Leopold III

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Leopold III,

1901–83, king of the Belgians (1934–51), son and successor of Albert IAlbert I,
1875–1934, king of the Belgians (1909–34), nephew and successor of Leopold II. He married (1900) Elizabeth, a Bavarian princess. In World War I his heroic resistance (1914) to the German invasion of Belgium greatly helped the Allied cause.
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. In 1936, Leopold announced a fundamental change in foreign policy; Belgium abandoned its military alliance with France in favor of a return to neutrality. In May, 1940, Germany—which in 1937 had guaranteed Belgian neutrality—invaded the Low Countries. Leopold led the Belgian army in resisting the invaders. After the defense became hopeless, Leopold, over the opposition of his cabinet, surrendered unconditionally (May 28), thus provoking accusations of treason. A prisoner of war at his castle at Laken, Leopold refused to exercise an active rule under German tutelage. After his first wife, Astrid, was killed in an automobile accident while Leopold was at the wheel, he married (1941) a commoner, whom he later created princess of Réthy. Removed (1944) to Germany, Leopold was freed by Allied troops in 1945. His return to Belgium was a burning political issue. The Liberal and leftist parties accused him of cooperation with Nazi Germany and of fascist sympathies, and his main support came from the Catholic Conservatives. In 1945, Leopold was barred from returning without the permission of the parliament. He spent his exile mostly in Switzerland while his brother, Prince Charles, acted as regent. A referendum held in 1950 favored the king's return by a slight majority. However, Leopold's arrival in Belgium was followed by such unrest that he transferred the royal powers to his eldest son, BaudouinBaudouin
, 1930–93, king of the Belgians (1951–93), son of Leopold III. He joined his father in exile (1945–50) in Switzerland. After their return to Belgium his father's unpopularity led to Baudouin's appointment (1950) as regent, and on Leopold's abdication
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. In July, 1951, Leopold formally abdicated.

Leopold III

or

Saint Leopold,

c.1073–1136, margrave of Austria (1095–1136). By his marriage (1106) with Agnes, widow of Duke Frederick I of Swabia (see HohenstaufenHohenstaufen
, German princely family, whose name is derived from the castle of Staufen built in 1077 by a Swabian count, Frederick. In 1079, Frederick married Agnes, daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, and was created duke of Swabia.
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), he became the stepfather of German King Conrad III and the father of Otto of Freising and of Duke Henry II of Austria (see BabenbergBabenberg
, ruling house of Austria (976–1246). It possibly descended from, or succeeded, a powerful Franconian family of the 9th cent. from whose castle the city of Bamberg probably took its name.
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). He helped arrange the Concordat of Worms (1122), which ended the conflict over investiture. In 1125 he refused an offer of the imperial crown. The founder of numerous monasteries (of which Heiligenkreuz, Klosterneuburg, and Mariazell still exist), Leopold was canonized in 1485 and is the patron saint of Austria. Feast: Nov. 15.
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Leopold III

1901--83, king of the Belgians (1934--51); son of Albert I. His surrender to the Nazis (1940) forced his eventual abdication in favour of his son, Baudouin
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005