T h e work of R ui de Pina (c. 1450-1522) is of special interest to historians of the maritime expansion of Europe because Pina, in his Crònica de Dom Joào I I ,1 was the first Portuguese chronicler-royal who had to include in his biographical brief the task of depicting his former royal master functioning as self-proclaimed Lord of Guinea. At least in theory the assumption of this title involved a vast expansion of the territorial and political possessions of the Portuguese crown for the term “Guinea” then included the whole of the Atlantic littoral of Black Africa as far south as the continent might prove to run. Pina was well placed to carry out his task. As secretary of John II, he had observed and no doubt participated in the king’s handling of the affairs of Guinea at first hand. Though the Cronica was not finished until some years after John’s death, we know that Pina had already been entrusted by the king in 1490 with the task of recording “os feitos famosos asy nossos corno de nossos regnos” . 2 He began to do so right away: it has been established that the seven chapters of the chronicle dealing with the affairs of the kingdom of the Kongo were originally drafted about 1492. 3

The following are the occasions on which Pina describes John’s interventions in Black A frica: (i) Construction in 1482 of the castle of Sao Jorge da Mina, on the Mina [later Gold] Coast (cap. II); (ii) Assumption by the king in 1485 of the title “Senhor de Guiné” (cap. X IX ); (iii) An

account of the discovery of the kingdom of Benin and of John’s attempts to persuade the Oba to convert to Christianity. The brevity of this account is no doubt due to Pina’s characteristic unwillingness to dwell on a royal failure (cap. X X IV ); (iv) A long description of the arrival in Portugal of the W olof king “Bemoim” and of his conversion to Christianity (cap. X X X V II); (v) Pina’s account, referred to above, of the discovery of the kingdom of the Kongo by Diogo Cao in 1482 4 and the conversion of the Manikongo — the title of the Kongo ruler (caps. L V II-L X III). Pina, judging by the exceptional amount of space he devotes to it and the trouble he went to in order to secure his information, evidently rated the conversion of the Kongo as the most spectacular achievement of John I I ’s reign as far as Black Africa is concerned.