At the beginning of this period, the Ottomans rule present-day Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria, but the empire soon finds itself overextended. By the 1700s, the power of the Turkish governors sent from Anatolia is eclipsed by that of local military leaders, who rule with little intervention from the sultan in Istanbul; the Ottoman influence is instead felt in the arts of the Maghrib into which are integrated Turkish motifs. Morocco, just beyond the reach of the Ottomans, remains independent. In the mid-seventeenth century, the Alawid/Filali dynasty replaces the Sacdid sharifs, and continues to rule today.
The Muradids, originally regents of the Ottomans, emerge as semi-independent rulers in Tunisia. With the 1609 expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain, the agriculture and industry of the region is stimulated and trade with Europe increases. The Muradids undertake the restoration of various monuments in the old capital of Kairouan and the construction of new buildings in the rising commercial center of Tunis. The Mosque of Hammuda Pasha (1665) has the hypostyle plan typical of the Maghrib, but this type is eventually replaced by the Ottoman-style domed prayer hall, represented by the Sidi Mahriz Mosque built in 1675.
The last of the Sa’dian rulers is assassinated in Marrakesh, the dynasty’s final holdout in Morocco. The Alawids, who have been gathering power under the leadership of Mawlay Rashid (r. 1664–72), expand out of their lands in the eastern part of the country to take Fez and then Marrakech.
An Ottoman governor commissions the Mosque of the Fisherman in Algiers. Although the plan is sent from Istanbul, the elevation of the mosque clearly has local influences.
Mawlay Ismail (r. 1672–1727) succeeds as Alawid king. After years of constant fighting, he is able to gain much territory, but Morocco remains an aggregate of different groups with little cohesion. In Ismail’s capital of Meknès, a vast palace quarter is constructed with the forced labor of local and Christian slaves.
The Husaynid family replaces the Muradids as governors of Tunisia and maintains control there until the arrival of the French in the nineteenth century.
Tripoli, formerly a modest trade town, becomes an important regional city under the leadership of the Qaramanlis (1711–1835). Ahmed Bey (r. 1711–45), first of this dynasty to hold the governorship, extends the family’s influence over neighboring Barqa and Fezzan and sponsors much architecture, including a mosque complex (1736–38) that is completed in a provincial Ottoman style.
Mawlay Muhammad (r. 1757–92) of Morocco expels the Portuguese from their last site on the Atlantic coast of Africa. He develops foreign trade instead with Denmark, Sweden, England, and France.
Reign of Mawlay Sulayman. Seeing foreign influence as the source of rebellion in his country, Sulayman closes the interior of Morocco to outsiders and does not permit his own people to leave the country.
“Western North Africa (The Maghrib), 1600–1800 A.D.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=09®ion=afw (October 2003)