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Sharifian Dyanasties


saadians pictures
Saadians pictures

Morocco experienced a revival under the Saadians, known as the first Sharifian dynasty (1554-1660). The Saadian rulers were sharifs—that is, rulers who claimed descent from the prophet Muhammad. They had reclaimed a number of ports from the Portuguese by 1578. The reign (1579-1603) of Ahmed I al-Mansur is regarded as the golden age of Morocco. It was unified and relatively prosperous; its native arts and architecture flourished.

Al-Mansur not only successfully resisted Turkish attacks on the eastern frontier but also sent an expedition to the south that captured Tombouktou (in Mali) and put an end to the Songhai kingdom. He became master of the gold route from West Africa, and encouraged the cultivation of sugarcane. Morocco became one of the chief suppliers of sugar to England and other parts of western Europe. The Saadians were succeeded by the second Sharifian dynasty, who have ruled since 1660 and remain on the Moroccan throne to this day. For 55 years, from 1672 to 1727, the able and ambitious Ismail al-Hasani ruled the country. He expanded relations with the European powers, regained the port of Tangier, and built a capital at Meknès.

Al-Hasani’s reign was followed by a long period of disorder, which was punctuated with brief interludes of relative peace and prosperity.

European Intrusion


In 1415 Portugal had captured the port of Ceuta. This intrusion initiated a period of gradual extension of Portuguese and Spanish power over the Moroccan coastal region.

The Moroccans inflicted a severe defeat on the Portuguese in 1578, and by the end of the 17th century they had regained control of most of their coastal cities. In the 18th and early 19th centuries pirates from Morocco and other so-called Barbary states of North Africa preyed on the shipping that plied the Mediterranean Sea (see Barbary Coast). Because of the depredations of the Barbary pirates and because Morocco shared control of the Strait of Gibraltar with Spain, the country figured with increasing weight in the diplomacy of the European maritime powers, particularly Spain, Britain, and France. Spain invaded Morocco in 1859 and 1860 and acquired Tétouan.

In April 1904, in return for receiving a free hand in Egypt from France, Britain recognized Morocco as a French sphere of interest. Later that year France and Spain divided Morocco into zones of influence, with Spain receiving the much smaller part of Morocco and the region south of Morocco, which would become Spanish Sahara. Germany soon disputed these arrangements, and a conference of major powers, including the United States, met in Algeciras, Spain, in January 1906, to conclude an agreement (see Algeciras Conference). The resultant Act of Algeciras guaranteed equality of economic rights for every nation in Morocco.

In July 1911, the Germans sent a gunboat to the Moroccan port city of Agadir, in a move designed to encourage Moroccan resistance to French dominance. This incident provoked French mobilization and brought Europe to the brink of war, but in later negotiations Germany agreed to a French protectorate over Morocco in return for French territorial concessions elsewhere in Africa. "Morocco" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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