The Fall of Benin
On February 17, 1897, Benin City fell to the British. On that fateful day in history, the city of Benin lost its independence, its sovereignty, its Oba (king), its control of trade, and its pride. The aptly-named “punitive expedition” totally humiliated the nation.
The city was looted and burned to the ground. The ivory at the palace was seized. Nearly 2500 of the famous Benin Bronzes and other valuable works of art, including the magnificently carved palace doors, were carried back to Europe. Today, every museum in Europe possesses art treasures from Benin.
The defeat, capture and subjugation of Benin paved the way for British military occupation and the later conquest of adjacent areas with Benin, under British administration, being merged into the Niger Coast Protectorate, then into the protectorate of Southern Nigeria and finally into the colony and protectorate of Nigeria.