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 > 1335–58
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
Unsuccessful attempts by the Marinid sultans Abu al-Hasan (r. 1331–48) and Abu Inan (r. 1348–58) to conquer Algeria and (after 1347) Tunisia. The campaigns were probably motivated by a desire to capture the trans-Saharan gold trade, the principal outlets of which had shifted away from Morocco and toward the eastern lands of the Maghrib.  1
Breakdown of Hafsid authority in the Tunisian countryside. The central government was disrupted first by the Marinid invasions (1347–58) and then by the assertion of tribal power (1358–70) after the Marinid withdrawal.  2
Reign of the sultan ABU AL-ABBAS, who revived Hafsid authority in Tunisia and eastern Algeria. Abu al-Abbas consolidated the Hafsid hold on the cities (particularly in the south) and played off tribal factions against one another in the countryside. At about this time, Tunisia began to experience a shift in economic focus from the interior to the coast. Commercial activity in the ports assumed a new and lasting importance for the region. As part of this trend, TUNIS emerged for the first time as the paramount city in government, commerce, and religion—a position it maintained into the Ottoman and modern periods.  3
Death of MUHAMMAD IBN BATTUTA (b. 1304), one of the most adventurous travelers in the world and author of one of history's greatest travel accounts (the Rihla). From his native town of Tangier, he journeyed to nearly all parts of the medieval Muslim world: North Africa, Syria, Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, East Africa, the Persian Gulf, Anatolia, the Caucasus, southern Russia, India, the Maldive Islands, China, Spain, and Saharan Africa.  4
Death of MUHAMMAD IBN ARAFA AL-WARGHAMI (b. 1316), the most influential legal scholar of 14th-century Tunisia. His chief contributions were his role in reviving the Maliki school of legal thought and in recognizing the validity of customary law (urf) when it did not contradict Islamic law. His long career coincided with the rise of Tunis as Tunisia's new religious center, eclipsing Qayrawan.  5
Death of ABD AL-RAHMAN IBN KHALDUN (b. 1333), perhaps the greatest social theorist in medieval Islamic history. He spent most of his life in North Africa, and moved to Cairo in his later years. His most enduring work, the Muqaddima (Prolegomena to History), discusses the sources of power, the causes of political decay, and the necessary preconditions for a just government.  6
European foothold in the Maghrib. The shifting balance of power between Iberia and the Maghrib was first signaled by the Portuguese capture of the cities of Ceuta (1415) (See 1415, Aug. 24) and Tangiers (1471). Spain joined the offensive by taking Melilla (1497) and Qassasa and Marsa al-Kabir (1505), as a prelude to further expansion along the Moroccan and Algerian seaboard during the early 16th century. Across the Maghrib, hostility toward non-Muslims mounted as Muslim states demonstrated their inability to expel the Christian invaders. The conflict over territory quickly assumed the character of a holy war.  7
The reign of the Hafsid sultan ABU AMR UTHMAN. Under his long and prosperous rule, the Hafsid state emerged as the preeminent power in North Africa. The Zayyanids in western Algeria became little more than vassals, and even the Wattasids of Morocco submitted to formal Hafsid suzerainty. After Uthman's death, Hafsid authority again crumbled, due to feuding within the ruling family.  8
Death of MUHAMMAD AL-JAZULI, the Sufi leader who reorganized Moroccan Sufism. Under the impetus of his reforms, independent Sufi lodges were affiliated with larger preexisting orders (tariqat). The consolidation of the Sufi network coincided with the intrusion of Portuguese power and the rise of Sufi sheiks as leaders of tribal factions responsible for providing defense and repelling the infidels. By the late 15th century, Spanish and Portuguese activity had ignited intense anti-Christian feelings. A spirit of intolerance overcame relations between Muslims and non-Muslims across the Maghrib, mirroring the religious hatreds that consumed 15th-century Spain.  9
The WATTASID DYNASTY in Morocco. The Wattasids consisted originally of tribal groups loyal to the Marinid dynasty. They had held effective power since 1428 as regents to the Marinid sultans, whom they eventually replaced.  10
Massive influx of Jews to North Africa, following their expulsion from Spain (See 1492, Jan). The Sephardic Jews possessed a greater cultural and commercial sophistication than their North African counterparts, whom they regarded with condescension, and the leading families from Spain soon took command of the reinvigorated Jewish community. Despite rising religious tensions, North African Jews enjoyed a large degree of toleration. Prominent newcomers even found positions in government, serving in some cases as diplomatic envoys or commercial agents.  11
Death of MUHAMMAD AL-MAGHILI, a renowned theologian from Tlemcen. Reflecting the anxiety and alarm provoked by European encroachment, he sanctioned the persecution not merely of Christians and Jews, but also of Muslims who deviated from orthodox practices. (See The Middle East and North Africa, 1500–1800) (See North Africa, 1504–1799)  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.