Albert I of Belgium

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King Albert I of Belgium
King Albert touring the Belgian Congo in 1909
Newspaper compilation in December 1909 shows Albert at top left after inspection of a mine. His wife and children are at bottom right.
King Albert wearing the uniform of a British infantry officer inspecting the front line with British and Belgian officers.
King Albert climbing in the Dolomites in 1932.

King Albert I (April 8, 1875February 17, 1934) reigned as King of the Belgians from 1909 to 1934. He ruled during an eventful period in the history of Belgium, which included the period of World War I (1914–1918), when 90 percent of Belgium was overrun, occupied, and ruled by the German Empire. He also acquired the former German colony of Ruanda-Urundi as a Belgian League of Nations mandate during negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles, and led Belgium through the Great Depression.


  • In short, there is a great deal of stagnation among the settlers and the medium-sized enterprises. The native there is often mistreated, exploited and has no medical care. In the Menteau farm, we observed a considerable number of varicose ulcers, which hardly exists at UM and La Forminière. There is no dispensary on this farm. The small settler can succeed in the Congo, one can doubt it, he lives by the exploitation of the native whom he makes work like a convict and moreover, he takes back his meager salary by selling him bad goods. The settler is often doubled as a trafficker, they complement each other, the system truck. Besides, the whole colonial edifice rests on the negro's shoulders. He alone is the source of profit, thanks to the excessive exploitation of which he is the object. In a colony, where there are few transport routes, where those that exist demand exorbitant prices, where there is little or no mechanical handling, no workhorse, only the degradation of the workforce - work can maintain the commercial level of the cost price. Large companies have the merit, through their tools, their medical assistance, their works of providing more treatment and of not wasting manpower.
  • The British people realise that they are fighting for the hegemony of the Empire. If necessary we shall continue the war single-handed.
    • Lord Curzon, quoted in King Albert I of Belgium's diary (7 February 1916), cited in R. van Overstraeten (ed.), The War Diaries of Albert I King of the Belgians (1954), p. 85

Quotes about to King Albert I[edit]

  • It is the great misery in the Congo, the negro does all the work, he is not paid, he is beaten. When the whites return to Europe, they are replaced by Others who mistreat us. King Albert and Queen Elisabeth came, when they are there, we are left alone, but when they are gone, it will be the same. The King does not know all this, everything is hidden from him. It is the great misery here in the Congo. The captain is very bad for us, but when Queen Elisabeth is on the boat, he does not dare to hit us.

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