Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 7


[NOTE--In the chapters on Moroccan history and art I have tried to set
down a slight and superficial outline of a large and confused subject.
In extenuation of this summary attempt I hasten to explain that its
chief merit is its lack of originality.

Its facts are chiefly drawn from the books mentioned in the short
bibliography at the end of the volume, in addition to which I am deeply
indebted for information given on the spot to the group of remarkable
specialists attached to the French administration, and to the cultivated
and cordial French officials, military and civilian, who, at each stage
of my rapid journey, did their best to answer my questions and open my



In the briefest survey of the Moroccan past, account must first of all
be taken of the factor which, from the beginning of recorded events, has
conditioned the whole history of North Africa: the existence, from the
Sahara to the Mediterranean, of a mysterious irreducible indigenous race
with which every successive foreign rule, from Carthage to France, has
had to reckon, and which has but imperfectly and partially assimilated
the language, the religion, and the culture that successive
civilizations have tried to impose upon it.

This race, the race of Berbers, has never, modern explorers tell us,
become really Islamite, any more than it ever really became Phenician,
Roman or Vandal. It has imposed its habits while it appeared to adopt
those of its invaders, and has perpetually represented, outside the
Ismalitic and Hispano-Arabic circle of the Makhzen, the vast tormenting
element of the dissident, the rebellious, the unsubdued tribes of the

Who were these indigenous tribes with whom the Phenicians, when they
founded their first counting-houses on the north and west coast of
Africa, exchanged stuffs and pottery and arms for ivory,
ostrich-feathers and slaves?

Historians frankly say they do not know. All sorts of material obstacles
have hitherto hampered the study of Berber origins, but it seems clear
that from the earliest historic times they were a mixed race, and the
ethnologist who attempts to define them is faced by the same problem as
the historian of modern America who should try to find the racial
definition of an "American." For centuries, for ages, North Africa has
been what America now is: the clearing-house of the world. When at
length it occurred to the explorer that the natives of North Africa were
not all Arabs or Moors, he was bewildered by the many vistas of all they
were or might be: so many and tangled were the threads leading up to
them, so interwoven was their pre-Islamite culture with worn-out shreds
of older and richer societies.

M. Saladin, in his "Manuel d'Architecture Musulmane," after attempting
to unravel the influences which went to the making of the mosque of
Kairouan, the walls of Marrakech, the Medersas of Fez--influences that
lead him back to Chaldaean branch-huts, to the walls of Babylon and the
embroideries of Coptic Egypt--somewhat despairingly sums up the result:
"The principal elements contributed to Moslem art by the styles
preceding it may be thus enumerated: from India, floral ornament; from
Persia, the structural principles of the Acheminedes, and the Sassanian
vault. Mesopotamia contributes a system of vaulting, incised ornament,
and proportion; the Copts, ornamental detail in general; Egypt, mass
and unbroken wall-spaces; Spain, construction and Romano-Iberian
ornament; Africa, decorative detail and Romano-Berber traditions (with
Byzantine influences in Persia); Asia Minor, a mixture of Byzantine and
Persian characteristics."

As with the art of North Africa, so with its supposedly indigenous
population. The Berber dialects extend from the Lybian desert to
Senegal. Their language was probably related to Coptic, itself related
to the ancient Egyptian and the non-Semitic dialects of Abyssinia and
Nubia. Yet philologists have discovered what appears to be a far-off
link between the Berber and Semitic languages, and the Chleuhs of the
Draa and the Souss, with their tall slim Egyptian-looking bodies and
hooked noses, may have a strain of Semitic blood. M. Augustin Bernard,
in speaking of the natives of North Africa, ends, much on the same note
as M. Saladin in speaking of Moslem art: "In their blood are the
sediments of many races, Phenician, Punic, Egyptian and Arab."

They were not, like the Arabs, wholly nomadic; but the tent, the flock,
the tribe always entered into their conception of life. M. Augustin
Bernard has pointed out that, in North Africa, the sedentary and nomadic
habit do not imply a permanent difference, but rather a temporary one of
situation and opportunity. The sedentary Berbers are nomadic in certain
conditions, and from the earliest times the invading nomad Berbers
tended to become sedentary when they reached the rich plains north of
the Atlas. But when they built cities it was as their ancestors and
their neighbours pitched tents; and they destroyed or abandoned them as
lightly as their desert forbears packed their camel-bags and moved to
new pastures. Everywhere behind the bristling walls and rock-clamped
towers of old Morocco lurks the shadowy spirit of instability. Every new
Sultan builds himself a new house and lets his predecessors' palaces
fall into decay, and as with the Sultan so with his vassals and
officials. Change is the rule in this apparently unchanged civilization,
where "nought may abide but Mutability."



Far to the south of the Anti-Atlas, in the yellow deserts that lead to
Timbuctoo, live the wild Touaregs, the Veiled Men of the south, who ride
to war with their faces covered by linen masks.

These Veiled Men are Berbers, but their alphabet is composed of Lybian
characters, and these are closely related to the signs engraved on
certain vases of the Nile valley that are probably six thousand years
old. Moreover, among the rock-cut images of the African desert is the
likeness of Theban Ammon crowned with the solar disk between serpents,
and the old Berber religion, with its sun and animal worship, has many
points of resemblance with Egyptian beliefs. All this implies trade
contacts far below the horizon of history, and obscure comings and
goings of restless throngs across incredible distances long before the
Phenicians planted their first trading posts on the north African coast
about 1200 B.C.

Five hundred years before Christ, Carthage sent one of her admirals on a
voyage of colonization beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Hannon set out
with sixty fifty-oared galleys carrying thirty thousand people. Some of
them settled at Mehedyia, at the mouth of the Sebou, where Phenician
remains have been found, and apparently the exploration was pushed as
far south as the coast of Guinea, for the inscription recording it
relates that Hannon beheld elephants, hairy men and "savages called
gorillas." At any rate, Carthage founded stable colonies at Melilla,
Larache, SalÚ and Casablanca.

Then came the Romans, who carried on the business, set up one of their
easy tolerant protectorates over "Tingitanian Mauretania,"[A] and built
one important military outpost, Volubilis in the Zerhoun, which a series
of minor defenses probably connected with SalÚ on the west coast, thus
guarding the Roman province against the unconquered Berbers to the

[Footnote A: East of the Moulouya, the African protectorate (now west
Algeria and the Sud Oranais) was called the Mauretania of Caesar.]

Tingitanian Mauretania was one of the numerous African granaries of
Rome. She also supplied the Imperial armies with their famous African
cavalry, and among minor articles of exportation were guinea-hens,
snails, honey, euphorbia, wild beasts, horses and pearls. The Roman
dominion ceased at the line drawn between Volubilis and SalÚ. There was
no interest in pushing farther south, since the ivory and slave trade
with the Soudan was carried on by way of Tripoli. But the spirit of
enterprise never slept in the race, and Pliny records the journey of a
Roman general--Suetonius Paulinus--who appears to have crossed the
Atlas, probably by the pass of Tizi-n-Telremt, which is even now so
beset with difficulties that access by land to the Souss will remain an
arduous undertaking until the way by Imintanout is safe for European

The Vandals swept away the Romans in the fifth century. The Lower Empire
restored a brief period of civilization; but its authority finally
dwindled to the half-legendary rule of Count Julian, shut up within his
walls of Ceuta. Then Europe vanished from the shores of Africa, and
though Christianity lingered here and there in vague Donatist colonies,
and in the names of Roman bishoprics, its last faint hold went down in
the eighth century before the irresistible cry: "There is no God but



The first Arab invasion of Morocco is said to have reached the Atlantic
coast, but it left no lasting traces, and the real Islamisation of
Barbary did not happen till near the end of the eighth century, when a
descendant of Ali, driven from Mesopotamia by the Caliphate, reached the
mountains above Volubilis and there founded an empire. The Berbers,
though indifferent in religious matters, had always, from a spirit of
independence, tended to heresy and schism. Under the rule of Christian
Rome they had been Donatists, as M. Bernard puts it, "out of opposition
to the Empire"; and so, out of opposition to the Caliphate, they took up
the cause of one Moslem schismatic after another. Their great popular
movements have always had a religious basis, or perhaps it would be
truer to say, a religious pretext, for they have been in reality the
partly moral, partly envious revolt of hungry and ascetic warrior tribes
against the fatness and corruption of the "cities of the plain."

Idriss I became the first national saint and ruler of Morocco. His rule
extended throughout northern Morocco, and his son, Idriss II, attacking
a Berber tribe on the banks of the Oued Fez, routed them, took
possession of their oasis and founded the city of Fez. Thither came
schismatic refugees from Kairouan and Moors from Andalusia. The Islamite
Empire of Morocco was founded, and Idriss II has become the legendary
ancestor of all its subsequent rulers.

The Idrissite rule is a welter of obscure struggles between rapidly
melting groups of adherents. Its chief features are: the founding of
Moulay Idriss and Fez, and the building of the mosques of El Andalous
and Kairouiyin at Fez for the two groups of refugees from Tunisia and
Spain. Meanwhile the Caliphate of Cordova had reached the height of its
power, while that of the Fatimites extended from the Nile to western
Morocco, and the little Idrissite empire, pulverized under the weight of
these expanding powers, became once more a dust of disintegrated tribes.

It was only in the eleventh century that the dust again conglomerated.
Two Arab tribes from the desert of the Hedjaz, suddenly driven westward
by the Fatimites, entered Morocco, not with a small military
expedition, as the Arabs had hitherto done, but with a horde of
emigrants reckoned as high as 200,000 families; and this first
colonizing expedition was doubtless succeeded by others.

To strengthen their hold in Morocco the Arab colonists embraced the
dynastic feuds of the Berbers. They inaugurated a period of general
havoc which destroyed what little prosperity had survived the break-up
of the Idrissite rule, and many Berber tribes took refuge in the
mountains; but others remained and were merged with the invaders,
reforming into new tribes of mixed Berber and Arab blood. This invasion
was almost purely destructive, it marks one of the most desolate periods
in the progress of the "wasteful Empire" of Moghreb.



While the Hilalian Arabs were conquering and destroying northern Morocco
another but more fruitful invasion was upon her from the south. The
Almoravids, one of the tribes of Veiled Men of the south, driven by the
usual mixture of religious zeal and lust of booty, set out to invade the
rich black kingdoms north of the Sahara. Thence they crossed the Atlas
under their great chief, Youssef-ben-Tachfin, and founded the city of
Marrakech in 1062. From Marrakech they advanced on Idrissite Fez and the
valley of the Moulouya. Fez rose against her conquerors, and Youssef put
all the male inhabitants to death. By 1084 he was master of Tangier and
the Rif, and his rule stretched as far west as Tlemcen, Oran and finally

His ambition drove him across the straits to Spain, where he conquered
one Moslem prince after another and wiped out the luxurious civilization
of Moorish Andalusia. In 1086, at Zallarca, Youssef gave battle to
Alphonso VI of Castile and Leon. The Almoravid army was a strange rabble
of Arabs, Berbers, blacks, wild tribes of the Sahara and Christian
mercenaries. They conquered the Spanish forces, and Youssef left to his
successors an empire extending from the Ebro to Senegal and from the
Atlantic coast of Africa to the borders of Tunisia. But the empire fell
to pieces of its own weight, leaving little record of its brief and
stormy existence. While Youssef was routing the forces of Christianity
at Zallarca in Spain, another schismatic tribe of his own people was
detaching Marrakech and the south from his rule.

The leader of the new invasion was a Mahdi, one of the numerous Saviours
of the World who have carried death and destruction throughout Islam.
His name was Ibn-Toumert, and he had travelled in Egypt, Syria and
Spain, and made the pilgrimage to Mecca. Preaching the doctrine of a
purified monotheism, he called his followers the Almohads or Unitarians,
to distinguish them from the polytheistic Almoravids, whose heresies he
denounced. He fortified the city of Tinmel in the Souss, and built there
a mosque of which the ruins still exist. When he died, in 1128, he
designated as his successor Abd-el-Moumen, the son of a potter, who had
been his disciple.

Abd-el-Moumen carried on the campaign against the Almoravids. He fought
them not only in Morocco but in Spain, taking Cadiz, Cordova, Granada as
well as Tlemcen and Fez. In 1152 his African dominion reached from
Tripoli to the Souss, and he had formed a disciplined army in which
Christian mercenaries from France and Spain fought side by side with
Berbers and Soudanese. This great captain was also a great
administrator, and under his rule Africa was surveyed from the Souss to
Barka, the country was policed, agriculture was protected, and the
caravans journeyed safely over the trade-routes.

Abd-el-Moumen died in 1163 and was followed by his son, who, though he
suffered reverses in Spain, was also a great ruler. He died in 1184, and
his son, Yacoub-el-Mansour, avenged his father's ill-success in Spain by
the great victory of Alarcos and the conquest of Madrid.
Yacoub-el-Mansour was the greatest of Moroccan Sultans. So far did his
fame extend that the illustrious Saladin sent him presents and asked the
help of his fleet. He was a builder as well as a fighter, and the
noblest period of Arab art in Morocco and Spain coincides with his

After his death, the Almohad empire followed the downward curve to which
all Oriental rule seems destined. In Spain, the Berber forces were
beaten in the great Christian victory of Las-Navas-de Tolosa, and in
Morocco itself the first stirrings of the Beni-Merins (a new tribe from
the Sahara) were preparing the way for a new dynasty.



The Beni-Merins or Merinids were nomads who ranged the desert between
Biskra and the Tafilelt. It was not a religious upheaval that drove them
to the conquest of Morocco. The demoralized Almohads called them in as
mercenaries to defend their crumbling empire; and the Merinids came,
drove out the Almohads, and replaced them.

They took Fez, Meknez, SalÚ, Rabat and Sidjilmassa in the Tafilelt; and
their second Sultan, Abou-Youssef, built New Fez (Eldjid) on the height
above the old Idrissite city. The Merinids renewed the struggle with the
Sultan of Tlemcen, and carried the Holy War once more into Spain. The
conflict with Tlemcen was long and unsuccessful, and one of the Merinid
Sultans died assassinated under its walls. In the fourteenth century the
Sultan Abou Hassan tried to piece together the scattered bits of the
Almohad empire. Tlemcen was finally taken, and the whole of Algeria
annexed. But in the plain of Kairouan, in Tunisia, Abou Hassan was
defeated by the Arabs. Meanwhile one of his brothers had headed a revolt
in Morocco, and the princes of Tlemcen won back their ancient kingdom.
Constantine and Bougie rebelled in turn, and the kingdom of Abou Hassan
vanished like a mirage. His successors struggled vainly to control their
vassals in Morocco, and to keep their possessions beyond its borders.
Before the end of the fourteenth century Morocco from end to end was a
chaos of antagonistic tribes, owning no allegiance, abiding by no laws.
The last of the Merinids, divided, diminished, bound by humiliating
treaties with Christian Spain, kept up a semblance of sovereignty at Fez
and Marrakech, at war with one another and with their neighbours, and
Spain and Portugal seized this moment of internal dissolution to drive
them from Spain, and carry the war into Morocco itself.

The short and stormy passage of the Beni-Merins seems hardly to leave
room for the development of the humaner qualities; yet the flowering of
Moroccan art and culture coincided with those tumultuous years, and it
was under the Merinid Sultans that Fez became the centre of Moroccan
learning and industry, a kind of Oxford with Birmingham annexed.



Meanwhile, behind all the Berber turmoil a secret work of religious
propaganda was going on. The Arab element had been crushed but not
extirpated. The crude idolatrous wealth-loving Berbers apparently
dominated, but whenever there was a new uprising or a new invasion it
was based on the religious discontent perpetually stirred up by
Mahometan agents. The longing for a Mahdi, a Saviour, the craving for
purification combined with an opportunity to murder and rob, always gave
the Moslem apostle a ready opening; and the downfall of the Merinids was
the result of a long series of religious movements to which the European
invasion gave an object and a war-cry.

The Saadians were Cherifian Arabs, newcomers from Arabia, to whom the
lax Berber paganism was abhorrent. They preached a return to the creed
of Mahomet, and proclaimed the Holy War against the hated Portuguese,
who had set up fortified posts all along the west coast of Morocco.

It is a mistake to suppose that hatred of the Christian has always
existed among the North African Moslems. The earlier dynasties, and
especially the great Almohad Sultans, were on friendly terms with the
Catholic powers of Europe, and in the thirteenth century a treaty
assured to Christians in Africa full religious liberty, excepting only
the right to preach their doctrine in public places. There was a
Catholic diocese at Fez, and afterward at Marrakech under Gregory IX,
and there is a letter of the Pope thanking the "Miromilan" (the Emir El
Moumenin) for his kindness to the Bishop and the friars living in his
dominions. Another Bishop was recommended by Innocent IV to the Sultan
of Morocco; the Pope even asked that certain strongholds should be
assigned to the Christians in Morocco as places of refuge in times of
disturbance. But the best proof of the friendly relations between
Christians and infidels is the fact that the Christian armies which
helped the Sultans of Morocco to defeat Spain and subjugate Algeria and
Tunisia were not composed of "renegadoes" or captives, as is generally
supposed, but of Christian mercenaries, French and English, led by
knights and nobles, and fighting for the Sultan of Morocco exactly as
they would have fought for the Duke of Burgundy, the Count of Flanders,
or any other Prince who offered high pay and held out the hope of rich
spoils. Any one who has read Villehardouin and Joinville will own that
there is not much to choose between the motives animating these noble
freebooters and those which caused the Crusaders to loot Constantinople
"on the way" to the Holy Sepulchre. War in those days was regarded as a
lucrative and legitimate form of business, exactly as it was when the
earlier heroes started out to take the rich robber-town of Troy.

The Berbers have never been religious fanatics, and the Vicomte de
Foucauld, when he made his great journey of exploration in the Atlas in
1883, remarked that antagonism to the foreigner was always due to the
fear of military espionage and never to religious motives. This equally
applies to the Berbers of the sixteenth century, when the Holy War
against Catholic Spain and Portugal was preached. The real cause of the
sudden deadly hatred of the foreigner was twofold. The Spaniards were
detested because of the ferocious cruelty with which they had driven the
Moors from Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella, and the Portuguese
because of the arrogance and brutality of their military colonists in
the fortified trading stations of the west coast. And both were feared
as possible conquerors and overlords.

There was a third incentive also: the Moroccans, dealing in black slaves
for the European market, had discovered the value of white slaves in
Moslem markets. The Sultan had his fleet, and each coast-town its
powerful pirate vessels, and from pirate-nests like SalÚ and Tangier the
raiders continued, till well on into the first half of the nineteenth
century, to seize European ships and carry their passengers to the
slave-markets of Fez and Marrakech.[A] The miseries endured by these
captives, and so poignantly described in John Windus's travels, and in
the "Naufrage du Brick Sophie" by Charles Cochelet,[B] show how savage
the feeling against the foreigner had become.

[Footnote A: The Moroccans being very poor seamen, these corsair-vessels
were usually commanded and manned by Christian renegadoes and Turks.]

[Footnote B: Cochelet was wrecked on the coast near Agadir early in the
nineteenth century and was taken with his fellow-travellers overland to
El-Ksar and Tangier, enduring terrible hardships by the way.]

With the advent of the Cherifian dynasties, which coincided with this
religious reform, and was in fact brought about by it, Morocco became a
closed country, as fiercely guarded as Japan against European
penetration. Cut off from civilizing influences, the Moslems isolated
themselves in a lonely fanaticism, far more racial than religious, and
the history of the country from the fall of the Merinids till the French
annexation is mainly a dull tale of tribal warfare.

The religious movement of the sixteenth century was led and fed by
zealots from the Sahara. One of them took possession of Rabat and
Azemmour, and preached the Holy War; other "feudal fiefs" (as M.
Augustin Bernard has well called them) were founded at Tameslout, Ilegh,
Tamgrout: the tombs of the _marabouts_ who led these revolts are
scattered all along the west coast, and are still objects of popular
veneration. The unorthodox saint worship which marks Moroccan Moslemism,
and is commemorated by the countless white _koubbas_ throughout the
country, grew up chiefly at the time of the religious revival under the
Saadian dynasty, and almost all the "Moulays" and "Sidis" venerated
between Tangier and the Atlas were warrior monks who issued forth from
their fortified _Zaouias_ to drive the Christians out of Africa.

The Saadians were probably rather embarrassed by these fanatics, whom
they found useful to oppose to the Merinids, but troublesome where their
own plans were concerned. They were ambitious and luxury-loving princes,
who invaded the wealthy kingdom of the Soudan, conquered the Sultan of
Timbuctoo, and came back laden with slaves and gold to embellish
Marrakech and spend their treasure in the usual demoralizing orgies.
Their exquisite tombs at Marrakech commemorate in courtly language the
superhuman virtues of a series of rulers whose debaucheries and vices
were usually cut short by assassination. Finally another austere and
fanatical mountain tribe surged down on them, wiped them out, and ruled
in their stead.



The new rulers came from the Tafilelt, which has always been a
troublesome corner of Morocco. The first two Hassanian Sultans were the
usual tribal chiefs bent on taking advantage of Saadian misrule to loot
and conquer. But the third was the great Moulay-IsmaŰl, the tale of
whose long and triumphant rule (1672 to 1727) has already been told in
the chapter on Meknez. This savage and enlightened old man once more
drew order out of anarchy, and left, when he died, an organized and
administered empire, as well as a progeny of seven hundred sons and
unnumbered daughters.[A]

[Footnote A: Moulay-IsmaŰl was a learned theologian and often held
religious discussions with the Fathers of the Order of Mercy and the
Trinitarians. He was scrupulously orthodox in his religious observances,
and wrote a treatise in defense of his faith which he sent to James II
of England, urging him to become a Mahometan. He invented most of the
most exquisite forms of torture which subsequent Sultans have applied to
their victims (see Loti, _Au Maroc_), and was fond of flowers, and
extremely simple and frugal in his personal habits.]

The empire fell apart as usual, and no less quickly than usual, under
his successors; and from his death until the strong hand of General
Lyautey took over the direction of affairs the Hassanian rule in
Morocco was little more than a tumult of incoherent ambitions. The
successors of Moulay-IsmaŰl inherited his blood-lust and his passion for
dominion without his capacity to govern. In 1757 Sidi-Mohammed, one of
his sons, tried to put order into his kingdom, and drove the last
Portuguese out of Morocco; but under his successors the country remained
isolated and stagnant, making spasmodic efforts to defend itself against
the encroachments of European influence, while its rulers wasted their
energy in a policy of double-dealing and dissimulation. Early in the
nineteenth century the government was compelled by the European powers
to suppress piracy and the trade in Christian slaves; and in 1830 the
French conquest of Algeria broke down the wall of isolation behind which
the country was mouldering away by placing a European power on one of
its frontiers.

At first the conquest of Algeria tended to create a link between France
and Morocco. The Dey of Algiers was a Turk, and, therefore, an
hereditary enemy; and Morocco was disposed to favour the power which had
broken Turkish rule in a neighbouring country. But the Sultan could not
help trying to profit by the general disturbance to seize Tlemcen and
raise insurrections in western Algeria; and presently Morocco was
engaged in a Holy War against France. Abd-el-Kader, the Sultan of
Algeria, had taken refuge in Morocco, and the Sultan of Morocco having
furnished him with supplies and munitions, France sent an official
remonstrance. At the same time Marshal Bugeaud landed at Mers-el-Kebir,
and invited the Makhzen to discuss the situation. The offer was accepted
and General Bedeau and the Ca´d El Guennaoui met in an open place.
Behind them their respective troops were drawn up, and almost as soon as
the first salutes were exchanged the Ca´d declared the negotiations
broken off. The French troops accordingly withdrew to the coast, but
during their retreat they were attacked by the Moroccans. This put an
end to peaceful negotiations, and Tangier was besieged and taken. The
following August Bugeaud brought his troops up from Oudjda, through the
defile that leads from West Algeria, and routed the Moroccans. He wished
to advance on Fez, but international politics interfered, and he was not
allowed to carry out his plans. England looked unfavourably on the
French penetration of Morocco, and it became necessary to conclude peace
at once to prove that France had no territorial ambitions west of

Meanwhile a great Sultan was once more to appear in the land.
Moulay-el-Hassan, who ruled from 1873 to 1894, was an able and energetic
administrator. He pieced together his broken empire, asserted his
authority in Fez and Marrakech, and fought the rebellious tribes of the
west. In 1877 he asked the French government to send him a permanent
military mission to assist in organizing his army. He planned an
expedition to the Souss, but the want of food and water in the
wilderness traversed by the army caused the most cruel sufferings.
Moulay-el-Hassan had provisions sent by sea, but the weather was too
stormy to allow of a landing on the exposed Atlantic coast, and the
Sultan, who had never seen the sea, was as surprised and indignant as
Canute to find that the waves would not obey him.

His son Abd-el-Aziz was only thirteen years old when he succeeded to the
throne. For six years he remained under the guardianship of Ba-Ahmed,
the black Vizier of Moulay-el-Hassan, who built the fairy palace of the
Bahia at Marrakech, with its mysterious pale green padlocked door
leading down to the secret vaults where his treasure was hidden. When
the all-powerful Ba-Ahmed died the young Sultan was nineteen. He was
intelligent, charming, and fond of the society of Europeans; but he was
indifferent to religious questions and still more to military affairs,
and thus doubly at the mercy of native mistrust and European intrigue.

Some clumsy attempts at fiscal reform, and a too great leaning toward
European habits and associates, roused the animosity of the people, and
of the conservative party in the upper class. The Sultan's eldest
brother, who had been set aside in his favour, was intriguing against
him; the usual Cherifian Pretender was stirring up the factious tribes
in the mountains; and the European powers were attempting, in the
confusion of an ungoverned country, to assert their respective

The demoralized condition of the country justified these attempts, and
made European interference inevitable. But the powers were jealously
watching each other, and Germany, already coveting the certain
agricultural resources and the conjectured mineral wealth of Morocco,
was above all determined that a French protectorate should not be set

In 1908 another son of Moulay-Hassan, Abd-el-Hafid, was proclaimed
Sultan by the reactionary Islamite faction, who accused Abd-el-Aziz of
having sold his country to the Christians. Abd-el-Aziz was defeated in a
battle near Marrakech, and retired to Tangier, where he still lives in
futile state. Abd-el-Hafid, proclaimed Sultan at Fez, was recognized by
the whole country, but he found himself unable to cope with the factious
tribes (those outside the Blad-el-Makhzen, or _governed country_). These
rebel tribes besieged Fez, and the Sultan had to ask France for aid.
France sent troops to his relief, but as soon as the dissidents were
routed, and he himself was safe, Abd-el-Hafid refused to give the French
army his support, and in 1912, after the horrible massacres of Fez, he
abdicated in favour of another brother, Moulay Youssef, the actual ruler
of Morocco.

Edith Wharton

Sorry, no summary available yet.