By Daniel J. Schroeter
Essaouira used to be based n 1764 through Sultan Sidi Muhammad b. Abdullah as his port for constructing exchange with Europe. via a bunch of Jewish middlemen, it served as a hyperlink among Europe, Morocco and su-Saharan Africa. within the eighteenth and 19th centuries its reputation rivalled Tripoli, Tunis and Algiers. according to huge untapped archive in Morocco, papers of Jewish service provider homes and consular files of england, France and the U.S., this ebook supplies an account of the town in its heyday. Essaouira was once a gap to overseas penetration, however it was once additionally vital to the Moroccan executive, simply because in all probability dissident areas grew to become tied to its advertisement and political actions. The keep an eye on of the sultans was once undermined as overseas powers imposed liberal exchange and intervened in Moroccan affairs. This learn of a particular urban and zone throws gentle at the difficulties of conventional societies within the age of ecu fiscal imperialism.
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Extra info for Merchants of Essaouira: Urban Society and Imperialism in Southwestern Morocco, 1844–1886
But this is only part of the picture. The Jewish merchants remained embedded in a society which still operated by norms which had little to do with European capitalist economies, despite growing foreign economic penetration. The commercial world of the tenth- to twelfth-century Mediterranean, portrayed by S. D. Goitein, tells us as much about the ways in which nineteenth-century Moroccan merchants operated as do London, Amsterdam, Marseille, and Livorno of the eighteenth century. 3 The Moroccan Jewish merchant operated on many different levels: comprador on the one hand, and royal merchant on the other, shipping agent of steam boats, and financier of caravans.
Ancestors of the family came to Morocco from Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth century. A branch of the family appears to have established its position in Marrakesh in the eighteenth century. Maymon b. Isaac (see 'a' in fig. i; subsequent lettering refers back to this genealogical tree) was probably among the first group of royal merchants to settle in Essaouira. 25 A more distant cousin, also Abraham (c, who had lived in both Oran and London, was among the most important merchants of Essaouira in the 1830s and 1840s, and among the tujjdr trading on the royal loan.
Rabbi Abraham Coriat of Tetuan, for example, moved to Essaouria after its foundation, but later left for Livorno to become the rabbinical judge (dayyan) at the request of Essaouira's LiVornese Jews. Prominent Algerian Jews, such as Cohen-Solal and Boujnah,56 settled in Essaouira soon after the foundation of the town. 57 This connection with the European network of Jewish traders was of crucial importance in conducting the import and export trade of Essaouira, but of equal importance was the Jewish network which stretched along the Moroccan inland trade routes.