History of Morocco: Foreign Invaders

History of Morocco: Foreign Invaders Last updated on Thursday 22nd April 2010

The native people of Morocco are the Berbers, an ancient race who, throughout history, have seen their country invaded by a succession of foreign powers.

In the 12th century BC the first of these foreign invaders were the Phoenicians, who established trading posts at several points along the North African coast. The Carthaginians later took over these Phoenician colonies and expanded them as part of the mighty Carthaginian Empire.

When the city of Carthage fell to Rome in the second century BC, the African Mediterranean coast was under Roman dominance for almost six hundred years.

When the Roman Empire in turn fell into decline, the area was invaded first by the Vandals in AD429 and later by Byzantium in AD533. An Arab invasion of Morocco in AD682 marked the end of Byzantine dominance, and the first Arab rulers, the Idrisid dynasty, ruled for 150 years. Christian and pagan inhabitants of the land converted to Islam during this period.

Arab and Berber dynasties succeeded the Idrisids; notably the Almoravids (1062-1147) and the Almohads (1147-1258). The Almohad Empire declined after the defeat of the Moroccans by the Spanish at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. By 1250 its power had completely collapsed and the country was plunged into bitter civil war between Arab and Berber factions, each of whom struggled for brief periods of supremacy.

The reign of Ahmed I al-Mansur in the first Sharifian dynasty stabilized and unified the country between 1579 and 1603. Moors and Jews expelled from Spain settled in Morocco during this time and the country flourished and prospered. It became a centre for the arts and this period was known as Morocco's golden age.

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