Léopold II of Belgium
Léopold II (Louis Philippe Marie Victor), king of the Belgian (April 9th 1835 - December 17th 1909), prince de Belgique, duke of Saxony, prince of Saxony-Cobourg-Gotha, duke of the Brabant (1835-1865), king of the Belgians (1865-1909), Sovereign of the State Independent of Congo (1884-1908), succeeded his/her father, Léopold Ier, on the Belgian throne in 1865. His/her mother was Louise of Orleans. His/her son him not having survived, it is his nephew, Albert Ier, which succeeded to him its death.
The monarch had his own private colony, the State independent of Congo, on which he exerted his sovereignty of 1884 to 1908. Parallel to its colonial policy, it implemented the intensive exploitation and the harvest of rubber, much in demand product at the time, and promoted the construction of way of railroads. This private colony in any case made it possible to the king to grow rich considerably. Many buildings and of monuments of Brussels were built by the king-builder thanks to this money drawn from the exploitation of the resources of Congo. Work conditions of the autochtones in Congo de Léopold II, and the behavior of Europeans with respect to them was condemned by certain contemporaries, and is prone to controversy today. Following an international campaign carried out by the British , in particular Edmund Dene Morel, denouncing the brutal treatment of the local populations by the colonial ones, added to the report/ratio Breaking, the position of the King became intolerable. He ends up yielding the sovereignty of Congo to the Belgian nation. The Belgian government re-elected the Belgian territory Congo.
First yearsLéopold was born with Brussels. At a young age, it engaged in the Belgian army, and in Brussels, the August 22nd 1853, it married Marie-Henriette of Habsbourg-Lorraine, archduchess of Austria, born with Pesth, Austria (now Budapest, Hungary) the August 23rd 1836, and died in Spa, Belgium the September 19th 1902. It was the girl of Joseph, archduke of Austria (1776 - 1847) which was the son of Léopold II, Germanic Roman Emperor (1747 - 1792).
Léopold II and Marie-Henriette had four children:
- Louise-Marie Amélie, princess of Belgium, duchess of Saxony, princess of Saxony-Cobourg-Gotha, born in Brussels the February 18th 1858 and died with Wiesbaden March 1st 1924. She married on February 4th, 1875 (and divorced in 1906) prince Philippe of Saxony-Cobourg-Gotha (3/28/1844 - 7/3/1921). Descent: Léopold (1878-1916) and Dorothéa (1881-1967).
Léopold Ferdinand Élie Victor Albert Marie, prince de Belgique, duke of Saxony, prince of Saxony-Cobourg-Gotha, Count de Hainaut (as an oldest son of the heir apparent), then Duke of the Brabant (like heir apparent), born in Laeken the June 12th 1859 and died in Laeken the January 22nd 1869.
Stéphanie Clotilde Louise Herminie Marie Charlotte, princess of Belgium, duchess of Saxony, princess of Saxony-Cobourg-Gotha, archduchess of Austria, princess royal of Hungary and Bohemia, born in Laeken on May 21st, 1864 and died in the castle of Oroszvar on August 23rd, 1945. She married in Vienna on May 10th, 1881, prince Rodolphe de Hasbourg, heir to Austria-Hungary which committed suicide in Mayerling in company of its mistress Marie Vetsera on January 30th, 1889. Its destiny breaks: she will be never empress of Austria-Hungary. Descent: Elisabeth-Marie, known as Erzi (1883-1963). Then she married, on March 22nd, 1900, the count (as from 1917) Elemér Lonyay de Nagy Lonya and Vasaros Nameny (8/24/1863 - 1946), diplomat.
Clementine Albertine Marie Léopoldine, princess of Belgium, duchess of Saxony, princess of Saxony-Cobourg-Gotha, born on July 30th, 1872 and dead on March 8th, 1955. She married Napoleon-Victor Bonaparte (7/18/1862 - 5/3/1926).
It divided the layer of sulfurous the Blanche Delacroix, baroness of Vaughan, which in addition maintained a connection with his/her lover always, Antoine Durrieux. From this situation two wire resulted which nacquirent little before the secret marriage on December 14th, 1909 of this lady with Leopold II:
Lucien Philippe Marie Antoine (1906-1984), without descent;
- Philippe Henri Marie François (1907-1914).
Both were adopted, after the death of Léopold II, by Antoine Durrieux, who married their mother in 1910.
King of the BelgiansLéopold II becomes King in 1865, with died of his/her Léopold father Ist.
It is called the " king bâtisseur" because it transformed cities like Brussels or Ostend and constituted an important field in Ardenne. In Brussels, it is at the origin of the construction of the royal greenhouses of Laeken, of the park and the Arcades of the Fiftieth anniversary, of the layout of the avenue of Tervuren, the creation of public parks like the Duden park, and of the transformation of the royal palace of Brussels. Its field in Ardenne comprises 6.700 ha of forests and agricultural land, a golf, the castles of Ciergnon, Fenffe, Villers-on-Injures and Ferage. In Ostend, it makes build the hippodrome, the galleries located on the dam and the Marie-Henriette Park. It also increases the royal field of Laeken. But like specifies it Adam Hochschild in his work, the Phantoms of the king Léopold : “Truths goals of these royal gifts were to leave with the load of the nation the care to maintain these properties and to prevent that does not profit from them these three girls, to which it was held, according to the Belgian Loi, to bequeath personal goods”, all three, which it refused to see. These royal gifts had as an independent source the benefit which the rubber reported to him, as its possibility of emitting obligations on the country which it controlled, the Congo (“money in action S which was intended for the development of Congo, but a very weak part was used over there. Léopold preferred to make use in Europe of it much. ”)
At the time of its sixty-fifth birthday in 1900, the king Léopold II emits the wish to bequeath at the Belgian State important sound deprived inheritance with the proviso of not alienating it, of preserving its natural beauties and of placing certain goods at the disposal of the Belgian royal family and the Nation. In 1903, Belgium accepts the donation of the king provided that this inheritance generates itself the money necessary to its maintenance without financial aid of the State. The royal donation must give an account of its management to the federal minister for finances.
Léopold supported military defense as bases Belgian neutrality, but it could sign the relative law with the universal conscription only on its bed of death.
Interests in Africa
In 1876 Léopold II organizes a international association like folding screen for its private project to develop the central Africa. In 1879, under the patronage of Léopold, Henry Morton Stanley enters in competition with the explorer French Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza to acquire rights on the area of Congo. During the five following years, Stanley works to open Congo lower than the trade, building a road of the river lower than the Stanley Pool (currently Pool Malebo), where the river becomes navigable.
With the Conference of Berlin of 1884-85, representatives of 14 European countries and the the United States recognized with the AIC, chapeautée by Léopold, sovereignty on the State independent of Congo. In 1891, it employed the Canadian explorer , and ordering military British, William Grant Stairs in order to take again the control of the Katanga, coveted by Cecil Rhodos.
The occupation is primarily pushed towards the southernmost valley of the Nile. Léopold makes a point moreover of establishing a railway network along the Congo river and of its affluents, to create the sources of revenue essential to the self-financing of the company and the self-management of the conquered territory.
Colonial competition is then with its zenith. Testimonys establishing the unworthy exploitation and the ill treatments whose was victim the indigenous population, including slavery, malnutrition, and the mutilation, in particular in the industry of rubber, led to an international movement of protest carried out by the British to the beginning of the year 1900. The journalist and British writer Edmund Dene Morel is one of the first to alert the international opinion on the made exactions. In 1907, Octave Mirbeau will evoke in its turn these atrocities in a chapter of the 628-E8, " Rubber rouge". The charges are included in the book the Phantoms of the king Léopold. They had been stated before in a less radical way by certain historians, of which Jean Stengers, specialist in the history of the Belgian Congo, in Congo, Mythes and realities which however considers that Congo is among the colonies of Africa which suffered the most
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