The aim of this study has been to provide, as far as possible, an accurate outline of developments in Dahoman political society during the course of the nineteenth century. The findings of this, the major part of the work, have then been used as a check against descriptions of the Fon state based on anthropological evidence. In this way it has been attempted to place the institutions of Dahoman corporate life in the context of their historical development and at the same time to cast some light on how they actually functioned in the nineteenth century. Eighteen eighteen provides a useful starting point for an investigation into latter Dahoman history since the revolution which took place in that year represented both the high water mark of chiefly factionalism and the beginning of a vigorous attempt to establish a strong monarchy. The conflict between those trying to build a centralised government and those determined to preserve the powers of the feuding ruling class dominated the politics of Dahomey from the Revolution until the French invasion. Other issues, above all those of foreign and economic policy, of course, also influenced the course of Dahoman history in these years. Disputes over policy, however, merely aggravated an already existing crisis; they did not create the tensions in Fon society. It was the continual internecine struggle indulged in by the various sections of the Dahoman ruling class which dominated political life, shaped the institutions of Dahoman government and gave nineteenth century Fon history its peculiar character.