In Leo's days the Sultans of Fes were part of the Wattasides family-
a dynasty which ruled for a period of 80 years, from 1472 to 1554 (remember
that Leo was born around the fall of Granada in 1492 and disappears
from all records in the late 1520s). A 'transition dynasty' between
the Merinides (1258-1472) and the Sa'dis (1554-1659), their rule was
unstable, as illustrated by many of Leo's political and military stories.The
Sultan Leo most frequently refers to is Muhammed el Bortugali (Mohammed
the Portuguese)- so called for having spent his childhood in captivity
in Portugal. It was during his reign that Leo fulfilled most of his
diplomatic missions- including the one which had him as mediator between
the Wattasides and the rising Sa'dians in the South.
sanctioned by the Wattasides as the official leaders of the Jihad against
the Portuguese in the Southern parts of Morocco, the Sa'dians soon claimed
to be the legitimate rulers of Morocco. Having taken control of Marrakech
in 1523, they named themselves Sultans of Marrakech, waging a full scale
war against the weakening Wattasides. They finally succeeded to capture
Fes, in 1554- marking the end of the Wattaside rule (though these would
briefly return to power at the end of the 16th century, under Turkish
protection- a short lived interruption to Sa'dian dominance).
a view of Portuguese, Wattaside and Sa'dian zones of influence in 1516,
understand the Sa'dian conquest, one must take three factors into consideration:
presence of the infidel Portuguese on Moroccan lands.
The Christian threat and the Wattaside inaction before this threat infuriated
most of the population which quickly joined the Sa'dian cause, and glorified
this family for fighting the infidels. To learn more about the Portuguese
and other Christian presence on the Moroccan coast, take the
role of Religon and Myth making
The Sa'dians exploited both the concepts of Ji'had (religious war) and
Sharif (descendants of the Prophet Muhammad) to legitimize their claim
to power. The support of Sufi Muslim brotherhoods in the South brought
them many followers. Different myths woven around the 'destiny' of the
two Sa'dian princes (who were brothers) lent an almost divine nature
to their fate.
Sa'dian armies and their reliance on Berber valor and trustworthiness.
Dynasties in Morocco have always taken power through conquest. Hence
the importance of their armies. The Sa'dians recruited heavily from
the mountain regions around Marrakech, drawing mostly Berber men, whose
courage and trustworthiness was legendary.
on this "Atlas Trek" to learn more about the Sa'dian conquest
and their understanding of the Berber 'way of life'.