Historical story

Who was Leopold II of Belgium?

Leopold II of Belgium , born Leopold Louis Philippe Maria Victor of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha , Prince of Belgium, Duke of Brabant and King of the Belgians, from 10 December 1865 to 17 December 1909.

Leopold II of Belgium was the second son of Leopold of Belgium, the first king of Belgium and above all of the Belgians, and consequently was a maternal cousin of Queen Victoria and on the paternal side, he was also a cousin of Prince Consort Albert , husband of Victoria, and during the reign of her cousin, he found refuge in England, when in 1848, his grandfather, Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans and king of the French, he was deposed in the context of the second French revolution.

The King of the Belgians

Leopold II of Belgium is therefore a man totally immersed in the history of his time, he perfectly knows the dynamics, balances and mechanics of Europe of the second nineteenth century, and when, in 1865 he succeeded his father to the throne of Belgium as king of the Belgians, he was, in a certain way, forced to be a king in step with the times.

He had learned from the British stay the secrets for the survival and maintenance of the crown, and had learned from his youthful stay in France, and from his grandfather, the mistakes not to make if one wanted to remain on the throne, moreover, he had learned from his father, the importance of building a solid network of international alliances, such as to make even a small kingdom like that of Belgium, central to the European and international chessboard.

Leopoldo had all the credentials to be, in Europe, a great and brilliant sovereign, we could almost define him as an enlightened sovereign, who, thanks to his alliances and kinship, would have succeeded, in 1884-85, during the African conference West, in Berlin also known as the Berlin Conference, to obtain for itself a small piece of Africa, during the process of continental division between the European powers.

The king of the Congo

In 1885 Leopold II of Belgium assumes a second crown on his head, the crown of the King of Belgium.

Already in the wording we can identify a monarchical interpretation different from the Belgian crown, in Belgium Leopoldo was King of the Belgians, by the will of the people of Belgium, in Congo instead, he adopted an ancient wording, that of King of the Congo, a wording proper to the ancient regime and absolute monarchies vanished with the French Revolution and the Congress of Vienna (in the British case, with the glorious revolution and in Russia with the February revolution) . In short, a wording that had been swept away from Europe with uprisings, revolts, and rivers of blood, but Africa was not Europe, Africa was a world unto itself, and there, the noble princes of the modern world, came soon to fail.

Nineteenth-century imperialism does not belong only to Leopoldo of Belgium, but is practiced, in a violent and at times ruthless way a bit by all the European powers, however, in Leopoldo's Congo, it went perhaps a little too far, reaching a level of cruelty and inhumanity, which in history can only be associated with the III Reich .

The reign of Leopold I of the Congo represents one of the bloodiest, darkest, violent and shameful chapters in the history of the whole of humanity and was characterized by a terrifying and inhuman internal politics that went beyond all limits and all imaginations.

The horrors of Leopoldo in Congo

Mutilation, humiliation, rape, decimation etc. were used as punitive tools, against the indigenous population of the Congo, a population that was totally enslaved, through the practice of what is now known as private colonialism, or the granting of licenses of territorial exploitation to private investors who, in possession of that license, assumed full rights on the land, within certain boundaries established by the office, and everything that was within those boundaries.

This type of colonialism, fueled by the greed of the king and the colonizers, had as its main effect the reintroduction of slavery in the Congo, which immediately resulted in extreme living and working conditions.

Leopold's private colonizers soon discovered that fear was an extremely effective tool for increasing the productivity of their slaves and that the more cruel the punishments were inflicted, the fewer desertions were, and the only side effect was a high death rate. , which, however, was supplanted by an almost unlimited reserve of slaves.

Between 1885 and 1909 the situation in the Congo is indescribable, and the indigenous population loses every trace of humanity, as they are starved, forced to work continuously, perpetually chained, and systematically mutilated and decimated.

The pinnacle of cruelty was reached when some colonial companies developed a method of control over the indigenous population which consisted of creating working couples, two men were chained together and if one did not work at the right pace, the other was obliged to punish him. . These floggings took place in public, and unfortunately, they represented only the beginning of a long journey to hell.

Slaves were systematically mutilated and decimated, women were systematically raped and sold as objects of pleasure if they were lucky ... if they weren't, their destiny was to become the birthplace of new children, to feed the ranks of workers.

Nel caso non fosse chiaro cosa significa, stiamo parlando di allevamenti intensivi di schiavi, in cui le donne venivano stuprate e costrette a partorire bambini destinati a diventare schiavi. Schiavi che avrebbero iniziato a lavorare nei campi di gomma, o come servitori nelle residenze private, appena ne avessero avuto la capacità fisica, parliamo di schiavi bambini di cinque o sei anni al massimo, e di bambine stuprate al primo mestruo.

This is the Congo of Leopold I of the Congo, and it is no wonder that at his death the crown of the Congo would have vanished and his successor in Belgium, Albert I of Belgium, grandson of Lopoldo II and son of Philip of Belgium (third son of Leopoldo I) he would have totally distanced himself from his uncle's reign and politics, and during World War I, he would have declared Belgium neutral, since, according to him, of horror and blood, the Belgian crown had already shed too much.

To learn more

G. Piccolino, Civilization lives! King Leopold and his Congo, https://amzn.to/320uaHw
M.Camargo Milani, Genocídio no Congo:Leopoldo II, or Imperialism and or African Holocaust (1885-1908), https://amzn.to/2PrZrAu
M.Twain, Soliloquy of King Leopold. Apology for his role in Congo, https://amzn.to/2N2oXuF
E.Hobsbawm, Age of Empires (1875-1914), https://amzn.to/2JzSx8y
M.Bloch, The Feudal Society, https://amzn.to/2MZvGoX
J.Newsinger, The Black Book of the British Empire, https://amzn.to/2MX5I5w