Bookmark and Share

Open the online Arabic language course

Moulay Ismail
Full name: Moulay Ismail Ibn Sharif

Moulay Ismail
Moulay Ismail's royal palace, Meknes, Morocco

(1645-1727) Moroccan sultan belonging to the Alaouite Dynasty.
Ismail was both extremely brutal and ambitious. His big project was to make Morocco a strong country using European patterns. He turned the town of Meknes into a royal city, aiming at challenging Versailles of France with enormous palace grounds.
By conquests, Ismail's empire would stretch through lands corresponding to modern Algeria and Mauritania.
Moulay Idriss had close connections to Louis 14 of France who sent military instructors to Morocco. French instructors also assisted in Moulay Idriss' large building projects. In reality, most of his building projects were built by Europeans, Moulay Idriss employing slave labour with a cruelty rarely seen in world history. It is reported that he had at least 25,000 slaves at any time, individuals captured by North African sea pirates (see Barbary pirates) from European villages and towns. The death tolls were high, so Moulay Ismail's total consumption of slaves may have been several hundred thousand. Also, he sold slaves back to Europe for a high ransom.
According to the stories told, Ismail had 1,000 children and 500 women in his harem. Contemporary Western observers, however, estimated that 2,000 women belonged to his harem.

1645: Born.
1672: Succeeds his brother, Moulay ar-Rashid, on the throne, who had died in an accident.
Late 17th century: Orders the construction of royal palaces in Meknes, making this his new capital. He thereby relocated the court from Marrakech.
1679: Fights the Ottomans.
1681: Captures the port of Mamurah from the Spanish.
1682: Fights the Ottomans.
1684: Captures the port of Tangier from the British.
1695/96: Fights the Ottomans. With this war, the Ottomans come to recognize Morocco's right to independence.
1727: Dies a natural death. His immediate successors would continue his regime and building projects.

By Tore Kjeilen