Moses Ben Attar, Sultan Ismail’s unfortunate plenipotentiary

In the 18th century, Moses Ben Attar served as Sultan Moulay Ismail’s diplomat. The Jewish service provider was entrusted by the Alaouite courtroom with the mission of concluding a peace treaty with the British.

But earlier than holding such a prestigious place, Ben Attar needed to show that he deserves the belief of the King of Morocco. Historical accounts, counsel that the person was mistreated for years and was subjected to many fines.

In his ebook «A historical past of the Jews in North Africa: From the Ottoman conquests to the current time» (Brill, 1981) Haim Zeev Hirschberg wrote that Moses ben Shem Tob ben Attar was born in Salé to a household «famous for rabbinic studying and enterprise acumen».

Tortured by Moulay Zaidan and saved by Lalla Zaidana

«His father spent the latter a part of his life in Meknes the place he died in 1701», recalled the historian. But earlier than settling down in Moulay Ismail’s capital, Moses Ben Attar lived for years in Taroudant, the place he served Moulay Zaidan, the King’s son.

Sultan Moulay Ismail of Morocco./Ph. DRSultan Moulay Ismail of Morocco./Ph. DR

«Moses ben Attar was Nagid over (the native Jews)», however he was typically «chastised, tortured and mulcted» closely by Moulay Zaidan. Upon the loss of life of Ismail’s son who was serving as town’s governor, Moses sought the assistance of his mom, Lalla Zaidana, recognized for her sturdy persona and affect on the King.

According to Hirschberg, Zaidana helped Ben Attar and «made him nice, elevated him, and gave him a lot cash to deal with». She later talked about his identify to Moulay Ismail.

«He (Moses ben Attar) would convey him treasured stones and pearls and various royal vessels, till he turned an vital man with the King and all the nice dignitaries and so they have been all extra acquainted and accustomed to him than with Abraham Maimran (the King’s advisor)», identified the identical account.

Constantly fined by the Sultan

But rapidly the repute Ben Attar was constructing himself bought smashed after he was denounced to the Sultan. In 1717, the King imposed on him a heavy wonderful, as a punishment. The Jewish service provider needed to pay «fifty abilities of silver, and he and his accomplice Reuben ben Quiqui, bought every little thing they needed to pay the mentioned wonderful», wrote Hirschberg.

Things didn’t cease there as Moses Ben Attar was denounced as soon as once more to Sultan Ismail, who this time fined him twenty-five abilities.

A painting of King George I of England./Ph. DRA portray of King George I of England./Ph. DR

Although he was firmly fined and punished, Moses Ben Attar was trusted by the Sultan who allowed him to barter a treaty with British. For the identical historian, at one stage the Moulay Ismail «entrusted him with a troublesome task: The conduct of peace talks with Britain».

Concluding a peace treaty with Britain

He was even referred to as one in all «Ismail’s plenipotentiaries who concluded the peace treaty with George I of England in 1721», acknowledged different Jewish historic sources, cited by Hirschberg.

Indeed, Ben Attar’s diplomatic efforts have been confirmed by an extended letter he despatched to British representatives. While in a Ceuta Camp, the diplomat wrote a letter on November, 1718, to denounce the habits of the British diplomat despatched to satisfy Sultan Ismail in Meknes.

A map of Ceuta./Ph. DRA map of Ceuta./Ph. DR

And due to «his diplomatic abilities and with the assistance of Reuben ben Quiqui, Ben Attar, after a number of years of efforts, succeeded in drawing the 1721 treaty between Britain and Morocco».

After his diplomatic victory, Moses Ben Attar was appointed by the Ismail’s courtroom as a Nagid of all Jews within the Kingdom. The determination got here as the previous Nagid Abraham Maimran died in 1724.

An nearly burned Raguib

Unfortunately, changing into a Nagid and a diplomat didn’t save Ben Attar from the sultan’s uncontrolled anger. Reportedly, on the identical 12 months, and precisely in March, «the King ordered the mentioned Moses Ben Attar to be burnt».

Sources in hand don’t point out why he was about to obtain such a severe verdict however they make clear that «after Moses had been led bare to the place of burning, the Holy One (Moulay Ismail), blessed be he, saved him and fined him twenty abilities of silver».

Surviving loss of life, the Nagid didn’t held workplace for lengthy and died a couple of years later. However, his identify was talked about in diplomatic correspondence, the place he was offered as a service provider engaged in commerce with European international locations.

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