Meknes, Morocco

Trip Start Mar 30, 2009
Trip End Jul 01, 2015

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mulai Ismail Ibn Sharif (about 1645-1727), reigned as Moroccan Sultan from 1672-1727, the second ruler of the Alaouite dynasty, claimed to be a descendant of Muhammad's grandson. Ismail is one of the greatest figures in Moroccan history, known as "Warrior King", Ismail The Bloodthirsty, and Mon Pere.

He succeeded his half-brother Moulay Al-Rashid who died after a fall from his horse in 1672.  That makes it sound like an accident.  Twenty-six year old Moulay Ismail took over a country ravaged by tribal wars and royal pretenders.  It did not take long for him to learn the value of ruthless aggression.

After subduing his local rivals, he fought the Ottoman Turks in 1679, 1682 and 1695/96, battles that established Moroccan independence with considerable respect, the only country in Northern Africa and the Middle East to withstand the powerful Ottoman empire.  He also didn’t appreciate that Europe occupied Moroccan seaports.  In 1681 he took al-Mamurah from the Spanish and in 1684 Tangier from the English. Moulay Ismail played France against their common rival Spain.  He convinced his friend Louis XIV to train the Moroccan army and advised in the building of public works.

Moulay Ismail was a fearsome warrior and an uncompromising ruler. He reputedly murdered family, friends and servants for his cause.  At one point, he had 10,000 skulls hung around the capitol to offer intimidation to prospective enemies.

He perfected the slave trade, accumulating at least 25,000 Christian slaves and 30,000 other prisoners whom he used to construct his capital at Meknes, excepting the ones that he gladly sold back to his enemies for inflated returns.  He also added more than 100,000 slaves to his Black Guard, the most feared military force of its day.  Most of his slaves were snatched by Barbary pirates working out of Rabat/Sale, one of Morocco’s most enduring and successful industries. 


Moulay’s models for his empire were Egypt and Rome both of which Ismail studied and admired.  His personal tastes were shaped by Louis XIV, including his capitol at Meknes that was inspired by Versailles, though certainly the Moroccan version.  At its peak, Ismail's empire spread from present day Algeria to Mauritania. 

Mulai Ismail left a considerable political, architectural, and cultural legacy, but his fame is secured as the world’s most prolific gene factory.  He claimed to have sired 548 sons and 340 daughters through his harem of 500 women.  Serious researchers think the number may have been closer to 1000 children.  And, there are serious researchers – one stellar investigator calculated that Ismail would have had to copulate with an average of 1.2 women per day over 60 years to achieve that number of children.  That would have been more than 26,000 spawnings, a 3.85% "hit" rate.  Come on Ismail!

In an interesting 20th century correlation, Wilt Chamberlain attempted 11,862 free throws, of which 6,057 “scored”, a rate of 51.1%.

It is generally accepted, in Morocco at least, that the famous Arabian Nights story of the concubine who saved her life by enrapturing the sultan with 1001 endless stories is based on Moulay, whose regular strategy was to love and dispose.

Moulay Ismail selected Meknes in 1673 as the site of his capitol because of its defensive geography and its proximity to Volubilis, the westernmost extension of the Roman empire, and the most visible evidence of Morocco’s significant history in the development of Europe and the Mediterranean.

Moulay Ismail encased the city in 40 km of defensive walls and obsessively pursued his vision of a great world capitol with palaces, granaries, reservoir, commerce, armies, concubines, eunuchs and his 60,000 or so slaves.

From this stronghold, Ismail united Morocco for the first time in five centuries.  It is still regarded as morocco’s Golden Age. 

After his death of natural causes at the age of about 85, his sons jockeyed for power and continued to develop Meknes, but the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 severely damaged the palace and the capitol’s buildings.  In 1757 his grandson, Mohammad III moved the capital, salvaging and transporting the richest remains to Marrakech.

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bombardierwally on

Interesting comparison to Wilt Chamberlain.

'In his 1991 biography, A View From Above, Wilt Chamberlain wrote that he had had sex with approximately 20,000 women. 'At my age,' he wrote, 'that equals out to having sex with 1.2 women a day, every day since I was fifteen years old.' Chamberlain's claims ignited a wave of public criticism (and skepticism), to which he responded, 'I don't see all this lovemaking as any kind of conquest; all I'm saying is that I like women, people are curious about my sex life, and to most people the number of women who have come and gone through my bedrooms (and various hotel rooms around the country) would boggle the mind.'

nietsreuef on

Hey Wally - Good to hear from you and Wilt. I hope all is well with you and Oregon. Love, B

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