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How and why did Leopold II build an African Empire

            After the disintegration of the ancien regime in Western Europe and the advent .
             of democracy citizens of nations such as Belgium had more influence in state affairs. .
             The power of government in Belgium was considered more important than the power .
             of the monarchy. It was because of this that Leopold II acquisition of an African .
             empire was different to other European powers such as France and Britain. Their push .
             for overseas colonies came as a result of the industrial revolution creating the need for .
             cheap labour, raw materials and new markets.
             Leopold who had been in the military and travelled extensively in his youth.
             decided that Belgium needed empire. In domestic affairs he emphasized military .
             defence as a basis of neutrality. He was motivated by a wish for prestige among .
             other European countries and the economic benefits that could be gained from .
             colonial holdings. These motives were hidden behind humanitarian reasons such as .
             the halt of the slave trade and spread of Christianity. The is the great irony as the .
             Belgian Congo in hindsight is the epitome of European injustice against Africa. .
             As a young man Leopold took a keen interest in home affairs. He had been in .
             the army and risen to the rank of lieutenant general. Also he was a member of the .
             Senate and followed all debates relating to Belgium's trade and industry. Between .
             twenty- five and thirty he spent most of his time travelling becoming more widely .
             travelled than any other crown head of Europe. He visited North Africa, British India.
             and China. .
             Leopold's ambition was restricted by his position as a constitutional .
             monarch. He dreamed of a Belgian empire, he thought a colony should be a business .
             venture for the mother country. Inscribed in his paperweight was "Belgium needs .
             colonies-. Before his accession to the throne in eighteen sixty he had declared "I .
             believe that the moment has come for us to extend our territories. I think that we must .

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