Hymans, Paul

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HYMANS, PAUL (1865–1941), Belgian statesman and historian who was four times foreign minister of Belgium, born in Brussels of a Protestant mother. His father was Solomon Louis Hymans, poet, politician, and member of the chamber of deputies. After graduating in law, he served as a high official in the Council of the Belgian Congo. At the same time he published several historical works completing his father's L'histoire parlementaire de la Belgique (1878–1913). In 1896, he was appointed professor of parliamentary history at Brussels University. Hymans was elected to the chamber of deputies in 1900 and led the liberal opposition until the outbreak of World War i. He united the Belgian liberals against religious intolerance and introduced a policy of political and social reforms. Hymans won the respect of many of his opponents, but was intensely disliked by the king, Leopold ii, because of his criticism of the latter's administration in the Congo. In 1914, Hymans joined the conservative coalition and served as Belgian ambassador to London from 1915 to 1919. A year later he became foreign minister and was the head of the Belgian delegation at the Versailles peace negotiations. Subsequently, he became minister of justice and then served three more terms as foreign minister. He was also president of the Assembly of the League of Nations and was appointed Belgian delegate to the Disarmament Conference in 1932.


T.H. Reed, Government and Politics of Belgium (1924).

[Edmund Meir]