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Hafsid Kingdom


Flag of Tunis under the Hafsids according to the Catalan Atlas c.1375

Lands ruled by the Hafsid dynasty (green).
Capital Tunis
Language(s) Arabic, Berber
Religion Sunni Islam
Government Monarchy
 - 1229-1249 Abu Zakariya
 - 1574 Muhammad VI
 - Established 1229
 - Disestablished 1574
History of the Muslim States
Realm of the Hafsid dynasty and surrounding states in 1400.

The Hafsids (Arabic: الحفصيون‎) were a Berber dynasty ruling Ifriqiya (modern Tunisia) from 1229 to 1574.


After the split of the Hafsids from the Almohads under Abu Zakariya (1229-1249), Abu Zakariya organised the administration in Ifriqiya (the Roman province of Africa in modern Maghreb; today's Tunisia, eastern Algeria and western Libya) and built Tunis up as the economic and cultural centre of the empire. At the same time, many Muslims from Andalucia fleeing the Spanish Reconquista of Castile and Aragon were absorbed. His successor Muhammad I al-Mustansir (1249-1277) took the title of caliph.

In the 14th century the empire underwent a temporary decline. Although the Hafsids succeeded for a time in subjugating the empire of the Abdalwids of Tlemcen, between 1347 and 1357 they were twice conquered by the Merinids in Morocco. The Abdalwids however could not defeat the Bedouin; ultimately, the Hafsids were able to regain their empire. During the same period plague epidemics caused a considerable fall in population, further weakening the empire.

Under the Hafsids, piracy against Christian shipping grew stronger, particularly during the rule of Abd al-Aziz II (1394-1434). The profits were used for a great building programme and to support art and culture. However, piracy also provoked retaliation from Aragon and Venice, which several times attacked Tunisian coastal cities. Under Utman (1435-1488) the Hafsids reached their zenith, as the caravan trade through the Sahara and with Egypt was developed, as well as sea trade with Venice and Aragon. The Bedouins and the cities of the empire became largely independent, leaving the Hafsids in control of only Tunis and Constantine.

In the 16th century the Hafsids became increasingly caught up in the power struggle between Spain and the Ottoman Empire-supported Corsairs. The latter conquered Tunis in 1574 and toppled the Hafsids, who had at times accepted Spanish sovereignty over them.

Hafsid rulers

  • Abd al-Wahid (1207-1216)
  • Abd-Allah (1224-1229)
  • Abu Zakariya (1229-1249)
  • Muhammad I al-Mustansir (1249-1277)
  • Yahya II al-Watiq (1277-1279)
  • Ibrahim I (1279-1283)
  • Ibn Abi Umara (1283-1284)
  • Abu Hafs Umar I (1284-1295)
  • Muhammad I (1295-1309)
  • Abu Bakr I (1309)
  • Aba al-Baqa Khalid an-Nasir (1309-1311)
  • Aba Yahya Zakariya al-Lihyani (1311-1317)
  • Muhammad II (1317-1318)
  • Abu Bakr II (1318-1346)
  • Abu Hafs Umar II (1346-1349)
  • Ahmad I (1349)
  • Ishaq II (1350-1369)
  • Abu al-Baqa Khalid (1369-1371)
  • Ahmad II (1371-1394)
  • Abd al-Aziz II (1394-1434)
  • Muhammad III (1434-1436)
  • Uthman (1436-1488)
  • Abu Zakariya Yahya (1488-1489)
  • Abd al-Mu'min (Hafsid) (1489-1490)
  • Abu Yahya Zakariya (1490-1494)
  • Muhammad IV (1494–1526)
  • Muhammad V (1526-1543)
  • Ahmad III (1543–1570)
  • Muhammad VI (1574-1574)
  • Jafari "Jafari the Clean" Yahya (1574-1581)
  • Alem Nafirr (1581-1609)

See also



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