Leopold I of Belgium

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King Leopold I of Belgium
Leopold I as horseman
Portrait of Leopold, Prince of Saxe-Coburg (1790-1865)
King Leopold I of Belgium and family
Old King Leopold I of Belgium
Death of King Leopold I of Belgium

Leopold I (16 December 1790 – 10 December 1865) was the first King of the Belgians, reigning from July 1831 until his death.


  • Take a serious look at yourself. Ask yourself questions about your mood, the way you view the world and people, think about your mistakes and the dangers they unleash. Today the character of a person determines whether he can exercise influence and authority, far more than all the minds on this earth. As you know, this is all the more true in Belgium, and Belgians want to see in their leader the qualities they will never want from themselves. It is very good that you are involved in trade and industry, you understand well how desirable it would be that the Belgians were given the means to do something outside the homeland.
  • It is not for us that we exhort you to learn, but for yourself, because ignorance is an inability, a real disaster, because social positions and protection are no longer there as before, there is a ground for malice and even hatred.
  • But Palmerston likes to put his foot on their necks! Now, no statesman must triumph over an enemy that is not quite dead, because people forget a real loss, a real misfortune, but they won’t forget an insult. Napoleon made great mistakes that way; he hated Prussia, insulted it on all occasions, but still left it alive. The consequence was that in 1813 they rose to a man in Prussia, even children and women took arms, because they had been treated with contempt and insulted.
  • Constitutional government, especially in a small country, takes a great deal of time, and causes sight to be lost of the questions, which lone can secure to the country a political future. I have many a time that I saw you feeling more and more interest therein, and I am very anxious that it should be so, for it is time to be seriously occupied with those questions; otherwise Belgium will find herself at the tail of all other countries. I have heard that an association of German princes is actively occupied in an attempt at colonization in Texas
  • The sedition mongers are not numerous, but they frighten the peaceful majority, who, although it can be really strong, feels a veritable panic before this agitating force in the shadows? It is in this fear that lies the principal danger, and it would be in the veritable interest of the welfare of Europe that the Powers could show that the necessary force to support and defend the right is not still lacking to them.
  • Certainly all those who possess something and who have at heart to see the legal situation subsist, ought to feel that the moment has come to defend itself against the complete dissolution of society in Europe, which dissolution is to lead to most frightful anarchy....may all the measures that you take be crowned with success, that is my heartiest desire...
  • Abuse is somewhat the staff of life in England everything, everybody is to be abused; it is a pity, as nothing more unproductive as this everlasting abuse can be imagined. As nothing ever gave the slightest opening to this abuse, it is hoped that it will be soon got over the meeting of Parliament will now do good in this respect. As far as your few continental relatives are concerned, I don’t think they will be able to fix anything upon your faithful servant. I have done in England at all times good services… Successes of vanity, I am never fishing for in England, nor anywhere else. The only influence I may exercise is to prevent mischief where I can, which occasionally succeeds: if war can be avoided, and the same ends obtained, it is natural that they should be tried first…
  • The names of the little one will be, Philippe Eugène Ferdinand Marie Clement Baudoin (baldwin, a name of the old counts of Flanders) Leopold George. My aunt who is his godmother wished he should be called Philippe, honour of his grandfather, and as Philippe le bon, who was one of the most powerful princes of this country. I gave him the name with pleasure. Eugene is her own name, Ferdinand that of Chartres, Marie is the name of the queen and of princess Marie, Clement of princess Clémentine, Leopold your aunt wished and George honour of St. George of England and of George the IV.

Quotes about Leopold I

  • A reference to Nestor of the Iliad, portrayed by Homer as an “Elder Statesman”. Leopold was given this informal title as a result of his role as a neutral, in the internal affairs of Europe.
  • Augusta's children married well. With the exception of one daughter, all either married royalty, achieved royal status in their own right or secured it for their children. One daughter married the brother of Alexander I of Russia; another, the King of Württemberg; a third married Britain's Duke of Kent, a brother of George IV. But it was Augusta's youngest son, Leopold, who was the real founder of the Saxe-Coburg fortunes. Leopold suffered a setback when his first wife, Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV of Britain, died in childbirth in November 1817, just eighteen months after their marriage. But his circumstances were transformed when, having previously toyed with the idea of accepting the throne of Greece, he became King of the Belgians in 1831.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), pp. 94-95
  • A smile of self-satisfaction and pride shines on the face of every citizen, and he lifts his eye in thanks to God, who granted him the small but richly blessed Belgium as his birthplace.
  • The discourse of those gentlemen whose clothing glitters with gold trim, of those rough workmen who have donned their Sunday smock, of those women whose long lace caps remind us of the Scheldt River; yes, even of the brussels schoolboys who so boldly push through the crowd. All... bless the name of the King, all speak of his unblemished faithfulness and infinite wisdom...
  • In the midst of all this wealth we have seen something humble, something seemingly small, which nevertheless moved us deeply. It was in a dark alley of the lower town, in front of a little house so low that one could touch its roof with one's hand. An old woman, perhaps eighty years old, was decorating her hut. Her hands trembled with stiffness, her chest hygged with heaviness. She brought an image of the well-beloved King in front of her few windows, an image which might not have cost ten cents. Around it she hung a wreath of cut flowers and tinsel; under a strip of paper on which her waddling hand had written in almost illegible letters. Long live the King! On the other side a stone candlestick, to burn two small candles on it in the evening. This was the patriotic tribute of the poor decrepit widow! Perhaps such simplicity would make others smile; she snatched from us a tear of admiration and compassion...

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