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the name of several Belgian kings.
Leopold I. Born Dec. 16, 1790, in Coburg; died Dec. 10, 1865, in Laeken. King from 1831.
The youngest son of the duke of Saxe-Coburg, Leopold I served in the Russian Army and took British citizenship in 1816. At the insistence of the British government, he was elevated to the throne following the Belgian Revolution of 1830. His orientation was toward Great Britain.
Leopold II. Born Apr. 9, 1835, in Brussels; died Dec. 17, 1909, in Laeken. King from 1865.
A member of the Saxe-Coburg dynasty, he was the son of Leopold I. In the 1870’s he organized the International Association for the Research and Civilization of Central Africa. He later founded the International Association of the Congo. Under cover of this association, he seized huge territories in the Congo Basin between 1879 and 1884. In the so-called Congo Free State, which he formed, Leopold II pursued a policy of colonial oppression and plunder of the African population. In 1908 he “ceded” his personal proprietary rights in the Congo to the Belgian government in return for a large compensation.
Leopold III. Born Nov. 3, 1901, in Brussels. King from 1934 to 1951. Member of the Saxe-Coburg dynasty.
On May 28, 1940, Leopold III signed Belgium’s capitulation to fascist Germany. He voluntarily declared himself a prisoner of war, expecting to preserve his throne with the help of the fascist German invaders. In 1944, Leopold III was evacuated from the country by the Hitlerites. In 1945 he was living in Switzerland. In July 1945 the Belgian Parliament adopted a law forbidding Leopold Ill’s return to the country without special permission. At the insistence of the Christian Social Party, a referendum was held on Mar. 12, 1950 and 57.68 percent of those voting favored Leopold’s return to the country. His arrival in Brussels on July 22, 1950, touched off a general strike on July 29 and 30. On Aug. 1, 1950, Leopold III issued a declaration transferring power to his son, Baudouin I. In July 1951 he renounced the throne.
the name of rulers in Austria and the Holy Roman Empire.
Leopold I. Born June 9, 1640, in Vienna; died there May 5, 1705. Austrian king from 1657 to 1705 and emperor from 1658; member of the Hapsburg dynasty. Son of Ferdinand III.
Leopold I tried to consolidate absolutism in the Hapsburg possessions, depending on support from the Catholic Church. His policy of abolishing local autonomy in Hungary and encouraging Catholic reaction gave rise to a number of anti-Hapsburg rebellions there. His war with the Turks, who besieged Vienna in 1683, ended in the signing of the peace of Karlowitz (1699). Leopold I took part in the War of the Spanish Succession, which broke out in 1701. He strove to unite the Spanish and Austrian thrones under the Hapsburgs.
Leopold II. Born May 5, 1747, in Vienna; died there Mar. 1, 1792. Austrian king, emperor from 1790 to 1792. Member of the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine.
Leopold II was the son of Emperor Francis I and Maria Theresa. He was the brother of Joseph II and of the French queen Marie Antoinette. After ascending the throne, Leopold II abolished nearly all the reforms of Joseph II. He found support in the most reactionary strata of the upper nobility. During his rule the Reichenbach Convention of 1790 was concluded with Prussia, and the Brabant Revolution of 1789–90 was suppressed. Leopold II signed the Declaration of Pillnitz in 1791, and in February 1792 he concluded an alliance with Prussia directed against revolutionary France.