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History, Colonization

Behanzin, Ouidah, French protectorate, French mandate, French overseas territories

In 1851 France signed a treaty of friendship and trade with the ruler of Porto-Novo, who was a vassal of Dahomey’s King Glele. In 1861 British forces won the town of Lagos (now in Nigeria) from Dahomey. By two treaties signed in 1868 and 1878, the Cotonou area, lying between Ouidah and Porto-Novo, was ceded to France. Glele’s successor, Behanzin, tried to regain the land, which was essential to continued participation in the slave trade, but was routed by the French in 1892; his lands were declared a French protectorate. After a brief period in which he led guerrilla bands against the French, Behanzin was captured in January 1894 and exiled to Martinique.

In 1899 Dahomey was incorporated into French West Africa, with its exact boundaries defined through accords with Britain and Germany, colonizers of the neighboring areas to the east and west, respectively. At the end of World War I (1914-1918), the eastern part of the German colony of Togo was put under French mandate. Dahomey, as part of French West Africa, adhered to the cause of the Free French during World War II (1939-1945), and in 1946 it became one of the French overseas territories; from 1958 to 1960 it was an autonomous republic of the French Community. Independence was proclaimed on August 1, 1960, and the following month Dahomey was admitted to the United Nations (UN).

Article key phrases:

Behanzin, Ouidah, French protectorate, French mandate, French overseas territories, French West Africa, autonomous republic, French Community, slave trade, colonizers, accords, British forces, Free French, Martinique, treaties, Nigeria, United Nations, Independence, lands, brief period, Britain, end of World War, France, Germany, participation, cause


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