From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty



Premodern history

Early 17th century (1615-1656)

In the early 17th century, the Portuguese policy in central Africa became one of conquest. They often collaborated with Imbangala marauders in order to weaken their opponents, notably the kingdoms of Kongo, Ḍongo, and Matamba. The Netherlands often sided with the indigenous kingdoms against the Portuguese, though their intentions were questionable and their material support was generally insignificant.

Dynastic change in Kongo

In 1622, Alvaro III of the House of Cuilu died heirless. The Imperial Council elected the Duke of Mbamba, a member of the House of Kinkanga, to the throne as Peter II. A Portuguese-Imbangala army invaded Kongo the same year, sparking the Battle of Mbumbi. King Peter II mobilized an army to counterattack while corresponding with the Vatican, the Netherlands, and Spain. Kongolese forces sustained heavy losses, with cannibalism and anti-Portuguese riots being widespread.

In 1641, the Dutch, allied to factions within Kongo and Ḍongo, occupied the Portuguese city of Luanda. Seven years later, Portuguese reinforcements arrived from Brazil, recapturing Luanda and expelling the Dutch.

Queen Ẓinga's War

As the Portuguese and their Imbangala allies encroached, Ḍongo, Kongo's southern neighbor, faced collapse. Ẓinga became Queen in 1624 after her brother, King Mbandi, committed suicide. In 1631, she attacked the eastern Kingdom of Matamba, deposing their queen and joining the two kingdoms in a personal union. In the 1647 Battle of Kombi, her forces crushed the Portuguese army, forcing them to fall back. Queen Ẓinga signed a peace treaty with Portugal in 1657. She passed away in 1663, succeeded by her sister Queen Barbara.

Ḍongo would eventually capitulate in 1671, when the forces of claimant king Felipe I, ruler of Hari and Pungo Ḍongo, were defeated. Matamba would face numerous internal conflicts, but would be ruled by the descendants of Queen Ẓinga nonetheless until the late 18th century, when the kingdom would submit to the Portuguese.

Late 17th century (1656-1704)

Soyo ascendancy (1704-1751)