Leopold II of Belgium

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
King Leopold II of Belgium

Leopold Lodewijk Philip Maria Victor (Brussels, April 9, 1835 – Laeken, December 17, 1909), Prince of Belgium, Duke of Saxony, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Brabant and Senator of Belgium, was the second King of the Belgians. He was the second but eldest surviving son of Belgium's first king Leopold I of Belgium and Queen Louise Marie of Orléans. He succeeded his father to the throne on December 17, 1865 and remained king until his death in 1909. Leopold II was also the founder and King sovereign of the Congo Free State, which he obtained through the Berlin Conference.

Quotes[edit]

Drawing of Leopold II at the side of his father King Leopold I, his mother Louise of Orléans, his brother Prince Philippe of Belgium, the Count of Flanders, and his sister Princess Charlotte of Belgium, the future Empress of Mexico.jpg
Louise of Orléans (Queen of the Belgians) with her son Prince Leopold, Duke of Brabant (future Leopold II) by Gustaf Wappers
Leopold and Marie Henriette
  • I sleep poorly. This long abstinence is destroying me. My nature needs frequent contacts with the beautiful gender. I don't understand how priests can live like this.
  • I am very satisfied with my invention. With this pocket, the rain can fall, and i'm not afraid: my beard will stay dry. You laugh, but you don't laugh when a woman, after washing her hair, dries it and wraps it in a towel. You are not laughing, and yet it is the same. Women drying their hair, and I guaranteeing my beard from the rain, we are only keeping us from colds!
  • Nothing is more difficult than arriving at a court where nobody knows anyone in the world, add to that the Austrian Etiquette, and you can imagine what kind of evening I had to endure.
    • Leopold II - Het Hele Verhaal (Aflevering 1) Prince Leopold in a letter to his brother Prince Philippe and sister Princess Carlota, on being received by the Austrian court to meet his future bride 'Marie Henriette of Austria'.
  • One aim of the hostilities is a reunification of Catholics under one crown, with the rivers as the northern boundary, to reach that goal we must launch a decisive attack on Amsterdam, depose the king, and at the very least let the people decide which government it prefers.
  • France need not to extend its own borders, that would only have a counterproductive effect, however, it should surround itself with allies and friends whom it must make more powerful, and whom in turn make France itself more powerful, such an approach will not disturb anyone, free and without In this way, France can fence itself with reliable allies, it goes without saying that 6 or 7 million Piedmontese, 3 million Swiss, 8 million Belgians and 37 million French can provide the French emperor with a larger, better organized and more complete armed forces than those possessed by the Empire of 50 million people, all the emperor has to do is give us permission to invade the Netherlands, thanks in part to his prestige a quick and easy victory awaits us.

Quotes related to Belgium[edit]

Oath-taking of Leopold II of Belgium, Palace of the Nation (Brussels), 17 December 1865.
Leopold II, King of the Belgians
  • Dear Minister, please let me know how many men are actually available in Hainaut, Ghent and Brussels, please also inform me of any measures that will allow you to remain in control of the situation if necessary, I wish you the assurance, dear minister, of my total devotion, Leopold.
  • I will instruct the minister of war to strengthen the Gendarmerie in Brussels, to recognize the addresses and customs of the demagogues and to try to find out what is coming up, I am told that the demonstrations which are only intended as intimidation and as preparation in an unguarded moment are able to turn into something else, once they have everyone on the street they will attack the government, what measure have you taken to face such a surprise attack? Do the regiments have been ordered to march on their own accord to the Rue de la Loi and the Boulvard, where in the summer it is more difficult to summon soldiers, will they be more satisfied now, working in the open air is now impossible, if I were you I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to summon them, the responsibility is too great, you are not protected from an incident, and you will have to face a formidable riot, all yours leopold.
  • Dear Minister, I particularly regret that the government, as I had expressly requested, did not make the royal referendum a sine qua non, three points in the program concern the crown directly, the possibility of expanding the territory, the referendum and the princely marriages, I would have liked to see this matter implemented, we have been clear about this during our discussions, we have taken a very moderate attitude with this at a time when the most democratic constitution in Europe is being even more democratized, a constitution drawn up during a revolution, and at a time when there was no monarch, your devotee, etc. Leopold.
  • To the presidents of the chambers, the institutions of the country are on the eve of profound changes, various indications and circumstances have convinced me that it is desirable in the new situation, a new administration should take office, I request you on my behalf to inform the chambers of my abdication, with the highest and most special esteem, your affectionate King, Leopold.
    • Leopold II, Het hele Verhaal, Johan Op De Beeck Horizon, 2020 ISBN 9789463962094 King Leopold II threatens to abdicate in the chaos of late 19th-century Belgium, when he fails to obtain the extra powers he had requested and, at the same time, in the first democratic elections in which non-citizens from the upper class are allowed to vote, the Christian Democrats and Socialists win the elections).
  • My dear General, the Belgian state, will shortly issue a government loan of fifty million, France is writing one of two and a half billion, please ask Lambert to inform you of the condition of the French operation, as for the Belgian loan, leave it to me to try and get information from the ministers, but don't say anything to Lambert, if the French government loan yields 5 or 6 percent I will invest a large sum in it, if the interest is lower then I won't subscribe to it, Leopold.
  • If I do not promise Belgium a splendid government like that which founded its independence, nor a great King like him whom we mourn, then at least i believe to be a Belgian King in heart and soul, whose whole life belongs to the country.

Quotes related to the Belgian Colonial Empire[edit]

Leopold as a younger man in the uniform of the Grenadiers
Leopold II and Princess Clémentine Of Belgium make Joyous Entry into the city of 'Antwerp' in 1909
  • Santo Tomas was based on emigration and was therefore bound to fail, Belgians do not emigrate.
  • A People which is content with its homeland and which shreds at even the shadow of a conflict lacks the characteristics of a superior race.

Quotes related to the Congo Free State[edit]

Congo, from Flags of All Nations, Series 2 (N10) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes Brands MET DP841368
The founders of the Congo Free State.
The conference of Berlin, as illustrated in "Illustrierte Zeitung"
Henry Morton Stanley enabled the occupation of the Congo Basin region.
King Leopold II Opens the Brussels International Expostion of 1897
  • The Congo Free State is unique in its kind. It has nothing to hide and no secrets and is not beholden to anyone except its founder.
    • Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965
  • I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake.
    • Thomas Pakenham, The Scramble for Africa: White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent From 1876 to 1912, New York: Avon Books, 1992, 22.
  • Do I still need to tell you that I am not guided by selfish motives? No gentlemen, although Belgium is small, it is happy and content with its fate. I have no ambition other than to serve it. In this century, our civilized society imparts unprecedented values to barbarian communities in other parts of the world.
    • Leopold II, King of the Belgians in a speech at the Brussels Geographic Conference on September 12, 1876. Quoted from the book "Zaïre, Ketens van Koper (translated: Zaire, Chains of Copper)" Chapter 2: From Leopold II to Bwana Kitoko, page 16. Leuven, Kritak Fonds, 1978. ISBN 9063030185
  • These expeditions respond to an extraordinarily civilizing Christian idea: to abolish slavery in Africa, to dispel the darkness that still reigns in part of the world, to get to know the resources that seem gigantic, in short, pouring out the treasures of civilization, that's it. purpose of this modern crusade worthy of our era.
  • It is not about Belgian colonies. It is about establishing a new state that is as large as possible and about its governance. It should be clear that in this project there can be no question of granting the Negroes the slightest form of political power. That would be ridiculous. The whites, who lead the posts, have all the power.
  • The terms of the treaties Stanley has made with native chiefs do not satisfy me. There must at least be an added article to the effect that they delegate to us their sovereign rights, the treaties must be as brief as possible and in a couple of articles must grant us everything.
    • Maurice, Albert (1957). H.M. Stanley Unpublished Letters. London. p. 161.
  • You don't have to worry in the least, because in Belgium you will be able to enjoy all the benefits with which I will shower you, choose your replacement carefully, and appoint him only with my approval, until then then you will remain on your post my faithful cloak. May God guide and support you in the missions I entrust to you for the sake of my subjects, I wish that all your duties have already been carried out, so that when you come to Belgium I can prove to you that I am a true friend my faithful cloak, I pray to God that he may protect you, Leopold.
  • You should purchase as much land as you will be able to obtain without losing one minute from all the chiefs from the mouth of the Congo to Stanley falls, i will send you more people and raw materials, and perhaps Chinese couriers.
  • The Congo state is certainly not a business, if it gathers ivory on some of it's lands, that is only to lessen its deficits.
  • In dealing with a race composed of cannibals for thousands of years, it is necessary to use methods which will best shape their idleness, and make them realize the sanctity of work.
  • I believe we must set up three children's colonies, the aim of these colonies is above all to furnish us with soldiers.
  • I will give them my Congo, but they have no right to know what i did there.
  • The soldiers of the State are necessarily recruited among the natives. They don't immediately shed habits blood thirsty handed down from generation to generation. The example of white officers, discipline military, will inspire them with the horror of human trophies of which they are ready to be proud. It's in their leaders that they must see the living demonstration of this higher principle that the exercise of authority is not to be confused with cruelty: the second ruins the first. I like to think that our agents, almost all volunteers from the ranks of the Belgian army, are always present atmind the rules of the honorary career in which they are engaged.
  • You would remember that when I decided that the state would exploit its domain and that any vacant land would be claimed by it as its own, you found me absolutely absolute. You have nevertheless very vigorously and very skillfully supported me. For the Nile, I also ask you to follow my instructions faithfully. I will not lead you to the shipwreck, I promise you. For the time being, I want to be as powerful as possible on the Nile.

Quotes about Leopold II[edit]

Inauguration of the Royers lock in 1907 by Leopold II and Gustave Royers
Last portrait of Leopold II.
King Leopold II on his funeral couch.
Leopold II's funeral procession passes the unfinished Royal Palace of Brussels, 22 December 1909
  • The young Prince Leopold has the nose of a fairytale prince who has been enchanted by an evil witch.
  • He claims all successes and attributes the failures to others, he accepts no more criticism and he demands unquestioning obedience to his commands, his judgment must be the judgment of all, his logic must be that of his co-workers, his conscience must be the conscience of others, he is so accustomed to crushing any opposition or sensitivity in his associates that he dares to ask them anything.
  • Papers from Count Jules Greindl, who was the main collaborator of Leopold II in this curious affair, the author has drawn a very precise account, supplemented by documents. To take advantage of the financial ruin of Spain to make the Philippines a kingdom of its own, distinct from Belgium and then to form a company which would exploit the islands in the name of Spain, such were the successive ideas of Leopold. They failed both for lack of capital and for the reaction of Spanish pride. But they show, in Leopold II, the progress of the colonial idea with all the aspects that will then be found in the Congolese affair. When Stanley discovered the Congo, Leopold was ready.
  • Leopold II has always been a bit of an obsession for me. In 1955 I was appointed to the order named after him, I didn't quite know what to do with it, I defiantly walked around with the ribbon in the hope that some colonel would say: "Vlerk, what are you doing with that?" It never happened unfortunately. I've read 42 books about him, documented thoroughly about the interest rate in 1882, and you can't help but feel admiration for that man. He has been the last great king, a kind of dinosaur. When he said or wrote 'we', you don't know whether he's talking about himself, his family, his country or his dynasty.

Quotes about Leopold II Related to Belgium[edit]

Arrival of Leopold II in front of the Théâtre de la Monnaie on the day of his accession on December 17, 1865 - Verdyen
Arrival of the procession at the Saints-Michel-et-Gudule cathedral during the marriage of the future King Leopold II to Marie-Henriette of Austria on August 22, 1853
  • We can say that in terms of town planning - before the letter - he was a precursor. If there is an area where its reputation is guaranteed to survive for a long time to come, this is it. Belgium found itself since the end of his reign at the forefront of architectural movements and we can still see today in the Brussels landscape, and almost everywhere in the country, the mark of the king-builder.
  • He has done many good things for our country. He had parks built in Brussels and many other things, Leopold II himself has never been to Congo. But the people who worked for the king. And they really abused it. But I don't see how the monarch would make the people there suffer. It is important that this is also said.

Quotes about Leopold II Related to the Belgian Colonial Empire[edit]

The patriotic feast of the fiftieth anniversary of Belgian independence in 1880 - Colorized version
Visit of the international exhibition in Brussels by King Leopold II of Belgium and Queen Marie-Henriette on September 27, 1876
King Leopold II of Belgium and Queen Marie-Henriette reviewing the troop.
  • The colonial system was wrong. It was an exploitation of the natural resources at the expense of the local population. In Belgium there is still a taboo on that subject, the place of Leopold II is in the museum, provided with the necessary explanation.
  • The colonial past has never been discussed in a transparent and systematic manner in Belgium. Many historians have certainly studied the subject, but at the political level the theme has been very little addressed, if not avoided. And the biggest gap is in education. Our 21st century multicultural society needs to know the facts, not the myths passed down from generation to generation. The detachment of the statues of Leopold II is part of a desire to purge a past partisan by the settlers, without regard for the colonized population and their suffering.

Quotes about Leopold II Related to the Congo Free State[edit]

Cartoon depicting Leopold II and other imperial powers at the Berlin conference of 1884
EIC - frontières 1885
Cartoon depicting Leopold II laying the first stone of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Brussels.
A 1906 Punch cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne depicting Leopold II as a rubber snake entangling a Congolese rubber collector.
Cartoon by British caricaturist 'Francis Carruthers Gould' depicting King Leopold 2, and Congo Free State
  • There have been cases in which the natives have been maltreated by minor officials, but these are isolated cases, and are severely punished by the authorities. Such cases have occurred in all public services where an attempt has been made to govern inferior races. Such things have happened in the Philippines, in British Africa, and in India. No colonising nation can cast a stone at King Leopold on that score. Among a large number of officials scattered over a vast territory there will often be one or two wicked stewards who despitefully use the natives. All that any State can do is to keep vigilant watch and to punish the wrongdoers, and this the Congo State has done. It has even established a Commission for the protection of the natives. By the decree of 1896, this Commission consisted of seven members, three being Catholic priests and four Protestant missionaries.
  • The committee is to travel throughout the country into all the districts covered by Mr Casement in his recent tour of inspection, besides visiting many places Mr Casement never saw. In brief, the committee is to hold inquiry wherever evidence can be obtained. Where native witnesses give evidence of a nature prejudicial to white men, the committee will see that such witnesses are protected from the possibility of suffering at the hands of officials against whom they may bear witness. The Government of the Congo holds itself responsible for the safety and well-being of such witnesses. On the latter point King Leopold has expressed himself in the strongest possible terms.
  • There were severed hands in the Congo, at the time of the Independent State... by the Officers of the Force Publique, to prevent the waste of ammunition to which their soldiers willingly let go, demanded that they provide proof that they had used their cartridges correctly. The proof was the severed hand of the killed enemy ... Severed hands, it will be noted, never constituted a form of punishment. ... By emphasizing, as they did, on the theme of severed hands - a theme which, we realize, easily provoked emotion -, Morel and his friends gave birth to the ambiguity which finally spread and lasted until our days: the idea that Leopold II had his hands cut off in the Congo, that it was a question of torture inflicted on the population, and even of torture most characteristic of the regime.
  • I did not fail to refer to the "abuses and other undeniable deficiencies that this report rightly stigmatizes. Leopold II, of course, also carefully read this report. He reacted to it very quickly, with an honesty, insight and efficiency worthy of this visionary King. Despite the damning conclusions, he did not hesitate to have it published - in extenso - in the Official Journal of the EIC (Independent State of Congo). He had the perpetrators of the abuses prosecuted and, above all, taken a series of radical measures to put an end to them, by issuing no less than 24 Decrees to this effect.
  • Seldom has such a character assassination been committed in Belgium, seldom has the press reached such lows as in the time of Leopold II.
  • I accuse Leopold's officials of tyranny, i accuse Leopold's government of excessive cruelty, ox chains eaten to the necks of prisoners and produce sores about which flies circle, the courts are aborted unjust and delinquent, not one state official knows the language of the natives, your majesties' government is engaged in slave trade, wholesale and retail.
  • Leopold's Congo state is guilty of crimes against humanity.
    • King Leopold's Ghost George Washington Williams, Open letter to U.S secretary of state James G. Blaine, 1890
  • Several of the little girls were so sickly on their arrival that our good sisters wouldn't save them, but all had the happiness of receiving holy baptism, they are now little angels in heaven who are praying for our great king.
  • Leopold, aware of the high responsibilities he had to bear towards Belgium and determined to liberate the African peoples from their crushing material and moral living conditions, wanted to bring civilization to the very heart of the black continent in order to put an end to to the shameful slave trade and the enslavement that resulted from it, to fight against the deadly plagues and to put an end to ignorance and lead the peoples to the good to which they were entitled.
  • When Leopold II began his great work, which today finds its culmination, he presented himself to you not as a conqueror but as a bringer of civilization.
  • 2008 commemorates the centenary of Congo becoming a colony in 1908. This colony ceased to exist in 1960. But as is well known, since 1885 there have been close ties between Congo and Belgium, in particular through the Belgian King Leopold II, who in 1885 after the Berlin Congress, in fact, acquired Congo as his "personal property".
  • The history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is also that of the Belgian missionaries, officials and entrepreneurs who believed in King Leopold II's dream of building a State in the center of Africa. At this precise moment, we want to pay homage to the memory of all these pioneers.
  • The independence of the Congo is the crowning of the work conceived by the genius of King Leopold II undertaken by him with firm courage, and continued by Belgium with perseverance. Independence marks a decisive hour in the destinies not only of the Congo herself but- I don't hesitate to say-of the whole of Africa.
  • When the State of Congo was called to economic life by the King of the Belgians, trade was only possible on the ribs. Now, thanks to the activity of His Majesty, he is done safely above the cataracts. This is the result of the peace and order which were introduced by the King of the Belgians incountries where no white merchant could have shown himself before.
  • I do not believe in the accusations made in England against King Leopold II, the Congo and I do not share the feelings of those who inspire them. No state would be willing to spend the money spent by the King of the Belgians and Belgium in the most dark places of darkest Africa. When I consider the few years that have passed since the Congo became a state, I believe that the work accomplished is a great honor to Belgium. You can be sure that the King of the Belgians is interested in every detail of his administration. I do not claim that he can monitor all the actions of each individual, what Government could? The stories of the atrocities that have been spread are almost all gossip. The English note of month of August is based on biased reports. I am convinced that Leopold II has been doing his best to prevent any crime in the Congo, he is not responsible for the crimes anymore that could be committed there than those that are sometimes committed in Belgium. The reason of all these slanders? Jealousy! The Congo is doing better than any other African state. Those stories of atrocities will not stop, they will persist with the little basis they had, this was never anything but pure invention.
  • To my beginnings in colonial life, almost forty years ago, I found my first major lesson in studying the work of King Leopold II in the Congo: model of creation, practical organization and director, broad and liberal initiative, understanding the material, moral and social needs of natives, from whom all colonial works should be inspired and which, for so many years and over so many points, served as a guide.
  • Tackling Leopold in Africa has set in motion a big movement – it must be a movement of human liberation all the world over.
  • The apology cult must stop. But that does not mean that the atrocities of the past should be denied. This applies to Leopold II, but also to other culprits. And certainly for crimes that continue to this day in certain areas of the world such as slavery.
  • The change which has occurred in the political condition of the African Coast, today calls for common action on the part of the Powers responsible for the control of that Coast. That action should tend to close all foreign slave markets and should also result in putting down slave hunting in the interior. The great work undertaken by the King of the Belgians, in the constitution of the Congo State, and the lively interest taken by His Majesty in all questions affecting the welfare of the African races, lead Her Majesty's Government to hope that Belgium will be disposed to take the initiative in inviting the Powers to meet in Conference at Brussels, in order to consider the best means of attaining the gradual suppression of the slave-trade on the Continent of Africa and the immediate closing of all the outside markets which the slave-trade daily continues to supply.
  • By the end of 1892, all the King's collaborators during the first and second phases of Belgian work in the Congo had therefore ceased to participate. M. van Eetvelde, who had increasingly isolated himself from them, remained alone in possession of the sovereign's confidence, with the sole program of being the passive instrument of his designs. This third phase of the administration of the state of Congo affected all signs of impending dissolution.

Quotes addressed to Leopold II[edit]

The failed assassination attempt made on king Leopold II of Belgium by the Italian anarchist Gennaro Rubino, Brussels, November 15, 1902
  • The Committee of the British Baptist Missionary Society, of London, desire most respectfully to address Your Majesty as Sovereign of the Congo Free State, and to express their grateful acknowledgments for Your Majesty's gracious and helpful sympathy with all wisely considered efforts put forth for the enlightenment and uplifting of Your Majesty's native subjects living within the territories of the Congo Free State.
  • In the prosecution of these labours, the Committee of the Baptist Missionary Society desire gratefully to acknowledge the many signal and helpful proofs they have received of Your Gracious Majesty's approval and support; and very specially at this juncture they are pleased to express to Your Majesty their respectful appreciation of the great boon granted "to all religious, scientific and charitable institutions," by the reduction of direct and personal taxes by 50 per cent, from, on, and after the first day of July last, as proclaimed by Your Majesty's command in the May and June issues of the Bulletin officiel de I'Etat independant du Congo, which the Committee regard as a further and significant proof of Your Majesty's desire to promote the truest welfare of Your Majesty's Congo subjects, and to help forward all institutions calculated to produce enduring and beneficent results."

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource
Wikisource has original works written by or about: