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Battle of Three Kings
Also called: Battle of Alcazarquivir

King Sebastian of Portugal.
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King Sebastian of Portugal.

Battle of August 4, 1578, in northern Morocco. This battle was of great importance both to Moroccan history, as well as to Portuguese.
The 3 kings in the battle were King Sebastian of Portugal, the ruling sultan of Morocco, Abd el-Malik and the deposed sultan, Muhammad.
Sebastian's aim was to start a crusade in Morocco, in order to bring the country under Christian rule. Al-Mutawakkil was meant to be returned ot the throne.
The battle took place near Ksar el-Kebir, close to the Makhazin seasonal river.
The Moroccan forces numbered 50,000, the Portuguese 23,000. The latter were however better equipped. It is estimated that the Portuguese arrived in the Moroccan port of Larache by 500 ships.
As for the battle, little needs to be told, except that the Moroccans immediately broke through the lines of the Portuguese. Those Portuguese that could, began fleeing towards Larache on the coast. While crossing the Makhazin many drowned, including King Sebastian and the deposed sultan, Muhammad. Sultan Abd el-Malik died the day after. On the Portuguese side, an estimated 8,000 died, including much of the nobility. 15,000 were taken prisoner, and maybe only a few hundred managed to escape. The prisoners would in the following years be released only for ransom paid by the Portuguese state.
The political results of the battle was, that it promoted Morocco as a strong power, able to defend itself towards European states, and weakened Portugal, to the extent that the country would fall under Spain 2 years later, a situation that would last for 60 years.
With the death of Abd el-Malik, Ahmad al-Mansur became new sultan, one of the strongest leaders in Moroccan history.

By Tore Kjeilen