Quick Timeline: The Miseries of Barbary, Seven Views from Seven Cities

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Youngmarshall, Sep 8, 2019.

  1. Youngmarshall Still Clowning Now

    Dec 28, 2014
    Occupied Northumbria

    "Three miseries of Barbary: plague. famine. ciuill warre With a relation of the death of Mahamet the late Emperour: and a briefe report of the now present wars betweene the three brothers." - Title of a Pamphlet by George Wilkins of London, 1607.

    Excerpt from "Morocco, Russia and India: An examination of the aftermath of collapsing Empires" by G.R. Pennell @Bristol Pamphlets, 1987.

    "The Saadi Dynasty of Morocco never recreated the glory or power of the Almovarids or Almohads. But under Ahmad al-Mansur, for a brief time, they were considered a major power by European observers and given the respect due a powerful empire. It was under al-Mansur that Morocco had crushed the Portuguese army and killed their king, under him that they had invaded the Sahel and destroyed the Songhai and Mali Empires and under him that they had formed their own African Caliphate which aimed to unite all African muslims in looking to Marrakesh rather than Istanbul and which states as far south as the Kanem Empire recognised. But that power was in many ways a mirage. Even as al-Mansur plotted with Elizabeth I to conquer the West Indies from Spain and divide them between England and Morocco, his current empire was unravelling. Plague and famine stalked his land and with it came increasingly revolt and unrest, both in the new conquests and Morocco proper.

    Upon al-Mansur's death and the coming of his son Muhammed al-Shaykh al-Mamun, a brutal and lazy drunk, to the throne, the house of cards collapsed. Three brothers claimed the throne and, as they fought, central control retreated slowly inwards. Al-Mansur's empire crumbled in the face of rebellion and invasions.

    The Ottomans, having long claimed to be overlords of Morocco, finally made good that claim by bringing much of Eastern Morocco under the fold. The Spanish likewise extended control outwards from the formerly Portuguese cities in Morocco that they'd inherited in the Iberian Union. The Pashalik of Timbuktu found itself cut off and isolated from it's previous Moroccan overlords. The Alaouites of Tafilalt likewise took advantage of their defacto independence to grow in riches and power by monopolising control over the oases used in the Trans-Saharan trade.

    The most well known secessionist state however was the Republic of Rabat, which was founded by Moriscos driven from Spain by Philip II and which, in the aftermath of the Spanish annexation of much of Northern Morocco, became a hot bed of jihadist anti christian activity. Led by Sidi al-Ayachi and the followers of the Mahdi, Ibn Abi Mahalli, they vowed to avenge the defeats of the Moors by fighting an ever lasting Jihad on both land and sea. The Corsairs of Rabat would arguably achieve more in that goal that the mighty empire of the Saadis ever had.

    By contrast, in the rump Saadi sultanate of Marrakech, al-Mamum and his heirs grew increasingly unpopular for their lack of action as their realm bled. They ruled largely only thanks to the power of their elite bodyguard of Songhai slaves known as the Black Guard, members of which increasingly began to become the real power in the sultanate. By the 1630s, Ottoman and Christian sources referred to it mockingly as 'Sudanese Morocco'.

    And in the valleys of the Sus and the mountains of the Atlas, the slave ran sugar plantations and mosque ran super farms were reclaimed by the berber pastorialists who'd been driven off them by the Saadi's in the first place. The alliance of village councils and sufi brotherhoods known as the Commonwealth of Dila grew in power and influence as that of Marrakech declined."

    Authors Note: This is going to be another 8,000-11,000 words thing written in less than 14 days like Vodou Props and 15 battles were. 7 updates after this, each one a viewpoint from a person in one of the states that took over Morocco after the collapse of the Saadi Empire.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019 at 10:25 AM
  2. Youngmarshall Still Clowning Now

    Dec 28, 2014
    Occupied Northumbria
    Rabat - The Pirate's Tale

    Ricote had never lived in Spain, his father had only been a child when they’d settled in Rabat with the other Moriscos. But he still wore the name Chbili as a reminder of the City his family had lived in, his people had owned and that they’d been forced to flee from with Christian mobs at their heels. The Berbers and Arabs had never let him forget than he was a newcomer to their country and his father had never let him forget why they’d had to start their life again in a foreign land

    30 years ago the Sultan, the last real Sultan of Morocco, had announced in the Mosques that they would be invading Spain, that the house of Ricote’s ancestors would be reclaimed by the faithful. But then he had died, and his sons had wasted his army bickering over the throne and so Spain had come instead to Morocco, bringing fire and gunshot and many more expelled Moriscos.

    In the North, in Meknes and Marrakech, they had cowered and fled before the Infidels. But the Moriscos had fled once already and that was enough for any man. This time the Moriscos had fought.

    Ricote had never lived in Spain, but he had been there. He had burned Spanish towns, shot Spanish men and be spoiled Spanish women. He had taken slaves and treasure and gold to be sold at the markets of Algiers or Tetouan. The Jihad at Sea had been his life since he was a boy, serving on an English ship that had, like the Moriscos, fought on after their leaders had surrendered.

    It was then that he’d made his first trip across the Great Ocean under Captain Mainwaring, back when Rabat had a fleet of less than a dozen ships and even the bravest of them rarely dared venture too far from their familiar coasts. He’d seen unguarded towns and unguarded ships and had remembered what he’d seen for when he got his own ship. In the last year, Ricote had become the terror of the American East Coast.

    And as Ricote grew, so too did his hometown. The European renegades came and went as they were offered pardons and new wars by their home countries but they had left knowledge of new routes and new targets. Spain and Italy had been raided into poverty by Algiers and Tunis, but from Rabat the Moriscos could head into Northern Europe and hit the British Isles or aim through the Azores into the riches of the Spanish Main. And the harbour, protected behind the shallow bars of the Bou Regreg, began to be not enough to hold the larger ships the Corsairs captured in their raids. Ricote mostly docked at Agadir now, when he was in Morocco.

    But now Ricote was coming back to the only city where he had ever lived. Because there was an Election. Because Rabat needed a new Admiral. Because Ricote had Dreams for the discarded exiles of Spain.

    The Moriscos of Rabat had built their own town and their own livelihood with no help from Marrakech and they resented any attempt by whichever Sultan of Morocco who was in charge today to attempt to interfere in that. Why, after all should they pay taxes to a distant Sultan on their hard earned treasures when they provided their own protection?

    They had their own Governor who looked after their families, and their own Admiral who was picked by every man who owned his own ship in a Captain’s Council. The Admiral directed the Corsairs at war, though in practice he made sure not to try and give any orders he couldn’t enforce and would mostly do little more than direct them to safe ports to trade and hide.

    But they knew too that Rabat could not stand alone. In Agadir and Iligh they had found allies in Berber tribesman who had taken advantage of the collapse of central power to wage their own private Jihads against the Portuguese sailors who demanded crops and horses from their tame Moroccan towns. The Christian invaders may have been welcomed by the cityfolk but now they faced constant attack from both land and sea.

    There was talk now of the man from Iligh, who claimed to be kin to the old Sultan Ahmad himself, being a sultan worth fighting for. There was talk of Armies being gathered in the desert, of the European cities being put under siege. And that was all well and good but there was talk too of taxes and submission and letters of marque. Of the Corsairs becoming dogs for another useless Moroccan.

    And now the old Admiral was dead and the Captains were gathering in Rabat to pick the new one. The first election had been a stitch up, only those with their own ships could vote and Rabat only had a handful of ships, but now the river was full of returning vessels. If the old man in their mosques, scared of their own shadows and sucking up to wild men in the hills thought they could pick a tame creature as their Admiral, they’d be mistaken. The young men were corsairs now, more so each year and that meant they were Ricote’s men. Young, fearless and easily swayed by gold and promises.

    Their people’s future was not tied to this land but to the west. The Corsairs would pay taxes to nobody. Why fight for this barren land of their exile when all the riches of the New World laid open to them? Was there anything in Rabat they’d miss as much as they’d missed Seville?

    Ricote grinned as he approached the shallow sand back of the river and prepared to anchor his own fleet. Those with ships made the rules. And he’d come back with seven, each with their own new Captain and each weighed down with all the Treasure they could carry.

    Let them weigh up the taxes of Morocco versus the wealth of Havana.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019 at 10:25 AM
  3. Youngmarshall Still Clowning Now

    Dec 28, 2014
    Occupied Northumbria
    Marrakech - The Slave's Tale
    Mahmud did not remember what his name had been before the Moors had caught him. He could barely remember the language in which he had been named. Only fragments of it remained. What he remembered was the sword in the Arab man’s hand. And the heads rolling across the ground. And the boy being dragged away from the bodies by large men.

    And he remembered the desert. Remembered the endless sands and endless thirst. Remembered the relief in finding the wells and the canny men in the oasis counting gold and salt. Remembered the whips and chains and the ones left behind because they could not keep up.

    His life after that was in Arabic. It was then that he’d taken the name Mahmud because Arabic was the language of the Sugar Plantations. Arabic and Pain. It was not just the language of the Masters or the overseers, but of the slaves themselves, so they could talk among each other in that land of a dozen tongues. But wherever they had come from, whatever they had been before, in the fields they only had one purpose. In the fields, they cut the sugar. They cut it until their hands bled and their legs ached. And they fed it to the rollers and boiled it and shipped it by horse and camel on the road to Marrakech.

    At the time, Mahmud had not ever seen Marrakech. It was just a name. Just an endless mouth they fed with sugar. But eventually, he did not know how long the seemingly endless hell of the sugar fields lasted, Marrakech decided it needed men more than it needed Sugar. And so Mahmud was taken into the Army.

    The men of the army were Arab and they shouted orders in Arabic at the crowd of Black men from the Sugar fields. And Mahmud had ran when told to run and stopped when told to stop and they had given him weapons and told him what to do. And they had smiled and nodded and sent him to the other men, the ones paler then even the Arabs. They were also slaves, Mahmud thought from the way the Arabs watched them, but different slaves. They were beaten less and listened to more. And they were to take the best of the Black soldiers with them when they left.

    They called themselves Europeans, Mahmud would learn later and Marrakech trusted their European slaves the way they did not trust their Arab freemen. It was the Europeans who took the lead into battle. But Marrakech did not have enough Europeans. It had a lot more Blacks.

    That had been a long time ago. The Black Army of Marrakech had proven itself again and again in fighting the endless rebels that plagued the Sultan’s country. And Mahmud had proven himself too. That was why today he was visiting the Palace.

    The Arab men and women avoided his eyes as he walked down the crowded street and muttered to themselves. He was not loved here, the Army was not loved here but there was fear and there was respect. Nobody could mistake the soldiers of the Sultan for the cowering house slaves of the Sultan’s palace. The Grand Vizier himself had once been a Soldier of the Black Army and it was him who Mahmud was coming to see.

    The Vizier was a big man, tall and broad but he had small eyes and a narrow mouth as if his face had belonged to a much smaller person. And he was old. There were rumours that he’d been one of the Songhai and had been captured at Tondbi many decades ago when the Moors had broken the might of Gao with an army less than 15th the size of its opponent but one with guns and cannons rather than spears.

    “Have you heard of the Curse of Ham?” he asked, once the initial greetings and formalities had been taken care of. Mahmud had, of course, what man in Marrakech did not these days?

    “The Imans in the Rebel areas think we were cursed into Slavery. They think it is written into our Skins and salvation is not possible in this world. Even if we are of the Faith, as long as we wear the curse, as long as our skins are Black, we cannot be anything other than Slaves. It is a heresy, a vile untruth, but it is a dangerous one. We are not,“ the Vizier paused as he spoke, “loved here.”

    No, Mahmud agreed silently, they were not. The people knew only the Army kept the Sultan in power and the people hated their drunken brute of a Sultan. If one of the pretenders entered the City, the people would flock to him. That was why Mahmud had been freed from the sugar fields and given a gun in the first place.

    “May Allah protect our wise Sultan,” Mahmud responded and the Vizier nodded his head slowly as he replied. “May he live for a thousand years.”

    “You are a good Muslim, Mahmud, are you not? You do not need to answer, I know you are. You do the Salat and the Zakat and you hope one day to do the Hajj. And your pretty young Arab wife is modest and proper in her dealings. You are one of the Faithful and as such cannot be a slave. It would be against the words of Allah himself.”

    Unless, Mahmud heard in words not uttered, you believed in the curse of Ham. If the rebels won, the sons of Mahmud would be sent to the Sugar fields again. He nodded again, letting the Vizier know that he understood and they moved onto the reason why he'd been summoned.

    “Another four hundred pagans are due in today. You are to inspect them and train them and take two hundred for your Army. It is, of course, our duty to show the truth of god to the unbelievers.”

    Mahmud nodded and did not ask about the fates of the two hundred who he did not choose. The Vizier was scared, that much was obvious. Four hundred slaves were not cheap these days, with the Oases upping their fees. The Vizier had seen the end of one Empire and he must suspect he was about to see another.

    But this wouldn’t be another Tondbi. This time the Blacks had their own guns and cannons.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019 at 5:08 PM
  4. Youngmarshall Still Clowning Now

    Dec 28, 2014
    Occupied Northumbria
    Larache – The Soldier’s Tale

    The Spanish Soldiers sent to the Barbary were, Con thought, the worst of the entire Empire. How could it be otherwise? The ambitious went to the New World and Asia. The disciplined went to France and the Germanies. The vicious and the brave went to the Netherlands. The loyal and the well-connected were saved for guard and garrison duty in the royal cities. And the dregs came to Africa, to the deployment everyone hated. Where the men spat in your food and the women stabbed you in the streets. Where there was never enough supplies and never enough rest and the weather was hot and sticky. He tried not to take that thought far enough to wonder what that made him, but he mostly couldn't help himself.

    When it had first become clear that the Moroccan Civil Wars were continuing without end and the Ottomans were moving into to pick up the scraps, the original Army Spain had sent were the Andalusians. Those who’d been Moslem before the inquisition and the forced conversions and who Spain didn’t really trust. So why not ship them all off to Ceuta and Tangier and send them to war against the Moors? If they were loyal, they could be useful, if they were not, at least Spain was rid of them.

    So Spain had marched armies of their tame Moors around the Barbary Coast and Spain had waved money and promises at various scared Arab nobles, who having put their faith in a prince who was now dead, were looking for any kind of protection against their neighbours. Larache, the pirate headquarters of the north coast, had been surrendered without a fight by a local chief more scared of Marrakech then Madrid.

    And now the Spanish sat in it. For all the worries about the endless Ottoman armies marching across the straits of Hercules, the Turkish advance had taken Fez and a handful of other cities and then petered out. But back in Madrid they were men with maps and rulers who frowned when looking at the little figures they could move from Fez to Seville. So every harbour city from Oran to Larache had been captured and every one was held by bored soldiers behind heavy walls. The King of Spain was hiding the Sea from the Turks.

    And to this desolate City, he had sent his Irish Battalions. Or at least he had sent Con’s. The truth was even the English conquest and a long exile had not healed all the old wounds and stopped all the old arguments. A few muttered Gaelic words about that time someone’s Grandad had stolen Cattle from someone else’s was all it took for some unpleasantness to start. So the Spanish King had started splitting up his Irish. Preston and O’Neill had gone off to Flanders. And Con had come to Larache alongside another thousand Moriscos the King wanted rid of. Larache was where he sent all his embarrassments until he needed them.

    And things here were awful. There had already been famines in the Moorish cities due to the plague but the King’s action had made the problem worse. Dumping thousands of Morisco urban workers and their families on already crowded cities was one thing, but the Portuguese traders still ran a lot of the Moroccan towns and they’d always taken cereal from the farms as taxes in return for not burning them. Escorting the food down to the ships to be taken away from the starving Moors and back to Portugal was a job, that even among the awful punishment patrols of Larache, no one wanted. Already, despite the pleas of the governor, they were areas the soldiers did not patrol and murders they did not investigate.

    The soldiers had a little more food than anyone else and a few of them had used that to attract young Moor women to their beds. But that was a perilous endeavour these days and Con at least preferred to die with his clothes on. It was not like it was difficult to find ways to do that. The area between the Spanish towns was a no man’s lands of feuding tribes who bowed to no Sultan but took weapons from the Turks and attacked any Spanish solder they saw. And the moors within the towns were scarcely any friendlier. At least the Corsair attacks had died off a bit, word was there was a power struggle in Rabat that had seen several of the larger ships head off to who knows where and so ships were less likely to be raided now. That was useful.

    But looking at the ill-disciplined brutes around him, Con felt this Army would break soon. Soon hunger would drive a Moor to bravery out of desperation and someone would shoot and both sides would ignite and the city would burn and half these men will be running for the boats.

    But Con wasn’t like that, Con was going to be running long before it reached that point. With luck, and the right bribes, and the right lies, he’d be gone this very day on a ship to Lisbon. And from then hopefully on to Ireland.

    He hadn’t heard of any Irish rebellion as of yet, but he was sure one would happen sooner or later and if there was one thing he’d learned in Larache it was that if you were going to be involved in a popular rebellion against a much smaller occupying force, you probably had much better odds of surviving if you were on the other side of that equation. No matter how savage and divided the rebels were supposed to be.
  5. Youngmarshall Still Clowning Now

    Dec 28, 2014
    Occupied Northumbria
    Timbuktu – The Scholar’s Tale
    Abd Al-Sadi had only been born after the arrival of the Arma. He did not remember Timbuktu during the reign of the Songhai. But learning, as he had often said 'was rich in beauty and fertile in it's teaching' so he felt he could picture it nonetheless. His family were one of Timbuktu's most powerful, a long line of jurists, scholars and administrators said to be descendants of Muhammed himself, and as such he had received the finest education you could get in the Sudan. And the Arma needed men like that in their employ if they were to hold the Sudan for Morocco. Abd had been a librarian and an imam and a secretary for the occupying forces and now he was to be their historian, to write out the History of the Songhai and of Timbuktu as his masters demanded it written.

    He had enough pride in his abilities to attempt to make it as accurate as he would be allowed to make it, but he remembered the scholars exiled from Timbuktu decades ago for daring to condemn the Arma's invasion, even the great Ahmad Baba himself, and he knew there were things it was better not to say, even if all men knew them. He would find the story he was asked to find.

    The Mansas could be praised safely enough. Timbuktu under their rule could be allowed to be portrayed positively, for the men of the Sudan to be taught pride in the heroics of their forefathers, but the Songhai princes of Gao would not be allowed the same leeway. The Arma's invasion must be justified. The Songhai leaders must be homosexual drunkards whose personally brutal sins were rightfully punished by Allah. It would not be difficult for Amr to record the right rumours and the right facts. The Songhai had never been universally popular in Timbuktu, there'd always been talk that, behind closed doors, they practiced sorcery and idol worship. And the Arma disapproved of the way that women had been allowed to mingle with men unaccompanied by their husbands without face coverings. It would be easy to paint them as half pagan rightfully heathens punished by Allah for their sins.

    Ahmad Baba would not have gone along with such a thing. Baba had argued loudly that the Moroccan invasion had been unjust, that the Faithful should not attack the Faithful and that the Arma had no right to be here. Baba had hated the way hundreds of Muslims were taken North as slaves, had hated the Curse of Ham. To him it was obvious that while the nonbelievers or those with shallow faith should be rightfully enslaved, those from a religiously pure area like Timbuktu could not be and that to do so was a grave sin. But Baba was not here, they’d taken him back to Marrakech not long after the City had fallen and he had died there long away from his fatherland.

    The Emperor of the Arma had claimed to be Caliph of the Africans. The man in Turkey was the rightful Caliph but the man in Turkey had claimed to be the rightful protector of Morocco and had books written which made the Arma their servants and this was an insult the Emperor could not bear. So he had written to all of Africa announcing his new title. And when the men of Kanem had called him such in order to get his weapons, he had taken that flattery and turned it into a demand of other Princes. The Princes of Songhai refused him the tribute he felt due to him and so the Arma came to demand it.

    There was a rumour that when Baba had been held prisoner, he’d asked the Emperor to justify his invasion of the Sudan and the Emperor had told him that as the Sudanese did not recognise the rightful Caliph they were Kafaras. And Baba had replied that the men of Tlemcen did not recognise the Emperor as Caliph either, so when would the Emperor invade the Ottomans. Baba had not been rewarded for that insolence but men had seen the truth of his point. The Arma attacked the weak not the strong.

    And all men could see what had come from that wise and just decision.

    In Abd’s father’s time the City had been rich and peaceful. The Moors came south to trade cloth and horses for salt from the salt mines which they then traded with the villagers who came to the City with gold and other precious metals and with the scholars for books. The City was a hub of men from many cultures bartering and selling.

    Those villagers did not come anymore, the roads were not safe and there were better deals to be made to the South. Instead the tattooed men came, selling rebels and farmers as slaves for the salt and cloth. The Arma had lost too many men attempting to hold the countryside and with no more reinforcements coming from their own ravished land they had given up. They were a sorry bunch left, servants of whichever Sultan asked, drunken sots who barely left their towers and cared about nothing but ensuring the flow of slaves North. And the City withered under their care.

    But he would write them their History. He would write about the proud princes of a land who claimed to be of the Faithful but secretly committed sins in the eyes of Allah, who put their pride above his commandments and refused to respect their rightful Caliph. And how they’d been punished by civil war and famine and banditry until the rightful Caliph had arrived to bring them into order again.

    And he would send copies of this to Marrakesh. And to Risanni, Iligh and Rabat. And most of all to Fez, and to Algiers and to Cairo and to Istanbul.

    Let the Ottomans read into that, what they would.
  6. Youngmarshall Still Clowning Now

    Dec 28, 2014
    Occupied Northumbria
    Fez – The Diplomat’s Tale

    Moses Pallache was known as Moises to the Spanish and Mozes to the Dutch but in Fez, the town of his birth, he went by Musa. This was the nature of being a diplomat, a man who must be many things to many people. It was also, crueller people said, the nature of being a Jew. Jews were recruited as agent and diplomats because they were seen as having knowledge of both Christian and Islamic states but no loyalty to either. A Jew could be relied on to act on his self-interest rather than his patriotism.

    This was not entirely true or entirely fair. The Pallache family had been loyal servants of the Sultan of Morocco. But there wasn’t a Sultan of Morocco anymore, or rather there were too many of them and the Pallaches had looked for other ports.

    In Moses’ grandfather’s day the Mellah of Fez had been the heartland of Jews in Barbary. They had their own ghetto and while they had to wear patches to identify themselves and pay extra taxes, there’d been a good living to be made. Young boys could normally find a patron to apprentice to and so earn a living as a silver smith or a trader. And those with the Sultan’s favour, such as the Pallaches, could ply their trading contacts into additional jobs as agents and diplomats. But that was a long time ago now.

    The Saadis had moved the Court from Fez to Marrakesh and so Fez had withered somewhat. Especially when the Sultan’s drunken brute of a son had been made governor. And then the Sultan had died and the anarchy had started. It was then that the Jews had left. There was no money in Fez anymore, no jobs and no security, no protection against the bandits that roamed the roads or the mobs that ruled the city itself.

    So they’d gone to Portugal and Spain and asked to be converted to Christianity and under the watchful eyes of the Inquisition, they had worn the cross. Better that than starving to death in the Mellah. And the King of Spain had sent the Pallaches and the other converted Jews to Morocco when he sent the Moriscos. They had made deals and won defectors and paved the way for Spanish conquest. From Larache to Tetouan, Moses’ dad and uncle had been sent to work against their old Homeland. But even that proof of loyalty wasn’t enough for the Inquisition, there’d been rumours that the Pallaches were still practicing Jews and so they’d fled once again.

    It was Amsterdam which Moses now called home. Amsterdam was a place where Jews could be Jews and the choice wasn’t Christian or Corpse. And the Pallaches with their knowledge of Iberian and Moroccan Trade routes had been valued by the States General. Moses had been sent to most of the Crowned Heads of Europe to arrange trade and political deals for the Dutch Republic.

    And now he was back home. There was no Sultan in Fez anymore, just a Bey but the Ottoman governors had a certain amount of free movement. Hopefully some sort of arrangement could be made. Certainly it seemed the City was in better conditions then it had been when he'd left. The bazaars were full of goods again and there were more guards and less beggers. Even the Mellah seemed lively.

    To get here hadn’t been easy. The Spanish controlled area was a war zone, half the Morisco Soldiers had turned on the Spanish once they realised the conditions there families were being expelled to, and so needed to be avoided even by those who weren't Jewish or Dutch, let alone those who were. And he’d looked at coming up through Agadir but nobody knew exactly who controlled much of that land, the rebels in Tazerwalt were fighting the Sudanese throughout the Sus valley, and there were rumours that the Dila was expanding and were clashing with the Alauoites. So instead they’d arrived in Algiers and headed down the one road the Ottomans controlled, through Tlemcen, Oujda and Taza. It was about as safe as any route through Morocco could be, though Moses had still hired guards and guides.

    He was there on important buisness, after all. His masters wanted sugar and they wanted saltpetre. They’d secured such spoils in the New World but there was doubt whether that land could be held and Morocco would make a useful fall back option, it they lost it. If only someone could take control for long enough to establish trading contracts. A Barbary Syndicate had been set up by Dutch financers and as an agent of that group, Moses was to do what he could to stabilise the situation. The Dutch hope was for a single Sultan to reunite the country but that seemed unlikely, so the next best bet was for the Ottomans to extend their own influence far enough South to bring in the lands where sugar and saltpetre had once been produced.

    It was clear enough to Moses, from the number and condition of Ottoman officials and soldiers, that Fez was seen as a backwater by an Empire primarily interested in Hungary and Persia but how many men would they need? The Moroccans had always been a proud people but surely the Turks would be welcomed? Any kind of order must be better than the current anarchy. The Dutch Army were tied up in their fight for survival against the Spanish crown but should the Ottomans be convinced to march, it would be easy for the Dutch Navy to secure a Port, whether Agadir or Mehdya, from which they could trade directly.

    His family had helped deliver this country to Spain after all, it would be fitting if Moses could help deliver it to Spain's enemies.
  7. Youngmarshall Still Clowning Now

    Dec 28, 2014
    Occupied Northumbria
    Kasba Tadla - The Farm-workers Tale
    Nasr’s forefathers had grown crops in village farms, each family working their own plot. It had been because of that arrangement that the thajma'th councils had developed in which the farmers of the village had met to agree laws, hand out fines and arrange group labour. It had been needed when weeds from one plot could spread to another. But the little plots had disappeared over time or been relegated to the realm of the wives and children.

    Nasr’s grandfather had been a shepherd, with a huge flock of sheep to tend. His neighbours had their own cattle herds or chicken coops. But the thajma'th had continued, fixing fences and dealing with disputes. The common property belonged to the thajma'th so no individual man could claim it and as each village had its own council, men could speak before each thajma'th as their herds moved.

    Then the Sultan in Marrakesh had declared that the common property belonged to him. And he had claimed great areas of land where he grew wheat and sugar in large amounts and sheep and cattle were no longer welcome. Those plantations he often gave to the Sufi Orders and their marabouts to run for him. The Sufi looked after the people, hired the sons of shepherds as farm workers and gave charity to the landless. Nasr’s father became a farm worker, working on the mass plantations and he owned nothing at all of his own. But the thajma'th continued, a voice for the grievances of the village men. And they muttered that they were being paid in their own coin, that their wages were paid from the profits of soil that had once been theirs to use and that the landless had not needed charity before the Sultan had taken their land. And they muttered too about the Sons of Ham the Sultan had newly bought in that did their job for no wages.

    Then the Sultan had died and multiple sons claimed the throne. For a while the question was whom would be the next sultan. But then the fighting continued and no one won and so the thajma'th and the marabouts began to set their own laws and arrange their own labour more often and the question was whether there would be a next sultan. And then the Sons of Ham had been taken off the fields to go and fight and so the Berbers had moved their sheep and cattle back into areas that had once grown sugar and wheat and so they could live off their own land again. And then the question was whether there actually needed to be a sultan.

    At first they had looked to the marabouts of the Zaouia of Dila as their leader. It had felt rebellious enough to put up a Berber man after years of Arab sultans, even though everyone knew the Berbers had originally been Arabs too. But Ibn Abu Baker and his son had both died in combat and there had been no one left to take over. So each marabout looked after their own order, each thajma'th looked after its own village and men passed between them with messages from each to arrange defence and there had been no overall leader chosen.

    Nasr’s wife raised chicken and grew crops, Nasr himself saw to his sheep. The thajma'th arranged larger tasks if needed. The land of Nasr’s forefathers was his again to use and he was happy, as far as such things could be judged. Merchants were rare in the Commonwealth of the Dila, and so was coin, so his wife maybe wore simpler clothes and simpler jewellery but they ate well and followed the word of Allah. And they were free to deal out justice to those who flaunted his rules. The remaining Sons of Ham and the unbelievers and the women who spoke freely with men not their husbands. It was good.

    And then a strange man spoke in the thajma'th, one from outside the village. This was not rare but nor was it common. He spoke of rumours that the Turks were on the march. He spoke of armed men coming to reinstall a Sultan and retake the common land. He spoke of the men of the village who would be nothing but landless workers once again.

    And Nasr shouted his outrage and the thajma'th talked about how many men they needed and how many they could spare and in the morning Nasr was marching. And from all around the commonwealth many more like him were marching too. This was their land and they would not surrender it easily.
  8. Aghstadian Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2016
    Cool story. Since character & narrative seem to be the focus in this will we see dutch renegade Jan Janszoon aka Murat reis the younger? Since he is active in this period.
    Youngmarshall likes this.
  9. Youngmarshall Still Clowning Now

    Dec 28, 2014
    Occupied Northumbria
    Thank you. I originally considered using Janszoon, he's one of those guys who would be hanging around but two chapters about the corsairs seemed too much. The aim is just snapshots of the different factions.
    Aghstadian likes this.