Timeline: Marinids {1196-1465}

The Marinids (Beni Marin, Merinids, or Merinides. Arabic: المرينيون, al-Marīniyūn. Tamazight: ⴰⵢⵜ ⵎⵔⵉⵏ, Aït Mrin) were Zenata Berbers who fled west from the Hillalian invasion. They first appear in 1196/592 AH as supporters of the Almohads, but in 1216/612 AH they began to take advantage of the weakening of the dynasty to establish control over what is now northern Morocco. Under the leadership of Emir Abu Yahya (1244-1258/641-655 AH) the Marinids consolidated their military strength and moral authority, the dynasty took control of the imperial cities of Meknes, Fes, and Salé, and his successor, Abu Yaqub Yusuf (1258-1286/655-664 AH), put an end to the Almohad dynasty by taking the capital city of Marrakech in September 1269/Muharram/668. After defeating the Almohads, they sought to re-establish their empire.


Failed invasions of North Africa between 1260/658 and 1267/665 AH gave the Marinids a foothold in Spain, and by the end 14th century, they had occupied Rota, Tarifa, and Gibraltar. In 1337/738 AH they conquered the the Abdalwadid kingdom of Tlemcen and in 1347/748 AH by the defeat of the Hafsid empire in Ifriqiya, which gave them control of the Maghreb as far east as Tripoli.


The Marinids founded Fes Jdid (the new Fes) as an administrative and military centre, and it was during their reign that Fes reached its apogee, ranking among the largest cities in the world at the time. It became an important intellectual center, and many of its more important monuments date to this period. Despite internal infighting, Abu Said Uthman II (1310–1331/ 710-731 AH) initiated huge construction projects across Morocco, most notably madrassas, built to create a dependent bureaucratic class that would undermine the power of the Sufi marabouts.


In 1340/740 AH they were defeated by a Portuguese-Castilian coalition in the Battle of Río Salado and forced to withdraw from Andalusia, retaining control only of Algeciras. In that same year a revolt of Arab tribes in southern Tunisia, made them lose some of their eastern territories.


In 1348/749 AH Abu al-Hasan was deposed by his son Abu Inan Faris, who tried to reconquer Algeria and Tunisia. He was strangled, in turn, by his vizir in 1358. After 1358 true power fell in the hands of the viziers and this period was marked by a rapid succession of Sultans. Supported and manipulated by foreign powers the powerful Viziers furthered the fragmentation of the state and precipitated the Marinids’ eclipse. The Marinids were increasingly perceived as decadent and their taxes excessive. This allowed competing powers to gradually whittle away at territory over the next 100 years. Marrakesh was lost to the Hafsids as early as 1359/760, and territories to the south claimed autonomy.


In 1401/803 AH Spanish forces invaded Tetouan in the north, and in 1415, the Portuguese took Ceuta. The inability of the Marinid state to ward off the foreign invaders weakened the prestige of the dynasty beyond repair. The last Marinid ruler, Sultan Abd al-Haqq (1420-1465/823-869 AH) was assassinated in 1465/869 AH.


-Michael A. Toler, Archnet Content Manager

Related Resources:

North African Gardens

Additional Reading:

Belhaj, Siham, Lahcen Bahi, and Ahmed Akhssas. “Comparative Technical, Architectural and Archaeological Study of the Various Marinid Medersas in the Maghreb.” Energy Procedia 125 (2017): 666–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egypro.2017.08.284.

Bennison, Amira K. The Articulation of Power in Medieval Iberia and the Maghrib Oxford: Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2014.

Cressier, Patrice, Joudia Hassar-Benslimane and Abd el Aziz Touri. "The Marinid Gardens of Belyounesh.” In Environmental Design: Journal of the Islamic Environmental Design Research Centre 1, edited by Attilo Petruccioli, 53-57. Rome: Carucci Editions, 1986.

Ettahiri, Ahmed, Marianne Barrucand, and Université Paris-Sorbonne (1970-2017). “Les Madrasas Marinides De Fès : Étude D'histoire Et D'archéologie Monumentales,” 1996.

Shatzmiller, Maya. From Berber State to Moroccan Empire the Glory of Fez under the Marīnids. Markus Wiener, 2020.

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