Forgotten History: Queen Verónica I Guterres Kandala Kingwanga


Queen Veronica I Guterres Kandala Kingwanga

Francisco Guterres was succeeded by his sister Verónica I Guterres Kandala Kingwanga, whose long rule from 1681 to 1721 consolidated the control of the Guterres dynasty and created a lasting precedent for female rulers. Verónica was apparently a pious Christian, but also a fervent believer in Matamba’s independence. In order to forestall another Portuguese invasion, Verónica sent an embassy to Luanda that negotiated a peace treaty, signed 7 September 1683. In it she accepted nominal vassalage, agreed to return Portuguese prisoners taken at the battle of Katole, allowed missionaries into the country and permitted agents of Portuguese free passage through her lands. She also agreed to acknowledge the independence of Kasanje and to renounce all claims on the country and to pay 200 slaves over 4 years as compensation.

Verónica, however, was not really cowed, and within a few years was advancing claims as Queen of Ndongo and Matamba that rivaled those of her predecessor Njinga. In the process of asserting her claims she was drawn into wars with Portugal in 1689 and again in 1692-3. She also sought some sort of alliance with Kongo in 1706. These wars and the raiding in between major operations led to serious depopulation on the western edges of her domains.
Verónica appears to have been anxious to reestablish a Christian mission in the country, abandoned following the death of Njinga and the civil war that followed. However, in spite of her various entreaties, the mission was not reestablished.

The Portuguese Invasion of 1744
When Verónica died in 1721 she was succeeded by her son Afonso I Álvares de Pontes. During his Reign the northern district of Holo seceded from Matamba to form its own kingdom and entered into relations with Portugal. As a result of Matamba’s attempts to prevent the secession and Portuguese trade with the rebel province, relations between Matamba and the Portuguese colony deteriorated. Ana II (Ana I was Queen Njinga as Matamba accepted the Christian names of former rulers and their dynasty), who came to power in 1741, faced a Portuguese invasion in 1744. The invasion of Matamba by Portuguese forces in 1744 was one of their largest military operations in the eighteenth century. In the course of their attack, Matamba’s army inflicted a serious defeat on the Portuguese, but in spite of this, a remnant of the army managed to reach the capital of Matamba. In order to avoid a long war and to get them to withdraw, Ana II signed a treaty of vassalage with Portugal which renewed points conceded by Verónica in 1683. While the treaty allowed Portugal to claim Matamba as a vassal, and opened up Matamba to Portuguese trade, it had little effect on the real soveReignty of Matmaba, or indeed in the conduct of trade. Ana II, like Verónica before her, was interested in developing Matamba as a Christian country, routinely sending letters to the Capuchin prefect of Congo and Angola or the Portuguese authorities requesting missionaries come and establish permanent bases in her country. While the country was visited by missionaries from Cahenda and also from the Barefoot Carmelites, a permanent mission was not established.