This is the story of the creation of the Kingdom of Belgium.
It fits into a broader story about Tarzan and Congo as well as Tintin, Henry Morgan Stanley and the Hippopotamus.
The keywords of the narrative are, as usual, highlighted in bold for learning and practice.
Europe was still in some disarray after the fall of the French Empire in 1815 under Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 1830, a German, favoured by the Saxe-Coburg bloodline the same as that for the British royal family, was invited to become King of the Belgians.
Belgium, at this time, was a catholic break-away from the former United Kingdom of Netherlands.
His name was Leopold I.
He married twice but his son Leopold II was produced from the second marriage.
It was common knowledge that the young Leopold II got little attention from his father and had a very uncomfortable childhood which would haunt him for the rest of his life.
Leopold I was however responsible for two things of world note.
The first was playing a part in the Treaty of London of 1839 which guaranteed Belgian sovereignty and neutrality
The second was brokering the marriage between Princess Victoria, the heir to the British throne to which she acceded a year later in 1840, and the German Prince Albert.
Leopold II became the second King of the Belgians on his father’s death in 1865 and he is certainly the one which history most remembers.
History records him as the tyrant who acted on sanctions of the Berlin Conference of 1884 to take control in colonial fashion of a large geographical basin of sub-sahara Africa south of the Congo River which he called the Congo Free State.
In a twenty three year period from 1885 until 1908, Leopold II, contrary to the mandate of the humanitarian mission, enslaved the Congolese people into forced labour to produce diamonds, rubber and other natural resources chiefly for his own selfishness and greed.
It is estimated that as many as fifteen million Congolese, twenty per-cent of the population, died as a result of the barbarity unsparingly unleashed by the King’s agents and mercenaries.
The horrific atrocities came to light as a result of astute intervention by a Liverpool shipping clerk named Edmund Dane Morel and the Belgian government took control of the colony from their own King in 1908.