Verónica I

By Catherine Capel

Queen Verónica of Matamba, which was situated in modern day Angola, reigned from 1681 after the death of her brother Ngola Kanini. He was killed in the battle of Katole against Portuguese forces led by Luis Lopes de Sequeria as they destroyed the capital city.

Her succession to the throne was not challenged based on her gender, as had been felt previously by her predecessors. It was perhaps Njinga’s successful rule which swayed the kingdom towards accepting female rulers. There were in fact five queens who ruled Ndgongo-Matambi in the century after Njinga’s death – including Njinga’s sister, Barbara, and Verónica I, and then Ana II (Verónica’s granddaughter), Veronica II, and Ana III.

In the aftermath of the battle of Katole, Verónica’s first move as queen was to assure peace between the kingdom of Matamba and the Portuguese. She negotiated with government leader Silva a Souza and the treaty was made up of eight paragraphs which covered trade, travel, and religious themes.

Queen Verónica also attempted to increase the landholdings of her kingdom by launching campaigns in Kahenda and Ndembu beginning in 1688, although her efforts would ultimately prove fruitless.   

Upon her death in 1721, Verónica’s son Alfonzo I succeeded her.

Recommended Reading

David Birmingham, Trade and conflict in Angola: the Mbundu and their neighbours under the influence of the Portuguese, 1483-1790 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966)

John K. Thornton, “Legitimacy and Political Power: Queen Njinga, 1624-1663,” The Journal of African History 32 (1991): 25-40  

John K. Thornton, A History of West Central Africa to 1850 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020).   

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