Abd al-Aziz ibn al-Hassan

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sultan of morocco, 18941908.

A young boy at the death of his father, Hassan I, in 1894, Abd al-Aziz assumed the powers of sultan in 1900 upon the death of the regent, Ahmad ibn Musa. Under Ibn Musa, the modernizing reforms of Hassan had been undermined by social and economic changes, and Morocco became increasingly vulnerable to European imperialist ambitions. In 1900, France annexed the Saharan oasis of In Salah, previously claimed by Morocco, as well as territory along the AlgeriaMorocco frontier.

This inaugurated the Moroccan Question, a period of rising European imperialist ambitions (19001912). Abd al-Aziz's lack of experience and penchant for European ways permitted European speculators and business interests to take advantage of the situation. It also contributed to undermining his legitimacy. More important was the incompetent way a new universal tax on agriculture, the tartib, was introduced, which provoked revolts in several districts. The most important of these was the 1902 rebellion led by Abu Himara, whose victories enabled him to pose a long-term challenge to the regime. Following Moroccan attacks on Europeans, there were several important diplomatic crises.

The Moroccan crisis deepened in 1904 when, after complex French diplomatic maneuvers, Spain, Italy, and Britain renounced their claims to Morocco (although Spain's renunciation did not last). France sought rapidly to capitalize on the situation. It negotiated a major loan agreement with the bankrupt Moroccan government, thus gaining a dominant position in Moroccan finances. It also issued an ultimatum that Morocco adopt a French reform proposal, which would have amounted to it becoming a virtual protectorate. Seeking to stave off the French proposals, Abd al-Aziz referred them to an assembly of notables, or majles, in 1905, while seeking diplomatic support from Germany.

Despite German intervention and the convening of the international Algeciras Conference (1906), however, Morocco was forced to accept the substance of France's proposals. Eventually Abd alAziz was compelled to sign the Act of Algeciras (1906) over the vociferous objections of the Moroccan elite. By doing this, he fatally undermined his regime.

In the post-Algeciras period, a new French aggressiveness and the breakdown of rural security gave rise to attacks on French citizens. The landing of French troops at Oujda and Casablanca (1907) led to uprisings in both districts. More importantly, in August 1907, it provoked the rebellion of his brother, Abd al-Hafid, the governor of Marrakech, in alliance with Madani and Tuhami al-Glawi and other rural magnates of southern Morocco. Despite French support, Abd al-Aziz was eventually defeated after a yearlong civil war and compelled to abdicate his throne. Thereafter, he lived in retirement in Tangier.

see also abd al-hafid ibn al-hassan; abu himara; algeciras conference (1906); hassan i; ibn musa, ahmad; moroccan question; tuhami al-glawi.


Burke, Edmund, III. Prelude to Protectorate in Morocco: Precolonial Protest and Resistance, 18601912. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1976.

Harris, Walter Burton. The Morocco That Was. Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1921.

Pennell, C. R. Morocco since 1830: A History. New York: New York University Press, 2000.

Edmund Burke III