The Oba of Benin is the traditional ruler and the custodian of the culture of the Edo people and all Edoid people and head of the historic Eweka dynasty of the Benin kingdom. The ancient Benin homeland (not to be confused with the modern-day and unrelated Republic of Benin, which was then known as Dahomey) has been and continues to be mostly populated by the Edo (also known as Benin ethnic group).
The title of Oba was used after the Ogiso title and was created by Oranmiyan, Benin kingdom's first "Oba". Oba Oranmiyan son of Oduduwa, is said to have ascended to power at some time between 1280 and 1300. The Oba of Benin was the Head of State (king) of the Benin kingdom
In 1897, a British military force under the command of Sir Harry Rawson mounted the Benin Expedition of 1897 against the Kingdom of Benin. The expedition captured the capital of the Kingdom of Benin, sacking and burning the city while forcing the Oba of Benin, Ovonramwen, into a six-month exile, and was mounted due to the ambush of a British party by a group of Benin soldiers acting without orders from the Oba that had lead to the deaths of all but two of the party. The expeditionary force consisted of both indigenous soldiers and British officers based in colonial-era Nigeria. Numerous artworks (collectively known as the Benin Bronzes) looted from the city palace were sold off to defray the costs of the expedition. Ovonramwen died in 1914, his throne never having been restored to him. His son, grandson and now his great-grandson, however, all preserved their title and status as traditional rulers in modern-day Nigeria.
There is some uncertainty in the dates of the reigns of some of the earlier warrior kings