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Mercer, Patricia Ann (1974) Political and military developments within Morocco during the early Alawi Period (1659-1727). PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis has two aims: firstly, to provide a summary of Moroccan political history over the years 1659-1727, which saw the Alaui dynasty established; and secondly, by making use, for the most part, of contemporary source material, to provide a critique of indigenous tradition concerning the period, as summed up in the nineteenth century "Kitab al-Istiasa." Contemporary material suggests that the Alawi dynasty was effectively launched from Fes, the metropolitan base of the parvenu sultan al-Rashid. Thereafter came imperial emancipation from Fasi tutelage, and the inauguration of a deteriorating relationship between sultan and metropolis. Ismail, al-Rashid's successor, moved his capital to Meknes. There he fostered a personal military and magnate following, developed along culturally standard lines. This won him dynastic victory, and brief military ascendancy in the critical regions of the Sus and Algerine march, tricked out with easy gains from a prestige programme of mujahid warfare. Ismail's tide turned in 1692, with Algerine invasion of his territory. The subsequent decade was characterised by renewed and strenuous efforts at maintaining territorial maxima. The empire was scoured for slave recruits to the standing army. This swollen army failed to save the sultan, in 1701, from the Algerine trouncing which precipitated his retirement from personal campaigning. Thereafter, Ismail was a palace ruler of fluctuating territory, and the object of repeated filial challenge. Assets which shored up his central authority were; a link with the commerce of a debilitated Fes; a continuing working relationship with tribute-bearing magnates, involving gross power-delegation; and a force of troops held in reserve as a military deterrent. Contemporary evidence eliminates the view of Ismail as a swingeing monarch who, by 1692, had reduced all his provinces to orderly submission. By emphasising his latter-day problems, it points to his longevity as the key to the establishment of the Alawi dynasty.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:26

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