A Brief History of The Kingdom of Morocco

26/02/2018 13403

At a crossroads of the african and the european continents, the Kingdom of Morocco has been, for centuries, a meeting point for the arabo-islamic culture and civilisation as well as a land of tolerance , dialogue and openness.

In the Classical Antiquity era, Morocco experienced waves of invaders included Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, and Byzantines, but with the arrival of Islam, Morocco developed independent states that kept powerful invaders at bay.

The Idrissid Dynasty

The year 788 was marked by the birth of the first Muslim dynasty of Middle Eastern origin. In 791, the Moroccan State was created. Idriss I, descendant of Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet, flee Arabia to escape the massacre of his family and settled in Volubilis, eventually founding the city of ‘Fez’, that was designated, after his death in 792, as capital of the Kingdom by his son, Idriss II, who succeed him. Idriss II took care of the construction of the city in 803, and died in 828. The administration of the Kingdom was entrusted to his sons, then to his brothers, while the city of Fez prospered economically. In 857 and 859 the city  prevailled prodigious achievements, including mosques Quaraouiyine and Andalusian. At the beginning of the 11th century, the aura of the reign of the Idrissids reached Cordoba before the divisions in Muslim Spain caused their decadence and their disappearance in 1055.

The Almoravid Dynasty

Youssef Ibn Tachfine, Sultan of almoravid dynasty, built the city of Marrakech (future capital of the Kingdom) around 1070, then achieved of the political unification of Morocco and Muslim Spain. Through it, the Andalusian civilization spreaded in the Maghreb before conquering Spain. Ali Ben Youssef, his son, succeed him in 1106 to reign for 37 years.

The Almohad Dynasty

The Almohad Dynasty is a Berber dynasty from the High Atlas, their name comes from the Arabic "Al Mouwahidoune", "unifiers" (those who claim the uniqueness of God.) Its founder was El Mehdi Ibn Toumart.

Abdel-Moumen, his disciple, took Marrakech as the capital, from which the construction of Koutoubia, then found the Almohad Empire, and succeed in unifying North Africa, but died in Rabat in 1163 before including Andalusia to his Empire. This glory  returned to his successor Yacoub El-Mansour, victorious of the battle of Alarcos in 1195, against the Portuguese and the Spaniards.

The Merinid Dynasty

Berber dynasty (nomadic Zenetes from the Upper Moulouya Basin). This Dynasty  chose capital Fez, proceed to the creation of Fez El-Jedid and the construction of several medersas, among which Medersa El-Attarine, the Medersa Abou Inane, or Medersa Mérinide in Salé. The Merinid took advantage of the decline of the Almohad Empire to take control of the cities of Fez, Rabat, Sale and the fertile plains of Saiss and Gharb. Subsequently, the Merinid Sultan Abu Youssef Yacoub seized the city of Marrakech in 1269.

As the supreme leader of the Marinid dynasty, Abu El-Hassan then tried to reconstitute the Empire around 1331, and conquered Tlemcen in Algeria and Tunis in 1347, but without managing to keep Spain and Algeciras in 1340.

In 1348, the Black Death and the rebellions of Tlemcen and Tunis marked the decadence of the Marinids who fell to repress the Portuguese and Spanish, allowing them, also through their successors the Wattassides, to settle on the coast. The resistance was organized around the brotherhoods and marabouts from which emerge the Saadian dynasty.

The Saadian Dynasty

Shereefian dynasty ("Chorfa descendants of the prophet Mohamed) from the Draa Valley, Marrakech was their capital. From 1578, Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour Eddahbi sit his reign on important military victories, including the victory of the "Battle of the Three Kings" in Oued El-Makhazine; "The conquest of Timbuktu", where he brought back gold and slaves, as well as "the construction of the palace El Badiî", the development of the sugar industry and weapons ... The reign of Ahmed Al Mansour Eddahbi ended in 1602 .

The Alaouite Dynasty

The Alawite Dynasty is descended from the Chorfa of Tafilalet, descendants of Imam Ali, who established themselves in the region, before establishing their authority over the whole country from 1666. The founder of the Dynasty and its spiritual leader Moulay Ali Cherif, as well as his successors (including Mohamed Ben Ali Cherif, proclaimed first king in 1640) reunited Morocco, thereby implementing a political and military strategy accordingly.

In 1672, King Moulay Ismaël exercised absolute power while continuing the work accomplished by his predecessors. The Sultan began by founding the city of Meknes, a city which he later designated as the capital of the Kingdom. After taking over Larache and Tangier, Moulay Ismaël eliminated the local political and religious powers and thus found the Cherifian Empire. His power will be extended to Senegal, and he ordered the establishment a network of fortresses throughout the territory. A network from which an army operated. He then devoted himself to establishing fruitful diplomatic relations. with foreign countries, especially in the time of Louis XIV and James II of England.

After the death of Moulay Ismaïl in 1727, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah (Mohamed III) succeeded him. A fervent Muslim, he thought only of bringing peace and security to the country. He was therefore welcomed as a providential man, and his proclamation assumed the character of a true plebiscite. As soon as he was invested, he lightened the taxes, struck a sound currency and reconstituted a new army recruited from the Guich tribes.

Simultaneously, he worked to fortify the Moroccan ports and had took back Mazagan from the Portuguese (1769). He concluded peace with the Spaniards and an agreement on prisoners with Louis XV. Considering that Morocco needed to strengthen its relations with the outside world to compensate for the loss of the Triq-Sultan (strategic crossing), it signed trade treaties with Denmark, Sweden, England and the United States. On this occasion he received a very fine letter from George Washington, proposing to conclude a treaty of friendship between their two countries.

Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah was behind the foundation of Mogador, whose construction he entrusted to the French architect Gournot. No doubt he would have done much more if he had not been hampred by insufficiency of funds. When he passed away in 1790, Morocco was better off than it was before his reign.

Moulay Slimane Became then successor of Moulay Yazid Ben Abdallah, who would have reigned only for a period of two years (1790-1792). He drived out the Turks of Oujda, built several mosques and madrassas and did not fail also to come to the aid of Algerians during the Battle of Isly.

Following the support of the Sherifian Empire to the Emir Abd el-Kader of Algeria, Morocco then experienced a most difficult political crisis, leading to the military interventions of France in 1844 and Spain in 1859-1860 . Clashes continued until 1873 during the reign of Sultan Mohamed IV.

The Sultan Moulay Hassan I, successor to Mohamed IV, safeguarding his reign, consolidate his power by rallying the tribes of the High Atlas, and modernized the country while keeping its independence. Yet, foreign interventions, from Great Britain, Spain and France, deep-rooted Morocco's indebtedness to foreign banks.

Moulay Hassan I died in 1894, and Sultan Moulay Abdelaziz succeeded him, reigning until 1907, the same year Moulay Hafid will take over. Following the assassination of some European citizens, the French occupied Casablanca, while France and Spain were already appointed as mandateries of the new state bank of Morocco at the Algeciras conference in 1906.

General Lyautey left in 1925, and France limitted the prerogatives of the Chérifien central power by proceeding more to direct management. The resistance was organized, consisting mainly of young urban elites. The second world war marked a truce between the nationalist opposition and France. During the war, King Mohamed Ben Youssef (Mohamed V), proclaimed Sultan of the Cherifian Kingdom in 1927, and therefore protector of all his subjects, fiercely defended the cause of the Moroccan Jews against the Vichy regime.

In 1944, the Manifesto of Independence was proclaimed; three years later, His Majesty King Mohammed V made a historic speech in Tangier. During the next five years, the negotiations with France fell and, in 1952, the crisis between the authorities of the protectorate and the nationalists led to insurrectional movements, while the Sultan was deposed, then exiled, along with the whole royal family in Madagascar, in 1953.

However, the setbacks in Indochina and the Algerian war, in 1954, prompted the French government to seek a political solution. The return of exile of the Sovereign will be in November 1955, to open the path of independence, recognized in 1956 by France, then by Spain.

From the 1990s, the regime evolved towards more democracy and political reforms. With the death of His Majesty King Hassan II, on July 23, 1999, it will be a Sovereign born after independence who will now lead the destinies of the Kingdom, His Majesty King Mohammed VI, whose enthronement took place on July 30, 1999.