Rare ALS to Czar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria Unable to Attend the “consecration of the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky… [due to the Romanov’s] anniversary celebrations of glorious historical events”

Signed by Czar of Russia Nicholas II

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NICHOLAS II, CZAR OF RUSSIA. (1868-1918). Last Russian czar, whose 23-year reign ended when the Bolsheviks assumed power in 1917. ALS. (“Nicolas”). 4pp. 8vo. Livadia, The 17th (Julian date)/30th (Gregorian date) of an unspecified month (December?). 1912. Elegantly penned in French on stationery headed with the colorful gilt Romanov crest to Bulgarian Czar FERDINAND I (1861-1948).

“Sire, I have the pleasure of receiving Mr. Danev, whom your Majesty has entrusted with a mission to me, and on the basis of his communications, I have been able to draw an exact picture of the great progress Bulgaria has accomplished under the wise and happy leadership of your Majesty.

At the same time, Mr Danev has handed me the letter by which your Majesty, informing me of the coming consecration of the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in Sofia, has invited me to come and attend this solemnity.

While thanking your Majesty for His thought and in spite of all the pleasure I would have experienced in seeing the brilliant development achieved by Bulgaria, which my Grandfather, of illustrious memory, as well as myself and the Russian people have always had so much interest for, I am deeply sorry that I won’t to be able to go to Bulgaria at the specified time, my travel plans having already been settled and anniversary celebrations of glorious historical events claiming my presence in my country.

I reserve, however, the satisfaction of coming to visit your Majesty and the Kingdom of Bulgaria as soon as circumstances permit, which, I hope, will put an end to the doubts of which your Majesty speaks.

From your Royal Majesty the good Brother…”

Czar Nicholas II

In 1896, at age 26, Nicholas became czar following the untimely death of his father Alexander III at the age of 49. Even before his coronation, Nicholas had been petitioned to consider the establishment of a constitutional monarchy but, believing his reign to be the will of God, he refused to relinquish power. By 1905, political and social unrest grew into a full blown revolution that resulted in the establishment of the Duma, a legislative assembly with which Nicholas was to have a contentious relationship. Our letter refers to the Romanov Tercentenary, a nationwide celebration of the Romanov Dynasty which began upon Mikhail I’s election as czar in 1613. The festivities, which lasted several weeks during February, 1913, were followed by the royal family’s tour through the provinces – calculated to cultivate popular support for the monarchy and reinforce the divine nature of its power. Despite these efforts, political unrest continued and reached its climax in the 1917 February Revolution that precipitated Nicholas II’s abdication on March 15, 1917, ending the Romanov dynasty. After several months of house arrest, he and his family were executed in July 1918.

Nicholas mentions his grandfather Alexander II (1818-1881), emperor of Russia and king of Poland, who allied Russia with Bulgaria during the 1877-1878 war with the Ottoman Empire that led to the establishment of the Principality of Bulgaria, an autonomous state within the Ottoman Empire. A Russian-backed coup in 1886 allowed the Bulgarian Assembly to elect as its king, Prince Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria, from the German House of Saxe-Coburg, grandson (on his mother’s side) of French King Louis Philippe I and Queen Victoria’s cousin (through his father), who, incidentally was also the grandmother of Nicholas II’s wife, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. Despite Ferdinand’s personal friendship with Nicholas’ father, Russia refused to recognize his legitimacy because of his ties to Austria. However, with the 1895 assassination of Bulgarian liberal party leader Stefan Stambolov, Ferdinand’s policies became more conservative as he aligned his country with Russia, culminating in the symbolic 1896 Eastern Orthodox baptism of Ferdinand’s infant son.

Czar Ferdinand I

In 1908, Ferdinand announced Bulgaria’s independence from the Ottoman Empire and declared himself Czar of Bulgaria. Vital to establishing a new Bulgarian identity was the construction of national monuments such as the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in Sofia, the nation’s capital, dedicated to those who fell during the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War, which had all but liberated Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire. Begun in 1882, the church, which hosts relics of Alexander Nevsky, a Kievan Rus prince and saint of the Russian Orthodox Church, was largely constructed from 1904 to 1912. In our letter, Nicholas cordially declines Ferdinand’s invitation to attend the cathedral’s official opening, which conflicted with the Romanov’s tercentenary celebrations.

Bulgarian politician Stoyan Danev (1858-1949) served as Bulgaria’s prime minister from 1902-1903, and represented Bulgaria at the London Conference, which convened on December 2, 1912, to arbitrate territorial disputes arising from the First Balkan War (October 1912-May 1913). After it became known that Ferdinand did not intend to honor the Treaty of London, Danev was appointed prime minister, again, in June 1913, but his tenure lasted less than a month.

Written from Nicholas’ summer retreat in the Crimea, Livadia Palace, which became famous as the site of the 1945 Yalta Conference.

Folded, very fine, and accompanied by the original hand-addressed envelope bearing an excellent impression of the red wax Romanov seal. Nicholas II is rare in ALS, especially in association letters with important content.

Rare ALS to Czar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria Unable to Attend the “consecration of the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky… [due to the Romanov’s] anniversary celebrations of glorious historical events”

Signed by Czar of Russia Nicholas II


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