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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The development and the structure of the State of Dahomey until 1724
Author:Pietek, R.
Periodical:Africana Bulletin
Geographic term:Benin
Subjects:Dahomey polity
traditional polities
Abstract:This article examines the development and the structure of the State of Dahomey (present-day Benin) from its origins until 1724, when the fifth ruler of Dahomey, Agadja, conquered Allada, a State in the Bight of Benin which had close relations with European merchants. Before 1724, European records give no information on Dahomey. Studies of the rise of the State must rely on a single dynastic account, of which there is only one version, namely the one written down in the beginning of the 20th century by A. Le Herissť, a French colonial official, and published in 1911. Le Herissť's informant was Agbidinoukoun, the brother of the last independent ruler of Dahomey, Behanzin. The descriptions concentrate on the war victories of each particular ruler. It seems that Dahomey developed as a result of the migration of inhabitants of Allada. When the territory assigned to them became too small, this marked the beginning of expansion. The paper examines, amongst others, the causes of the expansion, the authority and role of Dahomey leaders, the choice of their successors, and the organization of the State. The leaders were indispensable to social order. Their power was not only meant to restrict the power of individual villages; rather the leaders aimed at making profits out of expansion. The existence of the new State proved advantageous to all subjects. Ref.