The History of the Kingdom of Dahomey spans 300 years with the rise of the Kingdom of Dahomey Before 1904 from around 1600 as a major power on the Shore of Benin till French conquest.
In the Atlantic Slave Trade, Dahomey became a significant centre with control over these key towns until when the British imposed a blockade to prevent the trade.
War with the French started in 1892 and the French took over control in 1894 of the Kingdom of Dahomey.
The French in 1900 vacated the throne, but the royal families and important administrative positions of the government continued to influence the politics of the French administration and the post-independence Republic of Dahomey, renamed Benin in 1975.
Around 1600, two princes in Agassu’s lineage waged war over who would rule Allada. It was resolved that both princes would leave the town and establish new kingdoms with Teagbanlin going south and founding the city that would become Porto-Novo and Do-Aklin moving to the Abomey plateau to the north (Porto-Novo and the Kingdom of Dahomey remained rivals for much of history).
Houegbadja (1645-1685) is often regarded as the foundational king of the Kingdom of Dahomey who built the Royal Palaces of Abomey and raided towns outside of the Abomey plateau.
At the same time, the slave trade started increasing in size from the area through trade with the Portuguese, Dutch, and British, and the Kingdom of Whydah and Allada.
The Dahomey Kingdom became known at this time to European traders as a major source of slaves in the slave trade at Whydah and Allada.
Grandson of Houegbadja, king Agaja, came in 1718 to the throne and started expansion of the Kingdom of Dahomey. At the end of Agaja’s reign, the crucial coastal slave trade cities were significantly occupied by the Kingdom of Dahomey.
In the late 18th century, Oyo put pressure onto Dahomey to reduce its participation in the slave trade (largely to protect its own slave trade) and Dahomey complied by limiting some of the slave trade.
However, in spite of this, the empire was a substantial participant in the slave trade providing up to 20 percent of the total slave trade and supplying the largest percentage of revenue for the king.
The British sent many diplomatic parties to Ghezo in an attempt to convince him to end the involvement of Dahomey in slave trade. All these were rebuffed with Ghezo worried about the political implications of ending such trade.
Requests for ending the slave trade were rejected by Ghezo but he started expanded the palm oil trade as an alternative source of income.
The Elephant, connected with Ghezo, high profile political leaders and Creole slave traders like the De Sousa family, pushed for resistance to British pressure.
In order to force them to end the slave trade, the British imposed a naval blockade on the ports of Dahomey. The Kingdom of Dahomey consented in 1878 to making the city of Cotonou a protectorate.
The French started changing key facets of politics and government in Dahomey. French Dahomey comprised the Kingdom of Dahomey, Porto-Novo, and areas to the north with loose tribal control. The administration of the French in Dahomey remained over the region from 1900 till 1960 when the country took the name Republic of Dahomey and gained independence.
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