Danish–Algerian War

The Danish–Algerian War was a conflict lasting from 1769 to 1772 between Denmark–Norway and Deylik of Algiers which was a province of the Ottoman Empire, but it was mostly functionally independent. It is also known as the Algerian Expedition, or "The War Against Algeria".

Danish-Norwegian Expedition to Algiers
Picture showing Algiers from Ottoman period
Date14 September 1769 – 16 May 1772
Result Algerian victory
 Denmark–Norway Deylik of Algiers
Commanders and leaders
Denmark–Norway Christian VII
Denmark–Norway Frederik Christian Kaas
Muhammad V
Salah Bey
2 Frigates
2 Bomb Galiots
4 Ship of the line
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

Background and beginning of conflictEdit

Danish-Norwegian trade in the Mediterranean greatly expanded in the mid 1700s. In order to protect their lucrative business against piracy, Denmark–Norway had secured a peace deal with the states of Barbary Coast, involving the payment an annual tribute to the individual rulers of those states and additionally to the States.

In 1766 Baba Mohammed ben-Osman became Dey of Algiers. He demanded that the annual payment made by Denmark–Norway should be increased, and he should receive new gifts. Denmark–Norway refused the demands. Shortly after, Algerian pirates hijacked three Danish-Norwegian ships and sold the crew into slavery.


The Danish eskadre in Copenhagen Harbour, 1770
Danish frigate Falster and ship of line Grønland near Algiers, 1772

A punitive expedition comprising four ships of the line, with two frigates and two bomb galiots, under the command of Frederik Christian Kaas, sailed from Copenhagen in 16 May 1770. They threatened to bombard the Algerian capital if the Algerians did not agree to a new peace deal on Danish terms. Algiers was not intimidated, and the Danish-Norwegian bombardment ended in failure, as a large part of the crew fell seriously ill due to an outbreak of Typhoid. The ships could not withstand heavy mortar counter-strikes from the Algerians, which damaged their hulls. The Danish-Norwegian contingent unloaded approximately 75 bombs against the city of Algiers before the attack had to be abandoned. The contingent then resorted to a blockade of the city.[1]
De Fire Søstre merchant and hospital ship [2][3] was present with the Danish squadron in the Mediterranean 1770 -1771, and its captain, Jens Knudsen, visited the sick who had been landed at Port Mahon.


In 1772, a delegation was sent to Algiers, and after five days of negotiations a new peace was concluded in which Algiers was well paid. In addition, Denmark–Norway had to pay for the return of each slave who had been captured during the war. Danish and Norwegian slaves who were sold to private slave owners had to individually negotiate the prices of their freedom.[4]

Today the war is mostly forgotten in Denmark and Norway, because it has not played a big role in Danish and Norwegian history.[5]

In FictionEdit

The 2013 novel 1001 natt by Vetle Lid Larssen follows two Norwegians enslaved during the war.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Torbjørn Ødegaard; Oppgjøret med røverstaten Algier 1769-72, published by Marinemuseet, Horten 2010 (in Norwegian)
  2. ^ Topsøe-Jensen Vol 2 p 5
  3. ^ Royal Danish Naval Museum - Shiplist -De Fire Søstre
  4. ^ "Krigen mod Algier". natmus.dk (in Danish). National Museum of Denmark.
  5. ^ Struwe, Lars. "Danmark bombede Algier – og glemte alt om det" (in Danish). videnskab.dk.

Rxternal linksEdit