Kingdom of Kongo

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


A revies

Text of Kingdom of Kongo

Kingdom of KongoFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaFor other uses, seeCongo (disambiguation).Kingdom of KongoWene wa KongoorKongo dya Ntotila

Sovereign Kingdom(1390 - 1857)Vassal Kingdom of theKingdom of Portugal(1857 - 1914)


FlagCoat of arms

The "Kingdom of Congo" (now usually rendered as "Kingdom of Kongo" to maintain distinction from the present-day Kongo nations)

CapitalSo Salvador, Angola;[2]


ReligionChristianity with some traditional practices



-c. 1390sLukeni lua Nimi(first)

-19111914Manuel III(last)

LegislatureKing's Council of 12


-Conquest of Kabunga1390[1]

-Kongo Civil War begins29 October 1665

-Kongo ReunificationFebruary, 1709

-Kongo becomes vassal of Portugal1857

-Dissolution by Portuguese authority1914


-c. 1650[3]129,400km(49,962 sq mi)


-c. 1650[3]est.509,250

Density3.9 /km (10.2 /sq mi)

CurrencyNzimbushells andRaffiacloth

TheKingdom of Kongo(Kongo:Kongo dya Ntotila[4]orWene wa Kongo[5]orPortuguese:Reino do Congo) was an African kingdom located in west centralAfricain what is now northernAngola,Cabinda, theRepublic of the Congo, and the western portion of theDemocratic Republic of the Congo.[6]as well as the southernmost part ofGabon.[7]At its greatest extent, it reached from theAtlantic Oceanin the west to theKwango Riverin the east, and from theCongo Riverin the north to theKwanza Riverin the south. The kingdom consisted of several core provinces ruled by theManikongo, the Portuguese version of the Kongo title 'Mwene Kongo', meaning lord or ruler of the Kongo kingdom, but itssphere of influenceextended to neighbouring kingdoms, such asNgoyo,Kakongo,NdongoandMatamba.[8]Contents[hide] 1History 1.1Foundation of the Kingdom 1.1.1The Portuguese and Christianity 1.1.2Slavery and royal rivalries 1.2Kongo under the House of Kwilu 1.2.1Factionalism 1.3Kongo under the House of Nsundi 1.3.1Kongo-Portuguese War of 1622 1.4Factionalism and return of the House of Kwilu 1.5Kongo under the House of Kinlaza 1.5.1Dutch invasion of Luanda and the Second Portuguese War 1.5.2Kongo's War with Soyo 1.5.3The Third Portuguese War 1.5.4The Battle of Mbwila 1.6Kongo Civil War 1.7Turmoil and rebirth 1.818th and 19th centuries 2Military structure 3Political structure 4Economic structure 5Art of the Kongo Kingdom 6Social structure 6.1Matrilineal succession 7See also 8Bibliography 9Primary Sources 9.1Documentary collections 9.2Books and Documents 10Secondary Literature 11References 12External links

History[edit]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 ItalianCapuchinmissionaryGiovanni Cavazzi da Montecuccolo. More detailed research in modern oral traditions, initially conducted in the early 20th century byRedemptoristmissionaries likeJean CuvelierandJoseph de Munckdo 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 ofMpemba Kasilocated just south of modern-dayMatadiin theDemocratic Republic of Congo.[5]Adynastyof rulers from this smallpolitybuilt up their rule along theKwilu valleyand were buried inNsi Kwilu, its capital. Traditions from the 17th century allude to this sacred burial ground. According to themissionaryGirolamo da Montesarchio, 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 withNsaku Lau, the ruler of the neighbouringMbata 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.Foundation of the Kingdom[edit]The first king of the Kingdom of Kongo Dya Ntotila was Lukeni lua Nimi (circa 1380-1420).The name Nimi a Lukeni appeared in later oral traditions and some modern historians, notably Jean Cuvelier, popularized it.Lukeni lua NimiorNimi a Lukeni, 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 madeMbanza 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 theKilukeni. The Kilukeni kanda or "house" as recorded in Portuguese documents would rule Kongo unopposed until 1567.After the death of Nimi a Lukeni, his brother, Mbokani Mavinga, took over the throne and ruled until approximately 1367. He had two wives and nine children. His rule saw an expansion of the Kingdom of Kongo to include the neighbouring state of Loango and other areas now encompassed by the currentRepublic of Congo.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).[9][10]The high concentration of population aroundMbanza Kongoand 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 ofvoraas 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 byJesuitpriests). 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 theEuropeans, the Kingdom of Kongo was a highly developed state at the center of an extensive trading network. Apart from natural resources andivory, the country manufactured and traded copperware,ferrousmetal goods,raffiacloth, andpottery. The Kongo people spoke in theKikongo language. The eastern regions, especially that part known as the Seven Kingdoms ofKongo dia Nlaza(or in Kikongo Mumbwadi or "the Seven"), were particularly famous for the production of cloth.The Portuguese and Christianity[edit]Main article:Roman Catholic Church in Kongo

Joo I Nzinga a NkuwuIn 1483, the Portuguese explorerDiogo Cosailed up the unchartedCongo River, finding Kongo villages and becoming the first European to encounter the Kongo kingdom.[11]During his visit, Co 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.[12]Co returned to the kingdom with Roman Catholic 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 ofJoo Iin honor of Portugal's king at the time,Joo II.[13]Joo I ruled until his death around 1506 and was succeeded by his son AfonsoMvemba a Nzinga. He faced a serious challenge from a half brother,Mpanzu a Kitima. The king overcame his brother in a battle waged atMbanza 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 ofSaint Jamesand theVirgin Mary. Inspired by these events, he subsequently designed acoat of armsfor Kongo that was used by all following kings on official documents, royal paraphernalia and the like until 1860.[14]While King Joo I later reverted to his traditional beliefs, Afonso I established Christianity as thestate religionof his kingdom.[13]King Afonso I worked to create a viable version of theRoman 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 asRui d'Aguiar, the Portuguese royal chaplain sent to assist Kongo's religious development, Afonso created asyncreticversion 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 orMestreswere 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 co