Crown of Ardra

Few surviving artefacts can illustrate the competitive nature between the Dutch and English for influence in Africa than this item. This impressive looking crown was actually constructed from cheap glass and metal by English merchants seeking to impress the African King of Ardra who presided over a small slave-trading kingdom on the Bight of Benin. However, the crown never reached its target as it was captured by Dutch sailors sent to recapture Dutch forts captured by the English in 1664. They took this crown as a trophy before discovering its valuelessness.



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by Stephen Luscombe