Are you ready for another history blog? This week, we’re looking at one of the units available with the brand new expansion for AoE II HD, The African Kingdoms. The fierce unit that we are going to talk about is the Gbeto.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Gbeto: The Gbeto is an upgradable ranged infantry unit that is trained from the Castle with strong attack powers but a slow rate of fire.
According to the PBS website, the gbeto were female warriors from the Dahomey Kindom. They were the king’s bodyguards from the 1700s to the 1800s and known for their ruthlessness, “they ate raw meat, filed their teeth into sharp points and kept the jawbones and skulls of their enemies as trophies (White).” One of the weapons they used was the musket. To this day, the gbeto are remembered in ceremonies performed by the gbeto’s descendants, who dance holding toy swords and sing gory stories about their ancestors.
According to White, European travelers called the gbeto “amazonians”. A variation of the word, amazons, is used in an article on Smithsonian.com by Mike Dash. Dash writes that Dahomey’s warriors were the only female soldiers in the world who regularly acted as combat troops. According to him the year of when these units were first created remains unclear, although they appear to have their origins as female hunters.
A French naval surgeon from the 1850s reported on an attack of 20 gbeto on a herd of 40 elephants. Only three elephants were killed and multiple hunters fatally injured. Allegedly, praising them for their bravery, King Gezo recruited them into his army. However, other sources suggest that Dahomey’s soldiers started out as palace guards in the 1720s. This suggests that the gbeto are not identical with Dahomey’s women warriors but one of their potential origins. Nonetheless, the article is definitely worth the read if you would like to learn more about Malian warriors from that time period.
Did you know about the gbeto before playing The African Kingdoms or reading this blog? Let us know in the forum.
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Age of Empires Wiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2015. <http://ageofempires.wikia.com/wiki/>.
Mike, Dash. “Dahomey’s Women Warriors.” Smithsonian.com. N.p., 23 Sept. 2011. Web. 9 Nov. 2015. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/dahomeys-women-warriors-88286072/?no-ist>.
White, Jamila. “Cultural Close-Up: Gbeto Female Warriors.” Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2015. <http://www.pbs.org/wonders/Episodes/Epi3/3_cultr1.htm>.