Essaouira is a touristic and windy city in the western Moroccan economic region of Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, on the Atlantic coast. It was formerly known, by the 16th century Portuguese as Mogador or Mogadore. During the Middle Ages, a Muslim saint named Sidi Mogdoul was buried in Essaouira, probably giving its origin to the name “Mogador”. In 1506, the king of Portugal, D. Manuel I ordered a fortress to be built there, named “Castelo Real de Mogador”. The fortress fell to the local resistance of the Regraga fraternity four years later. During the 16th century, various powers including Spain, England, the Netherlands and France tried in vain to conquer the locality. Essaouira remained a haven for the export of sugar, molasses and the anchoring of pirates. In 1628, plans were already made by Abdel Malik II to use Christian slaves to build fortifications around the bay. France was involved in an early attempt to colonize Mogador in 1629. As Richelieu and Père Joseph were attempting to establish a colonial policy, Admiral Isaac de Razilly suggested them to occupy Mogador in 1626, which he had already reconnoitered in 1619. The objective was to create a base against the Sultan of Marrakesh, and asphyxiate the harbour of Safi.
He departed for Salé on 20 July 1629 with a fleet composed of the ships Licorne, Saint-Louis, Griffon, Catherine, Hambourg, Sainte-Anne, Saint-Jean. He bombarded the city the Salé and destroyed 3 corsair ships, and then sent the Griffon under Captain Treillebois to Mogador. The men of Razilly saw the fortress of Castelo Real in Mogador, and landed 100 men with wood and supplies on Mogador island, with the agreement of Richelieu. After a few days however, the Griffon reimbarked the colonists, and departed to rejoin the fleet in Salé. After these expeditions, France signed a treaty with Abd el-Malek II in 1631, giving France preferential treatment, known as “Capitulations”: preferential tariffs, the establishment of a Consulate and freedom of religion for French subjects.
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