Kingdom of Kongo
Overview
 
The Kingdom of Kongo (Kongo
Kongo language
The Kongo language, or Kikongo, is the Bantu language spoken by the Bakongo and Bandundu people living in the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Angola. It is a tonal language and formed the base for Kituba, a Bantu creole and lingua franca...

: Kongo dya Ntotila or Wene wa Kongo) was an African kingdom located in west central Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 in what are now northern Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

, Cabinda
Cabinda (province)
Cabinda is an exclave and province of Angola, a status that has been disputed by many political organizations in the territory. The capital city is also called Cabinda. The province is divided into four municipalities - Belize, Buco Zau, Cabinda and Cacongo.Modern Cabinda is the result of a fusion...

, the Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo , sometimes known locally as Congo-Brazzaville, is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.The region was dominated by...

, and the western portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

. At its greatest extent, it reached from the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 in the west to the Kwango River
Kwango River
The Cuango or Kwango is a transboundary river of Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the largest left bank tributary of the Kasai River in the Congo River basin. It flows through Malanje town in Angola...

 in the east, and from the Congo River
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

 in the north to the Kwanza River in the south. The kingdom consisted of several core provinces ruled by the Manikongo
Manikongo
The Manikongo or MweneKongo was the title of the rulers of the Kingdom of Kongo, a kingdom that existed from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries and consisted of land in present-day Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo...

, the Portuguese version of the Kongo title 'Mwene Kongo', meaning lord or ruler of the Kongo kingdom, but its sphere of influence
Sphere of influence
In the field of international relations, a sphere of influence is a spatial region or conceptual division over which a state or organization has significant cultural, economic, military or political influence....

 extended to neighbouring kingdoms, such as Ngoyo
Ngoyo
Ngoyo was an Iron Age kingdom state of the Woyo tribe, located in the south of Cabinda . Located on the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, just north of the Congo River, it was founded by Bantu-speaking people around the 15th century...

, Kakongo
Kakongo
Kakongo was a former small kingdom located on the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, in the modern day Republic of Congo. Although independent, the people speak a dialect of the Kikongo language and could be considered a part of the Bakongo ethnicity....

, Ndongo and Matamba.

The Bundu dia Kongo
Bundu dia Kongo
Bundu dia Kongo is a politico-cultural movement founded in June 1969 by Ne Mwanda Nsemi. The movement is mainly based in the Bas-Congo province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The movement focuses on defending, protecting, and promoting values, rights, and interests of Kongo people in the...

 sect favors reviving the kingdom through secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 from Angola, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Gabon
Gabon
Gabon , officially the Gabonese Republic is a state in west central Africa sharing borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. The Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west...

.
Verbal traditions about the early history of the country were set in writing for the first time in the late 16th century, and the most comprehensive ones were recorded in the mid-seventeenth century, including those written by the Italian Capuchin
Order of Friars Minor Capuchin
The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin is an Order of friars in the Catholic Church, among the chief offshoots of the Franciscans. The worldwide head of the Order, called the Minister General, is currently Father Mauro Jöhri.-Origins :...

 missionary Giovanni Cavazzi da Montecuccolo
Giovanni Cavazzi da Montecuccolo
Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo was an Italian Capuchin missionary noted for his travels in 17th century Angola and his lengthy account of local history and culture as well as a history of the Capuchin mission there.Cavazzi was an indifferent student and was almost denied a position in...

.
Encyclopedia
The Kingdom of Kongo (Kongo
Kongo language
The Kongo language, or Kikongo, is the Bantu language spoken by the Bakongo and Bandundu people living in the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Angola. It is a tonal language and formed the base for Kituba, a Bantu creole and lingua franca...

: Kongo dya Ntotila or Wene wa Kongo) was an African kingdom located in west central Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 in what are now northern Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

, Cabinda
Cabinda (province)
Cabinda is an exclave and province of Angola, a status that has been disputed by many political organizations in the territory. The capital city is also called Cabinda. The province is divided into four municipalities - Belize, Buco Zau, Cabinda and Cacongo.Modern Cabinda is the result of a fusion...

, the Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo , sometimes known locally as Congo-Brazzaville, is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.The region was dominated by...

, and the western portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

. At its greatest extent, it reached from the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 in the west to the Kwango River
Kwango River
The Cuango or Kwango is a transboundary river of Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the largest left bank tributary of the Kasai River in the Congo River basin. It flows through Malanje town in Angola...

 in the east, and from the Congo River
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

 in the north to the Kwanza River in the south. The kingdom consisted of several core provinces ruled by the Manikongo
Manikongo
The Manikongo or MweneKongo was the title of the rulers of the Kingdom of Kongo, a kingdom that existed from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries and consisted of land in present-day Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo...

, the Portuguese version of the Kongo title 'Mwene Kongo', meaning lord or ruler of the Kongo kingdom, but its sphere of influence
Sphere of influence
In the field of international relations, a sphere of influence is a spatial region or conceptual division over which a state or organization has significant cultural, economic, military or political influence....

 extended to neighbouring kingdoms, such as Ngoyo
Ngoyo
Ngoyo was an Iron Age kingdom state of the Woyo tribe, located in the south of Cabinda . Located on the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, just north of the Congo River, it was founded by Bantu-speaking people around the 15th century...

, Kakongo
Kakongo
Kakongo was a former small kingdom located on the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, in the modern day Republic of Congo. Although independent, the people speak a dialect of the Kikongo language and could be considered a part of the Bakongo ethnicity....

, Ndongo and Matamba.

The Bundu dia Kongo
Bundu dia Kongo
Bundu dia Kongo is a politico-cultural movement founded in June 1969 by Ne Mwanda Nsemi. The movement is mainly based in the Bas-Congo province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The movement focuses on defending, protecting, and promoting values, rights, and interests of Kongo people in the...

 sect favors reviving the kingdom through secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 from Angola, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Gabon
Gabon
Gabon , officially the Gabonese Republic is a state in west central Africa sharing borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. The Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west...

.

History

Verbal traditions about the early history of the country were set in writing for the first time in the late 16th century, and the most comprehensive ones were recorded in the mid-seventeenth century, including those written by the Italian Capuchin
Order of Friars Minor Capuchin
The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin is an Order of friars in the Catholic Church, among the chief offshoots of the Franciscans. The worldwide head of the Order, called the Minister General, is currently Father Mauro Jöhri.-Origins :...

 missionary Giovanni Cavazzi da Montecuccolo
Giovanni Cavazzi da Montecuccolo
Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo was an Italian Capuchin missionary noted for his travels in 17th century Angola and his lengthy account of local history and culture as well as a history of the Capuchin mission there.Cavazzi was an indifferent student and was almost denied a position in...

. More detailed research in modern oral traditions, initially conducted in the early 20th century by Redemptorist missionaries like Jean Cuvelier
Jean Cuvelier
Jean Cuvelier was a Belgian Redemptorist missionary and bishop of Matadi in Belgian Congo from the late 19th century until his death in 1962. Cuvelier was notable for his interest in the history of the Kingdom of Kongo, which he saw as a route to evangelization in his time...

 and Joseph de Munck
Joseph de Munck
Joseph de Munck was a Belgian Catholic Priest of the Redemptorist Order noted for his historical research relating to the Old Kingdom of Kongo. In many ways de Munck was the successor to Jean Cuvelier, whose work with documents and oral traditions made him one of the great historians of the kingdom...

 do not appear to relate to the very early period.

According to Kongo tradition, the kingdom's origin lies in the very large and not very rich country of Mpemba Kasi located just south of modern-day Matadi
Matadi
Matadi is the chief sea port of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the capital of the Bas-Congo province. It has a population of 245,862 . Matadi is situated on the left bank of the Congo River from the mouth and below the last navigable point before rapids make the river impassable for a...

 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A dynasty
Dynasty
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

 of rulers from this small polity
Polity
Polity is a form of government Aristotle developed in his search for a government that could be most easily incorporated and used by the largest amount of people groups, or states...

 built up their rule along the Kwilu valley and were buried in Nsi Kwilu
Nsi Kwilu
Nsi Kwilu is a modern Kikongo respelling of "Essiquilu" the term used by the Italian Capuchin missionary Girolamo da Montesarchio in 1650 for the territory along the Kwilu River near Matadi in the modern-day Democratic Republic of Congo....

, its capital. Traditions from the 17th century allude to this sacred burial ground. According to the missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 Girolamo da Montesarchio
Girolamo da Montesarchio
The Italian Capuchin Girolamo da Montesarchio spent twenty years in the mid-17th century in the Kingdom of Kongo in West Africa. His manuscript account, Viaggio al Congho, provides modern historians a rich source of information on the region's history and society...

, an Italian Capuchin who visited the area from 1650 to 1652, the site was so holy that looking upon it was deadly. Seventeenth century subjects of Mpemba Kasi called their ruler "Mother of the King of Kongo" in respect of the territory's antiquity. At some point around 1375, Nimi a Nzima, ruler of Mpemba Kasi, made an alliance with Nsaku Lau, the ruler of the neighbouring Mbata Kingdom. This alliance guaranteed that each of the two allies would help ensure the succession of their ally's lineage in the other's territory.

Kongo under the House of Kilukeni

In approximately 1400, the son and heir of this arrangement, Lukeni lua Nimi
Lukeni lua Nimi
Lukeni lua Nimi was the first king and founder of the Kingdom of Kongo Dia Ntotila. The name Nimi a Lukeni appeared in later oral traditions and some modern historians, notably Jean Cuvelier, popularized it...

 or Nimi a Lukeni
Lukeni lua Nimi
Lukeni lua Nimi was the first king and founder of the Kingdom of Kongo Dia Ntotila. The name Nimi a Lukeni appeared in later oral traditions and some modern historians, notably Jean Cuvelier, popularized it...

, became the founder of Kongo when he conquered the kingdom of the Mwene Kabunga (or Mwene Mpangala), which lay upon a mountain to his south. He transferred his rule to this mountain, the Mongo dia Kongo or "mountain of Kongo", and made Mbanza Kongo, the town there, his capital. Two centuries later the Mwene Kabunga's descendants still symbolically challenged the conquest in an annual celebration. The rulers that followed Lukeni all claimed some form of relation to his kanda or lineage and were known as the Kilukeni
Kilukeni
The Kilukeni were members of the Lukeni kanda or House of Kilukeni, the ruling dynasty of the Kingdom of Kongo from its inception in the late 14th century until the 1567 with the rise of the House of Kwilu...

. The Kilukeni kanda or "house" as recorded in Portuguese documents would rule Kongo unopposed until 1567.

The Mwene Kongos often gave the governorships to members of their family or its clients. As this centralization increased, the allied provinces gradually lost influence until their powers were only symbolic, manifested in Mbata, once a co-kingdom, but by 1620 simply known by the title "Grandfather of the King of Kongo" (Nkaka'ndi a Mwene Kongo).

The high concentration of population around Mbanza Kongo
M'banza-Kongo
M'banza-Kongo , is the capital of Angola's northwestern Zaire Province. M'banza Kongo was founded some time before the arrival of the Portuguese and was the capital of the dynasty ruling at that time...

 and its outskirts played a critical role in the centralization of Kongo. The capital was a densely settled area in an otherwise sparsely populated region where rural population densities probably did not exceed 5 persons per square kilometer. Early Portuguese travelers described Mbanza Kongo as a large city, the size of the Portuguese town of Évora
Évora
Évora is a municipality in Portugal. It has total area of with a population of 55,619 inhabitants. It is the seat of the Évora District and capital of the Alentejo region. The municipality is composed of 19 civil parishes, and is located in Évora District....

 as it was in 1491. By the end of the sixteenth century, Kongo's population was probably close to half a million people in a core region of some 130,000 square kilometers. By the early seventeenth century the city and its hinterland had a population of around 100,000, or one out of every five inhabitants in the Kingdom (according to baptismal statistics compiled by Jesuit priests). This concentration allowed resources, soldiers and surplus foodstuffs to be readily available at the request of the king. This made the king overwhelmingly powerful and caused the kingdom to become highly centralized.

By the time of the first recorded contact with the European
European ethnic groups
The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

s, the Kingdom of Kongo was a highly developed state at the center of an extensive trading network. Apart from natural resources and ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

, the country manufactured and traded copperware, ferrous
Ferrous
Ferrous , in chemistry, indicates a divalent iron compound , as opposed to ferric, which indicates a trivalent iron compound ....

 metal goods, raffia cloth, and pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

. The Kongo people spoke in the Kikongo language. The eastern regions, especially that part known as the Seven Kingdoms of Kongo dia Nlaza
Kongo dia Nlaza
Kongo dia Nlaza was a little known kingdom that existed to the east of the Kingdom of Kongo and was absorbed into Kongo in the late sixteenth century....

 (or in Kikongo Mumbwadi or "the Seven"), were particularly famous for the production of cloth.

The Portuguese and Christianity

In 1483, the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão
Diogo Cão
Diogo Cão was a Portuguese explorer and one of the most remarkable navigators of the Age of Discovery, who made two voyages sailing along the west coast of Africa to Namibia in the 1480s.-Early life and family:...

 sailed up the uncharted Congo River
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

, stumbling on Kongo villages and becoming the first European to encounter the Kongo kingdom. During his visit, Cão left his men in Kongo while taking Kongo nobles and bringing them to Portugal. He returned with the Kongo nobles in 1485. At that point the ruling king, Nzinga a Nkuwu, converted to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Cão returned to the kingdom with Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 priests and soldiers in 1491, baptizing Nzinga a Nkuwu as well as his principal nobles, starting with the ruler of Soyo, the coastal province. At the same time a literate Kongo citizen returning from Portugal opened the first school. Nzinga a Nkuwu took the name of João I
João I of Kongo
João I of Kongo, alias Nzinga a Nkuwu or Nkuwu Nzinga, was ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo between 1470–1506. He was baptized as João in 3 May 1491 by Portuguese missionaries.-Early reign:...

 in honor of Portugal's king at the time, João II.

João I ruled until his death around 1506 and was succeeded by his son Afonso Mvemba a Nzinga
Afonso I of Kongo
Mvemba a Nzinga or Nzinga Mbemba , also known as King Afonso I, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo in the first half of the 16th century. He reigned over the Kongo Empire from 1509 to late 1542 or 1543.-Pre-reign career:...

. He faced a serious challenge from a half brother, Mpanzu a Kitima. The king overcame his brother in a battle waged at Mbanza Kongo. According to Afonso's own account, sent to Portugal in 1506, he was able to win the battle thanks to the intervention of a heavenly vision of Saint James and the Virgin Mary. Inspired by these events, he subsequently designed a coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

 for Kongo that was used by all following kings on official documents, royal paraphernalia and the like until 1860. While King João I later reverted to his traditional beliefs, Afonso I established Christianity as the state religion
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

 of his kingdom.

King Afonso I worked to create a viable version of the Roman Catholic Church in Kongo, providing for its income from royal assets and taxation that provided salaries for its workers. Along with advisers from Portugal such as Rui d'Aguiar, the Portuguese royal chaplain sent to assist Kongo's religious development, Afonso created a syncretic version of Christianity that would remain a part of its culture for the rest of the kingdom's independent existence. King Afonso himself studied hard at this task. Rui d'Aguir once said Afonso I knew more of the church's tenets than he did.

The Kongo church was always short of ordained clergy, and made up for it by the employment of a strong laity. Kongolese school teachers or Mestres were the anchor of this system. Recruited from the nobility and trained in the kingdom's schools, they provided religious instruction and services to others building upon Kongo's growing Christian population. At the same time, they permitted the growth of syncretic forms of Christianity which incorporated older religious ideas with Christian ones. Examples of this are the introduction of KiKongo words to translate Christian concepts. The KiKongo words ukisi (an abstract word meaning charm, but used to mean "holy") and nkanda (meaning book) were merged so that the Christian Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 became known as the nkanda ukisi. The church became known as the nzo a ukisi. While some European clergy often denounced these mixed traditions, they were never able to root them out.
Part of the establishment of this church was the creation of a strong priesthood and to this end Afonso's son Henrique was sent to Europe to be educated. Henrique became an ordained priest and in 1518 was named as bishop of Utica
Utica, Tunisia
Utica is an ancient city northwest of Carthage near the outflow of the Medjerda River into the Mediterranean Sea, traditionally considered to be the first colony founded by the Phoenicians in North Africa...

 (a North African diocese in the hands of Muslims). He returned to Kongo in the early 1520s to run Kongo's new church. He died in 1531 as he was about to go to Europe for the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

.

Slavery and royal rivalries

In the following decades, the Kingdom of Kongo became a major source of slaves
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 for Portuguese traders and other European powers. The Cantino Atlas of 1502 mentions Kongo as a source of slaves for the island of São Tomé
São Tomé
-Transport:São Tomé is served by São Tomé International Airport with regular flights to Europe and other African Countries.-Climate:São Tomé features a tropical wet and dry climate with a relatively lengthy wet season and a short dry season. The wet season runs from October through May while the...

. Slavery had existed in Kongo long before the arrival of the Portuguese, and Afonso's early letters show the evidence of slave markets. They also show the purchase and sale of slaves within the country and his accounts on capturing slaves in war which were given and sold to Portuguese merchants. It is likely that most of the slaves exported to the Portuguese were war captives from Kongo's campaigns of expansion. In addition, the slaving wars helped Afonso consolidate his power in southern and eastern border regions.

Despite its long establishment within his kingdom, Afonso believed that the slave trade should be subject to Kongo law. When he suspected the Portuguese of receiving illegally enslaved persons to sell, he wrote in to King João III
John III of Portugal
John III , nicknamed o Piedoso , was the fifteenth King of Portugal and the Algarves. He was the son of King Manuel I and Maria of Aragon, the third daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile...

 of Portugal in 1526 imploring him to put a stop to the practice. Ultimately, Afonso decided to establish a special committee to determine the legality of the enslavement of those who were being sold.

A common characteristic of political life in the kingdom of Kongo was a fierce competition over succession to the throne. Afonso's own contest for the throne was intense, though little is known about it. However, a great deal is known about how such struggles took place from the contest that followed Afonso's death in late 1542 or early 1543. This is in large part due to detailed inquest conducted by royal officials in 1550, which survives in the Portuguese archives. In this inquest one can see that factions formed behind prominent men, such as Afonso I's son, Pedro Nkanga a Mvemba
Pedro I of Kongo
Pedro I Nkanga a Mvemba was manikongo of the Kingdom of Kongo from 1543 until being deposed in 1545.-Background:Pedro I was the son of King Afonso I and became his immediate successor in 1543. He was part of a splinter kanda known as the Kibala or court faction or house in Kongo which had its...

  and Diogo Nkumbi a Mpudi, his grandson who ultimately overthrew Pedro in 1545. Although the factions declared themselves in the idiom of kinship (using the Portuguese term geração or lineage, probably kanda in Kikongo) they were not formed strictly by heredity since close kin were often in separate factions. The players included nobles holding appointive titles to provincial governorships, members of the royal council and also officials in the now well developed Church hierarchy.

King Diogo I skillfully replaced or maneuvered the entrenched after he was crowned in 1545. He faced a major conspiracy led by Pedro I, who had taken refuge in a church, and who Diogo in respect of the Church's rule of asylum allowed to continue in the church. However, Diogo did conduct an inquiry into the plot, the text of which was sent to Portugal in 1552 and gives us an excellent idea of the way in which plotters hoped to overthrow the king by enticing his supporters to abandon him.

Problems also arose between Diogo and the Portuguese settlers at Sao Tome known as Tomistas. According to a treaty between Kongo and Portugal, the former were only to trade within the latter's realm for slaves. That meant the Portuguese were restricted to the slaves offered by King Diogo or those he authorized to sell slaves. Every year the Tomistas would come with 12 to 15 ships to carry back between 400 and 700 slaves (5000-10000 slaves a year). This was not enough to take advantage of Kongo's evergrowing supply of slaves thanks to wars on its eastern frontier. The captains would try to overload their cargos, resulting in revolts. However, the factor that actually broke the deal was the Tomista habit of sailing upriver to the Malebo Pool to purchase slaves from BaTeke
Bateke
The Bateke are a Central African ethnic group that speak the Teke languages. Its population is situated mainly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and with a minority in Gabon...

 traders whom were increasingly taken with European goods over the nzimbu shells the manikongo offered them. Enraged by this breach of contract, King Diogo broke off relations in 1555 and expelled 70 or so Portuguese living in his realm (many of which had lived their for a long time with African wives and mixed-race children).

The king's attempt at pacifying the restless kingdom of Ndongo in 1556 backfired resulting in the latter's independence. Despite this setback, he would enjoy a long reign that ended with his death in 1561.

King Diogo's successor, whose name is lost to history, was killed by the Portuguese and replaced with a bastard
Bastard
Bastard may refer to:* A child whose birth lacks legal legitimacy—that is, one born to a woman and a man who are not legally married* Bastard , illegitimacy in English law* Bastard , a blackletter typeface...

 son who was more pliant to Tomista interests Afonso II
Afonso II of Kongo
-Biography:Little is known about Afonso II or his reign. He may have been the illegitimate son of Diogo I. Six years earlier, King Diogo had cut off all relations with Portugal and expelled them from the kingdom. The Portuguese attempted to return by plotting with another claimant for the throne...

. The common people of Kongo were enraged at his enthronement and responded with riots throughout the kingdom. Many Portuguese were killed, and the royal port of Mpinda was closed to the Portuguese effectively ending the slave trade between Kongo and Portugal. Less than a year into this chaos, King Afonso II was murdered while attending mass by his brother, the next manikongo, Bernardo I
Bernardo I of Kongo
Bernardo I of Kongo was a 16th century manikongo of the Kingdom of Kongo, a region encompassing areas in 21st century Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He came to power after murdering his half-brother Afonso II who was less well-disposed toward the Portuguese.The rule of Bernardo I...

. King Bernardo allowed the boycott of Portuguese trade to continue while quietly reestablishing relations with Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

. King Bernardo I was killed warring against the Yaka
Yaka
The Yaka are an ethnic group of Southwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. They number about 300,000. They live in the forest and savanna areas between the Kwango and Wamba rivers. They are very artistic. Many of their religious and cultural customs transcend ethnic boundaries, and...

 in 1567. The next manikongo, Henrique I
Henrique I of Kongo
Henrique I Nerika a Mpudi was ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo from 1567 to 1568. Like his predecessor, Henrique would also die while on campaign at the frontiers of the kingdom. He was killed while fighting the BaTeke of the Anziku Kingdom.-See also:...

 was drawn into a war in the eastern part of the country where he was killed, leaving the government in the hands of his stepson Álvaro Nimi a Lukeni lua Mvemba
Álvaro I of Kongo
Álvaro I Nimi a Lukeni lua Mvemba was a Manikongo , or king of Kongo, from 1568 to 1587.-Biography:Álvaro's father was an unknown Kongo nobleman who died, leaving his mother to remarry to King Henrique I. When Henrique I died fighting on the eastern frontier, he had left Álvaro as his regent...

. He was crowned as Álvaro I, "by common consent" according to some witnesses.

Kongo under the House of Kwilu

Álvaro I came to the throne during another contest over the throne in 1568. Being from the Kwilu river valley and not a blood relative of any of the previous kings, his reign marked the beginning of the House of Kwilu. There were certainly factions that opposed him, though it is not known specifically who they were. Álvaro immediately had to fight invaders from the east (who some authorities believe were actually rebels within the country, either peasants or discontented nobles from rival factions) called the Jagas. To do this, he decided to enlist the aid of the Portuguese based at São Tomé
São Tomé
-Transport:São Tomé is served by São Tomé International Airport with regular flights to Europe and other African Countries.-Climate:São Tomé features a tropical wet and dry climate with a relatively lengthy wet season and a short dry season. The wet season runs from October through May while the...

, who sent an expedition under Francisco de Gouveia Sottomaior to assist. As a part of the same process, Álvaro agreed to allow the Portuguese to establish a colony in his province of Luanda
Luanda
Luanda, formerly named São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda, is the capital and largest city of Angola. Located on Angola's coast with the Atlantic Ocean, Luanda is both Angola's chief seaport and its administrative center. It has a population of at least 5 million...

 south of his kingdom. In addition to allowing the Portuguese to establish themselves in Luanda, Kongo provided the Portuguese with support in their war against the Kingdom of Ndongo in 1579. The kingdom of Ndongo was located in the interior east of Luanda
Luanda
Luanda, formerly named São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda, is the capital and largest city of Angola. Located on Angola's coast with the Atlantic Ocean, Luanda is both Angola's chief seaport and its administrative center. It has a population of at least 5 million...

 and although claimed in Kongo's royal titles as early as 1535 was probably never under a firm Kongo administration.

Álvaro also worked hard to westernize Kongo, gradually introducing European style titles for his nobles, so that the Mwene Nsundi became the Duke
Duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...

 of Nsundi; the Mwene Mbamba became the Duke of Mbamba or the Mwene Mpemba. The Mwene Mpemba became Marquis
Marquis
Marquis is a French and Scottish title of nobility. The English equivalent is Marquess, while in German, it is Markgraf.It may also refer to:Persons:...

 of Mpemba, and the Mwene Soyo became Count
Count
A count or countess is an aristocratic nobleman in European countries. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The adjective form of the word is...

 of Soyo. He and his son Álvaro II Nimi a Nkanga (crowned in 1587]) bestowed orders of chivalry called the Order of Christ
Order of Christ
Order of Christ may refer to:* Order of Christ – former Knights Templar Order awarded initially by the kings of Portugal, now by the Portuguese state...

. The capital was also renamed São Salvador
M'banza-Kongo
M'banza-Kongo , is the capital of Angola's northwestern Zaire Province. M'banza Kongo was founded some time before the arrival of the Portuguese and was the capital of the dynasty ruling at that time...

 or "Holy Savior" in Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 during this period. In 1596, Álvaro's emissaries to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 persuaded the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 to recognize São Salvador as the cathedral of a new diocese which would include Kongo and the Portuguese territory in Angola. However, the king of Portugal won the right to nominate the bishops to this see, which would be the source of tension between the two countries.

The Portuguese bishops throughout the kingdom were often favorable to European interests in a time when relations between Kongo and Angola were tense. They refused to appoint priests, forcing Kongo to rely more and more heavily on the laity. Documents of the time show that lay teachers (called mestres in Portuguese-language documents) were paid salaries and appointed by the crown, and at times Kongo kings withheld income and services to the bishops and their supporters (a tactic called "country excommunication"). Controlling revenue was vital for Kongo's kings since even Jesuit missionaries were paid salaries from the royal exchequer.

At the same time as this ecclesiastical problem developed, the governors of Angola began to extend their campaigns into areas that Kongo regarded as being firmly under their sovereignty. This included the region around Nambu a Ngongo, which Governor João Furtado attacked in the mid 1590s. Other campaigns in the vicinity would lead to denunciations by the rulers of Kongo against this violation of their sovereignty.

Factionalism

Álvaro I and his successor, Álvaro II, also faced problems with factional rivals from families that had been displaced from succession. In order to raise support against some enemies, they had to make concessions to others. One of the most important of these concessions was allowing Manuel, the Count of Soyo, to hold office for many years beginning sometime before 1591. During this same period, Álvaro II made a similar concession to António da Silva, the Duke of Mbamba. António da Silva was strong enough that he decided the succession of the kingdom, selecting Bernardo II
Bernardo II of Kongo
Bernardo II Nimi a Nkanga was a manikongo of the Kingdom of Kongo who ruled from 12 August 1614 until August of 1615. He was the son of King Álvaro II.Like the last two kings of Kongo, Bernaro II belonged to the Kwilu kanda or royal House of Kwilu....

 in 1614, but putting him aside in favor of Álvaro III in 1615. It was only with difficulty that Álvaro III was able to put his own choice in as Duke of Mbamba when António da Silva died in 1620 instead of having the province fall into the hands of the duke's son. At the same time, however, Álvaro III created another powerful and semi-independent nobleman in Manuel Jordão who held Nsundi for him.

Kongo under the House of Nsundi

Tensions between Portugal and Kongo increased further as the governors of Portuguese Angola became more aggressive. Luis Mendes de Vasconcelos, who arrived as governor in 1617, used mercenary African groups called Imbangala
Imbangala
The Imbangala or Mbangala were 17th century groups of Angolan warriors and marauders who founded the kingdom of Kasanje.-Origins of the Imbangala:...

 to make a devastating war on Ndongo, and then to raid and pillage some southern Kongo provinces. He was particularly interested in the province of Kasanze, a marshy region that lay just north of Luanda. Many slaves being deported through Luanda fled into this region and were often granted sanctuary, and for this reason, Mendes de Vasconcelos decided that a determined action was needed to stop it. The next governor of Angola, João Correia de Sousa, used the Imbangala to launch a full scale invasion of southern Kongo in 1622, following the death of Álvaro III. João Correia de Sousa claimed he had the right to choose the king of Kongo. He was also upset that the Kongolese electors chose Pedro II
Pedro II of Kongo
Pedro II Nkanga a Mvika was a ruler of the kingdom of Kongo during the kingdom's first conflict with the Portuguese colony of Angola. He was the founder of the royal House of Nsundi and could trace his descent to one of Afonso I's daughters.-Career:...

, a former Duke of Mbamba. Pedro II was originally from the duchy of Nsundi, hence the name of the royal house he created, the House of Nsundi. João Correia de Sousa also contended that Pedro II had sheltered runaway slaves from Angola during the latter's governorship of Mbamba.

First Kongo-Portuguese War

The First Kongo-Portuguese War began initially because of a campaign against Kasanze, which was conducted ruthlessly. From there, the army moved to Nambu a Ngongo, whose ruler, Pedro Afonso, was held to be sheltering runaway slaves as well. Although Pedro Afonso, facing an overwhelming army of over 20,000 agreed to return some runaways, the army attacked his country and killed him.

Following its success in Nambu a Ngongo, the Portuguese army advanced into Mbamba in November. The Portuguese forces scored a victory at the Battle of Mbumbi in Mbamba province. There they faced a quickly gathered local force led by the new Duke of Mbamba, and reinforced by forces from Mpemba led by its Marquis. Both the Duke of Mbamba and the Marquis of Mpemba were killed in the battle. According to Esikongo accounts, they were eaten by the Imbangala
Imbangala
The Imbangala or Mbangala were 17th century groups of Angolan warriors and marauders who founded the kingdom of Kasanje.-Origins of the Imbangala:...

 allies of the Portuguese. However, Pedro II, the newly crowned king of Kongo brought the main army, including troops from Soyo down into Mbamba and decisively defeated the Portuguese driving them from the country at a battle waged somewhere near Mbanda Kasi. Portuguese residents of Kongo, frightened by the consequences for their business of the invasion, wrote a hostile letter to João Correia de Sousa, denouncing his invasion.

Following the defeat of the Portuguese at Mbandi Kasi, Pedro II declared Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

 an official enemy. The king then wrote letters denouncing João Correia de Sousa to the King of Spain and the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

. Meanwhile, anti-Portuguese riots broke out all over the kingdom and threatened its long established merchant community. Portuguese throughout the country were humiliatingly disarmed and even forced to give up their clothes. Pedro, anxious not to alienate the Portuguese merchant community, and aware that they had generally remained loyal during the war, did as much as he could to preserve their lives and property, leading some of his detractors to call him "king of Portuguese".

As a result of Kongo's victory, the Portuguese merchant community of Luanda revolted against the governor hoping to preserve their ties with the king. Backed by the Jesuits, who had also just recommenced their mission there, they forced João Correia de Sousa to resign and flee the country. The interim government that followed the departure was led by the bishop of Angola. They were very conciliatory to Kongo and agreed to return some of the slaves captured by Correia de Sousa, especially the lesser nobles captured at the Battle of Mbumbi.

Regardless of the new government in Angola's overtures, Pedro II had not forgotten the invasion and planned to remove the Portuguese from the realm altogether. The king sent a letter to the Dutch Estates General proposing a joint military attack on Angola with a Kongo army and a Dutch fleet. He would pay the Dutch with gold, silver and ivory for their efforts. As planned, a Dutch fleet under the command of the celebrated admiral Piet Heyn arrive in Luanda to carry out its attack in 1624. The plan failed to come to fruition as, at that point, Pedro had died and his son Garcia Mvemba a Nkanga
Garcia I of Kongo
Garcia I Mvemba a Nkanga was a manikongo of Kongo whom ruled from April 27, 1624 to March 7, 1626.-Early Reign:Garcia I was the son of King Pedro II. He was the second and last king from the House of Nsundi begun by his father in 1622. When Pedro II died in 1624, Garcia succeeded peacefully to...

 was elected king. King Garcia I was more forgiving of the Portuguese and had been successfully persuaded by their various gestures of concilation. He was unwilling to press the attack on Angola at that time, contending that as a Catholic, he could not ally with non-Catholics to attack the city.

Factionalism and Return of the House of Kwilu

The end of the first quarter of the 17th century saw a new flare-up in Kongo's political struggle. At the heart of the conflict were two noble houses fighting over the kingship. On one side of the conflict was the House of Kwilu, which counting most of the kings named Álvaro. They were ousted by the opposing House of Nsundi, when Pedro II was placed on the throne by powerful local forces in São Salvador, probably as a compromise when Álvaro III died without an heir old enough to rule.

As the reigning power, the House of Nsundi worked earnestly to place partisans in king-making positions throughout the empire. Either Pedro II or Garcia I managed to secure Soyo in the hands of Count Paulo, who held it and supported the House of Nsundi from about 1625 until 1641. Meanwhile, Manuel Jordão, a partisan of the House of Kwilu managed to force Garcia I to flee and placed Ambrósio I
Ambrósio I of Kongo
Ambrósio I Nimi a Nkanga was a mwenekongo of the Kingdom of Kongo who ruled from March 1626 to March 7, 1631.-Rise to Power:Ambrósio I was the nephew of Álvaro III and as such was a member of the royal House of Kwilu. When Alvaro III died on May 4 of 1622, he had only a young son to leave as heir...

 of the House of Kwilu on the throne.

King Ambrósio either could not or did not remove Paulo from Soyo, though he did eventually remove Jordão. After a rule marked by rumors of war mobilizations and other disruptive behavior, a great riot at the capital resulted in the death of the king by a mob. Ambrosio is replaced with Alvaro IV
Álvaro IV of Kongo
Álvaro IV of Kongo was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo from 1631 to 1636.The king was last of the House of Kwilu monarchs which had ruled the kingdom with only one intermission since 1567. He was a son of Álvaro III and took possession of the throne at age thirteen...

 by the Duke of Mbamba, Daniel da Silva. King Alvaro IV is only eleven at the time and easily manipulated. In 1632, Daniel da Silva marches on the capital in order to "rescue his nephew from his enemies". At the time, he is under the protection of the Count of Soyo, Paulo, Alvaro Nimi a Lukeni a Nzenze a Ntumba
Álvaro VI of Kongo
Álvaro VI of Kongo, sometimes called Nimi a Lukeni a Nzenze a Ntumba , was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo.Descended through the female line of Anna Ntumba from King Afonso I, he became Duke of Mbemba in 1634...

 and his brother Garcia II Nkanga a Lukeni. After a dramatic battle in Soyo, the young king is successfully restored only to be later poisoned by Alvaro V
Álvaro V of Kongo
Álvaro V of Kongo, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo for a short period in the year 1636.The king was part of the Kimpanzu kanda. He was a cousin to the founding monarchs of the Kinlaza kanda that would rule the kingdom until the Kongo Civil War. King Alvaro V took power after the poisoning of...

 a Kimpanzu.

Kongo under the House of Kinlaza

After a second war against his cousins Nimi a Lukeni and Nkanga a Lukeni, Alvaro V is killed and replaced by Alvaro VI
Álvaro VI of Kongo
Álvaro VI of Kongo, sometimes called Nimi a Lukeni a Nzenze a Ntumba , was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo.Descended through the female line of Anna Ntumba from King Afonso I, he became Duke of Mbemba in 1634...

 in 1636 initiating the House of Kinlaza's rule over Kongo. Following his death in 1641, his brother took over and was crowned Garcia II
Garcia II of Kongo
Garcia II Nkanga a Lukeni a Nzenze a Ntumba, also known as Garcia Afonso for short, ruled the Kingdom of Kongo from 23 January 1641 to 1661; he is sometimes considered Kongo's greatest king for his religious piety and his near expulsion of the Portuguese from Angola.-Early life:Garcia and his...

. The former House of Nsundi was consolidated into their House of Kwilu rivals as the Kimpanzu
Kimpanzu
The Kimpanzu were members of the Mpanzu kanda also known as the House of Kimpanzu, one of the lineages from which the kings of Kongo were chosen during the 17th century and following Kongo's reunification under Pedro IV.-Origins:...

 lineage of the dead Alvaro V
Álvaro V of Kongo
Álvaro V of Kongo, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo for a short period in the year 1636.The king was part of the Kimpanzu kanda. He was a cousin to the founding monarchs of the Kinlaza kanda that would rule the kingdom until the Kongo Civil War. King Alvaro V took power after the poisoning of...

.

Garcia II took the throne on the eve of several crisis. One of his rivals, Daniel da Silva (who probably received the patronage of the Daniel da Silva who was killed by Garcia II while defending Alvaro IV
Álvaro IV of Kongo
Álvaro IV of Kongo was a ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo from 1631 to 1636.The king was last of the House of Kwilu monarchs which had ruled the kingdom with only one intermission since 1567. He was a son of Álvaro III and took possession of the throne at age thirteen...

), managed to secure the County of Soyo and used it as a base against Garcia II for the whole of his reign. As a result, Garcia II was prevented from completely consolidating his authority. Another problem facing King Garcia II was a rebellion in the Dembos region, which also threatened his authority. Lastly, there was the agreement made by Pedro II
Pedro II of Kongo
Pedro II Nkanga a Mvika was a ruler of the kingdom of Kongo during the kingdom's first conflict with the Portuguese colony of Angola. He was the founder of the royal House of Nsundi and could trace his descent to one of Afonso I's daughters.-Career:...

 in 1622 promising Kongo's support to the Dutch in an offensive to oust Portugal from Luanda.

Dutch invasion of Luanda and the Second Portuguese War

In 1641, the Dutch invaded Angola and captured Luanda after an almost bloodless struggle. They immediately sought to renew their alliance with Kongo, which had had a false start in 1624 when Garcia I refused to assist their attack on Luanda. While relations between Sao Salvador and Luanda were not warm, the two polities had enjoyed an easy peace due to the former's internal distractions and the latter's war against the Kingdom of Matamba
Kingdom of Matamba
The Kingdom of Matamba was a pre-colonial African state located in what is now the Baixa de Cassange region of Malanje Province of modern day Angola...

. The same year of the Portuguese ouster from Luanda, Kongo entered into a formal agreement with the new government and agreed to provide military assistance as needed. Garcia II ejects nearly all Portuguese and Luso-African merchants from his kingdom. The colony of Angola is declared an enemy once again, and the Duke of Mbamba is sent with an army to assist the Dutch. The Dutch also provided Kongo with military assistance, in exchange for payment in slaves. In 1642, the Dutch sent troops to help Garcia II put down an uprising by peoples of the southern district in the Dembos region. The government quickly put down the Nsala rebellion, reaffirming the Kongo-Dutch alliance. King Garcia II paid the Dutch for their services in slaves taken from ranks of Dembos rebels. These slaves were sent to Pernambuco
Pernambuco
Pernambuco is a state of Brazil, located in the Northeast region of the country. To the north are the states of Paraíba and Ceará, to the west is Piauí, to the south are Alagoas and Bahia, and to the east is the Atlantic Ocean. There are about of beaches, some of the most beautiful in the...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 where the Dutch had taken over a portion of the Portuguese sugar producing region. A Dutch-Kongo force attacked Portuguese bases on the Bengo River in 1643 in retaliation for Portuguese harassment. The Dutch captured Portuguese positions and forced their rivals to withdraw to Dutch forts on the Kwanza River at Muxima and Masangano. Following this victory, the Dutch again lost interest in conquering the colony of Angola. As in their conquest of Pernambuco, the Dutch West India Company was content to allow the Portuguese to remain inland. The Dutch sought to spare themselves the expense of war, and instead relied on control of shipping to profit from the colony. Thus, to Garcia's chagrin the Portuguese and Dutch signed a peace treaty in 1643 ending the brief albeit successful war. Despite his disappointment, however, with the Portuguese out of the way and an end to Dutch pursuits of troops, Garcia II could turn his attention to the growing threat posed by the Count of Soyo.

Kongo's War with Soyo

While Garcia was disappointed that the Dutch alliance could not drive out the Portuguese, it did free him to turn his attention to the growing threat posed by the Count of Soyo. The Counts of Soyo were initially strong partisans of the House of Nsundi and its successor the House of Kinlaza. Count Paulo had assisted in the rise of the Kinlaza to power. However, Paulo died at about the same time as Garcia became king in 1641. A rival count, Daniel da Silva from the House of Kwilu, took control of the county as a partisan of the newly formed Kimpanzu faction. He would claim that Soyo had the right to choose its own ruler, though Garcia never accepted this claim and spent much of the first part of his reign fighting against it. Garcia did not support this move as one of the most important offices in Kongo.

In 1645 Garcia II sent a force against Daniel da Silva under the command of his son Afonso. The campaign was a failure due to Kongo's inability to take Soyo's fortified position at Mfinda Ngula. Worse still, Afonso was captured in the battle forcing Garcia to engage in humiliating negotiations with da Silva to win back his freedom. Italian Capuchin missionaries who had just arrived in Soyo in the aftermath of the battle assisted in the negotiations. In 1646 Garcia sent a second military force against Soyo, but his forces were defeated again. Because Garcia was so intent on subduing Soyo, he was unable to make a full military effort to assist the Dutch in the war against Portugal.

The Third Portuguese War

The Dutch were convinced they could avoid committing their forces to any further wars. Queen Njinga had been active against the Portuguese, and the Dutch felt secure. When Portuguese reinforcements managed to defeat her at Kavanga in 1646, the Dutch felt obliged to be more aggressive. The Dutch convinced Kongo to join them and Queen Njinga in another venture against the Portuguese. In 1647, Kongo troops participated in the Battle of Kombi
Battle of Kombi
The Battle of Kombi was a decisive battle in the war between Ndongo-Matamba and Portugal during the Dutch period of Angolan history.-Background:...

, where they soundly defeated the Portuguese field army and forced them to fight defensively.

A year later, Portuguese reinforcements from Brazil forced the Dutch to surrender Luanda and withdraw from Angola in 1648. The new Portuguese governor, Salvador de Sá
Salvador de Sá
Salvador Correia de Sá e Benevides was a Portuguese soldier and politician. In 1625 he fought the Dutch invasion of Salvador in Brazil and regained Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe from the Dutch in 1647...

, sought terms with Kongo, demanding the Island of Luanda, the source of Kongo's money supply of nzimbu shells. Although neither Kongo of Angola never ratified a treaty, sent to the king in 1649, the Portuguese gained de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

control of the island. The war resulted in the Dutch losing their claims in Central Africa, Nzinga being forced back into Matamba, the Portuguese restored to their coastal position and Kongo nothing lost or gained either than the indemnity Garcia paid which ended hostilities between the two rival powers. King Garcia II, after allowing the Portuguese to gain control over Luanda Island, switched the kingdom's currency to raffia cloth, negating the Portuguese gains.

The Battle of Mbwila

Portugal began pressing claims over southern vassals of Kongo, especially the country of Mbwila
Mbwila
Mbwila is a historical small state in modern-day Angola. Its rulers, like those of the surrounding areas, bore the title Ndembu, and the region was often known in Portuguese as "Dembos"....

, following their restoration at Luanda. Mbwila
Mbwila
Mbwila is a historical small state in modern-day Angola. Its rulers, like those of the surrounding areas, bore the title Ndembu, and the region was often known in Portuguese as "Dembos"....

, a nominal vassal of Kongo, had also signed a treaty of vassalage with Portugal in 1619. It divided its loyalty between the Colony of Angola and Kongo in the intervening period. Though the Portuguese often attacked Mbwila they never brought it under their authority. A treaty was never signed

Kongo began working towards a Spanish alliance, especially following António I
António I of Kongo
António I Nvita a Nkanga was a mwenekongo of the Kingdom of Kongo who ruled from 1661 to his defeat and death at the Battle of Mbwila on October 29, 1665. He was elected following the death of King Garcia II...

's succession as king in 1661. Although it is not clear what diplomatic activities he engaged in Spain itself, the Portuguese clearly believed that he hoped to repeat the Dutch invasion this time with the assistance of Spain. António sent emissaries to the Dembos region and to Matamba and Mbwila attempting to form a new anti-Portuguese alliance. The Portuguese had been troubled, moreover by Kongo support of runaway slaves, who flocked to southern Kongo throughout the 1650s. At the same time, the Portuguese were advancing their own agenda for Mbwila, which they claimed as a vassal. In 1665 both sides invaded Mbwila and their rival armies met each other at Ulanga, in the valley below Mbanza Mbwila, capital of the district.

At the Battle of Mbwila
Battle of Mbwila
At the Battle of Mbwila on October 29, 1665, Portuguese forces defeated the forces of the Kingdom of Kongo and decapitated king António I of Kongo, also called Nvita a Nkanga.-Origins of the War:...

 in 1665, the Portuguese forces from Angola had their first victory against the kingdom of Kongo since 1622. They defeated the forces under António I
António I of Kongo
António I Nvita a Nkanga was a mwenekongo of the Kingdom of Kongo who ruled from 1661 to his defeat and death at the Battle of Mbwila on October 29, 1665. He was elected following the death of King Garcia II...

 killing him and many of his courtiers as well as the Luso-African Capuchin priest Manuel Roboredo (also known by his cloister name of Francisco de São Salvador), who had attempted to prevent this final war.

Kongo Civil War

In the aftermath of the battle, there was no clear succession. The country was divided between rival claimants to the throne. The two factions of Kimpanzu
Kimpanzu
The Kimpanzu were members of the Mpanzu kanda also known as the House of Kimpanzu, one of the lineages from which the kings of Kongo were chosen during the 17th century and following Kongo's reunification under Pedro IV.-Origins:...

 and Kinlaza
Kinlaza
The Kinlaza were members of the Nlaza kanda or House of Kinlaza, one of the ruling houses of the Kingdom of Kongo during the 17th century. It was one of the main factions during the Kongo Civil War along with the Kimpanzu and Kinkanga a Mvika kandas....

 hardened, and partitioned the country between them. Pretenders would ascend to the throne then be ousted. The period was marked by an increase of BaKongo slaves being sold across the Atlantic, the weakening of the Kongo monarchy and the strengthening of Soyo
Soyo
Soyo is a city located in the province of Zaire in Angola. Soyo recently became the largest oil-producing region in the country, with an estimate of .-Early history:...

.

During this chaos, Kongo was being increasingly manipulated by its Soyo. In an act of desperation, the central authority in Kongo called on Luanda to attack Soyo in return for various concessions. The Portuguese invaded the county of Soyo in 1670. They met with no more success than Garcia II, being roundly defeated by Soyo's forces at the Battle of Kitombo
Battle of Kitombo
The Battle of Kitombo was a military engagement between forces of the BaKongo state of Soyo, formerly a province of the Kingdom of Kongo, and the Portuguese colony of Angola.-Pre-Battle Situation:...

 on 18 October 1670. The kingdom of Kongo was to remain completely independent, though still embroiled in civil war, thanks to the very force it had fought so long to destroy. This Portuguese defeat was resounding enough to end all Portuguese ambitions in Kongo's sphere of influence until the end of the nineteenth century.

The battles between the Kimpanzu and Kinlaza continued plunging the kingdom into a chaos not known in centuries. The fighting between the two lineages led to the sack of São Salvador in 1678. Ironically, the capital built by the pact of Mpemba and Mbata was burned to the ground not by the Portuguese or rival African nations but by its very heirs. The city and hinterlands around Mbanza Kongo were depopulated. The population dispersed into the mountain top fortresses of the rival kings. These were the Mountain of Kibangu east of the capital and the fortress of the Águas Rosadas, a line founded in the 1680s from descendants of Kinlaza and Kimpanzu, the region of Mbula or Lemba where a line founded by the Kinlaza pretender, Pedro III ruled; and Lovota a district in southern Soyo that sheltered a Kimpanzu lineage whose head was D Suzanna de Nóbrega. Finally, D Ana Afonso de Leão founded her own center on the Mbidizi River at Nkondo and guided her junior kinsmen to reclaim the country, even as she sought to reconcile the hostile factions.

In the interim, however, tens of thousands fleeing the conflict or caught up in the battles were deported as slaves to English, French, Dutch and Portuguese merchants every year. One stream led north to Loango, whose merchants, known as Vili (Mubires in the period) carried them primarily to merchants from England and the Netherlands, and others were taken to Luanda where they were sold to Portuguese merchants bound for Brazil. By the end of the seventeenth century, several long wars and interventions by the now independent Counts of Soyo (who restyled themselves as Grand Princes) had brought an end to Kongo's golden age.

Turmoil and rebirth

For nearly forty years, the kingdom of Kongo wallowed in civil war. With São Salvador in ruin, the rival houses had retreated to bases in Mbula (also known as Lemba) and Kibangu. In the midst of this crisis, a young woman named Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita
Kimpa Vita
Beatriz Kimpa Vita , was a Congolese prophet and leader of her own Christian movement, known as Antonianism. Her teaching grew out of the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church in Kongo.-Early life:...

 appeared claiming that she was possessed by the spirit of Saint Anthony. She tried to win recognition for a reunification of the country. At first, in 1704 she tried with King Pedro IV Nusamu a Mvemba who ruled from Kibangu, east of the old capital. When he rebuffed her, she went to his rival João III Nzuzi a Ntamba at his fortified mountain of Lemba (also known as Mbula) just south of the Congo River. After being driven away from there, she decided to call her followers to reoccupy the capital with her. Thousands came, and the city was repopulated. As she became more of a political actor, she became involved in the rivalry between the kings, eventually choosing to elect Pedro Constantinho da Silva as a new king. However, she was captured shortly after this by Pedro IV's supporters, tried, condemned for witchcraft and heresy and burned in July, 1706. The movement continued in control of São Salvador until Pedro IV's army stormed it in 1709.

18th and 19th centuries

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Kongo artists began making crucifixes and other religious objects that depicted Jesus as an African. Such objects produced by many workshops over a long period (given their variety) reflect that emerging belief that Kongo was a central part of the Christian world, and fundamental to its history. A story of the eighteenth century was that the partially ruined cathedral of São Salvador, originally constructed for the Jesuits in 1549 and eventually elevated to cathedral status, was actually built overnight by angels. It was called affectionately, Nkulumbimbi. Pope John Paul II would eventually say mass at this cathedral in 1992.

Manuel II of Kongo succeeded Pedro IV in 1718. Manuel II ruled over a restored and restive kingdom until his death in 1743. However, Soyo's provincial status in the kingdom, nominal for years, limited Manuel's power. Nsundi on the north had also more or less become independent, although still claiming to be part of the larger kingdom and more or less permanently ruled by a Kimpanzu family. Even within the remaining portions of the kingdom, there were still powerful and violent rivalries. At least one major war took place in the 1730s in the province of Mbamba. Pedro IV's successor, Garcia IV Nkanga a Mvandu, ruled from 1743 to 1752. Pedro IV's restoration required his successor's membership in a branch of the Kinlaza faction resident in Matadi that had sworn loyalty to Pedro IV in 1716. Other Kinlaza branches had developed in the north, at Lemba and Matari, and in the south along the Mbidizi River in lands that had been ruled by D. Ana Afonso de Leão. De Leão's lands came to be called the "Lands of the Queen".

The system of alternating succession broke down in 1764, when Álvaro XI, a Kinlaza drove out the Kimpanzu king Pedro V and took over the throne. Pedro and his successor in Luvata maintained a separate court at Sembo, and never acknowledged the usurpation. A regent of Pedro's successor claimed the throne in the early 1780s and pressed his claims against a José I, a Kinlaza from the Mbidizi Valley branch of the royal family. José won the showdown, fought at São Salvador in 1781, a massive battle involving 30,000 soldiers on José's side alone. To show his contempt for his defeated rival, José refused to allow the soldiers of the other faction to receive Christian burial. José's power was limited, as he had no sway over the lands controlled by the Kinlaza faction of Lemba and Matari, even though they were technically of the same family, and he did not follow up his victory to extend his authority over the Kimpanzu lands around Luvota. At the same time, the lands around Mount Kibangu, Pedro IV's original base was controlled, as it had been for the whole eighteenth century by members of the Água Rosada family, who claimed descent from both the Kimpanzu and Kinlaza.

José ruled until 1785, when he handed power over to his brother Afonso V (1785–87). Afonso's brief reign ended in his sudden death, rumored to be poisoning. A confused struggle broke out following Afonso's death. By 1794, the throne ended up in the hands of Henrique I
Henrique I of Kongo
Henrique I Nerika a Mpudi was ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo from 1567 to 1568. Like his predecessor, Henrique would also die while on campaign at the frontiers of the kingdom. He was killed while fighting the BaTeke of the Anziku Kingdom.-See also:...

, a man of uncertain factional origin, who arranged for three parties to divide the succession. Garcia V abrogated the arrangement, proclaiming himself king in 1805. He ruled until 1830. André II
André II of Kongo
André II Mvizi a Luken was the first child of the manikongo Garcia V Nkanga Mvemba and his third wife, Lusana Mbandu, a princess regent Luunda. After marriage, she gave a coup in Luunda Empire, and joined the Kongo Empire, thus narrowing the circle imperial Africa, taking all what is now the...

, who followed Garcia V, appeared to have restored the older rotational claims, as he was from the northern branch of the Kinlaza, whose capital had moved from Matadi to Manga. Andre ruled until 1842 when Henrique II, from the southern (Mbidizi Valley) branch of the same family, overthrew him. Andre, however, did not accept his fate and withdrew with his followers to Mbanza Mputo, a village just beyond the edge of São Salvador, where he and his descendants kept up their claims. King Henrique II, who came to power after overthrowing André II, ruled Kongo from 1842 until his death in 1857.

In 1839 the Portuguese government, acting on English pressure, abolished the slave trade south of the equator which had so damaged central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

. Human trafficking continued until well into the 1920s, first as an illegal slave trade, then as contract labor. A commodity trade, at first focused on ivory and wax, but gradually growing to include peanuts and rubber, replaced the slave trade. This trade revolutionized the economies and eventually the politics of the whole of Central Africa. In place of the slave trade, largely under the control of state authorities, thousands, and eventually hundreds of thousands of commoners began carrying goods from the interior down to coastal ports. These people managed to share in the wealth of the new trade, and as a result, commercially connected people constructed new villages and challenged the authorities.

During this period social structure changed as well. New social organizations, makanda emerged. These makanda, nominally clans descended from common ancestors, were as much trading associations as family units. These clans founded strings of villages connected by fictional kinship along the trade routes, from Boma or the coast of Soyo to São Salvador and then on into the interior. A new oral traditions about the founder of the kingdom, often held to be Afonso I, described the kingdom as originating when the king caused the clans to disperse in all directions. The histories of these clans, typically describing the travels of their founder and his followers from an origin point to their final villages, replaced in many areas the history of the kingdom itself.

Despite violent rivalries and the fracturing of the kingdom, it continued to exist independently well into the 19th century. The rise of the clans became noticeable in the 1850s at the end of the reign of Henrique II. In 1855 or 1856, two potential kings emerged to contest the succession following his death. Álvaro Ndongo claimed the throne on behalf of the Kinlaza faction of Matari (ignoring the existence of Andre's group at Mbanza Puto), calling himself Álvaro XIII and Pedro Lelo claimed the throne on behalf of the Mbidizi Valley faction of the Kinlaza from a base at Bembe. Pedro won the contest, thanks to soliciting Portuguese aid, and with their help his soldiers defeated Álvaro. Like André II, Álvaro XIII did not accept defeat and established his own base at Nkunga, not far from São Salvador. The Portuguese support which had put Pedro V on the throne had a price, for when he was crowned Pedro V (he was actually the second king named Pedro V, the first one was the ruler in the late 1770s) in 1857 he also swore a treaty of vassalage to Portugal. Portugal gained nominal authority over Kongo, and even constructed a fort in São Salvador to house a garrison.

In 1866, citing excessive costs, the Portuguese government withdrew the garrison. Pedro continued his rule, however, though he faced increasing rivalry from clan-based trading magnates who drained his authority from much of the country. The most dangerous of these was Garcia Mbwaka Matu of the town of Makuta. This town had been founded by a man named Kuvo, who probably obtained his wealth through trade, since he and Garcia made a great deal of controlling markets. Though this was a great challenge in the 1870s, after Garcia's death in 1880, Makuta became less problematic.

At the Conference of Berlin in 1884–1885, European powers divided most of central Africa between them. Portugal claimed the lion's share of what remained of independent Kongo, however, Portugal was not then in a position to make "effective occupation." King Pedro V ruled ten more years using the Portuguese to strengthen his control. King Pedro V voluntarily reaffirmed Kongo's position a Portuguese vassal in 1888. After a revolt against the Portuguese in 1914, Portugal abolished the title of king of Kongo, ending even symbolic native rule. The Titular Kings, however, kept using the title at least until 1964, when a dispute over the succession began, according to the Almanach de Bruxelles.

Military structure

The kingdom's army consisted of a mass levy of archers, drawn from the general male population, and a smaller corps of heavy infantry, who fought with swords and carried shields for protection. Portuguese documents typically referred to heavy infantry, considered nobles, as fidalgos in documents. The bearing of a shield was also important, as Portuguese documents usually call the heavy infantry adagueiros (shield bearers). There is weak evidence to suggest revenue assignments paid and supported them. A large number, perhaps as many as 20,000, stayed in the capital. Smaller contingents lived in the major provinces under the command of provincial rulers.

After 1600, civil war became far more common than inter-state warfare. The government instituted a draft for the entire population during wartime, but only a limited number actually served. Many who did not carry arms instead carried baggage and supplies. Thousands of women supported armies on the move. Administrators expected soldiers to have two weeks' worth of food upon reporting for campaign duty. Logistical difficulties probably limited both the size of armies and their capacity to operate for extended periods. Some Portuguese sources suggested that the king of Kongo fielded armies as large as 70,000 soldiers for a 1665 Battle of Mbwila
Battle of Mbwila
At the Battle of Mbwila on October 29, 1665, Portuguese forces defeated the forces of the Kingdom of Kongo and decapitated king António I of Kongo, also called Nvita a Nkanga.-Origins of the War:...

, but it is unlikely that armies larger than 20–30,000 troops could be raised for military campaigns.

Troops were mobilized and reviewed on Saint James' Day, July 25, when taxes were also collected. Subjects celebrated this day in honor of Saint James and Afonso I, whose miraculous victory over his brother in 1509 was the principal significance of the holiday in the Kongo.

When the Portuguese arrived in Kongo they were immediately added as a mercenary force, probably under their own commander, and used special-purpose weapons, like crossbows and muskets, to add force to the normal Kongo order of battle. Their initial impact was muted; Afonso complained in a letter of 1514 that they had not been very effective in a war he waged against Munza, a Mbundu rebel, the year before. By the 1580s, however, a musketeer corps, which was locally raised from resident Portuguese and their Kongo-mestiço (mixed race) offspring, was a regular part of the main Kongo army in the capital. Provincial armies had some musketeers; for example they served against the Portuguese invading army in 1622. Three hundred and sixty musketeers served in the Kongo army against the Portuguese at the battle of Mbwila
Battle of Mbwila
At the Battle of Mbwila on October 29, 1665, Portuguese forces defeated the forces of the Kingdom of Kongo and decapitated king António I of Kongo, also called Nvita a Nkanga.-Origins of the War:...

.

Political structure

The vata village, referred to as libata in Kongo documents and by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, served as Kongo's basic social unit after the family. Nkuluntu, or mocolunto to the Portuguese, chiefs headed the villages. The one to two hundred citizens per village migrated about every ten years to accommodate soil exhaustion. Communal land-ownership and collective farms produced harvests divided by families according to the number of people per household. The nkuluntu received special premium from the harvest before the division.

Villages were grouped in wene, small states, led by awene (plural of mwene) or mani to the Portuguese. Awene lived in mbanza, larger villages or small towns of somewhere between 1,000 to 5,000 citizens. Higher nobility typically chose these leaders. The Kongo administration regarded their land as renda, revenue assignments. The Kongo government exacted a monetary head tax for each villager, which may well have been paid in kind as well, forming the basis for the kingdom's finances. The king granted titles and income, based on this head tax. Holders reported annually to the court of their superior for evaluation and renewal. The king also appointed lower-level officials to serve, typically for three year terms, by assisting him in patronage
Patronage
Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings or popes have provided to musicians, painters, and sculptors...

.

Various provinces made up Kongo's higher administrative divisions, with some of the larger and more complex states, such as Mbamba, divided into varying numbers of sub-provinces, which the administration further subdivided. The king appointed the Mwene Mbamba, the Duke of Mbamba after the 1590s. The king technically had the power to dismiss the Mwene Mbamba, but the complex political situation limited the king's exercise of his power. When the administration gave out Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an-style titles, large districts like Mbamba and Nsundi typically became Duchies. The administration made smaller ones, such as Mpemba, Mpangu or a host of territories north of the capital), Marquisates. Soyo, a complex province on the coast, became a "Country," as did Nkusu, a smaller and less complex state east of the capital.

Hereditary families controlled a few provinces, most notably the Duchy of Mbata and Country of Nkusu, through their positions as officers appointed by the king. In the case of Mbata, the kingdom's origin as an alliance produced this power, exercised by the Nsaku Lau. In the seventeenth century, political maneuvering also caused some provinces, notably Soyo, but occasionally Mbamba, to be held for very long terms by the same person. Provincial governments still paid income to the crown and their rulers reported to the capital to give account.

Provincial governors paid a portion of the tax returns from their provinces to the king. Dutch visitors to Kongo in the 1640s reported this income as twenty million nzimbu shells. In addition, the crown collected its own special taxes and levies, including tolls on the substantial trade that passed through the kingdom, especially the lucrative cloth trade between the great cloth producing region of the "Seven Kingdoms of Kongo dia Nlaza
Seven Kingdoms of Kongo dia Nlaza
This polity or region was first mentioned in texts of the Kingdom of Kongo in the late sixteenth century, although it probably existed much earlier. It was only then being incorporated into Kongo, through the kingdom's eastern province of Mbata. It is unclear what the seven kingdoms were, though...

," the eastern regions, called "Momboares" or "The Seven" in Kikongo, and the coast, especially the Portuguese colony of Luanda.

Crown revenues supported the church, paid by revenue assignments based on royal income. For example, Pedro II
Pedro II of Kongo
Pedro II Nkanga a Mvika was a ruler of the kingdom of Kongo during the kingdom's first conflict with the Portuguese colony of Angola. He was the founder of the royal House of Nsundi and could trace his descent to one of Afonso I's daughters.-Career:...

 (1622–1624)detailed the finances of his royal chapel by specifying that revenues from various estates and provincial incomes would support it. Baptismal and burial fees also supported local churches.

The kingdom of Kongo was made up of a large number of provinces. Various sources list from six to fifteen as the principal ones. Duarte Lopes' description, based on his experience there in the late sixteenth century, identified six provinces as the most important. These were Nsundi in the northeast, Mpangu in the center, Mbata in the southeast, Soyo in the southwest and two southern provinces of Mbamba and Mpemba.

The king of Kongo had sex with every women in his kingdom also held several kingdoms in at least nominal vassalage. These included the kingdoms of Kakongo, Ngoyo and Vungu to the north of Kongo. The royal titles, first elaborated by Afonso in 1512, styled the ruler as "King of Kongo and Lord of the Mbundus" and later titles listed a number of other countries over which he also ruled as "king". The Mbundu kingdoms included Ndongo (sometimes erroneously mentioned as "Angola"), Kisama and Matamba. All of these kingdoms were south of Kongo and much farther from the king's cultural influence than the northern kingdoms. Still later eastern kingdoms such as Kongo dia Nlaza were named in the ruler's titles as well.

Senior officials chose the Mwene Kongo or king who served for life following their choice. Electors varied over time, and there was probably never a completely fixed list; rather, senior officials who exercised power did so. Mbata was often held to be an elector because of the original constitutional position that province held. The ruler of Vunda, whose lands lay near Mbanza Kongo, was also often named as an elector and certainly played a role in the coronation ceremonies. The ruler of Soyo also cast a vote in the election. Many kings tried to choose their successor, not always successfully. One of the central problems of Kongo history was the succession of power, and as a result the country was disturbed by many rebellions and revolts.

Matrilineal succession

The central Bantu groups which comprised most of the Kongo kingdom passed on status through matrilineal succession.

Chibadi

Early European documenters of the culture were shocked that some men, known as chibadi, took on the social status of women. The Jesuit João dos Santos was quoted in a 1625 publication, "certayne Chibadi, which are men attired like Women, and behave themselves womanly, ashamed to be called men; are also married to men, and esteeme that unnatural damnation an honor." The priests António Sequeira and Gaspar Azevedo similarly recorded men who dressed, sat and spoke as women, and who married men "to unite in wrongful male lust with them." António de Oliveira de Cadornega claimed in his 1680 História Geral das Guerras Angolanas that "Sodomy is rampant among the people of Angola," and that some of the men who took the feminine role in sodomy were also esteemed "wizards" in Kongo society.

See also

  • Kongo Civil War
    Kongo Civil War
    The Kongo Civil War was an internal conflict between rival houses of the Kingdom of Kongo. The war waged throughout the middle of the 17th and 18th centuries pitting partisans of the House of Kinlaza against the House of Kimpanzu...

  • List of Rulers of Kongo
  • House of Kinlaza
  • House of Kimpanzu
  • African military systems to 1800
    African military systems to 1800
    African military systems to 1800 refers to the evolution of military systems on the African continent prior to 1800, with emphasis on the role of indigenous states and peoples. Development of the military art generally moved from the simple to the more sophisticated as economies and cultures became...

  • African military systems after 1800
    African military systems after 1800
    African military systems refers to the evolution of military systems on the African continent after 1800, with emphasis on the role of indigenous states and peoples within the African continent. Only major military systems or innovations and their development after 1800 are covered here. For...


Further reading

  • W.Holman Bentley, "Pioneering on the Congo," vol. II, pages 289-293, and page 396
  • Olivier de Bouveignes, Les anciens rois du Congo, Grands Lacs, Namur, Belgium 1948
  • David Birmingham, Trade and Conquest in Angola. Oxford University Press, 1966.
  • Ann Hilton, The Kingdom of Kongo (Oxford, 1982)
  • John K. ThorntonThe Kongolese Saint Anthony: Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita and the Antonian Movement, 1683-1706 (Cambridge UP, 1998)
  • Karl Edvard Laman
    Karl Edvard Laman
    Karl Edvard Laman was a Swedish missionary and ethnographer active in Kingdom of Kongo during the period of 1891 through 1919...

    ," The Kongo, vols.I pages 67–68, II page 20
  • Phyllis Martin, "Leisure and Society of Colonial Brazzaville", page 100, 102-103
  • "The Origins and Early History of the Kingdom of Kongo," International Journal of African Historical Studies34/1 (2001): 89-120.
  • Maria Petringa, Brazza, A Life for Africa. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006. ISBN 978-1-4259-1198-0
  • Graziano Saccardo, Congo e Angola con la storia dell'antica missione dei Cappuccini (3 vols., Venice, 1982–83)
  • R.F.Tapsell, Monarch Rulers Dynasties and Kingdoms of the World, Thames and Hudson, London 1983
  • John K. Thornton, The Kingdom of Kongo: Civil War and Transition, 1641-1718 (Madison, 1983)
  • Jan Vansina, Les anciens royaume de la savane, Institut de recherches économiques et sociales, Université Lovanium, Léopoldville, République du Congo 1965; English translation as: Kingdoms of the Savanna, Madison, WI, University of Wisconsin Press, 1966.
  • Jan Vansina, "The Tio Kingdom of the Middle Congo,1880-1892", pages 163-64
  • John H. Weeks, "Among the Primitive Bakongo", pages 121-124

External links

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