Hero or Monster? Empire of Clay: The Reign of Moulay Ismail, Sultan of Morocco (1672-1727) assesses contrasting views of Morocco’s longest-serving monarch. On the surface, Moulay Ismail’s 55-year reign was momentous: he consolidated a new dynasty, the Alaouites; he developed a professional army of soldier-slaves, the Abid al-Bukhari, which he used to crush domestic opposition; he created a sprawling new capital at Meknes; and he returned to Moroccan control several cities held by England and Spain. On the international scene, he raised Morocco’s profile in courting Louis XIV of France and James II of England. However, his legacy is an equivocal one. The cost of these successes was enormous: hundreds of thousands enslaved, as many or more killed through war and repression, including scores murdered by Ismail himself; and a state driven toward ruin by the ruler’s obsessions. In the Age of Absolutism, no ruler was more powerful or more feared.