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Leopold I

Leopold I, 1790–1865, king of the Belgians (1831–65); youngest son of Francis Frederick, duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. After serving as a page at the court of Napoleon I and as a general of the Russian army, he married (1816) Princess Charlotte, daughter of the English prince regent (later King George IV) and heiress presumptive to the English throne. After her death (1817) Leopold remained in England. In 1830 he rejected the throne of Greece, but in 1831 he accepted election as king of newly formed Belgium. Though his primary concern was with maintaining the unity and independence of his kingdom, his reign was notable for such improvements as the introduction of ministerial responsibility, a reformed electoral law, and a national bank. He married (1832) a daughter of King Louis Philippe of France, and he brought about the marriage of his niece Queen Victoria of England to his nephew Prince Albert. He was succeeded by his son, Leopold II. He was also the father of Carlotta, empress of Mexico.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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