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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Amazons of Dahomey - the most feared Women in History

The story of the Amazons, women who were struggling with daring fearless to the last, is one of the most famous of Greek mythology. In the Iliad they wore Antianeirai nickname ("those who fight like men") and some stories claimed that they would have cut off a breast easier to use bow and spears. 

Amazons myth endured over millennia, although history has not confirmed their existence. But few know the genuine story Amazons: the Dahomey. Army West African women warriors terrorized the region of the black continent for more than 150 years, centuries XVIII and XIX.

Dahomey, United Amazons
Dahomey Kingdom was founded in the eighteenth century in the area that is today Benin State, bounded on the west by Togo to the east of Nigeria.

Women warriors known today as "Amazons of Dahomey" descended from a group have the basic job hunting elephants: gbeto. It was founded during the reign of King Wegbaja in the first century of existence of the kingdom of Dahomey.

In the eighteenth century, these women began to act as guards of the royal palace, while having the duty to enforce the edicts issued by the king, but did not have special training. In Dahomey, no man (except eunuchs) was not allowed to enter the palace after sunset, the presence of the royal building is reduced even during the day. Eunuchs and women played the role of the palace guards.

Under Agadja king, who reigned between 1708 and 1740, many women have been incorporated into the royal army, to make it appear larger, thus intimidating opponents. Despite the fact that they were not fitted with weapons, wearing only flags, impressed by their courage, winning the confidence of the king. It was decided to include them in an elite corps of the army, and his confidence would be rewarded with victory in the battle to conquer the kingdom of Ouidah. Amazons of Dahomey played a key role in this victory, which the king obtained a city on the Atlantic coast. Direct access to the ocean allowed the king to win money from the slave trade.

Agadja his successors carried on the habit of using Amazons in combat, their number increasing with time. In 1830, the palace guards began to be transformed into an armed force. The decision was taken by King Guézo to strengthen its forces as the kingdom come in numerous armed conflicts with enemies had more numerous. During the reign of Guézo, Amazons number increased from 600-6000.

Djivo Adrien Joseph, author of "Guézo: the Rénovation du Dahomey" Amazons tells the mindset of the royal army, "Those who return from war without having conquered must die. If we retreat from battle, our life is king available. Whatever town appeal must be taken, otherwise we shall be buried in its ruins. Guézo is King of kings, and while living there is nothing to fear. Guézo again gave us birth. wives are daughters ,'s soldiers. occupation war is our war and takes us nourishes us. 

Living with one purpose: to kill the king
Women soldiers of Dahomey were called "Amazons" by the first Europeans entered the region, and these elite troops of the kingdom richly deserved his nickname. The background language, spoken by inhabitants of the Dahomey Amazons were known minority, meaning "our mothers".

Amazons of Dahomey were driven lower by one goal: to become an elite fighter. Since the early years, they were trained to handle weapons, to be strong, fast and able to withstand pain. Among the methods used for quenching band include jumping over walls covered with thorny acacia branches or long expeditions through the jungle without any supplies.

Reportedly European explorers female army in battle organizational simulations of royal ceremonies and talent of women in combat he exceeded that of men in army dahomiană. Also, young girls grew to become soldiers were subjected to intense sensitization training from childhood.Young girls not yet participated in the fighting were tested in these ceremonies. A French naval officer Jean Bayol, witnessed such an event in December 1889. Bayol told how a girl "not yet killed anyone" was taken in front of a newly captured prisoner. Frenchman stepped cheerful girl tells how to head off the prisoner and three swords, which he held with both hands. The last shot, cut the last piece of tissue holding the head attached to the body, and then wiped the blood on the sword and drinking.

All the women in the king's army was his wife, but the name was merely a formality, is actually a form of a vow of chastity. No woman Amazons band was not allowed to have sexual relations with another man, being totally committed King, whom he idolized.

In battle, the Amazons of Dahomey were devoid of fear and pity, throwing himself furiously upon the enemy. The men of the armies of neighboring kingdoms they considered enemies feared.Amazons were part of Dahomey army rule for more than 150 years, representing one quarter of the armed forces. During its peak, around 1850, the army numbered 6,000 women Amazons soldier.The main weapons used by the Amazons were muskets and machetes, plus a razor used for beheading victims (at that time it was customary in the region as warriors to return home with their heads and genitals of opponents).

Although most were from Dahomey Amazons at the beginning, during the women captured from neighboring kingdoms became warrior in this army. All Amazons proven loyalty to the king to death. Vintage accounts claim that the Amazons were seen as "male", mocking his adversaries the appellation of "women".

A royal parade held in 1850, attended by over 2,000 women in King's troops, one of them a speech that began with the following sentence: "As the blacksmith takes an iron bar and by fire, turns, so we have changed our way of being.'re not women, we are men. "

Accounts of European settlers
The first Europeans to witness a battle worn by women of Dahomey state militia were missionaries living in Abeokuta. This city, located today in Nigeria, was attacked in 1851 and 1864 by the forces of the kingdom of Dahomey. Despite the fact that the Dahomey army lost both battles, the stories left behind by the missionaries in Abeokuta shows that women proudly and fiercely fought, the only detachments of the invaders who managed to penetrate the defenses of the city.

Richard F. Burton, a British explorer who visited the kingdom of Dahomey in 1863, gave him the nickname of "black Sparta". Similarities seen by British explorer consist of subordination of the individual to the state (all men were slaves of the king of Dahomey, and all women were his wives) and military importance.

The detailed stories that come from past European military battles witnessed Amazons of Dahomey: the French army.

The first conflict with French interests in the area occurred in 1889. That year, Dahomey forces attacked a village under French domination. After the head of the tribe and the peaceful villagers, showing them invading French flag and telling them that they will be protected by the tricolor, the commander of forces in Dahomey replied: "Do you like this banner? Very well, it will be helpful" . Immediately, he beckoned one fighter, and this tribal chief beheaded with one stroke of the sword, bringing the King of Dahomey his head wrapped in the French flag.A year later, in 1890, the king declared war Béhanzin French troops. As usual, the Dahomey Amazons were in the forefront of his army. Initially, the French troops were hesitant to draw women, but after the soldiers in the front lines on their skin felt the force of elite troops of King Béhanzin, French and revised their attitude.

The reports mention the ferocity with which the French soldiers of Dahomey women struggling against a much better equipped army.

Having lost several battles before luptătoarelor of Dahomey, the French Foreign Legion called on reinforcements, Senegalese cavalry and artillery troops. In the second war waged against the kingdom of Dahomey, in 1892, the French were defeated, thanks to the technological superiority (a key role being played by the machine guns).

A member of the Foreign Legion in Dahomey said women were "warriors fight bravely, always to the other bands." "I am extraordinarily courageous highly disciplined and well trained for combat," wrote admiringly Frenchman.Despite the qualities they have shown, luptătoarele of Dahomey could not cope upper arms held by the French. Most of the Amazons died in the 23 battles fought the second war. Even so, women have been the last kingdom forces surrendered.Moreover, immediately after the war feared fighter continued to kill French soldiers in a unique way: prostitutes infiltrate popular among colonial troops, officers expected the French to sleep, and then they cut their own throats with bayonet.In 1894, Dahomey became part of Western Afrique française, federation comprising 8 French colonies in Africa. After the victory, the French chose another king, and he abolished the army Amazons.Many of the Amazons who survived battles against the French who lived until 1960, when Dahomey gained its independence. The last of the most feared armies in history female was discovered in 1978 in Benin history Kinta village. That she died a year later at the age of 100 years. In the same month that died last Amazon, November Dahomey was to become the Republic of Benin, name it carries today the African country.

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