King Dom Affonso I became King of Kongo in 1506 AD. Like many Africans who became Christians, he was baptised with a Portuguese name. When he succeeded to the throne, he was, however, met with vigorous opposition from his non-Christian brother Mpanzu a Kitima. Prince Mpanzu occupied the capital city, Mbanza Kongo, with the support of the Lord of Kabunga, the traditional priest, and forces of nearly 200,000 men. They viewed the Christian influence as a threat to their power. Affonso, however, triumphed over Mpanzu in battle in spite of the fact that he had inferior numbers of perhaps 10,000 soldiers and 100 Christians, both Kongolese and Portuguese. Affonso attributed his victory to a religious miracle and thus strengthened his desire to spread Christianity in the land. After the battle, Affonso executed his brother but converted the Mani Kabunga. He gave the latter the position of Keeper of the Holy Water. Years later, he built the Church of the Holy Cross to commemorate the miracle.
Affonso I wrote to King Manuel of Portugal requesting that he send priests and technicians to spread Christianity further. Within three years, schools were established in which students were instructed in Portuguese and Christianity. Furthermore, Affonso increased the flow of Kongo students to Portugal and he himself studied Portuguese laws. The Portuguese sent him a collection of these in five great volumes. His aim seems to have been the creation of a Renaissance style Christian state as then existed in Europe. His achievements went beyond this, however. Dr Ehret, an important authority, reports that: "A local body of scribes was trained, able eventually to communicate in written Latin, Portuguese, and Kikongo". By 1516, one source reports that the capital had one thousand students studying grammar, humanities and things of the faith. There were also schools for girls directed by the sister of the king. Finally, Affonso built churches. As well as the Church of the Holy Cross built in 1517, he built the Church of Our Lady of the Victories in 1526. By the close of the century, the capital had six churches.
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