Corneliu Zelea Codreanu (Romanian pronunciation: [kor'neliu 'zele?a ko'dre?anu] (listen); born Corneliu Zelinski; 13 September 1899 – 30 November 1938), commonly known as Corneliu Codreanu, was a Romanian politician who was the founder and charismatic leader of the Iron Guard (also known as the Legionnaire movement), an ultranationalist, antisemitic, antimagyar, and antigypsy organization active throughout most of the interwar period.
Generally seen as the main variety of local fascism, and noted for its Romanian Orthodox-inspired revolutionary message, the Iron Guard grew into an important actor on the Romanian political stage, coming into conflict with the political establishment and democratic forces.
The Legionnaires traditionally referred to Codreanu as Capitanul ("The Captain"), and he held absolute authority over the organization until his death.
He is cited on the list of the 100 Greatest Romanians.
Codreanu, who began his career in the wake of World War I as an anticommunist and antisemitic agitator associated with A.
Cuza and Constantin Pancu, was a co-founder of the National-Christian Defense League and assassin of the Iasi Police prefect Constantin Manciu.
Codreanu left Cuza to found a succession of far-right movements, rallying around him a growing segment of the country's intelligentsia and peasant population.
Outlawed by successive Romanian cabinets on several occasions, his Legion assumed different names and survived in the underground, during which time Codreanu formally delegated leadership to Gheorghe Cantacuzino-Granicerul.
Following Codreanu's instructions, the Legion carried out assassinations of politicians it viewed as corrupt, including Prime Minister Ion G.
Duca and his former associate Mihai Stelescu.
Simultaneously, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu advocated Romania's adherence to a military and political alliance with Nazi Germany.
He registered his main electoral success during the 1937 suffrage, but was blocked out of power by King Carol II, who came to favor rival fascist alternatives around the National Christian Party and the National Renaissance Front.
The rivalry between Codreanu and, on the other side, Carol and moderate politicians like Nicolae Iorga ended with Codreanu's imprisonment at Jilava and eventual assassination at the hands of the Gendarmerie.
He was succeeded as leader by Horia Sima.
In 1940, under the National Legionary State proclaimed by the Iron Guard, his killing served as the basis for violent retribution.
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu's views influenced the modern far-right.
Groups claiming him as a forerunner include Noua Dreapta and other Romanian successors of the Iron Guard, the International Third Position, and various neofascist organizations in Italy and other parts of Europe.