- Ferdinand I of Bulgaria
Ferdinand Tsar of Bulgaria Reign 7 July 1887 – 3 October 1918 (31 years, 88 days) Predecessor Alexander Successor Boris III Consort Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma
Eleonore of Reuss-Köstritz
Issue Boris III
Kiril, Prince of Preslav
House House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Father August of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Mother Clémentine of Orléans Born 26 February 1861
Vienna, Austrian Empire
Died 10 September 1948(aged 87)
Coburg, West Germany
Burial St. Augustin's Catholic Church Religion Roman Catholicism (February 26, 1861 – February 1896) , Orthodox Christianity (February 1896 – September 10, 1948) Silver coin of Ferdinand I, struck 1894 Obverse: (Bulgarian): ΦЕРДИНАНДЪ I БЪЛГАРCКИЙ КНЯЗЬ, or in English, "Ferdinand I, Knjaz (Prince) of Bulgaria" Reverse: (Bulgarian): 5 ЛЕВА 1894, or in English, "5 Leva, 1894."
Ferdinand (February 26, 1861 – September 10, 1948), born Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry, was the ruler of Bulgaria from 1887 to 1918, first as knyaz (prince regnant, 1887–1908) and later as tsar (1908–1918). He was also an author, botanist, entomologist and philatelist.
Ferdinand was born in Vienna, a prince of the Koháry branch of the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He grew up in the cosmopolitan environment of Austro-Hungarian high nobility and also in their ancestral lands in Slovakia and in Germany. The Koháry descended from a relatively wealthy Upper Hungarian (now Slovakian) noble family, who held the princely lands of Čabraď and Sitno in Slovakia, among others. The family's property was augmented by Clémentine of Orléans' remarkable dowry.
The son of Prince August of Saxe-Coburg and his wife Clémentine of Orléans, daughter of king Louis Philippe I of the French, Ferdinand was a grandnephew of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and of Leopold I, first king of the Belgians. His father Augustus was a brother of Ferdinand II of Portugal, and also a first cousin to Queen Victoria, her husband Albert, Prince Consort, Empress Carlota of Mexico and her brother Leopold II of Belgium. These last two, Leopold and Carlota, were also first cousins of Ferdinand I's through his mother, a princess of Orléans. This made the Belgian siblings his first cousins, as well as his first cousins once removed (his father's first cousins). Indeed, the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha had contrived to occupy, either by marriage or by direct election, several European thrones in the course of the 19th century. Following the family trend, Ferdinand was himself to found the royal dynasty of Bulgaria.
Ferdinand had some ancestry from medieval rulers of Bulgaria, descents from both his mother's and father's side.
Prince of Bulgaria
The first Knyaz (Prince Regnant) of the Third Bulgarian State, Alexander of Battenberg abdicated in 1886, only seven years after he was elected. Ferdinand was elected Knyaz of autonomous Bulgaria by its Grand National Assembly on 7 July 1887 in the Gregorian calendar (the "New Style" used hereinafter). In desperate attempts to prevent Russian occupation of Bulgaria, the throne had been previously offered, before Ferdinand's acceptance, to princes 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 during the first two decades 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 was thought to be bisexual throughout his life, but up to middle age, his proclivities for women predominated.
Ferdinand entered a marriage of convenience with Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma, daughter of Roberto I of Parma and Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, on April 20, 1893 at the Villa Pianore in Lucca in Italy, producing four children:
- Boris III (1894–1943)
- Kyril (1895–1945)
- Eudoxia (1898–1985)
- Nadezhda (1899–1958). Married Duke Albrecht Eugen of Württemberg.
Marie Louise died on 31 January 1899 after giving birth to her youngest daughter. Ferdinand did not think again about marriage until his mother, Princess Clémentine died in 1907. To satisfy dynastic obligations and to provide his children with a mother figure, Ferdinand married Eleonore Caroline Gasparine Louise, Princess Reuss-Köstritz, on 28 February 1908.
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Ferdinand I Children Prince Boris Prince Kyril Princess Eudoxia Princess Nadejda Boris III Children Princess Marie Louise Prince Simeon Simeon II Children Prince Kardam Prince Kyrill Prince Kubrat Prince Konstantin-Assen Princess Kalina Grandchildren Prince Boris Prince Beltran Princess Mafalda Princess Olimpia Prince Tassilo Prince Mirko Prince Lukás Prince Tirso Prince Umberto Princess Sofia Prince Simeon