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THE MOORISH REPUBLIC OF SALE
The area around Sale appears to have been inhabited long before the emergence of homo sapiens sapiens. The Chalcolithic or “Pebble Culture” is well represented, and the Neanderthals were there. All levels of the Paleolithic are accounted for, and of course the Neolithic or “Atlantic Megalithic”
[Brown, 1971]. The name Sale (Sala or Sla) may be exceedingly ancient, from the Berber word asla, meaning “rock”. The old necropolis of Sale, called Chellah (really the same name again), dates back at least to Carthaginian times (around 7th century BC). The Romans called the place Sala Colonia, part of their province of Mauritania Tingitane. Pliny the Elder mentions it (as a desert town infested with elephants!). The Vandals vandalized the area in the 5th century AD, and left behind a number of blonde, blue-eyed Berbers. The Arabs (7th century) kept the old name and believed it derived from Sala, son of Ham, son of Noah; they said that Sale was the first city ever built by Berbers.
Sale was apparently somewhat tardy in converting to Islam, and became known to Moslems as a “frontier town”; but by the 9th century it was certainly Islamic, and the frontier had become the ocean itself. In the 10th century, when the Ismaili Fatimid Caliphate of Cairo conquered the Far West, Sale apparently served as a military garrison: a fortress or ribat, built on the South bank of the Bou Regreg river across from Sale, became the settlement later known as Rabat. The military operations were directed against local Berber tribes who had adopted Kharijite doctrine (a kind of fundamentalism equally opposed to both Shusm and Sunni orthodoxy). By the 11th century, Sale had become an established city with essentially the same major features it still possesses. In order to understand subsequent events it's important to visualize the geographical and urban topography, hence this schematic diagram:
European commentators would later use the name Sale (Sallee or Sally) to refer to this entire complex, but in fact there are three distinct “cities” here, each of which will develop a separate and unique identity and fate: one, “Old” Sale (the present-day city of Sale). Two, the “Casbah” on the south side of the river, a little walled enclave unto itself. And three, “New” Sale (the basis for what would eventually be known as Rabat, the present-day capital of Morocco). In order to simplify matters we'll refer to these three settlements as Sale, the Casbah, and Rabat.
In the 11th century the first Spanish Moslems or “Andalusians” arrived in Sale from Cordoba, and brought with them their powerful and exquisite Moorish culture, architecture, music, spirituality, food, folkways, etc. At this point Sale took on its permanent sociological appearance-a port city where urban “Arab” Andalusian and rural Berber culture met, mingled, and mutated into Moroccan culture.
Under the Almoravids (1061-1164) and Almohads (1130-1269), Sale developed into an important nexus between trade with Europe and trade with Africa (the famous annual gold caravans), and became as well one of the recognized centers of Moorish culture, learning, piety, and sophistication. More Andalusians arrived, especially from Granada. Sale was already known as a place of refuge for the pious, a city of saints, marabouts, tombs, and shrines. Some of these saints will play an active role in our history-even (or perhaps especially) after their deaths. Two types of spirituality are represented here, comparable to the “urban” Andalusian and “rural” Berber elements in the cultural mix. That is, some saints were orthodox, intensely pious, involved in the classical literate Sufism of the Shadhili Order;
[Originally from Egypt, founded by Abul Hasan alShadhili in the 13th century, divided into numerous branches all over the Islamic world, but especially Egypt, North Africa and Yemen. See Douglas (1993); az-Zirr and Durkee (1991).] and others were more “maraboutic”, i.e., heterodox, folkish, miracle-working. Many of the important saints of Sale appeared around the 13th century during the “golden age” of the Marinid dynasty (1216-1645), when rich trade with Europe and relative peace and prosperity in the Maghrib and Spain led to a great flowering of culture and architecture. Sale's famous mosque and Madrasa (theological school), still considered among Morocco's most beautiful buildings, were built under the Marinids, as were a hospital, an aqueduct, a hospice for Sufis, and other public works.
An exiled Vizier from Granada, Lisan al-Din (the “Tongue of the Faith”) Ibn Khatib, visited Sale in the mid14th century and raved about its beauty, and the delights of its bazaars, including “the most delicate of Abyssinian slaves”; perhaps he was thinking of them when he wrote a verse that became Sale's unofficial motto:
Even distraction couldn't dispel grief
from my heart
but penetrated by the breeze of Sale
it was salved.
[With a pun on Sala, the name of the city, and sala, Arabic for "console". See Brown, 1971 34.]
Around the same time one of Sale's most important saints-of the learned and orthodox variety-settled in the city: Sidi Ahmad Ibn Ashir, “the doctor”, teacher of such famous Sufis as Ibn Abbad of Ronda, and also of a more maraboutic figure, a coral fisherman from Turkey known simply as “the Turk”, who became a sort of patron-saint of local sailors. Sidi Ahmad Ibn Ashir himself could bless the ocean and quiet storms, so that his tomb later became a popular pilgrimage for pirates.
After the death of Ibn Ashir in 1362, Sale and the Marinids began a long slow slide into decay-but it was a peaceful and still fairly prosperous decadance. Leo Africanus, who visited the city in the 16th century, left this description:
The houses are built in the style of the Ancients, much decorated with mosaics and marble columns. Moreover, all of the houses of worship are very beautiful and finely embellished. The same is true of the shops which are situated beneath large and beautiful arcades. In passing before some shops, one sees arches which have been built, it is said, to separate one craft from another.
I have come to the conclusion that Sale possesses all of the luxuries which distinguish a city of refined civilization, as well as being a good port frequented by Christian merchants of various nationalities…. For it serves as the port of the Kingdom of Fez.
Although Sale was quickly retaken [from the Castillan attack of 1260], it has since remained less populated and cared for. There are, especially near the ramparts, many empty houses with very beautiful columns and windows of marble and various colors. But the people of today do not appreciate them.
The gardens are numerous, as well as the plantations from which a large quantity of cotton is gathered. Most of the inhabitants of the city are weavers and they also make a considerable number of combs at Sale which are sent to be sold in all of the cities of the Kingdom of Fez; near the city is a forest full of Boxtree and other kinds of wood that are good for making these.
In any case, people live very comfortably today in Sale. There is a governor, a judge, and numerous other officials—those of the customs and the salt marshes—for many Genoese merchants come there and carry out important affairs. Their trade creates important revenues for the King.
[quoted in Brown, 1971: 40-1]
The same period (late 15th-early 16th century) saw the emergence of Sale's official patron saint, Sidi Abdullah Ibn Hassun, who was-in a spiritual sense at least-deeply involved in the unfolding of Sale's subsequent and unique history. Sidi Abdullah represented an interesting mix of the learned and the maraboutic traditions. He was neither especially learned nor descended from the Prophet,
[Sayyids or Sharifs-descendents of the Prophet- are of course honored everywhere in the Islamic world, especially by Shiites and Ismailis, but they've played a major role in Sunni Morocco as well. Great political prestige attaches to these families-one of them still rules Morocco today. This veneration oE the Sharifs may owe something to Fatimid influence, which still survives in popular lore in the form of the famous "Hand of Fatima", used everywhere in North Africa as a charm against the Evil Eye. See Westermarek (1968) ; see index under "Evil Eye", "Hand", etc.] but made his living writing talismans. On his entry into Sale he was followed by a walking palmtree which rooted itself on the site of his future mausoleum. The Sufis of the city were so ecstatic they changed into birds. And when the women of the city came to visit him he turned himself into a woman so he could receive them without scandal! The festival still held in his honor is celebrated on the eve of the Prophet's birthday (Mawlid), and is centered around a candlelight procession (based on Turkish custom) which the corsairs particularly enjoyed; they marched dressed in all their most colorful finery. Sidi Abdullah's most famous disciple was a marabout and holy warrior named Muhammad al-Ayyashi, who played a major role in the great era of the corsairs-which was now about to begin.
During the 15th and 16th centuries there was a dramatic change in the balance of power among the countries of the western Mediterranean. The fall of Muslim Granada in 1492 marked the end of over seven centuries of Moroccan expansion into and settlement in the Iberian Peninsula. Within a quarter of a century, all but one of the important maritime cities of the Moroccan Atlantic coast had fallen to the rising empires of Spain and Portugal. The exception was Sale.
Among the many people who came to Sale during this period was Mahammad alAyyashi (mentioned above as a disciple of Ibn Hassun) one of the most popular heroes of Moroccan history. Al-Ayyashi originated from the Banu Malik, one of the Hilali Arab tribes that had settled in the Gharb, the hinterland beyond Sale. Taking up residence in the city around the end of the 16th century, he is said to have devoted himself to a life of study and asceticism under the guidance of his shaykh Abd Allah b. Hassun and to have distinguished himself by piety, silence, continual fasting, and reading of the Quran. One day, according to the legend, Sidi Abd Allah was presented with a horse by a group of tribal leaders who had come to visit him. He called for his disciple alAyyashi and told him to mount the horse and to forego his education in order to discover, with the help of God, his well-being in this world and the one to come. The saint swore his disciple by an oath to carry out his duty, blessed him, and instructed him to ride to the city of Azemmour.
Within several years of this legendary episode, al-Ayyashi had become governor of Azemmour, defender of southern Morocco against the Spanish and the Portuguese, and a dangerous rival to the Saadian dynasty that had come to power during the first half of the 16th century. In 1614 al-Ayyashi narrowly escaped an assassination planned by the Saadian sultan and returned to Sale. From then until his death in 1641 at the hands of an Arab tribe of the Gharb, al-Ayyashi fought the Spanish and Portuguese along the Atlantic and the Mediteranean and became independent ruler of the area north and east of Sale.
The people of Sale had always welcomed Moors from Spain into their community, both before and after 1492. In the first decade of the 17th century, a new type of immigrant began to appear. The last Moors of Spain, whether holdovers still adhering to Islam (Mudejares.1), or “Moriscos” (called “Andalusians” in Sale) nominally converted to Christianity, had been goaded by the racist and revanchist policies of Spain into a series of revolts and had been expelled en masse by Philip II in a series of edicts between 1609 and 1614. One of Sale's traditional historians
[Hesperis, 47] tells us that when these new refugees showed up and tried to rent houses there, “because of their non-Muslim ways, Spanish dress, language, and manners, their lack of shame and dignity, they were not allowed” to stay.
[The newcomers had alien-sounding names like Vargas, Pelafres Blanco, Rodriquez, Carasco, Santiago, Galan, Guzman, etc-ani many of them knew not a word of Arabic. [Caille, 1949 248]] In 1610 a group called the Hornacheros (from Hornachos in Estremadura) arrived together as a cohesive people, still fervent Moslems and speaking Arabic, and quite wealthy. Unfortunately it seems that their wealth had derived from bribing Christian of ficials to let them carry arms, from brigandage and from counterfeiting; the Hornacheros were not deemed sufficiently comme il faut to seale in Old Sale, city of saints and shrines. So they moved south across the river and built up the Casbah, and settled there instead.
[The Casbah included the ruin of the old ribat or t'ort. Abun Nasr calls it an Almohad construction; it was built (or re-built) around 1150, along with the tower of Hassan, a minaret which served as a landmark for vessels at sea. [Coindreau, p. 30-31]]
The newly-arrived Moriscos however were even more outlandish-they spoke Hispano-Arabic or even Spanish, had Christian names and no wealth at all, and seemed even more vulgar than the Hornacheros. So the Moriscos had to content themselves with land below the Casbah (part of present-day Rabat), where they constituted a wholly separate group unto themselves. They thirsted for revenge against Spain and quickly became enthusiastic corsairs.
All three cities of the Bou Regreg were now inhabited- just at the point when the Marinids had finally collapsed altogether, letting the whole of Morocco slide into a state of turmoil, civil war, and dynastic jockeying.
[As one Moroccan historian put it, the universal turmoil was "enough to whiten the hair of a suckling babe!" See Caille (1949: 209), quoting El-Oufrani.] Nominal rulers of the land were now the Saadians of Marrakesh, far to the South, and not very well-organized.
Meanwhile, the Marabout al-Ayyashi had been gaining a name for himself in the jihad against Spain and other Christian powers encroaching upon Morocco~ in fact, he is remembered to this day as a great hero of Moroccan nationalism. He had been set upon the path of holy war by his master Sidi Abdullah ibn Hassun, and had managed to make himself governor of Azemmour; he was highly unpopular both with the Europeans and with the Saadians of Marrakesh-who tried to have him assassinated in 1614, then sent an army against him.
He retreated back to Sale, where the leaders of all three cities agreed to protect him. Soon after (the date is uncertain), the Moriscos of Rabat declared themselves an independent republic, with a governor or “Grand Admiral” elected only for a very short term- ayear at a time-and a divan or council of fourteen elders or advisors or captains. The Casbah followed suit in or around 1627 and created a Hornachero Republic. Both republics at first agreed to recognize al-Ayyashi's authority as “Commander in the Jihad” provided he respect their autonomy-but these good relations were not to last long.
Al-Ayyashi took up residence in Old Sale and built himself two forts just outside the city walls facing Rabat, with an underground tunnel (still extant) leading to his palace just inside the walls. The autocrats of the old city were his most enthusiastic supporters, and Sale now also declared itself independent under his spiritual/political authority. There were now three republics on the Bou Regreg-all engaged in Holy War-and piracy-and rebellion against the Saadians-and incessant quarrels with each other.
Around 1614, when the coastal city of Mamora fell to the Spaniards, a large number of international pirates fled to Sale and were welcomed by the Hornacheros and Andalusians.
[In effect, Mamora had functioned as a pirate republic under the inspired leadership of Captain Henry Mainwaring. This Englishman apparently never converted to Islam, which suggests that turning Turke was still a voluntary act, and one which he chose not to perform, despite his strong connection with Barbary. He later crowned a hugely successful career by "taking the pardon" and retiring to England, where he wrote an important treatise on navigation and lived like a gentleman. He also wrote a treatise on how to suppress piracy-don't offer any pardons, Mainwaring advised.] They formed the nucleus of the Renegado community, and settled in Rabat-so actually the “Sallee Rovers” were Rabat rovers, although both settlements were commonly called Sale, and all three republics were involved in the corsair trade. Perhaps one might think of them as resembling three clans of Scottish Border Raiders, feuding incessantly with each other but teaming up for razzias on England. Sniping, quarreling, dissention, slurs on honor and other pastimes gave way to open civil war from time to time, especially between 1627 and 1641, but nothing was allowed to get in the way of business or impede the flow of booty.
This is a confusing situation, and the sources are also confused, but as far as I understand it, the situation was this: the Hornacheros financed piracy and built the fleet, and tended both to resent the old autocrats of Sale and to bully the lower-class Moriscos or Andalusians of Rabat. The Andalusians served as men-at-arms on corsair vessels, and sometimes as spies (since they could pass as Spaniards). In their city of Rabat lived the international corsair community and the European merchants and consuls (on the rue des Consuls, still extant), and presumably this is where most of the taverns and whorehouses were to be found as well.
[As Pere Dan describes it, day and night the noise of quarrels arose from the taverns and Moorish cafes, most of them owned by indigenous merchants "to whom the pirates sold their booty"; the corsairs at once spent their profits in "cabarets and other places of debauch, since their greatest passion was to waste on revelry the wealth they'd won at sea." [Coindreau, 1948: 41] Some feeling for the "scene" might be gained from descriptions of Port Royal, the later pirate town in Jamaica, which was so wicked that a flood swallowed it up like a watery Sodom. [Exquemelin, 1699]] The Andalusians were the least enthusiastic of all three groups about al-Ayyashi and the Holy War, despite their original acceptance of him on the basis of a shared hatred of Spain. They resented his authoritarianism, and probably his attempts to interfere in their republican politics. Finally in exasperation they refused to help him with any further crusades- whereupon he turned his holy wrath upon them, and opened fire on Rabat with his precious cannon (both iron and the far-superior bronze variety), mounted on the walls of his forts in Sale.
Old Sale concerned itself primarily with alAyyashi's yihat~ and the rebellign against the Saadians-but the Slawis were certainly not above involvement in corsair activity, whether as investors, captains, crews, men-at-arms, or merchants of booty, captives, and slaves. Nevertheless, *'s ironic that Sale is remembered as the corsair city, when that romantic title belongs so much more aptly to the Casbah/Rabat settlements across the river. To this day a rivalry between Sale and Rabat persists. As K. Brown puts it,
- The struggles of the 17th century became in time vague historical memories. The Slawis, who had considered the new intruders at Rabat as an-Nasara 'l-Qashtaliyin (the Christians of Castille), came to call them l-Mslmin d-r-Rbat (coll., the Muslims of Rabat), a slightly humorous, partly bitter allusion to their laxity in religious maters. The Rabatis, with a comparable irony, remember the madness of the people of Sale. They say about them: kayihmaqu fi-l-asr (coll.: They go mad at the time of the afternoon prayer). The Slawis remember, too. They say that in the days of alAyyashi, while the people of Rabat treated with the infidels during the day, the Slawis went about their work. At the time of the evening prayer, however, they took up arms to fight against the traitors of Rabat. But the two cities within a sackershoe one of another (following Admiral Rainsborough's phrase), became friendly enemies. They are called al-aduwatayn (the Two Banks) which, by the play of the Arabic root, reminds people of al-aduwayn (the Two Enemies). The mutual antipathy of the two populations becomes no more than bantering, and is expressed by both of them in a sagacious colloquial proverb: wakha ywelli l-wed hlib war-rmel zbib maykunshi r-Rbati li-s-Slawi hbib (Were the river [Bou Regreg] to become milk and the sand raisins, a Rabati will never be a friend to a Slawi). The friendly enemies across the river at Rabat were at the worst hostile brothers. For all that, they were Muslims and had assimilated to the Arabic culture of the country.
[Brown, 1971: 50-51]
The initial quarrel between the Andalusians of Rabat and the Hornacheros of the Casbah centered on customs revenue, which the Hornacheros refused to share, saying they needed it all for defense and repair of the ramparts. The Andalusians remained unconvinced by these arguments, and by 1630 “the proud hosts of the Casbah and the disinherited inhabitants of the lower city were openly in a state of civil war.”
[Coindreau, 1948: 44] Old Sale sided with the Hornacheros, and ironically peace was restored only through the diplomatic intervention of the British consul, John Harrison,
[Harrison must have been popular. Charles I had signed a treaty with Morocco, and this "gentleman of the chamber of the Prince of Wales" had arrived with gifts for Sale, including six cannon. For Harrison's story, see chapter 7 below. [Coindreau, 1948: 108.]] who in May 1630 drew up an agreement which ended hostilities. The three points of the agreement were:
- 1st, the Andalusians would elect their own governor or Caid, but he would reside in the Casbah;
[At this time the Hornacheros were led by Mohammed ibn Abd al-Qadir Ceron, and the Andalusians chose as Caid one Abdallah ibn Ali elCaceri; both of them remained active in one office or another during the Republican period [Caille,1949: 2171 _ although Caceri was assassinated in 1638.]
- 2nd, the Divan would comprise 16 notables each from the Casbah and new Sale;
- 3rd, revenues (including both maritime prizes and customs duties) would be equally divided between the Casbah and New Sale.
The two towns thus remained independent of each other and of Old Sale, but “in effect the Casbah became the central seat of the Moorish republic of Sale, and its government came to exercise a more-or-less preponderant authority over the cities of the two banks [of the Bou Regreg].”
[Coindreau, 1948: 44]
The new balance of power proved precarious, and in 1631 al-Ayyashi broke the peace again. The Andalusians had betrayed him by refusing to send him the scaling ladders he needed in his seige of Mamora. He asked the religious leaders of Old Sale for a fatwa or decision allowing him to repress the corsairs of New Sale and the Casbah, “for they have opposed Allah and his Prophet and aided the infidels and given them counsel…they manage to their liking the property of Muslims, depriving them of profit and monopolizing trade to their benefit.”
[Brown, 1971: 49] Al-Ayyashi opened fire with his cannons and launched a seige against the South bank which lasted till 1632 and then fizzled out in October of that year.
Peace prevailed only a brief while, and in 1636 the Andalusians launched an attack against the Casbah which succeeded. Many Hornacheros fled the city, leaving the Moriscos in complete control. The victorious Andalusians now turned their wrath against Old Sale. They built a pontoon bridge over the Bou Regreg and initiated a seige of the city on the North bank. Al-Ayyashi, absent on the jihad, hurried back to defend his people.
Unfortunately for the Andalusians, the balance of power (which seemed to favor them) was now upset by the return of the English fleet, which had visited Sale the year before (under Lord Carteret, founder of New Jersey) to ransom English captives, and now reappeared, on April 3, 1637, under the command of Admiral Rainsborough. An interesting account of this expedition has been left to us by a former pirate serving under Rainsborough.
[See Dunton, 1637; Carteret, 1638, published from MS in Philadelphia, 1929. Carteret himself later summed up his impression of Sale: "...[as] for the government, fundamentall lawes they have not any, for all that I could learne"! [Sources Inedites III, 1935: 453]]
The English decided to treat only with al-Ayyashi, whom they called (no doubt with typical British irony) “the Saint”. Perhaps the Marabout had refused to release English captives unless he received some help, but Rainsborough entered the fray with apparent enthusiasm, transferring some of his powerful up-todate cannon from ship to shore, and beginning a bombardment of New Sale. The pontoons were sunk and the seige lifted. Al-Ayyashi, with British aid, effectively cut off all supply routes into the Casbah/ Rabat area, and burned the fields outside the city walls.
Rainsborough weighed anchor on August 30,1637, but the Andalusians had had enough. They capitulated, agreed to repair the damage done to Old Sale, allow the Hornacheros to return, and go back to the 50/50 split of duties and booty.
At this point the Saadian Sultan of Morocco decided to get back in the act; he hired one of the Renegado captains, a Frenchman named Morat Reis (not to be confused with the Albanian/Algerian captain of that name mentioned above, nor with the Dutch Renegado Murad Reis, whom we'll meet later) to capture the Casbah in the Sultan's name. Now the Andalusians and the Hornacheros patched up their animosity and joined arms to expel the Sultan's men, who had reimposed the hated 10% tax, and in this effort they succeeded. But again the peace proved short-lived; within months alAyyashi had again decided to try wiping out the “gens sans foi ni loi” of Rabat. This time, the embattled Moors and Corsairs decided they needed an ally. Al-Ayyashi was a Sufi, so they looked for help to a rival Sufi-one Mohammed alHajj ibn Abu Bakr al-Dala'i.
Muhammad al-Hajj's grandfather had been a great saint of the Middle Atlas region, where he established an important 13ufi center and converted the local Berber tribes into a huge confraternity-the Dala'iyya. He taught the Jazuli/ Shadhili way of Sufism, centered on veneration of the Prophet, and an extensive program of public works and charity. Basically apolitical, the grandfather was succeeded by a son, who kept up cordial relations both with al-Ayyashi and with the Saadian Sultans (surely a proof of his diplomacy, if not his sanctity!)-but his son M. al-Hajj had political ambitions which began to sour the family's reputation for neutrality. Eventually M. al-Hajj succeeded his father as third head of the Order (1636) and began reorganizing it- as an army.
[For this account, see Nasr, pp. 216-221]
In 1638 the Saadian Sultan sent his own army from Marrakesh to the Middle Atlas in an attempt to curb alHajj's growing ambitions, but the Saadians were completely routed by al-Hajj's Berber troops and fled South again leaving him in control of the whole area. He now decided his new royaume needed a seaport, and turned his holy gaze on Sale. Coincidentally just at that moment came the desperate appeal of the Andalusians, once again beseiged in Rabat by “the Saint” al-Ayyashi.
Muhammad al-Hajj saw in al-'Ayyashi an impediment in his gaining control of Sala, his natural outlet on the ocean. Al'Ayyashi's persecution of the Andalusians was therefore used as the pretext for fighting him. In 1640 the Dala'iyya army occupied Meknes, which was within al'Ayyashi's zone of influence. Then after a protracted conflict between al'Ayyashi's predominantly Arabian army and the Dala'iyya Berbers, the outcome was decided in an engagement on the Sibu river in April 1641. Al-'Ayyashi was killed, and his followers were dispersed…
Al-'Ayyashi's defeat enabled the Dala'iyya to occupy Sala.
. . .in Sala for ten years after its occupation, the Dala'iyya chief (or sultan as he became called) preserved the Andalusians' autonomy. They knew better how to deal with Europeans, and indirect contacts with the Christians did not unduly compromise the chief's religious standing, while securing the merchandise he needed, especially arms.
In the ten years (1641-51) when the Andalusians controlled Sala under nominal Dala'iyya rule, European agents, sent mostly to deal with questions arising from piracy or connected with commerce, dealt directly with them. From 1643 there was a Dutch consul in Sala, and in 1648 the French government appointed a substantive consul to reside there, after having been satisfied since 1629 with having a merchant living in Marseilles act as consul while having an agent in Sala. In 1651 Muhammad al-Hajj appointed his son 'Abdulla as governor of Sala. As 'Abdulla also acted as the superintendent of the Dala'iyya state's foreign affairs, his appointment suggests that relations of the Dala'iyya with Europe had become sufficiently important for them to be entrusted to a member of the ruling family. But the Andalusians continued to influence the conduct of foreign relations by acting as interpreters and secretaries, drafting 'Abdulla's letters to foreign rulers and advising him on the treaties he negotiated with some of them.
The most intimate of the Dala'iyya foreign relations was with the Dutch. Lengthy negotiations between 'Abdulla and the Dutch over the provisions of a treaty signed in 1651, and revised in 1655 and 1659, suggest that the Dutch conducted an active trade with Morocco in the 1650's. A recurring problem in these negotiations arose from the dual character of Sala as a centre of trade and a base for piracy. The Dutch were ready to recognize the right of the Sala corsairs to attack the ships of their common Christian enemies, the Spaniards, while obtaining the promise that their own ships would not be molested. At the same time they were opposed to the friendly relations which the Sala pirates and the Dala'iyya chiefs maintained with the rulers of Algiers. The Algerine pirates were given facilities in Sala, and were allowed to sell their captured goods in it. The attempt by the Dutch to include in their treaty a provision barring the Andalusians from cooperating with the Algerine pirates and trading with Algiers often led to a deadlock in the negotiations. It is a revealing indication of the volume of Dutch trade with Morocco in this period that the Dutch attitude mellowed whenever the governor of Sala threatened to raise the duties on exports and imports beyond the customary ten per cent. [Nasr, pp. 221-2]
The Bou Regreg Republic may have lost some autonomy under the regime of the Dala'iyya, but perhaps gained- at last~ some peace and balance under the nominal Jaltanat of the Sufi order. In any case, the last two decades of the Triple Republic were its most golden, at least in terms of piracy. Freed at last of internecine strife, all three city-states could turn all their hostility outward-in the corsair holy war. Moreover, if the corsair republics in their purest form (1614-1640) were unique as political entities, one can only use a pleonasm like “/ItOlY unique” to describe the condominium-regime of corsairs and Sufis, which lasted from 1640 to 1660. It boggles the imagination-and indeed it was too good to last long. The hand of the Dala'iyya and its chief in Sale-Sidi Abdullah the “prince of Sale”~ came to feel heavier and heavier to the Andalusians and pirates. They began to look for some means to restore their pristine state of total independence, which by now had come to take on all the aura of an ancient and revered tradition.
Meanwhile…a disciple of the martyred marabout alAyyashi, an Arab from Larache (and therefore an enemy of the Dala'iyya Berbers, those “shirtless animals” as one Islamic historian called them; “beasts unrestrained save by drunkenness or terror,” as another put it-with the typical prejudice of urban Arabs), rose up in arms and founded a kingdom of his own in the North. [Coindreau, p. 47; Caille, p. 222] This man, named Ghailan, looked like a potential savior to the Andalusians of Rabat. They staged an uprising, and besieged “Prince” Abdullah in the Casbah. The Dala'iyya master M. al-Hajj sent an army to relieve his son, but the army was det'eated by Ghailan in June 1660. Abdullah however held on gamely in the Casbah for another year, helped by a shipment of supplies sent by the English governor of Tangiers. At last, in June 1661, he ran out of food and had to surrender the castle.
By this time the Andalusians had come to distrust Ghailan as much as they'd disliked the Dala'iyya- more, in truth. Despite the fact that they'd just run the Dala'iyya out of town, they decided to profess renewed loyalty to the regime in order to stave off Ghailan, lest he prove a worse master. For four years they played hard-to-get, but finally in 1664 capitulated to Ghailan and agreed to pay him the dreaded 10 percent.
Finally, in 1668, the last vestiges of Sale's t'reedom were wiped out by the rise of the Alawite Dynasty under its Sultan Moulay Raschid, who succeeded in reuniting the whole country for the first time since 1603. The Alawite Sultan had no intention of putting an end to the highly profitable holy war of the Bou Regreg against Europe, and promised the corsairs his protection. Thus, although the Republic had vanished, piracy survived-for a while. Unfortunately the Alawites had huge appetites, and little by little increased the “bite” from 10% to well over half. Eventually the corsairs realized that decent profits were no longer possible. The Moorish pirates stayed on to become captains in the Sultan's “Navy”, and perhaps some of the Renegadoes did the same. Others, perhaps, were tempted to move on, to the Carribbean, or to Madagascar, where the pirate scene now began to flourish. The later history of Sale does not concern us, nor the later history of Barbary in general. With the passing of the Republic we lose sight of our Renegadoes-and so, in the next sections, we will return to the heyday (1614-1660) of the Republic, and try to study the Renegadoes themselves, and then the daily life of the converts-now that we've looked at their political/military history.
Pirate and Mermaid | A Christian Turn’d Turke | Democracy by Assassination | A Company of Rogues | An Alabaster Palace in Tunisia | The Moorish Republic of Sale | Murad Reis and the Sack of Baltimore | The Corsair’s Calendar | Pirate Utopias
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