Political map of Sub-Saharan Africa 15 November 1908 (Belgian Congo): News of atrocities in the Congo Free State (Atrocities in the Congo Free State) - personally ruled by King Leopold II of Belgium since the 1880s - led to public outcry in the early 20th century (Congo Free State propaganda war). Bowing to international pressure, the parliament of Belgium annexed the territory as the Belgian Congo in November 1908, bringing an end to an exploitative regime which had presided over some 6-10 million native deaths.