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Servants of the DynastyPalace Women in World History$
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Anne Walthall

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520254435

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520254435.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 20 May 2022

Politics In An African Royal Harem: Women and Seclusion at the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria

Politics In An African Royal Harem: Women and Seclusion at the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria

Chapter:
(p.115) 6 Politics In An African Royal Harem: Women and Seclusion at the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria
Source:
Servants of the Dynasty
Author(s):

Flora Edouwaye S. Kaplan

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520254435.003.0006

This chapter investigates the harem and the political roles played by royal wives at the Benin royal court in Nigeria. Benin resembles many early accounts of palace women in the Middle East, China, India, and elsewhere up to the twentieth century. On rare occasion, such as the letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu from Turkey (1763), Western women have written personal accounts of their glimpses of harems. This chapter also looks at sources of power and influence available to royal women, and assesses what impact, if any, royal women had on the lives of ordinary women and men beyond the walls of the harem. Politics in this African harem is broadly defined to mean observable decision making and makers acting in public arenas to direct the control and distribution of resources perceived as scarce. This chapter also examines the reign of the Obas, the Oba's palace, seclusion of the Oba's wives, the role of eunuchs in the royal harem, and the queen mother.

Keywords:   Benin, Nigeria, politics, harems, royal women, royal wives, palace women, royal court, Obas, eunuchs

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