Migratory flows (16th–19th century)

From confession to nation

Without associating them with the same causes or the same outcomes, historians take into account, in the wake of Henri Lapeyre's studies, the differences in demographic growth rates between communities. They nevertheless give more weight to political factors : the creation of a unified state in the peninsula answered both a Europe-wide trend towards national identity and an internal trend arising from the voluntarist drive ensuing from the unification of the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile. They also note the limited Evangelisation and assimilation observed by figures as significant as the Archbishop of Valencia, Patriarch Ribera[1], and, beyond, by Rome. This observation must however be qualified for there was a current of thought that stressed this partial failure the better to insist on the need to expel those elements considered deviant (Jews and Muslims from the Levant clinging to cultural characteristics linked to their original religious blueprint) from the Visigothic heritage. Meanwhile, historians disagree as regards the potential threat presented by Sultan Zidan Abu Maali[2] 's victory over his brother Mohammed esh Sheikh el Mamun[3] in the spring of 1609. Was it a genuine cause or a mere pretext used by the Spanish administration and clergy in order to force    Philip III's hand?

The better to grasp the context of this episode, we must cross reference Spanish and Moroccan sources. The latter show that this fratricide war had no actual bearings on the Morisco problem in so far as Sultan Zidan could not afford to get involved in a military expedition directed at the Iberian Peninsula. The conflict was essentially concerned with internal policy matters. All too aware of the deterioration of the great Al-Mansur[4],'s empire, the brothers were seeking to establish their legitimacy in the eyes of the Moroccan people. Zidan's call for the reconquest of Al Andalus can thus be understood as a way to consolidate opinion against his brother El Mamun who after his early military losses sought support in Spain. He would, in 1610, hand Larache over to the Spanish Realm with a view to obtain its assistance in regaining his lost throne. This action caused a controversy between ulama[5] justifying him and those who condemned him, as well as the anger of the Moroccan people who wondered how a part of the land of Islam (dar al-Islam) could just be granted to Christians who had expelled the Muslims from their “Paradise”, their “Promised Land” (Al Andalus).

Having set in train a broad process of political, economic and religious changes calling on collective representation such as the Crusades, the Spaniards were creating the conditions for their domination of Atlantic trade. Their action had major implications for the balance of power between two worlds : one mostly Christian and the other mostly Muslim. The Ottomans who had the makings of major rivals in this field did not succeed in breaking out of the Mediterranean lake, blocked by the Spaniards on one side and by the Moroccans on the other. The latter, though winning the battle of Wadi al-Makhazin (1578) against the Portuguese, contrived to scupper the Ottoman's plan to recover the Atlantic port of Larache because they blamed the death of Sultan Abd al-Malîk[6] on Turkish soldiers. This geopolitical factor, along with others mentioned earlier show that rifts within the confessional blocks must be taken into account if one is to grasp ongoing trends and the way centres of power shift on the long term.

  1. Juan de Ribera (1523-1611)

    Son of the viceroy of Naples, ordained priest in 1557, he was nominated archbishop of Valencia in 1568 before being appointed by Philip III viceroy of Valencia. Wielding both religious and political authority, he is known as a leading champion of the Tridentine reform and of the policy of expulsion of the Morisco population, fighting Protestantism on one front and Islam on the other. Beatified in 1796, he was canonised in 1960 by Pope John XXIII.

  2. Mawlay Zidan Abu Maali

    His reign was marked by conflicts with his brothers, the sons of the late Sultan Al-Mansur. A scholar and man of letters, he managed to hold a fragile balance in spite of severe tribal strife. With a political impulse at a stand still, the economic growth associated with Al-Mansur's reign enters its decline.

  3. Mohammed esh Sheikh el Mamun

    Mohammed esh Sheikh el Mamun is counted as the eighth Saadian sultan (1608 to 1613). He succeeded his brother Abou Fares-Abdallah and handed the city of Larache over to the Spaniards in 1609. He was a relentless enemy of the Ottomans but his reign was riven with troubles caused by conflicts between princes and tribes.

  4. Ahmad I al-Mansur Eddahbi (m. en 1603)

    Sixth Saadi Sultan, he seized power after the death of his brother Abd Al Malik at the battle of the Wadi al-Makhāzin (1578) also known as the Battle of the Three Kings or the Battle of Ksar el-Kebir. Al Mansur's reign marks the cultural and artistic rebirth of a Morocco in the making. Its growth is economically sustained by the cultivation of sugar cane on the one hand and, on the other, by the importation from Western Africa of gold seized after his victory over the Songhai Empire. Al Mansur established his empire on the strength of his religious policy and his mastery of balance of power diplomacy in his dealings with the Iberian and Ottoman powers.

  5. Ulama

    Scholars and keepers of the Muslim faith and of the sciences it relies on, legal scholars arbiters of Sharia law. In traditional Muslim societies they make up the Intelligentsia.

  6. Abd al-Malîk

    Abu Marwan Abd Al-Malik 5th Saadian Sultan 1576-1578. He took refuge in Istanbul during the reign of his brother Abdallah al-Ghalib (1557-1578), he enjoyed the backing of the Ottomans and succeeded in ascending the throne in 1576 after numerous battles against his nephew Mohammed Al-Moutawakil a.k.a. Abdallah Mohammed (1574-1576). Considered a shrewd politician, he pursued an even handed policy with the Iberians and the Ottomans. He also established sound relations with England under the reign of Elizabeth I. He died at the battle of Wadi al-Makhāzin (4 August 1578) following a plot from the Turkish outfit that had helped him seize power.

AccueilAccueilImprimerImprimer Mohamed El Mazouni, Professeur à l'Université Ibn Zohr, Agadir (Maroc) Paternité - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de ModificationRéalisé avec Scenari (nouvelle fenêtre)