 1927. He died at Peles Castle in Sinaia at the age of 61 and was buried at the Curtea de Arges Monastery.
Ferdinand’s reign was marked by two major events for the history of Romania: the First World War and the Great Unification that followed the war.
After two years of neutrality, following the decision of the Crown Council, presided over by King Ferdinand, in August 14/27, 1916, Romania entered the war on the side of the Entente (France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy). His loyalty to the country, the strength of his beliefs, and the flawless manner in which he served the Nation and the Crown gained King Ferdinand the surname “the Loyal“. Although born a German and a close relative of the Emperor of Germany, he placed Romania’s interest above his bloodline and fought against his country of origin. Deeply religious, sensitive, and of a high moral sense, King Ferdinand took this decision through a great personal sacrifice, thus respecting his promise to be “a good Romanian”, made in an oath before the Parliament at the coronation.
King Ferdinand sacrificed to Romania not only his family connections, but also his faith: as he did not baptize his children in the Catholic rite, he was excommunicated by the Pope, a painful event for a fervent Catholic as he was, and who had perfectly appropriated the credo of his family “Nihil sine Deo” (“Nothing without God”).
But the beginning of the war was not at all favorable to Romania, which initially lost the South of the country, including the Capital, Bucharest. The Royal Family and the Government were forced to find refuge to Iasi. King Ferdinand did not lose faith in the nation’s recovery force, remaining the guarantee of the country’s independence and the moral support of the soldiers and the civilian population affected by sufferings, diseases and famine.
But the Romanian Army, led by Generals Alexandru Averescu and Eremia Grigorescu, helped by the French mission led by General Henri Berthelot, proved a great heroism and managed to stabilize the front in the epic battles of Mărăști (11/24 July – 19 July / 1 August 1917), Mărăsești (July 24 / August 6 – August 21 / September 3, 1917) and Oituz (July 26 / August 8 – August 9/22, 1917). Subsequently, the offensive of the Romanian Army freed up the entire country.
At the end of the war, Romania completed the process of achieving the national-unitary state by uniting the historical provinces of Bessarabia, Bucovina and Transylvania with the Old Kingdom.
On October 15, 1922, in Alba Iulia, Ferdinand I was crowned King of Great Romania, receiving from the people the surname of the “Completer“.
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