Leopold I of Belgium: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Leopold I
King of the Belgians
Leopold as a Russian general
Reign 21 July 1831 – 10 December 1865
(34 years)
Successor Leopold II
Spouse Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales
Louise-Marie of France
Louis-Philippe, Crown Prince of Belgium
Leopold II of Belgium
Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders
Charlotte, Empress of Mexico
House House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Father Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Mother Countess Augusta Reuss
Born 16 December 1790(1790-12-16)
Castle Ehrenburg, Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Died 10 December 1865 (aged 74)
Laeken/Laken, Belgium

Leopold I (Leopold George Christian Frederick; German: Leopold Georg Christian Friedrich; Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, later Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony; 16 December 1790 – 10 December 1865) was from 21 July 1831 the first King of the Belgians, following Belgium's independence from the Netherlands. He was the founder of the Belgian line of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. His children included Leopold II of Belgium and Empress Carlota of Mexico. He was also an uncle of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.

He was born in Coburg and died in Laeken.


Early life

He was the youngest son of Franz Frederick Anton, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Countess Augusta Reuss-Ebersdorf, and later became a prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha after the territorial swap by his father of Ehrenburg Castle in the Bavarian town of Coburg. He was also the very first King of the Belgians

In 1795, as a mere child, Leopold was appointed colonel of the Izmaylovsky Guards Regiment in Russia. Seven years later he became a major general. When Napoleonic troops occupied the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg in 1806 Leopold went to Paris. Napoléon offered him the position of adjutant, but he refused. Instead he took up a military career in the Imperial Russian cavalry. He campaigned against Napoléon, and distinguished himself at the Battle of Kulm at the head of his cuirassier division. In 1815, at the age of 25, Leopold reached the rank of lieutenant general in the Imperial Russian Army.

In Carlton House on 2 May 1816, he married Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, the only legitimate child of the British Prince Regent (later King George IV of the United Kingdom) and therefore heiress to the British throne, and was created a British field-marshal and Knight of the Garter. On 5 November 1817, Princess Charlotte was delivered of a stillborn son; she herself died the following day. Had she lived, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom on the death of her father, and Leopold presumably would have assumed the role later taken by his nephew, Prince Albert, as Prince Consort of Great Britain, and never chosen King of the Belgians. Despite Charlotte's death, the Prince Regent granted Prince Leopold the British style of Royal Highness by Order-in-Council on 6 April 1818[1]. In honour of his first wife, Leopold and Louise-Marie of France, his second wife, named their first daughter Charlotte, who would later become Empress Carlota of Mexico.

On 2 July 1829, Leopold participated in nuptials of doubtful validity (a private marriage-contract with no religious or public ceremony) with the actress Caroline Bauer, created Countess of Montgomery, a cousin of his advisor, Christian Friedrich Freiherr von Stockmar. The 'marriage' reportedly ended in 1831 and the following year he married Louise-Marie at the Château de Compiègne, in Compiègne, France, on 9 August 1832.

King of the Belgians

After Belgium asserted its independence from the Netherlands on 4 October 1830, the Belgian National Congress considered several candidates and eventually asked Leopold to become king of the newly formed country. He was elected on 4 June and accepted and became "King of the Belgians" on 26 June 1831. He swore allegiance to the constitution in front of the Saint Jacob's Church at Coudenbergh Place in Brussels on 21 July 1831. This day became the Belgian national holiday. Jules Van Praet would become his personal secretary.

King Leopold I, Queen Louise-Marie, Crown Prince Leopold, Prince Philippe, Princess Marie-Charlotte

Less than two weeks later, on 2 August, the Netherlands invaded Belgium. Skirmishes continued for eight years, but in 1839 the two countries signed the Treaty of London establishing Belgium's independence.

With the opening of the railway line between Brussels and Mechelen on 5 May 1835, one of King Leopold's fondest hopes—to build the first railway in continental Europe—became a reality.

Monarchical styles of
King Leopold I of the Belgians
Coats of arms of Belgium Government.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sire

In 1840, Leopold arranged the marriage of his niece, Queen Victoria, the daughter of his sister, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, to his nephew, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, son of his brother, Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Even before she succeeded to the throne, Leopold had been advising the then-Princess Victoria by letter, and after her accession, he was one of the great influences on her in the early days of her monarchy.

In 1842, Leopold tried unsuccessfully to pass laws to regulate female and child labor. A wave of revolutions passed over Europe after the deposition of King Louis-Philippe from the French throne in 1848. Belgium remained neutral, mainly because of Leopold's diplomatic efforts.

He was the 649th Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1816, the 947th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Spain in 1835 and the 35th Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword.

On 11 October 1850, Leopold again lost a young wife, as Queen Louise-Marie died of tuberculosis at age 38.

Leopold also had two sons, George and Arthur, by a mistress, Arcadia Meyer née Claret. George was born in 1849 (before the death of Queen Louise-Marie), and Arthur was born in 1852. After Leopold's death, each of the two sons were created Freiherr von Eppinghoven (in 1862), and in 1863 Arcadia was created Baronin von Eppinghoven. [2]

At 11:45 am on 10 December 1865, the king died in Laken at the age of 74. He lies buried in the Royal vault at the Church of Our Lady, Laken Cemetery, Brussels, Belgium.


Leopold's ancestors in three generations
Leopold I of Belgium Father:
Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Paternal Grandfather:
Ernest Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Francis Josias, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Anna Sophie, Princess of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
Paternal Grandmother:
Sophia Antonia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Ferdinand Albert II of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Antoinetta Amelia of Wolfenbüttel-Blackenburg
Augusta Reuss-Ebersdorf
Maternal Grandfather:
Count Heinrich XXIV Reuss of Ebersdorf and Lobenstein
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Heinrich XXIII Reuss of Ebersdorf and Lobenstein
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Sophie Theodora of Castell-Remlingen
Maternal Grandmother:
Karoline Ernestine of Erbach-Schönberg
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Georg August of Erbach-Schönberg
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Ferdinande Henriette of Stolberg-Gedern

Patrilineal descent

Descent before Conrad the Great is taken from [1] and may be inaccurate.

House of Wettin

  1. Burkhard I, Duke of Thuringia, d. 870
  2. Burchard, Duke of Thuringia, 836 - 908
  3. (possibly) Burkhard III of Grabfeldgau, 866 - 913
  4. Dedi I, Count of Hessegau, 896 - 957
  5. (probably) Dietrich I of Wettin, d. 976
  6. (possibly) Dedi II, Count of Hessegau, 946 - 1009
  7. Dietrich II of Wettin, 991 - 1034
  8. Thimo I of Wettin, d. 1099
  9. Thimo II the Brave, Count of Wettin, d. 1118
  10. Conrad, Margrave of Meissen, 1098 - 1157
  11. Otto II, Margrave of Meissen, 1125 - 1190
  12. Dietrich I, Margrave of Meissen, 1162 - 1221
  13. Henry III, Margrave of Meissen, c. 1215 - 1288
  14. Albert II, Margrave of Meissen, 1240 - 1314
  15. Frederick I, Margrave of Meissen, 1257 - 1323
  16. Frederick II, Margrave of Meissen, 1310 - 1349
  17. Frederick III, Landgrave of Thuringia, 1332 - 1381
  18. Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, 1370 - 1428
  19. Frederick II, Elector of Saxony, 1412 - 1464
  20. Ernest, Elector of Saxony, 1441 - 1486
  21. John, Elector of Saxony, 1468 - 1532
  22. John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, 1503 - 1554
  23. Johann Wilhelm, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, 1530 - 1573
  24. John II, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, 1570 - 1605
  25. Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha, 1601 - 1675
  26. John Ernest IV, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, 1658 - 1729
  27. Francis Josias, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, 1697 - 1764
  28. Ernest Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, 1724 - 1800
  29. Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, 1750 - 1806

See also


  1. ^ "Royal Styles and Titles – 1818 Order-in-Council". http://www.heraldica.org/topics/britain/prince_highness_docs.htm#1816. 
  2. ^ (in German) Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels [Genealogical Handbook of the Nobility]. Freiherrlichen Häuser. Band XXI. C. A. Starke. 1999. pp. 101–3. 
Leopold I of Belgium
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 16 December 1790 Died: 10 December 1865
Regnal titles
New title King of the Belgians
1831 – 1865
Succeeded by
Leopold II

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LEOPOLD I. (1790-1865), king of the Belgians, fourth son of Francis, duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and uncle of Queen Victoria of England, was born at Coburg on the 18th of December 1790. At the age of eighteen he entered the military service of Russia, and accompanied the emperor Alexander to Erfurt as a member of his staff. He was required by Napoleon to quit the Russian army, and spent some years in travelling. In 1813 he accepted from the emperor Alexander the post of a cavalry general in the army of invasion, and he took part in the whole of the campaign of that and the following year, distinguishing himself in the battles of Leipzig, Liitzen and Bautzen. He entered Paris with the allied sovereigns, and accompanied them to England. He married in May 1816 Charlotte, only child of George, prince regent, afterwards George IV., heiress-presumptive to the British throne, and was created duke of Kendal in the British peerage and given an annuity of L50,000. The death of the princess in the following year was a heavy blow to his hopes, but he continued to reside in England. In 1830 he declined the offer of the crown of Greece, owing to the refusal of the powers to grant conditions which he considered essential to the welfare of the new kingdom, but was in the following year elected king of the Belgians (4th June 1831). After some hesitation he accepted the crown, having previously ascertained that he would have the support of the great powers on entering upon his difficult task, and on the 12th of July he made his entry into Brussels and took the oath to observe the constitution. During the first eight years of his reign he was confronted with the resolute hostility of King William I. of Holland, and it was not. until 1839 that the differences between the two states, which until 1830 had formed the kingdom of the Netherlands, were finally settled at the conference of London by the treaty of the 24 Articles (see Belgium). From this date until his death, King Leopold spent all his energies in the wise administration of the affairs of the newly formed kingdom, which may be said to owe in a large measure its first consolidation and constant prosperity to the care and skill of his discreet and fatherly government. In 1848 the throne of Belgium stood unshaken amidst the revolutions which marked that year in almost every European country. On the 8th of August 1832 Leopold married, as his second wife, Louise of Orleans, daughter of Louis Philippe, king of the French. Queen Louise endeared herself to the Belgian people, and her death in 1850 was felt as a national loss. This union produced two sons and one daughter - (r) Leopold, afterwards king of the Belgians; (2) Philip, count of Flanders; (3) Marie Charlotte, who married Maximilian of Austria, the unfortunate emperor of Mexico. Leopold I. died at Laeken on the 10th of December 1865. He was a most cultured man and a great reader, and did his utmost during his reign to encourage art, science and education. His judgment was universally respected by contemporary sovereigns and statesmen, and he was frequently spoken of as " the Nestor of Europe " (see also Victoria, Queen).

See Th. Juste, Leopold I er, roi des Belges d'apres des doc. ined. 1 7931865 (2 vols., Brussels, 1868), and Les Fondateurs de la monarchie Beige (22 vols., Brussels, 1878-1880); J. J. Thonissen, La Belgique sous le reg g e de Leopold I" (Louvain, 1862).

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