History, Arab, Spanish, and Turkish Rule
Fatimids, beys, Ottoman Turks, Imperial rule, chief city
The region was overrun by Arab adherents of Islam in the 7th century. The Arab conquerors ruled from the late 7th to the early 16th century. During that period they replaced the Roman-Christian culture with a Muslim way of life. During the Muslim era a succession of dynasties wielded power, notably the Aghlabites (800-909), the Fatimids (909-973), and the Zeirids (10th century). In the latter part of the 12th century the Normans, led by the Sicilian ruler Roger II, briefly occupied a number of important coastal points. The Arabs recovered the region later in the century, and the Arab Almohad (12th century) and Hafsite (1228-1574) dynasties succeeded to power.
Arab political supremacy came to an end in the early 15th century. During the period of Arab domination the region had come to be known as Tunis, or Tunisia, from its chief city. In 1534 the Mediterranean pirate Barbarossa II (Khayr ad-Din, 1483-1546), captured the city of Tunis. He was expelled by Spanish imperial forces in the following years. Spanish dominance in Tunisia was short-lived, however. In 1574 armies of the Ottoman Empire defeated the Spanish and assumed hegemony over Tunisia. Under the Ottoman Turks, Tunisia enjoyed a period of relative stability from 1574 to 1881. Imperial rule was effected through native administrators, who were known as deys of Tunis until 1705 and as beys thereafter. The first bey, al-Husayn ibn Ali (reigned 1705-1740), founded the Husaynid dynasty. Husaynid rule secured for Tunisia a limited degree of autonomy and a large measure of prosperity.
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