It was held by Vandals, Byzantines and Arabs, and when Mulai Idris passed from Tlemcen to Fez in 788, Tangier was "the oldest and most beautiful city" of the Maghrib.
In 1662 as part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza on her marriage to Charles II., it came into the possession of the English, and they defended it against Mulai Ismail in 1680, but in 1684 it was decided, on account of expense, to abandon the place to the Moors.
A dethroned sultan of Morocco, named Mulai Ahmad (Mahommed XI.), offered to acknowledge Portuguese suzerainty if he were restored to the throne by Portuguese arms, and Sebastian eagerly accepted these terms. The flower of his army was in Asia and his treasury was empty; but he contrived to extort funds from the " New Christians," and collected a force of some 18,000 men, chiefly untrained lads, wornout veterans, and foreign free-lances.
At Arzila, where he landed, he was joined by Mulai Ahmad, who could only muster Soo soldiers.
Mequinez at a distance appears a city of palaces, but it possesses few buildings of any note except the palace and the mosque of Mulai Ismail, which serves as the royal burying-place.