Reference > The Encyclopedia of World History
IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > C. The Middle East and North Africa, 1500–1800 > 3. North Africa, 1504–1799 > a. Morocco > 1553–54
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
The Wattasids, with Ottoman support, captured the city of Fez. The Ottomans supported the Wattasid claimant Bu Hassun in the hope of gaining control over the city of Fez, but the Sa‘di ruler Muhammad al-Sheik retook it in Sept. 1554.  1
ABDALLAH AL-GHALIB. The assassination of his predecessor, Muhammad al-Sheik, plunged the regime into a precarious position. Al-Ghalib successfully courted al-Samlali, the leader of the Jazuli order, in order to win his support for the dynasty. The Sufi leader appealed to all Moroccans, whether Arab or Berber, to accept Sa‘di rule. The ruler allowed the Sufi leaders almost complete authority within their zawiyas, or lodges. In return, the Sa‘di ruler was elevated to a Sufi spiritual authority within the Jazuliyya order second only to its leader.  2
c. 1560
The Dila (Dila'iyya), an important Sufi order, was founded in the Middle Atlas Mountains. The order was founded by a marabout (the name given in North Africa to a Muslim saint) who had the power to grant baraka (divine blessing) and perform karamat (miracles). Maraboutism played an active part in social and religious life throughout Morocco, where the reigning sultan would court the support of these holy men and their followers. Nearly every city in Morocco had a patron marabout whose tomb became a place of popular pilgrimage and veneration. The Dila'iyya rose to prominence during the decline of the Sa‘di dynasty in the 17th century. Mawlay Rashid defeated them in 1668 and destroyed their lodge. The order was later revived but took no further part in political affairs.  3
ABD AL-MALIK. In an effort to win Ottoman support and oust his nephew Muhammad al-Mutawakkil (r. 1574–76), Abd al-Malik took part in the final Ottoman reconquest of Tunis in 1574. The Ottoman army intervened to put him on the Sa‘di throne, in return for which he agreed to recognize the Ottoman sultan as the caliph. However, Abd al-Malik would not comply with the Ottoman suggestion that Morocco participate in holy war activities against Christian states in the Mediterranean. A shrewd negotiator in foreign affairs, Abd al-Malik also understood the power of propaganda. He commissioned a Christian missionary to write a book in Spanish praising his virtues, for which he duly obtained the Inquisitor's license for publication in Spain.  4
1578, Aug. 4
Battle of the Three Kings (Alcazar). King Sebastian of Portugal allied himself with the ousted al-Mutawakkil against the Sa‘di ruler Abd al-Malik. The invading army was routed at Wadi al-Makhazin but all three leaders were killed. In the Islamic world, the conflict became renowned as the battle that saved Morocco's independence.  5
AHMAD AL-MANSUR (AL-DHAHABI). The caliph determined Sa‘di foreign policy to ensure that Morocco would be politically dependent on neither the Ottomans nor the Christians. Al-Mansur established trade relations with the English, who exchanged cloth for Moroccan sugar, and built Morocco's first professional standing army.  6
The British Barbary Company received a monopoly on trade with Morocco, which expired 12 years later.  7
Ahmad al-Mansur undertook a massive military campaign against the Songhay Empire, whose territory encompassed present-day Mali and Nigeria. The expedition, unanimously opposed by the ulama, opened up sources of gold and slaves.  8
DISINTEGRATION OF MOROCCAN POLITICAL UNITY. Following the death of al-Mansur, the Sa‘di dynasty's authority declined. His sons' struggle for power resulted in the creation of a Sa‘di dynasty in Fez (1610–41) and a rival one in Marrakesh (which lasted until 1659). Autonomous authorities emerged in various parts of the country, most prominent among them the Dila'iyya Sufi order, which captured Meknes and Fez. The Alawis, a family of sharifs (lineal descendants of Muhammad), established a power base in Tafilelt, from which they expanded to gain control of the country and reunify it beginning in the 1660s.  9
A community of Moriscos (Muslims expelled from Spain) who originally had been highwaymen at Hornacho near Merida resettled in Rabat. They founded an autonomous city-state devoted to piracy. The last wave of Morisco expulsions from Spain between 1609 and 1614 resulted in settlements in Tetuan and Tangier. In Fez, Moriscos contributed to craft guilds involved in the leather, silk, and ceramic trades.  10
Death of Abu al-Abbas Mahalli, a prominent marabout. After a pilgrimage to Mecca, he declared himself the mahdi (rightly guided one) who had come to restore orthodox Islam to Morocco. He formed an army supported by the Ottoman ruler of Algiers, defeated the Sa‘di Sultan Zaydan (r. 1603–18), and occupied Marrakesh. He was killed in 1613 by rival marabouts.  11
Death of Abd al-Aziz al-Fishtali, the secretary of state for correspondence of the Sa‘dis, poet laureate and historiographer to the ruler Ahmad al-Mansur.  12
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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