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Title: Wattasids  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: History of Morocco, History of Western Sahara, Berber people, Marinid dynasty, Saadi dynasty, Battle of Azemmour, Debdou, Abu Inan Faris, List of sovereign states in 1494, Mohammed ash-Sheikh
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Template:Infobox former country/autocat
Wattasi dynasty
الوطاسيون - al-waṭṭāsīyūn
ⵉⵡⴻⵟⵟⴰⵙⴻⵏ - Iweṭṭāsen
Ruling dynasty of Morocco

Map of the Wattasid sultanate (dark red) and its vassal states (light red)
Capital Fes
Religion Sunni Islam
Government Sultanate
 -  Established 1472
 -  Disestablished 1554

The Wattassids (Berber: ⵉⵡⴻⵟⵟⴰⵙⴻⵏ, Iweṭṭasen, Arabic: الوطاسيون, al-waṭṭāsīyūn) were a ruling dynasty of Morocco.

Like the Marinids, they were of Zenata Berber descent. The two families were related, and the Marinids recruited many viziers from the Wattasids. These viziers assumed the powers of the Sultans, seizing power 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 al-Mahdi was the first Wattasid Sultan, but 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 princes of Tagmadert who ruled all the South of Morocco since 1511.


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


Morocco was in decline when the Berber Wattasid dynasty assumed power. While the previous rulers, the Merinid, tried to repel the Portuguese and Spanish invasions and help the kingdom of Granada to outlive the Reconquista, the Wattasids accumulated power through political maneuvering. When the Merinids became aware of the extent of the conspiracy, they slaughtered the Wattasids, leaving only Abu Abdellah al-Shaykh Muhammad ben Yehya 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 Assilah and Tangiers in 1508, 1511 and 1515, but without success.

In the south, a new dynasty arose: the Saadians who seized Marrakesh in 1524 and made it their capital. By 1537 the Saadians were in the ascendent when they defeated the Portuguese 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 Mazagan. The Saadians also attacked the Watttasids who were forced to yield to the new power. In 1554, as Wattasid towns surrendered, the Wattasid sultan, Abou Hasan Ali, briefly retook Fez. The Saadians 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 standard of roughly 1.5 grams.[1]

The dynasty

Part of a series on the
History of Morocco
Morocco portal

Wattasid Viziers

  • 1420-1448 : Abu Zakariya Yahya al-Wattasi
  • 1448-1458 : Ali ibn Yusuf
  • 1458-1459 : Yahya ibn Abi Zakariya Yahya

Wattasid Sultans

Chronology of events

See also


Royal house
House of Banu Wattas
Preceded by
Idrisid dynasty
Joutey branch
Ruling house of Morocco
1472 – 1554
Succeeded by
Saadi dynasty
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