Timeline: Idrisid {791-974}

The Idrisid Dynasty (Idrissides, الأدارسة, al-Adārisah, ⴰⵢⵜ ⵉⴷⵔⵉⵙ, Aït Idris) was founded by Idrīs ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ḥasan II (Idris I), who claimed descent from the Prophet Mohammed through Ali. After surviving the suppression of the Shiite revolts and the massacre of Fakh in 786/169 AH, Idris left for the Maghreb where he eventually settled with the Awraba Berbers in Volubilis who declared him an imam. From there he expanded his dominion over most of what is now the modern state of Morocco and beyond. After he was assassinated on the order of the Abbasids in 791/174 AH, and succeeded by his son, Idris II.


Upon the death of Idris II in 828/212 AH, the dynasty’s territory was divided among his sons, and the eldest, Muhammad, received Fes. The newly-fragmented Idrisid power would never again be reunified. The territories governed by the descendants of Idris II were essentially concentrated in the north of Morocco, along with some possessions in the Tadla plains and in the deep south of the country. They ruled alongside a number of local dynasties.


The most important event of the Idrisid dynasty was the establishment of the city of Fes. Though medieval accounts attribute the founding of the city to Idris II, it is now clear that part of the city was founded early in the reign of his father, Idris I, as the name Madinat Fas appears on coins struck in 801 and 805. Urbanization was a hallmark of the Idrisid reign, and they are often seen as founders of the modern state of Morocco. Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge that areas of the the modern nation of Morocco remained outside Idirsid control, including the Emirate of Nekor in the Rif, the Berghwata Confederacy in the coastal region south of Salé, and the Emirate of Sijilmassa in the southeast.


Eventually the Idrisids were caught up in the confrontation between the Umayyad caliphs of Córdoba and the Fāṭimids of Cairo. They were expelled from Fes in 926, and eventually defeated in the north of Morocco in 974. The last Idrīsid ruler was killed while still a prisoner of the Umayyads about a decade later.


-Michael A. Toler

Images & Videos
Parent Collections
architectural history
history of architecture
Islamic architecture