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Title: Zirids  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Algeria, Arab people, History of Algeria, History of Morocco, Tunisia, 1087, 1014, 987, Berber people, Abbasid Caliphate
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Zirid dynasty


Capital Ashir (before 973)
Kairouan (before 1057)
Mahdia (after 1057)[3][4]
Languages Berber , Arabic, African Romance, Hebrew
Religion Sunni Islam
Government Monarchy (Emirate)
 -  973–984 Buluggin ibn Ziri
 -  1121–1148 Abul-Hasan al-Hasan ibn Ali
 -  Established 973
 -  Disestablished 1148
Currency Dinar

The Zirid dynasty (Arabic: زيريونZīryūn) were a Sanhadja Berber dynasty that governed Ifriqiya from 973 to 1148.[5]

Initially governing on behalf of the Fatimids, the Zirids became independent in 1048. They were weakened by the invasion of the Banu Hilal tribes in the second half of the 11th century and finally destroyed by Sicilian Normans in 1148.[5][4]

The Hammadids of Central Maghreb and the Zawids of Granada were offshoots of this dynasty.[6]


The Zirids were Sanhaja Berbers originating from the area of modern Algeria. In the 10th century this tribe served as vassals of the Fatimids, defeating the Kharijite rebellion of Abu Yazid (943-947), under Ziri ibn Manad (935-971). Ziri was installed as the governor of central Maghreb and founded the gubernatorial residence of Ashir south-east of Algiers, with Fatimid support.

When the Fatimids moved their base to Egypt in 972, Ziri's son Buluggin ibn Ziri (971-984) was appointed viceroy of Ifriqiya. The removal of the fleet to Egypt made the retention of Kalbid Sicily impossible, while Algeria broke away under the governorship of Hammad ibn Buluggin, Buluggin's son.

The relationship with the Fatimid overlords varied - in 1016 thousands of Shiites lost their lives in rebellions in Ifriqiya, and the Fatimids encouraged the defection of Tripolitania from the Zirids, but nevertheless the relationship remained close. In 1049 the Zirids broke away completely by adopting Sunni Islam and recognizing the Abbasids of Baghdad as rightful Caliphs, a move which was popular with the urban Arabs of Kairouan.[7][4]

The Zirid period of Tunisia is considered a high point in its history, with agriculture, industry, trade and learning, both religious and secular, all flourishing.[7] Management of the area by later Zirid rulers was neglectful as the agricultural economy declined, prompting an increase in banditry among the rural population.[7]

When the Zirids renounced Shia Islam and recognized the Abbasid Caliphate, the Fatimids sent the Arab tribes of Banu Hilal and Banu Sulaym to Ifriqiya. The Zirids were defeated, and the land laid waste by the Bedouin. The resulting anarchy devastated the previously flourishing agriculture, and the coastal towns assumed a new importance as conduits for maritime trade and bases for piracy against Christian shipping.[4]

After the loss of Kairouan (1057) the rule of the Zirids was limited to a coastal strip with Mahdia as the capital, while several Bedouin Emirates formed inland. Between 1146 and 1148 the Normans of Sicily conquered all the coastal towns, and in 1152 the last Zirids in Algeria were superseded by the Almohads.

Zirid rulers

Offshoots of the Zirid dynasty

Zirids of Granada

The Zirids are also known as a dynasty of the Taifa of Granada. The founder was the brother of Bologhine, Zawi ibn Ziri, a general of the Caliphate of Córdoba army under the orders of Caliph Hisham II.

After his death of Hisham II in Medinaceli on 12 August 1002 (25 Ramadan 392), a civil war spreads in Al-Andalus. Zawi ibn Ziri takes part as General of one of the Armies and destroys several cities, as Medina Azahara in 1011 and Córdoba in 1013. He founds of Taifa of Granada, and he declares himself as first Emir. He died poisoned in Algiers in 1019.

History tells that art and civil construction made under the rule of Zirids governors and emirs in Al-Andalus, mainly in the Taifa of Granada, were very important. An example is the Cadima Alcazaba in Albayzin, Granada and part of the old wall surrounding Granada.

Hammadid dynasty

Main article: Hammadid dynasty

Succession timeline

Royal house
Zirid dynasty
Preceded by
Governors of Ifriqiya
on behalf of the Fatimids

972 – 1048
Succeeded by
(Independence from the Fatimid Caliphate)
Preceded by
Fatimid dynasty
Emirs of Ifriqiya
Badicid branch

1048 – 1148
Succeeded by
(Almohad conquest)
Preceded by
(Secession from the Zirid Governorate of Ifriqiya)
Emirs of Western Ifriqiya
Hammadid branch

1014 – 1052
Succeeded by
(Almohad conquest)
Preceded by
Emirs of Granada[6]
Zawid branch

1013 – 1090
Succeeded by
(Almoravid conquest)
Preceded by
Hammudid dynasty
Emirs of Malaga[6]
Zawid branch

1058 – 1090
Succeeded by
(Almoravid conquest)

Photo gallery

See also



  • Zirid Dynasty Encyclopædia Britannica
  • Historical map showing location of Zirid Kingdom c. 1000
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