1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Charles (King of Rumania)

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CHARLES (Karl Eitel Zephyrin Ludwig; in Rum. Carol), king of Rumania (1839–  ), second son of Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, was born on the 20th of April 1839. He was educated at Dresden (1850–1856), and passed through his university course at Bonn. Entering the Prussian army in 1857, he won considerable distinction in the Danish war of 1864, and received instruction in strategy from General von Moltke. He afterwards travelled in France, Italy, Spain and Algeria. He was a captain in the 2nd regiment of Prussian Dragoon Guards when he was elected hospodar or prince of Rumania on the 20th of April 1866, after the compulsory abdication of Prince Alexander John Cuza. Regarded at first with distrust by Turkey, Russia and Austria, he succeeded in gaining general recognition in six months; but he had to contend for ten years with fierce party struggles between the Conservatives and the Liberals.

During this period, however, Charles displayed great tact in his dealings with both parties, and kept his country in the path of administrative and economic reform, organizing the army, developing the railways, and establishing commercial relations with foreign powers. The sympathy of Rumania with France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and the consequent interruption of certain commercial undertakings, led to a hostile movement against Prince Charles, which, being fostered by Russia, made him resolve to abdicate; and it was with difficulty that he was persuaded to remain. In the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 he joined the Russians before Plevna (q.v.), and being placed in command of the combined Russian and Rumanian forces, forced Osman Pasha to surrender. As a consequence of the prince’s vigorous action the independence of Rumania, which had been proclaimed in May 1877, was confirmed by various treaties in 1878, and recognized by Great Britain, France and Germany in 1880. On the 26th of March 1881 he was proclaimed king of Rumania, and, with his consort, was crowned on the 22nd of May following. From that time he pursued a successful career in home and foreign policy, and greatly improved the financial and military position of his country; while his appreciation of the fine arts was shown by his formation of an important collection of paintings of all schools in his palaces at Sinaïa and Bucharest. For a detailed account of his reign, see Rumania. On the 1st of November 1869 he married Princess Elizabeth (q.v.), a daughter of Prince Hermann of Wied, widely known under her literary name of “Carmen Sylva.” As the only child of the marriage, a daughter, died in 1874, the succession was finally settled upon the king’s nephew, Prince Ferdinand of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who was created prince of Rumania on the 18th of March 1889, and married, on the 10th of January 1893, Princess Marie, daughter of Alfred, duke of Saxe-Coburg, their children being Prince Carol (b. 1893) and Princess Elizabeth (b. 1894).

The official life of King Charles, mainly his own composition, Aus dem Leben Konig Karls von Rumänien (Stuttgart, 1894–1900, 4 vols.), deals mainly with political history. See for an account of his domestic life, M. Kremnitz, König Karl von Rumänien. Ein Lebensbild (Breslau, 1903).