On October 11, 1914 „with King Charles dies the eager apostle of neutrality as well” wrote the paper, Az Est (The Evening) about Karl Eitel Friedrich Zephyrinus Ludwig von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the first king of the modern Romanian state. It is typical, that from the aspect of the central powers, the Romanian neutrality should have been welcomed in the fall of 1914, although Romania and Italy were both contracted allies of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and Germany for years. Charles I. – who was crowned in 1866, when Romania was still part of the Ottoman Empire, in disguise with a fake passport, he pretended to be a German businessman to take the throne from the deposed Alexandru Ioan Cuza on behalf of the Romanian government – was also a German prince. He favoured the German alliance from the start, and six years later – at the end of the Russian-Turkish war – when his state won its freedom, he signed a secret alliance with Berlin and Vienna. This was the triple alliance later joined by Italy, which also laid low in the first year of the war.
King Charles sympathized with the Central Powers, but the Romanian political elite was divided and most of them favoured the Entente. The Romanian upper class’ dream was to expand the brand new nation-state to all areas inhabited by Romanians. They set the Monarchy against Romania, since Transylvania and Bukovina were part of Franz-Joseph’s land, while from the Entente side they could only get Bessarabia that was under the Tsar’s authority. Besides all this some people wanted to keep the German alliance, thus when the war started – on August 3, 1914 in Sinai – they called for a council meeting to decide on their neutral status in the war. So the Romanian leadership didn’t decide on staying away from the war, but rather waited for the right moment to enter until they can prepare and decide which side would benefit them more.
For these abovementioned reasons in the last weeks of King Charles the Romanian diplomacy started to come alive and signed two – dangerous to the central powers – agreements. On September 23 they signed with Italy to agree on their war politics, and on October 1st they promised Russia to be a „kind” neutral country and in exchange the Tsar agreed to the Romanian expansion to Transylvania and Bukovina. Besides these two agreements they also made contact with England and France.
King Charles was replaced by Ferdinand I., his nephew who continued the active neutral politics up until August 1916, when they entered the war for Transylvania on the side of the Entente.
Created by: Róbert Takács
A román király meghalt = Az Est, 1914. október 11.
Vészi Margit: Románia a király halála után = Az Est, 1914. október 17.