Pedro IV of Kongo

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Nusamu a Mvemba. King of Kongo, ruled from 1695 to 1718, although his effective reign of Kongo was only from 1709. He is noted for restoring the country and ending the civil war which had raged since 1666. It was during his reign that Beatriz Kimpa Vita, the prophetess claimed to be possessed by Saint Anthony had her career.

Early life[edit]

Very little is known of Pedro's early life, although he was the founder of the House of Água Rosada which was a lineage founded from the two rival lineages of the late 17th century, the Kimpanzu and the Kinlaza. He began his career among royal refugees who had taken shelter in the mountain of Kibangu, in the Serra do Canda of modern day Angola. He claimed the throne upon the death of his brother, but as he was not crowned in São Salvador, he was not considered fully legitimate.

Reign[edit]

He was also a partner in several attempts to organize a peaceful settlement to the succession crisis in Kongo brokered by the old Queen Ana Afonso de Leão with the special cooperation of the Capuchin missionary Francesco da Pavia. The concerts did not result in success however as bad blood remained among all the contenders.

Popular discontent with the king rose in the early eighteenth century as many felt he had not done enough to restore the kingdom by reoccupying the capital, and to this end Pedro led an armed column from Kibangu to São Salvador in 1694 and was crowned there by a priest. But he was threatened immediately by his principal rival, João II of Lemba, who also claimed to be king, and withdrew immediately. He would remain in the mountain for many more years. After 1700, Pedro sought to reoccupy the ancient capital by sending out groups of colonists, one set led by Manuel Cruz Barbosa, his majodomo, and the other by Pedro Constaninho da Silva (known also as Kibenga), a one time rival who had temporarily joined forces with him. Pedro himself moved down from Kibangu to a smaller mountain, Evululu, nearer to the capital.

The Antonian Movement[edit]

There were millennial stirrings among the colonists that had been sent out to resettle the capital. Several prophets emerged, but the final prophet, Beatriz Kimpa Vita, began immensely popular. Claiming to be possessed by Saint Anthony, Beatriz confronted Pedro on his lack of resolution, and he for his part wanted to arrest her as a heretic, as indeed the Capuchin priest in his service, Bernardo da Gallo recommended. However, he did not, and Beatriz left his capital, and eventually began resettling São Salvador herself. In the process she gained the adherence of Pedro Constantinho da Silva, thus setting up a crisis between Pedro IV and his one time subordinate.

Pedro IV was fortunate that he was able to capture Beatriz near his capital at Evululu, and in July 1706 had her executed. In 1709 in turn, he occupied São Salvador, defeating the final partisans of Pedro Constantinho da Silva. The same year, he won a signal victory of João II, thus securing himself the position as king.

According to later accounts, before his death in 1718, Pedro declared that the kingship in Kongo should rotate between the rival lineages.


Preceded by
Álvaro X
Awenekongo of Kibangu
1695–1709
Succeeded by
N/A
Preceded by
Álvaro X
Manikongo
(Kibangu Claimant)

1695–1709
Succeeded by
Regained Kingdom
Preceded by
Daniel I
Manikongo
1709-1718
Succeeded by
Manuel II

Bibliography[edit]

Graziano Saccardo, Congo e Angola con la storia della missione antica dei Cappuccini (3 vols., Venice:Curia Provinciale dei Cappuccini, 1984)

John Thornton, The Kingdom of Kongo: Civil War and Transition, 1641-1718 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983)

John Thornton, The Kongolese Saint Anthony: Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita and the Antonian Movement, 1684-1706 (New York and London: Cambridge University Press, 1998)