Leopold II of Belgium reigned over Belgium as its second king from 1865 to 1909. He also owned the Independent State of the Congo from 1885 to 1908. Congolese people were subjected to torture and murder under Leopold's administration; the term crimes against humanity was coined by George Washington Williams in 1890 to describe the atrocities of Leopold's administration.
French social anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss is remembered for his contribution to structural anthropology. His book Tristes Tropiques was based on his research deep in the Brazilian Amazon. While he left France for the U.S. during World War II, he later returned to Paris and received his doctorate.
Renaissance physician Andreas Vesalius is credited with illustrating the first anatomy textbook. Born into a family of physicians, he studied at the University of Paris medical school and often dissected corpses retrieved from cemeteries. He was the first to reject Galenic anatomy and to introduce human dissection in anatomy.
Adnan Januzaj is a Belgian football player who plays for the Belgium national team as a midfielder. In 2018, he helped his national team win the bronze medal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Adnan Januzaj is also currently a part of the Sevilla Fútbol Club.
Agnes Varda was a Belgian-born French film director, screenwriter, and artist. She was a key figure in the development of the French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and 1960s. She often made films addressing women’s issues and other social justice problems. She was honored with an Academy Honorary Award. She was married to director Jacques Demy.
As Charles the Bold’s daughter, Mary of Burgundy, was also known as Mary the Rich, for her affluence. While she had a fairy-tale marriage with Archduke Maximilian of Austria and had two children, she died abruptly at age 25, after being thrown from her horse during a hunting trip.
Jacky Ickx is a Belgian retired racing driver best known for winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans on six occasions. He also achieved 25 podium finishes and eight wins in F1. Jacky Ickx is also known for his association with Scuderia Ferrari as he was the leading driver for the team for several seasons in the 1960s and 1970s.
The elder son of King Leopold III of Belgium, Baudouin ruled Belgium for over 4 decades. He is remembered for his impartial treatment of both the Flemish- and French-speaking Belgian factions. He also served as the sovereign of the Belgian Congo and later supported Congolese independence.
Belgian physicist and mathematician Joseph Plateau was a pioneer of the modern animation and movie industry, as he invented the phenakistiscope, the world’s first device to create an illusion of motion through images. He also laid down the structure of soap films through Plateau's laws.
Albert I of Belgium ruled as King of the Belgians for over 25 years from 1909 to 1934. He played a crucial role during World War I, for which he is often referred to as the Soldier King or Knight King in Belgium. A renowned alpinist, Albert died in a mountaineering accident and his death was mourned around the world.
Chantal Akerman was a Belgian screenwriter, film director, and artist. she also served at the City College of New York as a film professor. Best known for her work in the 1975 arthouse film Jeanne Dielman, which was described as a masterpiece by The New York Times, Chantal Akerman had a profound influence on avant-garde cinema.
With a background as colorful as her art, Princess Delphine of Belgium was known as Jonkvrouw Delphine Boël before she won paternity suit against King Albert II of Belgium and became recognized as his daughter, winning princely title for herself and her children. An established artist in her own right, she continues to create art, promoting its use in healthcare.
Belgian footballer Michy Batshuayi now plays as a striker for the Turkish club Fenerbahçe. Starting his career with Standard Liège, he later had successful stints with clubs such as Marseille and Chelsea, winning a Premier League and 2 FA Cups with the latter. He also won the Ebony Shoe Award in 2013-14.
Belgian king Leopold III was despised by his countrymen for surrendering Belgium to the Germans during World War II. After being imprisoned by the Germans near Brussels, he went to Austria, and went back to Belgium later, only to be faced by a civil war that forced him to abdicate.
Carlota of Mexico served as the Empress consort of Mexico from 10 April 1864 to 15 May 1867. Her husband Maximilian I of Mexico died at the age of 34 and their relationship has inspired many movies, plays, TV series, and novels.
Singer-songwriter Jeanne-Paule Marie Deckers, better known as The Singing Nun, soared to fame with the Billboard-charting track Dominique. She was also a Dominican Order nun, who later took the name Sister Luc Gabriel. She often played the guitar and was accompanied by a chorus of 4 nuns.
Toots Thielemans was a Belgian jazz musician best remembered for his chromatic harmonica playing. A multi-talented personality, Thielemans was also renowned for his whistling skills, composing, and guitaring. Toots Thielemans is credited with popularizing harmonica in the jazz scene which made him the preeminent jazz harmonica player.
Plastic Bertrand is a Belgian musician, songwriter, producer, and TV presenter. He is best known for his international hit single Ça plane pour moi. Interested in music from a young age, he studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music. As a musician, he toured extensively and released many albums and singles. He has also appeared in a few films.
Patrick Bauchau is a Belgian actor who is etched in our memory as Scarpine, the murderous associate of the anti-hero in A View to a Kill. Born in Belgium and educated at Oxford, he can speak German, French, English, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Dutch, enabling him to successfully work in numerous films and television series on both sides of the Atlantic.
Nafissatou Thiam is a Belgian athlete who achieved popularity in 2016 when she won the gold medal in Heptathlon at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Nafissatou Thiam went on to win another gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, becoming only the second woman to win consecutive Olympic titles in Heptathlon after America's Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Princess Stéphanie of Belgium became the Crown Princess of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia after her marriage to Crown Prince Rudolf, the son of Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. Following the death of her husband and his mistress in a suicide-murder pact, she married a Hungarian nobleman.
Belgian-born French novelist Marguerite Yourcenar, who later settled in the US, is best remembered for her award-winning works such as Mémoires d'Hadrien. She was also the first female member to be elected to the Académie Française. She used an anagram of her original last name, Crayencour, as her surname.
Oceanic engineer Jacques Piccard is remembered for his revolutionary inventions such as the mesoscaphe and the bathyscaphe, which he had built for under-sea exploration. The son of renowned engineer and explorer Auguste Piccard, he was initially an economics teacher but later began collaborating with his father on various inventions.
Tarec Saffiedine is a Belgian retired mixed martial artist best known for his association with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he competed in the Welterweight division. Over the course of his career, Tarec Saffiedine was also part of other promotions like Dream and Strikeforce; he was the last fighter to win the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship title.
Retired Belgian racing driver Thierry Boutsen had a decade-long, illustrious career with 164 races and 3 Grand Prix wins. His career also witnessed him play for teams such as Arrows, Benetton, and Jordan. He was also placed second twice in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Albert II of Belgium reigned as the King of the Belgians from 1993 until his abdication in 2013. He abdicated in favor of his eldest son Philippe due to health reasons. During his reign, Albert represented Belgium at high level international meetings. He also established the Prince Albert Foundation in 1984 to promote competence in foreign trade.
Philippe of Belgium is the King of the Belgians who succeeded his father King Albert II after the latter's abdication on 21 July 2013 due to health reasons. In 2014, Philippe helped form a coalition government after the Belgian federal election.
Victor Polster is a Belgian actor and dancer. Although he is more famous for his award-winning portrayal of Lara in Lukas Dhont’s film, Girl, Victor Polster considers himself a dancer first and an actor second. He was a student of the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp.
Jean-Philippe Susilovic is a Belgian restaurant director and television personality. He is best known for appearing on the American version of popular reality cooking show Hell's Kitchen. Jean-Philippe Susilovic appears as the maître d'hôtel on Gordon Ramsay's show.
Olivia Vinall is a Belgian-born actress who works predominantly for the British TV industry. She is best known for her performance in British series like Apple Tree Yard, The Woman in White, and Queens of Mystery. In 2018, Olivia Vinall was honored with the Stars of Tomorrow award by the Screen International magazine.
Jonas Bloquet is a Belgian actor who began his career while in his teens and bagged a Magritte Award nomination for his very first film. Later, he attracted international attention with his French thriller film Elle, bagging his second nomination for his performance. Equally adept behind the camera, he has directed three shorts and has appeared in three stage productions.
The only daughter of Habsburg archduke Maximilian I, who became the Holy Roman Emperor, Margaret of Austria was also the duchess of Savoy by virtue of her marriage to Philibert II, Duke of Savoy. A patron of the arts, she owned a huge library and had several painters at her court.
Omar El Kaddouri is a professional football player who plays as a midfielder for the Morocco national football team. Born in Belgium, El Kaddouri represented the Belgium team at the youth level before playing for Morocco. Currently an important player for PAOK FC, Omar El Kaddouri has also been a part of other popular clubs like Brescia and Napoli.
Flemish painter Jan Brueghel the Elder is perhaps best remembered for his floral still lifes and landscapes. The second son of legendary Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, he was also nicknamed "Velvet" Brueghel and "Flower" Brueghel and was a court painter of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II.
Blanche is a Belgian songwriter and singer best known for her participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 where she represented Belgium with the song City Lights. Blanche's popularity increased when she finished fourth in the competition and she went on to release her first studio album Empire on 29 May 2020.
Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders was the son of King Leopold I of Belgium. Although he was the heir presumptive to the royal Belgian throne, Philippe refused to be named the new Romanian sovereign when Alexandru Ioan Cuza stepped down as the domnitor of the Romanian Principalities in 1866. In 1909, his son Albert I ascended the Belgian throne.
Belgian physician and chemist Jan Baptista van Helmont often considered the founder of pneumatic chemistry, is also said to have used the word “gas” for the first time in the scientific world. He is also said to have been the first to identify gas sylvestre, which later came to be known as carbon dioxide.
Prince Laurent of Belgium is the youngest son of King Albert II and the younger brother of the current King of the Belgians, Philippe of Belgium. Currently, he is 13th out of the sixteen people in the Belgian line of succession. Prince Laurent of Belgium is best known as an ardent advocate of environment and animal welfare.
Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel the Younger was the eldest son of legendary Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Mostly known for re-creating his father’s works, he also created numerous original paintings, mostly depicting rural life. His works now adorn museums in cities such as Paris and Amsterdam.