1517 – 1574
Who was Abdallah al-Ghalib?
He came to power to the throne as the legal heir of Mohammed ash-Sheikh. From his first wife this first Saadian sultan, Mohammed ash-Sheikh had had three sons, but the two oldest had died. Abdallah, the third, was 40 years old when he became sultan and received the name al-Ghalib Billah. Before that he had been vice-king of Marrakesh and governor of Fes.
Shortly thereafter three of his younger brothers fled the country and joined the Ottoman Turks: Abd al-Malik and Ahmad, both future Sultans of Morocco, spent 17 years in exile in the Ottoman Empire, between the Regency of Algiers and Constantinople, where they received Ottoman training.
He fought the invading Turks in 1558 at the Battle of Wadi al-Laban and drove them out of the country. The Moroccan ruler had formed an alliance with the Spanish against the Ottomans. After his victory he even occupied Tlemcen for a short period.
In 1568 he supported the insurrection of the Moriscos in Spain. Abdallah al-Ghalib Billah died on 22 January 1574 of an asthma attack. After his reign a period of civil war was to follow that lasted four years. Marrakech had been his residency. He gave the city the Muassin mosque, a maristan and the Ben Youssef Medrassa. He also reconstructed the al-Mansouria mosque.
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