A case study of colonialism in Africa from economic, religious, and political perspectives that examines the participation of African elites in colonial rule This is a richly documented history of the arrival of rubber traders, new Christian missionaries, and the Portuguese colonial state in the Kongo realm, told from the perspective of the kingdom's inhabitants. It is the first book-length study of the colonial encounter in an African kingdom renowned for its long Catholic tradition and contributory role in the historical slave trade. Rejecting theories of doom and decline, Jelmer Vos shows how Kongo's sacred city of Sao Salvador was vital to the expansion of European imperialism in west-central Africa, providing a platform from which different agents, African as well as European, were able to project their social, political, and economic agendas. He argues that the Kongo people built on the kingdom's long familiarity with Atlantic commerce and European culture to become avid intermediaries in a growing world of colonial trade and mission schools. Vos highlights the complexity of an African people's engagement with colonialism, but he also underlines some of the tragic consequences of Kongo's incorporation in the European state system. One of the fundamental contradictions of European rule in Africa was that its often excessive demands for tax and labor tended to undermine the African structures of authority on which the colonial system depended. Kongo in the Age of Empire carefully documents the involvement of Kongo's royal court in the exercise of Portuguese rule in northern Angola and the ways that Kongo citizens experienced colonial rule as an increasingly illegitimate extension of royal power.