The Marinid dynasty or Benemerine dynasty') was an Arabized Berber dynasty formed in 1244. They were largely concentrated in present-day Morocco and Spain. They overtook the Berber Almohad Dynasty in controlling most of the Maghreb from the mid-1300s to the fifteenth century, and also supported the Kingdom of Granada, in Al-Andalus, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The last Marinid fortress in the Iberian Peninsula fell to Castile in 1344, and they were in turn replaced by the Hafsid dynasty in 1465. Lack of established rules of succession seriously weakened the dynasty, which faced internal rebellions. Patrons of culture, the Marinids continued to develop Fez, their capital, as a center of Islamic learning, building schools and mosques and establishing a new city alongside the old one. Their rule was characterized by a policy of religious toleration. Jews and Christians were employed and prospered; the latter dominated the Marinid army. At times, the Marinids entered alliances with Christian rulers.
Their goal was not to conquer Andalusia but to maintain the balance of power there to protect their Maghribian base. The Marinid period shows the complexity of Christian-Muslim relations at this time, indeed throughout the Moorish period; from the first Muslim conquests to the end of Muslim presence in Iberia, all Muslims were rarely if ever at odds with all Christians; inter-marriage occurred at the highest levels, Christians employed Muslims and Muslims Christians; alliances and peace-treaties were almost as common as open war. From ancient times, people on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea have regarded the far-shore as an extension of their own land, which they have attempted to claim. Any historical reconstruction of relations between the North and South shores of the Mediterranean that represents the reality as one of continual civilizational and inter-religious clash is a biased narrative. The Marinid legacy, alongside others, challenges the assumption that hostility not harmony is inevitable between people of different faiths.
The Marinids originally came from Ifriqiya, through the southeast of present-day Morocco, from which they were expelled in 1224 by another tribe, the Hilali. As early as 1145 the Marinids engaged in battles with the Almohads, who defeated them until 1169.
The Marinid, or the Beni Marin, Arabic]]: مرينيون marîniyûn or بنو مرين banû marîn; Spanish Mariní/Mariníes) were an Arabized tribe of Zenata Berber heritage.
They were a pastoral, nomadic tribe "until they became involved in political conflicts with the Almohads" (Abun-Nasr 1987, 103). Since they were not proponents of "any particular religious doctrine they were probably first attracted to the Maghrib by the "prospect of good pasturage and booty" (Abun-Nasr 1987, 103). In 1169, the Marinids began their pursuit of taking Morocco from the Almohads, the ruling dynasty at the time. Following their expulsion from the south, they moved northwards under the command of Abu Yahya ibn Abd al-Haqq and took Fez in 1248, making it their capital. This marked the beginning of the Marinid dynasty. Unlike the Almohads and the dynasty that they had conquered, the Almoravids it would be inaccurate to depict the Marindis as reformers. However, they did claim to have Islam on their side, regarding the Almohads as too lax in prosecuting their duty of defeating the Christians in Spain, citing the obligation of jihad; "the Muslim successor states of the Almohads, the Nasrids of Granada and the Banu Marin of Morocco, both stressed their performance in the holy war or jihad against Iberian Christian powers to rally supporters to their cause and bolster their legitimacy" (Clancy-Smith 2001, 15).
The Marinid leadership installed in Fez declared war on the Almohads with the aid of Christian mercenaries (Fage and Oliver, 1975, 364). After defeats in 1217 and 1244, their leader, Abu Yusuf Yaqub (1259-1286) nominally submitted to the Almohads in 1248. When the Almohad caliph was killed later the same year, Yaqub's troops regrouped, captured Marrakech in 1269, then took control of most of the Maghreb towards the end of 1268, including present-day Morocco, Algeria and part of Tunisia. After the Nasrids cession of Algeciras to the Marinidas, Abu Yusuf went to Andalusia to support them in their struggle against the Kingdom of Castile. In the mid 1300s, Castile made several incursions into Morocco and in 1267 a full-scale invasion. Having successfully defended Morocco, Abu Yusuf followed thus up by taking the offensive. He first crossed to Iberia in 1275, and did so four times before his death. Abun-Nasr surmises that he did not intend to conquer Iberia but to maintain the balance of power there to curb Castilian ambitions in Morocco (Abun-Nasr 1987, 108).
The effort of fighting off the Marinids impoverished Alfonso X of Castile, who in 1282 "concocted an alliance - unbelievingly- with the very same ... dynasty that had brought him such grief by invading Spain, occasioning his son Fernando's premature death, butchering hundreds if not thousands of Christian knights." Alfonso mortgaged his crown as collateral for a "massive loan" (Lowney 2006, 212). In fact, Alfonso employed a large number of Muslims and Jews at his court, so entering an alliance with the Marininds may not have been out of character. In return, however, the Marinids did little to secure Alfonso's borders but proceeded to extend their own territory. They occupied the cities of Rota, Algiers and Gibraltar successively, surrounding Tarifa for the first time in 1294. In 1285, when Alfonso's rebellious son, Sancho succeeded, Abu Yusuf again invaded Spain this time defeating the Castilian fleet. However, on October 22 he signed a peace treaty with Sancho "and exchanged gifts" (Abun-Nasr 1987, 108). In 1286, the King of Aragon attempted to forge an alliance with the Marinids in his war with Castile (Abun-Nasr 1987, 108).
Internal power struggles among the Marinids followed, which did not, however prevent Abu Said Utman II (1310-1331) from substantial construction work in Fez. Several madrassas for the education of public servants were founded, in order to support the centralization of administration and to reduce the influence of Sufi teachers.
The Marinids also strongly influenced the policy of the Kingdom of Granada, from which they enlarged their army in 1275. In 1309, a formal alliance with Granada was by a marriage between a Nasrid princess and Sultan Sulayman.
Under Abu Hasan (1331-1348) another attempt to reunite the Maghreb was made. In 1337, the empire of the Abdalwadids in (what is now called) Algeria was conquered, followed in 1347 by the empire of the Hafsids in Ifriqiya (Tunisia). However in 1340 the Marinids suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of a Portuguese-Castilian coalition at the Battle of Rio Salado, and finally had to withdraw from Andalusia. Abu l-Hasan was deposed by his son Abu Inan Faris (1348-1358), who tried to reconquer Algeria and Tunisia. Despite several successes, the dynasty began to decline after the murder of Abu Inan Faris, strangled by his own vizier in 1358.
Unruly Bedouin and Berber tribes increasingly spread anarchy in Morocco, which accelerated the fall of the empire. The support of the Marabuts also declined, after the Merinids reduced their financial support in the fifteenth century due to a financial crisis. The empire became fractured into multiple small kingdoms and city-states, such as the Kingdom of Fez, which partitioned from the Marinid dynasty in 1374, and opposed the Kingdom of Marrakech. The Kingdom of Fez covered a vast area in today's eastern Algeria to the gates of Tlemsen, Spanish Plaza de soberanía and northern Morocco.
After 1358, real power was exercised by the Wattasids, who technically were vizies. They rotated Marinid sultans, often still children, in quick succession to ensure a strong viziership. The Wattasids, however, were equally unable to consolidated the empire; that in 1415 Portugal occupied the town of Ceuta and by 1513 had occupied all important harbors on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. After Abdalhaqq II (1421-1465) tried in vain to break the power of the Wattasids, they finally toppled the dynasty of the Marinids.
Two factors contributed to the decline of the Marinids. First, "lack of religious ideology as a source of legitimacy and for mobilizing popular support" left "force as the principal means of securing political authority" (Fage and Oliver, 1975, 364). The fact that they relied on Christians to exercise this force also alienated some their Muslim subjects. Various rebellions led by leaders who claimed descent from Muhammad also challenged their rule (Gerber 1980, 17). Although Sunni, unlike their predecessors, the Almohads, who had advocated a reformist ideology, the Marinids did not support a particular form of Sunni Islam although they appear to have regarded Sufi Islam as problematic, probably due to the independence of Sufi teachers. Nor could they claim descent from Muhammad, which, although not technically necessary for Sunni rulers, has often been used to legitimize rule. Disputes about succession began as early as 1258. Sultans constantly faced revolt from family members; "not only brothers and cousins challenged the reigning sultan, but also sons revolted against fathers." The succession was complicated by "lack of established rules of succession." Of the seventeen sultans who ruled from 1358 until 1465, three were children, succeeding at the ages of four, five and ten (Fage and Oliver 1975, 365). While the Viziers exercised real power during these sultanates, they were also vulnerable to threats from "other ambitious politicians" and "held office for periods which were almost as short as those of the sultan's reigns" (Fage and Oliver 1975, 365).
The explorer Ibn Battuta (1304-1368 or 1377) traveled through Marinid territory. The Marinids patronized education, including science and the arts further developing Fez as a major center of Islamic learning. The famous al-Attarin Madrasa, near the University of Al-Karaouine, was commissioned by the Marinid Sultan, Uthman II b. Ya'qub, Abu Sa'id (r. 1310-31) in 1323. It was completed in 1325. In what was probably part of a systematic an effort to counter the influence of Sufi teachers, the Marinids sponsored many madrassas. Their new capital, known as the White City, "was lavishly endowed with urban structures and ornate mosques" and has been described as "an Analusian city on North African soil" (Gerber 1980, 15).
Several Roman Catholic diocese existed in Marinid territory. Their employment of Christian troops and occasional alliance with Castile as well as periods of hostility suggests that the history of Christian-Muslim relations at this time complex. The period between the first Muslim conquests and the end of Muslim presence in Iberia rarely if ever saw all Muslims at odds with all Christians; inter-marriage occurred at the highest levels, Christians employed Muslims and Muslims Christians; alliances and peace-treaties were almost as common as was open war. According to Gerber, the Marinids also practices a "pro-Jewish policy." The Jews of Fez were protected from "anti-Jewish outbursts" and "admitted to Marinid official circles as scientists, financial advisers and personal stewards." Ibn Khaldun suggested that the Marinids saw Jews as fellow Zanata tribesmen (Gerber 1980, 15-16). Gerber says that the Marinids also used Jews, who were in communication with their co-religionists in Spain, to negotiate alliances there (Gerber 1980, 16, N70). The Marinids also encouraged Jews to develop trans-Saharan trade, since "various religious scruples prevented Muslims from the exportation of gold dust and animal feathers (Gerber 1980, 18, N77). The Jewish quarter in Fez remains well-preserved, although now almost entirely non-Jewish in population (Dumper and Stanley 2007, 153). The 1645 revolt was less because the vizier was a Jew than because of his behavior; "he used his position to further the fortunes of his family and indulged in certain prerogatives of office" including "riding a mount and carrying a sword with Qur'anic inscriptions, which were proscribed for dhimmis even in periods of religious quiescence and political stability" (Gerber 1980, 20).
Gerber says that the Marinid practice of using the Jewish community to "cement alliances between the Kingdom of Fez and the Kings of Spain repeats itself in the sixteenth century with greater vigor and frequency" (Gerber 1980, 16). If the lack of Sharifian bone fides hindered the Marinids, this became a main feature of kingly authority in Morocco, as it had been under the Idrisids. Both dynasties that have ruled Morocco from the sixteenth century have sharifian credentials (Abun-Nasr 1987, 207). While the Marinds appear to have been anti-Sufi, too, their successors also had "Sufi affiliations." Under the Marinids, Morocco had fractured into smaller units; under their successors, unifying the realm was a priority. Rulers used both their sharifian identity and their Sufi affiliations to become symbols of Moroccan unity (Abun-Nasr 1987, 208). as symbols of national unity, future kings found it easier to maintain power. The revival of sharifianism began towards the end of Nasridid rule, when the tomb of Idris II was discovered in Fez and it was claimed that his body was intact (Gerber 1980, 19).
The cultural legacy of the Marinids continues in the madrassas they built, many of which still function and in the impressive architecture of the city of Fez. Perhaps the most significant aspect of their legacy remains their relative religious toleration, allowing Judaism to thrive, employing and entering alliances with Christians. As O'Shea argues, eras of "coexistence and commingling" as well as of "epochal battles" characterize encounter between the European and Muslim spaces and only a narrative that combines these can give "a clear picture of the complex encounter of Christianity and Islam, one that combats the selective, agenda-driven amnesia that" often informs historical reconstruction (O'Shea 2006, 9).
New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:
The history of this article since it was imported to New World Encyclopedia: