Kingdom of Benin


The Kingdom of Benin, located in the southern forests of West Africa (modern Nigeria) and formed by the Edo people, flourished from the 13th to 19th century CE. The capital, also called Benin, was the hub of a trade network exclusively controlled by the king or oba and which included relations with Portuguese traders who sought gold and slaves. Benin went into decline during the 18th century CE as the kingdom was racked by civil wars, and it was ultimately conquered by the British in 1897 CE. Today, the kingdom is perhaps best known for its impressive brass sculptures and plaques which frequently depict rulers and their family; they are considered amongst the finest artworks ever produced in Africa.

More about: Kingdom of Benin


  • c. 1100 - 1897
    The Kingdom of Benin rules in southern West Africa.
  • 1440 - 1473
    Reign of Ewuare the Great, the greatest ruler of the Kingdom of Benin.
  • c. 1471
    Portuguese ships arrive off the coast of southern West Africa.
  • 1487
    Portuguese traders establish a permanent presence at Ughoton, the major port of the Kingdom of Benin.
  • 1514
    The king of Benin sends an unsuccessful diplomatic mission to Portugal to secure firearms.
  • 1516
    The king or oba of the Kingdom of Benin prohibits the sale of male slaves to Portuguese traders.
  • 1897
    A British force conquers the Kingdom of Benin in West Africa.