Wide Angle

Rare Moroccan peace treaty letter up for sale in Austria

An Austrian company is offering a historic handwritten letter by Sultan Moulay Ismail for 28,000 euros. Dating back to 1720, the letter holds significance for Moroccan history, as it relates to a peace treaty signed between Morocco and the United Kingdom.

Estimated read time: 2'

Vienna's Antiquariat Inlibris unveils a rare 1720 letter from Moroccan Sultan Moulay Ismail offering a truce to English ambassador Charles Stuart, representing King George I.

The handwritten Arabic letter, displayed by the Viennese company, measures approximately 430 x 575 mm. Its single page features eight lines of text framed by decorative ruled sections with stylized foliage and a calligraphic stamp in green and blue ink, accented with gold. While exhibiting minor wear and some loss along old folds, the document remains largely intact.

Antiquariat Inlibris values the historical piece at 28,000 euros. They describe it as «a diplomatic letter sent in December 1720 by the fearsome ruler of Morocco Moulay Ismail Ibn Sharif to Charles Stewart, the English ambassador at the head of a mission sent by King George I to negotiate a peace with Morocco».

A diplomatic letter

Led by Brigadier General Stuart, an English delegation set sail on September 24, 1720, empowered to negotiate peace with Sultan Moulay Ismail. Their success culminated in a treaty signed in Ceuta, January 1721. This agreement secured the release of 296 British slaves, free navigation for British vessels in Moroccan waters, and open trade for Moroccan ships with Britain.

The letter, addressed to «the Christian English ambassador» (likely Stuart), opens with greetings from Moulay Ismail. He acknowledges England's desire for peace and welcomes their envoy, dispatched by King George I. The Sultan expresses hope for an agreement meeting the ambassador's expectations, and hints at historical ties, mentioning his cousin Ahmed Al-Mansur's relationship with Queen Elizabeth I.

Beyond this key document, Vienna's Antiquariat Inlibris showcases a letter from Sultan Moulay Youssef expressing his delight at visiting France and participating in the Paris Grand Mosque's opening with President Domergue in 1926. Additionally, stamps of past and present Moroccan monarchs are displayed.

This exhibition has sparked online calls for relevant Moroccan authorities to work towards repatriating such valuable historical documents to their rightful home within the Kingdom.

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