Ferdinand I of Bulgaria

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Ferdinand (February 26, 1861 – September 10, 1948),[1] born Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry, was the ruler of Bulgaria from 1887 to 1918, first as knjaz (prince regnant, 1887-1908) and later as tsar (king, 1908-1918). He was also an author, botanist, entomologist and philatelist.


Family background

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, descending from a Upper Hungarian noble (now Slovakia) family, who were quite wealthy, holding for example the princely lands of Čabraď and Sitno, in Slovakia. The family's property was also 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.

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