Alternate History

Xadreque I of Benin (Ninety-Five Theses Map Game)

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Xadreque I
Banum NjuaeBanum ABanum NdaaBanum RiiBanum EeBanum KenBanum UBanum Ee  Banum One
Xadreque I of Benin.png
Oba of Benin
Reign 9 July 1504 – 3 March 1550
(42 years, 3 months and 22 days)
Predecessor Ozolua
Successor Xadreque II
Spouse Obabin Trinidade
Issue Xadreque II
Sansão, Olori of Owin
Binrin Fatima of Ife
Full name
Esigie nwa Okpame
House House of Eweka
Father Oba Ozolua
Born 22 August 1479(1479-08-22)
Edo, Benin
Died 3 March 1550(1550-03-03) (aged 70)
Edo, Benin
Religion Roman Catholicism
Xadreque I (Edo: Banum NjuaeBanum ABanum NdaaBanum RiiBanum EeBanum KenBanum UBanum Ee  Banum One, tr. Xadreque I; 22 August 1479 – 3 March 1550), or Xadreque the Great, was the fifth Oba of Benin, reigning from 9 July 1504 until his death in 3 March 1550. He presided over the modernization and Christianization of Benin and its transformation from a largely rural and backwater kingdom, to a thriving trading empire in West Africa.

Born Esigie nwa Okpame, Xadreque's birth was marked by the transition of Benin into a newly established empire in the Niger Delta region from a small city-state, all accomplished under the reign and conquests of his father, Ozolua. Ozolua had expanded the realm of Benin from its confines at the Walls of Benin, to the neighboring regions of Oyo and Owo, gaining himself the epithet "Ozolua the Conqueror", in light of his claimed "200 victorious battles". Xadreque served under the wing of his father and served in the legions of Benin during his father's many conquests, gaining him much needed experience in the field of battle.

In 1500, Ozolua in his old age mistakenly gave Xadreque's elder brother, Arualan, the village of Udo rather than the capital city of Edo, which Ozolua instead granted to Xadreque. This slip of the tongue resulted in Arualan declaring war against Xadreque for possession of of the capital city, and according to legend, promised to his followers that if he was not victorious over his younger brother, to throw all of his belongings into a lake. Xadreque wisely avoided battle, leaving Araulan to search in vain for his brother, forcing him to return home without a victory. On this account, the people threw Arualan's possessions into a lake, with Arualan jumping in to save them, never to be seen again.

Xadreque took the throne of Benin on 9 July 1504, and immediately began work on strengthening ties with the European traders who had worked closely with his father since 1485. Under Xadreque's rule, Benin converted to Catholicism, with Xadreque being baptized under his current name, and discarding his old name of Esigie in 1517. Benin built its first port city in Owin, and modernized its armies to contain gunpowder weapons and European military doctrines. It was a long-term goal of Xadreque's to establish Benin on an equal level with his European counterparts, a lasting legacy of his reign.

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