III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > B. The Middle East and North Africa, 500–1500 > 2. The Muslim Middle East and North Africa, c. 945–1500 > f. North Africa > 1087
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
Norman devastation of the city of Mahdiyya, which had been founded as the Fatimid capital around 912.  1
The ALMOHAD (al-Muwahhidun) DYNASTY ruled Morocco. In successive stages, it established its authority in Algeria (from 1151), Tunisia and Tripolitania (from 1160), and Spain (all of the Muslim territories by 1172). The founder of the dynasty was the religious firebrand MUHAMMAD IBN TUMART (1080–1130). He antagonized the Almoravid government in North Africa by calling for the purification of the faith and the rejection of the Maliki school of law and its religious teachings. After fleeing to the mountains of Morocco, he allied himself with Abu Hafs Umar, a leader within the Hintata tribal confederation. Under Ibn Tumart's successor, Abd al-Mu'min, the Almohads gradually absorbed the Almoravid dominions until they finally took Marrakesh itself in 1147. The greatest ruler of the dynasty was ABU YA’QUB (r. 1163–84), a renowned patron of religious learning and the arts. Among the scholars he sponsored were Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Abu Bakr ibn Tufayl (Abbubacer).  2
Norman raids and conquests in the coastal area between Cape Bon and Tripoli.  3
Death of Ali ibn Hirzihim, a Moroccan Sufi who openly criticized the strict orthodoxy of the Almoravid dynasty. He was largely responsible for the propagation of al-Ghazali's works in northwest Africa.  4
Death of Abu Maydan al-Andalusi, a Muslim scholar from Spain who settled in North Africa. He founded a scholarly tradition that combined the study of Islamic law and hadith with the practice of Sufism. His tomb later became a famous destination for pilgrimages.  5
The HAFSID DYNASTY, which ruled Tunisia and eastern Algeria. The dynasty was founded by the Almohad governors of Tunis, who broke away when the caliph Abd al-Ma'mun renounced (1228) the religious doctrines of Ibn Tumart, the original leader of the Almohad movement.  6
The chief of a Berber tribe, the Banu Abd al-Wad, was appointed governor of Tlemcen, paving the way for the future ZAYYANID DYNASTY. His successors gradually carved out a sizable state for themselves in western Algeria, keeping their capital at Tlemcen. The extent of Zayyanid territory fluctuated greatly throughout the dynasty's history. The Zayyanids experienced two peaks: during the late 13th and the early 16th century, they held most of Algeria, including large sections of the coast. But throughout their history, they were vulnerable to attacks from their Marinid and Hafsid neighbors, as well as to tribal unrest inside their own dominions. The dynasty was finally extinguished in the mid-16th century by a combination of Spanish encroachment along the coast and the intervention of the Ottoman Empire, the latter ostensibly taking up the Muslim cause against Christian aggression.  7
Overthrow of the Almohad dynasty by the MARINIDS, a coalition of Berber tribes. Fez was captured in 1248 and became the Marinid capital; expanded and partly rebuilt, it thrived as a center of religion and commerce. Marrakesh, the Almohad capital, finally submitted in 1269. Throughout Marinid history (1275–1465), the dynasty rested on Berber military strength. Its authority covered the plains of central and northern Morocco, but the mountainous regions remained beyond its reach. The system of government was essentially tribal. Tribes closest to the ruling family received government offices and, in the provinces, enjoyed a degree of autonomy within their territories.  8
The death of ALI AL-SHADHILI, one of the most famous Sufis of medieval Islam. After his death, his followers formed the Shadhiliyya Sufi order, which quickly spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  9
The Eighth Crusade, led by Louis IX of France, landed at Carthage. After besieging Tunis for more than a month, the Crusaders agreed to withdraw.  10
Power struggle in Tunisia. On the death of the Hafsid ruler al-Mustansir (r. 1249–77), tribal factions rose up to contest the throne. The Hafsid Sultanate temporarily split up into petty tribal domains and city-states. This period marked the zenith of outside interference in Hafsid affairs, especially from the Christian kingdom of Aragon, which exploited tribal divisions to wrest commercial and political concessions from the nominal Hafsid rulers.  11
Reign of the sultan ABU BAKR, who restored Hafsid authority throughout Tunisia. The Hafsid state nevertheless remained vulnerable, depending on a delicate balance of internal forces to sustain its power. The chief bulwarks of the sultanate were tribal leaders, who retained great prestige through their connection with the extinct Almohad dynasty; Andalusian refugees who, from the mid-13th century, increasingly filled key positions in the bureaucracy; and local tribal forces and (in the south) urban notables, who entered into alliances with the central government without entirely ceding their power. One of the most momentous developments during this period was the formation of a pirate fleet in Hafsid ports, particularly Mahdiyya and Bijaya. Over the next four centuries, piracy became a considerable source of revenue for North African states.  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.