The tenth/sixteenth century was undoubtedly one of the most turbulent periods in the history of Morocco. Throughout the century the country was ravaged by civil strife, foreign occupation of some of its coastal regions and widespread social turmoil. Dynastic conflict between the two main contenders for the throne—the Wattasid vizierate and the Saՙdiyans—did not cease until the middle of the century. The prolonged warfare drained the economic resources of the country and crippled commercial activity. The crisis was especially acute in the countryside where the protracted political unrest disrupted agricultural activity. Sizable tracts of farmland were left uncultivated or were ruined by marauding gangs of brigands who plundered the peasants of their crops and cattle. As well as man-made damage, agricultural output was hit by a series of natural calamities (drought, plagues and scarce harvests), while intermittent outbreaks of epidemic decimated the population of certain districts. The results were catastrophic: famine became endemic in certain regions; previously fertile lands were abandoned and their soils became unsuitable for cultivation; trade in agricultural produce gradually ebbed; the price of foodstuffs rose to exorbitant levels and traders resorted to speculative practices, hoarding grain and other agricultural produce to inflate their value. The stagnation of agriculture led to a sharp demographic decline in the rural population and a substantial influx of migrant peasants into urban centres or rural areas less affected by scarcity. Entire rural communities were uprooted. Pauperism and mendicity proliferated in many regions as scores of impoverished peasants and herdsmen abandoned their indigenous lands and roamed the countryside in search of food.