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Context of '1865: New Belgian King Crowned'

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The young Duke of Brabant, who will be crowned King Leopold II of Belgium in 1865 (see 1865), dreams of making Belgium wealthy through the acquisition of a colony. At the age of 27, he travels to Seville to study Spain’s history as a colonizer. In a letter to a friend, he writes: “I am very busy here going through the Indies archives and calculating the profit which Spain made then and makes now out of her colonies.” Two years later, he tours the British possessions of Ceylon, India, and Burma and explores investment potential in South America and even the American Pacific. There is little support among Belgians at this time for establishing colonies. But the duke is undeterred. “Belgium doesn’t exploit the world,” he complains to one of his advisors. “It’s a taste we have got to make her learn.” The duke’s father, King Leopold I, had at one time considered acquiring a colony, but was discouraged after his investment at St. Thomas de Guatemala ended with the imprisonment, bankruptcy, and death of the settlers and main promoter. A few years later, the family suffers from another ill-fated venture, this time in Mexico. In 1964, Leopold’s youngest sister, Charlotte, and her husband Archduke Maximilian are installed by Napoleon III of France as the country’s figurehead Emperor and Empress. But Mexican rebels quickly put an end to Maximilian’s rule. In June 1967, two years after the duke is crowned King Leopold II, the emperor is killed by a firing squad. [Pakenham, 1992, pp. 12-13; Hochschild, 1999, pp. 37-38, 40-42]

Entity Tags: King Leopold II

Timeline Tags: US-Congo (1959-1997)

1865: New Belgian King Crowned

The young Duke of Brabant is crowned King Leopold II of Belgium. [Hochschild, 1999, pp. 37-38, 40-42]

Timeline Tags: US-Congo (1959-1997)

King Leopold II of Belgium writes in a letter to his ambassador in London, “I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake.” [Pakenham, 1992, pp. 22]

Timeline Tags: US-Congo (1959-1997)

Henry Morton Stanley has his first meeting with King Leopold II of Belgium. The king has been paying close attention to Stanley’s exploits in the African Congo and is hoping that Stanley will help him establish a colony there. [Hochschild, 1999, pp. 61, 63]

Timeline Tags: US-Congo (1959-1997)

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