Dahomey kingdom
Western African kingdom that flourished in the 18th–19th century in what is now central Benin.

Initially called Abomey, its name was changed to Dahomey after it had expanded by conquering the neighbouring kingdoms of Allada (1724) and Whydah (1727). It thrived on the slave trade with Europe, reaching its high point under Gezu (1818–58), under whom it became independent of the Oyo empire. Society was rigidly stratified into royalty, commoners, and slaves; a centralized bureaucracy carried out the king's will. The nation was organized for war, both to increase its territory and to take captives for the slave market, and women served as soldiers along with men. With the end of the slave trade in the 1840s, Dahomey began exporting palm oil, which proved less profitable, and an economic decline followed. In 1892 Dahomey was defeated by a French expedition and became part of the French colony of the same name.

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Universalium. 2010.

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