A report on Leopold II of Belgium

Royal portrait, c. 1900
Leopold as a younger man in the uniform of the Grenadiers (Portrait by Nicaise de Keyser)
Leopold II at his accession to the throne
The Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark memorial arcade and museums in Brussels, commissioned by Leopold II
Cartoon depicting Leopold II laying the first stone of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Brussels
Map of the Congo Free State, c. 1890
Cartoon depicting Leopold II and other imperial powers at the Berlin conference of 1884
A father stares at the hand and foot of his five-year-old daughter, severed as a punishment for having harvested too little rubber.
A 1906 Punch cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne depicting Leopold II as a rubber snake entangling a Congolese rubber collector.
Leopold II's funeral procession passes the unfinished Royal Palace of Brussels, 22 December 1909
Statue in Kinshasa, which is no longer on display.
Leopold and Marie Henriette

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.

- Leopold II of Belgium
Royal portrait, c. 1900

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Congo Free State

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Large state and absolute monarchy in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908.

Large state and absolute monarchy in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908.

Leopold II, King of the Belgians and de facto owner of the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908
Henry Morton Stanley, whose exploration of the Congo region at Leopold's invitation led to the establishment of the Congo Free State under personal sovereignty
Cartoon depicting Leopold II and other imperial powers at Berlin conference 1884
Map of the Congo Free State in 1892
Steamboat in the Congo Free State, 1899
'La revue' of the Force Publique, Boma, capital city of the Congo Free State, 1899
The concessions and the Domaine de la Couronne. The infamous A.B.I.R. company is shown in dark red.
Cecil Rhodes attempted to expand the territory of the British South Africa Company northward into the Congo basin, presenting a problem for Leopold II.
Francis Dhanis, ca. 1900
Clearing tropical forests ate away at profit margins. However, ample plots of cleared land were already available. Above, a Congolese farming village (Baringa, Equateur) is emptied and leveled to make way for a rubber plantation.
Congolese labourers tapping rubber near Lusambo in Kasai.
A typical Force Publique regiment, circa 1900
A Congolese man, Nsala, looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year-old daughter who was killed and allegedly cannibalized by members of the Force Publique in 1904.
Mutilated Congolese children, image from King Leopold's Soliloquy, Mark Twain's political satire, where the aging king complains that the incorruptible camera was the only witness he had encountered in his long experience that he could not bribe. The book was illustrated with photographs by John Hobbis Harris.
Cartoon by British caricaturist 'Francis Carruthers Gould' depicting King Leopold II, and the Congo Free State.
A 1906 Punch cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne, depicting Leopold II as a snake entangling a Congolese man
Roger Casement
E.D. Morel
Proclamation from Inspector-general Ghislain to the population of the Congo, announcing the annexation of the territory by Belgium in 1908
Equestrian statue of Leopold II at the Regent place in Brussels, Belgium
The Monument to General Storms in Brussels daubed in red paint, symbol of the blood of the Congolese people.
Congolese people working at the port of Leopoldville
Construction of a railroad by Congolese workers
Melting latex of rubber in the forest of Lusambo

It was privately owned by and in a personal union with Leopold II of Belgium; it was not a part of, nor did it belong to, the Kingdom of Belgium, of which he was the constitutional monarch.

Brussels

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Region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium.

Region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium.

Charles of Lorraine founded what would become Brussels, c. 979.
View of Brussels, c. 1610
The Grand Place after the 1695 bombardment by the French army
Episode of the Belgian Revolution of 1830, Gustaf Wappers, 1834
The Place Royale/Koningsplein in the late 19th century
The 1927 Solvay Conference in Brussels was the fifth world physics conference.
British tanks arrive in Brussels on 4 September 1944, ending the German occupation
Satellite picture of the Greater Brussels area
The Royal Palace of Brussels
Regions of Belgium:
The Brussels Parliament building
Communities of Belgium:
Aerial view of the European Quarter
The Place du Luxembourg/Luxemburgplein with the European Parliament in the background
Headquarters of Eurocontrol in Haren
Flags of NATO member states wave at the entrance of NATO's headquarters in Haren
Population density of Europe. Brussels is located between the largest urban centres.
Estimate of languages spoken at home (Capital Region, 2013)
Bilingual French and Dutch street signs in Brussels
The municipalities with language facilities (in red) near Brussels
The National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg
The Great Mosque of Brussels is the seat of the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium.
Manneken Pis is a well-known public sculpture in Brussels.
The Grand Place of Brussels, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Flagey Building (or Maison de la Radio) in Ixelles
The Atomium, a landmark of Brussels
The Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark memorial arcade and museums
The Royal Theatre of La Monnaie
Meyboom giants in Brussels, a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage
Brussels Summer Festival (BSF)
Zinneke Parade of Brussels
Brussels is known for its local waffles.
Flea Market on the Place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein
20 km of Brussels
R.S.C. Anderlecht fans at the Lotto Park
Brussels' Northern Quarter business district
The former Brussels Stock Exchange building
Main building on the Solbosch campus of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
The Royal Library of Belgium (KBR)
The Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium
Erasmus Hospital in Anderlecht
Brussels Airlines Airbus A319 landing at Brussels Airport in Zaventem
The Saint Catherine Dock, Eugène Boudin, 1871
Main hall of Brussels-South railway station, home to the Eurostar train service to London
High-speed rail networks connect Brussels with other European cities (ICE train in the North Station pictured).
Brussels Metro carriage at Erasme/Erasmus metro station
Network map of the Brussels Metro
Villo! shared bicycles in Brussels
The Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat is one of the city's main streets.
Policeman in Brussels
Anderlecht
Auderghem (Oudergem)
Berchem-Sainte-Agathe (Sint-Agatha-Berchem)
City of Brussels
Etterbeek
Evere
Forest (Vorst)
Ganshoren
Ixelles (Elsene)
Jette
Koekelberg
Molenbeek-Saint-Jean (Sint-Jans-Molenbeek)
Saint-Gilles (Sint-Gillis)
Saint-Josse-ten-Noode (Sint-Joost-ten-Node)
Schaerbeek (Schaarbeek)
Uccle (Ukkel)
Watermael-Boitsfort (Watermaal-Bosvoorde)
Woluwe-Saint-Lambert (Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe)
Woluwe-Saint-Pierre (Sint-Pieters-Woluwe)
Hôtel Tassel by Victor Horta (1893)
Stairway in Hôtel Tassel
Hôtel Ciamberlani by Paul Hankar (1897)
Former Old England department store by Paul Saintenoy (1899)
Saint-Cyr House by Gustave Strauven (1903)
Cauchie House by Paul Cauchie (1905)
Sgraffito panel in the Cauchie House
Stoclet Palace by Josef Hoffmann (1911)
Brussels' Park
Mont des Arts / Kunstberg
Parc du Cinquantenaire / Jubelpark
Bois de la Cambre / Ter Kamerenbos
The Botanical Garden of Brussels
Ixelles Ponds
Forest Park
The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
Sonian Forest
Jette

This development continued throughout the reign of King Leopold II.

Portrait by Nicaise de Keyser, 1856

Leopold I of Belgium

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The first King of the Belgians, reigning from 21 July 1831 until his death in 1865.

The first King of the Belgians, reigning from 21 July 1831 until his death in 1865.

Portrait by Nicaise de Keyser, 1856
Portrait of Leopold by George Dawe (circa 1818–1825)
Ehrenburg Palace in Coburg, where Leopold was born in 1790, pictured c. 1900
Engraving of the wedding of Charlotte and Leopold in 1816
Leopold taking the constitutional oath during his enthronement. By the artist Gustaf Wappers
Leopold I's personal monogram
Leopold depicted on the first Belgian postage stamp, issued in 1849
Engraving of Leopold's theatrical offer in 1848 to abdicate if it was the will of the Belgian people
Leopold (right), with Queen Victoria, the Duke of Oporto (future Luís I of Portugal) (center) and rest of the family in an early photograph of 1859
Leopold's funeral cortege in Brussels on 16 December 1865

He died in 1865 and was succeeded by his son, Leopold II.

Map of the Congo Free State in 1892

Atrocities in the Congo Free State

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Map of the Congo Free State in 1892
Congolese labourers tapping rubber near Lusambo in Kasai
Force Publique soldiers photographed in 1900
A missionary points to the severed hand of a Congolese villager. Severed hands were "the most potent symbol of colonial brutality" in the Congo.
A line of Congolese prisoners in Basoko joined by large neck chains
1906 cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne published in the British satirical magazine Punch showing a Congolese worker, entangled by a rubber snake with the head of Leopold II.
Alice Seeley Harris' photo of a father looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year-old daughter. Her photos helped to expose the human rights abuses in the Congo
Picture of "Congolese men holding cut off hands" captured by Alice Seeley Harris in Baringa, May 1904
Monument of colonial propaganda to Leopold II in Arlon, southern Belgium, erected in 1951: "I undertook the work of the Congo in the interest of civilisation and for the good of Belgium."
Congolese slave whipped with a sjambok

In the period from 1885 to 1908, many well-documented atrocities were perpetrated in the Congo Free State (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) which, at the time, was a state under the absolute rule of King Leopold II of the Belgians.

Belgium

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Country in Northwestern Europe.

Country in Northwestern Europe.

Gallia Belgica at the time of Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul in 54 BCE
The Burgundian State of Charles the Bold in the 15th century
Episode of the Belgian Revolution of 1830, Gustaf Wappers, 1834
Cheering crowds greet British troops entering Brussels, 4 September 1944
Relief map of Belgium
Chart illustrating the federal government construction of Belgium
The Belgian Federal Parliament in Brussels, one of six different governments of the country
Regions:
A proportional representation of Belgium exports, 2019
Steelmaking along the Meuse at Ougrée, near Liège
Port of Zeebrugge
Gerardus Mercator
Population density in Belgium by arrondissement.
Brussels, the capital city and largest metropolitan area of Belgium
Bilingual signs in Brussels
National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg, Brussels
Interior of the Great Synagogue of Brussels
The Great Mosque of Brussels
University Hospital of Antwerp
The Central Library of the KU Leuven University
The Ghent Altarpiece: The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (interior view), painted 1432 by van Eyck
Jacques Brel
The Gilles of Binche, in costume, wearing wax masks
Moules-frites or mosselen met friet is a representative dish of Belgium.
Eddy Merckx, regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time
The Berlaymont building in Brussels, seat of the European Commission

Between 1885 and 1908, the Congo Free State, which was privately owned by King Leopold II of Belgium, was characterized by widespread atrocities and a population decline of millions, leading Belgium to takeover the territory as a colony.

Monarchy of Belgium

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Constitutional, hereditary, and popular monarchy.

Constitutional, hereditary, and popular monarchy.

Equestrian statue of King Leopold II in Brussels, Belgium
Busts of the first five Kings of the Belgians
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Brussels is the National Basilica of Belgium.
Au grand Rasoir, a Royal warrant holder with Royal crest.
The Royal palace is used for state occasions at court.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde wave to the crowds in Brussels after Philippe's swearing in as the new Belgian monarch, 21 July 2013.
King Albert and Queen Elisabeth in prayer for Our Lady of Laeken, an image displaying the Catholic faith of the royal house.

Leopold's son, King Leopold II, is chiefly remembered for the founding and capitalization of the Congo Free State as a personal fiefdom.

The Queen in 1875

Marie Henriette of Austria

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The Queen in 1875
Alliance Coat of Arms of King Leopold II and Queen Marie Henriette of Belgium
Royal Monogram of Queen Marie-Henriette of Belgium
Archduchess Marie Henriette of Austria, 1850s
Marie Henriette and Leopold II of Belgium
The Queen consort of the Belgians by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, circa 1865
Marie Henriette of Belgium, late 1860s
Marie Henriette of Austria, Queen of the Belgians, circa 1867
Portrait of Queen Marie Henriette (1870s)
Twenty-fifth wedding anniversary of King Leopold II and Queen Marie-Henriette, Royal Palace (Brussels), 22 August 1878.

Marie Henriette Anne of Austria (23 August 1836 – 19 September 1902) was Queen of the Belgians as the wife of King Leopold II.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Country in Central Africa.

Country in Central Africa.

View of Leopoldville Station and Port in 1884
1908 photograph of a married Christian couple.
Force Publique soldiers in the Belgian Congo in 1918. At its peak, the Force Publique had around 19,000 Congolese soldiers, led by 420 Belgian officers.
The leader of ABAKO, Joseph Kasa-Vubu, first democratically elected President of Congo-Léopoldville
Patrice Lumumba, first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Congo-Léopoldville, was murdered by Belgian-supported Katangan separatists in 1961
Mobutu Sese Seko and Richard Nixon in Washington, D.C., 1973.
Mobutu with the Dutch Prince Bernhard in Kinshasa in 1973
Belligerents of the Second Congo War
Refugees in the Congo
People fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebel groups, North Kivu, 2012
Government troops near Goma during the M23 rebellion in May 2013
DR Congo's President Félix Tshisekedi with neighbouring Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso in 2020; both wear face masks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The map of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo map of Köppen climate classification
Ituri Rainforest
Mount Nyiragongo, which last erupted in 2021.
Salonga National Park.
Masisi Territory
Lake Kivu in North Kivu province
Bas-Congo landscape
An Okapi
A male western gorilla
Hippopotami
Joseph Kabila was President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from January 2001 to January 2019.
President Joseph Kabila with U.S. President Barack Obama in August 2014
FARDC soldiers on patrol in Ituri province
A group of demobilized child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
A proportional representation of Democratic Republic of the Congo exports, 2019
Change in per capita GDP of Congo, 1950–2018. Figures are inflation-adjusted to 2011 International dollars.
Rough diamonds ≈1 to 1.5 mm in size from DR Congo.
DR Congo's Human Development Index scores, 1970–2010.
Collecting firewood in Basankusu.
Train from Lubumbashi arriving in Kindu on a newly refurbished line.
Map of rail network
Major Bantu languages in the Congo
Kongo youth and adults in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Amani festival in Goma
Family in Rutshuru, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo
The population pyramid of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Bukavu
A classroom in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Development of life expectancy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Population fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebels groups, Sake North Kivu 30 April 2012
A Hemba male statue
Stade des Martyrs in Kinshasa.
The Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Lubumbashi

King Leopold II of Belgium formally acquired rights to the Congo territory in 1885 and declared the land his private property, naming it the Congo Free State.

Belgian Congo

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Belgian colony in Central Africa from 1908 until independence in 1960.

Belgian colony in Central Africa from 1908 until independence in 1960.

The Belgian Congo (dark green) shown alongside Ruanda-Urundi (light green), 1935
Leopold II, King of the Belgians and de facto owner of the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908
The Belgian Congo (dark green) shown alongside Ruanda-Urundi (light green), 1935
Children mutilated during King Leopold II's rule
Former residence of the Governor-General of the Belgian Congo (1908–1923) located in Boma
On the left hand side, the former Ministry of the Colonies, adjacent to the Constitutional Court, Brussels
Map of the Belgian Congo
The Force Publique in German East Africa during World War I
A steam boat arriving at Boma on the Congo River in 1912
Belgo-Congolese troops of the Force Publique after the Battle of Tabora, 19 September 1916
Ruandan migrant workers at the Kisanga mine in Katanga, ca. 1920
Railways (grey/black) and navigable waterways (purple) in the Belgian Congo
Propaganda leaflet produced by the Ministry of the Colonies in the early 1920s
The majority of the uranium used in the Manhattan Project came from the Shinkolobwe mine.
Students in the Teaching laboratory, Medical School, Yakusu, c. undefined 1930–1950
Scheutist missionary on tour in the neighbourhood of Léopoldville around 1920
Education by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (c. undefined 1930)
Nurses of the Union Minière du Haut-Katanga and their Congolese assistants, Élisabethville, 1918
A female missionary is pulled in a rickshaw by Congolese men, c. undefined 1920–1930
King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth inspecting the military camp of Léopoldville during their visit to the Belgian Congo, 1928
Joseph Kasa-Vubu, leader of ABAKO and the first democratically elected President of the Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville)
Patrice Lumumba, first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville)
Opening meeting of the Belgo-Congolese Round Table Conference in Brussels on 20 January 1960
Lumumba and Eyskens sign the document granting independence to the Congo
Belgian soldier lying in front of dead hostages, November 1964, in Stanleyville during Operation Dragon Rouge. Belgian paratroopers freed over 1,800 European and American hostages held by Congolese rebels.
Equestrian statue of Leopold II in Kinshasa

King Leopold II of the Belgians attempted to persuade the Belgian government to support colonial expansion around the then-largely unexploited Congo Basin.

Stanley, with pith helmet, in 1872.

Henry Morton Stanley

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Welsh-American explorer, journalist, soldier, colonial administrator, author and politician who was famous for his exploration of Central Africa and his search for missionary and explorer David Livingstone, whom he later claimed to have greeted with the now-famous line: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?".

Welsh-American explorer, journalist, soldier, colonial administrator, author and politician who was famous for his exploration of Central Africa and his search for missionary and explorer David Livingstone, whom he later claimed to have greeted with the now-famous line: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?".

Stanley, with pith helmet, in 1872.
Portrait of a young Henry Morton Stanley c.1870s
Stanley's graffito at Persepolis, Iran
"Dr. Livingstone, I presume?", an illustration from Stanley's 1872 book How I Found Livingstone
1872 Carte de visite – Stanley and Kalulu.
Henry M Stanley with the officers of the Advance Column, Cairo, 1890. From the left: Dr. Thomas Heazle Parke, Robert H. Nelson, Henry M. Stanley, William G. Stairs, and Arthur J. M. Jephson
Henry M. Stanley in 1884
Henry Morton Stanley, 1890
Studio Portrait of Henry Morton Stanley, ca. 1890, published by L Herbst, Sydney
Henry Stanley and party standing on the back of an observation car at Monterey, California, 19 March 1891
Comparison of Africa in the years 1880 and 1913
Henry Morton Stanley's grave in Pirbright, Surrey
Memorial to H. M. Stanley in St Asaph
Henry M. Stanley in 1884

Besides his discovery of Livingstone, he is mainly known for his search for the sources of the Nile and Congo rivers, the work he undertook as an agent of King Leopold II of the Belgians which enabled the occupation of the Congo Basin region, and his command of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition.