Leopold II of Belgium

Second King of the Belgians

King Leopold II (April 9, 1835December 17, 1909) succeeded his father, Leopold I of Belgium, to the Belgian throne in 1865 as Leopold II, King of the Belgians, and remained king until his death.

King Leopold II of Belgium
Leopold II and Princess Clémentine Of Belgium make Joyous Entry into the city of 'Antwerp' in 1909
Royal Emblem of King Leopold II
Leopold II. of Belgium (1835-1909) as child with the title "duc de Brabant" Lithograph by an unkmow artist, about 1840
Drawing of Leopold II at the side of his father King Leopold I, his mother Louise of Orléans, his brother Prince Philippe of Belgium, the Count of Flanders, and his sister Princess Charlotte of Belgium, the future Empress of Mexico.jpg
Leopold as a younger man in the uniform of the Grenadiers
King Leopold II with Queen Marie Henriette and their two older children
Leopold and Marie Henriette
Oath-taking of Leopold II of Belgium, Palace of the Nation (Brussels), 17 December 1865.
Cartoon depicting Leopold II and other imperial powers at the Berlin conference of 1884
King Leopold II Opens the Brussels International Expostion of 1897
The failed assassination attempt made on king Leopold II of Belgium by the Italian anarchist Gennaro Rubino, Brussels, November 15, 1902
A 1906 Punch cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne depicting Leopold II as a rubber snake entangling a Congolese rubber collector.
Inauguration of the Royers lock in 1907 by Leopold II and Gustave Royers
Picture of Leopold II of Belgium in 1907.
Cartoon depicting Leopold II laying the first stone of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Brussels.
Last portrait of Leopold II.
King Leopold II on his funeral couch.
Leopold II's funeral procession passes the unfinished Royal Palace of Brussels, 22 December 1909

QuotesEdit

  • Santo Tomas was based on emigration and was therefore bound to fail, Belgians do not emigrate.
  • A People which is content with its homeland and which shreds at even the shadow of a conflict lacks the characteristics of a superior race.
  • I sleep poorly. This long abstinence is destroying me. My nature needs frequent contacts with the beautiful gender. I don't understand how priests can live like this.

Quotes related to BelgiumEdit

  • Dear Minister, please let me know how many men are actually available in Hainaut, Ghent and Brussels, please also inform me of any measures that will allow you to remain in control of the situation if necessary, I wish you the assurance, dear minister, of my total devotion, Leopold.
  • I will instruct the minister of war to strengthen the Gendarmerie in Brussels, to recognize the addresses and customs of the demagogues and to try to find out what is coming up, I am told that the demonstrations which are only intended as intimidation and as preparation in an unguarded moment are able to turn into something else, once they have everyone on the street they will attack the government, what measure have you taken to face such a surprise attack? Do the regiments have been ordered to march on their own accord to the Rue de la Loi and the Boulvard, where in the summer it is more difficult to summon soldiers, will they be more satisfied now, working in the open air is now impossible, if I were you I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to summon them, the responsibility is too great, you are not protected from an incident, and you will have to face a formidable riot, all yours leopold.
  • Dear Minister, I particularly regret that the government, as I had expressly requested, did not make the royal referendum a sine qua non, three points in the program concern the crown directly, the possibility of expanding the territory, the referendum and the princely marriages, I would have liked to see this matter implemented, we have been clear about this during our discussions, we have taken a very moderate attitude with this at a time when the most democratic constitution in Europe is being even more democratized, a constitution drawn up during a revolution, and at a time when there was no monarch, your devotee, etc. Leopold.
  • To the presidents of the chambers, the institutions of the country are on the eve of profound changes, various indications and circumstances have convinced me that it is desirable in the new situation, a new administration should take office, I request you on my behalf to inform the chambers of my abdication, with the highest and most special esteem, your affectionate King, Leopold.
    • Leopold II, Het hele Verhaal, Johan Op De Beeck Horizon, 2020 ISBN 9789463962094 King Leopold II threatens to abdicate in the chaos of late 19th-century Belgium, when he fails to obtain the extra powers he had requested and, at the same time, in the first democratic elections in which non-citizens from the upper class are allowed to vote, the Christian Democrats and Socialists win the elections).
  • My dear General, the Belgian state, will shortly issue a government loan of fifty million, France is writing one of two and a half billion, please ask Lambert to inform you of the condition of the French operation, as for the Belgian loan, leave it to me to try and get information from the ministers, but don't say anything to Lambert, if the French government loan yields 5 or 6 percent I will invest a large sum in it, if the interest is lower then I won't subscribe to it, Leopold.
  • If I do not promise Belgium a splendid government like that which founded its independence, nor a great King like him whom we mourn, then at least i believe to be a Belgian King in heart and soul, whose whole life belongs to the country.

Quotes related to Congo Free StateEdit

  • The Congo Free State is unique in its kind. It has nothing to hide and no secrets and is not beholden to anyone except its founder.
    • Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965
  • I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake.
    • Thomas Pakenham, The Scramble for Africa: White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent From 1876 to 1912, New York: Avon Books, 1992, 22.
  • Do I still need to tell you that I am not guided by selfish motives? No gentlemen, although Belgium is small, it is happy and content with its fate. I have no ambition other than to serve it. In this century, our civilized society imparts unprecedented values to barbarian communities in other parts of the world.
    • Leopold II, King of the Belgians in a speech at the Brussels Geographic Conference on September 12, 1876. Quoted from the book "Zaïre, Ketens van Koper (translated: Zaire, Chains of Copper)" Chapter 2: From Leopold II to Bwana Kitoko, page 16. Leuven, Kritak Fonds, 1978. ISBN 9063030185
  • These expeditions respond to an extraordinarily civilizing Christian idea: to abolish slavery in Africa, to dispel the darkness that still reigns in part of the world, to get to know the resources that seem gigantic, in short, pouring out the treasures of civilization, that's it. purpose of this modern crusade worthy of our era.
  • It is not about Belgian colonies. It is about establishing a new state that is as large as possible and about its governance. It should be clear that in this project there can be no question of granting the Negroes the slightest form of political power. That would be ridiculous. The whites, who lead the posts, have all the power.
  • The terms of the treaties Stanley has made with native chiefs do not satisfy me. There must at least be an added article to the effect that they delegate to us their sovereign rights, the treaties must be as brief as possible and in a couple of articles must grant us everything.
    • Maurice, Albert (1957). H.M. Stanley Unpublished Letters. London. p. 161.
  • You don't have to worry in the least, because in Belgium you will be able to enjoy all the benefits with which I will shower you, choose your replacement carefully, and appoint him only with my approval, until then then you will remain on your post my faithful cloak. May God guide and support you in the missions I entrust to you for the sake of my subjects, I wish that all your duties have already been carried out, so that when you come to Belgium I can prove to you that I am a true friend my faithful cloak, I pray to God that he may protect you, Leopold.
  • You should purchase as much land as you will be able to obtain without losing one minute from all the chiefs from the mouth of the Congo to Stanley falls, i will send you more people and raw materials, and perhaps Chinese couriers.
  • The Congo state is certainly not a business, if it gathers ivory on some of it's lands, that is only to lessen its deficits.
  • In dealing with a race composed of cannibals for thousands of years, it is necessary to use methods which will best shape their idleness, and make them realize the sanctity of work.
  • I believe we must set up three children's colonies, the aim of these colonies is above all to furnish us with soldiers.
  • I will give them my Congo, but they have no right to know what i did there.

Quotes about Leopold IIEdit

  • There have been cases in which the natives have been maltreated by minor officials, but these are isolated cases, and are severely punished by the authorities. Such cases have occurred in all public services where an attempt has been made to govern inferior races. Such things have happened in the Philippines, in British Africa, and in India. No colonising nation can cast a stone at King Leopold on that score. Among a large number of officials scattered over a vast territory there will often be one or two wicked stewards who despitefully use the natives. All that any State can do is to keep vigilant watch and to punish the wrongdoers, and this the Congo State has done. It has even established a Commission for the protection of the natives. By the decree of 1896, this Commission consisted of seven members, three being Catholic priests and four Protestant missionaries.
  • The committee is to travel throughout the country into all the districts covered by Mr Casement in his recent tour of inspection, besides visiting many places Mr Casement never saw. In brief, the committee is to hold inquiry wherever evidence can be obtained. Where native witnesses give evidence of a nature prejudicial to white men, the committee will see that such witnesses are protected from the possibility of suffering at the hands of officials against whom they may bear witness. The Government of the Congo holds itself responsible for the safety and well-being of such witnesses. On the latter point King Leopold has expressed himself in the strongest possible terms.
  • There were severed hands in the Congo, at the time of the Independent State... by the Officers of the Force Publique, to prevent the waste of ammunition to which their soldiers willingly let go, demanded that they provide proof that they had used their cartridges correctly. The proof was the severed hand of the killed enemy ... Severed hands, it will be noted, never constituted a form of punishment. ... By emphasizing, as they did, on the theme of severed hands - a theme which, we realize, easily provoked emotion -, Morel and his friends gave birth to the ambiguity which finally spread and lasted until our days: the idea that Leopold II had his hands cut off in the Congo, that it was a question of torture inflicted on the population, and even of torture most characteristic of the regime.
  • I did not fail to refer to the "abuses and other undeniable deficiencies that this report rightly stigmatizes. Leopold II, of course, also carefully read this report. He reacted to it very quickly, with an honesty, insight and efficiency worthy of this visionary King. Despite the damning conclusions, he did not hesitate to have it published - in extenso - in the Official Journal of the EIC (Independent State of Congo). He had the perpetrators of the abuses prosecuted and, above all, taken a series of radical measures to put an end to them, by issuing no less than 24 Decrees to this effect.
  • Seldom has such a character assassination been committed in Belgium, seldom has the press reached such lows as in the time of Leopold II.
  • He claims all successes and attributes the failures to others, he accepts no more criticism and he demands unquestioning obedience to his commands, his judgment must be the judgment of all, his logic must be that of his co-workers, his conscience must be the conscience of others, he is so accustomed to crushing any opposition or sensitivity in his associates that he dares to ask them anything.
  • I accuse Leopold's officials of tyranny, i accuse Leopold's government of excessive cruelty, ox chains eaten to the necks of prisoners and produce sores about which flies circle, the courts are aborted unjust and delinquent, not one state official knows the language of the natives, your majesties' government is engaged in slave trade, wholesale and retail.
  • Leopold's Congo state is guilty of crimes against humanity.
    • King Leopold's Ghost George Washington Williams, Open letter to U.S secretary of state James G. Blaine, 1890
  • Several of the little girls were so sickly on their arrival that our good sisters wouldn't save them, but all had the happiness of receiving holy baptism, they are now little angels in heaven who are praying for our great king.
  • Hitler, Stalin, Men who need no introduction. King Leopold of Belgium, that's right Everyone thinks he's so great Well, he owned the Congo, He tore it up too, Took the diamonds, Took the silver, Took the gold, You know what he left 'em with? Malaria.
  • Leopold, aware of the high responsibilities he had to bear towards Belgium and determined to liberate the African peoples from their crushing material and moral living conditions, wanted to bring civilization to the very heart of the black continent in order to put an end to to the shameful slave trade and the enslavement that resulted from it, to fight against the deadly plagues and to put an end to ignorance and lead the peoples to the good to which they were entitled.
  • Leopold II has always been a bit of an obsession for me. In 1955 I was appointed to the order named after him, I didn't quite know what to do with it, I defiantly walked around with the ribbon in the hope that some colonel would say: "Vlerk, what are you doing with that?" It never happened unfortunately. I've read 42 books about him, documented thoroughly about the interest rate in 1882, and you can't help but feel admiration for that man. He has been the last great king, a kind of dinosaur. When he said or wrote 'we', you don't know whether he's talking about himself, his family, his country or his dynasty.
  • When Leopold II began his great work, which today finds its culmination, he presented himself to you not as a conqueror but as a bringer of civilization.
  • 2008 commemorates the centenary of Congo becoming a colony in 1908. This colony ceased to exist in 1960. But as is well known, since 1885 there have been close ties between Congo and Belgium, in particular through the Belgian King Leopold II, who in 1885 after the Berlin Congress, in fact, acquired Congo as his "personal property".

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