Person:Leopold II of Belgium (1)

Leopold II of Belgium
d.17 Dec 1909
Facts and Events
Name Leopold II of Belgium
Gender Male
Birth[1][2] 9 Apr 1835 The City of Brussels, Brabant, Belgium
Marriage to Marie Henriette of Austria
Death[1] 17 Dec 1909
Reference Number? Q12967?

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Leopold II (; 9 April 1835 – 17 December 1909) was the second King of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909 and the self-made autocratic ruler of the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908.

Born in Brussels as the second but eldest surviving son of Leopold I and Louise of Orléans, he succeeded his father to the Belgian throne in 1865 and reigned for exactly 44 years until his death, the longest reign of a Belgian monarch to date. He died without surviving legitimate sons. The current Belgian king descends from his nephew and successor, Albert I.

Leopold was the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State, a private project undertaken on his own behalf as a personal union with Belgium. He used Henry Morton Stanley to help him lay claim to the Congo, the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, the colonial nations of Europe authorised his claim and committed the Congo Free State to him. Leopold ran the Congo by using the mercenary Force Publique for his personal gain. He extracted a fortune from the territory, initially by the collection of ivory and, after a rise in the price of natural rubber in the 1890s, by forced labour from the native population to harvest and process rubber.

Leopold's administration of the Congo Free State was characterized by atrocities and systematic brutality, including torture; murder; and the amputation of the hands of men, women and children when the quota of rubber was not met. In 1890 and in one of the first uses of the term, George Washington Williams described the practices of Leopold's administration of the Congo Free State as "crimes against humanity".

These and other facts were established at the time by eyewitness testimony, on-site inspection by an international commission of inquiry, and the 1904 Casement Report. Modern estimates for the Congolese population decline during his rule ranges from 1 million to 15 million. Some historians argue against these figures by citing the lack of reliable censuses, the enormous mortality caused by smallpox and African trypanosomiasis and the fact that there were only 175 administrative agents in charge of rubber exploitation.[1][2] In 1908, the reports of deaths and abuse and pressure from the Congo Reform Association and other international groups induced the Belgian government to take over the administration of the Congo from Leopold as a new territory, Belgian Congo.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Leopold II of Belgium, in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.
  2. Léopold II de Belgique, in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.