Today's Moroccan kingship has roots in the
700s, but the empire's size and influence has changed
significantly during the different dynasties. The
current lineage, the Alaouites, took power in the
mid-17th century. From the 18th century onwards, Morocco
fell behind in economic and technological development.
The Sultan gradually lost both his territory and his
independence to European colonial powers. In 1912, the
greatly weakened Morocco was proclaimed French
Morocco has since been inhabited by prehistoric
people since prehistoric times but came under the name
Mauretania Tingitana to be controlled by the Roman
Empire. The Roman control of the area then ceased a
Germanic people, the vandals, invaded North Africa 429.
However, the vandals abandoned their base to Carthage in
present-day Tunisia and Morocco was largely left in
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Morocco, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
In the 680s, Arab conquerors invaded, but they took
political control of the area only in the early 700s,
when they also began to convert the Berbers to Islam. In
the late 700s, Morocco broke with the Caliphate in
Baghdad, which ruled the Islamic-Arab Empire. The quarry
was led by Idris bin Abdullah, who fled the Arabian
Peninsula following an uprising against the Caliphate.
The idyllic dynasty ruled Morocco for a few centuries
from the city of Fès, which was founded in the 7th
In the 11th century, the Berber dynasty developed the
almoravids (al-murabitun), which came to give Morocco a
new heyday. From Marrakech, built in 1062, the
Almoravids ruled a kingdom from Niger in the south to
Ebro in Spain. The Almoravids were defeated in the 1100s
by the Almohads (al-muwahhidun), who initiated an
Islamic revival movement among the Berbers. Their rule
extended the empire to Tunisia in the east, but after
the victory of the Christian Spaniards at Tolosa in
Spain in 1212, the empire fell apart. The Almohads were
succeeded by another Berber dynasty, the Marinids.
When the Christian conquest of present-day Spain
began in the 1300s, Morocco had to receive large waves
of refugees from there. In the 15th century, Spain and
Portugal targeted attacks directly on Morocco. The
Marinids' attempt to push back the attackers left the
door open for another Berber dynasty, the Wattsides. By
the middle of the 15th century, the wattasides had
basically taken control, but they never gained full
control of the country. In 1559 the wattasides were
defeated by the Arab Saudi dynasty.
In the 16th century, Morocco was threatened by
attacks from both Spain and Portugal and partly from the
Ottoman (Turkish) empire. Apart from a number of Spanish
fortifications along the Mediterranean coast of Morocco,
however, the Saudi dynasty managed to maintain its
independence. The rest of Arab North Africa, on the
other hand, was conquered by the Ottomans.
After succession battles, another Arab dynasty seized
power. The Alaouites, who still rule Morocco today, had
come from the Arabian Peninsula during the time of the
Marines. In 1666, the Alaouiter leader al-Rashid was
proclaimed the Sultan of Fès. Under al-Rashid's brother
and successor Ismail, the Alaouites came to be
recognized by many rebellious people in the country.
However, Morocco remained well into the feudal realm
well into the 19th century, where local chiefs
controlled tribes in the regions, and the Sultan's
central power and religious leadership were primarily
Ismail was a great admirer of the French king Louis
XIV and built in his capital Meknès palace with
Versailles as the role model. Ismail also formed a large
army, consisting mostly of black slaves, and built a
chain of fortresses around the country.
When Ismail died in 1727, he left behind hundreds of
sons and civil war broke out in the succession. At the
same time, trade across the Mediterranean began to shift
to other routes and rival seafaring nations in Europe
grew ever stronger through industrialization.
During the 19th century, the influence of the
Alaouitic Sultanate steadily shrank, as central power
weakened and colonial powers invaded from all sides.
Spain expanded its holdings in Morocco after a brief war
with the Sultan's forces over the city of Ceuta, which
Spain controlled since 1580. Spain also annexed in 1884
the desert area of the south which would later become
Spanish Sahara, where the Sultan considered himself to
have historical rights. France conquered Algeria in 1830
and soon penetrated deeper into the Sahara, both from
the Mediterranean coast and from West Africa.
At two conferences in Spain - in Madrid in 1880 and
in Algeciras 1906 - the European powers had promised to
respect Morocco's independence, but in the meantime they
agreed on how they would divide North Africa among
themselves. Morocco fell within France's sphere of
In 1912, France reached an agreement with the
severely weakened Sultan who made Morocco the French
protectorate. However, on paper, Morocco remained a
sovereign state. In another agreement in the same year,
Spain and France agreed that Spain should retain its
French colonial rule in Morocco gradually hardened
and tens of thousands of settlers, colons, bought large
portions of the best agricultural land. This contributed
to growing Moroccan nationalism during the 1930s.
The independent tribes of mountains and deserts had
already revolted against the colonial powers. In 1921,
rebellion broke out among the Berbers in Rifbergen.
Their leader, known as Abdelkrim (Muhammad bin Abd
al-Karim al-Khattabi), proclaimed a republic in the
mountains that the Spaniards only managed to subdue in
1926. In the French protectorate, it was not until 1934
before the French had defeated all resistance.
The independence struggle against France was based
partly on the traditional resistance in the countryside,
partly on the elite of the Sultan and in the big cities
who wanted to regain control of politics and the
economy. During the Second World War, the nationalists'
hope for a change was strengthened. In 1943, the
Independence Party (Istiqlal) was formed, which with the
support of the Sultan demanded full independence and a
democratic constitution. After a riot in Casablanca,
Istiqlal was banned in 1953. The Sultan was banished to
Due to rising protests and unrest in Morocco, along
with the adversities of the colonial war in Indochina
and the onset of the liberation war in Algeria, France
succumbed to the demands of Moroccan independence. The
Sultan was allowed to return in 1955 and Morocco became
independent in 1956. The Spanish protectorate in the
Rifbergen in the north and Tangier were incorporated
into the country.