History

Since the  beginning of history there have been Berbers in North Africa end they were  already well established when the Phoenicians made their first incursions in  1200 BC. Their origins are uncertain but thought to be Euro-Asiatic, The  generic name Berbers, was imposed on them by the Arabs meaning those who were  not Arabs.

Sanhaja,  Masmoda, and Zenata are the three  tribes constituting the Berbers .

The Sanhaja, from which sprang the Almoravide dynasty (the  founders of Marrakesh) were nomads who in the 11C conquered the desert and much  of the region to the south of it for Islam; the Masmouda were quiet farming  people who lived in the north and west and in the High and Anti Atlas mountains  and it was they who gave rise (from out Tin Mal , S of Marrakesh to the Almohade  Dynasty which displaced the Almoravides; the Zenata a sub-group of  which the – Beni Marin- swept in from the empty region between the Tafilalet  and Algeria to become the great Merinide dynasty, were tough, horse-riding  nomads of the cold high plateaux of the interior. Joined to the  Arabs only by Islam, the Berhers have always held themselves proudly separate  in all other matters, especially in the rural and mountain areas. There is no  standard form of Berber language since each tribal group has always used its  own version, and there is no recognized Berber script or literature. Their  strongest form of self-expression is music and dancing, which is rhythmic but  with little harmony, compelling, loud and often quite intoxicating.

The Phoenicians  and Carthaginians:         The first  invaders are believed to have been the Phoenicians, coming from the land  known then as Caanan in the Eastern Mediterranean inthe 12C BC. Gradually they  established trading posts along the north coast of Africa and traces at their  occupation have been found at Lixus (Liks), which was probably the earliest, Tangier  (Tangis)Mellilia (Russadir) Chellah part of Rahat and  Tamuda (near Tetouan). These traces are usually in the form of fish-salting  factories and are often heavily overlaid by Roman remains. The Phoenicians were  essentially a maritime people, not interested in conquering or colonizing, and  paying scant attention to he primitive berber tribes and poor agricultural land  of the interior; therefore, their colonies were little more than enclaves along  the coast, separated by great open spaces of wasteland which they did not need.  Their main center of influence was Carthage (Tunisia). When Carthagebecame an  independent state, the more civilized Carthaginians arrived and turned  the north coast settlements into prosperous towns:they are known to have  developed the fish salting and preserving into quite a major industry and their  anchovy paste, called “garum” was widely exported. They also grew  wheat and probably introduced the grape.

The Carthaginians exercised a considerable cultural influence on the Berbers even long after the Sack of Carthage in 146 BC; indeed, it probably increased  at that time as hundreds of Carthagians fled westwards and took refuge from the  Romans in the friendly enclaves along the coast .

The Romans:          After they had  taken Carthage, the Romans moved westwards into the Berber  kingdoms of Mauritania and Numidia(Algeria now) which became part  of the Roman Empire. In 13 BC the Emperor Octavius granted the kingdom of  Mauritania to the young Berber prince, Juba, son of Juba I of Numidia who had  committed suicide 13 years earlier after the defeat by the Romans at the battle  of Thapsus. In 25 8(2 they added the whole of Numidia to his realm. Educated in  Rome and married to the daughter of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, known as  Cleopatra -Stlene, hts pedigree was unpeccabte dnd he ruled wisely, probably  living in Volubilis. This had already become a h3erher town of sonic statiding  betore the Rornans arrived, due in part to the natural fertility of the region  surrounding it and in part to the te~ching of the Carthaginians enabling the  Berbers to get the best out ol the land.         The next 400  years formed Morocco ‘s Dark Age and very little is known about this period.  The Vandals and Goths who were sweeping through Spain may have touched the  northern tip of Morocco on their way eastwards to Carthage but there are no  traces that they have stayed. The Berbers in the mountains and the  desert continued life much as before. The Romnanised, part-Christian, Berber  Mauritanians of the cities of Volubilis, Sala Colonia,(Chella) Tingis and others held on to their mixed cultural heritage and maintained a degree of  civilization, as evidenced by one or two Latin inscriptions, found in several  places, which date from as late as the mid 7C. But the weak and  divided nature of the country was to prove no match at all for the next wave of  invaders.

ISLAM

The Idrissides         By the 7C AD the Arabs were in full expansion. They were inspired primarily by their fierce  desire to spread their own religion of Islam throughout the World. but they  were doubtless particularly attracted to North Africa by the endless stretches  of desert sand which were to them like home. It was in 670 that the first Arab  invasions of the North African coastal plain took place under Oqba Ben Nafi,  commander of the Umayed dynasty in Damascus.         He is best known  for having founded the city of Kairwan (S of Tunis) and for having built  thefirst ever mosque in North Africa, He swept with his army into what is now  Morocco in the year 683. Which he called this Maghreb al Aqsa or  farthest West         When a second  Ummayed leader, Musa lbn Nouasser, arrived in 703,the Berbers were not  unwilling to participate in the Islamic expansion into southern Spain and into  the more southerly areas of Morocco, However, the progress of Islam remained  patchy and small enclaves of Christians still existed in the interior though  many fled to Spain). This lack of national unity persisted until the arrival of ldriss Ben Abdallah, a descendant of the prophet Mohammed, in 788. There  are very few original Arab sources available for reference about this early  period but that which is most frequently cited by historians is the Raoud El  Kartas, a chronicle by the 13C writer from Fez, Ibn Abi-Zar-El-fasi:  from this we learn that ldriss Ben Abdallah fled into Egypt from the Abbasides  .He arrived by way of Kairwan, first in Tangier and then in the former Roman  city of Volubilis where was received by Berbers already fully converted  to Islam by the earlier Arab arrivals. The Berbers chief proclaimed Idriss King and pledged the support of his own and neighboring tribes. It seems that  the arrival of an assured leader who would guide the country out of the  spiritual uncertainties which had increased since the death of Oqba ben Nafi was welcome. Idriss II was born after his father’s death and was educated and  prepared for his awesome task. He became King at the age of 12, in 804.         He founded Fez which in his time was well prospered. In 818, 8000 Arab families arrived after  being expelled by Christians from the Emirate of Cordoba in Spain. Seven years  2000 families came from Kairwan. These ‘refugies’ were welcomed and  installed, respectively, on the right and left banks of the river which divides  the town. It was very largely as a result of the of these people, with their  refinements and skills, that Fez became a great spiritual and intellectual  center whose influence very much reached to the far north of the country and,  later, beyond. Idriss IIwho died in 828In Morocco came the next dynasty, from  the south The Almoravides. They were camel-riding Berber of the Sanhaja group of  tribes, to whom cultivation of the soil was unknown. For a century or more they  Have been conquering and converting to Islam the black countries of the Sahara,  inspired by their search for the source of gold which had been flowing into  Morocco from somewhere in the region of the Niger river.         The campaigns  fought by the Almoravides were violent and successful and they soon  controlled the whole of the south, under the leadership of Ibn Tachafine ( the  founder of Marrakech in 1062, along with Al Koutoubia Mosque).  Much of Spain became part of the Almoravide empire. A period of peace and  prosperity followed, enriched by the refined culture of the Andalucian courts  to which had been added a healthy dose of Berber virility and discipline.

The Almohades         A new power was  emerging. The Almohades were Masmoda berbers from the high and the Atlas  mountains .their leader, Mohamed Ibn Toumart, was a man of extarordinary power.  The foundation of his doctorine was absolute unity with God, from which stemmed  the name of Mouwahhidine, meaning unitarian. Yacoub Al  Mansour was a great statesman. The whole country prospered at  his reign: spiritually, intellectually, economically and architecturally. Marrakesh was still the capital. Fez flowered as never before, and the end of the  12C is generally regarded as an apogée in Morocco’s history.

The Merinides: The Beni Marin were a tribe of Nomadic Zenata Berbers who came from  an area between Taza and Algeria.         The policy of  the Merinides in running the affairs of Morocco was enlightened they the first  Moroccans to introduce a simple form of civil service. They were also the first  to introduce the Mellah, or Jewish quarters in all major tows, so that the  Jewish could live secure and unmolested. The Merinides were also the  first to introduce the concept of Medersa(originated from Baghdad and later on  introduced to Egypt). Fez is liberally scattered with fine examples within easy  walking distance of the Karawiyine. Sultan Abu Inan built the Bou Inania  Medersa in Fez.         The Merinide  Soltans surrounded themselves with scholars who could lecture not only about  Koran but also about science and law , poetry and geography. The well-known  traveller Ibn Batuta( 1304-78) was an honored member of the court of Abou  Inan who gave him a secretary to write down stories of his travels as in the  black Sea and Tambouktoo. Ibn Khaldoun, the 14 C historian and a Spanish  Muslim spent many years as adviser and close associate of Merinide Sultans.         When the dynasty  was feebled, Spain and Portugal were turning eyes towards Morocco .At that  time, there was another ruler, Ibn Wattas, who came from Asilah to Fez.  When he left Asilah, the Portugueuse invaded Asilah and took many family  membersof Ibn Wattas and 5000 people as slaves, then Ibn Wattas signed a treaty  with Portugal which allowed the portugueuse to invade Asilah, Tangier ,  Essaouira(Mogador)Mazagan (El Jadida) Zemmour, Safi and Agadir and Ceuta.         So, for a time,  almost the entire west coast of Morocco became a seperate Portugueuse colony.

The Saadians         Were decsendants  from the prophet Mohamed. They originally came from Arabiain the 12C, and  settled in the valley of the Draa in the South of Morocco. They moved to Fez  and were easily given power by the Wattasides. In the 16 C, they rebuilt the  town of Taroudant as their capital.         During the  Saadians’reign, the portugueuse had always dreamt of regaining power in the  Moroccan territories. King Sebastian who was asked helped from one of the  sultans nephews, landed in Asilah with a massive force of soldiers, there  followed a memorable battle in 1578 at Ksar Kbir. The battle was known  as the battle of the Three Kings, in which the portugueuse army was  defeated, and in which King Sebastian, the Pretender and the Sultan Abd El  Malik died.         Glorious in  their victory, the Saadians under the reign of Ahmed Saadi(1578-1603) settled  down in Fez. The Badi Palace and the Ethereal Mausoleum ( les tombeux Saadians)  in Marrakesh are proofs of the wealth of Saadians.

The Alaouites         They were also  decsended from the prophet Mohamed. They had arrived from Arabia some three  ceunturies earlier to settle near Rissani in the Tafilalet region in the  south.( They are referred to as Filali). Unlike preceding dynasties they did  not move and seize power but were formally invited by the people of Fez to come  to the capital and take over the throne of Morocco.         The first  Alaouite ruler ,Moulay Rachid, reigned in 1666. He restored order with a firm  hand, revived the life of all mosques and drove out all the pretenders. Under  the reign of Moulay Ismael( 1672-1727) Morocco was made again a great  country.He exchanged ambassadorts with many leading Powers. Meknes was chosen  by Moulay Ismael as the imperial city which he made his capital. Today, the miles  of ruined walls, palaces and stables bear witness to his energy and ambition  and also to the scale of his success.         In 1757, another  wise and strong Alaouite ruler came to the throne. He was Mohamed ben  Abdellah. Hebuilt the city of Essaouira and invited the English, the  French, and the jewish people to settle and to trade there.         Moulay el hassan  acceded to the throne in 1873. He had the task of pacifying the tribes and was  the first monarch to enter the wild Souss Area, where the tribes never  acknowledged the authority of the state.         During his  reign, the European governments suggested ways of reforming administration ,  such as fixed salaries, civil servants and a more structured method tax  collection.         Attacks on  foreigners were frequent and the tribes took power into their own hands. At  that time, the French occupied Morocco, The Spaniards, for historical reasons,  insisted on sharing the influence on Morocco. In 1906, the Conference of  Algeciras( in which 30 nations were present) took place and had the effect  of internationalizing the whole affair. Tangier was an international  free port, and the whole country was under the protectorate of the French  government.         In 1912, Sultan  Moulay Hafid signed the Treaty of FEZ . He was relieved from the  power to govern. The country was under the controle of a French Resident-  General called Lyauty.He aimed to pacify and to construct. He also built the  ports of Casablanca and Kenitra, the new towns of Rabat, Fez, Meknes and  Marrakech, while the old medina of theses cities remained untouched. A modern  educational system was introduced, the administration was modernised and the  legal system reformed. Still the tribes in the south of Morocco were very  rebellious. By 1920, there was a more structured rebellionand resistance in the Rif Mountains, led by Abdelkarim Khattabi. The French began by  driving a wedge between Berbers and Arabs. The Sultan, at that time, signed a  beber decree in 1930, which on the contrary of what the French calculated,  brought the two parties even closer. Then , a serious movement of national  independance was born especially formed by young intellectuals from Rabat and Fez.         In 1927, Moulay  Youssef was succeded by his son Mohamed V, aged 17 years old. It was  not until after World War II that the independence movement really gathered  momentum. The troops Moroccans provided for the French army had conducted  themselves with honor. At that time, an official independence party was formed  called Istiqlal,whose first act was to send a memorundum to the sultan and the  French authorities asking for independence and a democratic constitution. The  immediate reaction to this request was the arrest of several Istiqlal leaders ,  whereas the sultan refused to sign any more decrees concerning his people.         In August 1953  the royal family was deported to Corsica and Madagascar, and another person was  designed by the French to sit on the throne. Violence towards the French  officials was the reaction of the Moroccan people, who claimed the return of  the king.         In December  1956, The king was taken to France , where he signed a declaration promising  that there would be a constitutional monarchy which would move towards  ademocratic state.         In March 1956,  the French signed an agreement in which they granted full independence to  Morocco. The Spanish did the same and Tangier lost its international status  during the same year.         The Sultan  formed a government and French Officials were gradually replaced by Moroccans.         After the death of King Mohamed V on 26 February 1961,  Moulay Hassan formally acceded to the throne on 3 March 1961. At the beginning  of his reign, the new king sought to consolidate independence and unify the  country, removing all foreign military presence in 1962. The year 1965 saw the  implementation of agrarian reform and in 1969 the province of Ifni was returned  to the mother country.

The Green March, which took place in November 1975  with a view to re-integrating Kingdom’s Saharan Provinces, rallied the entire  Moroccan people behind the King leading to the end of the occupation of the  southern regions.

Following the death of His Majesty King Hassan II on  July 23, 1999, a new Sovereign, born after Independence, was entrusted with the  destiny of the Kingdom. His Majesty King Mohammed VI acceded to the throne on 30 July 1999.

 

http://www.embassyofmorocco.us/kingdom.htm  ( website where you can obtain this information )

 

 

 

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