This article includes a list of general references, but it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (September 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
French conquest of Morocco
Part of the Scramble for Africa
Maroc au - 1-1.500.000. Les étapes de la pacification française - btv1b53064857p.jpg

Pacification of Morocco (1907-1927)

French victory

  • Treaty of Madrid
  • Partition of Morocco into French and Spanish zones.
  • Belligerents
    Pre-1912 Treaty of Fes
    Spain Spain
    Pre-1912 Treaty of Fes
    Post-1912 Treaty of Fes Post-1912 Treaty of Fes
    Chaouia tribes
    Zaian Confederation
    Various other tribes
    Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire (1914-1916)
     German Empire (1914-1918)
    Commanders and leaders
    France Théophile Delcassé
    France Louis-Hubert Lyautey
    France Paul Prosper Henrys
    France General Poeymirau
    France Charles Mangin
    France René Laverdure  
    France Philippe Pétain
    Abd al-Aziz
    Abd al-Hafid
    Ma al-'Aynayn
    Ahmed al-Hiba
    Merebbi Rebbu [fr]
    Mouha ou Hammou Zayani
    Moha ou Said
    Ali Amhaouch
    Hammou of Oulad Hriz
    Abdel-Salam Mohammed
    Mhamadi Bojabbar
    Assou Oubasslam
    Casualties and losses
    8,622 French killed
    12,000 natives killed[1]
    15,000 wounded[citation needed]

    The French conquest of Morocco[a] began in 1907 and continued until 1934. By the Treaty of Fez of 1912, France imposed a protectorate over Morocco and spent the next two decades taking control of the country.

    Before the protectorate

    The French trans-Saharan railway, reaching Aïn Séfra by 1897, redirected the economic ties of Figuig from Fez to Oran.[2] From 1900, French troops drove into the region.[2] The conquest of the oasis of Touat led to the redrawing of the Algeria–Morocco border in 1901,[2] and the lobby of French settlers in Algeria pressed the French government in Paris to colonize this region to link Algeria with Senegal.[2] Under the command of Officer Hubert Lyautey, the French took Béchar in 1903, which Lyautey renamed "Colomb" to conceal its location from leadership in Paris.[2] Following an attack on Governor-General of Algeria Charles Jonnart, French forces bombarded Qsar Zenaga in Figuig, which Le Petit Parisien described as a show of force "to demonstrate to the Moroccans the power and range of our cannons."[3]

    With the 1904 Entente Cordiale, the British Empire withdrew its support for the neutrality and independence of Morocco, and the 1906 Algeciras Conference formalized French preeminence in Morocco.[4]

    Press and public opinion

    Particularly after the Madrid Conference of 1880, the press in Morocco became a colonial battleground.[5] From 1904, the French Legation in Tangier published Es-Saada, a daily arabophone newspaper to promote French interests and influence Moroccan public opinion,[5] taking aim especially at Sufi resistance leaders such as Muhammad al-Kabir al-Kattani and Ma al-'Aynayn.[6][7]

    General O'Connor's bombardment of Qsar Zenaga in the Figuig oasis in 1903.[3][8]
    General O'Connor's bombardment of Qsar Zenaga in the Figuig oasis in 1903.[3][8]

    Occupation of Oujda

    French postcard showing dead Moroccans
    French postcard showing dead Moroccans

    In March 1907, French troops occupied Oujda after the assassination of Émile Mauchamp in Marrakesh.[9]

    Bombardment of Casablanca

    Main article: Bombardment of Casablanca (1907)

    A western front was opened in August 1907 with the Bombardment of Casablanca.[10] French forces then pushed into the Shawiya plain in what French historians call la pacification de la Chaouia.

    Northern Campaign

    Following the allowance of its interests and recognition of its influence in northern Morocco through the 1904 Entente Cordiale, 1906 Algeciras Conference and 1907 Pact of Cartagena, Spain occupied Ras Kebdana, a town near the Moulouya River, in March 1908[11][12] and launched the Melillan and Kert campaigns against the Riffian tribes between 1909 and 1912.[13][14] In June 1911, Spanish troops occupied Larache and Ksar el-Kebir.[15]

    Eastern Campaign

    By 1911, the French campaign from the east, through what is now the southwest of Algeria, had reached the Ziz River, 200 miles within the Moroccan border.[4] This effectively put a large swath of the pre-Saharan area in the southeast of Morocco under French control.[4]

    Post-Treaty of Fes

    On 21 May 1911, France occupied the city of Fes at the behest of Sultan Abd al-Hafid, which led to the Agadir Crisis. On 30 March 1912, Sultan Abd al-Hafid signed the Treaty of Fes, formally ceding Moroccan sovereignty to France, transforming Morocco into a protectorate of France and sparking the 1912 Fez riots. Although the Sultan and the Makhzen had consented to the treaty, many regions remained in revolt and resisted the conquest until 1934, when Morocco was declared pacified. To ensure their own safety, the French moved the court from Fes to Rabat, which has served as the capital ever since.[16] The conquest of Morocco took over 22 years.[17][18] In several regions, French authority was maintained by cooperation with local chiefs and not by military strength.[19]

    Fez intifada

    Main article: 1912 Fez riots

    On 17 April 1912, Moroccan infantrymen mutinied in the French garrison in Fez. The Moroccans were unable to take the city and were defeated by a French relief force. In late May 1912, Moroccan forces unsuccessfully attacked the enhanced French garrison at Fez.

    Battle of Sidi Bou Othman

    Main article: Battle of Sidi Bou Othman

    In the Battle of Sidi Bou Othman in 1912, the French defeated Ahmed al-Hiba and captured Marrakesh.

    Zaian War

    Main article: Zaian War

    The French conquest of Taza in May 1914
    The French conquest of Taza in May 1914

    The Zaian Confederation of Berber tribes in Morocco fought a war of opposition against the French between 1914 and 1921. Resident-General Louis-Hubert Lyautey sought to extend French influence eastwards through the Middle Atlas mountains towards French Algeria. This was opposed by the Zaians, led by Mouha ou Hammou Zayani. The war began well for the French, who quickly took the key towns of Taza and Khenifra. Despite the loss of their base at Khénifra, the Zaians inflicted heavy losses on the French.

    With the outbreak of the First World War, France withdrew troops for service in Europe, and they lost more than 600 in the Battle of El Herri. Over the following four years, the French retained most of their territory despite the Central Powers' intelligence and financial support to the Zaian Confederation and continual raids and skirmishes reducing scarce French manpower.

    After the signing of the Armistice with Germany in November 1918, significant forces of tribesmen remained opposed to French rule. The French resumed their offensive in the Khenifra area in 1920, establishing a series of blockhouses to limit the Zaians' freedom of movement. They opened negotiations with Hammou's sons, persuading three of them, along with many of their followers, to submit to French rule. A split in the Zaian Confederation between those who supported submission and those still opposed led to infighting and the death of Hammou in Spring 1921. The French responded with a strong, three-pronged attack into the Middle Atlas that pacified the area. Some tribesmen, led by Moha ou Said, fled to the High Atlas and continued a guerrilla war against the French well into the 1930s.

    Rif War

    Main article: Rif War

    Detailed map published by the Service Géographique du Maroc showing the steps of the French conquest of Morocco up until 1920.
    Detailed map published by the Service Géographique du Maroc showing the steps of the French conquest of Morocco up until 1920.

    Sultan Yusef's reign, from 1912 to 1927, was turbulent and marked with frequent uprisings against Spain and France. The most serious of these was a Berber uprising in the Rif Mountains, led by Abd el-Krim, who managed to establish a republic in the Rif. Though this rebellion began in the Spanish-controlled area in the north, it reached the French-controlled area. A coalition of France and Spain finally defeated the rebels in 1926.

    See also


    1. ^ Arabic: غزو فرنسا للمغرب, "French invasion of Morocco"; French: Campagne du Maroc, "Morocco campaign"; pacification du Maroc, "Pacification of Morocco"; or guerre du Maroc, "Morocco war".


    1. ^ a b Moshe Gershovich (2012). French Military Rule in Morocco Colonialism and its Consequences. Routledge. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-7146-4949-8.
    2. ^ a b c d e Miller, Susan Gilson. (2013). A history of modern Morocco. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 70. ISBN 9781139624695. OCLC 855022840.
    3. ^ a b "Le Petit Parisien. Supplément littéraire illustré". Gallica. 1903-06-21. p. 98. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
    4. ^ a b c Miller, Susan Gilson. (2013). A history of modern Morocco. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-62469-5. OCLC 855022840.
    5. ^ a b "تاريخ الصحافة العربية - المغرب". الجزيرة الوثائقية (in Arabic). 11 May 2016. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
    6. ^ "متصوفة استهوتهم "السلطة الرابعة" : 20 مقالا عن الطريقة الكتانية". الصباح. July 11, 2012.
    7. ^ "متصوفة استهوتهم "السلطة الرابعة" : شيخ الطريقة المعينية "صحافيا" في "السعادة"". الصباح. July 10, 2012.
    8. ^ E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936. BRILL. 1987. ISBN 978-90-04-08265-6.
    9. ^ Miller, Susan Gilson. (2013). A history of modern Morocco. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 75. ISBN 9781139624695. OCLC 855022840.
    10. ^ Adam, André (1968). Histoire de Casablanca: des origines à 1914. Aix-en-Provence: Ophrys.
    11. ^ Saro Gandarillas 1993, p. 121.
    12. ^ "Périple autour des îles Jaâfarines". Le 360 Français (in French). Retrieved 2023-02-21.
    13. ^ León Rojas 2018, p. 50.
    14. ^ Ramos Oliver (2013), p. 176.
    15. ^ Clark 2013, p. 205.
    16. ^ Lepage, Jean-Denis G. G. (2007-11-27). The French Foreign Legion: An Illustrated History. McFarland. p. 125. ISBN 9780786462537.
    17. ^ King Hassan II: Morocco's Messenger of Peace. 2007-01-01. p. 12. ISBN 9780549338512. Archived from the original on 2016-04-15. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
    18. ^ Hart, David M. (2014-05-12). Tribe and Society in Rural Morocco. Routledge. p. 23. ISBN 9781135302542.
    19. ^ Bradford, James C. (2004-12-01). International Encyclopedia of Military History. Routledge. p. 904. ISBN 9781135950347.

    Works cited

    Further reading