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The Fante Confederacy was a state on the coast of modern day Ghana established by the Fante people. The Fante had long been in the region, but in the sixteenth century had expanded along the coast establishing a number of small independent kingdoms.
The growth of the Ashanti Confederacy to the north in the early eighteenth century began to threaten their security, and as a result the Fante united and created a confederacy on the Ashanti model. The confederacy was controlled by the ruler Mankessim , who was given the title of Brafo . He was obliged to respect the wishes of a council of the leaders of the others major towns. Despite a similar political structure the Fante never managed to become as united as the Ashanti.
That Fante Confederacy was also much smaller than the large and powerful Ashanti, and in any direct conflict the Fante would easily have been destroyed. However, the Fante had the advantage of controlling most of the valuable coastline that allowed trade and alliance with the Europeans. The Fante thus sought British protection against the Ashanti, something the British were more than willing to grant in hopes of spreading their influence through the region.
For the first half of the eighteenth century the Ashanti were occupied, rapidly expanding in the north. The next decades saw internal disputes within Ashanti again preventing a direct clash. Indirectly, however, the rivalry was fierce. The Fante intervened lending material support to rebel groups in Ashanti and offering safe harbour to refugees and dissidents fleeing Ashanti. In an effort to limit the power of the Ashante the Fante introduced laws forbidding selling firearms to the Ashanti and curtailing the amount of trade that could pass between over Fante lands.
By the early eighteenth century the Ashanti had consolidated the rest of the region under their rule and began to plan for a full-scale invasion of the Fante Confederacy. In 1806 the Ashanti-Fante War began and the Ashanti army, the best-armed and trained in sub-Saharan Africa, easily routed the Fante. The British gave as much support for their Fante allies as they could, but could do little to change the outcome of the war. The British threatened with being evicted from the region by the Ashnati thus decided to abandon the Fante, acknowledging Ashanti dominance of the region.
The Fante revived, and in 1811 with a number of allies again went to war. While defeated in open battle the Fante were able to force the Ashanti to withdraw by employing guerilla tactics. The success of the Ashanti was not accepted by the British however, who became close allies of the Fante. Over the next few decades the Fante Confederacy thus passed between Ashanti and British suzerainty, becoming increasingly dominated by the British.
In 1868 to block the still troublesome Ashanti the British decided to support the creation of a strong and centralized new Fanti Confederacy. Established on a western model the new state was at first successful. Its success, however, worried the British who were concerned the Fante might seek independence. Thus in 1874 the Confederacy was dissolved and merged into the Gold Coast colony.
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