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Known For: Pirate Queen
Dates: Hijri 890 – Unknown (AH)
Common Era Ruled from: 1485-Unknown
A Moroccan of Andalusian origin, Sayyida al-Hurra belonged to a family of Andalusian nobles who fled to north Africa after the fall of Grenada in 1492. Marrying Sultan al-Mandri, they embarked on war against the Portuguese and she ascended to power while managing her husband’s affairs. After the death of her husband in 1515, al-Hurra, although already a prefect of Tetouán, she was bestowed with the title “al-Hurra” which denoted a woman wielding sovereign power. Subsequently, she had herself named governor of the city-state.
Following the death of her husband, she wed the King of Morocco, Ahmed al-Wattasi, but she requested that he travel from Fez to Tetouán for the wedding to indicate that she had no plans on abdicating her power following their marriage.
After making contact with the Turkish corsair Barbarossa, she assembled a fleet and began privateering in the western Mediterranean. It was in this endeavor that she earned for herself the title of undisputed Queen of the Pirates of the region. Perhaps using piracy to continue her first husband’s war against the Portugese, al-Hurra used piracy to wreak havoc on Portuguese shipping lines. Specifically, in 1520, her forces captured the wife of the Governor and damaged Portuguese colonial shipping.
She was deposed in 1542, by her son-in-law, ending 30 years of rule. She was stripped of her property and power and her subsequent fate is unknown.
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