• 2 Francs 1880, KM# 39, Belgium, Leopold II, 50th Anniversary of Belgian Independence
  • 2 Francs 1880, KM# 39, Belgium, Leopold II, 50th Anniversary of Belgian Independence
Description

The Belgian Revolution was the conflict which led to the secession of the southern provinces (mainly the former Southern Netherlands) from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the establishment of an independent Kingdom of Belgium.

The people of the south were mainly Flemings (speakers of low Franconian dialects) and Walloons (speakers of langue d'oil dialects). Both peoples were traditionally Roman Catholic as contrasted with the largely Protestant (Dutch Reformed) people of the north. Many outspoken liberals regarded King William I's rule as despotic. There were high levels of unemployment and industrial unrest among the working classes.

On 25 August 1830, riots erupted in Brussels and shops were looted. Theatregoers who had just watched the nationalistic opera La muette de Portici joined the mob. Uprisings followed elsewhere in the country. Factories were occupied and machinery destroyed. Order was restored briefly after William committed troops to the Southern Provinces but rioting continued and leadership was taken up by radicals, who started talking of secession.

Dutch units saw the mass desertion of recruits from the southern provinces and pulled out. The States-General in Brussels voted in favour of secession and declared independence. In the aftermath, a National Congress was assembled. King William refrained from future military action and appealed to the Great Powers. The resulting 1830 London Conference of major European powers recognized Belgian independence. Following the installation of Leopold I as "King of the Belgians" in 1831, King William made a belated attempt to reconquer Belgium and restore his position through a military campaign. This "Ten Days' Campaign" failed because of French military intervention. The Dutch only accepted the decision of the London conference and Belgian independence in 1839 by signing the Treaty of London.

Engraver: Leopold Wiener

Obverse

Depicts the portraits in the left profile of the two first Kings of Belgium, surrounded by their names. Engraver's name below.

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.

Leopold II (1835–1909) reigned as the second King of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909 (the longest reign of any Belgian monarch) and became known for the founding and exploitation of the Congo Free State as a private venture. He was responsible for the death of 15 million African people.

LEOPOLD I ★ LEOPOLD II
L.WIENER

Reverse

Depicts the Belgium lesser coat of arms dividing facial value. A legend in French (Kingdom of Belgium) above, dates below.

The lesser coat of arms consists of the shield, the royal crown, the crossed sceptres, the collar of the Order of Leopold. The shield bears a lion known as Leo Belgicus (Latin: the Belgian lion). Behind the shield are placed a hand of justice and a sceptre with a lion. The grand collar of the Order of Leopold surrounds the shield.

The Order of Leopold (Dutch: Leopoldsorde, French: Ordre de Léopold) is one of the three current Belgian national honorary orders of knighthood. It is the oldest and highest order of Belgium and is named in honour of its founder; King Leopold I. It consists of a military, a maritime and a civil division. The maritime division is only awarded to personnel of the merchant navy, and the military division to military personnel. The decoration was established on 11 July 1832 and is awarded by Royal order.

ROYAUME DE BELGIQUE
2F
1830 1880

Edge
Characteristics
Type Commemorative Issue (Circulating)
Material Silver
Fineness 0.835
Weight 10 g
Diameter 27 mm
Thickness 1.7 mm
Shape round
Alignment Coin
Mint
Royal Belgian Mint

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