Alaouite dynasty

Last updated

Alaouite dynasty
سلالة العلويين الفيلاليين
Alaouite dynasty Flag.svg
Country Morocco
Founder Moulay Ali Cherif
Current head Mohammad VI

The Alaouite dynasty (Arabic : سلالة العلويين الفيلاليين, Sulālat al-ʿAlawiyyīn al-Fīlālīyn) – also rendered in English as 'Alawi, [1] [2] 'Alawid, [3] [2] or Alawite [4] – is the current Moroccan royal family and reigning dynasty. They are a sharifian dynasty and claim descent from the prophet Muhammad through one of his relatives.


The dynasty rose to power in the 17th century, beginning with Moulay al-Sharif who was declared sultan of the Tafilalt region in 1631. His son Al-Rashid, ruling from 1664 to 1672, was able to unite and pacify the country after a long period of regional divisions. His brother Isma'il presided over a period of strong central rule between 1672 and 1727, one of the longest reigns of any Moroccan sultan. After Isma'il's death the country was plunged into disarray as his sons fought over his succession, but order was re-established under the long reign of Muhammad ibn Abdallah in the second half of the 18th century. The 19th century was marked by the growing influence of European powers.

The Alaouites ruled as sovereign sultans up until 1912, when the French Protectorate and Spanish Protectorate were imposed on Morocco. They were retained as symbolic sultans under colonial rule. When the country regained its independence in 1956, Mohammed V, who had supported the nationalist cause, resumed the Alaouite role as independent head of state. Shortly afterwards he adopted the title of "King" instead of "Sultan". His successors, Hassan II and Mohammed VI, have continued the dynasty's rule since under the same title.


The dynasty claims descent from Muhammad via Hasan, the son of the Caliph Ali. The name "Alaouite" (from the French transliteration) or 'Alawi (Arabic : علوي) stems either from the name of Ali (the father of Hasan), [5] from which the dynasty ultimately traces its descent, or from the name of the dynasty's early founder Ali al-Sharif of the Tafilalt. [6] The honorific title moulay (also transliterated as mawlay or mulay), meaning "my lord", was also commonly used in conjunction with the names of sultans. [7]

The state and empire ruled by the Alaouites was also known in some periods as the "Sharifian Empire" (الإيالة الشريفة in Arabic or Empire Chérifien in French according to the Treaty of Fes). This name was still in official usage until 1956 (when Morocco regained its independence from colonial rule), and is also used by historians to refer to the preceding Saadian state, which was also ruled by a sharifian dynasty. [8] [9] [1] [10]



The Alaouites were a family of sharifian religious notables (or shurafa) who claimed descent from the Islamic prophet Muhammad via his descendant Hasan, the son of Ali and of Muhammad's daughter Fatimah. According to the dynasty's official historians, the family migrated from the Hijaz (in Arabia) to the Tafilalt during the 12th or 13th century at the request of the locals who hoped that the presence of a sharifian family would benefit the region. It is possible that the Alaouites were merely one of many Arab families who moved westwards to Morocco during this period. The Tafilalt was an oasis region in the Ziz Valley in eastern Morocco and the site of Sijilmasa, historically an important terminus of the trans-Saharan trade routes. [3] [6] [2]

Little is known of Alaouite history prior to the 17th century. [2] In the early 15th century they appear to have had a reputation as holy warriors, but did not yet have a political status. This was the example of one family member, Ali al-Sharif (not to be confused with the later Alaouite by the same name below), who participated in battles against the Portuguese and Spanish in Ceuta (Sebta) and Tangier and who was also invited by the Nasrids of Granada to fight against Castile on the Iberian Peninsula. [4] :228 By the 17th century, however, they had evidently become the main leaders of the Tafilalt. [2]

Their status as shurafa (descendants of Muhammad) was part of the reason for their success, as in this era many communities in Morocco increasingly saw sharifian status as the best claim to political legitimacy. The Saadian dynasty, which ruled Morocco in the 16th century and early 17th century prior to the rise of the Alaouites, was also a sharifian dynasty and played an important role in establishing this model of political-religious legitimacy. [11] [2] [3] [4] :228

Rise to power

The family's rise to power took place in the context of early-to-mid-17th century Morocco, when the power of the Saadian sultans of Marrakesh was in serious decline and multiple regional factions fought for control of the country. Among the most powerful of these factions were the Dala'iyya or Dala'is, a federation of Amazigh (Berbers) in the Middle Atlas who increasingly dominated central Morocco at this time, reaching the peak of their power in the 1640s. Another, was 'Ali Abu Hassun al-Simlali (or Abu Hassun), who had become leader of the Sous valley since 1614. When Abu Hassun extended his control to the Tafilalt region in 1631, the Dala'iyya in turn sent forces to enforce their own influence in the area. The local inhabitants chose as their leader the Alaouite family head, Muhammad al-Sharif – known as Moulay Ali al-Sharif, [6] Moulay al-Sharif, or Muhammad I [3] – recognizing him as sultan. Moulay al-Sharif led an attack against Abu Hassun's garrison at Tabu'samt in 1635 or 1636 (1045 AH) but failed to expel them. Abu Hassun forced him to go into exile to the Sous valley, but also treated him well; among other things, he gifted him a Black concubine he later gave birth to one of his sons, Isma'il. [4] :222, 228 [11] :224

While their father remained in exile, al-Sharif's sons took up the struggle. His son Muhammad (or Muhammad II [3] ), became the leader after 1635 and successfully led another rebellion which expelled Abu Hassun's forces in 1640 or 1641 (1050 AH). With this success, he was proclaimed sultan in place of his father. However, the Dala'iyya invaded the region again in 1646 and forced him to acknowledge their control over all the territory west and south of Sijilmasa, leaving him effectively without a realm. Unable to oppose them, Muhammad instead decide to expand in the opposite direction, to the northeast. He advanced as far as al-Aghwat and Tlemcen in Algeria (which was part of the Ottoman Empire at the time) in 1650, won the loyalty of several Arab tribes of the Banu Ma'qil in this region, and made his new base at Oujda. His forays into Ottoman Algeria provoked a response from the Ottomans, who sent an army that chased him back to Sijilmasa. In negotiations with an Ottoman legation from Algiers, Muhammad agreed not to cross into Ottoman territory again. [4] :228229 [11] :224225

Despite these latest setbacks, the Alaouites' influence slowly grew, partly thanks to their continued alliance with certain Arab tribes of the region. In June 1650 the leaders of Fez (or more specifically Fes el-Bali, the old city), with the support of the local Arab tribes, rejected the authority of the Dala'iyya and invited Muhammad to join them. Soon after her arrived, however, the Dala'iyya army approached the city and the local leaders, realizing they did not have enough strength to oppose them, stopped their uprising and asked Muhammad to leave. [4] :229

Moulay al-Sharif finally died in 1659, and this provoked a succession struggle between Muhammad and one of his brothers, al-Rashid. Some of the details of this conflict are unclear, but initially al-Rashid appears to have fled Sijilmasa in fear of his brother and took refuge with the Dala'iyya in the Middle Atlas. He then moved around northern Morocco, spending time in Fez, before settling in Angad (northeastern Morocco today). He managed to secure an alliance with the same Banu Ma'qil Arab tribes who had previously supported his brother and also with the Ait Yaznasin, an Amazigh tribe. These groups recognized him as sultan in 1663, while around the same time Muhammad made a new base for himself as far west as Azrou. The power of the Dala'iyya was in decline, and both brothers sought to take advantage of this, but both stood in each other's way. When Muhammad attacked Angad to force his brother's submission in 1663 or early 1664, he was instead defeated and killed. [4] :229 [11] :225

The walls of the Kasbah Cherarda in Fez, a garrison fort built by Moulay ar-Rashid in order to house some of his guich tribes Kasbah Cherarda.jpg
The walls of the Kasbah Cherarda in Fez, a garrison fort built by Moulay ar-Rashid in order to house some of his guich tribes

By this time, the Dala'iyya's realm, which once extended over most of central Morocco, had largely receded to their original home in the Middle Atlas. Al-Rashid was left in control of the Alaouite forces and in less than a decade he managed to extend Alaouite control over almost all of Morocco, reuniting the country under a new sharifian dynasty. [1] [4] :229 Early on, he won over more rural Arab tribes to his side and integrated them into his military system. Also known as guich tribes ("Army" tribes, also transliterated as gish [3] ), they became one of his most important means of imposing control over regions and cities. In 1664 he had taken control of Taza, but Fez rejected his authority and a siege of the city in 1665 failed. After further campaigning in the Rif region, where he won more support, Al-Rashid returned and secured the city's surrender in June 1666. [4] :230 [12] :83 He made the city his capital, but settled his military tribes in other lands and in a new kasbah outside the city (Kasbah Cherarda today) to head off complaints from the city's inhabitants about their behaviour. He then defeated the remnants of the Dala'iyya by invading and destroying their capital in the Middle Atlas in June 1668. In July he captured Marrakesh from Abdul Karim Abu Bakr Al-Shabani, who had ruled the city since assassinating his nephew Ahmad al-Abbas, the last Saadian sultan. [4] :230 His forces occupied the Sous valley and the Anti-Atlas in the south, forced Salé and its pirate republic to acknowledge his authority, while in the north he was in control of Ksar al-Kebir and the region around Tangier. Al-Rashid had thus succeeded in reuniting the country under one rule. He was not able to enjoy this success for very long, however, and died young in 1672 while in Marrakesh. [11] :225 [1]

The reign of Moulay Ismail

Upon al-Rashid's death his younger brother Isma'il became sultan. As sultan, Isma'il's 55-year reign was one of longest in Moroccan history. [3] [11] He distinguished himself as a ruler who wished to establish a unified Moroccan state as the absolute authority in the land, independent of any particular group within Morocco – in contrast to previous dynasties which relied on certain tribes or regions as the base of their power. [4] :230 He succeeded in part by creating a new army composed of Black slaves (the 'Abid al-Bukhari ) from Sub-Saharan Africa (or descendants of previously-imported slaves), many of them Muslims, whose loyalty was to him alone. Isma'il himself was half Black, his mother having been a Black concubine of Moulay Sharif. [13] [4] :231 This standing army also made effective use of modern artillery. [2] He continuously led military campaigns against rebels, rivals, and European positions along the Moroccan coast. In practice, he still had to rely on various groups to control outlying areas, but he nonetheless succeeded in retaking many coastal cities occupied by England and Spain and managed to enforce direct order and heavy taxation throughout his territories. He put a definitive end to Ottoman attempts to gain influence in Morocco and established Morocco on more equal diplomatic footing with European powers in part by forcing them to ransom Christian captives at his court. These Christians were mostly captured by Moroccan pirate fleets which he heavily sponsored as a means of both revenue and warfare. While in captivity, prisoners were often forced into labour on his construction projects. All of these activities and policies gave him a reputation for ruthlessness and cruelty among European writers and a mixed reputation among Moroccan historians as well, though he is credited with unifying Morocco under strong (but brutal) leadership. [4] :230–237 [11] :225–230 [3]

Bab Mansour, the monumental entrance to Moulay Ismail's imperial palaces in Meknes, finished in 1732 Bab mansour DSCF5811.jpg
Bab Mansour, the monumental entrance to Moulay Ismail's imperial palaces in Meknes, finished in 1732

He also moved the capital from Fes to Meknes, where he built a vast imperial kasbah, a vast fortified palace-city whose construction continued throughout his reign. [14] He also built fortifications across the country, especially along its eastern frontier, which many of his 'Abid troops garrisoned. This was partly a response to continued Ottoman interference in Morocco, which Isma'il managed to stop after many difficulties and rebellions. [4] :231232 Al-Khadr Ghaylan, a former leader in northern Morocco who fled to Ottoman Algiers during al-Rashid's advance, returned to Tetouan at the beginning of Isma'il's reign with Ottoman help and led a rebellion in the north which was joined by the people of Fes. He recognized Isma'il's nephew, Ahmad ibn Mahriz, as sultan, who in turn had managed to take control of Marrakesh and was recognized also by the tribes of the Sous valley. Ghaylan was defeated and killed in 1673, and a month later Fez was brought back under control. Ahmad ibn Mahriz was only defeated and killed in 1686 near Taroudant. [4] :231232 Meanwhile, the Ottomans supported further dissidents via Ahmad al-Dala'i, the grandson of Muhammad al-Hajj who had led the Dala'iyya to dominion over a large part of Morocco earlier that century, prior to Moulay Rashid's rise. The Dala'is had been expelled to Tlemcen but and they returned to the Middle Atlas at the instigation of the Ottomans and under Ahmad's leadership in 1677. They managed to defeat Isma'il's forces and control Tadla for a time, but where defeated in April 1678 near Wadi al-'Abid. Ahmad al-Dala'i escaped and eventually died in early 1680. [4] :231232 After the defeat of the Dala'is and of his nephew, Isma'il was finally able to impose his rule without serious challenge over all of Morocco and was able to push back against Ottoman influence. After Ghaylan's defeat he sent raids and military expeditions into Ottoman Algeria in 1679, 1682, and 1695-96. A final expedition in 1701 ended poorly. Afterwards, peace was re-established and the Ottomans agreed to recognize Morocco's eastern frontier near Oujda. [4] :232 [11] :226

Isma'il also sought to project renewed Moroccan power abroad and in former territories. Following the decline of central rule in the late Saadian period earlier that century, the Pashalik of Timbuktu, created after Ahmad al-Mansur's invasion of the Songhay Empire, had become de facto independent and the trans-Saharan trade routes fell into decline. The Alaouites became masters over the oasis of Tuat (present-day Algeria) in 1645, but Isma'il established direct control there from 1676 onwards. [4] :232 In 1678-79 he organized a major military expedition to the south, forcing the Emirates of Trarza and Brakna to become his vassals and extending his overlordship up to the Senegal River. [11] :227 In 1694 he appointed a qadi to control in Taghaza (present-day northern Mali) on behalf of Morocco. [4] :232 Later, in 1724, he sent an army to support Trarza (present-day Mauritania) against the French presence in Senegal and also used the opportunity to appoint his own governor in Shinqit (Chinguetti). [4] :232 Despite this reassertion of control, trans-Saharan trade did not resume in the long-term on the same levels it existed before the 17th century. [4] [11]

In 1662 Portuguese-controlled Tangier was transferred to English control as part of Catherine of Braganza's dowry to Charles II. Moulay Isma'il besieged the city unsuccessfully in 1979, but this pressure, along with attacks from local Muslim mujahidin (also known as the "Army of the Rif" [15] ), persuaded the English to evacuate Tangier in 1684. Moulay Ismail immediately claimed the city and sponsored its Muslim resettlement, but granted local authority to 'Ali ar-Rifi, the governor of Tetouan who had played an active part in besieging the city and became the chieftain of northern Morocco around this time. [16] [15] [4] :239 Isma'il also conquered Spanish-controlled Mahdiya in 1681, Al-Ara'ish (Larache) in 1689, and Asilah in 1691. [4] [11] :226 Moreover, he sponsored Moroccan pirates which preyed on European merchant ships. Despite this, he also allowed Europeans merchants to trade inside Morocco, but he strictly regulated their activities and forced them to negotiate with his government for permission, allowing him to efficiently collect taxes on trade. Isma'il also allowed European countries, often through the proxy of Spanish Franciscan friars, to negotiate ransoms for the release of Christians captured by pirates or in battle. He also pursued relations with Louis XIV of France starting in 1682, hoping to secure an alliance against Spain, but France was less interested in this idea and relations eventually collapsed after 1718. [4] :232233

The Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail in Meknes, which contains his tomb and that of his son Ahmad adh-Dhahabi Mausoleum of moulay ismail DSCF5915.jpg
The Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail in Meknes, which contains his tomb and that of his son Ahmad adh-Dhahabi

Disorder and civil war under Isma'il's sons

After Moulay Isma'il's death, Morocco was plunged into one of its greatest periods of turmoil between 1727 and 1757, with Isma'il's sons fighting for control of the sultanate and never holding onto power for long. [3] Isma'il had left hundreds of sons who were theoretically eligible for the throne. [4] Conflict between his sons was compounded by rebellions against the heavily taxing and autocratic government which Isma'il had previously imposed. [2] Furthermore, the 'Abid of Isma'il's reign came to wield enormous power and were able to install or depose sultans according to their interests throughout this period, though they also had to compete with the guich tribes and some of the Amazigh (Berber) tribes. [1] [4] :237238 Meknes remained the capital and the scene of most of these political changes, but Fez was also a key player. [4] :237238 Ahmad adh-Dhahabi was the first to succeed his father but was immediately contested and ruled twice only briefly before his death in 1729, with his brother Abd al-Malik ruling in between his reigns in 1728. After this his brother Abdallah ruled for most of the period between 1729 and 1757 but was deposed four times. [1] [3] [4] :237238 Abdallah was initially supported by the 'Abid but eventually made enemies of them after 1733. Eventually he was able to gain advantage over them by forming an alliance with the Amazigh tribe of Ait Idrasin, the Oudaya guich tribe, and the leaders of Fez (whom he alienated early on but later reconciled with). [4] :238 This alliance steadily wore down the 'Abid's power and paved the way for their submission in the later part of the 18th century. [4] :238240

In this period, the north of Morocco also became virtually independent of the central government, being ruled instead by Ahmad ibn 'Ali ar-Rifi, the son of 'Ali ar-Rifi whom Moulay Isma'il had granted local authority in the region of Tangier. [15] [4] :239 Ahmad ar-Rifi used Tangier as the capital of his territory and profited from an arms trade with the English at Gibraltar, with whom he also established diplomatic relations. Sultan Ahmad adh-Dhahabi had tried to appoint his own governor in Tetouan to undermine Ar-Rifi's power in 1727, but without success. Ahmad ar-Rifi was initially uninterested in the politics playing out in Meknes, but became embroiled due to an alliance he formed with al-Mustadi', one of the ephemeral sultans installed by the 'Abid installed in May 1738. When Al-Mustadi' was in turn deposed in January 1740 to accommodate Abdallah's return to power, Ar-Rifi opposed the latter and invaded Fez in 1741. Abdallah's alliance of factions was able to finally defeat and kill him in 1743, and soon after the sultan's authority was re-established along the coastal cities of Morocco. [4] :239

Restoration of authority under Muhammad ibn Abdallah

Order and control was only firmly re-established under Abdallah's son, Moulay Muhammad ibn Abdallah (Muhammad III), who became sultan in 1757 after spending time as viceroy in Marrakesh. [17] Many of the 'Abid had by then deserted their contingents and joined the common population of the country, and Muhammad was able to reorganize those who remained into his own elite military corps. [4] :239240 The Oudaya, who had supported his father but had been a burden on the population of Fez where they lived, became the main challenge to the new sultan's power. In 1760 he was forced to march with an army to Fez where he arrested their leaders and destroyed their contingents, killing many of their soldiers. In the aftermath the sultan created a new, much smaller, Oudaya regiment which was given new commanders and garrisoned in Meknes instead. [4] :240 Later, in 1775, he tried to distance the 'Abid from power by ordering their transfer from Meknes to Tangier in the north. The 'Abid resisted him and attempted to proclaim his son Yazid (the later Moulay Yazid) as sultan, but the latter soon changed his mind and was reconciled with his father. After this, Muhammad dispersed the 'Abid contingents to garrisons in Tangier, Larache, Rabat, Marrakesh and the Sous, where they continued to cause trouble until 1782. These disturbances were compounded by drought and severe famine between 1776 and 1782 and an outbreak of plague in 1779-1780, which killed many Moroccans and forced the sultan to import wheat, reduce taxes, and distribute food and funds to locals and tribal leaders in order to alleviate the suffering. By now, however, the improved authority of the sultan allowed the central government to weather these difficulties and crises. [4] :240

Gate and fortifications in the port of Essaouira today, founded in 1764 by Sultan Muhammad ibn Abdallah as a port for European merchants Essaouira, Morocco - panoramio (125).jpg
Gate and fortifications in the port of Essaouira today, founded in 1764 by Sultan Muhammad ibn Abdallah as a port for European merchants

Muhammad ibn Abdallah maintained the peace in part through a relatively more decentralized regime and lighter taxes, relying instead on greater trade with Europe to make up the revenues. [2] In line with this policy, in 1764 he founded Essaouira, a new port city through which he funnelled European trade with Marrakesh. [6] [18] The last Portuguese outpost on the Moroccan coast, Mazagan (al-Jadida today), was taken by Morocco in 1729, leaving only the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla as the remaining European outposts in Morocco. [3] [1] Muhammad also signed a Treaty of Friendship with the United States in 1787 after becoming the first head of state to recognize the new country. [19] He was interested in scholarly pursuits and also cultivated a productive relationship with the ulama , or Muslim religious scholars, who supported some of his initiatives and reforms. [4] :241

Muhammad's opening of Morocco to international trade was not welcomed by some, however. After his death in 1790, his son and successor Moulay Yazid ruled with more xenophobia and violence, punished Jewish communities, and launched an ill-fated attack against Spanish-held Ceuta in 1792 in which he was mortally wounded. [6] After his death, he was succeeded by his brother Suleyman (or Moulay Slimane), though the latter had to defeat two more brothers who contested the throne: Maslama in the north and Hisham in Marrakesh to the south. [6] Suleyman brought trade with Europe nearly to a halt. [11] :260 Although less violent and bigoted than Yazid, was still portrayed by European sources as xenophobic. [6] Some of this lack of engagement with Europe was likely a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars, during which England blockaded parts of Europe and both France and Spain threatened Morocco into not taking any side. [6] After 1811 Suleyman also pushed a fundamentalist Wahhabist ideology at home and attempted to suppress local Sufi orders and brotherhoods, in spite of their popularity and despite his own membership in the Tijaniyya order. [11] :260

European influence and confrontation in the 19th century

Photo of Moulay Hassan I in 1873 Hassan I of Morocco.jpg
Photo of Moulay Hassan I in 1873

Suleyman's successor, Abd al-Rahman (or Abderrahmane; ruled 1822–1859), tried to reinforce national unity by recruiting local elites of the country and orchestrating military campaigns designed to bolster his image as a defender of Islam against encroaching European powers. The French conquest of Algeria in 1830, however, destabilized the region and put the sultan in a very difficult position. Wide popular support for the Algerians against the French led Morocco to allow the flow of aid and arms to the resistance movement led by Emir Abd al-Qadir, while the Moroccan ulama delivered a fatwa for a supporting jihad in 1837. On the other hand, Abd al-Rahman was reluctant to provide the French with a clear reason to attack Morocco if he ever intervened. He managed to maintain the appearance of neutrality until 1844, when he was compelled to provide refuge to Abd al-Qadir in Morocco. The French, led by the marshall Bugeaud, pursued him and thoroughly routed the Moroccan army at the Battle of Isly, near Oujda, on August 14. At the same time, the French navy bombarded Tangiers on August 6 and bombarded Mogador (Essaouira) on August 16. In the aftermath, Morocco signed the Convention of Lalla Maghnia on March 18, 1845. The treaty made the superior power of France clear and forced the sultan to recognize French authority over Algeria. Abd al-Qadir turned rebel against the sultan and took refuge in the Rif region until his surrender to the French in 1848. [11] :264265 [6]

The next confrontation, the Hispano-Moroccan War, took place from 1859 to 1860 , and the subsequent Treaty of Wad Ras led the Moroccan government to take a massive British loan larger than its national reserves to pay off its war debt to Spain. [20]

In the latter part of the 19th century Morocco's instability resulted in European countries intervening to protect investments and to demand economic concessions. Sultan Hassan I called for the Madrid Conference of 1880 in response to France and Spain's abuse of the protégé system, but the result was an increased European presence in Morocco—in the form of advisors, doctors, businessmen, adventurers, and even missionaries. [21]

Crisis and installation of French and Spanish Protectorates

After Sultan Abdelaziz appointed his brother Abdelhafid as viceroy of Marrakesh, the latter sought to have him overthrown by fomenting distrust over Abdelaziz's European ties. [22] Abdelhafid was aided by Madani al-Glaoui, older brother of T'hami, one of the Caids of the Atlas. He was assisted in the training of his troops by Andrew Belton (Kaid), a British officer and veteran of the Second Boer War. [23] For a brief period, Abdelaziz reigned from Rabat while Abdelhafid reigned in Marrakesh and Fes and a conflict known as the Hafidiya (1907-1908) ensued. In 1908 Abdelaziz was defeated in battle. In 1909, Abdelhafid became the recognized leader of Morocco. [22]

The abdication of Abd al-Hafid, Sultan of Morocco in 1912, after signing the Treaty of Fes which initiated French colonial rule Abdication of Abd al-Hafid of Morocco (1912, Le Petit Journal).jpg
The abdication of Abd al-Hafid, Sultan of Morocco in 1912, after signing the Treaty of Fes which initiated French colonial rule

In 1911, rebellion broke out against the sultan. This led to the Agadir Crisis, also known as the Second Moroccan Crisis. These events led Abdelhafid to abdicate after signing the Treaty of Fes on 30 March 1912, [24] which made Morocco a French protectorate. [25] He signed his abdication only when on the quay in Rabat, with the ship that would take him to France already waiting. When news of the treaty finally leaked to the Moroccan populace, it was met with immediate and violent backlash in the Intifada of Fes. [26] His brother Youssef was proclaimed Sultan by the French administration several months later (13 August 1912). [27] At the same time a large part of northern Morocco was placed under Spanish control.

Colonial rule, Mohammed V, and independence

Under colonial rule the institution of the sultan was formally preserved as part of a French policy of indirect rule, or at least the appearance of indirect rule. Under the French Protectorate, the Alaouite sultans still had some prerogatives such as the power to sign or veto dahirs (decrees). In the Spanish zone, a khalifa (caliph, meaning "deputy") was appointed who acted as a representative of the sultan. In practice, however, the sultan was a puppet of the new regime and many parts of the population saw the dynasty as collaborators with the French. The French colonial administration was headed by the French resident-general, the first of whom was Hubert Lyautey, who enacted many of the policies that set the tone for France's colonial regime in Morocco. [28] [29]

Moulay Youssef died unexpectedly in 1927 and his youngest son, Muhammad (Mohammed ben Youssef or Mohammed V), was acclaimed as the new sultan, at the age of 18. By the guidance of the French regime, he had spent most of his life growing up in relative isolation inside the royal palace in Meknes and Rabat. These restrictions on his interactions with the outside world continued in large part even after he ascended to the throne. However, over the course of his reign he became increasingly associated with the Moroccan nationalist movement, eventually becoming a strong symbol in the cause for independence. The nationalists, for their part, and in contrast with other anti-colonial movements like the Salafis, saw the sultan as a potentially useful tool in the struggle against French rule. [29]

Photo of Mohammed V in 1934 Muhammad V.jpg
Photo of Mohammed V in 1934

Some of Mohammed V's initial interactions with nationalists came during the crisis caused by the so-called "Berber Dahir". Among other things at this time , the sultan received a delegation from Fez which presented a list of grievances about the new French policy, and had discussions with Allal al-Fassi where he apparently expressed that he had been misled by the French residency when signing it and vowed to cede no further rights of his country. [29] :250 The sultan refrained from openly associating with the nationalist movement in the 1930s, but nonetheless resisted French attempts to shift the terms of the Protectorate during the interwar years. He reaffirmed Morocco's loyalty to France in 1939, at the beginning of the World War II. After the fall of France to the Germans and the advent of the Vichy regime, however, the sultan increasingly charted his own course, successfully pushing some reform initiatives related to education, even as the Vichy regime encouraged him to make several well-publicized trips abroad to bolster his legitimacy and that of the colonial system. In 1942 the Allies landed on the Moroccan Atlantic coast as part of their invasion of North Africa against Axis occupation. This momentous change also allowed the sultan more political manoeuvring room, and during the Anfa Conference in 1943, which Allied leaders attended, Mohammed V was left alone at one time with President Roosevelt, who expressed support for Moroccan independence after the war. The encounter was the sultan's first face-to-face interaction with another head of state without the mediating presence of the French officials. In the fall of the same year, the sultan encouraged the formation of the official Istiqlal ("Independence") Party and the drafting of the Manifesto of Independence that called for a constitutional monarchy with democratic institutions. [29]

These moves were strongly opposed by the French, but the sultan continued to steadily defy them. Another watershed event was the Tangier Speech of 1947, delivered in the Mendoubia Gardens of Tangier during the first visit of a Moroccan sultan to the city since Moulay Hassan I in 1889. [29] The speech made a number of significant points including support for Arab nationalism, a generally anti-colonial ideology, and an expression of gratitude for American support of Moroccan aspirations while omitting the usual statements of support for the French Protectorate. In the following years the tensions increased, with French officials slowly acknowledging the need for Moroccan independence but stressing for slower reforms rather than rapid sovereignty. The French enlisted many powerful collaborators such Thami el-Glaoui to organize a campaign of public opposition to the sultan and demands for his abdication – also known as the " Qa'id Affair" – in the spring of 1953. The political confrontation came to a head in August of that year. On August 13 the royal palace in Rabat was surrounded and closed off by Protectorate military forces and police, and on August 16 Thami and allied Moroccan leaders formally declared Mohammed Ben 'Arafa, a little-known member of the Alaouite family, as sultan. On August 20 the French resident-general, Auguste Guillaume, presented demands to the sultan for his abdication and his agreement to go into exile. The sultan refused to abdicate, and that afternoon he and his sons were escorted at gunpoint from the palace and onto a plane. He and his family were eventually exiled to Madagascar. [29]

The exile of the sultan did not alleviate French difficulties in Morocco, and an insurgency broke out which targeted both the regime and its collaborators with boycott campaigns as well as acts of violence. Several assassination attempts were made against the new puppet sultan, Mohammed Ben 'Arafa, and one of the boycott campaigns was aimed at the country's mosques due to prayers being said in the new sultan's name. Eventually, with the decolonialization process under way in Tunisia and the independence war in Algeria, the French agreed to negotiate Morocco's independence at a conference on August 23, 1955. By October 1 Mohammed Ben 'Arafa had abdicated and later that month even Thami el-Glaoui supported Mohammed V's return. The sultan returned landed at Rabat-Salé Airport at 11:42 am on November 16, greeted by cheering crowds. [29] The French-Moroccan Declaration of Independence was formally signed on March 2, 1956, and Tangier was reintegrated to Morocco later that year. In 1957 Mohammed V adopted the official title of "King", which has since been used by his successors, Hassan II and Mohammed VI. [28] [29]

List of Alaouite rulers

Sultans of the Tafilalt and early expansion:

After capture of Marrakesh in 1668, Sultans of Morocco:

Under the French protectorate (1912–1956):

From Independence (1955 onwards):


Mohammed VI of MoroccoHassan II of MoroccoMohammed V of MoroccoMohammed Ben AarafaMohammed V of MoroccoYusef of MoroccoFrench-Spanish ProtectorateAbdelhafid of MoroccoAbdelaziz of MoroccoHassan I of MoroccoMohammed IV of MoroccoAbderrahmane of MoroccoSlimane of MoroccoYazid of MoroccoMohammed ben AbdallahAbdallah of Moroccoal-Mostadi of MoroccoAbdallah of Moroccoal-Mostadi of MoroccoAbdallah of MoroccoZin al-Abidin of MoroccoAbdallah of Moroccoal-Mostadi of MoroccoMuhammad II ben Arbia of MoroccoAbdallah of MoroccoAli of MoroccoAbdallah of MoroccoAbu'l Abbas Ahmad II of MoroccoAbdalmalik of MoroccoAbu'l Abbas Ahmad II of MoroccoAlaouite Succession CrisisIsmail Ibn Sharifal-Rashid of MoroccoMuhammad ibn SharifMoulay Ali CherifKings of MoroccoSultans of MoroccoTafilaltAlaouite dynasty

Family tree

Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Moulay Ali Cherif
Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Mohammed I Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Ismail Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Rachid
Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Ahmad Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Abdul Malek Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Abdallah II Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Mohammed II Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Ali Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Al-Mustadi' Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Zin al-Abidin
Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Mohammed III
Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Al-Yazid Hisham Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Sulayman
Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Abd al-Rahman
ibn Hicham
Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Mohammed IV
Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Hassan I Aarafa
Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Abd al-Aziz Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Abd al-Hafid Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Youssef Tahar Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Mohammed
Ben Aarafa
Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Mohammed V
3° spouse
Lalla Bahia
2° spouse
Lalla Abla bint Tahar
Fatima Zohra
Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Hassan II
2° spouse
Lalla Latifa Hammou
Strohl-Regentenkronen-Fig. 41.png Mohammed VI
Lalla Salma
Rachid Hicham Ismail
Crown Prince

See also


    Related Research Articles

    Ismail Ibn Sharif Sultan of Morocco

    Moulay Ismail Ben Sharif, born around 1645 in Sijilmassa and died on 22 March 1727 at Meknes, was a Sultan of Morocco from 1672–1727, as the second ruler of the Alaouite dynasty. He was the seventh son of Moulay Sharif and was governor of the Kingdom of Fez and the north of Morocco from 1667 until the death of his half-brother, Sultan Moulay Rashid in 1672. He was proclaimed sultan at Fez, but spent several years in conflict with his nephew Moulay Ahmed ben Mehrez, who also claimed the throne, until the latter's death in 1687. Moulay Ismail's 55-year reign is the longest of any sultan of Morocco.

    Yusef of Morocco Sultan of Morocco

    Yusef ben Hassan was a Sultan of the Alaouite dynasty. He ruled Morocco from 1912 until his death in 1927.

    Meknes City in Fès-Meknès, Morocco

    Meknes is one of the four Imperial cities of Morocco, located in northern central Morocco and the sixth largest city by population in the kingdom. Founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids as a military settlement, Meknes became the capital of Morocco under the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl (1672–1727), son of the founder of the Alaouite dynasty. Moulay Ismaïl created a massive imperial palace complex and endowed the city with extensive fortifications and monumental gates. The city recorded a population of 632,079 in the 2014 Moroccan census. It is the seat of Meknès Prefecture and an important economic pole in the region of Fès-Meknès.

    Abd al-Rahman of Morocco Sultan of Morocco

    Moulay Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham was the sultan of Morocco from 1822 to 1859. He was a member of the Alaouite dynasty.

    Abdelaziz of Morocco Sultan of Morocco

    Abdelaziz of Morocco, also known as Mulai Abd al-Aziz IV, succeeded his father Hassan I of Morocco as the Sultan of Morocco in 1894 at the age of sixteen. He was a member of the Alaouite dynasty.

    Abd al-Hafid of Morocco Sultan of Morocco from 1909 to 1912

    Abdelhafid of Morocco or Mulai Abdelhafid was the Sultan of Morocco from 1908 to 1912 and a member of the Alaouite Dynasty. His younger brother, Abdelaziz of Morocco, preceded him. While Mulai Abdelhafid initially opposed his brother for giving some concessions to foreign powers, he himself became increasingly backed by the French and finally signed the protectorate treaty giving de facto control of the country to France.

    Mohammed Ben Abdellah al-Khatib was Sultan of Morocco from 1757 to 1790 under the Alaouite dynasty. He was the governor of Marrakech around 1750. He was also briefly sultan in 1748. He rebuilt many cities after the earthquake of 1755, including Mogador, Casablanca, and Rabat, and Abdallah Laroui described him as "the architect of modern Morocco." He is notable for having been the leader of one of the first nations to recognize American independence in his alliance with Luis de Unzaga 'le Conciliateur' through correspondence and Unzaga's secret intelligence service and led by his brothers-in-law Antonio and Matías de Gálvez from the Canary Islands.

    Mohammed Ben Aarafa Sultan of Morocco

    Mohammed Ben Aarafa, or Ben Arafa, was a paternal first cousin once removed of Sultan Mohammed V of Morocco; he was put in Mohammed V's place by the French after they exiled Mohammed V to Madagascar in August 1953. His reign as "Mohammed VI" was not recognized in the Spanish-protected part of Morocco. Protests against Ben Aarafa helped lead to Moroccan independence, which was agreed to between France and Mohammed V, after his abdication in October 1955.

    Saadi Sultanate State in northwest Africa from 1510 to 1659

    The Saadi Sultanate or Saadian Sultanate was a state which ruled present-day Morocco and parts of West Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was led by the Saadi dynasty, an Arab Moroccan Sharifian dynasty.

    El Badi Palace

    El Badi Palace or Badi' Palace is a ruined palace located in Marrakesh, Morocco. It was commissioned by the sultan Ahmad al-Mansur of the Saadian dynasty a few months after his accession in 1578, with construction and embellishment continuing throughout most of his reign. The palace, decorated with materials imported from numerous countries ranging from Italy to Mali, was used for receptions and designed to showcase the Sultan's wealth and power. It was one part of a larger Saadian palace complex occupying the Kasbah district of Marrakesh.

    Muhammad al-Jazuli

    Abū 'Abdullah Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān ibn Abū Bakr al-Jazūli al-Simlālī, often known as Imam al-Jazuli or Sheikh Jazuli, was a Moroccan Sufi leader of the Berber tribe of the Jazulah. He is best known for compiling the Dala'il al-Khayrat, an extremely popular Muslim prayer book. This book is usually divided into 7 sections for each day of the week. Al-Jazuli is one of the seven saints of Marrakesh and is buried in his mausoleum inside the city.

    Al-Rashid of Morocco

    Al-Rashid Ben Ali Al-Charif, known as Mulai Al-Rashid, was Sultan of Morocco from 1666 to 1672. He was the son of the founder of the Alaouite Dynasty, Moulay Ali Cherif, who took power in Tafilalt around 1630. In 1635 al-Rashid's brother Muhammad ibn Sharif succeeded their still living father. After the death of their father, Mulai Mohammed brought Tafilalt, the Draa River valley and the Sahara region under Alaouite power. However, due to internal feuding war broke out between the brothers and Mohammed was killed by troops of al-Rashid in 1664.

    Saadian Tombs

    The Saadian Tombs are a historic royal necropolis in Marrakesh, Morocco, located on the south side of the Kasbah Mosque, inside the royal kasbah (citadel) district of the city. They date to the time of the Saadian dynasty and in particular to the reign of Ahmad al-Mansur (1578–1603), though members of Morocco's monarchy continued to be buried here for a time afterwards. The complex is regarded by many art historians as the high point of Moroccan architecture in the Saadian period due to its luxurious decoration and careful interior design. Today the site is a major tourist attraction in Marrakesh.

    Juan Picasso González

    Juan Picasso González was a Spanish military man and general who participated in the Rif War with the Spanish Army of Africa in late 19th century and early 20th century. He was a military investigation instructor known for "Expediente Picasso" (Picasso Files), an investigation report related to the historical defeat of the Spanish Army, some 20,000 soldiers and officers, of which some 8,000 were killed, against the Riffian rebels at the Battle of Annual, on July 1,1921; known as The disaster of Annual.

    Morocco–Turkey relations Diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Turkey

    Turkey–Morocco relations covers relations between Morocco and Turkey, and spanned a period of several centuries, from the early 16th century when the Ottoman Empire neighbored Morocco to until the modern times.

    SharifSidi Mohammed Alaoui is an Alaouite sharif and the current Chamberlain (حاجب) of king Mohammed VI of Morocco. He is reportedly a very close friend of the monarch, in addition to being his distant Alaouite cousin.

    Zawiya of Sidi Muhammad Ben Sliman al-Jazuli Religious building in Marrakesh, Morocco

    The Zawiya of Sidi Muhammad Ben Sliman al-Jazuli is an Islamic religious complex (zawiya) in Marrakesh, Morocco. It is centered around the tomb of the 15th-century Muslim scholar and Sufi saint Muhammad al-Jazuli, who is one of the Seven Saints of Marrakesh.

    Kasbah of Moulay Ismail Historic palace complex in Meknes, Morocco

    The Kasbah of Moulay Ismail is a vast palace complex and royal kasbah (citadel) built by the Moroccan sultan Moulay Isma'il ibn Sharif in Meknes, Morocco. It is also known, among other names, as the Imperial City or Palaceof Moulay Ismail, or the Kasbah of Meknes. It was built by Moulay Isma'il over the many decades of his reign between 1672 and 1727, when he made Meknes the capital of Morocco, and received occasional additions under later sultans.

    Sultanate of Morocco (1665–1912)

    The Sultanate of Morocco was founded in 1665 after Mulay Al-Rashid was able to unite and pacify the country.

    History of Fez

    The History of Fez begins with its foundation by Idris I and Idris II at the end of the 8th century and the beginning of the 9th century CE. It initially consisted of two autonomous and competing settlements on opposing shores of what is now known as the Oued Fes. Initially inhabited by a largely Berber (Amazigh) population, successive waves of mainly Arab immigrants from Ifriqiya (Tunisia) and al-Andalus (Spain/Portugal) over time gave the nascent city an Arab character as well. After the downfall of the Idrisid dynasty, it was contested between different Zenata groups allied with either the Fatimid Caliphate or the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba. In the 11th century the Almoravid sultan Yusuf ibn Tashfin conquered the region and united its two settlements into what is today the Fes el-Bali quarter. Under the rule of the Almoravids and of the Almohads after them, despite losing the status of capital to Marrakesh, the city remained the economic and political center of northern Morocco and gained a reputation for religious scholarship and mercantile activity.


    1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Terrasse, Henri (2012). "ʿAlawīs". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill.
    2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Wilfrid, J. Rollman (2009). "ʿAlawid Dynasty". In Esposito, John L. (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford University Press. ISBN   9780195305135.
    3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (2004). "The 'Alawid or Filali Sharifs". The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual. Edinburgh University Press.
    4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 Abun-Nasr, Jamil (1987). A history of the Maghrib in the Islamic period. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0521337674.
    5. Rézette, Robert (1975). The Western Sahara and the Frontiers of Morocco. Nouvelles Editions Latines. p. 47. Moulay Rachid who really founded the dynasty in 1664, was born in Tafilalet of a family that had come from Arabia
    6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Bennison, Amira K. (2007). "ʿAlawī dynasty". In Fleet, Kate; Krämer, Gudrun; Matringe, Denis; Nawas, John; Rowson, Everett (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam, Third Edition. Brill. ISBN   9789004150171.
    7. Campo, Juan Eduardo (2009). "Mawlā". In Esposito, John L. (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford University Press. ISBN   9780195305135.
    8. Nelson, Harold D. (1985). Morocco, a Country Study. Headquarters, Department of the Army (US government). pp. xxiv, 30.
    9. Thénault, Sylvie (2019). "The End of Empire in the Maghreb: the Common Heritage and Distinct Destinies of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia". In Thomas, Martin; Thompson, Andrew (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of the Ends of Empire. Oxford University Press. pp. 299–316. ISBN   9780198713197.
    10. Julien, Charles André (1970). History of North Africa: Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, from the Arab Conquest to 1830, Volume 2. Routledge & K. Paul. ISBN   9780710066145.
    11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Rivet, Daniel (2012). Histoire du Maroc: de Moulay Idrîs à Mohammed VI. Fayard.
    12. Le Tourneau, Roger (1949). Fès avant le protectorat: étude économique et sociale d'une ville de l'occident musulman. Casablanca: Société Marocaine de Librairie et d'Édition.
    13. El Hamel, Chouki (2013). Black Morocco: A History of Slavery, Race, and Islam. Cambridge University Press.
    14. Arnold, Felix (2017). Islamic Palace Architecture in the Western Mediterranean: A History. Oxford University Press. pp. 309–312.
    15. 1 2 3 Mansour, Mohamed El (2012). "Ṭand̲j̲a". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill.
    16. Miller, Susan Gilson (2005). "Finding Order in the Moroccan City: The Ḥubus of the Great Mosque of Tangier as an Agent of Urban Change". Muqarnas. 22: 265–283 via JSTOR.
    17. Deverdun, Gaston (1959). Marrakech: Des origines à 1912. Rabat: Éditions Techniques Nord-Africaines.
    18. Cenival, P. de; Troin, J.-F. (2012). "al- Suwayra". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill.
    19. Roberts, Priscilla H.; Tull, James N. (June 1999). "Moroccan Sultan Sidi Muhammad Ibn Abdallah's Diplomatic Initiatives toward the United States, 1777–1786". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 143 (2): 233–265. JSTOR   3181936.
    20. Miller, Susan Gilson. (2013). A history of modern Morocco. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-1-139-62469-5. OCLC   855022840.
    21. Miller, Susan Gilson. (2013). A history of modern Morocco. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-1-139-62469-5. OCLC   855022840.
    22. 1 2 "Abd al-Hafid" . Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-Ak – Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2010. pp.  14. ISBN   978-1-59339-837-8.
    23. New York Times, November 4, 1908
    24. W. Harris, "Morocco That Was", ISBN   0-907871-13-5
    25. Long, David E.; Bernard Reich (2002). The Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa. p. 393.
    26. Mohammed Kenbib. "Fez Riots (1912)." Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman. Brill Online, 2014
    27. "Journal Officiel" (PDF). 1 November 1912. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
    28. 1 2 Gilson Miller, Susan (2013). A History of Modern Morocco. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   9781139619110.
    29. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Wyrtzen, Jonathan (2015). "The Sultan-cum-King and the Field's Symbolic Forces". Making Morocco: Colonial Intervention and the Politics of Identity. Cornell University Press. pp. 248–272. ISBN   9781501704246.

    Further reading

    Royal house
    House of Alaoui
    Preceded by
    Saadi Dynasty
    Ruling house of Morocco
    1666 – present