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eMedals-The Order of St. Stephen Grand Cross Awarded to Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria

Item: EU11111

The Order of St. Stephen Grand Cross Awarded to Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria


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The Order of St. Stephen Grand Cross Awarded to Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria

Grand Cross set of insignia, awarded to Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria comprising: Grand Cross, in Gold and enamels, 48.8mm x 85.0mm inclusive of crown suspension, it weighs 44.5 grams, with “FR” marking on the suspension arch (for Rothe, Wien), along with “Gemsenkopf” 18Kt. Gold hallmark, of superb quality manufacture, no enamel chipping, extremely fine; with full length of original sash ribbon. Star, in silver, center appliqué in Gold and enamels, 87.0mm, pin marked “C. F. Rothe “A” “A”, of superb quality manufacture, no enamel chipping, extremely fine; in fitted case of issue, case marked inside of the lid “Rothe & Neffe, Wien”, extremely fine. A superb quality set of finest quality manufacture, circa 1910, in top condition.

Footnote: This set of insignia belonged to Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria; the set was sold through auction house “Karlheinz Müller, Limburg”, on 23. September 1989, lot # 063. The lot was purchased by a well-known dealer California based dealer T. Eriksen, for an American client, and eventually, the set was sold to eMedals recently (full name of buyers and provenance will be disclosed to the buyer).

Ferdinand I was born on 26 February in Vienna, Austria as the youngest son of Prince Augustus I of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and Princess Clémentine of Orléans. In 1886, Bulgaria’s King Alexander abdicated and Ferdinand was elected Prince on July 7, 1887 by the Bulgarian National Assembly. However, his dynastic position was not recognized by the major powers of Europe, which left Bulgaria in constant danger of being occupied and absorbed into the power hungry Russian Empire. He married Princess Maria Louise of Bourban-Parma in April 1893, who was a descendant of Italian nobility, which greatly helped Ferdinand gain partial recognition from the major European powers by solidifying the country’s ties with other European Royalty. Ferdinand declared Bulgarian independence from the Ottoman Empire, on the eve of Austria-Hungary’s annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and proclaimed himself Tsar of Bulgaria on October 5, 1908. To tighten Bulgaria’s ties with Russia, Ferdinand forced his first son, Prince Boris (Later King Boris III), to convert from Roman Catholicism to the Russian royal family’s Eastern Orthodox branch of Catholicism. Although this strengthened his relationship with the Russian Empire, it severely angered his Catholic relatives within the Austrian royal family, especially Emperor Franz Joseph. Ferdinand joined the alliance of the Balkan League between Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro, and declared war on Ottoman Turkey in an effort to dismember “the sick man of Europe”, regain Bulgarian territories in Turkey, and to expand his scope of influence in the Balkan region. The Balkan League was successful in defeating Turkey, but Ferdinand’s territorial ambitions were frustrated when his allies failed to divide the newly regained territory equally. In an effort to secure more territory for Bulgaria, Ferdinand declared war and attacked his former allies, Greece and Serbia. This resulted in an alliance being formed by Greece, Serbia, Turkey, and Romania against Bulgaria, resulting in the Second Balkan War of 1913. To Ferdinand’s dismay, Bulgaria was defeated soon thereafter. In the treaty following the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria was awarded a strip of territory that gave it access to the Aegean Sea, but Ferdinand was still not satisfied. Bulgaria entered the First World War as a neutral power, but in hopes of gaining power, prestige, and more territory, he decided to join the German and Austro-Hungarian alliance. Although Ferdinand made considerable gains of Serbian territory in Macedonia, he was unable to fight back the Allied Armies based in Greece. This lasted until 1918, when a tie-turning attack from the Allied powers decisively defeated the Bulgarian army. To save the throne for his family, Ferdinand accepted responsibility for the defeat and abdicated in October 1918, in favour of his son Boris. Ferdinand was exiled and fled to Coburg, Germany. His successor, King Boris III, died under mysterious circumstances shortly after returning from a visit with Adolf Hitler in Germany, while Ferdinand’s other son, Simon, succeeded Boris. He was soon thereafter dethroned in 1946 by Communist rebels, who declared a “People’s Republic of Bulgaria” and executed Ferdinand’s last remaining son Kyril later the same year. Ferdinand died on Sept. 10, 1948, in his home in Coburg. His will requested to be buried in Bulgaria, but the Communist authorities would not allow it, so he was buried in the family crypt in St. Augustin's Catholic Church in Coburg. (C:41)

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