Monday, March 4, 2013

'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham

'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham (November 28. 1778 – August 24, 1859, Meknes) was the Filali Sharif of Morocco (r.1822-1859).  He had to repress several tribal revolts.  During his reign, a number of European powers renewed, or completed, their commercial treaties with Morocco, but Morocco ultimately lost its international standing and suffered economic decline and social and political unrest.

The major problem confronted by 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham was how to respond to the invasion of Algeria by France in 1830.  'Abd al-Rahman first tacitly supported Algerian resistance forces, then sought to avoid a confrontation.  In August 1844, this policy failed when a Moroccan army was beaten at Isly by General Thomas-Robert Bugeaud de la Piconnerie and Moroccan ports were bombarded by the French navy.  Morocco's defeat opened the door to increased European political and economic intervention.  

The economic policies pursued by 'Abd al-Rahman became disastrous as well.  The signing of an Anglo-Moroccan commercial agreement in 1856 gave most favored nation status to Great Britain, and its provisions were soon extended to other European powers.  Finally, a major conflict with Spain erupted into war in August 1859.

Moulay (Prince of the Blood) 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham was the sultan of Morocco from 1822 to 1859. He was a member of the Alaouite dynasty.

'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham was born in 1778. Following the death of his uncle Suleiman of Morocco. 'Abd al-Rahman was proclaimed sultan of Morocco in Fez on November 30, 1822. His reign began during a tumultous time, when many noble families and rural tribal confederations in Morocco were trying to extract greater power away from the center, and spent much of the early part of his reign crushing revolts.

Upon ascension, the sultan's finances were in shambles. With the country in disarray, the central government (the Makhzen) was unable to collect much customary taxation. 'Abd al-Rahman turned to foreign trade, which had been cut off by the prior sultan, as a way to reap in customs revenue, and began to negotiate a series of trade treaties with various European powers. 'Abd al-Rahman also decided to revive the institution of Barbary piracy, hoping to replenish his treasury, but was quickly dissuaded after the British blockaded Tangier in 1828, and the Austrians bombarded Larache, Asilah and Tetouan in 1829.

The most serious foreign threat to Morocco, however, was France, which had launched its invasion of neighboring  Algeria in 1830. 'Abd al-Rahman rushed Moroccan troops up to defend Tlemcen, but they were thrown back and Tlemcen was captured by the French in 1832. 'Abd al-Rahman supported the continued guerilla resistance in Algeria led by 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'in, albeit only tentatively, not wishing to incur French retaliation. But the border tribes of Morocco continued supporting 'Abd al-Qadir more actively, prompting the French launch their own strikes over the border and establishing forward outposts in Moroccan territory, which only inflamed the reaction in Morocco and increased the irregular border war. The French demanded that Morocco cease its support of 'Abd al-Qadir and cede its eastern frontierlands to French control and, in 1844, launched the Franco-Moroccan War. The war did not go well for the sultan. The French navy bombarded Mogador (Essaouira) and Tangier, while the Moroccan army, under 'Abd al-Rahman's son Moulay Muhammad, was decisively defeated by the French at the Battle of Isly in August 1844. 'Abd al-Rahman was forced to consent to the humiliating Treaty of Tangier in September 1844, withdrawing support for al-Qadir, reducing the frontier garrisons and submitting the Moroccan-Algerian border to modification. The Treaty of Lalla Maghnia was signed in March 1845, whereby the Moroccan border was demarcated further west, closer to the Moulouya River.
The treaties aggravated the internal situation in Morocco, which grew more unstable as 'Abd al-Rahman was accused of yielding too quickly to French demands. 'Abd al-Rahman in fact rejected the treaty of Lalla Maghnia at first, blaming it on his negotiatiors, but was eventually forced to ratify it. Army units and rural tribes across the north and east, already basically ungovernable, started raising rebellions which were only crushed with difficulty. The aftermath saw the break between 'Abd al-Rahman and 'Abd al-Qadir.
In 1856, 'Abd al-Rahman established the souk of Zraqten on the north side of the High Atlas, adding to territory in southern Morocco controlled by the Glaouis, who wer Caids ruling various southern areas from the 18th century until Moroccan independence in 1956, after originally settling in Telouet to establish a souk. They would tax caravans travelling from the Sahara and Tafilalt regions as well as taxing goods sold locally.

The Agdal Gardens of Marrakesh, an irrigated garden, originally established by the Almoravids in the 12th century of the Christian calendar and enlarged in the days of the Saadians was revamped, reforested and encircled by ramparts during the reign of 'Abd al-Rahman.

'Abd al-Rahman died in Meknes in August 1859. He was succeeded by his son, sultan Mohammed IV of Morocco. 

Alternative names include:

'Abd al-Rahman
'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham

'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Hisham
Ibn Hisham
Ibn Hisham, 'Abd al-Rahman
Ibn Hisham, 'Abd ar-Rahman


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