Book 3, Chapter 3

Having been informed of the barbarities of Cassange, the Superior sends Brother Junipero da San Severino with instructions to remove Father Antonio da Serravezza   Chapter III

Having been informed of the barbarous practices of Cassange, and his obstinacy and incredulity towards our Holy Faith, and his constancy and firmness in the laws, rites, customs and ceremonies of the Giaghi, the Superior sent Brother Guinipero da San Severino of the Province of Naples with instructions and order to assure himself of the truth, and if he found the information true should come with the said Father to the Court of Queen Ginga; the Priest went to pay his respect to the Holy Office and reached Cassange, diligently acquired information from white Portuguese and others who lived there, and found that it was all true, and then presented to Cassange [14] a letter from his Superior in which he wrote that he would send him another monk if he promised to stop leading that diabolical life.  So the two Priests set out for Queen Ginga’s Court taking the road to Embaca where they found the Superior with whom they came to that Court taking advantage of the opportunity because of the wars which were being fought in that Kingdom of Matamba.[1] The Superior having left the Court went to the City of Loanda to deal with some things necessary for the mission with the Governor, and the Superior drew up some Articles which are recorded on the next page, and consigned them to the Governor to send to Cassange; the Governor sent these Articles, and awaited an answer for eight months, after which Cassange asked the Governor for a Priest who was a native of Angola, without answering either him or the Superior on the subject of the Articles.  When the Governor had seen the Giaga’s request he hurried to gratify it, but did not find anyone who wished to go and finally wrote a letter to the Superior to ask him to send a Priest to Cassange, although it was more necessary for the Provinces of the Libolo.  The Father who was seriously ill because of what endured in those Provinces wished to put off that evil day as you will hear elsewhere, by sending someone to Cassange, and carrying out this function fell to me.[2] The Superior gave me a letter for Cassange, and the above-mentioned Articles, which he was to keep, and in order that the reader may not censure this action of yielding to half-pagans, not to say complete infidels, the reason was that they had promised Father Antonio da Serrauezza to observe some articles he had made for the benefit of their souls, but afterwards they betray the obligation because they were lavish in promising and niggardly in carrying out their promises, and ordinary occurrence in the Ethiopic nation.

Articles of Father Antonio Romano Prefect of the Mission to be presented to the Giaga Cassange, and his officers, translated from the Portuguese language into our Italian idiom

I brother Antonio Romano Vice Prefect of this mission of the Kingdom of Dongo make the following Articles to propose them to D. Pasqual Cassange, and to the officers of his army to keep them inviolably for the good foundation of Christianity which had already been begun and for that let blessed God be praised and served as the obligation of every faithful Christian demands.[3] [15]

1 That no man or woman on pain of death should even if pagan offer a Sacrifice to Idols, and invoke the devil by killing men, women, or animals to this effect.

2 Those mothers who kill their sons after giving birth to them and having them baptised will undergo the same punishment, and so will Fathers if they are guilty of the crime.

3 That all women should give birth inside the quilombo, and at once bring their children to the Church to be baptised, and whoever goes outside the quilombo to give birth shall be publicly whipped and subject other punishments subject to the arbitration of the Father assistant missionary.

4 That nobody shall eat human flesh even in war under pain of beating and other punishments subject to the arbitration of the missionary Father.

5 That public swearing which they use shall be totally abandoned as being a diabolical thing against the law of blessed God.

6 That they should not lift Scili on them nor keep them in or outside their Houses.

7 That those who live with their wives and have been baptised should live as Holy Mother Church commands in legitimate matrimony, and not live in concubinage.

8 That they should throw the Witch-doctors from the quilombo, and not make use of them.

When these orders and articles reached the Missionary Father he presented them to Cassange and his officers, who swore to keep them inviolably, with a public act, and signed the paper promising to live a Christian way and I protested that if they broke their promise and failed to observe it I should remove the Priest from them.

Having these orders I left with the same Superior who was going back to the Court of Queen Ginga from Massangano and we went together as far as Embaca, where he took the road for Matamba, and I that of Cassange, but not without some warning of what was going to happen, because when I was thanks to our loving God in very good health and physical disposition, on the night before my departure he gave me a great fever.  Spurning this in the morning I celebrated holy mass for the third day of Pentecost,[4] and then set out on the way to Cassange, but did not go far before a new fever arrived and lasted until the fifth day in the afternoon, and on the following day I set out [16] towards Cassange, a journey of 18 or 20 day,[5] mostly through woods and uninhabited places, I went well for six days thanks to the Creator, but on the seventh the fever returned, and lasted until I arrived where the Giaga lived, and some days it came twice, with great chills and paroxysms; I suffered great torment on this journey, and having reached the Lunino[6] river without having eaten from the night before to nightfall on that day, burning with fever, dying of thirst, I found myself without water to quench it, because the river was salt, and the sun already hidden from us, and to this was added the roaring of lions and other wild animals, which made me doubly watchful, and shortly before they had eaten the slave of a white Portuguese who had brought him in the quilombo of the Giaga.  Finally daylight came and I pursued my journey towards Gangella where I arrived in five days’[7] time.  That man came from his Court to receive me on the request of some Portuguese who were there for trade, and I made an oration before a Cross erected in the square where Father Antonio da Serravezza had previously lived.  Then I retired to the house of one of the white men who was charitable enough to take me in, as that barbarian had not assigned me a house to sleep in, and did not wait long before showing me his ill-will and natural bent towards evil, and making plain in secret of his heart; when all the officers of his army were gathered together at my request I was accompanied by white Portuguese in his Court, and by his secretary.  I presented the letter from the Superior and the articles addressed to him, made a speech as the time and occasion required, pertaining to the salvation of souls, but he refused and rebelled against the divine law and its observance with a manifest declaration that he did not wish to assent to keeping them, but to live according to the ancient law of his ancestors, and follow its traces, and at the end of the speech he spewed out that he had never wanted or asked for a Capuchin Priest as he knew well that we were a disinterested people, and received nothing temporal, and for this reason did not adhere to his law and ceremonies, or permit him his Priests and sacrifices and seers but he had asked for a Priest native to Angola[8] who being an interested party would have permitted him everything.  I tried to enlighten him saying that everything done was for the benefit of their souls, because although he had had some good examples in this respect he would not admit that they did or could do so, but the barbarian [17] stopped up his ears, and said I could return to my Superior with those articles which were contrary to those of the Giaghi that they observed and kept, and with this evil lack of respect I returned home with little satisfaction, and also with daily fever, but did not fail to say Holy Mass, and make him a spiritual oration for their salvation undeceiving them from their false law, rites and ceremonies which they observed contrary to out Holy Faith promised in the Holy baptismal washing, and seeing that exhortations profited them nothing I gave all the information to the Superior as he had ordered me to, and wrote him the following letter of which you shall know the answer.[9]

Very Reverend Father

I revere with this letter Your Reverence whom I advise that in execution of the office imposed on me to come to this army of the Giaga Cassange, I reached it on the fifth of last month and was received with ill will as the Giaga himself plainly showed, but I concealed this and did not lose heart, requested an audience with the intervention of the principal officers of the army who congregated on the ninth of the month in his Banza where I went accompanied by the secretary of the Embassy of the Lord Governor and by the white people who are present here, we reached his presence where he was surrounded by his principal Chilambi,[10] to whom I made a speech as the importance of the subject demanded, exhorting all to our Holy Faith, and not to fall back after setting out on the Christian way as they wickedly did in the Giaga life, which was a provocation to God who would punish them severely in this life, and with Hell in the next.  After having said this, and other exhortations which God inspired me to, I presented the letter addressed to him by Their Reverences, and the Articles to observe and keep which you gave me, and when they had been read and proclaimed by the secretary in their own language in the presence of all Cassange answered that they did not want any precepts to keep nor observe, then the Captain of Chilambi spoke, and said that they did not want to receive in any way, nor subject themselves to such Articles as they were Giaghi and had lived as such until now, and wished to do the same in future [18] following the laws, rites, customs and ceremonies of their ancestors, and they had not asked for a Capuchin Priest because they already knew it was contrary to their religion, but that they had asked for a Priest who was a son of their land and petitioned Portuguese merchants who were trading there to have their children baptised when it appeared to conform to their custom, because they also knew that it would not be contrary to their ceremonies, and would not disturb them in their Giaga life, its rites and sacrifices in which they had been brought up from childhood, and so they wished to persevere until death, last tribute of the traveller.  This was the answer he gave me in this audience with very indecent words which the interpreter did not wish to relate so as not to give additional pain to the invalid, but afterwards he reported all to me when I was recovering from my illness, and these to contaminate the ears of hearers, and not to be censured for irrational animals from the woods and forests of for some infernal fury rising form the tartarean habitations.

Many days after this speech the above-mentioned Captain of Chilambi, named Cuncha, came to visit me and spoke in this way: “Father, I have come to visit you, so that we may mitigate the rigour of the Articles proposed, if you have the heart to stay with us”, and hearing this that he said I asked him what they thought.  This is what he answered, attentive reader.

1 “As to the first, Father, we answer that we can in no way renounce the public sacrifices of killing people according to our custom because if we did not do it we would not be Lords and would not have an army, but we will not kill in front of Your Reverences but outside.

Second, we will contrive not to kill so many children as before, though it will be difficult as we are accustomed to killing them.

Third, we answer that we cannot permit a woman to give birth inside the quilombo because if one were to do so it would lead to our destruction, and Cassange would die immediately, and we should too, but we can permit children to come into the Church to be baptised as soon as they cut their teeth, because it is a precept with us that no boy could enter the army before he has teeth.”

The answer to the forth made me laugh.  “Father,” he said, “we shall not eat human flesh except [19] in time of war”, which I answered that they would not eat it when they had it, and he shamelessly answered that that was true, he knew well that I was aware of their barbarous and cruel deeds.

To the fifth: “Father, we cannot renounce public swearing for any order because with it we keep ourselves Giaghi, and without it we cannot keep ourselves.

As to not leaving or taking Scilli this does not admit of an answer because those are our remedies for illness, see whether we are willing to renounce them and whether you would be willing to renounce your remedies and medicine which give you bodily health”

He gave a good answer to the seventh but to what purpose?  that is to set up houses with only one woman, if afterwards they could divorce at pleasure, or change her for another, and lend her like any animal.

At the eighth, “I say, Father, that our Witch-doctors are our Priests, as you others are those of the white nation, through them our ancestors speak, and advise us as to what we have to do for our good and use, through their means we keep ourselves, and without them we cannot go on.”  Those, dear reader, were the answers and mitigation of the rigour of the proposed Articles, given by the above-named principal officer of Cassange, head of all the other officers.

The lumbo, senior Counsellor of Cassange, has told me several times: “Father, we shall esteem it highly if you stay in our Army for our security from the white people’s war, but as to observing the precepts you teach we cannot do it, nor can we renounce the Giaga laws, rites, customs and ceremonies that our ancestors have observed.  I say this to you, Father, so that you may know our will and need to see no other sign except that of the Giaghi.

The Colambolo, second person in the war, said to me, regarding teaching doctrine to the children, that it could not be done, because they had to live in their domains, not in the army, and that they too, being their sons, had to observe the laws they observed, and there was no lack of teachers to teach them, and Priests experienced in their laws, rites and ceremonies.

The Chilamba Pando whose name was Bartolomeo, when exhorted to baptise his children, made me the following answer in the presence of four white people: “Father, our women when they are pregnant [20] eat victuals with salt, and similarly the child they hold in their womb receives his part so that it is not necessary for you, Father, to baptise them”, and do not be amazed, reader, at this speech because they commonly call baptism eating salt,[11] and if anyone were to administer it without salt, it would be a great error because they would think they had not been baptised; I took this pagan answer not as a sign of amendment, but of their bent towards evil, and he gave another worse answer which does not deserve to be related; Your Reverence can see what good heads such limbs must have.

Cassange said to me about his witch-doctors: “Father, this law of God you teach does not preserve one from death, because I see priests and monks dying, nor do the dead speak in you as they do in our Witch-doctors, nor do you do the other things they do, so why follow and observe your law?”  I tried to show the barbarous unbeliever the force of our Holy Faith, and convince him with effective reasons, and show him that the faith of their Witch-doctors was all a deception and lie to draw money from their purses, and good from their treasure-chests, but O wretched bird born in an evil valley, this man of ill-will gave the following answer, blinded by his master the devil:

“Father, we have conquered these Gangello Provinces and others without this Zambi of yours called God, and without him we shall do the same in future as we have in the past,” and as he exaggerated this with the words not of a Christian but of a renegade, all his officers applauded in the black people’s fashion as if he had spoken nobly and his mouth were that of truth, but I did not fail in my obligation, although it was a vain labour, and also, Your Reverence, when I reached this quilombo it was already the third day that their Priests were making sachello, and calling on the soul of the late Giaga Pando to the house of his heir surnamed Pando,[12] and the same night of our arrival he appeared in the Witch-doctor, and asked for two people and green millet, and at once he was given what he asked for; one of the two men was a slave of Queen Ginga captured in war, the other was his own slave, and both had their heads cut off from their shoulders, and the flesh was cooked with the millet and when cooked was distributed by the Witch-doctor like a thing sacred to those present, [21] among whom was a Christian Ethiopian, who refused to eat it; they made it pass from his throat to his stomach by force, and the man surnamed Cuncha Head of the Chilambi confirmed this to me, and also affirmed the Cassange ate it daily and his children affirmed the same, and now he is ill his doctor has forbidden him to eat it until he is cured.  Now, Father, I am capable of believing what I did not wish to believe last year when finding myself in Embaca Captain Lorenzo d’Aragone, a Christian black man, told me that finding himself there when Cassange was baptised, he went to visit him next day, and found him eating a human hand, and on being rebuked answered that he had been baptised to please the Ambassador and the Father, but as to their laws, rites, customs and ceremonies they were not to be renounced but kept and observed.  And his eating human flesh is confirmed by the black people’s heads which are found with their flesh already cut off and whitened, throughout the country round, and around the walls of his harem.  A few days ago Giaga Cassange made Sachello at Caimbe[13] because he had to go to war, and having nobody to kill for his ancestor sacrificed two cows, keeping back people until he returned from the war, to give thanks according to the order of the Witch-doctor accompanied by a thousand of their lies in order to seduce those ignorant people, and draw the money out of their purses.  When I had audience the Witch-doctors were the first to appear, I was told by white people that in the sacrifice they made the year before they had killed 184 people.  I have baptised some children of Pomberi, of Portuguese, and also some small children of various Giaghi according to the promises made to me to send them to Church to the Christian doctrine, or I should have gone to their libate to teach them, and there were lavish promises, but few results, because they betrayed their obligation and denied both; seeing myself deceived in such matters of zeal, I no longer wished to baptise, and from what I have written Your Reverence can conjecture how much spiritual good can be hoped for, and what success such children will have; to me it is a vain labour, and nothing will be done except baptising some children when they already have their teeth, [22] according to the barbarous Giaga custom, and it will not be certain unless in their opinion baptism of children is a necessary permission, that is when they have teeth.  Your Reverence will do as you think best, for I as I have said will be ready for your commands and what you order and arrange and will expect an answer.  Dated in this quilombo of the Giaga Cassange 25th August in the year MDCLX.

I sent this letter to my superior according to the order he had given me, and while awaiting an answer I did not fail to inform myself of the various things they were doing and observing; firstly I found our how Cassange was observing the laws, rites, customs and ceremonies of the Giaghi,[14] and as to the first law I found he was admitting some small children to baptism, but not before they had teeth according to their barbarous custom, and if they cut their top teeth before their bottom ones he ordered them to be killed.

He observed the second law faithfully because he did not allow any woman to give birth inside the quilombo, and when one was found to have given birth the evil-doer responsible was sentenced to be cruelly beaten and thrown out of the army, and at the time when Father Antonio da Serravezza was living in the quilombo it happened that he brought from the enclosed a girl to be baptised, and she was the daughter of a concubine of Cassange himself, and there was such an uprising of the people because of the breaking of their quixilla, that they were very much distressed and the officers of the army represented the case to Cassange who showed himself so zealous in the observance of their laws that although she was his daughter he ordered her to be beaten in a mortar, but as they were about to go to a new place she was condemned to death, especially as the death of his predecessor occurred at the same time, and so they did what I have described above.

He was always punctilious in the observance of the third law, in making sacrifices before and after war, and took the mortar and oil of his instructor when he went to war.

He was very observant indeed of the fourth and still is, causing the servants of those who die to be killed even when their masters do not want is, as he did in the year 1659 to one of his officers who had asked that no-one should be killed at his death because he was a Christian, [23] but owing to zeal for their law four people and several cows were killed.

he had always observed the branding of his people and prisoners of war not only with the cruel imprint of iron, but also with the old mark traditional to the Giaghi of knocking out two top and two bottom teeth.

He punctiliously observes the seventh law and everything it contains although it is diabolical, for he is Satanic.

The eighth had his observance as I have discussed in the chapter on the quixille of the Giaghi[15] and when he was making a feast for his daughter he collected an offering of over 600 Italian ducats.

The ninth also has the observance of this barbarian.

To observe the tenth he keeps his Treasure-chest or Missette, and some relics of his ancestors, and is zealous in keeping and revering them according to their ancient custom without discarding anything of their law.

At the new moon he observes all the practices of the exhibition of the chest, and the ceremonies practised by the Giaghi.

He honours and reveres the Witch-doctors as his priests and never transgresses their orders however hard or difficult.

He does not observe the thirteenth law.[16]

He punctiliously observes the fourteenth law of the Sambare without fear of God or shame before the world, but O wretch, what punishment is prepared for him?

He has always observed that law of Pharaoh which permitted the Egyptians to steal because he is always stealing with his army which entirely composed of thieves and wicked people, and he is the chief of them all, having no regard for that law of Numa Pompilius which conceded the right to take and possess what one could conquer, because stealing is not necessary to take land, but only goods, and these people need goods and human beings to satisfy their barbarous wishes; the law given by Lycurgus to the Spartans pleases and gratifies them greatly [24] because it permits homicide, and it is enough to know that they kill a person more readily than an animal, and one daily sees examples among these barbarous people, and if it stupefies one to hear this told, what will the sight of it do?  He takes pleasure and comfort in all this for the satisfaction of his own stomach, and I have several times observed the ceremony of going to take the children who had already cut their teeth.  I also observed the Witch-doctor rising at the new moon, representing the late Giaga Cassange Calunga, and others representing other people, and there was no day on which some infernal novelty was not seen; one day I sent an Ethiopian of Portuguese descent[17] into the Court of Cassange, and he found they had cut off the heads of two people, and seeking to find the reason found that it was to enable Cassange to wash in the blood, and use their flesh as a remedy to strengthen his stomach; the missionary could not, dear reader, blind himself to the sight of such open crimes and had perforce to show what was good and evil for the good of his conscience, and for this reason he made me a thousand protestations and threats, that I should have no designs on changing their laws, rites, customs and ceremonies, nor oppose their quixille, nor yet remove their relics from their Priests, but only baptise, but I said, baptise them for what purpose, if they then remain in the power of a barbarous and pagan Father and Mother who are to teach them their diabolical laws, rites and customs?  Seeing finally that it was all a vain labour I asked Cassange to gather together all the officers of his army for the day dedicated to the glory of the Assumption of our Lady the Virgin to Heavenly Glory,[18] I caused the place where I was to celebrate that most solemn feast to be ornamented, and hung over the altar a beautiful Image of our Lady the Virgin Mary.  So arrived that happiest of days dedicated to the glory of our great Queen and protectress, and Cassange came with all the officers of his army, not as if coming to hear mass, but armed, as if for pillage, and not before taking their usual antidote, so that their stomachs were full; and with head bowed I conducted the holy Sacrifice of the mass, and having finished this made them a short speech on the great mercy of [25]  God and his Most Holy Mother, but the savage host of Satan made me so many heretical answers and proposals that seeing their obstinate and stony hearts I was forced to turn to the Mother of mercies, and implore her on behalf of those wretches to forgive their crimes, and use her usual pity and mercy with those lost souls, but they, blind and deaf to this, were not moved to prayer or cries of sorrow at the sins they had committed, but, O barbarians, they turned not against the Creature but the Creator and his Most Holy Mother, and spewed out the poison from their hearts contemptuously calling her muhaijtu va mundele,[19] white man’s woman, and loosened their tongues in a thousand sacrilegious words, and boasting that their powers did not depend on her, and also mocking at her son, they uttered a thousand indecent words accompanied by various grimaces more proper to Satan’s companions than to human fellow-travellers, and their horrible actions were as knives piercing my heart and that of the surrounding Christians, and turning to the child Jesus I was unable to help crying our, and saying: “O my good Jesus do you not hear the mockery and scorn they make of you, and of your Most Holy Mother?”   The perverted Cassange advanced further, dear reader, and with his people affirmed that the law of the son does not save one from death, without thinking of the death of the body and of the immortal soul, he grew angry with me and waved his weapons as if he wished to fight against Heaven or even kill, and the Creature raised his voice and said, “I have conquered these and other Provinces without this God, and I shall do without him in future too.”  O barbarous and cruel man, what are you doing and saying?  I threatened him with the punishment of that God he despised, but those haughty and boastful men asked me whether he had power to cut an orange-tree to the ground, and I answered them that he was powerful in one respect and in the other, and at these words there was such an uprising among the people that everyone, weapons in hand, showed that the human individual wished to arise, and each of us thought we should have to pay death the tribute of every traveller that day, and they went furiously off to their homes, and I remained greatly distressed to see our common enemy had power over their souls, but the reason is hidden from us.  A few days later, after one of their Witch-doctors had risen up, and sold [26] his lies, I went to visit the Giaga, but he did not wish to hear about Christianity.  Finally, after two months, there came an answer to the letter written to the superior who called me to the Court of Queen Ginga, and to show abundant courtesy and zeal to the Giaga, sent in my place Father Benedetto da Lusignana,[20] one of our Priests; but when Cassange knew of his coming he said “The one who is here is a Capuchin and the one who is coming is a Capuchin, what one teaches so will the other, I do not want to keep or observe their law, but I want a Priest who is a son of our land.”  Will you say, reader, that the Capuchins must be bad?  You have heard what happened, you will observe the future too, and then judge at your leisure, for I, and others of my Religion, and particularly our Colleagues, submit ourselves to the censure of whoever wishes, after hearing of the past and observed the future.

[1]. These might well have been the series of wars between Matamba and the Yaka in 1657-60.

[2]. Cavazzi was ordered to Kasanje in June 1660, see note 30, below.

[3]. Da Gaeta relates in his own work how he presented a very similar list of seven demands to Queen Njinga shortly after his arrival there.  They include all these demands (in similar language) without the demand for Christian marriage (which he made later as well).  Njinga, in contrast to Kasanje, immediately enacted them into law.  Maravigliosa Conversione, pp. 121-3.  Antonio da serravezza had already presented Kasanje with a list of demands in 1657, see pp. 37-9 below.

[4]. Monday of Pentecost =

[5]. a)

[6]. Lunino = Lunino River in Baixa de Cassange, Angola.

[7]. In his letter of 25 August 1660, quoted below, p.17, he gives his date of arrival as 5 July.

[8]. According to Serravezza, Kasanje’s request for priests was only to accomodate the large number of Christian merchants from Angola in his court, and not to change his own customs, see Archivio Provinciale dei Cappuccini, Toscana, Missioni Estere, Serravezza, “Raguagglio”, fol.     .  A secular cleric would in all likelihood have honored this state of affairs, while, as we see, regular clergy insisted on being able to preach to his own subjects and make demands.

[9]. A somewhat shorter, less detailed version of this letter was reproduced in Istorica Descrizione, Book 7, no. 50 and reprinted in Brasio, Monumenta, 12:

[10]. Chilambi, an Italian plural of chilamba (kilamba), commanders of military units.

[11]. “To eat salt” was the common central African term for baptism from the term “to eat the salt of God” as in the 1642 catechism, do Couto, Gintio, p.     “curia mongoa ua Zambi” = comer o sal de Deus. (kuria mongwa wa Nzambi).

[12]. A second example of perpetual kinship, see note 9a above.

[13]. Cassange Caimbe = Kasanje ka Imbe, probably another Imbangala band, see Book 1, pp. 42-3 and note 106.

[14]. The original laws are in Book 1, pp. 25-30.

[15]. See Book 1, p. 27.

[17]. See Book 1, p. 57.

[17]. “di falla Portuguese”, a mixed Portuguese-Italian construction, probably from a local term for a Portuguese speaking African as “homem de fala Portugues”, where Cavazzi did not replace the Portuguese falar with Italian parlare.

[18]. The Day of the Assumption of Our Lady was the

[19]. Muhaijtu ya mundele = Muhayitu wa mundele.  The Kimbundu catechism of 1642, do Couto, Gentio, p.     , uses “ahaytu” (singular muhaytu) for women and “mindele” (singular mundele) for whites.

[20]. Benedetto da Lusignana, Capuchin priest who arrived in Angola in 16