This is the first installment in a series about the most recent Bulgarian monarchs and their royal relations…
1879 – Out of the Ashes
Bulgaria was once a mighty Empire; often involved in the affairs of not only the Balkans, but even of Central and Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. In Bulgaria’s case, that was a slow and agonizing death. The Ottoman Turks who had arrived on the Balkan Peninsula at Byzantine request had easily managed to conquer all parts of the once great Bulgarian state by the end of the 14th century.
Some European rulers, alarmed by the Muslim threat to their Christian domains, gathered their armies to liberate Bulgaria and the others and to banish the Ottomans. It did seem at first that Christendom would prevail, but it was not to be… King Władysław III of Poland perished in 1444 near Varna, my place of birth as it happens, and with him the active resistance against what soon became the Ottoman Empire.
Despite several later rebellions, the Bulgarian people failed to achieve liberation, at least not on their own. Fast forward to the 19th century and the wave of nationalism had flooded Europe. Following the bloody and barbarous suppression of the April Uprising of 1876, the civilized West could no longer pretend that nothing that much out of the ordinary was going on with the “Sick man of Europe”.
On the 24th of April, 1877, the Russian Empire under the leadership of Emperor Alexander II declared war on the Ottoman Empire. The Russians were to receive help from not only many Bulgarian warriors, but also from neighbouring Romania, Serbia and Montenegro. Incidentally, there was a Turk on their side (Ali Refik), no doubt disgusted by the atrocities of his compatriots. Even a Japanese samurai was involved in the war effort!
After many battles, Russia prevailed and the Treaty of San Stefano was signed on the 3rd of March, 1878. The newly-liberated Bulgaria was to include more or less all ethnic Bulgarians in one quite big state, which was to comprise the old regions of Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia.
The other Great Powers, however, were having none of it. Rightfully afraid of Russia’s expanded influence on the Balkans, they decided to curb her enthusiasm by punishing Bulgaria. The Berlin Congress several months later partitioned what was supposed to be Bulgaria:
1) Most of Moesia and the region around Sofia became the Principality of Bulgaria, a tributary state, formally dependent on the Ottoman Sultan;
2) The northern part of Thrace became Eastern Rumelia, an autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire, with a Christian Governor-General;
3) The north-eastern part of Moesia, known as Dobrudzha, was split in two, with its northern half being “awarded” to Romania;
4) The most western part of Moesia was given to Serbia;
5) The remainder of Thrace and all of Macedonia remained in the Ottoman Empire, as if nothing had happened, with some promise of reforms.
The quest to reunite Bulgaria would soon begin… but not without a Prince.
As it was at that time customary, the new state was established as a monarchy (despite the wishes of the late Levski and Botev). It was obvious that a native candidate (not that there was really such a person) would not be tolerated by the Powers, so the initial Parliament had to select the new ruler from a list of foreign princes.
The Bulgarian Constituent Assembly gathered on the 10th of February, 1879, and the Constitution of the Bulgarian Principality was adopted on the 16th of April. Then, on the 29th, Bulgaria finally had a Prince: Alexander of Battenberg.
Alexander was a very suitable choice for the role. The morganatic marriage of his parents had made it very unlikely that he would ever have to become Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. “Sandro”, as he was nicknamed, had fought in the War of Liberation, so he was rather close to the hearts of many Bulgarians. Last, but not least, Alexander had very good familial connections with members of the other European dynasties. This claim should be investigated, should it not?
It is worth noting that almost all European countries were monarchies at the time, with their monarchs having many known common ancestors. The exceptions were the Ottoman Empire (obviously), the Principality of Serbia and the Principality of Montenegro.
Part One: The Relationships
Below, you will see how Prince Alexander was related to each sovereign at the end of April, 1879. Out of solidarity, I have also included the monarchs of the various German realms (a term, which Peter has seemingly coined on this very forum), as well as the Domnitor (Prince) of the United Danubian Principalities, Wallachia and Moldavia (Romania). After all, they were also not fully sovereign themselves. The names of their monarchs are in italics.
Do keep in mind that Genealogics considers that Alexander's paternal grandfather was August von Senarclens de Grancy (1794 - 1871) and not Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse (1777 - 1848).
We may now begin. The rulers are grouped by their highest title. Within each group, the monarchs are ordered by date/year of ascension. The various nearest common ancestors are shown after the last relationship, as footnotes.
1) To Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria (1848 – 1916): second cousin (1).
2) To Alexander II, Emperor of Russia (1855 – 1881): third cousin (2).
3) To Wilhelm I, German Emperor (1871 – 1888): second cousin once removed (2).
Kings (and one Queen):
4) To Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1837 – 1901): fourth cousin twice removed (3).
5) To Willem III, King of the Netherlands (1849 – 1890): third cousin (2).
6) To Luís I, King of Portugal and the Algarves (1861 – 1889): sixth cousin once removed (4, 5).
7) To Georgios I, King of the Hellenes (1863 – 1913): fifth cousin once removed (3, 6).
8) To Christian IX, King of Denmark (1863 – 1906): fourth cousin twice removed (3, 6).
9) To Ludwig II, King of Bavaria (1864 – 1886): third cousin (2).
10) To Karl, King of Württemberg (1864 – 1891): fourth cousin once removed (7).
11) To Leopold II, King of the Belgians (1865 – 1909): fifth cousin twice removed (4, 5).
12) To Oscar II, King of Norway and Sweden (1872 – 1905/07): fourth cousin (8, 9).
13) To Albert, King of Saxony (1873 – 1902): second cousin (1).
14) To Alfonso XII, King of Spain (1874 – 1885): seventh cousin (10, 11).
15) To Umberto I, King of Italy (1878 – 1900): seventh cousin (10, 11, 12).
16) To Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1842 – 1883): third cousin (2).
17) To Peter II, Grand Duke of Oldenburg (1853 – 1900): fourth cousin once removed (7).
18) To Karl Alexander, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1853 – 1901): second cousin once removed (2).
19) To Friedrich I, Grand Duke of Baden (1856 – 1907): second cousin (1).
20) To Friedrich Wilhelm, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1860 – 1904): third cousin once removed (8).
21) To Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine (1877 – 1892): (half-) first cousin (13).
22) To Wilhelm, Duke of Brunswick (1830 – 1884): first cousin once removed (1).
23) To Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1844 – 1893): fifth cousin twice removed (4, 5).
24) To Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg (1853 – 1908): fourth cousin (8).
25) To Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen (1866 – 1914): third cousin (2).
26) To Friedrich I, Duke of Anhalt (1871 – 1904): third cousin (2).
27) To Günther Friedrich Karl II, Prince of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen (1835 – 1880): fifth cousin twice removed (4, 14).
28) To Georg Viktor, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont (1845 – 1893): third cousin once removed (9).
29) To Charles III, Prince of Monaco (1856 – 1889): ninth cousin three times removed (15) [Step 1; Step 2a; Step 2b].
30) To Johann II, Prince of Liechtenstein (1858 – 1929): sixth cousin once removed (12).
31) To Heinrich XXII, Prince of Reuss-Greiz (1859 – 1902): third cousin (2).
32) To Adolf I, Prince of Schaumburg-Lippe (1860 – 1893): third cousin once removed (9).
33) To Carol I, Prince of Romania (1866 – 1881): second cousin (1).
34) To Heinrich XIV, Prince of Reuss-Gera (1867 – 1913): fourth cousin once removed (16).
35) To Georg Albert, Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt (1869 – 1890): third cousin (2).
36) To Woldemar, Prince of Lippe (1875 – 1895): fifth cousin twice removed (17).
TO BE CONTINUED...
(1) Through Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden (1755 – 1801), and Princess Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt (1754 – 1832).
(2) Through Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt (1719 – 1790), and Countess Palatine Caroline of Zweibrücken (1721 – 1774).
(3) Through John Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1654 – 1686), who was married twice.
(4) Through Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha (1601 – 1675), and Princess Elisabeth Sophie of Saxe-Altenburg (1619 – 1680).
(5) Through Wolfgang Georg I. zu Castell-Remlingen (1610 – 1668) and Sophie Juliane zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg (1620 – 1682).
(6) Through Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (1654 – 1730), and Maria Amalia of Courland (1653 – 1711).
(7) Through John William Friso, Prince of Orange (1687 – 1711), and Landgravine Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel (1688 – 1765).
(8) Through Louis VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt (1691 – 1768), and Countess Charlotte of Hanau-Lichtenberg (1700 – 1726).
(9) Through Christian III, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken (1674 – 1735), and Countess Caroline of Nassau-Saarbrücken (1704 – 1774).
(10) Through Eberhard III, Duke of Württemberg (1614 – 1674), and Anna Katharina, Wild- and Rheingräfin of Salm-Kyrburg (1614 – 1655).
(11) Through George II, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt (1605 – 1661), and Sophia Eleonore of Saxony (1609 – 1671).
(12) Through Joachim Ernst I, Graf zu Oettingen-Oettingen (1612 – 1658), who was married three times.
(13) Through Princess Wilhelmine of Baden (1788 – 1836), who was married, but was having an affair with another man.
(14) Through Jacob Kettler (1610 – 1682) and Margravine Louise Charlotte of Brandenburg (1617 – 1676).
(15) Through Jacques de Daillon (? – 1532/3) and Madeleine/Jeanne de Vendôme d'Illiers (? - ?).
(16) Through Louis Crato, Count of Nassau-Saarbrücken (1663 – 1713), and Countess Philippine Henriette of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1679 – 1751).
(17) Through John George II, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (1627 – 1693), and Countess Henriette Catherine of Nassau (1637 – 1708).