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African Kingdoms

North Africa



The region which later formed Africa's 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 by the Arabs while the Eastern Roman forces hold the fortresses. In 649 the Arabs withdraw, allowing Constantinople 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


Berber leader.


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

698 - 703


Female Berber leader.


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 Eastern Rome and the native Berbers, but the site was not an especially good one and was soon abandoned. Today it is nothing more than ruins.

665 - 670

Muawiya ibn Hudaij al-Saquni

First Islamic wali of Ifriqiyya and the Maghreb.


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

Arabic soldiers
The Arab empire conquered Eastern Roman Carthage through a series of campaigns over the space of half a century, with Eastern Roman control over the region gradually weakening during a series of military defeats

670 - 675

Oqba ibn Nafi'i al-Fihri / Uqba


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


682 - 688

Zoheir ibn Kais al-Balawi / Zuhayr


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

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, an Eastern Roman 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 Iberia.

712 - 715

Abd Allah ibn Musa

Regent during Musa's time in Iberia.

715 - 718

Muhammad ibn Yezid

718 - 719

Isma'il ibn Abdallah

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

719 - 720

Yezid ibn Dinar



Muhammad ibn Yezid

Briefly restored as governor until a replacement arrived.


Muhammad ibn Aws al-Ansari

720 - 728

Bishr ibn Safwan al-Kalbi

Former governor of Egypt (720-721).

728 - 734

Obeïda ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Salami

Governor during the Great Berber Revolt in the Maghreb.

734 - 741

Ubeidallah ibn al-Habhab al-Maousili


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.


Kulthum ibn Iyadh al-Kushayri

From Feb-Oct.


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.


Ilyas ibn Habib


755 - 757

Habib ibn Abd al-Rahman

Son of Abd al-Rahman.

757 - 758

'Asim ibn Jamil al-Warfajumi

A Sufrite.


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.


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


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


Daoud ibn Yezid


787 - 791

Raouh ibn Hatim

Brother of Yezid. Died.

791 - 793

Nasr ibn Habib

Appointed, but opposed by Al-Fadl and then dismissed.

793 - 795

Al-Fadl ibn Rawh / Raouh

Son of Raouh. In Palestine (780s). Died.

795 - 797

Harmatha / Herthema ibn A'youn

Former wali of Egypt (794-795).

797 - 799

Muhammad ibn Muqatil al-'Aqqi

799 - 800

Temmam ibn Tamim at-Tamimi


Muhammad ibn Muqatil



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.


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

812 - 817

Adbullah I


817 - 838

Ziyadat Allah I


826 - 828

Euphemius, commander of the Eastern Roman 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 finally helped the city to begin a much-needed redevelopment following a decline that had begun in the eighth century


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



841 - 847

Muhammad I Abul-Abbas


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.


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



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




Ziyadat Allah II

863 - 875

Muhammad II

Nephew. Captured Malta.


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.


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 Iberia

902 - 903

Abdullah II

Son. Murdered by his son.

903 - 909

Ziyadat Allah III

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


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 then Egypt and Palestine 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, from The Ismailis: Their History and Doctrines, Farhad Daftary, from Roger II of Sicily: Ruler between East and West, Hubert Houben (Graham A Loud & Diane Milburn, Trans, 2002), and from Viking-Rus Mercenaries in the Byzantine-Arab Wars of the 950s-960s: the Numismatic Evidence, Roman K Kovalev.)

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.

911 - 912

Extant documents begin to speak of a Varangian-Rus presence in Eastern Roman military service, starting in this period in which seven hundred Rus (Rhos) are recruited as naval troops in the unsuccessful imperial expedition against Arab-held Crete. For this service they are paid one kentenarion, equivalent to thirty-two kilograms, perhaps of gold.

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


As the latest in a series of conflicts with Muslims, the forces of the new Eastern Roman 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


946 - 952

Ismail al Mansur



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


967 - 969

Governors, or sharifs, are introduced to command in the holy city of Mecca in 967. Two years later, Egypt is occupied and Palestine and Damascus are gained along with it. The tenuous Fatamid hold over Palestine leads to over half a century of near-constant violence there. The caliphate is removed to al Qahirah (Cairo), and al Muizz transfers there in 973.


Son. Predeceased his father.

975 - 996

Abu Mansur Nizar al Aziz Billah

Brother. An effective administrator.


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. However, the Bedouin Jarrahids are able to seize full control of Palestine in frequent periods across the next half a century. Several of their leaders occupy the rank of governor but rule as de facto independent lords.

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.


On 27 September as part of a concerted period of persecution against Jews and Christians, Caliph Al Hakim orders the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Palestine, 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.


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 Eastern Romans and the Zirid governors of Fatamid Ifriqiyya, and in the meantime the counts of Apulia begin to capture their territory.


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.


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 Eastern Romans, and is not strong enough to continue to hold out against fresh attacks from Apulia.


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 caliph reduced to the role of figurehead.


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.


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 Eastern Roman raid in strength that will eventually go away. Instead, four main Crusader States are formed.

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 mere Byzantine raid

1101 - 1130

al Amir bi-Ahkami I-Lah

Son. Murdered.


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


1146 - 1160

Having built up a sizable navy, and from 1135 attacking the coast of Tunis to seize pockets of territory there, now Roger II of the Norman kingdom of Naples & Sicily occupies Tunis itself. Tripoli is captured in 1146, and Cape Bona in 1148. However, Roger's successor loses these conquests, and they are never officially integrated into the kingdom.


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.


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).

Ebony market in Tunis
This ebony market may have been held in Tunis in more recent times but it doubtless mirrors such markets going back through centuries of Islamic and pre-Islamic control of the region

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 - 1574

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.

(Additional information from Concise History of Islam, Muzaffar Husain Syed, Syed Saud Akhtar, & B D Usmani.)

1207 - 1216

Abd al-Wahid


1224 - 1229




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.


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.


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 during the French-led Seventh Crusade, but Louis soon died shortly after his arrival and his army, riddled with disease, made its way back to Europe soon afterwards

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


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

Died, producing a succession battle.

1346 - 1349

Abu Hafs Umar II

Succession disputed.

1347 - 1350

The Merinids of Fez take the opportunity presented to them by the bickering Hafsids and invade Ifriqiyya. Having already captured Tlemcen from the Zayyanids, for a brief period the territories of the former Almohad kingdom are reunited under one ruler. However, Sultan Abu al-Hasan of Fez is defeated in 1348 by Arab tribes who resent his authoritarian attitude. The sultan's son returns to Fez from his governorship at Tlemcen and declares himself sultan. Abu al-Hasan is unable to recapture his throne. The Zayyanids instantly rebel, overthrow their Merinid invaders and retake their kingdom.

Map of North Africa AD 1300s
The kingdom of Fez under Merinid control made the most of the confused political situation in North Africa by pouncing on the Zayyanids in 1337 and then on the Hafsids in 1347 to briefly recreate the former Alhomad kingdom (click or tap on map to view full sized)


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


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 / Muley Hassan


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


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.


Muhammad VI

1574 - 1581

Jafari Yahya 'Jafari the Clean'


Alem Nafirr

Died 1609.


The last of the Hafsids is removed from any claim to the throne and Ottoman control of the region is complete.

Ottoman Tunisia (Muradids & Husainids)
AD 1574 - 1882

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 Ottomans conquered Tunis in 1574 and toppled the Hafsids. Once removed, they were replaced by Ottoman governors (labelled deys - a superior title - or beys - the inferior of the two), with Ramdan Bey being the first.

Initially the Ottomans were openly opposed by Muley Hamida a son of the Hafsid Muhammad V and a man with a very low reputation. Once he had been seen off, the second bey was Murad Bey (Murad I). He was of Corsican janissary stock and had been sponsored by Ramdan Bey from an early age. Upon Randan's death he was able to succeed him in office and secure the succession of his own son. As the first of this line the dynasty is known by his name - Muradid or Mouradite. However, his successors were so interested in securing their position, and making that position independent of Ottoman control, that they alienated much of the nobility and ended up fighting amongst themselves so that it was almost a relief when the last of them was murdered by his own general.

The governorship soon fell into the hands of the Husainids. They were of Cretan origin, although whether of Greek or Turkish background is uncertain (Turkish is sometimes quoted, but unreliably). From them sprung 'Ali at-Turk (or al-Turki), who served in the Janissary Corps under the early Turkish deys of Tunis. Following a period of in-fighting between various factions of the Ottoman military forces in the country, at-Turki's younger son, Husain, seized power in 1705. He quickly consolidated his hold on the state and by 1756 the Husainids were firmly in control. Each bey was succeeded by the next-eldest member of the family, whether they were a son, a brother, or an uncle, as per the rules of agnatic seniority.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Economic Thinking of Arab Muslim Writers During the Nineteenth Century, Abdul Azim Islahi (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), from Giornale storico del viaggio in Africa della veneta squadra, Angelo Emo (1787), from Palais et demeures de Tunis (XVIe et XVIIe siècles), Jean Revault (Études d'Antiquités africaines Année, 1967, in French), from The History of the Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote of La Mancha, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1822), and from External Link: The Husainid Dynasty (Royal Ark).)

1573 - 1574

Muley Hamida

Son of Muhammad V. Actively opposed Ottoman rule of Tunisia.

? - 1613

Ramdan Bey

Died. Sponsored Murad Bey.


Alem Nafirr, the last of the Hafsids, is removed from any claim to the throne and Ottoman control of the region is complete. The language of officialdom is Ottoman Turkish rather than the Arabic which has commanded for almost a millennium, and this soon begins to create frustration for the majority of the Arab-speaking population.

Ottoman elite janissaries
The janissaries were Ottoman elite infantry units which had originally been formed in 1330 and were directly responsible to the sultan himself, so they were often placed in powerful positions in the various dominions of the empire

1613 - 1631

Murad (I) Bey

Founded Muradid dynasty of governors. Resigned. Died 1640.

1631 - 1666

Hammuda Pasha



With the death of Hammuda Pasha, the Husainid beys soon become the de facto authority in Tunisia, despite the Muradids still holding the official title of governor. Murad II is not the strong and wily official that his father and grandfather had been. With the diwan again functioning as a council of (Turkish-speaking) nobles, the Arab-speaking janissary deys can see their power ebbing.

1666 - 1675

Murad (II)



The increasingly desperate janissary deys rise in revolt with support from some of the nobility. The beys are victorious, but Arabic returns to official use with only the Muradids retaining Turkish for courtly functions, so that they can show off their sophistication and Ottoman connections.


The death of Murad II leaves the Muradids in some confusion as they vie with one another for superiority. This sparks the Revolution of Tunis, or the Muradid War of Succession, which does not end until the first of the Husainids has seized control in 1705. Murad's sons, Ali Bey and Muhamed Bey fight each other, plus their uncle, Muhammad al-Hafsi, several lesser commanding figures, the Turkish militia and even the dey of Algiers. Ali Bey is assassinated, and Muhammad al-Hafsi is recalled to Constantinople (permanently), but the dey of Algiers manages to use his own Tunisian supporters to briefly capture Tunis between 1694-1695.

1675 - 1696

Muhamed (II) / Muhammad Bey

Son. Rightful heir. Fought his brother for control.

1696 - 1699

Ramadan / Romdhane

Youngest brother. Mediocre in power. Fled, captured, executed.

1698 - 1702

Murad (III) ibn Ali

Son of Ali Bey. Last Muradid. Killed by his own general.


Murad III goes to war against Algiers, and the Ottoman court seems powerless to control him. One of his army commanders, Ibrahim Sharif, is visiting Constantinople at the time to recruit janissaries, but he is soon ordered to return to Tunis to arrest Murad. Instead he kills him and takes over his role as bey of Tunis. Then he assassinates the remaining young princes of the Muradid dynasty, the youngest of whom is aged four. As a reward for ending the hostilities with Algiers he is created pasha by the Ottomans. Subsequently elected dey of Tunis he immediately abolishes that particular title.

Ottoman janissaries
Ibrahim Sharif's trip to Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman empire, on a janissary recruitment exercise saw him instead receive orders direct from the sultan to return to Tunis and remove the bey from power - which he did with rather too much enthusiasm

1702 - 1705

Ibrahim ash-Sharif

Janissary commander. Usurper. Captured by Algiers. Killed.

1705 - 1707

Ibrahim still manages to come into conflict with Algiers, and is soon captured by the dey of Algiers. A period of in-fighting is triggered between various factions of the Ottoman military forces in Tunis. The Husainid (Husaynid) dynasty is born when Husain, son of Ottoman Janissary 'Ali at-Turk and a North African mother, wins the battle and seizes control. He pronounces himself the bey of Tunis. Two years later, in 1707, Husain is recognised as the Ottoman viceroy of Ifriqiya, by which time he has had the freed Ibrahim Sharif assassinated.

1705 - 1735

Husain / al-Husayn (I) ibn Ali at-Turki

Son of Ali at-Turki. Seized power during period of internal strife.


Nominal authority in Tunis is subordinated to the Ottoman governors of Algiers, although how much actual influence they have there is open to question. Husain seems to be just as independently-minded as his predecessor, and various plots and potential revolts are constantly bubbling under the surface. In the end Algiers has to remove Husain by force, seemingly by supporting (or at least not hindering) a usurpation of the throne by Husain's nephew, Ali Pasha, after he had been sidelined as heir by Husain's own son, contrary to the rules of agnatic seniority.

1735 - 1756

'Abu'l Hasan Ali (I) / Ali Pasha

Nephew. Revolted. Seized control with Algiers' help. Murdered.


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.

Silver Ottoman kharubs
By the eighteenth century the currency of the dominant Ottoman empire was being used in the region, with these silver kharubs being minted in 1739 during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I


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

Son of Husain. Rebelled against Ottoman authority in Aug 1756.


Following the period of dynastic rivalry in Tunis, the descendants of Husain now establish a firm grip on power. The Ottomans still exercise nominal control of the state, but more in name than in practice. Ottoman control is so limited that the European powers are able to negotiate and sign treaties with the Husainid beys, independent of Constantinople. This European involvement in Tunisian affairs had been triggered thanks to the local tradition of raiding Mediterranean trading vessels and islands for slaves and booty, much like the Corsairs of Algeria. The deployment of several British and French naval expeditions eventually forces the beys to rein in their adventurous subjects.

1759 - 1777

Ali (II) ibn Hussein

Brother. Co-ruler with Muhammad.

1777 - 1814

Muhammad ibn 'Ali / Hammuda


1784 - 1788

Tunis faces several campaigns of naval bombardment. The Venetians are responsible for this and the bombardment of other Tunisian coastal cities. Muhammad has been accused of supporting the piratical raids of the Barbary corsairs against European vessels (almost certainly a fair accusation). The campaign certainly minimises Tunisian participation in piracy, at least in the short term.


'Uthman ibn Ali

Son of Ali. Sep-Oct only.

1814 - 1824

Mahmud ibn Muhammad

Son of Muhammad.


The period in which nominal authority in Tunisia is subordinated to the Ottoman governors of Algiers is ended. The Husainids now control a state which is independent in all but name.

1824 - 1835

al-Husayn (II) ibn Mahmud

Son. His children died in infancy.


Husayn Bey signs a treaty with France which grants it a strip of land near Carthage on which King Louis IX had died in 1270, during the Seventh Crusade. The idea (or pretence) is that a monument is to be built to commemorate the French king. Ten years later the first stone is laid in the construction of the cathedral of Carthage, and the French now have a foothold in the country.

Barbary pirates
The somewhat colourful view of the Barbary pirates masked their relentless pursuit of captures and their accumulation of wealth at the expense of innocent merchantmen

1835 - 1837

al-Mustafa ibn Mahmud


1837 - 1855

Ahmad (I) ibn Mustafa



Ahmad Bey abolishes slavery in Tunisia, one of several reforms in what is largely a mismanaged attempt to modernise the state. Some of his efforts are handled with the support of the French but little of his changes benefit or even affect the ordinary populace. Nevertheless, his cousin and successor, Muhammad II continues to follow his reformist tendencies.

1855 - 1859

Muhammad (II) ibn al-Husayn

Son of Husayn.

1859 - 1882

Muhammad (III) as-Sadiq

Brother. Died without issue. Succeeded by his brother.


With the British having introduced the printing press to Tunisia, and the telegraph taking off thanks to French interest in it, Muhammad II now published the Muslim world's first written constitution. This limits his own authority somewhat by establishing separate executive, judiciary, and legislative powers. It also grants full equality to citizens of all races (including Europeans, which would explain French support for it). A French consulate is opened in Tunis in the very next year.

1881 - 1882

Muhammad Bey's ill-coordinated attempts at reform and his apparently blind faith in French support have led the state to the verge of bankruptcy. France has already gained much stronger leverage after becoming part of an official debt commission from 1869. Now in 1881, under the pretext of avenging a Tunisian incursion into Algeria, it establishes Tunisia as a protectorate under the terms of the Treaty of Bardo (otherwise known as the Treaty of Qsar es-S'id or the Treaty of Ksar Said). This effectively severs any formal links that may remain with the Ottoman empire, and places Tunisia's external affairs and military protection in French hands. With Muhammad's death in 1882, Tunisia is now a regency under his brother, and under French control.

French Tunisia
AD 1882 - 1956

The Ottoman empire had been Tunisia's nominal overlord since it completed its conquest of the country in 1574. The ruling, if somewhat dysfunctional Hafsids, were removed from power and an Ottoman governor installed in their place. The Husainids soon gained this position and they largely held onto it for the next three hundred years, eventually ruling as a dynasty that was independent in all but name. The main turning point came with the rebellion of Muhammad (I) ar-Rashid in 1756, after which he felt able to conclude his own treaties without referral to Constantinople.

Times had definitely changed by the nineteenth century. The Berlin Congress of 1878 was held between the main European powers as they decided how to deal with the 'sick man of Europe', the ailing Ottoman empire. Britain was opposed to the Russian desire to dismantle the empire entirely, but did agree to French domination in Tunisia in exchange for unopposed governance of Cyprus. As in Algeria, France quickly concocted an excuse to take control in Tunisia. This time the pretext was a Tunisian incursion into Algeria which had already been invaded by France in 1830. By now, Ottoman power had long since waned to the level at which it could no longer contemplate a military response, and the 1881 invasion was little-opposed.

Once conquered, the beys of Tunisia were allowed to retain their now-largely symbolic role while real power was in the hands of French governors, termed residents-general. For this reason, the beys are shown with a shaded background to reflect their diminished power. France handled all of Tunisia's international relations, and attempted to introduce modern reforms and improvements into the country. Unfortunately the main drive of French improvements and business relations favoured the French, whether intentionally or otherwise. It wasn't long before a national independence movement had been formed to oppose this perceived wrong.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from A History of Modern Tunisia, Kenneth J Perkins (Cambridge University Press, 2004), from Les 100 portes du Maghreb : l'Algérie, le Maroc, la Tunisie. Trois voies singulières pour allier islam et modernité, Akram Ellyas & Benjamin Stora (Atelier, 1999), and from External Links: Colons Français et Jeunes-Tunisiens (1882-1912), Charles-André Julien (Revue française d'histoire d'outre-mer Année 1967, Vol 54 No 194, available via Persée, Université de Lyon), and The Husainid Dynasty (Royal Ark).)

1883 - 1902

Ali (III) Muddat ibn al-Husayn

Brother of the last bey. First regent under the French.

1883 - 1886

The French minister plenipotentiary, Paul Cambon, who had been appointed to the post in 1882, has a markedly detrimental effect on the regency of the incumbent bey. With the signing of the Conventions of La Marsa he effectively reduces Ali Muddat to a mere advisor to French authority. French administrators are introduced in order to reorganise the country's justice and finance institutions. The country is suddenly little more than a colony, despite appearing on paper to be ruled largely by its own people.

1902 - 1906

Muhammad (IV) al-Hadi / Hédi Bey

Son. Suffered a debilitating stroke in 1904.

1906 - 1922

Muhammad (V) an-Nasir / Naceur Bey

Cousin. Broken by failed attempts to reduce French oppression.

1914 - 1918

Having jointly guaranteed in 1839 to support the neutrality of Belgium, when the country is invaded by Germany, Belgium's allies, Britain, France, and Russia, are forced to declare war at midnight on 4 August against Imperial Germany and Austria in what becomes known as the Great War or First World War. The French army includes units from its various colonial territories, including Algeria, French Sudan, and Tunisia. Around 80,000 Tunisians are conscripted, with about 20,000 of them killed or wounded. The end of the war witnesses a growing independence movement in the country, along with greater attempts by the French at inclusivity for Tunisians.

North African Spahis during the Great War
Spahis formed light cavalry regiments for the French armed forces during the Great War, being recruited from as far afield as Algeria, Tunisia, and Turkey, with a regiment of them surviving in today's French armed forces (albeit with horses swapped for tanks)

1922 - 1929

Muhammad (VI) al-Habib / Habib Bey

Cousin from a junior family branch. Did not resist the French.

1929 - 1942

Ahmad (II) ibn Ali / Ahmed Bey

Son of Ali Muddat. Died.


After a lightening march through the Netherlands and Belgium, France is occupied by the Nazi German war machine, ending the Third Republic as part of the wider Second World War conflict. Vichy (Fascist) rule is allowed as a puppet state in southern France, Algeria, and Tunisia, although the Tunisians generally look on with an air of quiet satisfaction at France's humiliation, However, the Vichy government soon forces Tunisia to comply with anti-Jewish laws, and the bey can do very little to resist.

1942 - 1943

Muhammad (VII) al-Munsif / Moncef Bey

Cousin. Deposed, accused of Vichy collaboration. Died 1948.

1942 - 1943

Tunisia becomes a major base of operations for the allied forces at the conclusion of the Desert War or campaign, a phase of the Second World War, following the defeat and surrender of the German forces in the country. Unfortunately, with Vichy and Nazi forces now removed from the region, Muhammad VII is accused by the Free French forces of collaboration and is deposed.

1943 - 1957

Muhammad (VIII) al-Amin / Lamine Bey

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. Modern Tunisia begins life with a coup, a toppled monarchy, and an imposed dictatorship.

Modern Tunisia
AD 1956 - 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 officially known as the Tunisian Republic, with a capital at Tunis that nestles between a range of hills and the Mediterranean. Its territory falls partly within the ancient domains of the city of Carthage and the Roman province of Africa.

The city of Tunis may date back to a Berber town called Tunes which was founded in the second millennium BC. After Carthage faded it was occupied by Numidians and then the Roman empire and, in the seventh century AD, by the early Islamic empire. Following its conquest by the Ottoman empire in 1574, Tunis remained directly controlled by Turkey until the late nineteenth century, when its colonial possessions were being picked apart one by one. France invaded Tunisia (the territory around, and belonging to, Tunis) under a pretext and made it a protectorate in 1883. Tunisia was allowed to retain its ruling native dynasty, and this survived to usher the country into independence in 1956.

Immediately following this, the ambitious prime minister, Habib Bourguiba, toppled the king, placing him under house arrest on 15 July 1957. The king did not abdicate and was not exiled, but he died in Tunis in 1962, never having regained his throne. The monarchy was officially abolished by the new government under Habib Bourguiba, in favour of a presidency which was little more than a dictatorship until 2011.

Despite this, Bourguiba's leadership was surprisingly progressive, introducing emancipation for women - women's rights in Tunisia are amongst the most advanced in the Arab world - the abolition of polygamy, and compulsory free education. His successor was less liberal, but the country remains stable and progressive. Successive claimants to the throne are shown below with a shaded background.

Also immediately following the achievement of independence, what had been a trickle of emigration for members of the Jewish Diaspora become much more pronounced. Jewish persecution was never particularly pronounced for these Mizrahi Jews, but the temptation to return to a restored Israel must have been too great. A 1948 Jewish population of around 105,000 had, by 2022 fallen to about fifteen hundred. More recent unrest and attacks on Jewish homes in the 1980s prompted much of the final stages of the exodus.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Tunis, Histoire d'une ville, Paul Sebag, and from External Links: BBC Country Profiles, and The Husainid Dynasty (Royal Ark), and Tunisian crisis escalates (The Guardian), and Tunisia president speaks of 'new phase' (The Guardian).)

1957 - 1962

Muhammad (VIII) al-Amin

Titular king following his loss of power in 1957.

1957 - 1987

Habib Bourguiba

Deposed the king and imposed 'progressive' dictatorship.

1961 - 1963

Tunisia requests that French forces leave their base in Bizerte. With the French initially resistant to such demands, fighting breaks out. The situation is soon calmed so that talks can take place, but it is not until 1963 that the French leave Tunisia.

Habib Bourguiba
Habib Bourguiba was a progressive dictator, someone who introduced substancial reforms and freedoms in Tunisia while also suppressing political opposition and securing a presidency for life

1962 - 1969

Crown Prince Husain Bey

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

1969 - 1974

Prince Mustafa (II) Bey Gouta

Great-grandson of Muhammad II. Hereditary heir & titular king.

1974 - 1989

Prince Muhammad (IX) al-Taib Bey

Son of Ahmad II. Titular king.


Doctors declare Habib Bourguiba unfit to rule on the grounds of senility, and a bloodless coup is launched by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. He caps his seizure of power by claiming the presidency. In office he continues his predecessor's hard line response against Islamic extremists, and extends that to the repression of any dissent while inheriting a country that is economically stable.

1987 - 2011

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

Hard-line authoritarian president. Fled into exile.

1989 - 1992

Prince Sulaiman Bey

Son of Ali III. Titular king.

1992 - 2001

Prince 'Allalah Bey

Brother. Titular king.

2001 - 2004

Prince Shazli Bey

Son of Muhammad VIII. Titular king.


Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has made changes to the constitution to allow him to run for re-election in this year. He wins with an utterly unbelievable and clearly rigged majority for the second time in a row. He goes on to cap this with a third such win in 2009, although his critics are becoming more outspoken.

2004 - 2006

Prince Muhi ud-din Bey

Brother of 'Allalah Bey. Titular king.

2006 - 2013

Prince Muhammad (X) Bey

Grandson of Muhammad V. Titular king.


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 Near East, and similar protests are triggered in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Yemen.

Soldiers on Tunisian streets
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's authoritarian rule of Tunisia came to an abrupt end in 2011 with the unexpected emergence of a wave pro-democratic feeling known as the Arab Spring

2013 - Present

Prince Muhammad (XI) al-Habib Bey

Son of Muhammad VI. Titular king.


Having been in charge of the country since 2011, the Islamist Ennahda party is forced to hand over power to an interim government ahead of elections which take place late in 2014. This time secular parties triumph, fulfilling the hopes that had been trumpeted by the Arab Spring.


The terrorist organisation which goes by the self-proclaimed name of Islamic State continues to export terrorism from its main base in northern Syria. At least two serious atrocities are pinned to their door, the first being the massacre in June of thirty-eight people in Tunisia, when a gunman opens fire on tourists who are staying in the popular resort of Port El Kantaoui, just to the north of Sousse. Thirty of the dead are British.

The second act takes place on 13 November, when 130 people are killed and up to 368 injured during a series of coordinated attacks across the French capital of Paris.


President Kais Saied sacks the government and freezes parliament in what rivals term a coup. The trigger is parliament opposing him by voting to repeal decrees which he has used to assume near total power. He now rules by decree.

2021 - Present

Kais Saied

Autocratic president heading towards dictatorship.


On 31 March 2022, President Kais Saied dissolves the still-suspended parliament. He justifies his arbitrary actions by accusing parliament itself of attempting a coup against him. The 25 July referendum on a new constitution sees Saied winning with a sizeable majority. The change of constitution strengthens his powers and risks the return of authoritarian rule in the birthplace of the Arab Spring.

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