King Houegbadja (who reigns from 1645 to 1685) is the 3rd king of Dahomey (Benin). He was the creator of an army of women – Amazones, called Mino by the regular male army of Dahomey. Mino means « Our mothers » in Fon language.
The Mino’s are well trained, wear uniforms and are equipped with Danish rifles (obtained through slave trade).
At this time the Mino army counts between 4 000 and 6 000 women and represents about a third of the total Dahomey army. The Mino women are not allowed to have children or to get married. Many are virgin. The Mino regiment benefits from a semi sacred statue made possible by the then common religion which calls for protection the Fon tribe.
But it is under the reign of king Behazin, the twelfth and last king of Dahomey, crowned on the 6 th of January 1890 that Europeans discover the strength and power of the Mino army.
The invasion of West Africa by European forces accelerates in 1890 and king Behazin engages in a battle with French army forces. The battle comes to an end on the 15 th of January 1894 with Benhazin signing surrender. He is deported to the isle of Martinique by the French colonial authorities. He is allowed to leave Martinique in 1906 and dies from pneumonia on December the 10 th of the same year in Blida, Algeria. His remains are solemny buried in Djime his ancestral soil, on the 9th of March 1928.
Photo 2 : © DR / Collectie Stichting Nationaal Museum vanWereldculturen/Commons