Book 2, Chapter 16

[194]                            The Queen Ginga grew ill and died, and of what happened at her death a burial.

Chapter XVI

After celebrating the above feast and said the funeral office to those mentioned above I determined to go on a mission, having conversed with the Queen on this subject because it was her Vassals for whose souls’ good I should go, accompanied by her secretary; this was the first time that a Priest was going to represent to the Vassals what they should do, and how in order to fulfil the wishes of their Lady the Queen; having had the necessary orders I left the Court on the 2nd September of the year 1663 and we went for four days always through (word missing) without seeing any habitation.  On the fifth we arrived among a people called Dangij and thanked the Lord for it; they showed themselves to be lax in their observance of the Queen’s orders,[1] excusing themselves on the grounds that the women in that land did not give birth, which was a frivolous excuse because I knew the black people and their strong inclination towards lechery, and this answer did not fail to distress me considerable because others imitated it, following, in this black Ethiopia, the examples of the first, for as the body is black so is the character, but the Lord did not fail to send the rose after the thorn because he permitted some Ethiopians to arrive with children to be baptised, whom I washed with the sacred baptismal water, and made them worthy inheritors of Holy Sion to my own great consolation, and commended myself to blessed God for the conversion of souls, and the prayers were not in vain because I found the others well disposed, although some opposed me with frivolous excuses, and others again behaved badly, but they paid the penalty the same night, because lions rushed on them and these savage animals carried them off without anyone being able to prevent it, and also attacked human beings with such roars that they made it clear [195] they wanted to eat them.  No obstacle of opposition was sufficient to prevent or repel me from praising the ministry to which I was committed, and in consequence I baptised 330 children still unweaned and some adults, which gave me great spiritual consolation as it was the first time there had been a priest there; I did not lack some hellish encounters with ministers of Satan, like others you will hear of elsewhere, and also with falsely adoring members of that ignorant people.

Arriving at the house of a titled Lord I found there a goat of enormous size whose back was spotted with black and white colours, who when called by his name, Lucala Samba,[2] answered the call by running quickly to the caller as if it had been gifted with human reason, and asking the cause I was told that in that goat was the spirit of their deceased Lord and it had entered in there for the convenience of the Vassals to receive their due sacrifices, and their customary respect to the dead.  It was honoured and revered by all and had authority to eat where it liked, and enjoyed doing so without being disturbed by anyone, it was respected like the Lord himself when he was alive; I did not fail to reprove those ignorant people for their false adoration, they promised to make amends, but did so late or not at all as is customary in that black Ethiopia, where people are quick to promise but slow in observance.  I purged the multitude of Idols, houses dedicated to them and many other pagan customs with the punishment of fire which their inventors and followers deserve.  While I was delayed in this ministry I was recalled to the Queen’s Court by duplicate letters, not only because of the illness of her companions but that of the Queen herself, and having received the letters I set off at once and arrived on 18 October[3] to find her companions’ illness better, but the Queen much worse, and went at once to visit her and as you know found her almost without breath, but for all that she did not fail to show some signs of joy, and giving her the appropriate opportunity I induced her to [196] repent truly for her sins, which she did with great feeling; returning the next day I found her worse, and offered her spiritual medicine which required preparation and disposition, and she answered: “Father, bring me the medicine which I shall gladly take.”  I exhorted her to send all her people to hear holy mass the next day, they all came, and it was celebrated by the Queen with the medicine which was the words of the verse of the Most Holy Conception of Our Lady the Virgin[4] which the Queen hung round her neck; she grew better in her throat which was where she was ill, and had been for many years, a few days passed and she was attacked with a new illness, an abscess on the right side which brought about her death as her doctors did not find remedies which could do her any good, and so things went on until the fourteenth of December.  Finally seeing the swift approach of death I did not fail to fulfil my office although it is thought audacious in this Ethiopia to speak of death to Kings and Lords as they do not want to hear themselves called mortal, but wish rather to be called by the name of death itself which is Calunga, a word which means sea,[5] a thing of great wonder, and a great Lord, in short one who cannot die; Queen Ginga had been pertinacious in this folly, and among her people it was believed as an article of faith that she would not die but she was already ashamed of this, and confessed that it was all false, and that every traveller must pay tribute to death and bow the head like an obedient slave.

I was preparing her for confession and repentance for her sins, and had such signs of this that I absolved her according to apostolic powers.  I returned home feeling happy and jubilant and thanking the Creator; returning next evening I spoke to her of the miseries of this life and of what everyone may hope for as a result of good life and good deeds, that is eternal glory.  Afterwards I spoke much with her grandees about the Queen and the account they would have to render to blessed God if they prevented me from exercising my office on behalf of her soul; do not be amazed, dear reader, at hearing such threats because it is the custom of the Lords of Ethiopia that none must do or arrange anything without the approval of his counsellors even if it is something concerning [197] the salvation of the soul and the individual person, and if they behave thus when they are in good health, what will they do when their feelings are wavering and they are struggling with death and its anguish?  Surrounded by false idolatrous priests and ministers of Avernus, because although some of these counsellors were Christians in appearance, others had nothing of Christianity but the name, they were wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Finally on the night of the 11th I administered them the Most Holy Viaticum celebrating Holy Mass in the Chapel of Saint Anna, with fitting adornments and accompanied by many people I gave them that sacred food, that pledge of Heavenly glory, that countersign of heavenly Jerusalem, that memorial of the Passion of our loving Christ.  Coming to where the ill and weak Queen lay I placed on a fittingly adorned table the bread of Heaven, the Sacrament of love and triumph, and turning to the invalid Queen asked for public confirmation of her repentance for the sins she had committed, and having confirmed it several times in the hearing of those around, and recommended Christianity (as she had promised) to the Tandala and Interpreter, armed with Sacramental Absolution and others, and that of the Most Holy Rosary[6] in conformity with apostolic powers, I gave her that sacred pledge of Eternal glory which she had asked for several times, and she received with great effect and devotion that divine sacrament of Love and triumph, always answering with the word “amen” at the end of the prayers and the ora pro nobis in the recitation of the litanies of Our Lady the Virgin as she usually did in Church when she was in good health. [added:  a fortunate Queen now, who has in her bosom the Life which makes people long for death.]   After these functions, she turned to me and to those around and asked insistently that we should intercede for her soul, and for this pray to blessed God and recommend her to his most holy mother the Most Holy Virgin. [marginal note:  and who would you believe sends a man to depart just at the time when he is freed of all his sins?  This our loving God deals with the Sinner who repents of the sins he had committed, and because of his repentance frees him from eternal punishment.]

Now I say to those who are crowned as with a cope and sword, who wish to assert that this Queen was damned, who gave them the privilege of penetrating the hearts of mortal people?  For we know that only our God can see into hearts, and not man to whom it was left to judge the exterior and not the interior. [198]  Therefore I cannot deny that if the thirsty man asks for water and the starving for food, it is to receive it and satisfy the individual’s needs, and not as a ceremony as they insist Queen Ginga did with spiritual food.  Dear reader, I assert the truth, and ask and pray the Most Merciful Lord to give me in his mercy the disposition, occasion and feeling that Queen Ginga showed in her death, and you know well dear reader that express consent given to sin makes man worthy of Hell and on the contrary true repentance for sin makes him once again worthy of eternal glory, and I say this so that you may admire the charity and mercy of our loving God, and if we have been quick to sin, we may be even quicker to repent and by doing so regain the lost time as did Queen Ginga, who after this pious request lay down on her bed, and in three and a half hours’ time gave up her soul to the Creator after receiving the Most Holy Viaticum at eleven o’clock in the morning as the Italians measure time.[7] While the Queen was dying her grandees sent out soldiers because their slaves might be caught running away through fear of death, and this diligence of theirs was not in vain, because each one was trying to save himself, and from the fire fell into the cauldron because they were captured and led back to the Court, sad and disconsolate, none of them had a cheerful face, or haughty look, or arched brows, but all appeared humble and mortified.  All were waiting for the time to bury their Lady Queen; their faces were adorned with two lines by mother nature, and from fear they could counted by the thousand on their black faces, as on their backs, because every movement of leaves or of hands, every gesture of a head, every sigh breathed frightened these wretches, and chilled the blood in their veins, and they thought of nothing but the accustomed time, and once could see the heads of some shaking, and lively streams of tears of fright run from the eyes of others, others were showing fear of the nearness of death, others raising pious eyes to Heaven and asking to be free from the future sacrifice, others shouting madly as if drunk, rolling their eyes and [199] making a thousand grimaces.  The Queen’s ladies were all sad and afflicted, and hoping to follow into death and the dark tomb her whom they had served in life, and saw no salvation for themselves or consolation in their sorrow, they saw the arms of the officials and heard the threats of the grandees, and condemned themselves to death and appearing all with different expressions of face they affirmed they were already close to death and had no other comfort except the presence of their spiritual Father as they knew he would have left them no possible means of saving them from death, which in fact happened, but this was the work of the Creator and not the Creature.  While the dead Queen’s body was being washed by attendants, and anointed with various scented oils and aromatic compounds, and adorned and dressed in a queenly manner, and everyone was keeping silence, according to their custom they elected to be Queen and heiress to the Royal dignity Donna Barbara the sister of the dead Queen and placed her on the Royal throne, and first proclaimed the new Queen, then the death of the late one, with the sound of military music, and when the Vassals heard this they raised their voices to Heaven filling the air with loving sounds.  I was in the place where lay the body of her who when alive impressed and intimidated friends, enemies and strangers, and whose very name put them to flight, and I found her richly dressed; she wore on her head a very fine cap worth forty Italian ducats, and her temples were encircled by a very fine crown of corals, pearls and jewels, and she was also adorned by four very beautiful feathers, two white and two red, a Royal insignia, with precious pendants in her ears; her arms were covered to the elbow with gold and silver bracelets, and elephant hair, she had a cloth over her breasts and another which covered her from her belt to her feet, on which were various anklets according to the custom of Ethiopia, and on her shoulders she wore a cloak of scarlet with gold embroideries; it was necessary to remove everything to dress her in the holy habit which she had asked for and obtained as you heard in the previous chapter, and when she had been dressed in it and the Royal insignia laid aside, she was placed on a [200] table covered with a cloth of Jabu,[8] and to support her one of her pages served as her cushion, and after the customary ceremonies and preceded by the standard of the Holy Cross, she was carried by twelve brothers of the Most Holy Rosary dressed in white copes, more than 40 preceded her with lighted candles, and she was also accompanied by over 90 players of military music.[9] The square was full of soldiers armed as if to accompany her.  The dead Queen finally appeared on that stage, seen by the Vassals who thought their Queen was alive and not dead, and generally applauded with their hands and shouted after the black people’s custom; but seeing that she was no longer alive but dead they turned to Heaven almost complaining that the death of their Queen had been allowed, and raised their voices towards it as if to be avenged, discharged all the firearms and filled the air with gibes accompanied by such shouts and complaints that it seemed Heaven would join itself with earth and there would be a battle among the elements; women and men were shouting and smearing themselves with earth, ashes and herbs, some wearing a single cloth which barely covered their pudenda, others leaves of trees and others nothing at all, to show their feelings towards their Lady the Queen; the little children, like lambs, bleated because of the loss of their mother; in short, there was no-one who did not show feeling.  She was carried from the Chapel of Saint Anna she had built while she was alive, a deep grave eighteen palms in depth and twelve in width had been prepared,[10] and this was all adorned with silken cloths, paved not with plain cloth but with various pieces of silk, such as damask, orriulia, velvet, London, capes, pieces of linen from Germany, large numbers of skins of elephants which are more esteemed among them than gold and silver, and on top of these goods was placed the coffin in which the dead body of the Queen was to lie.  She was placed in it by one of my companions, Brother Gabrielle da Vettetri who with the assistance of the Queen’s Sergeant General and other officials nailed her down between four boards, and Ethiopian assombro, [201] on top of the coffin, and they filled up its surroundings with various pieces of silk and all those silks which she had been used to wearing were placed in the tomb; in my judgement they were worth over fifteen thousand ducats, after the coffin was settled he was the first to throw earth on it after the custom of Ethiopia, and the others followed, and that grave was filled with earth which according to the custom of the Giaghi should have been full of people as in their ancient observance, and this was what caused the Queen’s pages, ladies and servants to run away at her death, because they thought they must observe the custom of the Giaghi, and none of them could be sure of his life, because all her pages, ladies and gentlemen in waiting should have gone into the tomb of their Queen to serve her in the next life and with this aim all her servants should have been killed so that each should fulfil his office.  If this barbarous custom had been observed more than a thousand people would have gone into the grave, after the funeral, and this was the reason the people ran away; but blessed God permitted them to observe the Christian custom as the Queen had ordered, and no-one died; as to us, the reader must not marvel at the treasures I have mentioned as this is not only the custom of Ethiopia but that of other nations too, but one should be startled at hearing it because one sees among Christians, some of them great people in the world, using the oldest and most worn out clothes they have in the house to cover their dead, and sometimes shutting away great treasures and accompanying them with few candles as if it were for a beggar, something which did not happen to our Ginga as you have heard.

At last, dear reader, as soon as she was dead this Ethiopia was turned upside down more than the Provinces and Kingdoms of Zenobia and Semiramis.  King Persi whose reign lasted 30 years, Orfage 30, Ascerope 38, Arbaie 28, Sosarmone 30 all were Idolators, Mussurri rules Angola, Zunduria ruled Angola.  Chiluangi, Maria Chiluangi, Dambi ruled Angola.  Chiluangi Chiandambi, Bandi ruled Angola.  Ginga Bande, Ngola Bande[11] the Queen’s brother [202] all supported idolatry with pagan sacrifices, and as such were buried in Hell and how did this happen, dear reader?  And should one not admire in this the inscrutable judgements of God our loving Creator; he sent the priest to the Queen’s brother to baptise him and in a dream showed him the name he was to have which was that of his standard-bearer, of the Stigmatised Father S. Francis.  He refused the priest and his washing owing to the persuasion of his sister and the grandees, and by following her counsel died a pagan and had to remain in Hell, with as companions the demons who will live forever torture him without ever ceasing.  O my loving Lord was not this punishment, sojourn, company and torment due to our Ginga for having advised her brother not to be baptised?  And yet I see the contrast, I see, I say, that she began well, persevered in making amends, and at the end died so well; she had been a sea of wickedness, and as such no tomb was worthy of her except that which the Romans gave to the Virgins of the Great Goddess who had been wicked and who, I say, were buried alive so that they should suffer as much pain as possible, as they did to Oppia who having been wicked was buried alive; yet she, having repented died as a Christian and was buried in Church with the sacrifice of masses and offerings, and surely not because of having been better than those virgins were?  But who can investigate the judgements of our God?  It is enough to know who Queen Ginga was, all the above-named people died leaving their earthly Kingdom and passing not to and eternal Heaven but to an eternal Hell, which was also what Queen Ginga deserved for having reigned longer than they, because she spent over 40 years in barbarous government as you will have seen from the account of her history, but what I tell you about this, dear reader, is what Saint Solino tells of the wicked woman; he says that whoever receives her favours is knocking on the door of Hell because the devils rise from it to receive him, and he says that every sinner awaits the sentence of his damnation from blessed God, except the wicked man who condemns himself and his wickedness without God condemning him.  Now think of this woman and you will not continue to wonder [203] why she is not and was not condemned as she deserved, as her ancestors were, nor was made like them an inhabitant of the infernal regions, but was given the Kingdom of Heaven in exchange for the earthly one as we can piously hope?

You cannot believe what shouting and discharge of firearms they made at the burial of their Queen, and it lasted all night; in the morning the principal members of the Court went into the square accompanied by a great number of people, and built round it over a thousand houses, seven thousand soldiers passed with their Captains and officers, nor were there lacking many women and children, the first representing their Queen’s warlike actions as in life she had spent as much time making war as in peace, and similarly the women and children were each representing what was appropriate to their station, and all this was accompanied by cries, beating of palm, dancing, jumping and making various encomiums on the actions of their Queen and Lady.  This function lasted five continuous days, there were over a hundred instruments of military music, all worked hard representing the actions of the late Queen in this long tragedy, and showed clearly how deeply they felt the death of their Lady the Queen.  The Vassal shouted “Lord” and sent his shouts high, the slave wept and lamented her death, the soldiers howled at the loss of their general, the little lambs bleated at the loss of their mother, and we Capuchins with them for the loss of a mother and a persecutor of pagan superstitions, rites and barbarous customs; I cannot, dear reader, tell the story of this without shedding tears at the sight of such a great metamorphosis, although it is not to be wondered at because all these are stratagems of the divine lover towards the beloved, and there always be praise and glory to our loving Crucified Christ for the salvation of the human race, giver of all good and rewarder of good works.

There were no sculptures on the tomb of the late Queen of eagles, lions, pines, roses or weapons in the European manner, nor yet in the Ethiopian style [204] was there erected a pyramid of stones, nor other sign of her greatness fixed in the ground, no Royal throne, flask and glasses, bow, arrows, assegais, knives or daggers carved on the tomb; there was only carved the weapon which frightens the devil, the sign of our Redemption, the consolation of the true Christian, the refuge of those in tribulation, the medicine of our infirmities, the antidote and preservative for all corporal and spiritual indispositions, I say there was carved the sign of the Holy Cross in earth, in stones, and in the three cloths that covered her, red, brown and black, and at her head a Cross with its foot; these stand over the tomb of the late Queen, a weapon which having repented and returned to God she always wore round her neck, and with it she sanctified herself, humbly worshipping and adoring it and kissing it wherever she found it carved, and even when she saw it from afar; nor did she behave like the Paulician who only used it in time of necessity, adored and worshipped it, and when the necessity was over threw it away, despised it and did not wish to recognise it as the sign of our redemption; but in both necessity and prosperity she used, adored and worshipped it, and ordered all others to do the same, so it was empowered to be carved above her tomb, and that it should be the sign that her body was there, as it had been so loved by her in life, and should show to the Ethiopians her Vassals it was their Queen’s tomb, and that she whom they took for immortal was mortal and lay buried.

In life our Ginga was like a tall pine which showing its hardness by its fruit does not yield to a blow from iron, or stone, or wood, and keeps the precious pine-kernel inside it, nor did our Ginga yield to iron, or stone, or wood, nothing could dig out the pine-kernel ripened by her heart, not the iron of threats and punishment, nor the wood of the sufferings of the Giaga life, nor blows of stones enough to soften her hardness, it was necessary to put the kernel in the fire to open it and extract the essence; this was done by the [205] flames of our loving Christ, which opened the hard heart of the Queen, already the kernel which was precious to the Citizens of Heaven was extracted; the pine had now been cut down and no longer had to bud or grow green, or appear on the soil of this world, and will no longer be vigorous according to the saying of Job; one will no longer see Queen Ginga armed with a bow and arrow, making people tremble far and near, because a more expert warrior, armed not only with a bow and arrow but a cutting scythe, and famed for striking people far and near with an unerring blow which no-one can escape with skill or strength, has cut with the scythe of Death the thread of the life of our Ginga, and has given her back to our mother earth, without depriving her of weapons, because she came unarmed into the world; O powerful Queen feared by all and more cruel than all the torments of the world, whose power cannot be resisted, nor whose force opposed, but all must obey, and at thy command bow the head like servants and slaves.

Queen Ginga had already reached the end of her journey, her life and career were finished and do we perhaps think we shall not come to the same end?  Then we are mistaken for us Seneca says one must arrive at the end of the journey one began because there is no road which does not reach an end, and stop in some place, and we know the road Queen Ginga travelled, and hope it has reached its end in everlasting glory.  But how is this O my most beloved God?  Have you not heard that he who loves by the sword will perish by the sword?  Was not the Queen like Cain, and like him did not really love her brother, her nephew, and however many there might be of the Royal blood; so he was correspondingly killed, as he had killed, and should she die in her bed and fine house?  Was she not another Athaliah who killed all of the Royal succession who came into her hands?  She was killed, and having observed the words, this Queen did not die like that one, but wounded with the darts of your divine love [206] confessed herself to be not your enemy but your humble slave, and was this how she died so well?  She was worse than Jezebel, who had no tomb but the bellies of howling dogs, and she had such an honoured tomb, not in the field or in the bellies of dogs, but in the Church according to the custom of Christianity.  So what metamorphoses are these of my good Jesus?  Holofernes destroyed cities and houses, and his head was cut off, and this Queen destroyed not only cities and houses but Kingdoms and provinces, he was decapitated and she was not, and why, dear reader?  The answer is reserved for the wisdom of one.  And is it not the law of cruelty that no cruel person shall die except by a cruel death?

Did not Fallaris die where he had put others to death?

Did not the Emperor Tiberius die by poison such as he had given to others?

Did not Adonibeze have her hands and feet cut off as she had done to the sixty Kings?

Did not the daughter of Herodius have the same punishment from the icy river, the same ice serving as a sword to cut off her head?

Did not the parricide Tuluia die miserably in the wood?

Did not King Cyrus of Persia have his head cut off and placed in a lyre full of blood to be soaked in blood, as he had wanted so much to shed it; how in fact could all these people die in the appropriate way, and not she?

Was not Haman, who had himself worshipped as a God, (and she was not only worshipped as a God, but also called by the name of God by the ignorant black people), yet he ended his life impaled on a piece of wood, and she in her house, bed and Court.

Antioch had committed many barbarous deeds and atrocities, and died a miserable death.  And who had committed more than this Queen, and yet she died so well?

Did not Polycrates, cruel tyrant of Samii, end his life miserably?

Perseus too died wretchedly, they died wretchedly and she died well, how is this dear reader?

Menelaus who for a short time held a principality by fraud [207] was precipitated from the top of a tower.  And who obtained the Kingdom of Matamba with more fraud and deceit, not for a short time but over 25 years of such barbarism and cruelty as everyone knows, than our Ginga, yet he died falling through the air and she in her house and bed?

When Herod spoke to his people his words were called the voice of God and not of a man and he was eaten alive by worms, and not only were the words of this Ginga called the voice of God, but she herself was called God, and people mad enough to be chained up attributed victories to her, and affirmed that nothing was hidden from her and that there was no secret she did not know, as I have heard several times with my own eyes, but she was not eaten alive by worms like Herod; but, O great mercy of our God, she had the worm of conscience to torture her and turned to the true healer with great repentance for sins she had committed, and he, seeing her goodwill inclining towards virtue and wishing to be liberated, sent her the priest with authority to expel the worm and cured her, as in fact came about with the Sacrament of Penitence and of the most Holy Eucharist and this can be called the non plus ultra of divine love.

This Ginga who was so terrifying and feared in this black Ethiopia now lies buried, nailed between four boards, whose very name when she was alive struck those near and far, friends and foes, she lies covered in earth who in life did not wish dust to touch her, in a dark tomb lies the body of her who was stronger than Semiramis, more warlike than the Amazon, more cruel that Athaliah, more barbarous than Fulvia, more prone to anger than Irenz, bolder than Zenobia.  Here lies at last that most cunning thief who after robbing in life now steals 40 years.  Body, soul and blood, without strength at the end of life, of more than eighty years of age, declining and fragile she had stolen the treasure of Heaven, O lucky thief.  Can I, and in what school did you learn such art and doctrine?  And who was, tell me, the teacher?  No-one can answer except the teacher, and the doctrine was the loving Crucified Christ, who with the arrows of his divine love opened her heart, like a pine-kernel [208] in the fire, and extracted the ripened kernel so esteemed by the courtiers of Heaven that they welcomed it with great joy and celebration, and the presidents of the tartarean habitations do the opposite, distressing themselves and growing melancholy at the loss of such an old-established slave, such a faithful friend, and even more so because of the tribute of souls she paid them, yet I lay aside my pen and arrest my hand, leaving all to the pious imagination of the reader and only say, where is that Congregation of those three philosophers [marg.: who found themselves at the tomb of Alexander the Great, and the first of them said “Yesterday the whole of the earth was not enough for Alexander, and today two measures of earth cover him.”  And the second, wonderstruck, said: “Yesterday Alexander could free many peoples from death, and today he cannot free himself.”  The third exclaimed: “Yesterday Alexander oppressed the earth, and today the earth oppresses him” and you have no openings and I lose my step, and what did our Ginga do?  She came from a dark tomb when she was born, and when she died entered another sad one as Philemius says.]

When therefore the mourning (which they call tambo)[12] for their Ginga was finished, I celebrated holy mass with the most solemn office possible, and with vestments and wax candles, and with the assistance of the new Queen and the grandees of the Court I went on celebrating Holy Mass for the late Queen for eight days continuously with nightly responses, and holy water, the new Queen and the grandees of the Court always being present with great devotion and feeling; at once they sent Couriers to various regions to the Vassals and friends with the news of the death of the Queen.  The Courier arrived at the City of Loanda,[13] and although it was necessary to commemorate the death of the Portuguese because of the great number of years they were received with force of arms by the Queen when she led the life of a Giaga, and there had been many of these deaths and prisoners during her lifetime as I have said, for she had done all of this when she brought it to an end, when she made peace with them and returned to blessed God and his bride the Holy Church.  People felt her death greatly, and gave clear signs of it, wearing mourning clothes, and the nobles preceded by their Governor, Signore Andrea Vidal di nigrero[14] as Governor and Captain General of the Kingdom of Angola making sumptuous exequies to the late Queen at their own expense with a meeting of the nobility and the Priests and monks with wax candles and music corresponding to the magnanimity and splendour of the above-mentioned Governor who left to the Church all the conduct of the office because it was an occasion for the priests to recommend that soul to blessed God in daily sacrifices, nor did private gentlemen fail to show [209] their feeling at the loss of Queen Ginga, particularly those who took part in making peace and reconciling themselves with blessed God and his bride the Holy Church.  When the news reached the Vassals each made exequies to the late Queen in their barbarous manner, and there was no lack not only of animals but also of human beings, some complaining at death, others calling us Capuchins magicians who with witchcraft had done their Queen to death, and some more senseless than the others affirmed that Heaven had come down to receive her because she could not die, and others who were more knowledgeable dug deeper, and said she was lying in hiding because there was a rumour among the Ethiopians that Queen Ginga would not die, and many have such a mad idea in their heads, that to cure them would need the support of the Cross more than the Cross itself.  After having made the exequies with their own ceremonies they also sent word to the Court to condole with the new Queen to whom they showed themselves at first sad and disconsolate because of the death of the deceased, and then happy and joyful because of her new dignity and Royal crown, and each gave two presents one for the dead Queen and the other for the live one, and were generously rewarded; not only the blacks but the whites sent gifts to mourn the Queen, with various pieces of silk, European wines, and other things, and she answered everyone with slaves, and in a year paid over 300, each of them worth 22 thousand Portuguese Reis, that is 55 Italian Crociati,[15] because all their mourning for the dead consists of eating, drinking, dancing, singing and jumping like madmen fit to be put in chains [marginal note: that in all made 15 thousand Ducats.]

Now, kind reader, watch carefully and listed with a courteous ear to the things in which the ancient philosophers believed happiness lay, for some said it was in riches, others in victories, others in other things.  They called Alexander fortunate because he had conquered Kingdoms and Provinces, Cicero for having forced Catiline to leave Rome, Caesar for having won so many victories.  The African was called adventurous because he had expelled the [210] Carthaginians from Spain, Augustus for having brought peace to the world with his victories, Theodosius for having conquered Italy.  Our Ginga lacked neither riches, nor victories, nor the conquest of Kingdoms and provinces, and taming this interior of Ethiopia with so much barbarity and slaughter of people in war and peace; but all those who held and still hold these worldly actions to be happiness are in error and outside the path, live in a state of deceit, because as long as we live we cannot be sure of these things and if you wish to follow this ancient folly of theirs and conform to it saying that this life of Queen Ginga’s was happy and that like the above-mentioned people she should be called an adventurous and fortunate woman, I say that you go in error and outside the straight path, because no-one can be called happy and adventurous except for him whom blessed God approved, and confirms his happiness with death; for that one can truly call our Ginga fortunate and adventurous, not because of her riches and victories, nor for having conquered Kingdoms and Provinces, and routed enemies, but because blessed God had confirmed and approved with her death the happiness which she will now be enjoying which we can guess will be always the same, without diminishing in the least, and its incomparability will be a sign that God is God and this is true happiness, and outside this there is no consolation, nor enjoyment that is not brief and transitory.  Admire, dear reader, the life, vices and habits of this woman, who led the life of a Giaga, and then wonder at what she did when converted to God, admire the principle, the means and the end, her death and burial, and at your convenience you will judge the greatness and cunning of our loving Christ who deals with sinners to draw them to repentance for the sins they have committed, and the true knowledge of his divine love.  Admire the principle of an Ancient Lord of many Provinces who made the earth tremble with his valour, and commanded many armies, whose end was being eaten by worms, and whose life ended in rage; where did the pride of the Askelonites end? being eaten by beasts.  What was the end of the haughty Ahab?  An arrow pierced his [211] stomach and lungs, and a lance pierced the heart and shoulders of the wicked Joram, and ended his life; where did the victories of triumphant Caesar end?  In 23 wounds from which he breathed his last. [marg.: and where did the triumphs of Metellus, Agilius, Attilius, Mark Antony, Rupoia, Jarba, Aemilius, Perseus, Aurelius and Zenobia, all Kings end?  In mere wretchedness.]  The uncertain happiness of this life ends in wretchedness, which is why Epaminondas, asked which of three Captains was the most worthy, answered that while one lives one cannot know, but only on the day of death the Author of life will pronounce favourable of unfavourable judgement, and so I say that true happiness is the one that God approves with death and in death.

Tell me, dear reader, what did it profit those I have mentioned, and others like them, their greatness, victories and triumphs?  What does it profit one to have routed enemies, conquered Kingdoms and Provinces, destroyed Cities and Castles if it ends evilly, and if one’s death is not approved by God?  what does it profit one?  What would it have profited Queen Ginga having been a Giaga, and having done thousands of people to death; having triumphed over so many enemies, having so many riches, having been so terrible and cruel, having been assombro of Ethiopia, and the wonder of the world?  It would have profited her nothing if blessed God in his infinite mercy had not approved her death as he did.

In Giaga life our Ginga enjoyed the dignities and titles of the ancient Romans which were Most Perfect, Most Distinguished, Respectable and Illustrious.  They called Most Perfect him who was passionate, vicious, haughty and cruel, so see how this Queen could be called by the title of Most Perfect while she was the type of ill-doing and vice.  The title of Most Distinguished they gave to him who had no renown for virtue, but only the darkness of vice, I would have you pay attention to whether this honoured title was appropriate to the vicious life of the Queen, and you will find it cut to the pattern exactly, without diverging in any point.

Respectable they called him, whom one would run a thousand miles to avoid seeing, and think who would have wished to be seen near Queen Ginga [212] while she was a Giaga?

She was also illustrious in the manner of those people who did not give such a title except to those who went wrapped in darkness and vices; I say that she could not only be called illustrious but Most Illustrious because there was nothing characteristic of her except her vice, barbarity, cruelty and dishonesty.  But after being converted to God we can believe that what she enjoyed in life as a Giaga she now enjoys in perfection as a comprehender and possessor of Heavenly Jerusalem, and that now she is Most Perfect in body and soul without any bold surmise.  We can guess that she also enjoys the title of Most Distinguished because with the Blessed she bears the sign of distinction, and will be brighter than the sun.  We may also say that she is enjoying the title of Respectable, for just as in her life as a Giaga she was worthy of being fled from, now she is worthy of being looked at and admired for her beauty.  We may also call her Illustrious not because of the blood from which she derives her origins, but because every fruit of the divine essence is so illustrious that with its light it can illumine not one but several worlds.

So, dear reader, let us pray to God’s Divine Mercy that if we have in this world enjoyed the titles mentioned above, he will now also make us sharers in the glory we believe she is now enjoying, and will be willing to approve our death as he did that of Queen Ginga; and this is the end of this narrative, dear reader, which I offer you accompanied by an ardent wish to give you pleasure wherever you are, and if it does give you pleasure you will give me the courage to offer you the following history of the new Queen Donna Barbara called Cambo.


[213]                Epitaph above the tomb of Queen Ginga

Queen and Tyrant, Ginga                     Here lies under a little earth

By her people feared as God     she whom interior Ethiopia feared

Leaving the received Faith      She who made peace and was,

Alone in the name of Anna       Made then all herself.

is she,whom the sovereign hand  O you who go seeking

Made her change so much         Something worthy to sing

That it was a thing to admire,  If you want what is most worthy

A wonder, the way she lived     Ceased your journey here

And how well she was able       And do not seek further

to die        Because you have found

It is more than assombro and    The ark of the Ginga.

and spasm


Beneath this triple cloth

In this dark tomb you see

Ginga, who made herself Queen of Dongo and Matamba

She lies buried, a burned corpse

In this dark tomb you gaze on

Here lies one more haughty than Mamea

Here lies one more cruel than Medea

Here lies one more envious than Marcia

Here lies one more immodest that Popillia

Here lies one more impatient than Zenobia

Here lies one more malicious than Mirta

Here lies she, who lived to die

Here lies she, who died to live

In this dark tomb she hid herself.

[214]  Wheel of the world

Owing to Semiramis Assyria revolted

Owing to Mitrida Damascus revolted

Owing to Pineia Armenia revolted

Owing to Agrippina Rome revolted

For Helen Greece revolted

For Uxodonia Germany revolted

For Hecuba Spain revolted

For Ginga Ethiopia did not revolt

But Ginga overturned, destroyed and ruined Ethiopia.

Ginga stole in death

The treasure of Heaven

In this tomb

Her body will be reborn

Therefore we can Sing to a most cunning thief

A most cunning their who has stolen the treasure of Heaven

[1]. Dangij aquitenta = Ndanji a Kitenda, probably located to the southeast of Njinga’s court.

[2]. Lucala Samba = Lukala Nsamba

[3]. That is 18 October 1663, Istorica Descrizione Book 6, no. 106 gives the date as 14 October.

[4]. When Njinga became seriously ill in 1657, da Gaeta gave her a small piece of paper dedicated to the Virgin Mary in place of various objects of local medicine which were on her neck (and in his opinion threatened to strangle her), Maravigliosa Conversione, pp. 128-31.  Apparently she returned to this particular cure on this occasion as well.

[5]. See note     on various meanings on Kalunga.

[6]. This was a lay confraternity, organized in 1657 or 1658 by da Gaeta, Maravigliosa Conversione, p. 147.  The Capuchins, and before them others, had long organized such confraternities in Kongo, where they played an important political role, Thortom, Kingdom of Kongo, p.

[7]. Eleven o’clock, Italian time =

[8]. A cloth imported from the Yoruba state of Jabu, between Oyo Benin and a major producer of cottom cloth, which Portuguese and other merchants used in inter-African and American trade, see Dapper, Beschrivjing, p.     in reference to Benin cloth.

[9]. See illustration no. 27.

[10]. That is 4.68 m x 3.12 m.

[12]. If this is intended to be a sort of kinglist, it does not conform completely to the one given in pp. 1-20 above.

[12]. See note 331 above.

[13]. The news of her death reached Luanda about      1664, see for example documents in Brasio, Monumenta 12:

[14]. Andre Vidal de Negreiros, governor of Angola, 1661-66.  He spent much of his time as governor embroiled in ambitious projects on Angola’s northern border, in the Ndembu region and Kongo, culminating in the battle of Mbwila, 29 October 1665, Birmingham, Trade and Conflict pp. 120-22.

[15]. Cavazzi is using, to make his monetary conversions, the slave as a money of account, which had grown up in Angola, especially among Europeans because of the need to account profits in their own silver money which was only realized through sale of slaves in Brazil.  This system is explained in detail in Frederic Mauro, Le Portugal et l’Atlantique 1570-1670 (Paris, 1960), pp.