Ruler of Morocco
Mulai al-Mansur was the sixth, and perhaps greatest, ruler of the Sa'di dynasty of MOROCCO. During his reign (1578–1603) Morocco enjoyed a long period of peace and prosperity, highlighted by its conquest of the ancient city of TIMBUKTU, now part of present-day MALI.
A master of diplomacy, al-Mansur managed to balance relations with many competing foreign powers including France, Portugal, Spain, and England. He also kept Morocco largely independent of its official ruler, the Ottoman sultan in Turkey. Al-Mansur reorganized and centralized the government of Morocco, developed the country's industry and agriculture, and encouraged foreign trade.
Al-Mansur assembled a highly trained army consisting largely of foreign mercenaries who used European firearms. In 1590 he sent the force south to invade the Songhai empire in West Africa and captured the rich cities of Gao and Timbuktu. The cost of the campaign was very high, however, and it provided few long-term benefits for Morocco. After al-Mansur's death, Morocco went into a decline. (See also Sudanic Empires of Western Africa.)