Morocco, country, Africa: Early History to the Nineteenth Century
Early History to the Nineteenth Century
Berbers inhabited Morocco at the end of the 2d millennium
The Arabs first swept into Morocco c.685, bringing with them Islam. Christianity was all but extirpated, but the Jewish colonies by and large retained their religion. Many Moroccans served in the Arab forces that invaded Spain in the early 8th cent. Later, Berber-Arab conflict fragmented the region.
Morocco became an independent state in 788 under the royal line founded by Idris I. After 900 the country again broke into small tribal states. Warfare between the Fatimids of Tunisia and the Umayyads of Spain for control of the region intensified the already-existing political anarchy, which ended only when the Almoravids overran (c.1062) Morocco and established a kingdom stretching from Spain to Senegal. The Almohads, who succeeded (c.1174) the Almoravids, at first ruled both Morocco and Spain, but the Merinid dynasty (1259–1550), after some triumphs, was limited to Morocco. Rarely, however, was the country completely unified, and conflict between Arabs and Berbers was incessant.
Spain and Portugal, after expelling the Moors (i.e., persons from Morocco) from the Iberian Peninsula, attacked the Moroccan coast. Beginning with the capture of Ceuta in 1415, Portugal took all the chief ports except Melilla and Larache, both of which fell to Spain. The Christian threat stimulated the growth of resistance under religious leaders, one of whom established (1554) the Saadian, or first Sherifian, dynasty. At the battle of Ksar el Kebir (1578) the Saadian king decisively defeated Portugal. The present ruling dynasty, the Alawite, or second Sherifian, dynasty, came to power in 1660 and recaptured many European-held strongholds. Morocco, like the other Barbary States, was, from the 17th to the 19th cent., a base for pirates preying upon the Mediterranean trade.
Sections in this article:
- Modern Morocco
- The Struggle for Independence
- Colonial Struggles
- Early History to the Nineteenth Century
- Land and People
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