IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > C. The Middle East and North Africa, 1500–1800 > 3. North Africa, 1504–1799
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1504)
3. North Africa, 1504–1799
a. Morocco
MUHAMMAD AL-BURTUGHALI. The sultan of the Banu Wattas (Wattasids) reigned at Fez but retained no authority over the rest of the country. The remainder of Morocco was ruled by local tribal authorities and Sufi orders.  1
Portuguese occupation of Tangier and Agadir. A series of Portuguese garrison forts on the Atlantic coast called presidios was established during this period, while in the Mediterranean, Spanish forces threatened the Moroccan littoral. These Christian invasions prompted a renewed religious and martial vigor among the Muslim inhabitants of Morocco. Local tribesmen who claimed descent from the prophet Muhammad combined with Sufi leaders to eject both Europeans and the reigning Wattasid dynasty during the 16th century.  2
Death of Ahmad al-Wansharisi of Fez, one of the best-known jurists in North Africa. His multivolume work al-Mi‘yar compiled a large corpus of his fatawa (legal opinions), which shed light on social conditions as well as legal thought.  3
MUHAMMAD AL-QA’IM, FOUNDER OF THE SA‘DI DYNASTY. Originally from Sus, the Sa‘di family took a strong position in support of jihad (holy war) against the Portuguese, a position that put them in immediate opposition to the Wattasid policy of appeasement and collaboration. The Sa‘dis claimed descent from Muhammad and were called sharifs. The founder of their dynasty identified with the Sufi al-Jazuli (d. 1465), whose order had militantly opposed the European presence in Morocco. He began to build a territorial base in southern Morocco, which his sons Ahmad al-A‘raj and Muhammad al-Sheik expanded after his death. By 1530 they held between them the southern half of Morocco.  4
Death of Ibn Abi Abdallah Ghazi, a theologian and jurist from Meknes. He served as the official preacher of Meknes and wrote a three-volume history of the city.  5
Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzani, known in the West as Leo Africanus, translated from the Arabic his description of Africa, which furnished the Christian world with most of its geographical knowledge about North and West Africa. Born in Granada before its capture by the Spanish, al-Wazzani relocated to Fez. He was captured by European privateers off the North African coast and converted to Christianity. His learning and travel experience brought him to the attention of the pope, who became his patron.  6
The Wattasids of Fez, alarmed at the Sa‘di control of southern Morocco, declared war. In a truce negotiated by the religious leaders, they accepted the autonomy of Sa‘di Marrakesh.  7
Muhammad al-Sheik, Sa‘di ruler of southern Morocco, captured the Portuguese fortress of Santa Cruz (Agadir). The victory strengthened Muhammad's political position over his brother Ahmad al-A‘raj, the heir-designate of the Sa‘di dynasty.  8
MUHAMMAD AL-SHEIK (AL-MAHDI). The Sa‘di ruler was proclaimed sultan in Marrakesh in 1545. In Jan. 1549 he occupied Fez, ejected the Wattasids, and became sultan of Morocco. The Sa‘dis defended their territory from both Christian and Muslim incursions, most notably by the Portuguese and by the Ottomans based in Algeria. Under them Morocco remained the only North African state to evade Ottoman occupation.  9
c. 1550
The Portuguese evacuated their remaining forts on the Moroccan coast.  10
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.