This volume publishes one of the most important early Portuguese accounts of east central Africa.
The author, António da Conceição, was the ecclesiastical administrator of the Portuguese Zambesi settlements at the end of the seventeenth century. He set out to describe the Portuguese community in the valley and in the gold-bearing regions of the high veldt. In doing so he commented in detail on the African kingdoms of the region and their relations with the Portuguese. He witnessed the rise of a powerful new African dynasty in the area of modern Zimbabwe, that of Changamira, and he described the destruction of the Portuguese fairs and settlements during the wars which followed.
Prior to the wars of the 1690s the Portuguese had appeared to be the dominant influence throughout much of the region of modern Zimbabwe, but their position was more fragile than it looked. Conceição points to weaknesses in the commercial structure of the Portuguese settlements and to the difficult relations which existed with traditional African authorities. He also mounted a wide-ranging critique of the missionary policy of the Dominicans which had concentrated on achieving the nominal conversion of members of the ruling Monomotapa dynasty.
This account, written by a highly intelligent and well-informed cleric, is essential for understanding the history of central Africa at a period of radical change. It is now available for the first time to an English as well as a Portuguese readership.