Nzingha (1583-December 17, 1663) was a military strategist, a true warrior queen. Her rise to power took place during the early 17th century in the kingdom of Ndongo (now Angola). She lived during a period when the Atlantic slave trade and the consolidation of power by the Portuguese in the region were growing rapidly.
Nzingha was a formidable foe for the Portuguese. She personally led her troops into battle, and forbade her subjects to call her “Queen,” preferring to be addressed as “King.” She was a strong and charismatic leader, able to rally the masses to heed her messages, and use her charm to form alliances with other kingdoms.
She fought the Portuguese until finally, in 1659, weary from the long struggle, Nzingha signed a peace treaty with them. Until her death on December 17, 1663, she attempted to reconstruct her nation, seriously damaged by years of conflict. She devoted her efforts to resettling former slaves and developing an economy that did not depend upon the slave trade.