History Files
 

 

African Kingdoms

North Africa

 

 

 

Tunisia

The region which later formed Tunisia originated in the Phoenician settlement of Carthage. Frequent fighting against the republic of Rome saw the city eventually defeated and destroyed in 146 BC. Thereafter the region remained in Roman hands until it was conquered by the Vandali in the fifth and sixth centuries. The resurgent Eastern Roman empire took control of Carthage in AD 534.

In 698 Hasan ibn al-Nu'man defeated Byzantine Emperor Tiberius III at the Battle of Carthage, and Africa was abandoned to the Islamic empire. Carthage was again destroyed and was replaced by Tunis as the regional capital. The country itself would eventually bear the same name, that of Tunisia. The final Islamic conquest was not an easy one, however, as the Berbers of the interior were intent on fighting everyone, Byzantines or Islamic, and they continued their resistance.

647 - 649

The troops of Gregory the Patrician in Carthage are severely defeated by the invading troops of the Islamic empire, and Gregory himself is killed in 648. The province appears to be occupied for perhaps a year or so before being abandoned in 649, allowing Byzantium to regain some level of control there. The country's interior remains firmly in the hands of the native Berbers, who repel any attempts to subdue them.

670 - 698

Khusalah

Berber leader.

686

The Islamic wali of Ifriqiyya, Zoheir ibn Kais, leads a force which defeats a joint army of Byzantines and Berbers in Carthage commanded by Berber leader Khusalah on the Qairawan plain. The victors are not strong enough to follow up their victory.

698 - 703

Kahinah

Female Berber leader.

703

The Berbers are defeated and Tunisia is firmly in Islamic hands.

Walis of Ifriqiyya and the Maghreb
AD 665 - 745

Ifriqiyya was the Islamic term for the former Roman province of Africa, covering the coastal regions of what are now eastern Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia. An Islamic attack of 670 led by Oqba ibn Nafi'i bypassed Byzantine coastal defences and established a base at Kairouan. From here they were able to conquer the region in stages, eventually defeating both Byzantium and the native Berbers, but the site was not an especially good one and was soon abandoned. Today it is merely ruins.

665 - 670

Muawiya ibn Hudaij al-Saquni

First Islamic wali of Ifriqiyya and the Maghreb.

667

The Islamic empire snatches control of parts of the region from Byzantium's Carthage, and launches raids further west.

Arabic soldiers
The Arab empire conquered Byzantine Carthage through a series of campaigns over the space of half a century

670 - 675

Oqba ibn Nafi'i al-Fihri / Uqba

670

Oqba ibn Nafi'i establishes a base of operations at Kairouan and begins the erection of the Great Mosque, generally thought to be the oldest sanctuary in the western section of the Islamic empire.

675 - 681

Abu-l Mohadjir Dinar al-Makhzumi

681 - 682

Oqba ibn Nafi'i

Restored.

682 - 688

Zoheir ibn Kais al-Balawi / Zuhayr

686

Zoheir ibn Kais leads a force which defeats a joint army of Byzantines and Berbers in Carthage commanded by Berber leader Khusalah on the Qairawan plain. The victors are not strong enough to follow up their victory.

688 - 698

Hasan ibn al-Nu'man al-Ghassani

695 - 698

Hasan ibn al-Nu'man captures Carthage in 695 and advances into the Atlas Mountains. Taking advantage of his absence, a Byzantine fleet arrives to retake Carthage in 697, but within a year Hasan returns and defeats Emperor Tiberius III at the Battle of Carthage. Africa is abandoned to the Islamic empire. Carthage is again destroyed and is replaced by Tunis as the regional capital.

698 - 715

Musa ibn Nusair al-Lakhmi

Began the Islamic conquest of Visigothic Spain.

712 - 715

Abd Allah ibn Musa

Regent during Musa's time in Spain.

715 - 718

Muhammad ibn Yezid

718 - 719

Isma'il ibn Abdallah

Probable grandson of Abu-l Mohadjir (675-681).

719 - 720

Yezid ibn Dinar

Assassinated.

720

Muhammad ibn Yezid

Briefly restored as governor until a replacement arrived.

720

Muhammad ibn Aws al-Ansari

720 - 728

Bishr ibn Safwan al-Kalbi

Former governor of Egypt (720-721).

728 - 734

Obeďda ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Salami

Governor during the Great Berber Revolt in the Maghreb.

734 - 741

Ubeidallah ibn al-Habhab al-Maousili

740

Ubeidallah ibn al-Habhab al-Maousili launches an invasion of Sicily which results in him seizing Syracuse. He readies his forces to take the rest of the island but a Berber revolt in Ifriqiyya forces him to abandon the idea.

741

Kulthum ibn Iyadh al-Kushayri

From Feb-Oct.

741

Balj ibn Bishr al-Qushayri

Formal wali in Córdoba.

741 - 742

Abd al-Rahman ibn Oqba al-Ghaffari

De facto wali in Kairouan.

742 - 745

Handhala ibn Safwan al-Kalbi

Former governor of Egypt (721-724 & 737-741).

744 - 746

A successional dispute for the Umayyad caliphate sees an army march on Damascus, where a new caliph is proclaimed. Rebellions and revolts break out across the empire, one of which results in a change in command in Tunisia (Ifriqiyya), as a dynasty of governors is established. Handhala ibn Safwan al-Kalbi consents to return to Islamic Damascus.

Oqbid Dynasty of Ifriqiyya
AD 745 - 768

The entire region was disturbed during this period, as revolts sprang up preceding the fall of the Umayyad caliphs. The Oqbids, otherwise known as the Fihrids, or al-Fihris, were an Arabian clan known as Banu Fihr. They grabbed the province of Ifriqiyya in a quickly-launched coup and subsequently established the first Islamic dynasty in Tunisia. They began the trend towards increased local control at the expense of the caliphate.

745 - 755

Abd al-Rahman ibn Habib

Self-proclaimed emir after a coup.

755

Ilyas ibn Habib

Brother?

755 - 757

Habib ibn Abd al-Rahman

Son of Abd al-Rahman.

757 - 758

'Asim ibn Jamil al-Warfajumi

A Sufrite.

758

Abd al-Malik ibn Abi-l-Dja'd

An Ibadite. Governor in Kairouan (758-761).

758 - 761

Abu-l-Khattab Abd al-A'la ibn Assamh

Abbsasid governor in Kairouan.

761 - 765

Muhammad ibn al-Ash'ath al-Khuza'i

Abbsasid governor.

765

Isa ibn Yusef al-Khurassani

Abbsasid governor.

765 - 766

al-Aghlab ibn Salim at-Tamimi

Forefather of the Aghlabid dynasty.

766 - 767

al-Hasan ibn Harb al-Kindi

Abbsasid governor.

767 - 768

al-Aghlab ibn Salim at-Tamini

Restored.

Muhallid Dynasty of Ifriqiyya
AD 768 - 800

The Muhallids turned out to be a great family of governors which originated from the Arabic tribe of Azd. However, resentment at the direct rule of the Abbasid caliphs from their capital far to the east grew, and this came to a head towards the end of the eighth century, terminating the Muhallid period of office.

768 - 771

'Umar ibn Hafs

771 - 787

Yezid ibn Hatim

787

Daoud ibn Yezid

Son.

787 - 791

Raouh ibn Hatim

791 - 793

Nasr ibn Habib

793 - 795

al-Fadhl ibn Raouh

Son of Raouh.

795 - 797

Harmatha ibn A'youn / Herthema ibn A'yun

Former wali of Egypt (794-795).

797 - 799

Muhammad ibn Muqatil al-'Aqqi

799 - 800

Temmam ibn Tamim at-Tamimi

800

Muhammad ibn Muqatil

Restored.

800

The Islamic Aghlabids take control of Tunisia and become independent from Abbasid Arabia.

Aghlabid Dynasty of Ifriqiyya
AD 800 - 909

The Aghlabids were originally the faithful Abbasid Oqbid governors of Tunisia and (they claimed) Algeria, and they only gradually drifted out of central supervision and control. Their greatest independent project was the conquest of Sicily, which they occupied from 827, and which remained part of the Islamic empire until the arrival of the Normans.

800 - 812

Ibrahim I

Recognised as hereditary ruler of Tunis by Abbasids.

812

Any claim the Aghlabids hold over Algeria ends with Ibrahim's death.

812 - 817

Adbullah I

Son.

817 - 838

Ziyadat Allah I

Brother.

826 - 828

Euphemius, commander of the Byzantine fleet of Sicily, rises up in revolt against Emperor Michael II and flees to Tunis, taking refuge with Emir Ziyadat Allah I. He and the emir launch an invasion of Sicily in the following year. The Aghlabids win the first battle, and a large Byzantine force sent from Palermo which is assisted by a fleet from Venice under the personal command of the doge, Giustiniano Partecipazio, is subsequently defeated. Sicily is in the hands of the Arabs as part of the Islamic empire.

Great Mosque of Kairouan
Under the Aghlabids the Great Mosque of Kairouan helped the city redevelop following its decline since the eighth century

836

Naples is largely a military city full of troops who are prepared to fight to defend their territory. The city's outlying countryside has already been lost to the Lombards, and now Benevento besieges the city itself, as Duke Andrew has ceased paying tribute. Determined to defend Naples, help is requested of the Saracens, presumably the Aghlabids, and the siege is duly broken.

838 - 841

al-Aghlab

Brother.

841 - 847

Muhammad I Abul-Abbas

Son.

841 - 843

Continuing the beneficial alliance between Naples and the Saracens, Duke Sergius aids Muhammad I in capturing Bari and Taranto (temporarily) in 841 and Apulia and Messina in 843. The emirate of Bari rules the south until 871.

846

Naples has now realised that the Saracens have become too powerful, and Duke Sergius is forced to ally himself with Naples' former subject cities, Amalfi, Gaeta, and Sorrento, to force the Saracens out of Ponza. An Aghlabid fleet sails up the River Tiber and attacks Rome. The residents at the foreign schools - Franks, Saxons, Lombards and Frisians - help defend the fortifications, but further Saracen raids are to come.

846 - 847

Abu Ja'far Ahmad

Brother. Usurped his brother's throne. Captured and exiled.

847 - 856

Muhammad I Abul-Abbas

Restored.

849

A further Aghlabid incursion threatens Rome and other Italian coastal cities, so the pope organises the creation of a defensive league. The league, under the command of Caesar, son of Duke Sergius of Naples, sails out to meet the Saracen fleet at the Battle of Ostia. A storm divides the participants halfway through the fight and the Italians return safely to port while the Saracens are scattered. Their remnants are easily picked off or captured afterwards and the successful defence of Italy is celebrated.

856 - 863

Ahmad

Son.

863

Ziyadat Allah II

863 - 875

Muhammad II

Nephew. Captured Malta.

874

Plague enters Ifriqiyya thanks to a caravan entering the region from Mecca. The region is hit hard and is greatly depopulated. Despite this, it subsequently flourishes economically.

875 - 902

Ibrahim II

Brother. Forced to abdicate following a tyrannical reign.

878

Syracuse in Sicily is captured, but the island falls out of Aghlabid control, submitting to the Abbasids directly.

Zowan Gate near Carthage
Having captured Carthage (and what became the ruins of the Zowan Gate near Carthage), Islam began to push northwards to attack Italy and Spain

902 - 903

Abdullah II

Son. Murdered by his son.

903 - 909

Ziyadat Allah III

Son. Had all his brothers executed to avoid any rivals.

909

Thanks to the murder of Abdullah, and Ziyadat's massacring of his brothers and uncles, the Aghlabids have lost all prestige in the eyes of the people. Ifriqiyya is conquered by the Fatamids, who quickly also conquer Morocco, Syria, Algeria, and Arabia. Ziyadat escapes, but dies in Palestine while failing to secure support to recapture his territory.

Fatamid Dynasty of Ifriqiyya
AD 909 - 1171

The Fatamids (or Fatimids) were considered to be descendants of Ali ibn Abi Talib (Rashidun caliph in 656-661) and his wife, Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammed. Emerging from the Kutama Berbers of eastern Algeria, they founded the city of Mahdia, making it their capital. They subsequently conquered Morocco in 926 and Egypt in 969 and were able to retain their conquests on the basis of being accepted as the last unifying force in the Islamic world. Al Mahdi Obaidallah claimed the title of caliph in direct opposition to the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad, and Egypt would emerge as their battle ground.

(Additional information from the Historical Dictionary of the Ismailis, Farhad Daftary, and The Ismailis: Their History and Doctrines, Farhad Daftary.)

909 - 934

Abdullah al Mahdi Obaidallah / Ubayd Allah

Founded the Fatamids as a ruling dynasty.

909 - 934

The Shiite (Sevener) caliphate is established in North Africa to rival the Orthodox Abbasid caliphate.

914 - 921

Egypt is invaded for the first time by a Fatamid force sent by Caliph al-Mahdi Obaidallah, who has established himself at Kairawan. His son successfully captures Alexandria in 919, and it takes repeated influxes of reinforcements from Baghdad to finally free the country in 921.

Old Cairo
The Fatamid conquest of Egypt in 969 finally established the dynasty as the most powerful single Islamic force, and it immediately established a capital at the new city of Cairo

915

As the latest in a series of conflicts with Muslims, the forces of the new Byzantine strategos of Bari, one Nicolaus Picingli, assemble alongside those of various other southern Italian princes in the Christian League. It includes Landulf I of Benevento, John I and Docibilis II of Gaeta, Gregory IV and John II of Naples, Pope John X, Guaimar II of Salerno, and Alberic I of Spoleto. The allied Byzantine-Lombard army fights and defeats the Fatamids at the Battle of Garigliano, a drawn-out combination of fights and a siege. The Muslim forces find themselves in a worsening situation and eventually attempt to flee, only to be captured and killed. It is a militarily significant victory in the fight against Islamic advances in Italy.

934 - 946

Muhammad al Qaim

Son.

946 - 952

Ismail al Mansur

Son.

948

Ismail al Mansur suppresses a revolt on Sicily, and he subsequently appoints Hassan al-Kalbi to the position of emir of the island. The emir goes on to found the Kalbid dynasty, which eventually rules Sicily virtually independent of outside control.

952 - 975

al Muizz / al Muezz

Son.

967 - 969

Governors, or sharifs, are introduced to command in the holy city of Mecca in 967. Two years later, Egypt is occupied and Damascus is gained along with it. The caliphate is removed to al Qahirah (Cairo), and al Muizz transfers there in 973.

Abdallah

Son. Predeceased his father.

975 - 996

Abu Mansur Nizar al Aziz Billah

Brother. An effective administrator.

977

Caliph al Aziz manages to regain control of Damascus (lost briefly in 972) and tame the dissident Sunnis. A new governor is installed and the city settles down to a relatively peaceful period.

996 - 1021

Al Hakim bi-Amr Allah / 'The Mad Caliph'

Son. Succeeded aged 11. Disappeared mysteriously.

1003 - 1004

To help prevent the Byzantine conquest of a weakened Aleppo, the Hamdanids place it under the suzerainty of the Fatamids. The Fatamids subsequently depose the Hamdanids and rule the city themselves in 1004, the same year in which the rather eccentric al Hakim has all the dogs in Cairo killed.

1009

On 27 September, Caliph Al Hakim orders the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, a Christian holy site.

1017 - 1020

One of Al Hakim's viziers, a certain Darazi, claims that the caliph is an incarnation of God. To the caliph's Egyptian subjects, this is the last straw. They are shocked by the vizier's announcement and begin to make fun of their slightly bonkers caliph. The growing dispute between al Hakim and the populace results in the breakout of a rebellion in 1020. As a result, al Hakim sends troops to put down the unrest and even burns the city of al Fustat. Just a year later, al Hakim disappears while on one of his lone donkey rides in the Muqattam Hills, possibly murdered on the orders of his sister, Set El-Molk.

1021 - 1035

Ali az Zahir / al Zaher

Son. Still a minor at accession.

1021 - 1023

Set El-Molk / Sitt al-Mulk

Sister to al Hakim, and regent. Died.

1024 - 1029

The various Arab tribes of southern Syria form an alliance and rebel against Fatamid control of the region. The rebellion sweeps the emir, Shihab ad-Dawlah Shah Tegin, out of Damascus. In 1029, the Arab rebellion in Syria is crushed by the newly-appointed Turkish governor of Syria and Palestine, Anushtegin ad-Dizbari, with victory coming in 1029. The success gives the new governor control of Syria, which is not something that pleases his Fatamid masters. However, his authority and leadership is welcomed by the people of Damascus itself, who are probably relieved to find some stability after several years of uncertainty.

1035 - 1094

Ma'ad al-Mustansir Billah

Son. Succeeded aged 6.

1035 - c.1045

Ali bin Ahmad Jarjarai

Vizier and regent until the caliph came of age.

1035

Islamic Sicily is undergoing a period of Kalbid rule that is becoming increasingly subject to internal division as factions vie for control. These factions ally themselves with the Byzantines and the Zirid governors of Fatamid Ifriqiyya, and in the meantime the counts of Apulia begin to capture their territory.

1049

During a relatively unstable period in Egypt, a relative of the caliph, Uddat ad-Dawlah Rifq al-Mustansiri, becomes emir of Damascus, but only briefly.

1057

The invasion of the Banu Hillal sees Kairouan destroyed. The Zirids are reduced to ruling a narrow coastal strip while the remainder of the territory fragments into petty Bedouin emirates.

1060 - 1072

Tension in Fatamid Cairo has been slowly growing over the course of the century due to the caliphate's policy of organising military units based on ethnic background. While this policy has generally been effective in military terms, its effect on the political sphere has been more disruptive, pitching Berber factions against Turkic factions. In the 1060s, Egypt suffers a series of droughts and famines, and the delicate political balance breaks down completely. Turkic and Nubian troops fight openly while the Berbers chop-and-change according to circumstance. Eventually, the Turks seize most of Cairo and hold the caliph to ransom while the Berbers and Nubians are loose in the countryside.

1065 - 1068

The four qadits of Sicily have largely been rebuilt into a single emirate by Ayyub ibn Tamim, the son of the Zirid emir of Ifriqiyya (regional governors of the Fatamids). He departs in 1068, leaving behind an island that remains divided between Arabs and Byzantines, and is not strong enough to continue to hold out against fresh attacks from Apulia.

1072

Desperate to resolve the ongoing situation in Cairo, Caliph al Mustansir recalls General Badr al-Jamali, governor of Acre and Palestine (and former of governor of Damascus in 1063). He successfully puts down the various rebel factions, clearing out much of the Turkic presence at the same time. However, the caliphate has been seriously weakened by the revolt. Badr al-Jamali becomes the first military vizier of the caliphate (along much the same lines as the magistri militum of the late Western Roman empire, and they dominate the caliphate in much the same way as the late Roman emperors had been dominated). The military viziers become the heads of state in Egypt in all but name, with the the caliph reduced to the role of figurehead.

1076

Turkic invasions see Syria conquered fairly rapidly. Abaaq al-Khwarazmi is a general under the command of Malik Shah I, the Seljuq great sultan, but Damascus quickly becomes the capital of a newly independent state (either an emirate or the more grand sultanate) under the general, making him the first Seljuq to gain independence from his overlord. The loss is just another outward sign of the Fatamid collapse.

1094

Following the death in the same year of al Mustansir and his strong vizier in Egypt, Badr al-Jamali, a series of weak caliphs sit on the throne and struggle against their viziers to see who will dominate. The Fatamids are crucially compromised by this internal power struggle.

1094 - 1101

Al Mustali

Raised by Vizier Al-Afdal Shahanshah, breaking the succession.

1096 - 1099

With Fatamid power in the region at an all-time low, the arrival of the First Crusade achieves relatively easy conquests between Edessa and Jerusalem, part of the Christian domain of Outremer. In 1099, the main Crusader force conquers the Holy City of Jerusalem, and Godfrey de Bouillon becomes the 'Protector of Jerusalem'. Islam barely registers the loss, so divided is it between warring Sunni and Shiite factions. The prevailing belief is that this is a short-term Byzantine raid in strength that will eventually go away. Instead, four main Crusader States are formed.

Crusaders
The coming of the Crusaders occurred at a time when the Islamic world was deeply involved in factional in-fighting, and at first they were dismissed as being a a mere Byzantine raid

1101 - 1130

al Amir bi-Ahkami I-Lah

Son. Murdered.

1123

King Baldwin II of Jerusalem is captured by the Ortoqids in northern Syria. In his absence the kingdom is governed by the constable of Jerusalem, Eustace Grenier, and the Fatamid military vizier, Al-Ma'mum, spies an opportunity to capture the coastal stronghold of Jaffa. Launching his attack from Egypt, Al-Ma'mum's force is intercepted by Crusader troops at the Battle of Yibneh (or Yibna), close to the Fatamid coastal fortress of Ashkelon (Ascalon). The battle is short and decisive, with the Fatamid fleet also being destroyed by the Venetians, and the Fatamid threat is virtually ended for the next thirty years.

1125 - 1130?

After the imprisonment and crucifixion of Vizier Al-Ma'mum, Caliph Al Amir does not appoint any further viziers, preferring to run things directly. His death in 1130 allows a new vizier to be appointed, probably that same year by the new caliph, Al Hafiz.

1130 - 1149

Al Hafiz

Cousin.

1146 - 1160

Tunis is occupied by the Norman county of Sicily.

1149

The collateral line assumes the throne and is no longer considered to be Shiite Imams. In the same year, the Almohad dynasty of Morocco occupies Tunis, and the new caliph's vizier is killed by the son of an Ortoqid officer in the service of the Fatamids. Governor of Alexandria Al-Adir assembles his troops and marches on al Kahira (Cairo). He kills the serving military vizier and imposes himself on Caliph Al Zafir as his new vizier.

1149 - 1154

Al Zafir

Murdered by Vizier Abbas.

1154 - 1160

Al Faiz

Son. Succeeded as a child under regent Vizier Tali ibn Ruzzik.

1160 - 1171

Al Âdid

Brother. Another infant. Died a natural death.

1169

Damascus is involved in a race with the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem to conquer Fatamid Egypt. On 2 January 1169, the Crusaders retreat from their siege of the walls of Cairo and evacuate the region, allowing Asad ad-Din Shirkuh to take control as vizier (prime minister) under the Fatamids, founding the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt (although not, at this stage, an independent one).

1171 - 1174

The caliph dies, ending Fatamid rule of Egypt and leaving the country in the control of Saladin, under the suzerainty of Mahmud Nur ad-Din of Damascus. The latter's death in 1174 allows Saladin to assert his full control over Egypt, becoming the first Ayyubid sultan.

1171 - 1229

The Almohad dynasty of Morocco remains in command of Tunisia. Caliph Muhammad al-Nasir ibn Yaqub appoints his own governor in Tunis in 1207 to manage the day-to-day administration of the state.

Hafsid Dynasty of Ifriqiyya
AD 1229 - 1573

In his battles to defeat the Banu Ghaniya who were trying to capture Tunis, Almohad Caliph Muhammad al-Nasir ibn Yaqub appointed his own governor in Tunis in 1207. This plan backfired, however, when a later governor declared independence in 1229. Abu Zakariya ensured the split between the Almohads and the Hafsids, permanently weakening the Almohads. The Hafsids ruled the former Roman province of Africa themselves, along with the modern Maghreb. Together these form modern Tunisia, eastern Algeria, and western Libya. Abu Zakariya subsequently built up Tunis as the economic and cultural centre of the empire.

1207 - 1216

Abd al-Wahid

Governor.

1224 - 1229

Abd-Allah

Governor.

1224

The selection of Almohad Caliph Abdul-Wahid is disputed by various members of the family. Abdallah Abu Muhammad, the governor of al-Andalus, arrives to clear out the group at court that had forged ahead with the selection, and murders the caliph. His usurpation, whatever the legal implications, triggers a lasting period of instability within the empire which eventually contributes to its downfall. The sons of the powerful governor of Ifriqiyya, Abd-Allah, are some of the few not to fall in line with the usurpation.

1229 - 1249

Abu Zakariya

Governor. Declared himself independent in 1229.

1249 - 1277

Muhammad I al-Mustansir

Took the title of caliph.

1269

North Africa breaks up between the Hafsids, Merinids, and the Algerian Abdul-Wadids and Zayyanids). None of them are strong enough to reunite the empire and rule a strong North Africa, so they fight amongst themselves for pockets of territory, and none of them are dominant until the sixteenth century Saadi dynasty comes to power.

1270

Against the advice of the Pope, the Seventh Crusade under St Louis IX of France gets no further than Tunisia, where the king dies of plague during the siege of Tunis on 25 August 1270. His son is proclaimed king under the walls of Tunis.

Louis IX at Tunis
Louis IX assembles his troops outside the walls of the city of Tunis

1277 - 1279

Yahya II al-Watiq

1279 - 1283

Ibrahim I

1283 - 1284

Ibn Abi Umara

1284 - 1295

Abu Hafs Umar I

1295 - 1309

Muhammad I

1309

Abu Bakr I

1309 - 1311

Aba al-Baqa Khalid an-Nasir

1311 - 1317

Aba Yahya Zakariya al-Lihyani

1317 - 1318

Muhammad II

1318 - 1346

Abu Bakr II

1346 - 1349

Abu Hafs Umar II

1347 - 1350

The Berber Merinids of Morocco destroy the Hafsids, at least temporarily, but their rule in Tunisia is short-lived.

1349

Ahmad I

1350 - 1369

Ishaq II

1369 - 1371

Abu al-Baqa Khalid

1371 - 1394

Abu al-Abbas Ahmad II

1394 - 1434

Abd al-Aziz II

1434 - 1436

Muhammad III

1436 - 1488

Uthman

1488 - 1489

Abu Zakariya Yahya

1489 - 1490

Abd al-Mu'min (Hafsid)

1490 - 1494

Abu Yahya Zakariya

1494 - 1526

Muhammad IV

1526 - 1543

Muhammad V

1535

The military ventures of King Charles of Spain against the Hafsids in 1535, and later against the Zayyanids of western Algiers (in 1541) are failures. Subsequently, he is forced to defend Spanish territories in the Mediterranean from raids by the piratical Barbary Corsairs. Part of this effort means that the Sardinian coast is fortified with a chain of defensive lookout towers.

1543 - 1569

Ahmad III

1569

In October, Ölj Ali Pasha of Algiers marches his forces overland to attack Sultan Ahmad III, following the latter's restoration by the Spanish. With about 5,000 troops, he defeats Ahmad and takes Tunis, while Ahmad finds refuge in the nearby Spanish fort at La Goulette.

1570 - 1573

Qa'id Ramadan

Governor. Became acting beylerbey in Algiers (1574).

1573 - 1574

During the course of the century the Hafsids have increasingly become caught up in the power struggle between Spain and the Corsairs, supported by the Ottoman empire. The latter conquers Tunis in 1574 and topples the Hafsids, who, at times, had accepted Spanish sovereignty over them. A few last Hafsids claim power but hold virtually none.

1574

Muhammad VI

1574 - 1581

Jafari Yahya 'Jafari the Clean'

1581

Alem Nafirr

1581 - 1881

The last of the Hafsids disappears from history and the Ottoman control of the region is complete.

Ottoman Tunisia (Husainids)
AD 1573 - 1883

The last independent dynasty of Tunisia, the Hafsids, had become increasingly caught up in the power struggle between Spain and the Corsairs, the latter of which were supported by the Ottoman empire. The empire conquered Tunis in 1574 and toppled the Hafsids, replacing them with Ottoman governors (deys), although the Husainid beys quietly laid a claim to the control of the country. They gained some power in 1666 as de facto regents of Tunisia.

1573 - 1574

Muley Hamida

Actively opposed the Ottoman rule of Tunisia.

? - 1613

Ramdan Bey

1613 - 1631

Murad (I)

1631 - 1666

Hammuda Pasha

1666

The Husainid beys become the de facto authority in Tunisia as regents.

1666 - 1675

Murad (II)

1675 - 1696

Muhamed (II)

1696 - 1699

Ramadan

1698 - 1702

Murad (III) ibn Ali

1702 - 1705

Ibrahim ash-Sharif

1705

The Husainids become official regents of Tunisia.

1705 - 1735

al-Husayn (I) ibn Ali at-Turki

1726

Nominal authority in Tunisia is subordinated to the Ottoman governors of Algiers.

Silver Ottoman kharubs
Ottoman currency was used in the region, with these silver kharubs being minted in 1739 during the reign of Mahmud I

1735 - 1756

Ali (I)

1736

Making the most of a growing movement towards independence on Corsica, a German adventurer by the name of Theodore von Neuhoff finds support from Great Britain and the Netherlands as he claims the kingship of the island. He lands with help from Corsican revolutionaries and the bey of Tunis, and assumes the title of king. At first, his battles against the ruling Genoese are fairly successful, but in-fighting amongst his supporters weakens his cause and he is defeated. He flees the island with a Genoese price on his head, but returns several times with arms and fresh plans to regain the island. Nothing ever comes of it.

1755

The bey of Tunis recognises the newly-created republic of Corsica, which has been created after a twenty-six year fight for independence. Genoese rule is thrown out, if not Genoese troops, who remain in various strongholds.

1756 - 1759

Muhammad (I) ar-Rashid

Rebelled against Ottoman authority in Aug 1756.

1759 - 1777

Ali (II) ibn Hussein

1777 - 1814

Muhammad ibn 'Ali / Hammuda

Son.

1814

'Uthman ibn Ali

Son of Ali. Sep-Oct only.

1814 - 1824

Mahmud ibn Muhammad

Son of Muhammad.

1821

The period in which nominal authority in Tunisia is subordinated to the Ottoman governors of Algiers is ended.

1824 - 1835

al-Husayn (II) ibn Mahmud

Son.

1835 - 1837

al-Mustafa ibn Mahmud

Brother.

1837 - 1855

Ahmad (I) ibn Mustafa

Son.

1855 - 1859

Muhammad (II) ibn al-Husayn

Son of Husayn.

1859 - 1882

Muhammad (III) as-Sadiq

1882 - 1883

Ali Muddat ibn al-Husayn

Retained his position when France gained control of Tunisia.

1883

Under the pretext of avenging a Tunisian incursion into Algeria, France invades the country, ending Ottoman control.

Modern Tunisia
AD 1883 - Present Day

Tunisia is located on the North African coastline, bordered by Algeria to the west, and Libya to the south and east, and extending into the Sahara Desert to the south. The state is known as the Tunisian Republic, with a capital at Tunis. Its territory falls partly within the ancient domains of the city of Carthage and the Roman province of Africa.

Following its conquest by the Ottoman empire in 1574, Tunisia remained directly controlled by Turkey until the late nineteenth century, when its colonial possessions were being picked apart one by one. France invaded Tunisia under a pretext and made it a protectorate in 1883.

1883 - 1902

Ali Muddat ibn al-Husayn

Retained regency under his new masters.

1902 - 1906

Muhammad (IV) al-Hadi

1906 - 1922

Muhammad (V) an-Nasir

1922 - 1929

Muhammad (VI) al-Habib

1929 - 1942

Ahmad (II) ibn Ali

Son of Ali.

1942 - 1943

Tunisia becomes a major base of operations for the allied forces at the conclusion of the Desert Campaign in the Second World War, following the defeat and surrender of the German forces in the country.

1942 - 1943

Muhammad (VII) al-Munsif

Deposed by France accused of Vichy collaboration. Died 1948.

1943 - 1957

Muhammad (VIII) al-Amin

Son of al-Habib. Styled king from 1950. Officially king in 1956.

1954 - 1958

Attempting to free Algeria from French rule, the long and bloody Algerian War of Liberation begins with the National Liberation Army (FLN) fighting using guerrilla tactics. On 19 September 1958, the 'Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic' is established in exile in Tunisia by the FLN.

1956 - 1957

Muhammad VIII proclaims the independence of Tunisia from France on 20 March 1956. Others within the kingdom see the monarchy as a hindrance to their own ambitions, and Habib Bourguiba topples the king the following year, placing him under house arrest on 15 July 1957. The king never abdicates, but dies in 1962 in Tunis. The monarchy is officially abolished by the new government under Habib Bourguiba. Successive claimants to the throne are now shown with a shaded background.

1957 - 1962

Muhammad (VIII) al-Amin

Titular king following his loss of power in 1957.

1962 - 1969

Crown Prince Husain Bey

Son of an-Nasir. Hereditary heir to the throne and titular king.

1969 - 1974

Prince Mustafa Bey Gouta

Hereditary heir to the throne and titular king.

1974 - 1989

Prince Muhammad al-Taib Bey

Titular king.

1987

Doctors declare Habib Bourguiba unfit to rule and a bloodless coup is launched by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who caps his seizure of power by claiming the presidency.

Soldiers on Tunisian streets
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's authoritarian rule of Tunisia came to an abrupt end in 2011

1987 - 2011

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

Hard-line authoritarian president. Fled into exile.

1989 - 1992

Prince Sulaiman Bey

Titular king.

1992 - 2001

Prince 'Allalah Bey

Titular king.

2001 - 2004

Prince Shazli Bey

Titular king.

2004 - 2006

Prince Muhi ud-din Bey

Titular king.

2006 - Present

Prince Muhammad Bey

Titular king.

2011

A wave of popular protests against a deeply unpopular and dictatorial government forces the president to flee to Saudi Arabia, paving the way for fresh elections and a new start. The protests strike a chord in Arabs across North Africa and the Middle East, and similar protests are triggered in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Yemen.