Fact of the day: 6th September

On this day in 1940 King Carol II of Romania abdicated and was succeeded by his son Michael.

Returning to the country on 7 June 1930, in a coup d’état engineered by Prime Minister Iuliu Maniu, Carol reneged on the renunciation and was proclaimed King the following day, replacing his son Michael on the throne.

For the next decade he sought to influence the course of Romanian political life, first through manipulation of the rival Peasant and Liberal parties and anti-Semitic factions, and subsequently (January 1938) through a ministry of his own choosing.

Carol also sought to build up his own personality cult against the growing influence of the Iron Guard, for instance by setting up a paramilitary youth organization known as Straja Țării in 1935. download (12)

He was made the 892nd Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1938 by his second cousin, George VI (King of the United Kingdom).

On 10 February 1938, Carol overthrew the democratic system and proclaimed a royal dictatorship. Less than two weeks later, the constitution was recast into a severely authoritarian/corporatist document.

The new constitution was approved in a plebiscite held under far-from-secret conditions; voters were required to appear before an election bureau and verbally state whether they approved the constitution; silence was deemed as a “yes” vote. In December 1938, the National Renaissance Front was formed as the country’s only legal party.

On September 5, 1940, Antonescu became Prime Minister, and Carol transferred most of his dictatorial powers to him.

Forced under first Soviet and subsequently Hungarian, Bulgarian, and German pressure to surrender parts of his kingdom to foreign rule, he was outmaneuvered at last by the pro-German administration of Marshal Ion Antonescu, and abdicated in favour of Michael in September 1940. He went into exile, initially in Mexico, but ultimately settling in Portugal.

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