Ismail Ibn Sharif

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Moulay Ismaïl Ibn Sharif (1634? or 1645?-1727, reigned 1672–1727)[1] (Arabic: مولاي إسماعيل بن الشريف ابن النصر‎) was the second ruler of the Moroccan Alaouite dynasty. Like others of the dynasty, Ismaïl claimed to be a descendant of Muhammad through his grandson Hassan ibn Ali. He is also known in his native country as the "Warrior King."



He ruled from 1672 to 1727 succeeding his half-brother Moulay Al-Rashid who died after a fall from his horse. The then twenty-six year old Moulay Ismaïl inherited a country weakened by internal tribal wars and royal successions. The Alaouite sultan is said to be the father of a total 867 children including 525 sons and 342 daughters.[2] Meknes, the capital city he built, is sometimes called the "Versailles of Morocco", because of its extravagance. Some of the stones were plundered from the ancient Roman ruins at Volubilis.[3]

During Moulay Ismaïl's reign, Morocco's capital city was moved from Fez to Meknes. Like his contemporary King Louis XIV of France, Moulay Ismail began construction of an elaborate imperial palace and other monuments.

In 1682 he sent Mohammed Tenim as an ambassador to Louis XIV, and he even made an offer of marriage to Louis XIV's beautiful legitimised daughter Marie Anne de Bourbon. Marie Anne refused.


Moulay Ismaïl is noted as one of the greatest figures in Moroccan history. He fought the Ottoman Turks in 1679, 1682 and 1695/96. After these battles the Moroccan independence was respected. Another problem was the European occupation of several seaports: in 1681 he took al-Mamurah (La Mamora) from the Spanish, in 1684 Tangier from the English, and in 1689 Larache also from the Spanish. Moulay Ismaïl had excellent relations with Louis XIV of France, the enemy of Spain, to whom he sent ambassador Mohammad Temim in 1682. There was cooperation in several fields. French officers trained the Moroccan army and advised the Moroccans in the building of public works.

Moulay Ismaïl is also known as a fearsome ruler and used at least 25,000 slaves for the construction of his capital.[5] His Christian slaves were often used as bargaining counters with the European powers, selling them back their captured subjects for inflated sums or for rich gifts. Most of his slaves were obtained by Barbary pirates in raids on Western Europe.[6] Over 150,000 men from sub-Saharan Africa served in his elite Black Guard.[7] By the time of Ismail's death, the guard had grown tenfold, the largest in Moroccan history.

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