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Wattasid dynasty
Map of the Wattasid sultanate (dark red) and its vassal states (light red)
Map of the Wattasid sultanate (dark red) and its vassal states (light red)
StatusRuling dynasty of Morocco
Common languagesBerber languages
Sunni Islam
• 1472-1504
Abu Abd Allah al-Sheikh Muhammad ibn Yahya
• 1545-1547
Nasir al-Qasri
• Established
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Marinid dynasty
Saadi Sultanate

The Wattasid dynasty (Arabic: الوطاسيون, al-waṭṭāsīyūn) was a ruling dynasty of Morocco. Like the Marinid dynasty, its rulers were of Zenata Berber descent.[4] The two families were related, and the Marinids recruited many viziers from the Wattasids.[4] These viziers assumed the powers of the Sultans, seizing control of the Marinid dynasty's realm when the last Marinid, Abu Muhammad Abd al-Haqq, who had massacred many of the Wattasids in 1459, was murdered during a popular revolt in Fez in 1465.

Abu Abd Allah al-Sheikh Muhammad ibn Yahya was the first Sultan of the Wattasid Dynasty. He controlled only the northern part of Morocco, the south being divided into several principalities. The Wattasids were finally supplanted in 1554, after the Battle of Tadla, by the Saadi dynasty princes of Tagmadert who had ruled all of southern Morocco since 1511.


Morocco endured a prolonged multifaceted crisis in the 15th and early 16th centuries brought about by economic, political, social and cultural issues. Population growth remained stagnant and traditional commerce with the far south was cut off as the Portuguese occupied all seaports. At the same time, the towns were impoverished, and intellectual life was on the decline.


Morocco was in decline when the Berber Wattasids assumed power. The Wattasid family had been the autonomous governors of the eastern Rif since the late 13th century, ruling from their base in Tazouta (near present-day Nador). They had close ties to the Marinid sultans and provided many of the bureaucratic elite. While the Marinid dynasty tried to repel the Portuguese and Spanish invasions and help the kingdom of Granada to outlive the Reconquista, the Wattasids accumulated absolute power through political maneuvering. When the Marinids became aware of the extent of the conspiracy, they slaughtered the Wattasids, leaving only Abu Abd Allah al-Sheikh Muhammad ibn Yahya alive. He went on to found the Kingdom of Fez and establish the dynasty to be succeeded by his son, Mohammed al-Burtuqali, in 1504.

The Wattasid rulers failed in their promise to protect Morocco from foreign incursions and the Portuguese increased their presence on Morocco's coast. Mohammad al-Chaykh's son attempted to capture Asilah and Tangier in 1508, 1511 and 1515, but without success.

In the south, a new dynasty arose, the Saadian dynasty, which seized Marrakesh in 1524 and made it their capital. By 1537 the Saadis were in the ascendent when they defeated the Portuguese Empire at Agadir. Their military successes contrast with the Wattasid policy of conciliation towards the Catholic kings to the north.

As a result, the people of Morocco tended to regard the Saadians as heroes, making it easier for them to retake the Portuguese strongholds on the coast, including Tangiers, Ceuta and Maziɣen. The Saadians also attacked the Wattasids who were forced to yield to the new power. In 1554, as Wattasid towns surrendered, the Wattasid sultan, Ali Abu Hassun, briefly retook Fez. The Saadis quickly settled the matter by killing him and, as the last Wattasids fled Morocco by ship, they too were murdered by pirates.

The Wattasid did little to improve general conditions in Morocco following the Reconquista. It was necessary to wait for the Saadians for order to be reestablished and the expansionist ambitions of the kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula to be curbed.


Known Wattasid coins include a few extremely rare gold coins and also square silver dirhams and half dirhams, still following the Almohad Caliphate standard of roughly 1.5 grams.[5]

The dynasty

Wattasid Viziers

Wattasid Sultans

Family tree

Family tree of the Wattasid dynasty
Wattasid Vizier
Abu Zakariya
Yahya ibn Ziyan

r. 1420-1448
Wattasid Vizier
ibn Yahya
r. 1458-1459
Abu Abd Allah
ibn Yahya

r. 1472-1504
Abu Abd Allah
ibn Muhammad

r. 1504-1526
Abu al-Abbas
Ahmad ibn

r. 1526-1545,
Abu al-Hasan
Abu Hasun
Ali ibn

r. 1549-1554
Nasir al-Din
ibn Ahmad

r. 1545-1547

Chronology of events

See also


  1. ^ 100 fiches d'histoire moderne Stéphane Durand, Éric Wenzel Editions Bréal
  2. ^ Collier's Encyclopedia: With Bibliography and Index, Volume 17
  3. ^ Brancato 2014, p. 64-65.
  4. ^ a b Bosworth 1996, p. 48.
  5. ^ Album, Stephen. A Checklist of Islamic Coins, Second Edition, January 1998, Santa Rosa, CA


Royal house —House of Banu Wattas Preceded byIdrisid dynastyJoutey branch Ruling house of Morocco 1472 – 1554 Succeeded bySaadi dynasty