Abdelaziz of Morocco

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Abdelaziz of Morocco
Sultan Abd el-Aziz Le Petit Journal.jpg
Sultan of Morocco
PredecessorHassan I
Born24 February 1878
Fes, Morocco
Died10 June 1943 (aged 65)
Tangier, Morocco
HouseHouse of Alaoui
Mulay Abdul Aziz, from a 1904 publication.

Abdelaziz of Morocco (24 February 1878 – 10 June 1943;[1][2] Arabic: عبد العزيز الرابع‎), also known as Mulai Abd al-Aziz IV, succeeded his father Hassan I of Morocco as the Sultan of Morocco in 1894 at the age of sixteen and served in that position until he was deposed in 1908. He was a member of the Alaouite dynasty.

Accession to the throne[edit]

By the action of Ba Ahmad bin Musa, the Chamberlain of Hassan I of Morocco, Abd al-Aziz's accession to the sultanate was ensured with little fighting. Ba Ahmad became regent and for six years showed himself a capable ruler.[3] There were strong rumors that he was poisoned.[clarification needed]

On his death in 1900 the regency ended, and Abd al-Aziz took the reins of government into his own hands and chose an Arab from the south, El Menebhi, as his chief adviser.[1]


Sultan Abdelaziz

As urged by his Georgian[4][5] or Circassian mother, the sultan sought advice and counsel from Europe and endeavored to act on it, but advice not motivated by a conflict of interest was difficult to obtain, and in spite of the unquestionable desire of the young ruler to do what was best for the country, wild extravagance both in action and expenditure resulted, leaving the sultan with a depleted exchequer and the confidence of his people impaired. His intimacy with foreigners and his imitation of their ways were sufficient to rouse strong popular opposition.[3]

His attempt to reorganize the country's finances by the systematic levy of taxes was hailed with delight, but the government was not strong enough to carry the measures through, and the money which should have been used to pay the taxes was employed to purchase firearms instead. And so the benign intentions of Mulai Abd el-Aziz were interpreted as weakness, and Europeans were accused of having spoiled the sultan and of being desirous of spoiling the country.[3]

When British engineers were employed to survey the route for a railway between Meknes and Fez, this was reported as indicating the sale of the country outright. The strong opposition of the people was aroused, and a revolt broke out near the Algerian frontier. Such was the state of things when the news of the Anglo-French Agreement of 1904 came as a blow to Abd-el-Aziz, who had relied on England for support and protection against the inroads of France.[3] See also the Ion Perdicaris affair.

Algeciras Conference[edit]

Sultan Abdelaziz in aristocratic regalia

On the advice of Germany, Abdelaziz proposed an international conference at Algeciras in 1906 to consult upon methods of reform, the sultan's desire being to ensure a state of affairs which would leave foreigners with no excuse to interfere in the control of the country and thereby promote its welfare, which he had earnestly desired from his accession to power. This was not, however, the result achieved (see main article), and while on June 18 the sultan nonetheless ratified the resulting Act of the conference, which the country's delegates had found themselves unable to sign, the anarchic state into which Morocco fell during the latter half of 1906 and the beginning of 1907 revealed the young ruler as lacking sufficient strength to command the respect of his turbulent subjects.[3]


In May 1907 the southern aristocrats, led by the head of the Glaoua tribe Si Elmadani El Glaoui, invited Abdelhafid, an elder brother of Abdelaziz, and viceroy at Marrakech, to become sultan, and the following August Abdelhafid was proclaimed sovereign there with all the usual formalities.[3]

In the meantime, the deaths of Europeans in Casablanca during a riot incited by European engineers' construction of a railroad over a Moroccan cemetery that June[6] had led to the port's occupation by France. In September Abd-el-Aziz arrived at Rabat from Fez and endeavored to secure the support of the European powers against his brother. From France he accepted the grand cordon of the Legion of Honour, and was later enabled to negotiate a loan. This was seen as leaning to Christianity and aroused further opposition to his rule, and in January 1908 he was declared deposed by the ulema of Fez, who offered the throne to Hafid.[3]

End of rule[edit]

After months of inactivity Abdelaziz made an effort to restore his authority, and quitting Rabat in July he marched on Marrakech. His force, largely owing to treachery, was completely overthrown on August 19 when nearing that city,[1] and Abdelaziz fled to Settat, within the French lines around Casablanca. In November he came to terms with his brother, and thereafter took up his residence in Tangier as a pensioner of the new sultan.[3] However the exercise of Moroccan law and order continued to deteriorate under Abdelhafid, leading to the humiliating Treaty of Fez in 1912, in which European nations assumed many responsibilities for the sultanate, which was divided into three zones of influence.

Exile and death[edit]

Sultan Abdelaziz led a very active social but only semipolitical life in exile. During the Spanish annexation of Tangier in 1940, he acquiesced insofar as the Moroccan palace authorities called the "makhzen" played a significant role therein.

Abdelaziz died in Tangier in 1943.


After the ex-sultan's sudden death in 1943, his body was transferred to French Morocco as desired by the Sultan Mohammed V.

He was portrayed by Marc Zuber in the film The Wind and the Lion (1975), a fictional version of the Perdicaris affair.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Abd al-Aziz". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2010. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
  2. ^ There is a dispute on the exact date of birth with two dates given: Feb 24, 1878 or Feb 18, 1881, while Chisholm (1911) states 1880.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abd-el-Aziz IV". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 32.
  4. ^ https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1903/01/02/101963574.pdf FIGHT EXPECTED AT FEZ.; Rebels Only Four Hours from Capital at Last Report. LONDON TIMES -- NEW YORK TIMES Special Cablegram. January 02, 1903,
  5. ^ American Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events, Volume 19; Volume 34, D. Appleton, 1895, p.501
  6. ^ R., Pennell, C. (2000). Morocco since 1830 : a history. London: Hurst & Co. p. 135. ISBN 1850654263. OCLC 42954024.
  7. ^ "No. 27329". The London Gazette. 2 July 1901. p. 4399.
  8. ^ Royal Ark


  • Jerome et Jean Tharaud, Marrakech ou les Seigneurs de l'Atlas
  • Benumaya, Gil (1940). El Jalifa en Tanger. Madrid: Instituto Jalifiano de Tetuan

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Hassan I
Sultan of Morocco
Succeeded by