|Intro||Slave and concubine who became a powerful wife|
Lalla Aisha Mubarka, often referred to as Zaydana or Zaidana (died 1716), was the chief spouse of Sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif of Morocco (r. 1672–1727). She had an acknowledged influence over the affairs of state through her personal influence over the sultan. Some Europeans are even said to have called her the “Empress of Morocco” as a result.
Zaydana was purchased to become a member of the harem as a slave concubine from Moulay ar-Rashid for sixty ducats. In accordance with Islamic law, the sultan was allowed to have a harem of slave concubines in addition to his four wives, as long as the concubines were slaves. However, despite the fact that the sultans normally only married women from prominent families such as the sharif families, Ismail formally married Zaydana, who managed to achieve a great emotional bond with him and thereby gain influence over the entire kingdom. The French Dominican friar Dominique Busnot described her as an enormous, tall and fat black woman who somehow managed to acquire such influence over the sultan that she could often deal with him as she wished. To explain her influence, many Moroccans called her a witch.
Zaydana staged intrigues and plots to have her own son Moulay Zaydan (1672–1708) named successor before Moulay Muhammad al-Alim, who was the son of a European concubine that was previously known as Mrs. Shaw. She claimed that he was preparing a coup to conquer the throne. While this was not initially true, he was in 1704 provoked to actually do so, after which he was captured in July of that year. He committed suicide in 1706 after his father had one of his hands and one of his feet amputated as punishment. Zaydana then had her own son replace him as governor. However, in October 1708, her son was murdered by his concubines at Taroudant. Zaydan was said to be a drunk. It has been suggested that the two women accused of the killing were actually following the orders of the sultan, who did not dare to tell Zaydana, who subsequently had the two women executed. Zaydan was buried in the Moulay Muhammad al-Alam Mausoleum at Meknes.
Zaydana died in 1716. Some Europeans are said to have called her the “Empress of Morocco”, although the first royal consort to bear an official title in Morocco is Lalla Salma. Another report made by a Spaniard called Joseph de Leon alleged that Ismail Ibn Sharif was strangled by his “concubine” Zaydana. This is clearly libelous however, as Ismail Ibn Sharif lived for over a decade after Zaydana died.