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History

Prehistory

Man was present in the Atlantic Coast since around 800,000 B.C.; the prehistoric utensils found in Casablanca, the eldest in North Africa, witness this presence. Around 5000 BC, new populations from the Middle East cohabited with the first inhabitants of Morocco. These latters were the descendants of the Berbers’ family who expanded due to the various Mediterranean inputs.

Pastoralism

Around 1600 B.C., during the Bronze Age, Berber pastors engraved on the High Atlas’ rocks drawings of daggers, halberds, axes and shields, motifs used once by Mauritanians to illustrate the two major activities of the time: hunting and fishing.

Antiquity

Around 800-600 B.C., Morocco entered the History. The Libyc-Berber writing appears in the Atlas. Phoenician representations were also reproduced on pottery, and were found on the island of Essaouira around 500 B.C. The Ethiopians settled in Morocco; homebodies, in the North, lived in troglodytic dwellings; in the South, the nomadic horsemen hunted; the Atlanteans occupied the center of the Atlas and gave their name to the Atlantic Ocean.

VI century B.C., birth of Mauritania

Greeks name Western Libyans the "Mauritius"; this was the name that the people of Morocco and western Algeria gave themselves too. Between 25 B.C. and 23 A.D., Augustus settled Juba II, King of Mauritania, at the head of the kingdom. He lived in Volubilis and set up purple factories in the island of Mogador, Essaouira, and travelled to the Canary Islands using his maritime fleet.

42 A.D., Roman conquest

Roman armies took control of Tingitane Mauritania. The creation of roads in this region led to growing and intense agricultural and commercial activities. Tingis, Lixus, Volubilis and Benassi got developed. Romans will keep their influence over the South until 429, date of the Vandals’ passage in this part of Tingitane Mauritania. Since 533, Byzantine and Visigoth fleets occupied Sebta and Essaouira, only few traces of their passage remained.

Muslim conquest

Islamization: since 682, the Arab leader Oqba Ibnu Nafi'a, founder of Kairouan, the first Muslim city in Tunisia, reached the Atlantic coasts through a raid. Berbers and Byzantines tried in vain to face the invader. The Muslim Arabs managed to extend their domination, thereby Islamizing populations.

Caliphate crisis: the Muslim rule was consolidated despite the formation of Kingdoms (Imarat) based on unpleasant religious beliefs, as the Kharijit Kingdom in Sijilmassa, Tafilalet, or that of Berghouata, in the Atlantic Coast. In 740, a major revolutionary movement took place against the Great Authority of Damascus, the headquarters of the Umayyad Caliphate. Gradually, Morocco got rid of their power, and was divided into many kingdoms and principalities.

Idrissid Dynasty

The Idrissid was the first Muslim dynasty that reigned in Morocco from 788; they came from the Middle-East. The Moroccan state was founded in 791 by Idriss I, descendant of Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law. Idriss I escaped the massacre of his family in Saudi Arabia and settled in Volubilis. He then founded the city of Fez which, after his death in 792, was chosen by his son as the Kingdom’s capital.Idriss II succeeded his father, based himself in Fez after its construction in 803, and died in 828. Fez economically prospered when his sons and his brothers succeeded him. Between 857 and 859, the city realized prodigious achievements, namely the construction of mosques such as Al Quaraouiyine and Al Andalus. The Idrissids reached Cordoba at the beginning of the Eleventh century, before the divisions in Spain, which was Muslim at the time, caused their decline and disappearance in 1055.

Almoravid Dynasty

The Almoravid Dynasty was a Berber dynasty coming from the Sahara, and their Arabic name "Al Mourabitoun" can be literally translated into “the warrior knights”. Youssef Ibn Tachfine, the most well-known Sultan of this dynasty, built the city of Marrakesh (that later became capital of the Kingdom) around 1070, and then took charge of the political unification of Morocco and Muslim Spain. Thanks to him, Andalusian civilization spread in the Maghreb. He reigned for 37 years and was succeeded by his son, Youssef Ben Ali, in 1106.

Almohad Dynasty           

The Almohad Dynasty was a native Berber dynasty of the High-Atlas founded by El Mehdi Ibn Toumart, preacher in Tinmal (High Atlas). They named their dynasty after "Al Mouwahidoune", which stands for “the unifiers" (e.g. those who proclaim the unity of God).

Abdel-Moumen, his disciple, chose Marrakesh as his capital. They then built Al Koutoubia, thus founding the Almohad Empire. He managed to unify North Africa but died in Rabat in 1163 before annexing Andalusia to his Empire. However, his successor, Yacoub El-Mansour, did this when he won the Battle of Alarcos in 1195, fighting against the Portuguese and Spanish.

After Yacoub El-Mansour’s death, military failures followed This lead to the division of the Empire, and also the disappearance of Ibn Tumart’s religious system.

 

Merinid Dynasty

The Merinid Dynasty was a Berber dynasty also (nomads from the high basin of Moulouya). Fez was their capital. They built Fez El-Jadid as well as several “Medresas” (schools), such as the El-Attarine Medersa, the Abu Inane Medersa and the Merinid Medersa in Sale, to name but a few.

The Merinids benefited from the decline of the Almohad Empire to rule over the cities of Fez, Rabat, and Sale and also the fertile plains of Saiss and El Gharb.

In 1269, the Merinid Sultan Abu Yussef Yacoub conquered the city of Marrakesh, thus definitively taking power from the Almohads.

In 1331, as supreme leader of the Merinids, Abu El-Hassan attempted to restore the Empire. Even though he could not retain control over Spain and Algeciras in 1340, he won Tlemcen and Tunis back in 1347.

In 1348, the Merinids started declining mainly due to plague and the rebellion movements that took place in Tlemecen and Tunis. So, they, along with their successors the Wattassids, failed to stop the Portuguese and Spanish from settling the Moroccan coasts. Subsequently, a resistance movement organized around brotherhoods and the marabouts resulted in the emergence of the Saadian dynasty.

Saadian Dynasty

Coming from the valley of Draa, the Saadian was a Sherifian dynasty (from the “Shorfa”, i.e, descendants of the Prophet Mohammed Pbuh). Marrakesh was their capital.

In 1578, the Sultan Ahmed Al Mansur Eddahbi, who reigned till 1602, established his kingdom. His reign was known for his victories in important battles such as “the Battle of the Three Kings” in Oued El-Makhazine, and "the Conquest of Timbuktu" from which he gained gold and slaves. During his time, “El Badi Palace” was constructed, and the sugar and firearms industries were developed.

Alawite Dynasty

The Alawite dynasty originates from the Shorfa of Tafilalet, descendants of Imam Ali. They settled in the region of Tafilalet and by around 1666, they had taken control of the whole country.

The founder of this dynasty and its spiritual leader, Moulay Ali Sherif, and his successors (including Mohamed Ben Ali Sherif, officially the first King of Morocco in 1640) successfully applied political and military strategies to reunify Morocco. In 1672, King Moulay Ismail followed his predecessor’s path. He started by founding the city of Meknes and making it the Kingdom’s capital, then won Larache and Tangiers back, and dismissed local political and religious powers founding thus the Sherifian Empire. His powers extended to Senegal, and he established a network of fortresses throughout the territory. Only then did he establish diplomatic relations with foreign countries, especially with Louis XIV of France and Jacques II of England.

After Moulay Ismail’s death in 1727, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah (Mohamed III) succeeded him in 1757. As a devoted Muslim, he was dedicated to gaining peace and security in his country. Therefore, he was welcomed as a providential man. As soon as he obtained power, he reduced taxes, made his own currency and reconstructed a new army recruited from the tribes of “Guich”. At the same time, he strengthened the Moroccan ports and won Mazagan back from the Portuguese in 1769. He then made peace with the Spaniards and signed an agreement on prisoners with Louis XV, (an agreement that Moulay Ismail had been unable to finalize).

Aware of Morocco’s need to reinforce its relations at the international level, especially after the loss of Triq-Sultan, he signed trade treaties with Denmark, Sweden, England and the United States. Having recognized the United States’ independence, Sidi Mohammed received a letter from George Washington, offering to conclude a friendship treaty between Morocco and the United States.

After his death in 1790, Moulay Abdallah Ben Yazid succeeded him and reigned for two years until1792. It was Moulay Slimane, his successor, who led the Turks out of Oujda, built several mosques and madrasas and helped the Algerians in the Battle of Isly.

The Sherifian Empire’s support to the Emir Abd el-Kader of Algeria led Morocco to one of its most difficult political crises. Thus, foreign military interventions were a must. France intervened in 1844 and Spain in 1859-1860; and the fighting continued until 1873, under the reign of Sultan Mohamed IV. Subsequently Sultan Moulay Hassan I came to power, rallying with the High Atlas tribes. He aimed at modernizing the country and safeguarding its independence.

Treaties were imposed by Great Britain, Spain and France, leading the country to be deeply indebted to foreign banks. Moulay Hassan I died in 1894 and the Sultan Moulay Abdelaziz succeeded him, ruling until 1907, the year Moulay Hafid took over.

France decided to occupy Casablanca after the assassination of some European citizens. Yet, France and Spain were already designated to represent the new State Bank of Morocco at Algeciras Conference in 1906. In this Conference, in which 30 nations were present, the whole affair was internationalized. Tangier became an international free port, and the whole country became under the protectorate of the French government. The French Resident, General Lyautey, ruled till 1925. Then, a serious movement of national resistance began, formed especially by young intellectuals from Rabat and Fez.

His Majesty the King Mohamed V

 

In 1927, at the age of 17, Mohamed V succeeded his father Moulay Youssef. In 1944, the "Independence Manifesto" was presented, asking recognition of the independence of Morocco, its territorial integrity and its national sovereignty as embodied by His Majesty King Mohammed V.

In August 1953, the Royal family was deported to Madagascar, and another person was appointed by the French to sit on the throne. Violence towards French officials was the reaction of the Moroccan people, who called for the return of their king.

In November 1955, the king returned to Morocco, and 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.

 His Majesty the King Hassan II

After his death in 1961, King Mohamed V was succeeded by his son Hassan II who introduced a new constitution. His main concern, at the time, was to safeguard the country’s independence and unity.

At the beginning of his reign, in 1962, His Majesty worked on strengthening the country; and since his era was marked by political and economic difficulties, his aim was to reinforce centralization of authority. In 1963, a war took place between Moroccan and Algerian armies. In 1965, the land reform was applied, and then in 1969, Morocco won back the province of Sidi Ifni.

At the international level, King Hassan II, in 1973, dispatched two military units, one to the Golan (Syria), and the other to Sinai (Egypt), to support them against Israeli forces. He also made huge efforts to defend the holy city of Al Qods against Judaization.

At the domestic level, the Green March, which took place in 1975, was the most important event in the reign of late Hassan II. 350,000 unarmed Moroccans marched south into the desert to reassert Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara.

Paving the way for a national industrial policy, he set up factories, linked the main towns and villages through an important road network and constructed ports and airports.

In the social fields of education, health and housing, he had hospitals, schools, institutes and universities built, and reduced the rates of rent for low-income tenants.

To lay the foundations of democracy, he established communal, municipal and rural councils, and elected a Parliament. Under his rule, the administrative map of the Kingdom changed significantly, with the creation of new provinces to bring government and the citizens closer. He also gave instructions to take care of the countryside. He built mosques, the largest of which is the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, a real jewel of Islamic architecture. He also instituted the Council of Ulemas and founded the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco. Since 1990, and with a new approach to national and international governance, the regime evolved further towards democracy.

In July 23, 1999, His Majesty the King Hassan II was succeeded by His Majesty the King Mohamed VI.