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Leopold I (1790–1865) was a German prince who became the first King of the Belgians following Belgian independence in 1830. He reigned between July 1831 and December 1865.
Born into the ruling family of the small German duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Leopold took a commission in the Imperial Russian Army and fought against Napoleon after French troops overran Saxe-Coburg during the Napoleonic Wars. After Napoleon's defeat, Leopold moved to the United Kingdom where he married Princess Charlotte of Wales, the only child of the Prince Regent (the future King George IV).
After the Greek War of Independence (1821–32), Leopold was offered the position of King of Greece but turned it down, believing it to be too precarious. Instead, Leopold accepted the kingship of the newly established Kingdom of Belgium in 1831. His reign was marked by attempts by the Dutch to recapture Belgium. Leopold was considered liberal and encouraged economic modernisation, playing an important role in encouraging the creation of Belgium's first railway in 1835 and subsequent industrialisation.
Engraver: Joseph-Pierre Braemt
Depicts the head of Leopold I, looking right and within a circle, surrounded by the legend "Leopold the First, King of the Belgians" in French. Engraver's name below the portrait. Date below between two 5-pointed stars.
LEOPOLD I ROI DES BELGES
Depicts a heraldic lion (Leo Belgicus), surrounded by the facial value and the Belgian motto 'Unity makes strength' in French.
L'UNION FAIT LA FORCE