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Capture of Fez (1554)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Capture of Fez (1554)
Part of Conflicts between the Regency of Algiers and Morocco and Ottoman Expeditions to Morocco
Result Algerian victory[3]
• Fez is conquered
Fez becomes an Ottoman vassal[4]
Ottoman Algeria
Kingdom of Kuku[1][2]
Saadi Sultanate
Commanders and leaders
Salah Rais Mohammed ash-Sheikh
6,000 musketeers
1,000 sipahis
4,000 Kabyle horsemen

or 4,000 men[5]
30,000 horsemen
10,000 infantrymen

or 20,000 men [5]
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown
Conquest of Fez is located in Morocco
Conquest of Fez
Conquest of Fez
Location within Morocco

The Conquest of Fez or Capture of Fez took place in 1554 between the Algerian forces of Salah Rais and the ruler of the Saadi Sultanate, Mohammed ash-Sheikh.[4] This battle led to the retreat of the Moroccan forces and the capture of the city by the Algerian army, which installed a governor in Fez who was a vassal of the Ottoman Empire.


In 1544/1545 Ali Abu Hassun, the Wattasid ruler of northern Morocco, hoping to gain military support from the Ottomans, formally recognised the authority of the Ottoman Sultan and declared himself a vassal of the Ottomans, however the Ottomans were unable to intervene in 1549 when Abu Hassun lost Fez to Mohammed ash-Sheikh.[6][7][8] The relations between the regency of Algiers and the Saadian sultan Mohammed ash-Sheikh did not have a good start as the Ottomans supported their Wattasid rivals. The Saadian Sultan was treated as a subordinate and in a haughty manner by the Ottoman Sultan who referred to him as "governor of the province of Fez". Not accepting the haughty tone of the Sultan and wanting to take advantage of the resumption of the Ottoman war on other fronts, Mohammed ash-Sheikh tried, a first time, to annex Tlemcen and its region but was pushed back. The following year, he repeated his attempt with an army of 17,000 fighters led by his three sons, but he was once again severely defeated. Following this defeat, Mohammed ech-Cheikh welcomed with respect the ambassador of the beylerbey of Algiers to negotiate the end of the conflict and to fix the course of the Moulouya as the border between the Saadian dynasty and the regency of Algiers. However, Mohammed ech-Sheikh resumed his incursions to the east of the Moulouya shortly afterwards and concluded an alliance with the Spaniards, which rekindled the war between him and Salah Raïs.[9]


In 1553, Salah Rais left for Fez with 6,000 musketeers, 1,000 sipahis and a contingent of 4,000 cavalrymen who were partisans of the kingdom of Koukou. The Sultan of Fez, having been alerted to this offensive, gathered 30,000 horsemen and 10,000 men to defend Fez.[1] Shortly thereafter, the Sultan of Fez prepared his army for battle. The pasha of Algiers, although he had a much smaller army, also prepared his army for battle against the advice of his officers.[3][10]

The Sultan of Fez met the troops of the regency of Algiers near Taza on December 5, 1553, but withdrew from that city to a fortress once he realized the superiority of the Ottoman artillery.[4] Shortly thereafter, Salah Raïs undertook a surprise night attack on the fortress where he charged a corps of 1,500 men he had selected. According to the historian Ernest Mercier, this first attack was a great success and the Moroccan soldiers were frightened by the detonations and forced to retreat to the heights in the direction of Fez.[3] After receiving a reinforcement of 600 men, brought from the province of Velez by the sons of Abu Hassun, the beylerbey launched the final assault on the city of Fez during the night of 4 to 5 January 1554 from the locality of Sebou where the Algerian army was stationed.[3][11]

The troops of Salah Rais, entered victoriously in Fez in the night of January 7 to 8, 1554,[12] and the wattaside Ali Abu Hassun was declared sovereign, as a vassal of the Ottoman sultan.[13][14][4]


For four months the Ottoman troops, Turks and Berbers from Kabylia, stayed in Fez and harassed its population until Ali Abu Hassun bought the withdrawal of the Turks.[4] Upon withdrawal, Salah Reis assured the Saadi ruler that he would grant his enemy, Ali Abu Hassun, no further assistance.[5] The latter reigned for nearly nine months over Fez before the Saadian Mohammed ech-Sheikh took over the city.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b Kaddache, Mahfoud (1998). L'Algérie durant la période ottomane (in French). Office des publications universitaires. ISBN 978-9961-0-0099-1.
  2. ^ La Kalaa des Béni Abbès au XVIe siècle Youssef Benoudjit Dahlab
  3. ^ a b c d Mercier, Ernest (1891). Histoire de l'Afrique septentrionale (Berbérie) depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu'à la conquête française (1930) (in French). Ernest Leroux.
  4. ^ a b c d e Page 406, The Cambridge History of Africa, Vol. 3: c. 1050-c. 1600 (Volume 3)
  5. ^ a b c The Present State of the Empire of Morocco. Its Animals, Products, Climate, Soil, Cities, Ports, Provinces, Coins, Weights, and Measures. With the Language, Religion, Laws, Manners, Customs, and Character, of the Moors; the History of the Dynasties Since Edris; the Naval Force and Commerce of Morocco; and the Character, Conduct, and Views, Political and Commercial, of the Reigning Emperor. Translated from the French of M. Chenier. Vol. 1. [-2.], Volume 2
  6. ^ Jamil M. Abun-Nasr (20 August 1987). A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period. Cambridge University Press. p.156. ISBN 978-0-521-33767-0.
  7. ^ Ahmad Al-Mansur: Islamic Visionary - p.11 Richard Lee Smith Pearson Longman,
  8. ^ The Last Great Muslim Empires. p.103. By H. J. Kissling, Bertold Spuler, N. Barbour, J. S. Trimingham, H. Braun, H. Hartel
  9. ^ Merouche, Lemnouar (2007-10-15). Recherches sur l'Algérie à l'époque ottomane II.: La course, mythes et réalité (in French). Editions Bouchène. ISBN 978-2-35676-055-5.
  10. ^ Page 87-88, The Present State of the Empire of Morocco. Its Animals, Products, Climate, Soil, ... Translated from the French of M. Chenier. of 2; Volume 2
  11. ^ Hamet, Ismaël (1857-1932) Auteur du texte (1923). Histoire du Maghreb : cours professé à l'Institut des hautes études marocaines / Ismaël Hamet,...
  12. ^ Elbl, Martin (2013-12-27). Portuguese Tangier (1471-1662): Colonial Urban Fabric as Cross-Cultural Skeleton. Baywolf Press / Éditions Baywolf. ISBN 978-0-921437-50-5.
  13. ^ Bibliothèque de l'Institut d'études supérieures islamiques d'alger (in French). 1957.
  14. ^ Page 157, Jamil M. Abun-Nasr (20 August 1987). A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period
  15. ^ Ben-Sasson, Menahem; Cohen, Joseph (2004). Juifs de Fès (in French). Éditions Élysée. ISBN 978-0-88545-096-1.
  16. ^ Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (1989-01-01). The Encyclopaedia of Islam: Fascicules 111-112 : Masrah Mawlid. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-09239-6.
This page was last edited on 29 September 2021, at 05:30
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