Dahomey Amazons

Women have historically not been allowed to fight in wars due to the “frailness” of them. However, in West Africa during the 19th century the Dahomey Amazons, an all-female military, was known as intense, highly skilled and trained warriors. This military was comprised of women known as ahosi or kings wives. They were called ‘Amazons’ because people observing them noticed similarities between them and the Amazons of ancient Anatolia and the Black Sea. There are a few myths of how these warriors came to be. One them is that a group of women went and hunted some elephants and then told their king that they would rather fight men over animals; the king then drafted them into his army. Another myth is that the King’s palace guards were made up of his 3rd ranking wives, who then eventually became these epic warriors.

These warriors were known for their bravery in battle. They were highly skilled and had intense physical exercise and practiced discipline at all times. Early on they carried spears and clubs, then later on they became skilled with rifles and modern weaponry of the time. In the beginning there was about 600, but King Gezo expanded the female corps to 6,000. This army of women was also known as “Black Sparta,” because of its fierce militaristic quality bent on conquest. When the women found enemies they often decapitated them. The French also lost many battles to them since the women possessed skill in battle that was equal to that of elite male soldiers from large colonial powers. These women definitely seemed like the 19th century badass (And kinda what Mary-Anne became in The Things They Carried).




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