A Most Opulent Iliad explores a tale familiar to the modern reader: The meeting of cultures under the strain of invasion and occupation. Dr. Racine’s book focuses on two main themes: The strategies and tools used by Portuguese occupation forces seeking to assert their control in Morocco (and how Moroccans resisted them) and how men and women from the various cultures and levels of society negotiated their political, economic, and personal relationships within the instability created by the Portuguese invasion. As to the military and political aspects, this book chronicles the initial success of the Portuguese using overwhelming force, their occupation of Azamor and Safi and construction of Mazagao (modern El Jadida), their subsequent attempts at expansion through alliances and treaties, and their ultimate failure as the Sa`adid empire coalesced into a force too strong for the Portuguese to resist. Beyond the politics and battles of the time, A Most Opulent Iliad illuminates the daily lives of the Portuguese and Moroccans who lived and worked with each other in the fortresses and territory controlled by the Portuguese. Specifically, this book looks at commercial and personal interactions, the ways members of various groups were treated, and the complex way in which local Moroccan Muslim tribal and village leaders interacted with their Portuguese overlords. The book contains detailed studies of how members of various levels of social strata interacted with each other, how Jews gained prominence as interpreters, hostage negotiators, and providers of essential supplies, how Moroccans -- both Berbers and Arabs -- succeeded or failed in their political and economic alliances with the Portuguese, how elite women served as political leaders and non-elite women worked, lived, and died in Portuguese fortresses. A Most Opulent Iliad contains detailed case studies of political negotiation and alliance between the Portuguese and influential Moroccan tribes, extensive discussion of how the Portuguese fortresses were able to keep supplied with food, and how construction of fortresses and the buildings within them was financed. The book also contains an analysis of the use of violence in the region, including how hostages were used as collateral for treaties and the symbolic and economic currency attached to Moroccan and Portuguese captives. By examining both underutilized printed documents and extensive archival sources, A Most Opulent Iliad demonstrates that what is known about the political relations between Portuguese kings and Moroccan sultans tells very little of the story of the politics and people during this brief but initially highly-effective colonial occupation. This book fills a large gap in the history of Portugal and the history of Morocco.
History, Africa, Morocco,