ON A FORGOTTEN KINGDOM

B. Lukács

Matter Evolution Subcommittee, Geonomy Committee of HAS

lukacs@rmki.kfki.hu

 

The forgotten kingdom is the Kingdom of Congo. This is not the present Democratic Republic of Congo (Léopoldville-Congo), but not the Republique de Congo (Brazzaville-Congo) either. These modern states are products of colonizing powers in the XIXth century. The dynasty of the Kingdom of Congo goes back to more than 500 years, and its traditional territory is/was the Atlantic coast and moderate interior of the present Democratic Republic of Congo & Northern Angola (including Cabinda).

The forgotten kingdom is (almost) a regular kingdom for more than half a millenium. Without any further introduction now I am giving the sequence of rulers; my only preliminary note is that the new ruler is not necessarily the oldest son; he is elected by a Royal Council, from amongst the descendants of the Kimpanzu or the Kimulazu clans; an infante [1]. The capitol is Mbanza Congo = São Salvador.

Names in italics mean that we definitely know that the person did not originate from one of the two "canonical" clans. Data in italics indicate parallel rules, so probably pretenders. The numbersdenote the place in the sequence of Manikongos, "rulers of Congo".

N

Name

Date Environment

 

1

Ntinu Nimi a Lukeni

c. 1380-1420

Foundation

2

?

c. 1420-1435

 

3

?

c. 1435-1450

 

4

?

c. 1450-1465

 

5

?

c. 1465-1480

 

6

John I

c. 1480-1506 [2]

Catholicism, 1491

7

Alphonse I

1506-1543

Portugals contact Angola

8

Peter I

1543-1545

 

9

Francis I

1545-1545

 

10

Diogo I

1545-1561

Diocese of São Tomé, 1533

11

Alphonse II

1561-1561

 

12

Bernard I

1561-1566

 

13

Henry I

1566-1567

 

14

Alvaro I

1567-1587 [3]

Spain takes Portugal. Yaka invasion.

15

Alvaro II

1587-1614

Diocese of São Salvador, 1595

16

Bernard II

1614-1615

Dutch in Mpinda

17

Alvaro III

1615-1622

Takes the title Majestad

18

Peter II

1622-1624

Dutch fail to take Luanda, 1624

19

Garcia I

1624-1626

 

20

Ambrosio

1626-1631

 

21

Alvaro IV

1631-1636

 

22

Alvaro V

1636-1636

Dutch take parts of Brazil, 1636

23

Alvaro VI

1636-1642

Expels Dutch from Mpinda, 1639. Portugal is independent, 1640

24

Garcia II

1642-1661

Dutch take Luanda, Congolese-Dutch treaty, 1642. Spaniards plan to take Luanda with Congolese help. Portuguese take Luanda, 1648

25

Anthony I

1661-1665

 

26

Alvaro VII

1665-1666

 

27

Alvaro VIII

1666-1666

 

28

Alphonse III

1666-1667

 

29

Peter III

1667-1683

 

30

Raphael

1669-1674

 

31

Alvaro IX

1669-?

 

32

Daniel

1674-1678

 

33

John II

1683-1717

 

34?

Peter IV

1709-1718

 

35?

Peter V

1718-?

 

Founder Lukeni seems historical, and came with a band of warriors from the northern bank of Congo. Tradition did not conserve the names of the subsequent 4 kings (Manikongos), if they were really 4. The question is discussed in [#1]. For the first century of the Catholic Kingdom see [#2]. For delicate relations between the Kingdoms of Kongo and Portugal see e.g. letters of Alphonse I in [#3].

John I is baptized in 1491, but in that time his rule is already well established, so we can guess the start of his rule cca. 1480, just before Diogo Cão reached the estuary of River Congo. For the previous 4 Manikongos I, in the lack of information, assume direct succession with short generations. However the first Manikongo must have been founder, so perhaps he started to rule in youth. According to Hungarian tradition, I suggest a terminology. Without doubt the dynasty starts with Lukeni. However Lukeni was not a KING, or Rex, in European sense. So I willn consider the first 5 Manikongos, and also the 6th until baptization, Dukes. For the Hungarian parallel, see App. A.

From Alvaro III Manikongos/Kings balance between Spain and Portugal. While the Spanish King rules in Portugal, the Far Eastern Portuguese sphere of interest is intact and Luanda is Portuguese; but independent Congo seeks Spanish relations. With the start of Dutch liberation wars against Spain Holland considers Portuguese territories Spanish, and tries to take them. This is almost completely successful on Spice Islands (except for East Timor), partially in Brasil, and temporarily in Luanda.

After the 35th Manicongo (and 30th Rex) some disorder takes place within the dynasty; sequence is disturbed. From the traditional numbering, however, we must place into the "dark decades" at least an Andrew I, an Alvaro X, an Anthony II, Garcias III & IV, Henry II and Manuels I & II. In the same time, Peter V (or IV?) seems to be regarded by the recent royality as usurper (see later), and the 34th Peter IV is not only parallel with the 33th John II, but also he is from an uncanonical clan. So the minimal correction is to insert 8 kings after John II from 1717. That would mean 8 kings in 76 years, so 9.5 years per king. As we shall see, that is almost exactly the global average of the dynasty (51 kings between 1491 & 1962, i.e. 9.2 years/king), so the reconstruction is not impossible.

The dynasty reappears from the obscurity in 1793, and then we can continue the table approximately as:

42

Henry III

1793-1802

43

Alvaro XI

1802-1802

44

Garcia V

1802-1830

45

Andrew II

1830-?

46

Andrew III

?-1842

47

Henry IV

1842-1858

48

Alvaro XII

1858-1859

49

Peter V [4], [5]

1859-1891

50

Alvaro XIII

1891-1896

0

Regency

1896-1901

51

Peter VI

1901-1912

52

Manuel III

1912-1915

53

Alvaro XIV

1915-1923

54

Peter VII

1923-1955

55

Anthony III

1955-1957

0

Regency

1957-1962

56

Peter VIII

1962-1962

0

Regency

1962-

Now it seems the dynasty is in an anomalous situation. The last 2 Regents is the same person, widow of Anthony III, the Marquess of Vunta (?). No new King was consecrated since 1962. However there is a rumour that the recent President of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos Kasakanga would be a grandson of Peter VII. If indeed so, that is an explanation for the lack of official consecration.

And now about the morale of the story.

The Portuguese recognized the Manikongo King, but not Alteza (Highness). (See the alternative attempt of Alvaro III.) So for them the King of Kongo was an inferior, client King. Other Europeans did not accept the title at all.

Surely the Portuguese were right to the letter. A sovereign Kingdom has got the Crown or the Title originally either from (the/an) Emperor, or from the Pope. In the first case the vassallage was tangible, in the second intangible. France was exceptional, but Louis I (Chlodwig), the Meroving, got the sacred balsam (crism) from the Pope, or rather, from Heaven.

About the previous millenium several new kingdoms were formed in Northern and East Central Europe. Let us consider the latter ones; 4 new Kingdoms.

Bohemia. She got the crown from the German Emperor (the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation), and the Emperor invested the successors.

Poland. There is a tradition that the Pope wanted to send a crown; but this did not happen (see below). The national leader got some symbols from the Emperor.

Croatia. Some Croatian Dukes took the title "King" without external recognition or protest. Then in 1076, 5 years after the overwhelming Selcuk victory at Manzikert, when the Eastern Empire was in unstable state, King Zvonimir gave Croatia into Papal vassallage. He got an open crown from the Pope. (See it in the modern Croatian flag.) An open crown symbolizes that there is somebody above (in this case the Apostolic See). The Croatian Church did and does not depend on foreign powers.

Hungary. The first Hungarian King was crowned on Christmas of 1000 as Apostolic King, with a crown sent by Pope Sylvester II. According to a tradition he got that crown which the Pope originally planned to send to Poland; the Pope had a prophetic vision to send it instead to Hungary. We cannot be sure about the vision; but the Pope sent a crown to Hungary and did not send one to Poland. Also, we do not know if the Papal crown was the present Holy Crown of Hungary or not; various theories exist. However the Holy Crown of Hungary is known, is kept in the building of the Parliament; and is closed above. So it symbolizes that the Hungarian King is not a vassal of anybody. Indeed, the validity of the coronation of a Hungarian King depends on 3 conditions: valid election; coronation by the Archbishop of Gran; with the Holy Crown of Hungary. Definitely no corroboration or even recognition by Pope or Emperor is needed. The Archbishopry of Gran was founded in 1000, as independent of foreign ecclestical powers except the Pope.

Then Bohemia went into the German Empire, the Bohemian King became one of the 7 Imperial Electors. Poland belonged, more or less, to the Empire for 3 centuries, until she was able to break away. The original Croatian dynasty died out and the Hungarian King was invited to the throne, but Croatia remained independent, with the same King as in Hungary but crowned at two sites of coronation with separate crowns (a personal union).

And Hungary was not a vassal of the Emperor, but was also not of the Pope. Even after 1526, when the Hungarian King was the same person as the Archduke of Austria (and, in most cases, the Emperor), Hungary was not a part of the Empire, Hungary always had her own Parliament and governing bodies.

Let us now go back to the Manikongo. He did not get crown from the Emperor or from the Pope. A king cannot create a souvereign king. So the Portuguese considered the Manikongo a Senhor, i.e. a Lord, even if the greatest Senhor of Central Africa.

True, they called the state Kingdom, and the Manikongo King. Instead of complicated argumentations, read the classical geographic work: Duarte Lopes & Filippo Pigafetta: Relacao do Reino de Congo e das terras circumvizinhas (1591) [#2]. The name of the country is always Congo Kingdom, the title of the Manikongo is always King there. However, when the authors describe the history of the previous century, the relation of the 2 kings (the Portuguese and the Congolese) is always analogous with that of the Emperor and a King of the Empire. And see the question of padrõado, in App. B.

And in the XIXth century, when European powers finally cut up the map of Africa among themselves, nobody takes seriously the virtual rights of a Christian King without troops. (While they take the real rights of another, that of Abessinia, seriously. But the negush had troops.) Indeed, in the middle of XIth century, the new Kingdom of Hungary had to defend herself against several invasions of the Empire; then, when they had been proven hopeless, they stopped.

But the royal family of Congo retained its Lusitan civilisation. The name of the latest Regent is Dona Isabel Maria da Gama. For my knowledge she is no kin of the Portuguese da Gamas. And José Eduardo dos Santos, recognised by the Portuguese government, fought stubbornly and finally victoriously against English-speaking and Protestant Jonas Sawimbi.

APPENDIX A: DUKES, GRAND DUKES AND KINGS OF HUNGARY

The prehistory of the Kingdom of Hungary can be narrated from Duke Álmos, although we know the names of two previous Dukes, and Álmos never was anything in Hungary. He was the Duke of the Seven Magyars, a strong tribal alliance. He was born cca. 819 AD, was Duke since c. 860. In 895 he had to lead his nation Westward, but, as chronicles laconically tell "could not enter the new country". This expression is being repeatedly discussed but the meaning is obscure enough. Me may have died, been killed or been offered; but in any case at the easternmost boundary of Hungary, in the Eastern Carpathians. His son, the Heir Apparent, Árpád, the leader of the border controlling forces, took the Dukedom and the nation entered Hungary. So Árpád is the Conqueror and the first Duke of Hungary, but do not forget that the prophecy for the success was got by Ügyek, father of Álmos (i.e. that successors of Álmos will be many and strong but on new lands). Him and his direct successors we call Dukes, because they were not crowned according to the European habit for Kings. The most accepted list is then:

N

Name

Year

Note

0

Álmos

c.860-895

 

1

Árpád

895-907

 

2

Zoltán

907-948

Regents

3

Fajsz

948-955

Weak

4

Taksony

955-972

 

5

Géza

972-997

Grand Duke

6

Vajk

997-1000

Grand Duke

The title Grand Duke is rather a courtesy of historians; no difference is known between the ceremonies for Taksdony and Géza. There were cases when Géza used the title King, in Greek, as kralhs, but surely he was not regularly crowned.

In 1000 Grand Duke Vajk, already Christian for years (the godfather being St. Adalbert, Bishop of Prague, from the princely family of Slavnik of Libice, mostly exterminated by the Premyslids of Prague) is crowned as Apostolic King of Hungary, under the name of Stephen I.

In this parallel Árpád, the Conqueror, corresponds to Lukeni, the Founder, while Vajk - Stephen I does to Nzinga a Kuwu - John I, 6th Manikongo but 1st Rex.

APPENDIX B: ON THE PADRÕADO OF THE DIOCESE SÃO SALVADOR

While Hungary is an independent diocese from 1000, whose patronus is the Hungarian Apostolic King (reorganised into 9 dioceses during the reign of Stephen I), for São Salvador the story is not so simple.

King Alphonse I sends his brother Henrique to Rome for learning. Henrique is consecrated as Bishop in 1520. However he is Bishop of Utica, which is titulatory, and becomes the auxiliary to the Bishop of Funchal. So in 1520 the capitol São Salvador formally belongs to the Diocese Funchal (as does the Madeira Island), and of course is under the padrõado (patronatus) of the King of Portugal.

In 1533 the Diocese of Funchal is elevated to the rank Archdiocese, and one of its dioceses is the newly organized Diocese of São Tomé, of course under the padrõado of the King of Portugal. However the diocese of São Tomé includes the non-Portuguese territory of Congo as well.

In 1595 the new Diocese of São Salvador is separated from São Tomé; however it remains under the padrõado of the King of Portugal.

Now, the difference between the ecclesiastic evolutions of Hungary and Congo is an important factor behind the differences in political evolutions; however I guess that the original difference was political. Namely, even after 200 years of Christianity the majority of the Bishops of Hungary are generally foreingners. However they are always nominated with the consent of the Apostolic King of Hungary, who has a veto power. These centuries are spent with the Investiture Struggles bettween the Apostolic See of Rome and the Empire; Hungary is always on the side of Rome but, by an agreement, has the very same right which is continuously claimed by the Emperor.

But from the very beginning the Hungarian Kings diversified the foreign relations. Themonasteries come mostly from France, the Bishops mainly from France & Italy; some are Hungarian, and other nationalities, including Germans, are in minority. As for politics, in 997 Grand Duke Vajk (=Stephen I) puts down Pretender Koppány. His troops consist of Magyar light cavalry and German knights. Just before the decisive battle the young Grand Duke is knighted by the leader of the German troops! However these Germans are the German knights of the Grand Duke of Hungary, they have lands got from the Grand Duke, and they apparently do not have strong ties with the Empire anymore. After half a century theis sons & grandsons will valiantly give battle to the invading Imperial Army (and will win).

True, the Kings of Congo try to make use of the troubles of the Portuguese-Spanish personal union, but the efforts are only half-hearted and rather hopeless. The diplomatic moves of Garcia II towards Holland were in principle not so hopeless; but Holland was unsuccessful in Central Africa.

NOTES

[1] An infante is a descendant of King Alphonse I.

[2] Consecrated by a Catholic priest on 3rd May, 1491. His former name was Nzinga a Kuwu.

[3] Portugal is in personal union with Spain from 1583. Henceforth English & Dutch regard Portuguese spheres of interest as enemy domains.

[4] This numbering shows that Peter, 1709-1718 is regarded unlawful by the dynasty.

[5] In 1885, just before the Berlin Africa congress, he sells his territorial rights to Portugal. However the dynasty continues.

LITERATURE

[#1] P. deMaret: Urban Origins in Central Africa the Case of Congo, in The Development of Urbanism from a Global Perspective. Uppsala Univesitet. http://www.arkeologi.uu.se/afr/projects/BOOK/contents/htm

[#2] D. Lopes & F. Pigafetta: Relacao do Reino de Congo e das Terras Circumvizinhas. B. Grassi, Roma, 1591 (or several translations to major languages)

[#3] A. Brasio: Monumenta Missionaria Africana, Lisbon, Agencia General do Ultramar, 1952-65, especially Vol. VII

General:

[A] For the origins of Subsaharan kingdoms see e.g. J. Vansina: Les amnciens royaumes de la savane. Univ. Lovanium, Léopoldville, 1965

[B] For the Manikongos, see e.g.: O. de Bouveignes: Les anciens rois du Congo, Grands Lacs, Namur, 1948; ***: Traditional polities, http://rulers.org/angotrad.html; ***:Kongo, Angola. http://www.almanach,be/search/a/ang_kongo.html

[C] From ecclesiastic viewpoint, and also for some internal struggles see especially J. Kenny: The Catholic Church in Tropical Africa 1445-1850. Ibadan Univ. Press, Ibadan, 1982

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