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date: 03 August 2020

The Amazons of Dahomey

Summary and Keywords

The Amazons in general come from Greek legend and myth without any palpable historical evidence. However, there is no doubt about the historical female fighters of the erstwhile Kingdom of Dahomey (Danhome or Danxome) in West Africa, which survived until their defeat by the French colonial forces in 1893. The history of the historical Amazons of the Kingdom of Dahomey stems from vast amounts of oral tradition collected and analyzed over the years, as well as written accounts by Europeans who happened to have visited the kingdom or lived on the West African coast since Dahomey’s foundation in the 17th century to its demise in the late 19th century. These sources have been reviewed and debated by several scholars (including Amélie Degbelo, Stanley B. Alpern, Melville J. Herskovits, Hélène d’Almeida-Topor, Boniface Obichere, Edna G. Bay, Robin Law, Susan Preston Blier, Auguste Le Herisse, etc.), who may or may not agree on the narrative of the founding of the kingdom or the genesis of female fighters in the Dahomean army. Nonetheless, all scholars agree that the female forces traditionally called Ahosi/Mino did exist and fought valiantly in many of Dahomey’s battles against their neighbors (Oyo, Ouemenou, Ouidah, etc.) and France. The history of the Ahosi/Mino is intricately linked to the origins and political and social development of the Kingdom of Dahomey. Ahosi/Mino are still celebrated in the oral traditions of the Fon.

Keywords: Kingdom of Dahomy, Amazon, Women in War, Mino/Ahosi, Colonization, Military History, Abomey, Fon, West Africa, France in Africa

Origin of Dahomey

The Fon people of Abomey trace their origins to Tado, in southeastern Togo. The legendary ancestor of the Fon, Agasu (meaning leopard), was said to have been born out of a relationship between a Tado princess and a leopard. Agasu later left Tado and moved southeast to settle in Allada where his skull is believed to be buried. Unfortunately, as the tradition states, there was a dispute between the children of Agasu (Agasuvi), which led to the dispersion of the Fon to three main centers: Meidji stayed in Allada, Do-Aklin left for Dahomey, and Zozengbe went to Porto Novo (Hogbonu). The veracity of this version of the story is disputed by some scholars.1 Dahomey, according to the oral traditions, was built on the belly of Dan. Apparently the new arrivals abused the hospitality of the Gedevi, the indigenous peoples, by their incessant demand for more land. Dan protested, asking if they wanted to build their house on his belly. The Fon took offense and executed Dan and took over his house, hence Danxome (the house built on Dan’s belly). Over a short period of time, Dahomey emerged as the most important kingdom of the three centers largely due to its agriculture, slavery, warfare, and especially trade with the Europeans along the coast. Abomey was capital of Dahomey; the palace’s mud walls were about twelve feet high, within which lived thousands of Amazons.

The Kings of Dahomey

King Kpojito


Ganye-Hessou and Dako-Donou


Akaba (1685?–1708)

Agaja (c. 1776–1740) Adonon

Tegbesu (1740–1774) Hwanjile

Kpengla (1774–1789) Chai

Agonglo (1789–1797) Senume

Adandozan (1797–1818) Kentobasin

Gezo (1818–1858) Agontime

Glele (1858–1889) Zoyindi

Behanzin (1889–1894) Kamlin

Agoliagbo (1894–1900) Kanai

(From Hélène d’Almeida-Topor and Edna G. Bay, whose lists were based on various sources.)2

Dahomey was one of the best-organized kingdoms in West Africa, where the king was assisted in the administration by able ministers with specific functions as in a modern government. The prime minister, known as Migan, was the principal advisor to the king and also the royal executioner. His female equivalent was Miganon—the suffix non, meaning mother, denotes the name of the female counterpart. The Mehou was in charge of foreign relations as well as the administration of the territories south of Allada and was the one who received the European visitors. Adjaho was the interior minister responsible for regulating relationships between the monarchy and the priests of the various shrines and would assign the dates for the respective vodun ceremonies. Trade and agriculture were under the supervision of Tokpo; and Akplogan, the keeper of the royal tombs, organized religious ceremonies. Gahou was the army commander and Yovogan was in charge of relations with Europeans at the coast.3

Whereas the administration of the kingdom was largely in the hands of the king and his ministers, the Fon cosmology or belief system regulated the life cycle of the kingdom. The most important annual religious ceremony, Xwetanu, was what irked the European visitors the most because of the preponderance of human sacrifice. The negative reaction was largely due to Western sensibilities and misunderstanding of Dahomeyan religion, ideology, military, and political and economic systems. The European visitors could not comprehend that “there was mutual interdependence between the spirit and the visible worlds, with the blood of sacrifice victims nourishing a ‘Guardian Angel’ who will reciprocate by ensuring future victories.”4 Human sacrifice to the deities was equally an expression of wealth and power and acknowledgment of support by the illustrious ancestors. Take, for example, the prayer offered through the sacrificial victim to the ancestors by King Gezo:

Tu vas voir tous mes ancêtres dans l’autre vie, tu

chercheras mon honoré père; tu te prosterneras devant

lui pour moi et en mon nom; tu te couvriras la tête de la t

terre. Tu lui diras que je t’envoie, cette année, lui

porter des nouvelles de ce qui se passe ici. Dis-lui que

son fils le vénère, l’admire toujours; qu’il se souvient

avec orgueil de ses grandes victoires, de ses triomphes

éclatants, des conseils qu’il lui a donnés et des leçons

qu’il a reçues.

Dis-lui que son fils respectueux s’informe de sa santé,

que lui et tout son peuple le regrettent et qu’il espèrent

le voir heureux dans l’autre vie.

Annonce-lui la dernière victoire, les nombreux

prisonniers et l’immense butin qui ont été rapportés, et

combien de têtes ornèrent, au retour, les rues de la


Fais-lui savoir que tout prospère dans son royaume, et

que son fils fera respecter tant qu’il vivra le prestige et

la gloire du Dahomey.

As-tu compris?

Va, que Dieu et le fétiche t’accompagnent!

Voilà les cauris et le tafia nécessaires au voyage. Va!5

(You shall see my ancestors in the other life, you

will look for my honorable father; you will prostrate in front

of him for me and in my name; you will cover your head with

dirt. You shall tell him that I sent you, this year, to

give him news of what is happening here. Tell him that

his son honors him, continue to admire him; that he remembers

with pride his great victories, his shinning triumphs,

the advice he gave him and the lessons he received.

Tell him that his respectful son asks about his health,

that he and his people miss him, and they hope he is

happy in the other life.

Tell him about the last victory, the numerous

prisoners and large booty that was acquired, and

the numerous skulls the decorate the streets of the capital on our


Let him know that everything is going well in his kingdom, and

that his son, so long as he is alive will maintain the prestige and

glory of Dahomey.

Do you understand?

Go, that God and the fetish accompany you!

Here are the cowries and the tafia necessary for the trip. Go!)

This prayer with the accompanying execution was normal to the Fon. It was meant to guarantee their survival as a people. It provided the link between the living and the dead, the past and the present. During the festival the king distributed gifts to his deserving subjects (ministers, soldiers, wives, amazons, etc.).

Ahosi/Mino, or the Amazons

Women played prominent roles in Dahomey since its inception. The Fon origin myth gives a primordial role to Princess Adowi and her relationship with the panther, leading to the birth of Agasu. Even the creator god or Supreme Being is composed of Mawu (female) and Lisa (male) characteristics. Likewise, vodun shrines could either be led by a Vodunon (female) or Vodunsi (male). As a polygynous society, the king’s wives wielded enormous power and had special status. Aside from their administrative responsibilities, they could own property, they had farms and sold their farm produce, and they were free to go outside the palace. These privileges were equally extended to the princesses. The eldest of the princesses held sway over the other siblings. One of the most powerful positions for a woman in Dahomey was that of Kpojito—the mother of the queen, who was actually the wife of the king’s predecessor. She was wealthy and held her own court and was not supposed to have contact with men. She settled religious cases and interceded on behalf of the people before the king. At death, her property was inherited by a female descendant in her family, and she herself acquired the status of a deity and was commemorated during the annual festivals.6 Another relevant position held by a woman in the palace was that of Kpaligan—the court historian.

Origins of Ahosi/Mino Amazons

The origins of the female military regiment popularly known as the Amazons but as Ahosi (“king’s wives”) or Mino (“our mothers”) to the Fon is contested by some historians. Robin Law argues that the absence of consensus on the origins of the Amazons is an indication that it was an institution that has always been part of the kingdom, as reported from the oral traditions collected by Almeida Topor. For example, it is argued that as early as the era of King Wegbaja (1640–1686) there were female elephant hunters, gbeto, who provided meat and ivory to the kingdom. There is also the contentious history of Tassin Hangbe, allegedly the twin sister of King Akaba, who on the latter’s demise in 1708 assumed the throne for a few months only to be forcefully removed by her younger brother Dosu, who took the throne name Agaja (1716–1740). It is generally assumed that during the reign of King Agaja, the gbeto hunters transitioned to the role of police, then later to palace guards and possibly warriors. Some of the earliest European sources on the Amazons date to 1720 when, for example, the English trader William Snelgrave recorded the presence of robust female doorkeepers and royal guards in the palace.7 He observed that no man slept within the palace walls after sunset and that the king was guarded only by his women. Other Europeans wrote about these women during the annual festivals (Xwetanu), where they marched in military parades and performed royal duties as well.

As palace guards, it was not unusual for the Amazons to take sides in battles during succession disputes, as was the case after the deaths of King Tegbesu (1774), King Kpengla (1789), and when Gezo became king after the defeat of his brother Adandozan in 1818. The Englishman Richard F. Burton and Frenchman Edouard Foa credited King Gezo as the founder of the Amazons. However, many scholars believed that the institution predates King Gezo, and that he only reorganized it into a formidable army. This was inevitable, because King Gezo had come to power through violence and he needed to reorganize his forces to prevent a military coup against himself and had exhausted his supply of forces through the numerous wars he waged. As Law aptly noted “his (Gezo) innovation was evidently not the creation of the Amazons as such, but presumably its organization as more serious military rather than an essentially ceremonial force, or perhaps more specifically its recruitment from captives rather than from the generality of royal wives.”8

Amazons were recruited in three ways: conscription, voluntarily, or by lottery. The latter was done through cowry divination, where the families were assembled and the set of cowries were thrown, and the one whose cowry fell into the basket was selected. Depending on the combat needs of the state, there were annual recruitments under King Glele or every three years under Gezo, for example. An officer, Kpakpa, was responsible for recruiting qualified teenagers and women to the royal regiment. He would go around the kingdom to select the girls, who were then inspected by the king’s representatives before being accepted into the regiment. Families wishing to consolidate their position and form strong alliances with the king were also said to offer their daughters to the king. In fact, it was considered an honor for the elite families to have their daughters in the palace. However, women or girls who were children of slaves working for European merchants along the coast were excluded. Princesses were also exempted from serving in the army. Badly behaved women such as uncontrollable wives or shrews were sometimes offered to the palace to be tamed and thereby integrated into the Amazons. Adulterers and criminal women were also sent to the palace. A significant percentage of war prisoners and slaves were integrated into the Amazons. They were considered a formidable fighting force because the rulers could rely on their loyalty, as they owed their lives to the king and were completely devoted to him. The new recruits would then be inducted into the army by swearing an oath before the king, ancestors, and the gods of the Fon, and the ritual was cemented with a blood pact.9

Celibacy was a requirement for the Amazons, because a “viable fighting force must not be impeded by pregnancy and motherhood,” and there were unsubstantiated reports that they were circumcised.10 Amazons who had affairs or became pregnant were severely punished as well as the men who were their partners. However, some Amazons who excelled in battle and in duty to the king were rewarded by being married off to deserving citizens. Likewise, demobilized and retired warriors were allowed to marry. In fact, the Amazons could be considered to have led privileged lives while in the king’s palace, eating and drinking and participating in royal festivals as well as warfare. They did not walk outside the palace gates alone but were always preceded by a slave girl with a bell to announce their arrival and to clear their passage. During state ceremonies, they constituted the immediate royal guards that surrounded the king. At military parades on festival days they demonstrated their military prowess by holding mock battles as well as executions of captives and criminals. In the palace, they had their own individual servants who cooked for them and porters who served them during their military campaigns.11

Clothing and Accessories

Alpern claims that the decision to outfit the Amazons with uniforms was probably influenced by either the observance of European and Brazilian units on the coast or the Fulani armies of the North. An amazon’s uniform was called chokoto, which were knee-length shorts. They also wore blue and white loose shirts without sleeves that were tied in the middle to match the shorts which were about two inches below the knees, topped with cotton or straw skull caps or French helmets. Some European writers claimed that they saw other somber colors (dark blue, wood color, rust color, stained brown, etc.). They reserved their best uniforms for the parades of the annual festival, with “brighter colors, finer fabrics, the addition of pagnes, a variety of headgear, each amazon unit striving to outdazzle the next. Tunics were red, or scarlet, or crimson, or green, or pale blue, or half-blue, half-red. Shorts were sometimes red or blue or multicolored. Materials included silks, velvets, chintzes and other Indian cottons.”12 Amazons had unique hairstyles: shaved hair with left crest or cock comb on top, or half-shaved hair, or indigo-dyed hair. Their caps or head bands, depending on the regiment, had appliqued symbols of crocodiles, crosses, crowns, sharks, tortoises, and so on. The crocodile emblem was said to have been instituted by King Gezo as a mark of distinction to commemorate the capture of the reptile by one of the Amazons. Red, blue, or white sashes were worn around the waist. During festivals, most Amazons adorned themselves in clothes of brighter colors such as red, green, pale blue, pink, and yellow, with others decked in silk, velvet, and chintzes. For battles, they wore somber colors: grey, brown, and dark blue.13

Ornaments formed an important part of an Amazon’s attire. Necklaces made from glass and local beads were common, but gold and ivory pendants and silver crowns and coronets were reserved for high-ranking officials. Beads and rings in silver, copper, iron, and tin were worn at joints. These were complemented with elephant hides adorned with cowries, and amulets or charms. Officers generally adorned themselves in silver necklaces, pendants, armlets, bracelets, bells, round plates on the side of the head, and so on.14

In battle, the weapon of choice for the Amazons varied between slingshots, spears, bows and arrows, clubs, axes, cutlasses, and so on. Over time, they acquired European weapons such as flintlock muskets, rapid-firing rifles, howitzers, and canons. Other accessories for the Amazon warriors were leather scabbards, shoulder belts, quivers for arrows, and leather or linen slings, in addition to leather belts, bullet bags, grass ropes, and water gourds. According to Law the army was organized into three sections: “a center and right and left wings (more accurately, four sections, there being also a separate rearguard).”15 The king commanded the center, whereas his highest-ranking officers commanded the wings. Thus, the Amazons did not fight in separate divisions but were blended with their male counterparts and were also the immediate guards of the king at the center of the forces. The egalitarian position of the Amazons with regard to the male forces is further emphasized by the presence of female counterparts to the male officers, called their mothers or mino. The Amazons underwent rigorous training just like their male counterparts, with strong esprit de corps that was evidenced during their parades and battles with songs, music, and dance. European observers noted their battle-readiness through physical exercises like obstacle courses, wrestling, and forest warfare training where they would be away from home for days and weeks.

Music, dance, and songs contributed to building the Amazon’s esprit de corps. Several of these songs extolled their bravery and willingness to die for their king in battle. Below is one that was composed during the reign of Glele:

If one day we meet

An audacious army,

We’ll fear nothing

We’ll be invincible;

We’ll resemble the buffalo

Who knows his way

In the midst of sheep!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

We’ll take our guns to kill them!

How loud our footsteps!

You’ll all die together!

We’ll take our guns to kill them!

Blood flows in torrents,

Your heads are cut off!

How loud our footsteps!

You’ll all die together!

. . .

Arise Amazons,

Arise soldiers of Glele,

The powerful king of Abomey.

The cold and dry north wind

Has reached into the palace of Glele,

The powerful king of Abomey.

Yes, the harmattan is cracking

The wood of our bows,

The tensed cord is ready to break.

The marshes and the rivers have dried up,

Opening the way to combat and victory

For the fearless amazons.

Arise amazons,

We need slaves to turn the soil

Of Dahomey, victims to sacrifice

On the tomb of the kings of Abomey,

And blood, waves of blood

On which we sail

On the day of his triumph

The bark of our king,

Of our powerful Glele.16

The numbers for the Amazon regiment varied over the years. The forces ranged from four hundred to about eight thousand and are believed to have incurred losses of as many as one to two thousand in significant battles. Aside from slave raids, the Amazons fought several battles that they either won or lost. At no point was their bravery in question. It is often said that when enemies discovered that women defeated them, it was perceived as a humiliating defeat; at the same time it emboldened, for example, the forces of Abeokuta when the Dahomean forces invaded their kingdom, upon realizing that they were fighting women. Over the years, the Amazons fought Atakpame, Ouemenou, Oyo, Abeokuta, and Ouidah and were finally defeated by the French in 1893, led by General Alfred-Amédée Dodds, who had admiration for the bravery and skills of the Amazons.17


The historiography of the Kingdom of Dahomey (Danhome/Danxome) is very rich. On the one hand it is steeped in oral traditions from the local Fon people and, on the other hand, written sources from Europeans who visited the kingdom, lived along the West African coast, or who recorded hearsay or rumors. There was a large cohort of European merchants, missionaries, travelers, and so on who took a lot of interest in this region, which was also known as the Dahomey gap and later would be infamously called the Slave Coast.

Any Fon worthy of the name or neighboring peoples knows the history of Dahomey from oral traditions. Just like the written documents, the oral traditions are replete with several versions and biases, depending on the sources. In spite of the discrepancies, there is consensus about the powerful Fon kingdom of Dahomey, the havoc it created among its neighbors, and its trade with the European merchants on the coast. Thus, till today, many neighbors have anecdotes, proverbs, songs, and religious traditions, among other things, referring to the history of Dahomey. The official record keeper or court historian, Kpanligan, is noted to have regularly recounted the history of Dahomey during the annual festivals and could face severe punishment if she did not accurately represent the kingdom. On such occasions, Kpanligan would extoll the virtues and valor of past rulers as well as the current one. Thus, Dahomey found a way to keep her people informed about the history of their kingdom and rulers. One of the best historical accounts of Dahomey based on oral traditions is the Master’s dissertation by Amélie Degbelo, “Les amazons du Danxomè 1645–1900.” Another set of significant books based on oral tradition are the novels of Paul Hazoumé, Doguicimi and Le pacte de sang au Dahomey.18

Some of the prominent writers frequently referenced by the historians of Dahomey are French writers, such as Joseph Pruneau de Pommegorge, who wrote Description de la nigritie in 1789 to be followed later by Réflexion sur Juda par les Sieurs de Chevenet et abbé Bulet. Details of the French war on Dahomey were documented by Alexandre d’Albeca and Edouard Aublet. For the colonial period, one comes across copious research materials by Auguste Le Herissé and Bernard Maupoil. Le Herissé’s book, L’ancien royaume du Dahomey, was particularly well researched, because he was the district administrator of Abomey and took a particular interest in understanding the history of the people under his control. He collected the oral traditions of the Fon and tried as best as he could to represent their perspectives. There is also significant information by English writers such as Federick E. Forbes (Dahomey and the Dahomians); Richard Burton (A Mission to Gelele, King of Dahomey); J. A. Skertchly (Dahomey as It Is); William Snelgrave (A New Account of Some Parts of Guinea and the Slave Trade); and of course the works of the American anthropologist Melville Herskovits, among others. Relevant Portuguese documents were by Vincente Ferreira Pires (Viagem de Africa em o reino de Dahomé) and Afro-Brazilian traders along the West African coast. Last but not the least are very important Dahomean scholars such as Maximilien Quenum, Almeida Topor, Amélie Degbelo, and several others.19

The reports of the European writers, even though valuable for the history of the kingdom of Dahomey, must be taken with a grain of salt because these writers were very Eurocentric in their perspectives. With the exception of a few, they emphasized the negative stereotypes of the kingdom with reference to the brutality of warfare, human sacrifice, and the unchristian rituals of Dahomey. For those who supported the slave trade, the wars and human sacrifices by Dahomey were a necessary evil for the trade to flourish. But for those against the slave trade, the “crimes and savagery” of Dahomey was their rallying cry. During the conquest of Dahomey by the French, the popular press was littered with propaganda to incite Europeans, especially the French, to support the annexation efforts of their government in Africa and elsewhere. Tales and monstrosities were invented to represent Dahomey without any consideration of the fact that the kingdom was well-organized and the rulers were concerned about the well-being of their subjects. In view of such deleterious representations, Edna G. Bay remarked that just like Marlowe in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, “we have relearned in such analyses the truism that the horrors we perceive tend to be the reflections of our own inner darkness, and that human beings can rarely transcend culture or history.”20

As previously indicated, a considerable section of Dahomean history was provided by hostile neighboring peoples and states that were victims of the kingdom’s incessant military incursions. Thus, these perspectives were replete with biases and disdain for Dahomey. It was also well known that until the demise of the kingdom, Europeans visited only under the permission of the king and were under escort and surveillance. And while residing in the capital, Abomey, they were not allowed to move freely and might have misinterpreted their limited observations, to which they added rumors from other sources along the coast. The Englishman Richard Burton, for example, who was not admired by the Fon for his bias, wrote about the customs and traditions of Dahomey after visiting the kingdom and included additional information from the Egba of Abeokuta, traditional enemies of the Fon.

The French were particularly disdainful towards the customs and traditions of Dahomey, to justify their conquest. Paul Mimande, the interim governor of Dahomey (1895 and 1896), wrote L’héritage de Béhanzin, under the pseudonym Armand de la Loyère, to extol the benefits of the French conquest and administration without taking into consideration the views of the people. Likewise, French soldiers who returned from the war of conquest would write stories to justify their mission but, nonetheless, some of them extolled the bravery of the Amazons.21 Several earlier texts on Dahomey appeared as translations of the original versions, and the historian has to pay attention to the versions available to them.

The most copious history of the Amazons can be found in Stanley B. Alpern’s well-researched book, The Amazons of Black Sparta. Even though his sources were exhaustive, Alpern was not particularly critical of reports coming from travelers, explorers, soldiers, missionaries, colonial officials, and so on. He was also fond of terminologies that are hardly used by the average scholar: archeresses, warrioresses, soldieresses, huntresses, bayoneteeresses, and so on. Of course, one can excuse Alpern for these excesses and lacunae, and his work remains the most detailed on the Amazons accessible to the average reader in English. To understand the role of the Amazons in the context of gender studies or the women’s history of Dahomey, the ultimate volume to read is Edna G. Bay’s Wives of the Leopard: Gender, Politics, and Culture in the Kingdom of Dahomey. Her work delineates the various women of Dahomey, including the royal wives, princesses, women ministers, women religious leaders and, of course, the Amazons. She surmised that “Dahomey was neither a state that terrorized its citizens, nor a Garden of Eden whose citizens enjoyed idyllic existence”; yet the women in those times were not oppressed by a patriarchal society but were “exercising choice, influence, and autonomy, if not in wholly egalitarian relationship with men, in situations when there was a clear recognition of their ability and right to do so.”22

Ahosi/Mino Were the Real “Amazons”

Historians know that the name “Amazons” is a label given to a mythic and legendary group that never existed; however, this name is also applied to the female soldiers of the kingdom of Dahomey. Debate exists on whether one should continue to call them Amazons or their original Fon name, Ahosi or Mino. This will force scholars to understand the accurate history of these female soldiers rather than confusing them with Western mythological figures. Thus, the presence of Ahosi/Mino in Dahomean institutional structures is not an aberration, because women played prominent political and administrative roles—each male officer had a female counterpart, who sometimes wielded more power than the man.

Primary Sources in Official Archives

Benin (Porto Novo)

Correspondences du 16 avril au 16 décembre 1894. Série E. Dossier I, II, and III, Expedition de 1890–94.

F. De Souza à Candido Rodriguez, avec Behanzin à Acherigbe, 25 mars 1893.

Gbohayida à Aho, 13 juin 1904.

Hocquart, M. “Rapport Politique.” 9 février 1891.

Rapport adressé par l’interprète X. Béraud à Monsieur le Résident de France aux Établissements.

du Golfe de Bénin, 12 mars 1891. Dossier 1E3, Register X.

Raport de l’interprète Xavier Béraud, janvier 1890. Dossier K.

Raport mensuel, juillet 1895.

Rapport sur les négociations entamées avec Béhanzin, n.d.

Renseignements du 27 novembre 1892 au 26 septembre 1893.

Abomey : Archives de la Sous-Préfecture d’Abomey (ASA)

Commandant de Cercle d’Abomey au Gouverneur du Dahomey, 19 avril 1935.

List nominatif des métis du cercle d’Abomey, 24 février 1928.

Peines Disciplinaires Conciliations, nov. 1905–nov. 1908.


Public Record Office (PRO)

Africa No. 365. CO 879/29.

Africa No. 386. CO 879/31.

Journal of Arthur Fanshawe. FO 84/827.

PRO, FO 84/816, Beecroft to Palmerston, July 22, 1850, encloses Beecroft’s journal.

PRO, FO 84/886, Fanshawe to Admiralty, July 19, 1850, includes Forbes’s journal.

PRO, FO 84/886, Beecroft to Palmerston, February 19, 1852, includes Louis Fraser’s journal.

PRO, FO 84/1175, Perry to Freeman, August 6, 1862, records Euschart’s account of visit to


Methodist Missionary Society, London (MMS)

Freeman, Thomas Birch. “Journal of a Journey to Badagry, Aku and Dahomey: 1842–43.”

Biog. W. Afr. 2, Stack QI.

Freeman to General Secretaries, London, July 20, 1855. Copy Book 22, Biog. W. Africa 4, Stack QI.


Paris : Archives Nationales, Sections Outre-Mer (SOM)

Rapport de route: Mission à Abomey de M. le Lt. Gouverneur Jean Bayol, nov.–déc. 1889.

Dah. 3, Dossier 1.

Rapport journalier: Mission à Abomey de M. le Lt. Jean Bayol, 21 nov.–28 déc. 1889.

Dahomey 3, Dossier 1.

Correspondance, Dah. 1, Dossier 13.

Rapport adressé par l’interprète X Béraud à Monsieur le Résident de France aux Établissement

du Golfe de Bénin. Dahomey 3, Dossier 2.

“Réflexions sur Juda par les Sieurs de Chenevert et Abbé Bulet.” 1776. Aix-en-Provence,

Dépôt des Fortifications des Colonies: Côtes d’Afrique, ms. 111.

Paris : Archives Nationales, Paris (AN)

Glélé Pogla, K. “Le Royaume du Dan-hô-min: Tradition orale et histoire écrite.” 1971.

Service Historique de l’État-major de l’Armée, Vincennes (SHA).

Rapport sur les Operations du Corps Expéditionnaire du Dahomey en 1893–94. Dahomey

Carton 1.

Aix-en-Provence : Centre des Archives d’Outre-Mer

DFC, Côtes d’Afrique, no. 104, carton 75, “Relations du Royaume de Judas en Guinée, De son

Gouvernement, des mœurs de ses habitants, de leur Religion, Et du Negoce qui sy fait.”

DFC, Côtes d’Afrique, no. 111, carton 75, “Réflexions sur Juda par les Sieurs De Chenevert et

abbé Bullet” June 1, 1776.

Dahomey, III, 1, Angot to Bayol, Jan. 5, 1890.

Dahomey, III, 1, H. Decoeur’s journal, April 3, 1891.

Dahomey, III, 2, J. d’Ambrières’s journal.

Dahomey, V, 6a, Dodds’s “Rapport sur les operations du corps expéditionnaire du Dahomey en

1892,” undated.

Paris : Ministère des Affaires Étrangères (MAE)

Lartique, J. “Relation du voyage à Abomey.” Mémoires et Documents, tome 51 (1838–62).

Mémoires et documents, Afrique, 52, Didelot to Chasseloup-Laubat, March 27, 1863.

Paris : Bibliothèque Nationale

Fonds Français 24223, “Journal du Voiage de Guinée et Cayenne Par Le Chevalier Des Marchais Capitaine Comandant La fregatte de la Compagnie des Indes, L’Expedition Pendant les Années 1724, 1725, et 1726 . . .”

Paris : Service Historique de l’Armée de Terre

Dahomey, I, 14, “Campagne du Dahomey: Relation anonyme.”

Further Reading

Almeida-Topor, Hélène d’. Les Amazones: Une Armée de Femmes dans l’Afrique Précoloniale. Paris: Editions Rochevignes, 1984.Find this resource:

Alpern, Stanley B. Amazons of Black Sparta: The Women Warriors of Dahomey. New York: New York University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Bay, Edna G. Wives of the Leopard: Gender, Politics, and Culture in the Kingdom of Dahomey. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Burton, Richard F. A Mission to Gelele, King of Dahome. London: Tylston and Edwards, 1864.Find this resource:

Dalzel, Archibald. The History of Dahomey, an Inland Kingdom of West Africa. London: T. Spilsbury and Son, 1793.Find this resource:

Degbolo, Amélie. Les Amazones du Daxomè, 1645–1900. Mémoire de Maîtrise d’Histoire. Cotonou : Université Nationale du Bénin, 1989.Find this resource:

Edgerton, Robert B. Warrior Women: The Amazons of Dahomey and the Nature of War. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000.Find this resource:

Forbes, Federick E. Dahomey and the Dahomans. 2 vols. London: Longman, 1851.Find this resource:

Herskovits, Melville J., and Frances S. Herskovits. Dahomean Narrative. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1958.Find this resource:

Law, Robin. “The ‘Amazons’ of Dahomey.” Paideuma 39 (1993): 245–260.Find this resource:

Le Hérissé, A. L’Ancien Royaume du Dahomey. Paris: Larose, 1911.Find this resource:

Snelgrave, William. A New Account of Some Parts of Guinea and the Slave Trade. 1734. Reprint, London: Frank Cass, 1971.Find this resource:


(1.) Edna G. Bay, Wives of the Leopard: Gender, Politics, and Culture in the Kingdom of Dahomey (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1998).

(3.) Almeida-Topor, Les Amazones.

(4.) Bay, Wives of the Leopard, 66.

(5.) Almeida-Topor, Les Amazones, 161.

(6.) Bay, Wives of the Leopard, 71–72.

(8.) Law, “The ‘Amazons,’” 250.

(10.) Alpern, Amazons, 46.

(11.) Alpern, Amazons, 46.

(12.) Alpern, Amazons, 56.

(13.) Alpern, Amazons, 56.

(14.) Alpern, Amazons, 55–56.

(15.) Law, “The ‘Amazons,’” 253–254.

(16.) Alpern, Amazons, 120–121.

(17.) Alpern, Amazons, 120–121.

(18.) Almeida-Topor, Les Amazones, 163–168 ; Degbolo, Amélie, Les Amazones du Daxomè, 1645–1900 (Mémoire de Maîtrise d’Histoire. Cotonou : Université Nationale du Bénin, 1989); Hazoume, Paul, Le Pacte du Sang au Dahomey (Paris : Institut d’Ethnologie, 1956) ; Hazoume, Paul, Doguicimi (Paris: Larose, 1938).

(19.) Bay, Wives of the Leopard, 27–39.

(20.) Bay, Wives of the Leopard, 2.

(21.) Almeida-Topor, Les Amazones, 109–129.