Blood and Bronze: The British Empire & the Sack of Benin

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The Benin Bronzes are among the British Museum’s most prized possessions. Celebrated for their great beauty, they embody the history, myth and artistry of the ancient Kingdom of Benin, once West Africa’s most powerful, and today part of Nigeria. But despite the Bronzes’ renown, little has been written about the brutal imperial violence with which they were plundered. Paddy Docherty’s searing new history tells that story: the 1897 British invasion of Benin.

Armed with shocking details discovered in the archives, Blood and Bronze sets this assault in its late Victorian context. As British power faced new commercial and strategic pressures elsewhere, it ruthlessly expanded in West Africa. Revealing both the extent of African resistance and previously concealed British outrages, this is a definitive account of the destruction of Benin. Laying bare the Empire’s true motives and violent means, including the official coverup of grotesque sexual crimes, Docherty demolishes any moral argument for Britain retaining the Bronzes, making a passionate case for their immediate repatriation to Nigeria.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherC. Hurst & Co.
Number of pages240
ISBN (Print)9781787384569
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2021

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