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Dynasties: Idrissids, Almoravids, Almohads and Merenids

788- Idrissid Dynasty Begins

The Idrissid Dynasty would last from 788-923 AD.They were the first Arab rulers of Morocco. The name stems from Idris I, who, tradition has it, was a direct descendant of the prophet Mohammed. Idriss II, his son, made Fes the capital. Fes would become one of the centers of Islamic and Arab culture because of the settlement of refugees from Kairouan and Andalusia there. The main contributions of the Idrissid dynasty were giving Morocco a capital, and patron saints in Idris I and II.1

10th-11th Century- Hilalians

The Hilalians originated as a Bedouin tribe in the Arabian peninsula that migrated to Egypt raided and plundered the villages there.When the Fatimid Dynasty conquered Egypt, they had the Bedouins move west through North Africa. "The historian Ibn Khaldun described the advance of the Halilians across the Maghrib as being like a swarm of locusts."2 The Hilalians wrecked havoc all the way into Morocco. Their arrival brought a significant increase of Arabs into the predominantly Berber population of Morocco.

1062-1145 Almoravid Dynasty

One of the major Berber tribes of the day were the Sanhajas. When the leaders of the Sanhaja tribe returned from their voyage to Mecca, they were inspired with religious enthusiasm and desired to create a retreat for young men to study Islam. These retreat centers were called ribats (fortress) and the youth that emerged from the retreat centers were fierce warriors, known as mrbatin (ones of the fortress). From here does the word almoravid generate. These soldiers helped conquer Morocco and on into Algeria. They later constitued the army that went to fight in Spain. They established their capital in Seville, Spain.

1145-1248 Almohad Dynasty

The Almohads emerged from a different Berber tribe to overthrow the Almoravids. Ibn Tumart was a member of the Hargha Berber tribe who traveled to Mecca in 1100. He was so zealous that he was forced out of Mecca and Alexandira. On his boat ride back to Morocco, his zeal so preturbed his fellow soldiers that he was thrown overboard. The sailors saw that he survived in the sea, and then believed him to be a holy man.

When he returned to Morocco he developed a following. He was soon declared "Al Mahdi" (the divinely guided one) and started a movement called Al Muahhid, (those who declare the oneness of God). Al Muahhid was known in the west as Almohads.

The eventually ruled not only Morocco, but also Muslim Spain and Tunisia.Their empire began to decline when they lost the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 to the Spanish.

When Ibn Tumart reached Morocco he developed a following. Religious orthodoxy may have been an issue but probably a major source of the problem was the age-old antagonisms of the mountain Berbers for the Berbers of the desert plains. Ibn Tumart was declared to be al Mahdi, the divinely guided one and he led a movement which was called al Muahhid, those who proclaim the oneness of God. The name al Muahhid is expressed in western history as Almohads.

1248-1465 Merenid Dynasty

 The Merernids arose by defeating the Almohads at Merrakech. The Merinids declared the capital to be Rabat. The Merenids dynasty was built ona combination of traditional Islam with Berber folk lore. Merenid rulers sent sailors out to plunder cities along the Non-Muslim Euroean coast, and encouraged the development of Moroccan arts and architecture.

Recommended Resources

Political and Economic History of Morocco

A History of Medieval Spain, by Joseph O'Callaghan (available on Amazon)

Morocco: From Empire to Independence, by C. R. Pennell (available on Amazon)

A Short History of North Africa: From Pre-Roman Times to the PresentLibya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco by Jane Soames Nickerson

Historical Dictionary of Morocco, by Thomas K. Park (available on Amazon)



 1= http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761572952_8/morocco.html

2= http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/morocco.htm