Greed & Grift


welcome to talk history a podcast. Where the two friends talk history. I'm sophia liam friends who want to learn as much as we can about history not just focus on one topic but world. History everything so to do this. We choose a theme than we scurry away to research story. We don't know what the other person is chosen until we record the episode. We learn as we researched to. We're so glad you're joining us on this journey this week. We've chosen theme greed. And graft i'll be talking about rome's richest man. Marcus crassus and i'll discuss the infamous life of king leopold the second of the belgians. We would appreciate your support on patriotic. You enjoy the show or feel free just to listen and please leave a review on apple podcasts. If that is what us it's easy you just take the stars you want to give five stars five stars. Under the episode details and enjoyed the show so zowie your first. I want to learn a lot. More about marcus crassus. Well i guess my first question liam is. What do you already know about. Markets crosses okay so as a previous student of ancient history. Obviously have heard of parker's cross's before especially around the time of julius caesar and the republic and the fall of the republic or at least just before the fall of the republic. I know that he was a very very wealthy man in the ancient world. I know he is involved in different kind of military campaigns. But i couldn't really tell you when and or like exactly what i would be listed the whole thing together properly so please remind me like i tell me more how does fit in with the story and why was zeke's greedy. Well that's actually super helpful and a perfect barometer of most people potentially are a little bit aware of this period. lake One third of the first tram britt is marcus crassus and he oh he was the largest landowner he was also the guy who defeated spartacus. So he's pretty famous but it's most people might not connect him to all those different points along the map And especially because he was part of the sort of changing political landscape of rome. He's an interesting guy to talk about. And wow did he have. Coche so yeah. I'm just gonna jump right in. There's a bunch of historical context to get just to make him make sense. So i'll just dive in and yeah so marcus. Leukaemias crosses was born in one fifteen bc in rome and he was born to a wealthy and respected plebeian. Family and plebeian are though they are not partitions. There's a class issue involved there. I think most of us are pretty familiar with the concept You know they they have a decent amount of money be politically well-connected. They could serve political office but there was always teeny tiny chip on the shoulder because it wasn't aristocracy. So yeah. I think we we can. We can understand. That crisis was born into the last decades of the second century bc and was pretty much like the mad max period of rome at this time Things were chucked out the window norms. That used to exist and they were creating new ones The republican period of rome. Most of you may know but was dated to roughly five nine bc when they overthrew the semi mythological king tar. When there's you know it's it's an arbitrary date but what we're going to go with and there are a few different dates for when you can point to the end of the republic Maybe forty nine bc when julius caesar becomes dictator for life maybe twenty seven bc when. Reagan becomes augusta's So this is sort of the spread. We're looking at and you can already tell just by dictator augusta's like powers becoming consolidated and this is kind of how it happens Is that does that sound familiar to you. you know. i think it's important to point out that the roman republic is under republic that we would think of it in a modern sense. I mean this was a republic where the power was still consolidated within a small minority of the population. The aristocrats the elite and in a way people below that had tokenistic sort of power or at least a size of the cake yet. Like an brilliant point yes absolutely. This is not the republic that maybe america would understand although maybe kind of closer to the bone than they want to admit But yet the the the power of the people was people power like you by virtue of being the masses had a degree of power because you would elect or you would burn down or un coming here like it really just showing up was the biggest thing the populace due to show support or or dislike. And would you consider a populist system at the moment so when the people do say it has to do with the popular leaders and popular figureheads More so than kind of actual policies on the ground and really like well-thought-out briefs and things like that yes so this is actually. This is the period of the rise of populism within rome Prior to you did have the negotiation between elites the people vis-a-vis. Like you know. I'll do this for you or i will win. This battle is glory and good of overall or regional. Just we survived something really hectic and crazy and they would get political office from their successes. So success built upon success. It wasn't like jared kushner falling failing upwards. It was more like you actually had to put your money where your mouth was and win. Otherwise people were not gonna follow you and it is in this period that you start to see People of higher rank trying to get trying to get the populace behind them through pandering and creating a us versus them style dichotomies that probably did exist and are legitimate but it was marshalled into violence so the republican period is defined as effectively militarily. Almost a nonstop party fest of wars yet. Absolutely that's something that i definitely remember. The long list of wars they got involved in the The territories they took over in in different forms. Not just warfare like the king of like did his kingdom. And i know that. When i love mobs- mobster my thing and when you look at maps of the roman republic you just see red spilling out all across the mediterranean and it's. It's really very obvious that rome was busy. Yeah and i think just. I tried at one point to make a list. A running tally. So i would understand what the flow events was just for myself casually and it blew my absolute mind because find me a time. They weren't at war in the three hundred year period. Like no there wasn't The old systems of power began to change as we mentioned and crisis was becoming a young man in this period of time. Power was fairly rapidly. Consolidating into the hands of marius. A i mean. He was the console but he had an unprecedented seven times as the consulate. That just doesn't happen going on there. Yeah little baby. Putin little baby roman putin Yeah he just he just kept taking it and people let him break the rules and let him do these sort of ground swell changes to the political system because he was successful his success carried on and it meant that they would be willing to look the other way when it was yet another console ship of marius so by channeling the power into his own hands he was excluding others and they probably resented it. Fair elite man of the republic grew their influence but oftentimes it was through military conquest and sweet sweet campaign choices. marris's control over rome brought him into conflict with one of his former generals than that sola and again we're probably familiar with solar us Or maybe we're not yet no spars. I remember sola was the man who actually took rome He disease rome and actually took an himself was twice. Yeah i he set himself up as as dictator or was he sort of like a console for life or something is dictator and then he retired a gentleman. Yeah i know he so. He came up with marius. He knew the guy he had worked with them. But marius had a tendency to like scoop other people's military successes for himself and that solid to say the least when an opportunity came up for a plump campaign in asia minor which is modern turkey against method eighties. Who was a hellenistic king who is causing a lot of problems for the romans. Sala was pretty pumped. He was like. That's me. I'm going to this. This is my job. And i also mid. It was bad ass. He really put it up to the romans on calls him a lot of trouble. His sons too as far as and also he looked foxy. Hell like alexander. The great look. He was rocking with his little bit of baby stable. And yet no locks those blocks and there's a little cat hat so basically what happened is marius was not keen to have solid outshine in which he knew one hundred percent was gonna happen if if managed to kick the shit out of mithra davies so he he said no. You can't go do this and put a block on Solas attempt to carry the army. Ford and i'll do this so in eighty eight to eighty seven b. e. This brought them into their first of two civil wars and it was Effectively sala had rallied troops and rally generals and they marched on rome and at the time crosses he's a young monitoring all of this. Oh yes he's he's growing up in this period he's watching this instability in rome. He's watching romans finding roman's and he's watching. I mean maybe it sounds really blessed to just sort of gloss over it but but it's it's never been this way. You've never had a general march on the home city because that's just the bits breaking every taboo and however correct. It may be for him to say you cannot. You can't take this away from me. That might be fair. But it's just done so wrong. It did not fly with many of the roman elites or even the roman populace so you know sell is able to kick marius out of rome. Marius flees to north africa. And you know sounds like a everything sorted. Were all good. I'm now going to go in that campaign. I was talking about scoots off. Marcus comes back with a vengeance. And he starts purges anyone who supported sela he is he is killing them. He is taking their property. He is kicking them. The shit at rome. Like i purge the i i guess perches all of his political rivals out of rome and it would be something akin to you know to politicians competing for the presidency in the states and then they decide to kill everybody who supported one faction crazy it often. I've i've definitely read it in a lot of places where two oh the purchase o- political instability. But i mean this would have broken every norm. This would have been murdered. This would have been rampage like. It's actually crazy to think about how understated it tends to get talked about within the mix of all of this shite crassus. His family is killed. His brother and his father murdered other their properties confiscated and crassus scoops to spain where his dad had some property and had his client network and and political allies and he stays there for quite a while until he hears the trumpet. Call sala again. As he is returning successfully from executing the wars against mr daddy's and sala rocks back in and almost like a Like a posse collects his buddies. He's got mattel Mattel's pi sorry. He's got pompey the great who we you know. Becomes a huge figure in the late republican roman scene and crisis having spent quite a while extorting the absolute shit out of the people of spain who he had any opportunity to do so to a first instance of greed he then joins along with them and they bring armies to rome to settle this issue once and for all with the So this brings us right to the burt. Like kind of an important point for crassus at the battle of the choline gate which is right. Outside the city of rome they brought their armies up to the gate. Crisis is given a position to lead part of cells carey and they you know it was a male a it was a blood it was a bloodbath and they win but they also win for losing because it's their own people so i mean this isn't the military victory as you can imagine you're probably gonna stamp on a coin. Yep absolutely is not something that you remember. Twenty years down the line with jews and triumphs and things like that. Because i'm and this is often the way after civil wars. I know sorry after the civil war in ireland. People didn't talk about what happened during the war for decades and decades afterwards. Because i'm no one wants to talk about brother. Fighting brother or family fighting family and village hiding village and things like us. Yeah and super upsetting. And i mean i like you know. It's one of those turnabout is fair play. Their people had been killed so now they went on perch number two. Oh grand purge to virtue and we're talking like a five year six year period like this is madness. See a huge amount of death. There's a prescription list was basically a Down government-sanctioned list for people to murder with impunity and confiscate the lands territories. Whatever that the people on the list owned and this was just a melee People who were not necessarily affiliated with marius and his faction were on the list if you liked the sheep in their house so classes took full advantage of the situation and he and his allies got into very good good political positions. And we're in the perfect spot to have the claw the claw like toy story yom so. Yeah he was doing that with sweet property. I think cherry picking. Yes yes absolutely terrific. Thank you so you got crassus. Never really troubled by the misfortunes of others just consolidated his wealth that he had accrued in spain and elsewhere and he just started buying up tons of property and growing his his real estate empire. You could say he was one of the main not the main but he was. He was notably a person who put fake names on the prescription list. If you liked the properties that you wanted to buy. Ooh that's real graph doesn't it. That's really don't like this. And i just like taking advantage of a really bad situation for your own. Benefit is the tagline for crashes life also taking advantage of your own people which again i mean if we look to the modern world a lot does go on. But it's still gross. Yeah no absolutely. And it's funny because he's so powerful and he's part of the first drawing we kind of look either. You give a little bit of respect when you in your mind. Maybe you construct the psychosis powerful in prison kind of piece of shit and i'm just going to clarify the first trip for people because you have said that term twice so the triumvirate means the trio of three men really and it was crisis. Pompey caesar so. That's what he means. Ensure very treacherous so this is where we kind of get into like the nitty gritty of classes like he invested a lot in architecture and he invested a lot in You know he would buy property. Tear down build up a building block and then he could rent it out. If it burned down by accident he could bring Let's be clear like he wasn't like an an arsonist but He he was a jerk but he wasn't doing that but he would. He had this crew of slave firemen and he would send them off anytime he heard word of a fire not out of the goodness of his heart he would offer the owner the opportunity to sell very very cheaply on the spot while his things earning and if they said yes he would put out the fires. They could save their belongings if they said no Yeah he let that mother burn. Oh dear what a dick an also. If i've never heard someone describe the phrase just have there. He had a crew of slave firemen. I mean that's something else. Isn't it invested his finances wisely and the way to exploit people one of which was the silver mines silver mines in spain and he enslaved people working silver mines was arduous and horrific and he was happy to you know put his money into that because it was so profitable so again like human costs not even a like nothing he even cared about but it was just the wealth. Yeah have to come in here on the whole silver. Mind thing so i just want to. I mean if you called it. Horrific and i wanted to really drive that home so i looked into kind of the conditions for slaves and their experiences in silver. Mines like in. Be if unions over minds back in the classical period athens as well as the sober-minded rome and like the potosi silver mines in south america and conditions are absolutely horrific. The life expectancy is so low. I mean people would often we live maybe a year or two years before the dead and the next of people come in. I mean that was a common thing that would happen. So we're talking about someone who is who is running possibly the worst industry in the world. I didn't realize it was so short. Like i mean. I knew they were bad but one one two years. That's that's that's a lot. Oh my god. So yeah. I i think if you could have picked an industry to get involved in. This one was pretty pretty horrendous But it off in dividends got sold up maters Famous story and He says the wealth of crassus went from three hundred talents to seven thousand one hundred talents. A talent is a measure of weight that drives from the near east and there's different measures of talents across different locations The one we kind of use To determine crashes. His wealth is the town from athens. Which is twenty five kilograms or fifty seven pounds. So you know it's that's just an an obscene amount of money The talent might have been a little different but estimates of crisis is wealth have been given to about thirty two thousand times what the normal romans and wage was. Oh god so in in numbers for two thousand eight hundred. Seventy to one hundred and eighty eight billion dollars according to some economists so that would possibly make one of the richest men in history in that case not the not the richest man in history. But one of the top five probably. Wow this is at a time when obviously the world economy was vastly smaller than what it is today so in a way. He's concentrated more wealth than lot of the modern billionaires who might have more so that's terrifying. Yeah actually that's a really interesting way to think about it and could finance. I mean almost anything. So what does a man who has everything in the world really want. When he closes his eight power and respect and those two things do not go hand in hand when you are grasping gifting elite. Who is watching. People's homes burned to take the property. Wealth was really tricky in the ancient world. Especially with the romans It was viewed kind of askance like How did you make your money. Is it through hereditary farms of. That's fine is it through silvermines your dirty or do you trade with alexandria. Ocasio ships gross dirty so dirty. You know military conquest political office. These things all boosted your status but the best way to get money was through other means like not necessarily your business. It looked a little little sketchy Which is i mean. More elite concept can't exist. You know proving oneself through war through the calling gate incident did not help him as he became more powerful through his union with julius caesar and pompey in the first triumvirate. He was like the financial backer to a lot of julius. Caesar shenanigans. he. Just you know. He had the money to support him and he could see the writing on the wall like he knew. Pompey was incredibly popular among the roman citizens because he was young charismatic militarily successful and he broke all the norms like did everything like ten years younger than every other guy before he was just like a boss bitch. and julius caesar was super ambitious and very cunning and very smart and shrewd and had some financial issues. And so you know crosses like ingratiate myself. I will step in. I will be benevolent. And you know when they are sort of chopping up how to how to work the empire between three powerful man. they came together temporarily To do so. So this gave him the opportunity to try and boost status in the areas. That were lacking. And we're just briefly gonna run through the last two major events of his life the third survey war of seventy three to seventy one. Bc took place across italy and it was a a servile. War is a war against slaves or or slaves against their masters. So this is the spartacus war. God damn right you better get your better get ready for washboard abs and really terrible. Acting on tv show was insane. It was over the top. I kind of enjoyed it secret. Shame not so secret scandal spartacus. As part of our collective conferences. We know about him. He was a a former slay with mythic origins. And a crazy back story and he effectively led the revolt of thousands of slaves across italy and as he would roll up all these villas and estates he would see tons of slaves and. Just grab your pitchforks guys. Come with us. if you want to be. Free will fight our way out of this and this terrified the roman elites and i mean probably anybody living in major cities who relied heavily on slaves which they all did so. It was scary business. Yup absolutely i kind of think of it as a nudge and you have a dairy farmer and suddenly all the cows when they are like fuck this walk off. Yeah i mean the former is literally nothing laughed like. That's so that's that's what i think of. When i think about it it was a it was a very scary time. Probably for the establishment in the elite and so crisis thinking. I've got this He goes into the field with his army. His legion and he chases effectively chases the the rebellious slaves. All through italy for quite a while. and then at at some point along the way he just maybe. I need pompey to help. Sort this out and pompey the sexy swashbuckler have been fighting biarittz. He's like any any crushed because it's pompey and he's a yeah. Oh come help you buddy. Just as pompey arrives crosses actually had it sorted. He had a few laughs battles with spartacus. his army You know he kinda wrapped it up but pompey was like no. I got this. And he comes from the northeast swings down and he served sort sol out so he could take credit so it was again not a victory. Crassus could really have as you know. Pompey shows up. He takes credit he tidies up mops it up and that annoys crosses to no end and crosses busy putting up new roadside attractions of six thousand crucified slaves. Quite a few You know he could have had this pure gold victory pompey swoops in and it just pisses me off so crassus then moves to take the next military opportunity during the parthenon wars. So it's almost like when taylor swift was going to get her award and then connie comes up. I'm sorry it's just like talking about himself and beyond saying they should have won and things like that. Don't why are we always come back to taylor swift i think every historical cartridge elusive live cultural icon. Unfortunately for crisis he just if one can be sympathetic to him. It's just like he tried and tried and never really succeed in this way. So he does receive the governorship of syria and decides to kind of make his mark. And he's this time round. Things are going to be different for a little bit. We crosses and so he decides that the pursuit of spoils and military victory are going to be his for the taking if he attacks partha and the parking empire so partha just really quickly Major iranian political power and at the height of their power. They went from the northern euphrates. All the way down to central eastern turkey and iran. So it's it's a big big powerful empire and who crosses was coming up to it. Coming up against at this point sorry was A general in the park. The enormity called serena and you know he he decides against all logic and reason to just go for it without the support from the senate so there was no official consent for him to do this. This was an initiative of his own. Interesting you know Fortune favors the bold as we always say so. He thought maybe this was his time to shine absolutely not after a a really bad showing at the battle of kara in fifty three see crisis had decided he needed to sue for peace because they just got spanked during a failed attempt at a parlay between himself and the The leaders of the party and army don't really know the full situation some some hearsay. All you know somebody accidentally stabs somebody or somebody said something rude. Who knows but a constantly. A conflict ensued and crassus was killed in addition to crassus one of the three most important people in the political foundations of rome's triumvirate. And you know and of the republic. Ten thousand roman soldiers were captured or killed list a slaughter. That's a significant amount of loss of military power especially in consideration that it wasn't sanctioned by the sadness. Oh oh they'd be pissed they also lost. The standard was their military standard. And you lose the standard. That look super bad. So i mean that would need to be rectified. In the future of course button other people's campaigns this was a gong show and crisis really bit the dust here so you know to to sort of wrap it up. If you've watched game of thrones which. I would assume most people have at this point. There's a final scene in game of thrones with viscera -tarian the brother of danny and he's a bit of a prick and quite mouthy and so as mouthing off to cal drago they meltdown a whole bunch of gold and they they poured over his head killing him And they've given him this golden crown and actually something like this is said to have happened to crassus by the parthenon's after he died because they wanted to a mock him. They wanted his his reputation for being greedy. Prick preceded him and so this was known colucci and so they apparently melted down a whole bunch of gold and poured it down his throat because he was thirsty for wealth. Okay that's an awesome story. I wouldn't be surprised if that's some moralizing from one of the ancient authors. But if that did happen. I kind of feel for crosses. Those sounds like a horrible way to die. I think he was just stabbed. This might have been some after for yes so that. That's that's my story of rome's greediest and also kind of like militarily unsuccessful also. That was the topic. I think cross is an interesting when because why he was so important to the period of the time he has been kind of about as a major player in the roman consciousness in the general public. Like if you will now and they would have heard of. Julius caesar they may have heard of pompey. I doubt that ever heard across. So he's really lost his whole triumvirate system and also you know it's interesting. That he really did try graft for that money. He has so many different areas of income. I mean we're talking about silver mines which are horrific thing. He probably had lands a yep exactly to the extent that he even had like a slave fire brigade in rome. Which is really. i mean. that's small compared to like the silver mines and things like that but he was working at different levels making money he was a businessman he was he was doing. So side-hustle side hustle. Lots of cycles. I guess that's how you do it. Sometimes it just blows my mind that he would have such a large slice of the economy of rome concentrated in one hundred and i hope we never get to that point because it does feel like we're getting to the point in the modern world as well. Yeah they're definitely a little glimpses. When somebody hits like trillion-dollar whatever things are at the moment. Twenty twenty god. What are your So yeah i it it is. It's it's hard to fathom how one person can have so much wealth in their consolidated into themselves. But what sort of interesting about it is. It didn't seem to help him again. Helped them let's not. let's not know. Oh poor guy But you know pompey had less while he was stupid wealthy to but people just loved him they thought he was fantastic and just so interesting and charismatic and worthwhile and same. Julius caesar he was very popular to at least a large percentage of rome crassus. No and you know it's it's sort of that that old story like you know you can buy a lot but you can't buy respect. You can't buy love so obsolete and you know. Greed begets greed. And never going to be enough. This is never going to be enough stuff. Never enough money and i think that's why a lot of people today push back against that and think. Actually we need less stuff absolutely awesome. Well thank you so much for for joining me on this journey. I'm really excited to hear your story now. Liam of king leopold the second of the belgians. So yeah okay. So first. question's what leopold the second of the belgians. If you could see my face right allie shamefully little and you know what that's totally fine. Because a lot of people won't have heard this name especially people like living outside of belgium unsurprisingly or people living inside of the democratic republic of the congo. Which is what we'll get to later a guy. This is actually so far. I think the largest time difference between two stories so we're talking about a story back to the first century bc and this is actually happening in the nineteenth century so thousand years of history really curious to see what sort of comparisons and contrasts. We can make while a little bit of background. This is all happening during the scramble for africa so european nations have been gobbling parts of the world really like anything they can get their hands on so you have the british in africa. The french africa the portuguese in africa india has been taken over by the british europeans of settled in australia and new zealand. And obviously north. America's doing its. you're canadian. You know a little bit about this young little familiar first nations did not get a good deal out of this. No no no. I think you'll find on our last pot. So yeah the big nations in europe. They're gobbling up territory. Little belgium is kind of a little bit. Like what about me. I need lunch too little belgium so it would you say that belgian is the little little country that could the little country that could and probably shouldn't have awkward. Okay so king. Leopold the seconds. Let's get into him. He's he's born. And he's living in this time of expansion and globalisation and colonialism and he was born in eighteen thirty five in brussels and he was actually the second child of leopold. I who was king of the belgians and louise who was daughter of king. Louis philippe of france. And actually it's the first royal family in belgium as a country because it was actually only five years before leopold the second was born and belgium actually gained its independence from the other one from the netherlands and obviously all have been well since lol. Don't really because there's been splits between the fringe and the flemish speakers. I visited belgium. And you can actually. Yeah the the this these political events of this time of written into the city in little pockets of language and things like that so yeah definitely and it still is divided country. But it's still amazing how they actually managed to get things done on the less so leopold unfortunately didn't have a very stable family life in the french revolution of eighteen. Forty eight which is not the famous seventy nine one with mary antoinette. And all that. This was another revolution that i'd never heard of us. King louis philippe so his grandfather leopold the second grandfather actually had to flee to prison and then died two years later after that. This left queen louisa belgium. His leopold's mother feeling very deeply affected by. I'm sure there were lots of other things that are happening. Our life could be chemical imbalances in the brain and things like that but this was something that definitely affected her on her health deteriorated She actually died of tuberculosis when he was fifteen which is very interesting because she was the most powerful women in the country arguably and she was factored by these diseases of the time was leopold under a regency when his mother died or was he like at that point would he be a man able to rule on his owner. How will remember his father. Leopold the i still empower. It was his grandfather. Louis philippe who had to flee from france so despite the policies and the riches and all that not an amazing start as human being. I think we'd agree. Yeah i think. I can agree so now. We're going to skip the when he was a young man and he married marie henriette of austria when he was eighteen and we all know that marrying 'em austrian princesses is always a great idea usually end so well chop chop. She actually knows she actually does seem pretty cool. She is remembered as being benevolent beautiful popular and really great at horseback riding. Which is something that can be pulled from the sources She also really personally took care of horses. And i think in a way. That's kind of humanizer. Makes your kind of one of the people like she did her own thing you know. Yeah a little bit like mary. Queen of scots not super popular with the people will. Some people loved a horse. Ride you and you know. Take for example Meghan markle today. There was a bbc article. I saw a few months ago where she basically closed the car door. After she got out of this ooh skill set but like genuinely like. Was it a slow news week like or is this. Are they just because it's against convention of usually they have someone to close the door but in a way it makes her more of like a human more of the among the people and so this way pat people viewed marie henry ash. She was also known. As the rose of proponent which is an area of belgium so that's a nice. Would you be surprised as via if leopold the second couldn't keep it in his pants. I mean if you look at all of the history of rulers forever always. I ranch checks out well. He couldn't absolutely that snake winter search in north carolina. Now we also have a few more tragedies to add. He had four kids so three daughters and one son who he also called leopold and was kind of like the apple of his eye but unfortunately he died when he was nine he because he fell into a pond and and caught pneumonia which at the time moguls oglesby there was not a lot of 'em the medical knowledge wasn't as upstate as we are today so this was something that was quite dangerous and kyrie was poor. Child died and it was a great sorrow and people think that contributed to what became a very unhappy marriage. because people the second and murray henriette they separated. Could it have anything to do with all the ladies that he was leaving with. No it couldn't have been that absolute no and this is interesting because did they. So you say they separated. Was it like a. It wouldn't have been a divorce. Does she just have a states elsewhere. Maybe well so. That's a really good point. So belgium was a catholic. That's part of the reason. It wanted separation from the netherlands which is You know overwhelmingly protestant and the royal family as well was a catholic. I mean this is. Why does a french influence in there and they would have separate at and she would have had a states elsewhere so i'm sure that she was well taken care of but happier yet. Possibly happier uninfected. He went on then to try and marry one of his mistresses. Carleen cua in a secret ceremony but it was invalid which is obviously partly to do with the fact that he was still married to marie like the catholic system. And you know he's obviously not a henry the eighth so he's not looking for extreme measures to get a new white absolutely and i mean part of the reason why they are kings. There is because the conflict is probably a good idea. Not chuck that out. He did actually though leave his fortune to his mistress carleen nicola but obviously his three daughters who by this point were estranged. They were happy with us. They wanted fair share. I suppose on the belgian government actually helped them try to seize all of that back and they did manage to prevent a lot of this going to carleen shocking shocked easy. I mean that that has to be unprecedented to try and give when you have living children. And i'll hereditary line to give it to the mistress ahead absolutely. I think this does happen a lot today. But i mean the fact that the belgian government came in on the situation makes me think that there's probably wasn't the norm. Yeah so so far he's powerful. He's greedy like how many women do you need. A but nothing out of the ordinary powerful men in history. Would you agree agreed. So now we're gonna talk about leopold as king in eighteen. Sixty five legal. The i his father died so people the second takes the throne and his personal life was unsurprisingly. Dysfunctional historians think that this kind of made him find satisfaction material wealth so in personal human connections. There was a lot of death those separation. There was a lot of impertinence released so he found worth in things. That were there things that were. You could hold things. That just didn't go away anywhere. They were his. That's a little tragic isn't it. Like i don't wanna like him. And i don't but yeah. Okay that's that's bit sad. It is todd. But i can see. I can see how something like that can happen. I mean it's like how this idea idea that generations who grew up in poverty with last things and then they enter. Economic boom items and materialism is quite important. Because this wasn't as mcgrew so things can mean more to people at different times in history and the investment in i guess material wealth at. Yeah especially if you've come from like a dearth of above possessions and things like that and now you know what a flipped now where we're a little bit more interested in minimalism and things because just stuff is cheap. It's easy and yes. So i think i'm with you. I'm feeling this. Yup i mean he had a dearth people so the only thing fill it with was things so a good anecdote of this when he was at a parade with the ruler of germany it was apparently reported that leopold said there is really nothing left for us kings without money which really says it all. I mean he's talking to other important rulers saying all i really care about is like glitz glamour round riches. We are too so basically all trying to get across here is is greed is setting in things are important. Wealth begets wealth just like process more and more and more. I want more now. Our story is going to pivot away from belgium to the african continent. Okay so he obviously ruled belgium during this period. But remember. I started the story with this background to the scramble for africa. Let's get into that. So leopold's father leopold the first at desperately wanted to call any. He actually tried fifty times to gain one but was unsuccessful each time. Okay okay. so he's a. He's got crashes his skill with absolutely but leopold was different. He wanted his own colony not a belgian colony owned by the belgian state or lease associated with the belgian state. He wanted and he wanted a nation that he owned personally greedy. Also this a crazy shit. I think i've ever heard like some next level. Like the next level i mean. Has anyone ever done that before. I really don't know like what would a bold move sir. Absolutely i mean the thing is they say scotland. Shy bairns house absolutely now. The other major nations were colonizing. Obviously they didn't want to allow this because they knew he was doing it for personal gain and they were at least cloaking their conquests and their colonialism in more idealistic things like righteous empire. Okay civilising those salvages but what leopold. The second has to do was to coast the whole venture in spreading christianity. So saying that will all good things come from christianity. So let's bring this to the poor godless souls of the african continent and say here. Here's christianity that's what he wanted. Everyone else thing so that they would let us. That'll chestnut so the congo which is the region of the congo river basin. It's a huge area. I think it's like the size of western europe. That's how big the area we're talking about and it hadn't been colonized it's dense jungle it's forest. It's it's huge area in which river territories am everywhere else around. It had been colonized The south like south africa and west africa east africa places like that but this kind of being untouched you to its impenetrability so That's interesting that the actual topography of the congo played a part in keeping safe. I guess to a degree up to that point and it probably standing back as somebody planning to conquer. It probably didn't seem like a good investment which also speaks to leopold the second kind of heads face there and i'm sure leopold would have been happy to get a different area if he could. This was literally the last place last. There were no other choices. So what he did was that he said This bond and he founded the congo free state. Which is now the democratic republic of the congo and previously been known zaire. Okay he was the sole owner of this territory which was seventy six times larger than belgium. Yes i am. Agape seventy six times larger. So he sold this whole thing on the idea of christian colonization of congo. Do you believe there's no. He basically enslaved peoples of the congo. What he was really interested in was ivory. You know there was a lot of irony that was an import resource but very quickly as they learned a little bit more about what was going on there the different resources they found rubber trees. Now this doesn't seem to us like something important but actually at the time. Rubber was hugely valuable huge Valuable so he was like chain dollar signs in his eyes and all that yeah tongues sticking out and obviously the he had to put a system in place so he had a system officials and representatives in the region and they were horrendous so via. I have bracing myself yet. Now if you were going to talk about coming up. It's not for the faint hearted and i just to what everybody about this some things but you know some of his governors there at the pleasant tactic of burning local villages rounding up the women violently. And then he told the men if they bring back fifteen kilograms of rubber which was a huge amount that same day he would. They would kill their wives and daughters. Yeah and this was a common practice across the congo while that is pretty awful. I'm sure it's not the worst thing that they did though. Yep leopold the second set up his own private which was called the forest public which is very interesting to me. Because there's different terms you can use for police forces so in ireland for example the garbage shikano which means the guardians of the peace and that has a kind of a strong meaning behind third there to guard the peace in iceland. Lou greg lynn which means that the law regulators. Okay in america often use the term law enforcement as well which is an interesting one because like enforcing the law upon people and forced public kind of like that. It's like the force of public oars. Militarist idea behind an ip. Yes and i agree. Yeah and i think it's a sinister sort of name. So when his men destroyed a village for example which is very common they find the strongest man of the and enforce them to enlist in the force publique and anyone who resisted was to be killed. But here's the thing so the first public. They were not lead to waste bullets under any circumstances which means that if they fired a bullet they have to prove that it was used usefully for everyone. Bullet fired they had to have one severed hand to prove that bullet had hit. its mark. otherwise so you people used their guns. They should have wild animals. They should people they miss. What do you think people are doing. What do you think the public started doing. I imagine taking a lot of hands that they started cutting off the hands of people for no reason they would raid. Villages cut off people's hands if they wasted munition and this became very common. A lot of people lost their hands due to this often their two hands. Oh my god what that's done most cases and now some could say oh lee the second king of the belgians. He's in europe. He does know. This is going on to that in a moment but back in europe while this was all happening he actually created a human zoo at his summer estate where he built a model african like african village. You know like the anywhere in the continent of africa and he captured two hundred sixty seven congolese people to live there. He just talked them out of kongo transported them up and he put an in this fake village and people would come and gawk at them and throw peanuts and bananas over the fence as if they were monkeys and things like ask and these people were forced to stay outdoors in the villages and all kinds of weather through the winter and seven actually died of influenza pneumonia. Because of the terrible treatment that they experienced So i don't know if it was possible to hit dislike him more than i did. Maybe five minutes ago. But i mean yeah ok okay. He's not some enlightened. Ruler is my point no and given his his continental bros. redoing imperial expansion which is also terrible. But i don't know like he's like next level the next thing is you. Did leopold know that this was going on. Divvy people know about this meeting in his palaces in europe yes he absolutely. Did some food governors actually believe that brutality was doing good for the people. And we're really proud of it. They disembowel people in rick. Out their entrails the penises and would hang them in a row and the villages. They actually thought the worst that the people were treated the harder they would work. So each year the congo was bringing in around two hundred. Twenty million francs to leopold's personal coffers. Which is one billion dollars today. Okay yeah governors. They would actually write to him boasting about all the things they were doing. All of the terrible things just to show like look at the great weber. Doing look at all. The hard work is happening. Look the money you're gaining. They were proud of viewpoint was receiving these letters receiving information interesting. So he had zero there's he's fully culpable. He is one hundred percent at the the the central of what's happening there and if anything he's only six hundred is up. I need a thousand penises. Hung up on the atrocious while okay. So he's i. I'm a i'm a bit surprised at how hands on is but maybe the couldn't just just little thought experiment. What if if he hadn't been it might have been less terrible because they wouldn't have been trying to show up to lick look important to him his his generals and everybody would have maybe been satisfied with doing the status quo or whatever but because he so involved and they know that their political fortunes can rise and fall them maybe they were more incentivized to do more to to make it more brutal and barbaric. I dunno absolutely. And i think it totally kind of ties in with this human zoo that he has i mean he did not at all consider the people living in the region that the natives to people i mean they were just to be their hands. Cut off to the whip to the enslaved to be separated from their families to be brought up to be shown to be to be transported to europe. He put in the zoo. I ne- n- and i don't think he's all them as human beings or at least he's all the muslims sort of soap human. So it's pretty a pretty terrible and he actually hired propaganda riders to publish about. How good a job. He was doing in europe. Sly of you know the cognitive dissonance well the truth could not stay buried forever so while this was all happening. American and british journalists began entering the congo and reporting and this is something that leopold had tried to prevent happening. He actually did try to bribe the journalists but that didn't work and roger casement who actually is quite well known in british history and he played for example apart in the nineteen sixteen rising in arlen. So he's what are these figures that seems to be involved in lots of things in this period. I had no idea that. He was involved in the belgian congo as well but roger casement he interviewed the congolese people of the atrocities and brought a lot of this information back to europe. Yes hopefully shame. Legal the second as well as belgium and the belgians themselves because they were like what. What's going on there and in response. Unsurprisingly loophole set up a commission to investigate a commission to investigate things he knows all about but it looks like he didn't actually have a huge amount of control over them because they ended up publishing a five page report of loads of the horrific abuses. That were going on and leopold kind of at this point realized that his life could no longer work. The information was going to get out there. The jake was up and the amount of deaths actually ended up as a major international scandal. So the consensus really. The moment is that there were between ten to fifteen million deaths ju to his policies and practices in the belgian congo. Ten to fifteen million people died my christ. That's a lot. And i'm sure a lot of that has to do with possible displacements and famines but also just brutal tactics that were going on. Yeah and he ended up being forced to hand the call to the belgian state. Because of this because it was just such a it was just so shameful. Pr nightmare and also. I mean i can't imagine other nobility are are looking at what he's doing all right good job like no. They're probably like this guy's trash. It annoys me the next bit because he made a huge money from the transfer like. Oh the wanker. Because the belgian government have to pay him to take the territory and also on top of this just before the transfer. He actually ordered the entire archives of the free state to be burned before it was handed over which pisses me off because we don't even know to full extent of as abuses because he covered them up like bass. Yeah what a piece of shit. So leopold died in one thousand nine a year after the congo pasta the belgian stage. An interesting fact is that he never wants actually set foot in the congo. I mean but that's actually isn't so surprising is in because it might have been sort of the reality of the realization of what he's done if he ever did go so being so distant and you're treating everything almost like it's a fantasy land where he has the zoo like that's a real escapist version of what he's done so i i bet he was pretty divorced from his reality absolutely and if you think about it the information is getting back. His whatever people want to present to him so he could have had a very unrealistic expectation of what things were like. So he reigned for forty four years. Which is the longest in belgian history by issue. What is shade. And obviously i mean. I looked through a sort of things that were going on in europe at the time. And there were some positive things that he brought to belgium etcetera etcetera. No one is one-sided but the fact that he was doing this and the congo really takes the cake like i don't care all the little positive things that he did in belgium and increased rights somewhere there what he was doing the congo. It's mind blowing. And obviously he's a very controversial tiger to this day. So for example there was a statue of the second in kinshasa which the capital of the democratic republic of the congo gained independence. It was torn down but then it was actually reinstated in two thousand and five by the congolese authorities and then hours later. It was torn down again. So there's a lot of different layers going on here. Why why would you reinstate it. I think there was sort of an idea that that's not ignore part of our history and it was like a couple of wanted to do this but then people were like. Hey absolutely nas okay. That was bizarre so obviously controversial to this day and not surprising based on everything we've discussed. Yeah i just a little struck. By even i understand. I guess abstractly if you are trying to harken to some type of old past where maybe there was a greater degree of wealth or elites had strip more strength or something like that than maybe you'd be inclined to raise the statue of somebody who was such a Beasts like i can kind of abstractly get with like not get with it. But i understand it may be. That's what they were trying to do. But that doesn't really sound like the the picture that was painted on the ground. Like it. why you're just to me. That just seem so wrong. Yep and i mean the structure. When it was originally pulled down it spent thirty eight years in open air dump and a when it was put up again. I mean people. One man told the bbc for example. He left us in poverty. He exploited Materials and left with nothing on the other hand Someone said it's important. I remember our past like the jewish people. Remember the holocaust so that this kind of mixture of feelings even among the citizens of chasa histories never that simple which is another interesting. Point is thrown out terms like. He's a wanker. He's an asshole and we obviously have to be careful with that when we talk about people in the past because there's lots of different contexts that they're in and we can ever be in their shoes yet at the same time. He really seems like a wanker. Also so i'm gonna. I'm gonna stop by terms. Leave it and leave it and i think what's interesting especially in the sort of the cultural moment we are in right now where statues are being taken down and we are revisiting. A colonial pasts the problematic nature of maintaining the images of representations of people who exploited the continent of africa so so substantially and just the legacy of of damage that that caused. And i think it's really worthwhile to have that discussion and i know people feel very strongly both ways on it. They don't feel that it's appropriate to take down because you're racing history while others suggest young so many alternatives to keeping them out like throat in museum Put up somebody else Put up somebody who didn't totally elite the congress so i get where they're coming from. It's really it's interesting that yeah. I would never have expected that coming out of the story. Excellent so severe. That is the life of leopold the second of the belgians accent. With thank you. I i have learned a lot. That was that was new to me. So we're going to move onto our final section which is so hot where we ask each other. Why should we care about these stories. And how did they affect us to this day. So why should. I care about the story of really wealthy from two thousand years ago. Well i don't wanna make everything about trump but that's not the point of this podcast but maybe not even him specifically just the people of that ilk. I think we are becoming more aware and more conscious of the impact of that type of greed. That type of like generational accumulation of wealth and territories and properties in our modern time and maybe whereas once we used to look at a man like crisis or pompey or trump. Even like if you know maybe a while ago and look at them and almost implicitly just give them some respect like The look at what he's achieved. I therefore must treat him like he is a great figure of history or something and i think it's important to look at it again from different perspectives as the human costs as your story brought up like the yes. It's fantastic for totally disconnected to maybe become incredibly wealthy through your colonial exploits. But oh my god. The cost not worth it also horrific serve interesting to take a long historical view of the types of people who were the makers of history and how they got what they got maybe just reflect on. Today's what type of authority and control and respect. We are giving to these types of people like there's no reason based on his resume that donald trump should have been president. I mean even arguably land developer or a businessman or a casino magnate like. None of those things actually are particularly successful. It's obviously different topic for another day. But it's because the wealthy you are the more wealthier crew the more with your crew. The more respect and power people tend to give you on there's never enough. And there's never enough and i mean crashes couldn't even possibly have used a fraction of what he had accrued and it didn't help him in the end anyways so it. I think it's just. It's a worthwhile reflection. How about yourself like what do you think that the so what question is for leopold the second. I mean the so much tied up in here to do with them. And the influence of europe's reached africa. And you know. There's a few things i want to bring up here so obviously part of this. The effect of one man's and bishen similar to crisis. I mean one person's desire and drive to gain more and more can obviously affect or the people but in a way like it is too simple to look at it like that. I mean there's also those who supported him. We're talking about the governors and the force public. Who did actually go out and chop off people's hands. Obviously a lot of this was taken to their hands and they had business interests in all of this too and so it's not just the one person there's a chain involves there. There are people who are who who exist and the damage exists because of the system put in place but this all just connect back to one person and remember in our second episode. We talked about toko massacre how she was the center of this chain of craftsmen and then she she played this centerpiece to support all these other people leopold still played a similar centerpiece but to cause so much damage and harm and we kind of forget thas and also the democratic republic of congo to this day is extremely divided. This huge and rest in the east has insurrections. It's had a really difficult. History really am very serious history of warfare death and it's partly because leopold came along and he saw this huge chunk of landon said mine. This is all now mind. This is one place all the peoples in one place and a terrible idea. Because you're smoshing all of these peoples together in an artificial country different peoples and tribes who have different histories of each other and leopold's just on top being like gimme all that rubber babies and the effects of that live on to this day and we can't forget us. Oh another point is well as leopold. A second is not well known outside of belgium. And i think do need to know a little bit more. About what actually did happen in the belgian congo. And he's just not someone that i suppose the english speaking world that we really think too much about. Yeah i would. I would heartily agree. Because i mean school in canada. Growing up as a child and canada Literally never came up and coming from a family where my father is a keen. He's not a historian but he's keen on an very interested in history and so a lot of gaps in my historical knowledge as child came from him. Never came up like i guess. What's interesting about this to me is that it takes very little for us to gain a more nuanced understanding of the world. We live in today by virtue of understanding. Sort of the the earlier preston as to what happened in these locations and i think a a greater investment in time even small amounts of of time help us have more empathy and more understanding as to like what the state of the world is in now and how it got there. Well a fan of our podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Everyone our next episode is going to be on the theme isolated islands. And if you'd like to check us out on patriot. We have different access to a variety of tears. Open up different resources to help enrich your podcast experience. If you wanna learn a little bit more about the topics we cover yourself to check it out and otherwise we have our instagram feed where we provide free access to interesting things to do with these pods and feel free to check me out on. Arpaio artists dot com for my travel blog as i explore the classics in the ancient world through archaeology and art. And i also run another podcast called. International supernatural explore the paranormal folklore. Another spooky things that my friend alana. So if you're interested please check us. Thanks so much for listening. Goodbye and enjoy the show can use android shows there

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