ALMORAVIDES (properly Murdbtis, i.e., "religious as cetics"), a Berber horde from the Sahara which, in the 11th cen tury, founded the fourth dynasty in Morocco. The most powerful of the invading tribes was the Lamtuna ("veiled men") from the upper Niger, whose best-known representatives now are the Tuareg.
They had been converted to Mohammedanism in the early times of the Arab conquest, but their knowledge of Islam did not go much beyond the formula of the creed—"there is no god but God, and Mohammed is the apostle of God,"—and they were ignorant of the law. Their first military leader, Yahya ibn Omar, gave them a good military organization. Their main force was infantry, armed with javelins in the front ranks and pikes be hind, formed into a phalanx and supported by camelmen and horse men on the flanks. From the year 10S3 the Murabtis began to im pose their orthodox and puritanical religion on the Berber tribes of the desert, and on the pagan negroes. Yahya was killed in battle in Io56, but Abd-Allah, whose influence as a religious teacher was paramount, named his brother Abu Bakr as chief. In Io61 Abu Bakr made a division of the power he had established, handing over the more settled parts to his cousin Yusef ibn Tash fin, as viceroy, resigning to him also his favourite wife Zainab, who had the reputation of a sorceress.
Ibn Tashfin, who was largely guided by Zainab, had in the meantime brought what is now known as Morocco to complete subjection, and in Io62 had founded the city of Marrakesh ("Morocco City"). He is distinguished as Yusef I. In Io8o he conquered the kingdom of Tlemcen and founded the present city of that name, his rule extending as far east as Oran. In Io86 he was invited by the Mohammedan princes in Spain to defend them against Alphonso VI., king of Castile and Leon. In that year Yusef passed the straits to Algeciras, and on Oct. 23 inflicted a severe defeat on the Christians at Sacralias, or in Arabic, Zallaka, near Badajoz. He was debarred from following up his victory by trouble in Africa which he had to settle in person. When he re turned to Spain in 1090 it was avowedly for the purpose of depos ing the Mohammedan princes and annexing their states. By he had removed them all, and though he regained little from the Christians except Valencia, he reunited the Mohammedan power and gave a check to the reconquest of the country by the Christians. After friendly correspondence with the caliph at Bagh dad, whom he acknowledged as Amir el Muminin, "Prince of the Faithful," Yusef in Io97 assumed the title of "Prince of the Re signed"—Amir el Muslimin. He died in I106, when he was re puted to have reached the age of i oo.
The Murabti power was at its height at Yusef's death, and the Moorish empire then included all north-west Africa as far as Algiers, and all Spain south of the Tagus, with the east coast as far as the mouth of the Ebro, and the Balearic islands. Three years afterwards, under Yusef's son and successor, 'Ali III. of Morocco, Madrid, Lisbon and Oporto were added, and Spain was again invaded in I119 and but the tide had turned, and the conquest of the city of Marrakesh by the Muwahhadis in I147 marked the fall of the dynasty, though fragments of the Murab tis continued to struggle in the Balearic islands, and finally in Tunisia.
The amirs of the Murabti dynasty were as follows :—Yusef I., bin Tashfin (1 o6 i) ; 'Ali III. (I I o6) ; Tashfin I. (1143) ; Ibra him II. (I 14S) ; Ishak (1146) .
See the anonymous Raod el Kartaf (Fez, 1326), translated by Baymier as Roudh el-Kartas (Paris, 186o) ; Ibn Khaldun, Kitab el 'Aibr ... fi Aiyam el Maghrib, etc. (c. 1405), partly translated by de Slane as Histoire des Berbers, vol. ii. (Algiers, 1852-56) ; Makkari, History of the Mahommedan Dynasties in Spain, translated by Gayangos (London, 184o) ; R. Dozy, Histoire des Mussulmans d'Espagne, vol. iv. (Leyden, 1861) ; B. Meakin, The Moorish Empire (1899). (B. M.; D. H.)