Principality of Debdou

The Principality of Debdou was an autonomous hereditary viceroyalty that existed in eastern Morocco from 1430 to 1563, with its capital at Debdou. It was governed by the Ouartajin, a dynasty of Berber descent, related to the Marinids and the Wattasids.[1][2]

Principality of Debdou
Imarat Debdou
Former subdivision of Morocco

Map of Morocco c. 1515, showing the location of the Ouartajin principality
Today part ofMorocco


The Principality of Debdou was first established in 1430 as a governorate of Morocco, then ruled by the Marinid dynasty. By the second half of the 15th century, the Ouartajin gained more autonomy towards Fez as Marinids lost their prestige and most of their power to Wattasid viziers. The principality became fully autonomous when Muhammad ibn Ahmed was appointed viceroy of Debdou by Wattasid sultan Muhammad ibn Yahya (r. 1472-1504).

During the last years of the reign of Muhammad II, the Principality of Debdou became a tributary state of the Saadians. In 1563, Saadian ruler Abdallah al-Ghalib overthrew the Ouartajin and made Debdou a fully dependent Pashalik of Morocco.

List of Ouartajin princes

  • Musa ibn Hammu (1430-1460), appointed governor of Debdou ;
  • Ahmad ibn Musa (1460-1485) ;
  • Muhammad ibn Ahmad (1485-1515), appointed viceroy of Debdou ;
  • Muhammad II (1515-1550), became tributary of the Saadians ;
  • Ammar (1550-1563).


  1. Mohammed Nehlil, Notice sur les tribus de la région de Debdou, 1911, p.42-43
  2. Louis Massignon, Le Maroc dans les premières années du XVIe siècle : Tableau géographique d'après Léon L'Africain, in: Mémoires de la Société Historique Algérienne I, Éd. Adolphe Jourdan, 1906, p.266

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