Kingdom of Romania

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Kingdom of Romania
Regatul României
Motto:  Nihil Sine Deo
("Nothing without God")
Anthem:  Marș triumfal
("Triumphant March")

Trăiască Regele
("Long live the King")

Kingdom of Romania (1939).svg
The Kingdom of Romania in 1939
Official languages Romanian [1]
Common languages German and Hungarian
Eastern Orthodox Church (Romanian Orthodox Church) (State Religion)
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
(1881–1938; 1940-1947) Unitary one-party absolute monarchy
Carol I
Ferdinand I
Michael I (1st reign)
Carol II
Michael I (2nd reign)
Prime Minister  
Ion Brătianu (first)
Ion Antonescu [a]
Petru Groza (last)
Legislature Parliament
(1881–1937; 1939–1940)
None (rule by decree)
(1937–1939; 1940–1946)
Assembly of Deputies
(1881–1937; 1939–1940)
Assembly of Deputies
(1881–1937; 1939–1940)
Historical era
13 March 1881
10 August 1913
4 June 1920
29 March 1923
20 February 1938
14 September 1940
21 January 1941
23 August 1944
12 September 1944
6 March 1945
30 December 1947
1915 [b] 137,903 km2 (53,245 sq mi)
1940 [b] [c] 295,049 km2 (113,919 sq mi)
 1915 [b]
 1940 [b] [c]
GDP  (nominal)1938 [d]  estimate
$2.834 billion
Currency Romanian Leu
ISO 3166 code RO
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Romania.svg 1881:
Principality of Romania
Flag of Bulgaria.svg 1913:
Kingdom of Bulgaria
National flag of the Moldovan Democratic Republic.svg 1918:
Moldavian Democratic Republic
Flag of Bukowina.svg Duchy of Bukovina
Flag of Hungary (1920-1946).svg Kingdom of Hungary
Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic Flag of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (1941-1952).svg
Kingdom of Bulgaria Flag of Bulgaria.svg
Romanian People's Republic
Flag of Romania.svg
  • a. ^ Was formally declared Conducător (literally, "Leader") of the state on 6 September 1940, by a royal decree which consecrated a ceremonial role for the monarch. [2]
  • b. ^ Area and population according to Ioan Suciu, Istoria contemporana a României (1918–2005). [3]
  • c. ^ The indicator for the localities of Romania (1941). [4]
  • d. ^ 1938 GDP in lei amounting to 387.204 billion (20,487 lei per capita at an estimated population of 18.9 million [5] ) at the 1938 average exchange rate of 1 leu for 0.00732 USD. [6]

The Kingdom of Romania (Romanian : Regatul României) was a constitutional monarchy that existed in Romania from 13 March (O.S.) / 25 March 1881 with the crowning of prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen as King Carol I (thus beginning the Romanian royal family), until 1947 with the abdication of King Michael I of Romania and the Romanian parliament's proclamation of the Romanian People's Republic.


From 1859 to 1877, Romania evolved from a personal union of two vassal principalities (Moldavia and Wallachia) under a single prince to an autonomous principality with a Hohenzollern monarchy. The country gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire during the 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish War (known locally as the Romanian War of Independence), when it also received Northern Dobruja in exchange for the southern part of Bessarabia. The kingdom's territory during the reign of King Carol I, between 13 (O.S.) / 25 March 1881 and 27 September (O.S.) / 10 October 1914 is sometimes referred as the Romanian Old Kingdom, to distinguish it from "Greater Romania", which included the provinces that became part of the state after World War I (Bessarabia, Banat, Bukovina, and Transylvania).

With the exception of the southern halves of Bukovina and Transylvania, these territories were ceded to neighboring countries in 1940, under the pressure of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Following the abolishment of the 1923 constitution by King Carol II in 1938, the Kingdom of Romania became absolute monarchy, only to become a military dictatorship under Ion Antonescu in 1940 after the forced abdication of King Carol II, with his successor, King Michael I being a figurehead with no effective political power. The country's name was changed to Legionary Romania.

The disastrous World War II campaign on the side of the Axis powers led to King Michael's Coup against Ion Antonescu in 1944, as a result of which the Kingdom of Romania became a constitutional monarchy again and switched sides to the Allies, recovering Northern Transylvania. The influence of the neighbouring Soviet Union and the policies followed by Communist-dominated coalition governments ultimately led to the abolition of the monarchy, with Romania becoming a Soviet satellite state as the People's Republic of Romania on the last day of 1947.

Unification and monarchy

The 1859 ascendancy of Alexandru Ioan Cuza as prince of both Moldavia and Wallachia under the nominal [7] [8] suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire united an identifiably Romanian nation under a single ruler. On 24 January (O.S.) / 5 February 1862, the two principalities were formally united to form the Principality of Romania, with Bucharest as its capital.

On 11 (O.S.) / 23 February 1866 a so-called Monstrous coalition , composed of Conservatives and radical Liberals, forced Cuza to abdicate. The German prince Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was appointed as Prince of Romania, in a move to assure German backing to unity and future independence. He immediately adopted the Romanian spelling of his name, Carol, and his cognatic descendants would rule Romania until the overthrow of the monarchy in 1947.

Following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, Romania was recognized as an independent state by the Treaty of Berlin, 1878 and acquired Dobruja, although it was forced to surrender southern Bessarabia (Budjak) to Russia. On 15 March 1881, as an assertion of full sovereignty, the Romanian parliament raised the country to the status of a kingdom, and Carol was crowned as king on 10 May.

The new state, squeezed between the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian Empires, with Slavic populations on its southwestern, southern, and northeastern borders, the Black Sea due east, and Hungarian neighbours on its western and northwestern borders, looked to the West, particularly France, for its cultural, educational, and administrative models.[ citation needed ]

Abstaining from the Initial Balkan War against the Ottoman Empire, the Kingdom of Romania entered the Second Balkan War in June 1913 against the Tsardom of Bulgaria. 330,000 Romanian troops moved across the Danube and into Bulgaria. One army occupied Southern Dobrudja and another moved into northern Bulgaria to threaten Sofia, helping to bring an end to the war. Romania thus acquired the ethnically-mixed territory of Southern Dobrudja, which it had desired for years.

In 1916 Romania entered World War I on the Entente side. Romania engaged in a conflict against Bulgaria but as a result Bulgarian forces, after a series of successful battles, regained Dobruja, which had been previously ceded from Bulgaria by the treaty of Bucharest and the Berlin congress. Although the Romanian forces did not fare well militarily, by the end of the war the Austrian and Russian empires were gone; various assemblies proclaimed as representative bodies in Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina decided on union with Romania. In 1919 by the Treaty of Saint-Germain and in 1920 by the Treaty of Trianon most of territories claimed were assigned to Romania.

Old Kingdom (1881–1918)

The Romanian Old Kingdom (Romanian : Vechiul Regat or just Regat; German : Regat or Altreich) is a colloquial term referring to the territory covered by the first independent Romanian nation state, which was composed of the Danubian Principalities – Wallachia and Moldavia. It was achieved when, under the auspices of the Treaty of Paris (1856), the ad hoc Divans of both countries – which were under Imperial Ottoman suzerainty at the time – voted for Alexander Ioan Cuza as their prince, thus achieving a de facto unification. The region itself is defined by the result of that political act, followed by the inclusion of Northern Dobruja in 1878, the proclamation of the Kingdom of Romania in 1881, and the annexation of Southern Dobruja in 1913.

The term came into use after World War I, when the Old Kingdom was opposed to Greater Romania, which included Transylvania, Banat, Bessarabia, and Bukovina. Nowadays, the term is mainly of historical relevance, and is otherwise used as a common term for all regions in Romania included in both the Old Kingdom and present-day borders (namely: Wallachia, Moldavia, and Northern Dobruja).


World War I

Romania delayed in entering World War I, but ultimately declared war on the Central Powers in 1916. The Romanian military campaign ended in stalemate when the Central Powers quickly crushed the country's offensive into Transylvania and occupied Wallachia and Dobruja, including Bucharest and the strategically important oil fields, by the end of 1916. In 1917, despite fierce Romanian resistance, especially at the Battle of Mărășești, due to Russia's withdrawal from the war following the October Revolution, Romania, being almost completely surrounded by the Central Powers, was forced to also drop from the war, signing the Armistice of Focșani and next year, in May 1918, the Treaty of Bucharest. But after the successful offensive on the Thessaloniki front which put Bulgaria out of the war, Romania's government quickly reasserted control and put an army back into the field on 10 November 1918, a day before the war ended in Western Europe. Following the proclamation of the union of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania on 1 December 1918 by the representatives of Transylvanian Romanians gathered at Alba Iulia, Transylvania was soon united with the Kingdom, as was Bessarabia earlier in 1918, since the power vacuum in Russia caused by the civil war there allowed the Sfatul Țării , or National Council, to proclaim the union of Bessarabia with Romania. War with the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919 resulted in the occupation of Budapest by Romanian troops and the end of Béla Kun's Bolshevik regime.

Greater Romania

Union with Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania

At the Paris Peace Conference, Romania received the territories of Transylvania, part of Banat and other territories from Hungary, as well as Bessarabia (Eastern Moldavia between Prut and Dniester rivers) and Bukovina. In the Treaty of Trianon, Hungary renounced in favor of Romania all the claims of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy over Transylvania. [9] The union of Romania with Bukovina was ratified in 1919 in the Treaty of Saint Germain, [10] and in 1920 some of the Western powers recognized Romanian rule over Bessarabia by the Treaty of Paris. [11] Thus, Romania in 1920 was more than twice the size it had been in 1914. The last territorial change during this period came in 1923, when a few border settlements were exchanged between Romania and Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The most notable Romanian acquisition was the town of Jimbolia, while the most notable Yugoslav acquisition was the town of Jaša Tomić. [12] [13]

Romania made no further territorial claims; nonetheless the kingdom's expansion aroused enmity from several of its neighbors, including Bulgaria, the Soviet Union, and especially Hungary. [lower-alpha 1] Greater Romania now encompassed a significant minority population, especially of Hungarians, and faced the difficulty of assimilation. Transylvania had significant Hungarian and German population who were accustomed to being the power structure; with a historically contemptuous[ citation needed ] attitude towards Romanians, they now feared reprisals. Both groups were effectively excluded from politics as the postwar regime passed an edict stating that all personnel employed by the state had to speak Romanian. The new state was also a highly centralized one, so it was unlikely that the Hungarian or German minorities would exercise political influence without personal connections in the government in Bucharest. Despite these policies, the Romanian government permitted both Germans and Hungarians the freedom to have separate schools, publications and judicial hearings in their respective languages.[ citation needed ] These rights were not extended to other minorities, Jews in particular.[ citation needed ]

Ethnic map of Romanians within the Kingdom of Hungary in 1890 RomaniansInHungary1890.png
Ethnic map of Romanians within the Kingdom of Hungary in 1890


While the Romanian nobility had a long tradition of sending their sons to Europe's finest schools, the educated were otherwise a tiny minority. Transylvania had the most educated population in Greater Romania, while Bessarabia fared the worst. While legally all Romanians were required to undergo at least four years of schooling, in practice few actually did and the system was designed to separate those who would go on to higher education from those who would not. While this was partially necessary due to limited resources, it ensured that peasants had almost no chance of becoming educated.

High school and college education in Romania was modeled after the French system. Students undertook a rigid curriculum based around the liberal arts. Romania suffered from the same problem as the rest of Eastern Europe, which was that most students, coming from aristocratic backgrounds, preferred to study subjects such as theology, philosophy, literature and the fine arts over science, business, and engineering.[ citation needed ]


Pre-Kingdom Era to World War I

At the time of the proclamation of the Kingdom, there were already several industrial facilities in the country: The Assan and Olamazu steam mills, built in 1853 and 1862 respectively, a brick factory built in 1865, and two sugar factories built in 1873, among others. In 1857, the first oil refinery in the world was built at Ploiești. [16] In 1880, after several railways were built, the CFR was founded. After proclamation of the Kingdom, the pre-established industrial facilities began to be highly developed: 6 more, larger, sugar factories were built and the railway network was expanded more. Another, more modern brick factory was built in 1891. [17]


Despite all of these industrial achievements, the overwhelming majority of Romania's economy remained agricultural. [17] In 1919, a staggering 72% of Romanians were engaged in agriculture. The Romanian peasantry was among the poorest in the region, a situation aggravated by one of Europe's highest birth rates. Farming was primitive and machinery and chemical fertilizers almost unheard of. The Regat (prewar Romania) was traditionally a land of large estates worked by peasants who either had little or no land of their own. The situation in Transylvania and Bessarabia was marginally better. After peasant calls for land reform snowballed into an avalanche, King Ferdinand had to oblige, especially once the Russian Revolution had encouraged peasants to take the matter in their own hands. The land reform passed in 1921 accomplished little however. Large landowners still controlled up to 30% of Romania's land, including the forests peasants depended on for fuel. The redistributed plots were invariably too small to feed their owners and most peasants could not overcome their tradition of growing grain over cash crops. Nothing was done to remedy basic problems such as rural overpopulation and technological backwardness. Draft animals were rare, to say nothing of machinery, actual productivity was worse than before. Romanian agriculture struggled in the international market,[ citation needed ] and with the onset of the Great Depression, collapsed completely.

Post-war expansion and growth

The 1938 Romanian GDP amounted to 387.204 billion lei, with a GDP per capita of 20,487 lei at an estimated population of 18.9 million. [5] The 1938 average exchange rate was of 1 leu for 0.00732 USD. [6] Romania's 1938 GDP thus amounted to $2.834 billion.

Romania's public debt as of 1 April 1938 amounted to 112,267,290,144 lei, of which 78,398,078,964 lei consisted of external debt. [18] Total public debt thus amounted to 29% of Romania's 1938 GDP, while public external debt amounted to just over 20%.

Romania's 1913 GDP at the 1990 exchange rate amounted to $11.7 billion. [19] However, the 1990 USD was 9.27 times weaker than the 1938 USD. [20] Thus, Romania's 1913 GDP at the 1938 exchange rate amounted to $1.262 billion.

Industrial development

The Malaxa Prime, a Romanian-made steel-wrought locomotive Romania CFR 151.002 2-10-2.JPG
The Malaxa Prime, a Romanian-made steel-wrought locomotive

Despite the destruction provoked by the First World War, Romanian industry managed significant growth, as a result of new establishments and development of the older ones. The MALAXA industrial engineering and manufacturing company was established in 1921 by Romanian industrialist Nicolae Malaxa and dealt especially with rolling stock maintenance and manufacturing. It developed rapidly, and by 1930 Romania had managed to cease importing locomotives altogether, all required rolling stock being supplied by the local industry. [21] Industrial facilities acquired along with the new provinces, such as the Reșița works, also contributed to the rapid development of Romanian heavy industry. Other important establishments were the Copșa Mică works, producing non-ferrous metals and the Romanian Optical Enterprise. Construction also developed, as great monuments like the Caraiman Cross (1928), Arcul de Triumf (1936), and the Mausoleum of Mărășești (1938) were erected. The oil industry was also greatly expanded, making Romania one of the top oil exporters by the late 1930s, which also attracted German and Italian interest.

In 1938, Romania produced 6.6 million tons of crude oil, 284,000 tons of crude steel, 133,000 tons of pig iron, 510,000 tons of cement, and 289,000 tons of rolled steel. [22]

Armament industry

250 mm Negrei mortar Mortier Negrei 250 mm Model 1916.JPG
250 mm Negrei mortar

Romanian military industry during World War I was mainly focused on converting various fortification guns into field and anti-aircraft artillery. Up to 334 German 53 mm Fahrpanzer guns, 93 French 57 mm Hotchkiss guns, 66 Krupp 150 mm guns and dozens more 210 mm guns were mounted on Romanian-built carriages and transformed into mobile field artillery, with 45 Krupp 75 mm guns and 132 Hotchkiss 57 mm guns being transformed into anti-aircraft artillery. The Romanians also upgraded 120 German Krupp 105 mm howitzers, the result being the most effective field howitzer in Europe at that time. Romania even managed to design and build from scratch its own model of mortar, the 250 mm Negrei Model 1916. [23] Other Romanian technological assets include the building of Vlaicu III, the world's first aircraft made of metal. [24] The Romanian Navy possessed the largest warships on the Danube. They were a class of 4 river monitors, built locally at the Galați shipyard using parts manufactured in Austria-Hungary, and the first one launched was Lascăr Catargiu, in 1907. [25] [26] The Romanian monitors displaced almost 700 tons, were armed with three 120 mm naval guns in 3 turrets, two 120 mm naval howitzers, four 47 mm anti-aircraft guns and two 6.5 machine guns. [27] The monitors took part in the Battle of Turtucaia and the First Battle of Cobadin. The Romanian-designed Schneider 150 mm Model 1912 howitzer was considered one of the most modern field guns on the Western Front. [28]

A formation of IAR-80 fighter aircraft IAR80.jpg
A formation of IAR-80 fighter aircraft
Minelayer NMS Amiral Murgescu Amiral Murgescu (side).jpg
Minelayer NMS Amiral Murgescu

The Romanian armament industry was expanded greatly during the Interwar period and World War II. New factories were constructed, such as the Industria Aeronautică Română and Societatea Pentru Exploatări Tehnice aircraft factories, which produced hundreds of indigenous aircraft, such as IAR 37, IAR 80, and SET 7. Before the war, Romania acquired from France the licence to produce hundreds of Brandt Mle 27/31 and Brandt Mle 1935 mortars, with hundreds more produced during the war, [29] and also the licence to produce 140 French 47 mm Schneider anti-tank guns at the Concordia factory, with 118 produced between 26 May 1939 and 1 August 1940 and hundreds more produced during the war; [30] [31] these guns were to be towed by Malaxa Tip UE armored carriers, built since late 1939 at the Malaxa factory under French licence, eventually 126 being built until March 1941. Czechoslovak licence was acquired in 1938 to produce the ZB vz. 30 machine gun, with 5,000 being built at the Cugir gun factory until the start of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941. [32] Romania also acquired the licence to produce the R-1 tankette, but ultimately only one prototype was built locally. [33] German licence was acquired in 1938 to produce 360 37 mm Rheinmetall anti-aircraft guns, but only 102 were produced until May 1941. [32] British licence was acquired to produce 100 Vickers Model 1931 75 mm anti-aircraft guns at the Reșița works, with the first battery of 6 guns entering service on 1 August 1939, and 100 more guns were built during the war for a total production of 200. [32] On 14 June, Romania launched the first locally-built warship, the minelayer NMS Amiral Murgescu.

During the war, Romania copied and produced hundreds of Soviet M1938 mortars, [31] as well as designing and producing up to 400 75 mm Reșița Model 1943 anti-tank guns. Infantry weapons designed and produced by Romania during the war include the Orița M1941 sub-machinegun and the Argeș flamethrower. Romania also built 30 Vănătorul de care R-35, [34] 34 TACAM T-60, 21 TACAM R-2 tank destroyers and rebuilt 34 captured Soviet Komsomolets armored tractors. [35] A few prototype vehicles were also built, such as the Mareșal tank destroyer, which is credited with being the inspiration for the German Hetzer, [34] a Renault R-35 tank with a T-26 turret [34] and an artillery tractor known as T-1. Warships built include the submarines NMS Rechinul and NMS Marsuinul, a class of 4 minesweepers, 6 Dutch-designed torpedo boats [36] and 2 gunboats. [37]

The interbellum years

The Romanian expression România Mare (literal translation "Great Romania", but more commonly rendered in English: "Greater Romania") generally refers to the Romanian state in the interwar period, and by extension, to the territory Romania covered at the time. Romania achieved at that time its greatest territorial extent (almost 300,000 km2 (120,000 sq mi) [38] ). At the 1930 census, there were over 18 million inhabitants in Romania.

The resulting "Greater Romania" did not survive World War II. Until 1938, Romania's governments maintained the form, if not always the substance, of a liberal constitutional monarchy. The National Liberal Party, dominant in the years immediately after World War I, became increasingly clientelist and nationalist, and in 1927 was supplanted in power by the National Peasants' Party. Between 1930 and 1940 there were over 25 separate governments; on several occasions in the last few years before World War II, the rivalry between the fascist Iron Guard and other political groupings approached the level of a civil war.[ citation needed ]

Upon the death of King Ferdinand in 1927, his son, Prince Carol, was prevented from succeeding him because of previous marital scandals that had resulted in his renunciation of rights to the throne. After living three years in exile, with his brother Nicolae serving as regent and his young son Michael as king, Carol changed his mind and with the support of the ruling National Peasants' Party he returned and proclaimed himself king.

Iuliu Maniu, leader of the National Peasants' Party, engineered Carol's return on the basis of a promise that he would forsake his mistress Magda Lupescu, and Lupescu herself had agreed to the arrangement. However, it became clear upon Carol's first re-encounter with his former wife, Elena, that he had no interest in a reconciliation with her, and Carol soon arranged for Magda Lupescu's return to his side. Her unpopularity was to be a millstone around Carol's neck for the rest of his reign, particularly because she was widely viewed as his closest advisor and confidante. Maniu and his National Peasant Party shared the same general political aims of the Iron Guard: both fought against the corruption and dictatorial policies of King Carol II and the National Liberal Party. [39]

The worldwide Great Depression that started in 1929 and was also present in Romania destabilised the country. The early 1930s were marked by social unrest, high unemployment, and strikes. In several instances, the Romanian government violently repressed strikes and riots, notably the 1929 miners' strike in Valea Jiului and the strike in the Grivița railroad workshops. In the mid-1930s, the Romanian economy recovered and the industry grew significantly, although about 80% of Romanians were still employed in agriculture. French economic and political influence was predominant in the early 1920s but then Germany became more dominant, especially in the 1930s. [40]

Romanian pavilion at EXPO Paris 1937 Paris-expo-1937-pavillon de la Roumanie-10.jpg
Romanian pavilion at EXPO Paris 1937

As the 1930s progressed, Romania's already shaky democracy slowly deteriorated toward fascist dictatorship. The constitution of 1923 gave the king free rein to dissolve parliament and call elections at will; as a result, Romania was to experience over 25 governments in a single decade.

Increasingly, these governments were dominated by a number of anti-Semitic, ultra-nationalist, and mostly at least quasi-fascist parties. The National Liberal Party steadily became more nationalistic than liberal, but nonetheless lost its dominance over Romanian politics. It was eclipsed by parties like the (relatively moderate) National Peasants' Party and its more radical Romanian Front offshoot, the National-Christian Defense League (LANC) and the Iron Guard. In 1935, LANC merged with the National Agrarian Party to form the National Christian Party (NCP). The quasi-mystical fascist Iron Guard was an earlier LANC offshoot that, even more than these other parties, exploited nationalist feelings, fear of communism, and resentment of alleged foreign and Jewish domination of the economy.

Already, the Iron Guard had embraced the politics of assassinations, and various governments had reacted more or less in kind. On December 10, 1933, Liberal prime minister Ion Duca "dissolved" the Iron Guard, arresting thousands; consequently, 19 days later he was assassinated by Iron Guard legionnaires.

Throughout the 1930s, these nationalist parties had a mutually distrustful relationship with King Carol II. Nonetheless, in December 1937, the king appointed LANC leader, the poet Octavian Goga as prime minister of Romania's first Fascist government. Around this time, Carol met with Adolf Hitler, who expressed his wish to see a Romanian government headed by the pro-Nazi Iron Guard. Instead, on 10 February 1938 King Carol II used the occasion of a public insult by Goga toward Lupescu as a reason to dismiss the government and institute a short-lived royal dictatorship, sanctioned seventeen days later by a new constitution under which the king named personally not only the prime minister but all the ministers.

In April 1938, King Carol had Iron Guard leader Corneliu Zelea Codreanu (aka "The Captain") arrested and imprisoned. On the night of 29–30 November 1938, Codreanu and several other legionnaires were killed while purportedly attempting to escape from prison. It is generally agreed that there was no such escape attempt, but that they were murdered in retaliation for a series of assassinations by Iron Guard commandos.

The royal dictatorship was brief. On 7 March 1939, a new government was formed with Armand Călinescu as prime minister; on 21 September 1939, three weeks after the start of World War II, Călinescu, in turn, was also assassinated by legionnaires avenging Codreanu's murder.

In 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which stipulated, among other things, the Soviet "interest" in Bessarabia. After the 1940 territorial losses and growing increasingly unpopular, Carol was compelled to abdicate and name general Ion Antonescu as the new Prime-Minister with full powers in ruling the state by royal decree. [41]



Ethnic map (1930 census) Romania 1930 ethnic map EN.png
Ethnic map (1930 census)
Literacy rate in interwar Romania (1930) Romania 1930 literacy EN.svg
Literacy rate in interwar Romania (1930)

According to the 1930 Romanian Census, Romania had a population of 18,057,028. Romanians made up 71.9% of the population and 28.1% of the population were ethnic minorities.

Population of Romania according to ethnic group in 1930 [42]
Ethnicitynumber %
Romanians 12,981,32471.9
Hungarians 1,425,5077.9
Germans 745,4214.1
Jews 728,1154.0
Ruthenians and Ukrainians 582,1153.2
Russians 409,1502.3
Bulgarians 366,3842.0
Romani 262,5011.5
Turks 154,7720.9
Gagauzians 105,7500.6
Czechs and Slovaks 51,8420.3
Serbs, Croats and Slovenes 51,0620.3
Poles 48,3100.3
Greeks 26,4950.1
Tatars 22,1410.1
Armenians 15,5440.0
Hutsuls 12,4560.0
Albanians 4,6700.0


Physical map of Romania in 1939 Romania1939physical.jpg
Physical map of Romania in 1939

Largest cities as per 1930 census:

1 Bucharest 570,881
2 Chișinău (now located in Moldova)114,896
3 Cernăuți (now located in Ukraine)112,427
4 Iași 102,872
5 Cluj 100,844
6 Galați 100,611
7 Timișoara 91,580

Notes: 1 - including 12 suburban communities.

Two of Romania's seven largest cities in 1930 are currently located outside of Romania as a result of World War II border changes.

Administrative division

Administrative map of Romania in 1930 Romania 1930 counties.500px.svg
Administrative map of Romania in 1930

After Independence, the Romanian Old Kingdom was divided into 33 counties.

After World War I, as a result of the 1925 administrative unification law, the territory was divided into 71 counties, 489 districts ( plăși ) and 8,879 communes.

In 1938, King Carol II promulgated a new Constitution, and subsequently he had the administrative division of the Romanian territory changed. Ten ținuturi (approximate translation: "lands") were created (by merging the counties) to be ruled by rezidenți regali (approximate translation: "Royal Residents") - appointed directly by the King. This administrative reform did not last and the counties were re-established after the fall of Carol's regime.

Timeline (1859–1940)

Romanian territory during the 20th century: purple indicates the Old Kingdom before 1913, orange indicates Greater Romania areas that joined or were annexed after the Second Balkan War and World War I but were lost after World War II, and rose indicates areas that joined Romania after World War I and remained so after World War II. Romania territory during 20th century.gif
Romanian territory during the 20th century: purple indicates the Old Kingdom before 1913, orange indicates Greater Romania areas that joined or were annexed after the Second Balkan War and World War I but were lost after World War II, and rose indicates areas that joined Romania after World War I and remained so after World War II.
Timeline of the borders of Romania between 1859 and 2010 RomaniaBorderHistoryAnnimation 1859-2010.gif
Timeline of the borders of Romania between 1859 and 2010
 1859  Alexander John Cuza unites Moldavia and Wallachia under his personal rule.
 1862 Formal union of Moldavia and Wallachia to form principality of Romania.
 1866 Cuza forced to abdicate and a foreign dynasty is established. Carol I signed the first modern Constitution.
 1877 April 16. Treaty by which the Russian troops are allowed to pass through Romanian territory
April 24. Russia declares war on the Ottoman Empire and its troops enter Romania
May 9. Romanian independence declared by the Romanian parliament, start of Romanian War of Independence
May 10. Carol I ratifies independence declaration
 1878 Under Treaty of Berlin, Ottoman Empire recognizes Romanian independence. Romania ceded southern Bessarabia to Russia.
 1881 Carol I was proclaimed King of Romania on March 14.
 1894 Leaders of the Transylvanian Romanians who sent a Memorandum to the Austrian Emperor demanding national rights for the Romanians are found guilty of treason.
 1907  Violent peasant revolts crushed throughout Romania, thousands of persons killed.
 1914 Death of Carol I, succeeded by his nephew Ferdinand.
 1916 August. Romania enters World War I on the Entente side.
December. Romanian Treasure sent to Russia for safekeeping but was seized by Soviets after the Romanian army refused to withdraw from Bessarabia.
 1918  Greater Romania is created.[ clarification needed ]
By the Treaty of Versailles, Romania agreed to grant citizenship to the former citizens of Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires living in the new Romanian territories.[ dubious ]
 1919 A military conflict occurs between Romania and Hungarian Soviet Republic led by Béla Kun. The Romanian Army takes over Budapest on 4 August 1919. The city is ruled by a military administration until 16 November 1919.
The Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye officially assigns Bukovina to Romania.
 1920 The Treaty of Trianon officially assigns Transylvania, Banat and Partium to Romania.
Little Entente alliance with Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia initiated.
 1921 A major and radical agrarian reform.
Polish–Romanian alliance established.
 1923 The 1923 Constitution is adopted based on a National Liberal Party project.
National-Christian Defense League (LANC) founded.
 1924 LANC member (later Iron Guard founder) Corneliu Zelea Codreanu assassinates the Prefect of Police in Iași, but is acquitted.
 1926 Liberal Electoral Law adopted.
Franco-Romanian Treaty.
 1927 The National Peasants' Party takes over the government from the National Liberal Party.
The Legion of the Archangel Michael, later the Iron Guard, splits from LANC.
Michael (Mihai) becomes king under a regency regime.
 1929 Beginning of the Great Depression in the world and in Romania.
 1930 Carol II crowned King.
 1931 First ban on Iron Guard.
 1933 16 February. Grivița Railcar Workshops strike violently put down by police.
10 December. Prime Minister Ion Duca "dissolves" the Iron Guard, arresting thousands; 19 days later he is assassinated by Iron Guard legionnaires.
 1935 LANC and National Agrarian Party merge to form the fascist National Christian Party (NCP).
 1937 Electoral "non-aggression pact" between the National Peasants' Party and Iron Guard, later adding the Agrarian Union. Romanian Communist Party denounces pact, but, in practice, supports the National-Peasants.
LANC forms government, but is rapidly in conflict with Carol II over his Jewish mistress.
 1938 10 February. Royal dictatorship declared. New constitution adopted 27 February.
29–30 November. Iron Guard leader Codreanu and other legionnaires shot on the King's orders.
 1939 7 March. Armand Călinescu forms government.
23 August. Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact stipulates Soviet "interest" in Bessarabia.
1 September. Germany and Soviet Union invades Poland. Start of World War II.
21 September. Călinescu assassinated by Iron Guard legionnaires.
 1940 6 September. After the forced abdication of King Carol II, his 19-year-old son Michael I assumes the throne, being obliged to grant dictatorial powers to Prime Minister and Conducător Ion Antonescu.
14 September. The Kingdom of Romania is supplanted by a short-lived dictatorship called the National Legionary State.

Kings of Romania (1881–1947)

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Charles I
  • Carol
(1839-04-20)20 April 1839 – 10 October 1914(1914-10-10) (aged 75)15 March 188110 October 1914Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen elected Sovereign Prince of Romania 20 April 1866 Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Carol I King of Romania.jpg
Ferdinand I
  • Ferdinand
(1865-08-24)24 August 1865 – 20 July 1927(1927-07-20) (aged 61)10 October 191420 July 1927Nephew of Carol I Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen King Ferdinand of Romania.jpg
Michael I
(1st reign)
  • Mihai
(1921-10-25)25 October 1921 – 5 December 2017(2017-12-05) (aged 96)20 July 19278 June 1930Grandson of Ferdinand I Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Michael I of Romania (1927).jpg
Charles II
  • Carol II
(1893-10-15)15 October 1893 – 4 April 1953(1953-04-04) (aged 59)8 June 19306 September 1940Son of Ferdinand I Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Carol al II-lea.jpg
Michael I
(2nd reign)
  • Mihai
(1921-10-25)25 October 1921 – 5 December 2017(2017-12-05) (aged 96)6 September 194030 December 1947Son of Carol II; Restored Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Mihai.jpg

Queens-consort of Romania

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Elisabeth (1843-12-29)29 December 1843 – 2 March 1916(1916-03-02) (aged 72)15 March 188110 October 1914Consort of King Carol I Wied Elisabeth of Wied.jpg
Marie (1875-10-29)29 October 1875 – 18 July 1938(1938-07-18) (aged 62)10 October 191420 July 1927Consort of King Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Queen Mary of Romania 2.jpg
Helen (1896-05-02)2 May 1896 – 28 November 1982(1982-11-28) (aged 86)Consort of Crown Prince Carol
Queen Mother on Michael I's 2nd accession
Greece (Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg) HelenGreeceDenmark.jpg
Anne (1923-09-18)18 September 1923 – 1 August 2016(2016-08-01) (aged 92)Consort of King Michael I
Wed after husband's deposition
Bourbon-Parma ReginaAnaARomaniei.jpg

Pretenders to the Romanian throne

PretenderPortraitLifespanPretending fromPretending until
Michael I King Michael I of Romania by Emanuel Stoica.jpg 25 October 19215 December 2017(2017-12-05) (aged 96)30 December 19475 December 2017
Margareta I Regina Margareta (cropped).jpg 26 March 19495 December 2017Incumbent


This is a graphical lifespan timeline of Kings

Michael I of RomaniaPrince Nicholas of RomaniaCarol II of RomaniaFerdinand I of RomaniaWilliam, Prince of HohenzollernLeopold, Prince of HohenzollernCarol I of RomaniaAlexandru Ioan CuzaKingdom of Romania

Royal Standards

See also


  1. It is worth noting, however, that the Treaty of Paris – recognizing the union with Bessarabia – never came into effect because one of its signatories, Japan, refused to ratify it. This meant that the union was not recognized by the international community, making it – unlike the other provinces – more of a de facto union than an official, de jure one. [14] Furthermore, President Woodrow Wilson left the peace conference to emphasize his disagreements earlier in 1919, and because the U.S. Congress did not ratify the Treaty of Trianon, the United States of America and the Kingdom of Hungary signed a separate peace treaty on 29 August 1921. [15]

Related Research Articles

This article covers the history and bibliography of Romania and links to specialized articles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carol II of Romania</span> King of Romania from 1930 to 1940

Carol II was King of Romania from 8 June 1930 until his forced abdication on 6 September 1940. The eldest son of Ferdinand I, he became crown prince upon the death of his grand-uncle, King Carol I in 1914. He was the first of the Hohenzollern kings of Romania to be born in the country; both of his predecessors had been born in Germany and came to Romania only as adults. As such, he was the first member of the Romanian branch of the Hohenzollerns who spoke Romanian as his first language, and was also the first member of the royal family to be raised in the Orthodox faith.

The 41 județe and the municipality of Bucharest comprise the official administrative divisions of Romania. They also represent the European Union' s NUTS-3 geocode statistical subdivision scheme of Romania.

Following the outbreak of World War II on 1 September 1939, the Kingdom of Romania under King Carol II officially adopted a position of neutrality. However, the rapidly changing situation in Europe during 1940, as well as domestic political upheaval, undermined this stance. Fascist political forces such as the Iron Guard rose in popularity and power, urging an alliance with Nazi Germany and its allies. As the military fortunes of Romania's two main guarantors of territorial integrity—France and Britain—crumbled in the Fall of France, the government of Romania turned to Germany in hopes of a similar guarantee, unaware that the then-dominant European power had already granted its blessing to Soviet claims on Romanian territory in a secret protocol of 1939's Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iuliu Maniu</span> Romanian politician

Iuliu Maniu was a Romanian lawyer and politician. He was a leader of the National Party of Transylvania and Banat before and after World War I, playing an important role in the Re-Union of Transylvania with Romania.

The Romanian Old Kingdom is a colloquial term referring to the territory covered by the first independent Romanian nation state, which was composed of the Romanian Principalities: Wallachia and Moldavia. The union of the two principalities was achieved when, under the auspices of the Treaty of Paris (1856), the ad hoc Divans of both countries, which were then under Ottoman Empire suzerainty, voted for Alexander Ioan Cuza as their prince. This process achieved a de facto unification under the name of the United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. The region itself is defined by the result of that political act, followed by the Romanian War of Independence, the inclusion of Northern Dobruja and the transfer of the southern part of Bessarabia to the Russian Empire in 1878, the proclamation of the Kingdom of Romania in 1881, and the annexation of Southern Dobruja in 1913.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Treaty of Craiova</span> 1940 territorial settlement between the kingdoms of Romania and Bulgaria

The Treaty of Craiova was signed on 7 September 1940 and ratified on 13 September 1940 by the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Romania. Under its terms, Romania had to allow Bulgaria to retake Southern Dobruja, which Romania had gained after the 1913 Second Balkan War. Bulgaria had to pay 1 million lei as compensation for the investment provided to the region by Romania.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Historical regions of Romania</span>

The historical regions of Romania are located in Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe. Romania came into being through the unification of two principalities, Wallachia and Moldavia in 1862. The new unitary state extended over further regions at various times during the late 19th and 20th centuries, including Dobruja in 1878, and Transylvania in 1918.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Second Vienna Award</span> 1940 territorial settlement between the kingdoms of Romania and Hungary

The Second Vienna Award, also known as the Vienna Diktat, was the second of two territorial disputes that were arbitrated by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. On 30 August 1940, they assigned the territory of Northern Transylvania, including all of Maramureș and part of Crișana, from Romania to Hungary.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina</span> 1940 Soviet annexation of territory in northeast Romania; Moldavian SSR established

The Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina took place from June 28 to July 3, 1940, as a result of an ultimatum by the Soviet Union to Romania on June 26, 1940, that threatened the use of force. Bessarabia had been part of the Kingdom of Romania since the time of the Russian Civil War and Bukovina since the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, and Hertsa was a district of the Romanian Old Kingdom. Those regions, with a total area of 50,762 km2 (19,599 sq mi) and a population of 3,776,309 inhabitants, were incorporated into the Soviet Union. On October 26, 1940, six Romanian islands on the Chilia branch of the Danube, with an area of 23.75 km2 (9.17 sq mi), were also occupied by the Soviet Army.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">National Legionary State</span> Fascist regime in Romania

The National Legionary State was a totalitarian fascist regime which governed Romania for five months, from 14 September 1940 until its official dissolution on 14 February 1941. The regime was led by General Ion Antonescu in partnership with the Iron Guard, the Romanian ultranationalist, antisemitic and anti-communist organisation. Though the Iron Guard had been in the Romanian Government since 28 June 1940, on 14 September it achieved dominance, leading to the proclamation of the National Legionary State.

David Popescu was a Romanian general during World War II and Interior Minister in 1940.

Constantin Atanasescu was a Romanian lieutenant general during World War II. He retired in 1940, but was promoted to general in 1947 while in reserve.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ion Gigurtu</span> Romanian politician (1886–1959)

Ion Gigurtu was a far-right Romanian politician, Land Forces officer, engineer and industrialist who served a brief term as Prime Minister from 4 July to 4 September 1940, under the personal regime of King Carol II. A specialist in mining and veteran of both the Second Balkan War and World War I, he made a fortune in interwar Greater Romania. Gigurtu began his career in politics with the People's Party (PP) and the National Agrarian Party, moving closer to the far right during the 1930s, and serving as Minister of Industry and Commerce in the cabinet of Octavian Goga. Shortly after the start of World War II, Gigurtu was affiliated with King Carol's National Renaissance Front, serving as Public Works and Communications Minister and Foreign Minister under Premier Gheorghe Tătărescu, before the territorial losses incurred by Romania in front of the Soviet Union propelled him as Tătărescu's replacement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">National Liberal Party (Romania, 1875)</span> Political party in Romania

The National Liberal Party was the first organised political party in Romania, a major force in the country's politics from its foundation in 1875 to World War II. Established in order to represent the interests of the nascent local bourgeoisie, until World War I it contested power with the Conservative Party, supported primarily by wealthy landowners, effectively creating a two-party system in a political system which severely limited the representation of the peasant majority through census suffrage. Unlike its major opponent, the PNL managed to preserve its prominence after the implementation of universal male suffrage, playing an important role in shaping the institutional framework of Greater Romania during the 1920s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Territorial evolution of Romania</span> History of Romanias borders and territories

The territorial evolution of Romania includes all the changes in the country's borders from its formation to the present day. The precedents of Romania as an independent state can be traced back to the 14th century, when the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia were founded. Wallachia during its history lost several portions of its territory, either to the Ottomans or the Habsburgs. However, this land would be later essentially recovered in its entirety. Moldavia, on the other hand, suffered great territorial losses. In 1774, the Habsburgs invaded Bukovina and annexed it one year later, and in 1812, the Russian Empire took control of Bessarabia. Both territories were later exposed to powerful colonization policies. The principalities declared unification in 1859 as the Principality of Romania. This new state sought independence from the Ottoman Empire's vassalage, and in 1878, it fought a war against it alongside Russia. However, the latter would annex Southern Bessarabia, which was recovered decades before. Romania received Northern Dobruja as compensation, and would wage a war for the southern part against Bulgaria in 1913.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Population exchange between Bulgaria and Romania</span>

The population exchange between Bulgaria and Romania was a population exchange carried out in 1940 after the transfer of Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria by Romania. It involved 103,711 Romanians, Aromanians and Megleno-Romanians living in Southern Dobruja and 62,278 Bulgarians from Northern Dobruja. After this operation, the application of a population exchange in other cases such as Transylvania was considered.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bukovina Governorate</span> Romanian autonomous province existent during World War II

The Bukovina Governorate was an administrative unit of Romania during World War II.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edith von Coler</span> Nazi German propagandist and agent

Edith von Coler was a German propagandist who acted as an agent of influence and unofficial diplomatic conduit in Romania before and during World War II.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bessarabia Governorate (Romania)</span> Romanian autonomous province existent during World War II

The Bessarabia Governorate was an administrative unit of Romania during World War II.


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  2. Dennis Deletant, Hitler's Forgotten Ally: Ion Antonescu and His Regime, Romania, 1940–1944, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2006. ISBN   1-4039-9341-6
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  5. 1 2 D. Berg-Schlosser, J. Mitchell, Springer, Feb 23, 2000, The Conditions of Democracy in Europe 1919-39: Systematic Case Studies, p. 392
  6. 1 2 United States - Bureau of Mines, Economics and Statistics Branch, December 1944, Foreign Minerals Survey - The Mineral Resources of Rumania, p. 4
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  15. 1921. évi XLVIII. törvénycikk az Amerikai Egyesült-Államokkal 1921. évi augusztus hó 29. napján Budapesten kötött békeszerződés becikkelyezéséről - XLVIII. Act of 1921 about the enactment the peace treaty signed in Budapest on 29. August 1921 with the United States of America - Archived 2017-09-21 at the Wayback Machine
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  20. Inflation calculator
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  27. Robert Gardiner, Conway's All the World Fighting Ships 1906–1921, p. 422
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  29. Third Axis. Fourth Ally. Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941-1945, pp. 29, 30, 75 and 147
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  41. Ioan Scurtu; Theodora Stănescu-Stanciu; Georgiana Margareta Scurtu. "Decret regal privind investirea generalului Ion Antonescu cu depline puteri". Istoria românilor între anii 1918–1940 (in Romanian). Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
  42. Populaţia pe Neamuri (in Romanian). Institutul Central de Statistică. 16 July 2008. pp. XXIV. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
  43. Nicholas ruling as Prince Regent.
  44. With Ion Antonescu as Conducător , from 6 September 1940 to 23 August 1944.

Further reading

  • Great Britain. Admiralty. A handbook of Roumania (1920) primary source that focuses on prewar economy and society online free
  • Treptow, Kurt W. A history of Romania (1996).

Coordinates: 44°25′N26°06′E / 44.417°N 26.100°E / 44.417; 26.100