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Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria Ferdinand


FERDINAND, MAXIMILIAN KARL LEOPOLD MARIA ), king of Bulgaria, fifth and youngest son of Prince Augustus of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was born on Feb. 26, 186r. In 1879 he travelled with his brother Augustus to Brazil, and the results of their botanical observations were pub lished at Vienna, 1883-1888, under the title of Itinera Principum S. Coburgi. Ferdinand was a lieutenant in an Austrian hussar regiment when he was elected prince of Bulgaria, on July 7, 1887, in succession to Prince Alexander, who had abdicated in 1886. He assumed the government on Aug. 14, 1887, but Russia for a long time refused to acknowledge the election, and he was ac cordingly exposed to frequent military conspiracies, connived at by the Russian Government. The firmness and vigour with which he met all attempts at revolution were at length rewarded, and his election was confirmed in March 1896 by the Porte and the Great Powers. On April 20, 1893 he married Marie Louise de Bourbon (d. 1899), eldest daughter of Duke Robert of Parma. The prince adhered to the Roman Catholic faith in which he had been brought up, but his son and heir, the young Prince Boris, was received into the Orthodox Greek Church on Feb. 14, 1896 with the Tsar, Nicholas II., as godfather. This event marked a real rapproche ment with Russia. In 1908 Ferdinand married Eleanor (b. i860), a princess of the house of .Reuss. Later in the year, in connection with the Austrian annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the crisis with Turkey, he proclaimed the independence of Bulgaria, and took the title of king or tsar. (See BULGARIA, and EUROPE: History.) King Ferdinand in 1911 was the instigator of the Balkan league between Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro, which was formed in 1912 and enabled these f our states to declare war against Turkey that same year. This pact provided for the future division of the Balkan peninsula, reserving to the arbitration of the emperor of Russia the solution of any doubtful claims. The war started in Oct. 1912, before the conclusion of the Treaty of Ouchy, which put an end to the Italo-Turkish War (Oct. 15). Under the command of King Ferdinand, the Bulgarian army dealt the most rapid and decisive blows to the enemy; victorious on the battlefields of Kirk Kilisse and Lule Burgas, and having con quered most of Macedonia and Thrace, it started on the open road to Constantinople. Europe grew alarmed; the Great Powers brought about the armistice of Dec. 3, 1912, and the London conference, which started on Dec. 13.

These discussions, however, ceased abruptly, and military operations were resumed on Feb. 3, 1913. The Bulgarian armies attacked at Gallipoli and Chatalja, and after a gallant siege en tered Adrianople on March 26, 1913. However, the Treaty of London which followed did not sanction these victories, and its decisions instead of inaugurating peace, provoked a war between the Balkan States, which began on June 3o, 1913, by a simulta neous attack of the Serbs and Bulgarians. The former allies be came bitter rivals, Rumania and Turkey joining Montenegro, Greece and Serbia against Bulgaria, who, finding herself closed in by four enemies at once, was forced after a few weeks of brave but useless resistance. to submit unconditionally to the victors' terms. The Treaty of Bucharest, signed on Aug. Io, 1913, annihilated in one stroke the brilliant results obtained through the heroism of the Bulgarian armies in 1912-3. It de prived Bulgaria of all her conquests including the town of Silistra and part of the Dobruja and gave to the Serbians and Greeks the province of Macedonia for which Bulgaria had made all the sacrifices of the first Balkan War. This treaty was the principal cause of Bulgaria's participation in the World War on the side of Germany. It explains the resentment of King Ferdinand and his government against the other Balkan States. Had the Allied Powers in 1914 guaranteed the revision of the Treaty of Bucha rest, Bulgaria would have co-operated with them; but as they failed to do so, Germany was able, by illusory promises, to induce Bulgaria, who felt she had been unjustly treated, to fight for the German cause. These German manoeuvres did not succeed at once, for King Ferdinand began by proclaiming the neutrality of Bulgaria in Nov. 1914.

During May 1915 the Bulgarian Government sounded the four Great Powers, with regard to the fulfilment of Bulgaria's legiti mate claims in Macedonia. As no concrete answer was returned, King Ferdinand turned to Germany, where his application was received with great cordiality. Berlin made lavish promises at once. German envoys hurried to Bulgaria, with a view to per suading the King and the Government to conclude a military alliance with Germany. The desire for revenge against Serbia, Greece and Rumania inspired Ferdinand to bind Bulgaria to the Central Powers. On Sept. 21, 1915 he gave the order for general mobilisation, though his Government advised armed neutrality. In view of this equivocal situation Russia sent an ultimatum to Bulgaria on Oct. 4, 1915, which was succeeded by formal declara tions of war against Bulgaria on the part of Serbia, France, Great Britain and Italy. Bulgaria was definitely in the German camp; under General Gekoff, commander-in-chief, her armies were vic torious on most of the battlefields of Macedonia, Thrace and Rumania, in 1915, 1916 and 1917, against the Serbs, and against the Rumanians. The Kaiser, the king of Saxony and the king of Wurttemberg all paid official visits to King Ferdinand at Sofia. However, in Sept. 1918, the Bulgarian army, discouraged by in numerable hardships, was defeated at Dobropole, Macedonia, by the Allied troops. This was the sign for a general retreat. An armistice was signed at Salonika on Sept. 3o which ended the war between Bulgaria and the Allies. After this catastrophe King Ferdinand abdicated in favour of his son Boris on Oct. 4, 1918 and left Sofia the same evening for Coburg where he has lived since in retirement (A. ST.)

bulgaria, king, war, government, balkan, macedonia and powers