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Leopold II (1835–1909) was the second King of the Belgians, known for the founding and exploitation of the Congo Free State as a private venture. Born in Brussels as the second (but eldest surviving) son of Leopold I and Louise of Orléans, he succeeded his father to the throne on 17 December 1865, reigning for exactly 44 years until his death. This was the longest reign of any Belgian monarch.
Leopold extracted a fortune from the Congo, initially by the collection of ivory, and after a rise in the price of rubber in the 1890s. Under his regime millions of Congolese people died; modern estimates range from 1 million to 15 million, with a consensus growing around 10 million. Reports of deaths and abuse led to a major international scandal in the early 20th century, and Leopold was ultimately forced by the Belgian government to relinquish control of the colony to the civil administration in 1908.
Engraver: Joseph-Pierre Braemt
The royal monogram crowned by the heraldic crown of Belgium and surrounded by the inscription 'Leopold II King of the Belgians' in French.
LEOPOLD II ROI DES BELGES ⋆
Leo Belgicus with a paw over the Constitution of Belgium. Around is the Belgian motto 'Unity makes strength' in French. Name of the engraver below.
L'UNION FAIT LA FORCE