Rik Ceyssens: “Un jeune enfant que le Roi aimoit beaucoup”


It was 1612, when in the kingdom of Loango (Central Africa), a young prince saw his king drinking palm wine; in so doing, be it inadvertently, the beloved heir apparent had contravened standard food regulations promulgated in order to protect the physical well-being of the royal person. The “guilty” offender has accordingly been executed. In this article we investigate how these events at the Loango court have been perceived and treated throughout the ages by all kind of observers, direct as well as indirect, but all of European extraction, our idea being that “the point of history is to study historians, not to study the past” (Evans 1997: 98).

[Lwangu (Loango), dietary restrictions, royal court manners, power relations, slave trade, infanticide, matrilineal succession]