We talked with assistant professor of history Dr. Benoît Henriet from the Free University of Brussels-VUB about former Belgian King Leopold II and everything he did during his leadership.
Who Was Leopold II?
Leopold II was the son of Leopold I, the very first king of Belgium. After his death, Leopold II took over and ruled Belgium from 1865 to 1909. At the end of the 19th century, a big conference was held in Berlin to divide the control of different parts of Africa between European governments. Leopold II received a personal colony of the same extent as the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Dr. Henriet elaborates, “The remarkable thing about Leopold II is that he was the private owner of the so-called Congo Free State. It wasn’t a Belgian colony, just his. At that time, it was very exceptional, and he was thus the only one to have a personal colony.”