FROM THE DEPOSITION OF PRINCE COUZA (1866) TO THE CORONATION OF KING CHARLES (1881).
Accession of Prince Charles of Hohenzollern—Signs the Constitution—Former differences between the Prince and the Parliament—(Note: State of parties with leaders in 1881)—Action of Russia prior to the war of 1877—Turkish incapacity and obstinacy—Perplexing position of Roumania—Reluctance of the nation to interfere—First attitude of neutrality—The Porte declares the Prince an enemy—The Prince and army organisation—Value of Roumanian co-operation to Russia—The Russian army of operations—Crosses the Danube and occupies Sistova and the Shipka Pass—Repeated defeats at Plevna and elsewhere—Gloomy outlook for the Russians—The Roumanians cross the Danube—First estimates of them—Contemptuous criticisms and anecdotes—Changing views regarding them—Prince Charles appointed Commander-in-Chief of the allies before Plevna—Defences of Plevna—The Grivitza redoubt—Strength and composition of the armies—Commencement of the attack (August 31, 1877)—Capture of Loftcha by Skobeleff—Russian operations against Plevna—Great assault of September 11—Defeat of the Russians—Ineffectual bravery of Skobeleff—His appearance after the repulse—The Roumanians—The 'indomitable' Grivitza redoubt—Roumanian approaches (September 7 to 10)—Assaults and final capture and retention of the redoubt by the Roumanians (11th)—Carnage in the redoubt—Unsuccessful attempt to capture a second redoubt—Flattering criticisms upon their bravery—Further Roumanian victories and services in the war—Failure of Osman Pasha to break the lines of the allies—His submission—Interview between Osman, the Grand Duke, and Prince Charles—Russian ingratitude to Roumania—'Exchange' of Bessarabia for the Dobrudscha—Treaty of San Stephano and Berlin Conference—Roumania independent—Coronation of the King and Queen—Conclusion of historical review.
After the fall of Couza the two Chambers elected the Count of Flanders, a younger brother of the King of Belgium, as his successor, but, owing probably to the threatening attitude of the Porte, that Prince declined the honour. Their choice then fell upon the reigning sovereign, Prince Charles of Hohenzollern (son of Prince Charles Anton, of Hohenzollern-Siegmaringen), who accepted the nomination, and was proclaimed Prince of Roumania on the anniversary of his birthday, April 20, 1866, and was received with great joy on his arrival at the capital. The Sublime Porte protested as usual, but this time the Roumanians threatened—at least, they determined to uphold their choice, and collected a strong force with that object. After vainly endeavouring to enlist the Powers on his side, the Sultan gave his assent to the nomination, and the Prince was invested with the sovereignty for himself and his heirs.
Meanwhile the national leaders had prepared the draft of the constitution under which Roumania is now governed, of which the leading stipulations, along with the names of its framers, will be found in the Appendix (III.), and on June 30 [July 12] it was approved and signed by the Prince, who at the same time took the qualifying oath, first at Bucarest, and shortly afterwards at Jassy, where he was received with equal enthusiasm by the Moldavians.
Few rulers have had the obstacles to contend with that greeted Prince Charles on his accession to the throne of Roumania, and few indeed have managed so completely to overcome their difficulties and to win the affections of their subjects—a task which has, however, been materially lightened in his case by the co-operation of his talented consort, whom, as Princess Elizabeth of Wied, he espoused in November 1869. The liberties of Roumania had not been of slow growth, and the people who for sixteen centuries had been the downtrodden vassals, first of this and then of that dominant race of barbarians, were naturally, a little awkward when they were called upon to assume the responsibilities, as well as to enjoy the privileges, of emancipation. We will not dwell upon the party dissensions which for a series of years militated against the smooth working of the new Constitution, nor upon the known fact that the Prince well-nigh relinquished the reins of power in consequence of the repeated changes of ministry and the unworthy jealousies of those who, having first selected him as a foreigner, subsequently charged this against him as a disqualification. Nor must we examine too narrowly all the causes of this restlessness in the people. They had been so often betrayed by their rulers, and were so jealous of their newly-won liberties, that, it may be, the acts of a prince of the house of Hohenzollern were not always in accord with the tastes of a semi-republican legislature. This friction, through the devotion of the ruler and the good sense and patriotism of his advisers, has ceased to exist; and, far from there being now a bitter strife of parties, one of the Roumanian leaders deplores that there is not a more active and powerful opposition to the ministry, which was last elected in 1875, and has for more than six years guided the destinies of the nation.