The Marinids were a branch of the Wassin, a nomadic Zenata Berber tribe that lived in the Zibans (present-day Algeria) before being driven towards Tlemcen by the Arab invasion in the 11th century.
The tribe had first frequented the area between Sijilmasa and Figuig, present-day Morocco. Following the arrival of Arab tribes in the area in the 11th-12th centuries, Marinids moved to the north-west of present-day Algeria, before settling into northern present-day Morocco by the beginning of the 13th century.
The Marinids took their name from their ancestor, Marin ibn Wartajan al-Zenati.
After arriving in present-day Morocco, they initially submitted to the Almohad dynasty, which was at the time the ruling house. After successfully contributing to the Battle of Alarcos, in central Spain, the tribe started to assert itself as a political power. Starting in 1213, they began to tax farming communities of north-eastern todays Morocco (the area between Nador and Berkane). The relationship between them and the Almohads became strained and starting in 1215, there were regular outbreaks of fighting between the two parties. In 1217 they tried to occupy the eastern part of present-day Morocco, but they were expelled, pulling back and settling in the eastern Rif mountains. Here they remained for nearly 30 years. During their stay in the Rif, the Almohad state suffered huge blows, losing large territories to the Christians in Spain, while the Hafsids of Ifriqia broke away in 1229, followed by the Zayyanid dynasty of Tlemcen in 1235.
It was in this period that the Spanish Christians were first able to take the fighting to mainland present-day Morocco: in 1260 and 1267 they attempted an invasion, but both attempts were defeated. After gaining a foothold in Spain, the Marinids became active in the conflict between Muslims and Christians in Iberia. To gain absolute control of the trade in the Strait of Gibraltar, from their base at Algeciras they started the conquest of several Spanish towns: by the year 1294 they had occupied Rota, Tarifa and Gibraltar.
In 1276 they founded Fes Jdid, which they made their administrative and military centre. While Fes had been a prosperous city throughout the Almohad period, even becoming the largest city in the world during that time, it was in the Marinid period that Fes reached its golden age, a period which marked the beginning of an official, historical narrative for the city. It is from the Marinid period that Fes' reputation as an important intellectual centre largely dates, they established the first madrassas in the city and country. The principal monuments in the medina, the residences and public buildings, date from the Marinid period.
Despite internal infighting, Abu Said Uthman II (1310–1331) initiated huge construction projects across the land. Several madrassas were built, the Al-Attarine Madrasa being the most famous. The building of these madrassas were necessary to create a dependent bureaucratic class, in order to undermine the marabouts and Sharifian elements.
The Marinids also strongly influenced the policy of the Emirate of Granada, from which they enlarged their army in 1275. In the 13th century, the Kingdom of Castile made several incursions into their territory. In 1260, Castilian forces raided Salé and, in 1267, initiated a full-scale invasion, but the Marinids repelled them.
At the height of their power, during the rule of Abu al-Hasan 'Ali (1331–1348), the Marinid army was large and disciplined. It consisted of 40,000 Zenata cavalry, while Arab nomads contributed to the cavalry and Andalusians were included as archers. The personal bodyguard of the sultan consisted of 7,000 men, and included Christian, Kurdish and Black African elements. Under Abu al-Hasan another attempt was made to reunite the Maghreb. In 1337 the Abdalwadidkingdom of Tlemcen was conquered, followed in 1347 by the defeat of the Hafsid empire in Ifriqiya, which made him master of a huge territory, which spanned from southern present-day Morocco to Tripoli. However, within the next year, a revolt of Arab tribes in southern Tunisia made them lose their eastern territories. The Marinids had already suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of a Portuguese-Castilian coalition in the Battle of Río Salado in 1340, and finally had to withdraw from Andalusia, only holding on to Algeciras until 1344.
In 1348 Abu al-Hasan was deposed by his son Abu Inan Faris, who tried to reconquer Algeria and Tunisia. Despite several successes, he was strangled by his own vizir in 1358, after which the dynasty began to decline.
After the death of Abu Inan Faris in 1358, the real power lay with the viziers, while the Marinid sultans were paraded and forced to succeed each other in quick succession. The county was divided and political anarchy set in, with different viziers and foreign powers supporting different factions. In 1359 Hintata tribesmen from the High Atlas came down and occupied Marakesh, capital of their Almohad ancestors, which they would govern independently until 1526. To the south of Marakesh, Sufi mystics claimed autonomy, and in the 1370s Azemmour broke off under a coalition of merchants and Arab clan leaders of the Banu Sabih. To the east, the Zianid and Hafsid families reemerged and to the north, the Europeans were taking advantage of this instability by attacking the coast. Meanwhile, unruly wandering Arab Bedouin tribes increasingly spread anarchy, which accelerated the decline of the empire.
In the 15th century, it was hit by a financial crisis, after which the state had to stop financing the different marabouts and Sharifian families, which had previously been useful instruments in controlling different tribes. The political support of these marabouts and Sharifians halted, and it splintered into different entities. In 1399 Tetouan was taken and its population was massacred and in 1415 the Portuguese captured Ceuta. After the sultan Abdalhaqq II (1421–1465) tried to break the power of the Wattasids, he was executed.
Marinid rulers after 1420 came under the control of the Wattasids, who exercised a regency as Abd al-Haqq II became Sultan one year after his birth. The Wattasids however refused to give up the Regency after Abd al-Haqq came to age.
In 1459, Abd al-Haqq II managed a massacre of the Wattasid family, breaking their power. His reign, however, brutally ended as he was murdered during the 1465 revolt. This event saw the end of the Marinid dynasty as Muhammad ibn Ali Amrani-Joutey, leader of the Sharifs, was proclaimed Sultan in Fes. He was in turn overthrown in 1471 by Abu Abd Allah al-Sheikh Muhammad ibn Yahya, one of the two the surviving Wattasids from the 1459 massacre, who instigated the Wattasid dynasty.
Remnants of the city of al-Mansoura constructed by the Marinids during their siege of Tlemcen.
1215: The Banu Marin (Marinids) attacks the Almohads when the 16-year-old Almohad caliph Yusuf II Al-Mustansir comes to power in 1213. The battle takes place on the coast of the Rif. In the reign of Yusuf II Al-Mustansir a great tower is erected to protect the royal palace in Seville.
1217: Abd al-Haqq I dies during victorious combat against the Almohads. His son Uthman ibn Abd al-Haqq (Uthman I) succeeds to the throne. Marinids take possession of the Rif and seem to want to remain there. The Almohades counterattack in vain.
1307: Abu Yaqub Yusuf an-Nasr is assassinated by a eunuch in connection with some obscure matter related to the harem. His son Abu Thabit Amir succeeds to the throne.
1308: Abu Thabit dies of disease after only one year in power in Tetouan, a city which he has just founded. His brother, Abu al-Rabi Sulayman succeeds him.
1309: Abu al-Rabi Sulayman enters Ceuta.
1310: Abu al-Rabi dies of disease after having repressed a revolt of army officials in Taza. Among them is Gonzalve, chief of the Christian militia. His brother Abu Said Uthman succeeds him to the throne.
1323: Construction of the Attarin's madrassa in Fes.
1325: Ibn Battuta begins his 29-year journey across Africa and Eurasia.
1329: The Marinids defeat the Castilians in Algeciras, establishing a foothold in the south of the Iberian peninsula with the hope of reversing the Reconquista.
1357: Defeat of Abu Inan Faris in front of Tlemcen. Construction of another of Bou Inania's madrassas in Fes.
1358 Abu Inan is assassinated by his vizir. A time of confusion starts. Each vizir tries to install weak candidates on the throne.
1358: Abu Zian as-Said Muhammad ibn Faris is named sultan by the vizirs, just after the assassination of Abu Inan. His reign lasts only a few months. Abu Yahya abu Bakr ibn Faris comes to power, but also reigns only a few months.
1361: Abu Umar Tachfin is named the successor to Abu Salim Ibrahim by the vizirs, with the support of the Christian militia. He reigns only a few months.
1361: The period called the "reign of the vizirs" ends.
1362: Muhammad ibn Yaqub assumes power. He is a young son of Abu al-Hasan ibn Uthman, who had taken refuge in Castile.
1366: Muhammad ibn Yaqub is assassinated by his vizir. He is replaced by Abu Faris Abd al-Aziz ibn Ali, one of the sons of Abu al-Hasan ibn Uthman who until this time had been held locked up in the palace of Fes.
1370: Third seizure of Tlemcen.
1372: Abu Faris Abd al-Aziz ibn Ali dies of disease leaving the throne to his very young son Muhammad as-Said, beginning a new period of instability. The vizirs try on several occasions to install a puppet sovereign.
1373: Muhammad as-Said is presented as the heir to his father, Abu Faris Abd al-Aziz ibn Ali, but being only five years old cannot reign, and dies in the same year.
1374: Abu al-Abbas Ahmad, supported by the Nasrid princes of Granada, takes power.
1374: Partition of the empire into two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Fes and the Kingdom of Marrakech.
1384: Abu al-Abbas is temporarily removed by the Nasrids. The Nasrids replace him with Abu Faris Musa ibn Faris, a disabled son of Abu Inan Faris. This ensures a kind of interim during the reign of Abu al-Abbas Ahmad from 1384 to 1386.
1384: Abu Zayd Abd ar-Rahman reigns over the Kingdom of Marrakech from 1384 to 1387 while the Marinid throne is still based in Fes.
1386: Al-Wathiq ensures the second part of the interim in the reign of Abu al-Abbas from 1386 to 1387.
1387: Abu Al-Abbas begins to give vizirs more power. Morocco knows six years of peace again, although Abu Al-Abbas benefits from this period to reconquer Tlemcen and Algiers.
1393: Abu Al-Abbas dies. Abu Faris Abd al-Aziz ibn Ahmad is designated as the new sultan. The troubles which follow the sudden death of Abu Al-Abbas in Taza make it possible for the Christian sovereigns to carry the war into Morocco.
1396: Abu Amir Abdallah succeeds to the throne.
1398: Abu Amir dies. His brother, Abu Said Uthman ibn Ahmad, takes power.
1399: Benefitting from the anarchy within the Marinid kingdom, king Henry III of Castile arrives in Morocco, seizes Tetouan, massacres half of the population and reduces the rest to slavery.
1415: King John I of Portugal seizes Ceuta. This conquest marks the beginning of overseas European expansion.
1459: Abu Muhammad Abd Al-Haqq revolts against his own Wattasid vizirs. Only two brothers survive, who will become the first Wattasid sultans in 1472.
1462: Ferdinand IV of Castile takes over Gibraltar.
1465: Abu Muhammad Abd Al-Haqq appoints a Jewish vizir, Aaron ben Batash, provoking a popular revolt. The sultan dies in the revolt when his throat is cut. The Portuguese king Afonso V finally manages to take Tangier, benefitting from the troubles in Fes.
1472: Abu Abd Allah al-Sheikh Muhammad ibn Yahya, one of the two Wattasid vizirs surviving the 1459 massacre, installs himself in Fes, where he founds the Wattasid dynasty.