Sample History Essays on The Kongolese kingdom
The Pope was convinced that he had dominion over the whole earth and the universe, having been given that authority by God. The control and influence of the church in western Europe were very strong in the middle ages, making even the kings subject to the Pope. The Pope had the hearts and minds of the people. Any other leader that opposed the pope would lose their authority and possibly their life and property. Peoples and cultures that had not yet embraced Christianity were viewed as the enemies, and their fate sealed as deserving dispossession of land and slavery. The discovery of the new world by the Spaniards and Portuguese was an exciting event for the church and western Europe.
The invaders of this new land did not consider the natives as the owners of the land, and found a legal and theological way to take the resources of this new land without the possibility of repercussions later on (Casanova 133). The people in the New World were not Christians, and they were therefore considered enemies of Christ. The pope gave the kings of Spain and Portugal the permission to invade, conquer, expel and fight the non-Christians in these lands. Making use of the Papal Bulls instituted over time by a series of popes, these Europeans effected one of the most brutal takeovers of a civilization using laws that were not even known by the targeted people.
The Kongolese kingdom is among the first places and peoples that the Portuguese interacted with in Africa. The Europeans were at first interested in the conversion of the Africans to Christianity and the discovery of the source of river Nile. However, the attention of the Portuguese and some missionaries diverted by the profits reaped from the trafficking of African slaves to the New World. Slavery was common in Africa and was imposed on prisoners of wars, criminals and persons that were in debt. It was not perfect, but was humane.
King Affonso was used to slavery and that is why he initially had no problem with it. However, he began to notice that his people were getting abducted and sold to the waiting merchants along the coast. The trade was inhumane, and the criteria for slavery that had been used in the kingdom no longer applied. King Affonso an educated Christian, sent many complaints to the Portuguese kings over the mistreatment of his people, but no actions were taken to remedy it. A narrative given by Teurel in his narrative describing the kingdom of the Kongo revealed that the understanding of slavery by Africans was very different from that of the Europeans.
The Papal Bull that was instituted in 1493 called Inter Coetera gave the conquistadors the right to enslave and take the lands of non-Christians that were considered enemies of Christ. This Papal Bull was used by Columbus in his second voyage to justify the Taino people of the present day Dominican Republic and Haiti. The Papal Bull inter Coetera was used to enslave these peoples, after Columbus described them as idolaters and therefore qualifying for the punishment of slavery (Casanova 128). The roman catholic was very influential then, and every directive given by the leadership of the church was considered the truth by the people in Western Europe. This is a glaring example of how religion contributed to the human species experiencing a tremendous loss as a result of the even of the discovery of new lands and new peoples by the Europeans.
The Cenu people’s reaction to the Papal Bull that divided the non-Christian world between the Spanish and Portuguese reveals how outrageous the Papal Bull was in current times. It also gave insight into the understanding of the Cenu people regarding the craziness of foreigners coming to claim their land and labor. The elders of this group of native Americans responded by saying that the pope must have been drunk when donating the land belonging to the Cenu to the king of Castile, yet the pope did not own the land to begin with.
The elders continued their hilarious response by stating that the king must also have been crazy for asking for what belonged to other peoples. The Cenu were defiant in their response, and they dared the king of Castile to come to their land so that they would decapitate and hang his head on a stick, just as they did to their enemies (Casanova 131). Given the understanding of human rights and cultural rights in the present age, the Cenu were justified in refusing to agree to the demands of the Pope and the king of Castile, as they were foreigners and invaders laying claim to resources that belonged to others. The response of the Cenu people was not received kindly by the pope and the Spanish conquistadors. The conflicts that ensued after that confrontation led to the extinction of the Cenu population.
Casanova, Carlos A. “The Influence Of Christianity On The Spanish Conquest Of America And The Organization Of The Spanish-American Empire.” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture15.4 (2012): 125-144. Web.