The World at War

DAHOMEY 1486 - 1960

DAHOMEY Timeline

1486The Kingdom of Benin begins trading with Portugal.
1538The first recorded shipment of African slaves arrives in Brazil.
ca. 1550 Dahomey, Yoruba, Hausa, and Bantu slaves are working sugar plantations in Brazil.
17th century Dahomey is part of the Kingdom of Allada of which the capital is the town of Allada on the road from Whydah to Abomey. Allada is dismembered on the death of a reigning sovereign, and three separate kingdoms are constituted under his sons. One state is formed by around the old capital of Allada, another to the east known as Porto Novo and a third to the north as the Kingdom of Dahomey.
1680The Portuguese governor of São Tomé and Príncipe is authorized to erect a fort in the Whydah.
1704France is permitted to build a fort at Whydah.
1721The Portuguese return to Whydah after a prolonged absence and construct Fort São João Baptista de Ajudá.
ca. 1724 - 1728 Dahomey, having become a powerful state, invades and conquers Allada and Whydah. The Whydahs make several unsuccessful attempts to recover their freedom. Dahomeyan expeditions against Grand Popo, a town founded by refugee Whydahs on a lagoon to the west, fail.
1730The Portuguese turn Fort São João Baptista de Ajudá over to the control of the Brazilian Companhia de Cacheu e Cabo Verde.
1752The Portuguese found Porto Novo which becomes a tributary to Dahomey at the beginning of the 19th century.
ca. 1818 King Gezo begins a 40 years reign on the throne of Dahomey during which the kingdom reaches the height of its power, extending its borders far to north with a reorganized and strengthened force of women warriors.
1842The 17th century French fort at Whydah is turned over to a trading company. Great Britain, Portugal and Brazil also had forts at Whydah, all in a ruinous condition and ungarrisoned.
1851King Gezo attacks Abeokuta in the Yoruba country and the centre of the Egba power, but is beaten back.
King Gezo signs a commercial treaty with France and agrees to preserve the territorial integrity of the French fort at Whydah.
1852The Royal Navy blockades the coast of Dahomey to halt the slave-trade. Portugal and France protest based on the existence of their forts at Whydah.
1857The French protectorate is extended to Grand Popo.
1858King Gezo dies. He had greatly reduced the custom of human sacrifice and left instructions that after his death there was to be no general sacrifice of the palace women.
King Gezo is succeeded by his son Glele, whose attacks on neighboring states, persecution of native Christians and encouragement of the slave trade bring him into conflict with Great Britain and with France.
The Brazilians abandon Fort São João Baptista de Ajudá at Whydah.
1861British Foreign Secretary, Earl Russell, arranges the annexation of Lagos Island to check the aggressive spirit of the King of Dahomey.
Fort São João Baptista de Ajudá is given to French missionaries by the local ruler of Whydah.
1862King Glele captures Ishagga.
1863Commander Wilmot of the Royal Navy is sent to speak with King Glele in an effort to induce the Dahomeyans to give up human sacrifices, slave-trading and other practices found unsavory by the British but met with no success.
February 23 France establishes a protectorate over the Kingdom of Porto Novo in an effort to counterbalance the British annexation of Lagos.
1864King Glele unsuccessfully attacks Abeokuta towns in the Lagos hinterland.
Sir Richard Francis Burton is sent on a second British mission to induce King Glele to give up human sacrifices and slave-trading but has no more success than Commander Wilmot.
An Anglo-French agreement establishes the boundaries of the Kingdom of Porto Novo.
1865January 2 Napoléon III quickly abandons the French protectorate over Dahomey.
February 23 Portugal reclaims Fort São João Baptista de Ajudá and places it under the control of the governors of São Tomé and Príncipe.
1868May 19 France claims rights at Cotonu in virtue of a treaty with King Glele.
1882April 14 The French protectorate over the Kingdom of Porto Novo is re-established after German agents make their appearance on the Dahomey coast.
1883The French protectorates at Whydah, Grand Popo, Porto Novo and Cotonou are administratively merged under the title of Les Établissements Français du Golfe de Benin (French Settlements in the Gulf of Benin) and place under the authority of the Governor of Gabon.
1885The German protectorate in the Gulf of Guinea is confined to Togo and the town of Little Popo at the western end of the Grand Popo lagoon.
August 5 Portugal announces that it has established a protectorate over the Dahomey coast, in virtue of her ancient rights at Whydah.
1886The French Settlements in the Gulf of Benin are transferred from the administration of Gabon to that of Senegal.
1887December 22 France induces Portugal to withdraw its protectorate over the Dahomey coast.
1889Cotonou is surrendered to France under an Anglo-French agreement. France claimed rights at Cotonou in virtue of treaties concluded with Glele in 1868 and 1878, but the chiefs of the town had placed themselves under the protection of the British at Lagos.
King Glele claims the right to collect the customs at Cotonou, and to depose his brother, the King of Porto Novo.
The Dahomeyans, well supplied with modern arms and by German and other merchants at Whydah, raid the territory of Porto Novo.
December 26 A French mission sent to Abomey fails to come to an agreement with the Dahomeyans, who attribute the misunderstandings to the fact that there was no longer a king in France.
December 28 King Glele dies and is succeeded by his son Behanzin. A French force lands at Cotonou, and severe fighting followed in which the Amazons played a conspicuous part.
1890October France secures Porto Novo and Cotonou under terms of a peace treaty signed with the King of Dahomey who in turn receives an annual pension.
Fire destroys Cotonou, a small village which serves as the seaport of Porto Novo. It is rebuilt according to town plan laid out by Europeans.
1892September - October King Behanzin’s slave raids lead to renewed war with France. General A. A. Dodds is placed in command of a strong force of Europeans and Senegalese and after a sharp campaign completely defeats the Dahomeyans.General Dodds annexes Whydah and the adjacent territory to France. The rest of Dahomey is placed under a French protectorate.
November 17 French troops enter Abomey shortly after King Behanzin set fire to his capital and fled north.
December 3 Whydah is formally annexed by France.
1893June 22 Porto Novo is declared a French colony.
1894January 20 A French protectorate is declared over Dahomey.
January 25 King Behanzin, pursued by the enemy and abandoned by his people, surrenders unconditionally, and is deported to Martinique.
June 22 A decree establishes the "Colony of Dahomey and dependencies" which is granted autonomy.
1898An Anglo-French Convention prohibits the imposition of differential duties on goods of British origin for a period of thirty years. Dahomey’s trade is mainly with Germany and Great Britain, a large proportion of the cargo passing through the Nigerian port of Lagos. Only some 25% of the commerce is with France.
1899October 17 Dahomey absorbs the French Settlements in the Gulf of Benin and the French Sudanese districts of Koala and Say.
1900The King of Abomey is found intriguing against the French and exiled by them to the Congo.
Construction begins on the Dahomey Railway from Cotonou to the Niger.
The districts of Koala and Say ceded by French Sudan in 1899 are transferred to the new colony of the Upper Senegal and Niger.
1902The main line of the Dahomey Railway is completed to Toffo, a distance of 55 miles from Cotonou.
1903The adulteration of the palm kernels by the natives, which became a serious menace to trade, is partially checked by measures taken to ensure the inspection of the kernels before shipment.
1904October 18 Dahomey becomes part of French West Africa.
1905The Dahomey Railway is completed through Abomey to Pauignan, 120 miles from Cotonou.
1906King Behanzin is transferred from Martinique to Algeria.
December 10 King Behanzin dies in Algeria.
1907The Dahomey Railway reaches Paraku and a branch line connects to Whydah and Segboru on Lake Ahm.
1914August 24 German forces in Togo surrender to a joint Allied force composed of French troops from Dahomey and British forces from the Gold Coast.
1940June The French administration in Dahomey remains loyal to Vichy following the Franco-German Armistice.
1942November 13 The French administration in Dahomey rallys to Free France along with the rest of French West Africa following the success of the Allied invasion of French North Africa.
1947Hubert Maga founds the Dahomeyan Democratic Movement and is elect to the French National Assembly.
1958December 4 Dahomey becomes an autonomous republic within the French Community.
1959May 18 Hubert Maga becomes Prime Minister of Dahomey.
1960August 1 Dahomey becomes an independent country.

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