In 1663, Njinga, ruler of the Angolan kingdom of Matamba, died of natural causes. Her death much like her life reflected the political struggles and cultural exchange that marked the expansion of the Atlantic system. At different points, her West Central African Kingdom had incorporated Dutch soldiers, Portuguese merchants, Italian priests, and exhausted refugees. Now the fragile peace that Njinga had established with the Portuguese during the 1650s threatened to end in civil war. The immediate cause was disagreement over Njinga's funeral. The underlying reasons involved the ways in which gender, ethnicity and labour intertwined with issues of religion and political power. According to certain Catholic priests, Njinga not only led armies as a war general, but made war medicine out of the bodies of male infants, sacrificed for the purpose. The activities of Njinga's ladies were also more acceptable to the Catholic missionaries at Njinga's court.