Historical Personalities & Issues

Compiled & Edited by Phillip True, Jr.

Chapter Twenty-One


Dohomey was a wealthy West African empire. The elements of Dohomey's success were its trade and its powerful army, whose soldiers were considered invincible.

The fierce and mighty Behanzin Bowelle was the king of this great empire. His army contained 25,000 warriors, 5,000 of which were women. The women were the most respected and feared part of Behanzin's army. They ranked above the men.

These women were thoroughly trained and kept trim by a system of gymnastics developed by the Dohomians themselves. Recruited from among the healthiest and strongest virgins in Dohomey, these females were sworn to chastity.

The king sometimes picked his wives from among them or gave them to his bravest warriors.

The training of these women was very rigorous. One of their drills was charging three times barefoot into a construction of thorns, nude to their waist. Another exercise was to kill a maddened bull with their bare hands.

Perfect was the discipline of these female warriors. They fought with extreme bravery. Excited by their own courage and undying energy, the women, like the men were thought to be invincible.

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