Historical and Commemorative
Collection of Benjamin Weiss
ACCESSION OF LEOPOLD II, KING OF BELGIUM
WIENER, Léopold: Belgium, 1865, Bronze, 77 mm
Leopold Louis Philippe Marie Victor (1835-1909) was born in Brussels, where he was given the title of Duc of Brabant. In 1853 he married Marie Henriette Anne d'Autriche, Archduchess of Austria. Leopold II became King of Belgium on the death of his father Leopold I in 1865. He is noted largely for his acquisition of the Belgium Congo in Africa, which he obtained and administered through the harsh and oppressive treatment of its native inhabitants. He accomplished this colonial expansion initially by sponsoring the expedition of Henry Stanley to the Congo. In 1885 Leopold established the Congo Free State (later The Belgium Congo, Zaire and now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) under his own personal rule. In 1908 Sir Roger Casement's revelations of the exploitation of the Congolese rubber-gathers forced Leopold to cede the Congo to the Belgian state. His subjugation and exploitation of the indigenous population to produce rubber on his many rubber plantations led to the death and mutilation of millions of black Africans. Leopold's crimes, which have been compared to those of Hitler and Stalin, have been documented in the best selling history book by Adam Hochschild, which covers Leopold's actions in the Congo Free State between 1885 and 1908.
The medal commemorates the accession of Leopold II as King of Belgium in 1865.
LINK to review of King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild (from wikipedia)