AFONSO I

The Kingdom of the Kongo was an autonomous country from the 14th to 20th century. Portuguese Jesuits arrive in the Kingdom of the Kongo in the late 15th century and introduce Catholicism to the king and his son. They willingly accept the new religion, language, and culture. The father and son both change their names to Catholic Portuguese kings – the father becomes Jao and the son Afonso I.

Afonso I becomes king and pushes to expand Catholicism throughout the Kongo. One of the trade offs he makes is allowing the Portuguese to take undesirable people out of the country in exchange for the expense of building churches and spreading their shared religion. The king of the Kongo and the king of Portugal considered each other royal brothers and exchanged letters. When the Portuguese began taking people out of the country that were of higher status and sometimes nobility, Afonso I responded with letters to both the king of Portugal and the Vatican requesting greater control of what was becoming a slave trade. He sent his son to Portugal to become a Bishop with the hopes of establishing his own connection to the Vatican so he would no longer need the Portuguese. He didn’t doubt his faith but he did doubt the Portuguese Jesuits.

When Afonso I dies in 1542, his son Alvaro is ready to become king, there are debates and conflicts about his ascension to the thrown. The Portuguese offer to support his transition to the thrown and Alvaro accepts. Afterward, the Portuguese work out a deal with Alvaro to settle in the southern part of the Kingdom of the Kongo and rename it Angola.