Boris III of Bulgaria

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Boris III the Unifier[1][2][3][4], Tsar of Bulgaria (30 January 1894 – 28 August 1943), originally Boris Klemens Robert Maria Pius Ludwig Stanislaus Xaver (Boris Clement Robert Mary Pius Louis Stanislaus Xavier), son of Ferdinand I, came to the throne in 1918 upon the abdication of his father, following the defeat of the Kingdom of Bulgaria during World War I. This was the country's second major defeat in only five years, after the disastrous Second Balkan War (1913). Under the Treaty of Neuilly, Bulgaria was forced to cede new territories and pay crippling reparations to its neighbors, thereby threatening political and economic stability. Two political forces, the Agrarian Union and the Communist Party, were calling for the overthrowing of the monarchy and the change of the government. It was in these circumstances that Boris succeeded to the throne.

Contents

Biography

Boris was born on 30 January 1894 in Sofia. He was the first son of Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria and his wife Princess Marie Louise. He was the first Bulgarian royal baby born on Bulgarian soil in a thousand years.

In February 1896 his father paved the way for the reconciliation of Bulgaria and Russia with the conversion of the infant Prince Boris from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, a move that earned Ferdinand the frustration of his wife, the animosity of his Catholic Austrian relatives (particularly that of his uncle, Francis Joseph of Austria) and excommunication from the Catholic Church. In order to remedy this difficult situation Ferdinand christened all his remaining children as Catholics. Nicholas II of Russia stood as godfather to Boris and met the young boy during Ferdinand's official visit to Saint Petersburg in July 1898.

He received his initial education in the so called Palace Secondary School which Ferdinand created in 1908 solely for his sons. Latter Boris graduated from the Military School in Sofia and took part in the Balkan Wars. During the First World War he served as liaison officer of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army on the Macedonian Front. In 1916 he was promoted to colonel and attached again as liaison officer to Army Group Mackensen and the Bulgarian Third Army for the operations against Romania. Boris worked hard to smoothen the sometimes difficult relations between field marshal Mackensen and the commander of the 3rd army lieutenant general Stefan Toshev. Through his courage and personal example he earned the respect of the troops and the senior Bulgarian and German commanders, even that of the Generalquartiermeister of the German Army Erich Ludendorff, who preferred dealing personally with Boris and described him as excellently trained, a thoroughly soldierly person and mature beyond his years[5] . In 1918 Boris was made a major general and with the abdication of his father acceded to the throne as Tsar Boris III on 3 October 1918.

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