Mustapha Bouchelaghem

Mustapha Bouchelaghem, also known as Bey Bouchelaghem was the Bey of the Western Beylik from 1686 to 1734/37.

Mustapha Bouchelaghem
مصطفى أبو الشلاغم
Bey of the Western Beylik
In office
Appointed byMezzo Morto
Preceded byShaaban Bey
Succeeded byYoucef Bey of Mascara
Personal details
Mustapha ben Youcef el-Mesrati

17th century
Near Mascara, Algeria
Resting placeBouchelaghem mausoleum, near Mostaganem
CitizenshipRegency of Algiers
Military service
Years of service1686-1732

Origins and early lifeEdit

Mustapha, born as Mustapha ben Youcef was the son of an Algerian Arabic man called Youcef el-Mesrati,[1] a noble from the Kalaa of Beni Rached,[2] and an Algerian woman. In that regard, he was rather special, as him and his siblings are one of the only known Beys who were neither Turks, nor Kouloughlis, but full-blooded Algerians. His father served as Khalifa (lieutenant-governor)[3] to the Bey of Constantine. He moved back to Mostaganem where he had 8 children, the first-born being Mustapha.[4]

His full name was Mustapha ben Youcef Ben Mohamed ben Ishaq el-Mesrati.[4] The name Bouchelaghem, and its Spanish version "El Bigotillos," was an epithet referring to his Moustache.[5][6]


He was elected as Bey in 1686, after the previous bey Chaban-ez-Zenagui was killed in front of Oran.[7]

In 1701 he moved his capital to Mascara, and built a garrison there. The reason for this was its more central location. He worked hard to accumulate a large army mainly composed of thousands of Arab-Berber tribal levy.

Early wars (1680s-1708)Edit

Conflicts with MoroccoEdit

In 1699 the Maghrebi war started, which was a conflict between Algiers and the other Barbary States. In the same year his territory was invaded by the Moroccans during the Mascara campaign led by one of Moulay Ismail’s sons, during which his palace was looted, however this campaign resulted in a peace negotiation which infuriated Moulay Ismail causing him to direct another attempted invasion.[8][9] In 1701 with the help of Hajj Mustapha Dey, he decisively defeated the Moroccan armies in the Battle of Chelif.[10]

In 1707 he got into another conflict with the Moroccans as Mulay Ismael sought to once again take over Western Algeria, and he thus sent an expedition to do so. Bouchelaghem was able to push them back.[4]

Conflicts with SpainEdit

In 1703 Spanish troops attacked the Beni Ameur tribe, which was loyal to Algiers, thus souring the relationship between the two countries. Following that, he started building his army up, in preparation for an offensive. He also ordered tribes around Oran to start harassing Spanish troops.His most important conquest though was that of Oran. In 1707, while Spain was preoccupied with the War of the Spanish Succession,[11] he with the help of Ouzoum Hassan a Commander directly from Algiers captured the fort of Saint-Philippe near Oran, thus beginning the siege.[12] After 6 months, Oran and Mers el Kébir fell to his hands.[4][12]

He moved his capital to Oran,[4] which he made a base for Barbary pirates, and constructed a small fleet to protect the town.

Peaceful period (1708-1732)Edit

In 1710 a revolution led by Baba Ali Chaouch happened in Algiers. The new king achieved de facto independence from the Ottoman Empire,[13] and he started purging unloyal elements. In the Beylik of Constantine alone 3 Beys were replaced in the same year.[14] Bey Bouchelaghem was not replaced, mainly thanks to his popularity and neutrality. During this period, he built the defences up, and invested in regional wealth.

Spanish siege of OranEdit

In 1732, Spain invaded Oran and Mers el Kébir. After defeating the Algerian fleets protecting the city, they set foot on the shores of the city, and after a brutal siege, they captured Oran.[15]


The mausoleum of Bey Bouchelaghem and his wife.

Bey Bouchelaghem retreated to Mostaganem, and fell into depression after the loss of the city. In 1734 or 1737 (sources conflict) he passed away. He was succeeded by his brother.[4] He was Bey of Oran for 48 years, the longest reigning Bey. He is buried in his own mausoleum.


  1. ^ Revue africaine: bulletin de travaux de la Société historique algérienne (in French). Kraus Reprint. 1971.
  2. ^ "طلوع سعد السّعود | الباي مصطفى بوشلاغم المسراتي". Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  3. ^ Ageron, Charles Robert (1991). Modern Algeria: A History from 1830 to the Present. Hurst. ISBN 978-1-85065-027-0.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Le sépulcre du Bey Bouchelaghem (16?? - 1734) : PATRIMOINE EN PÉRIL". Algerie network Blog (in French). 2015-09-10. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  5. ^ Malki, Nordine (2003). Razzia, butin et esclavage dans l'Oranie du XVIème siècle: d'après le manuscrit de Diego Suárez (in French). Éditions Dar el gharb. ISBN 978-9961-54-219-4.
  6. ^ Zaoui, Amin (2007). Festin de mensonges: roman (in French). Fayard. ISBN 978-2-213-63255-1.
  7. ^ texte, Société historique algérienne Auteur du (1924). "Revue africaine : journal des travaux de la Société historique algérienne". Gallica. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  8. ^ Histoire générale de l'Algérie. P.554. Henri Garrot Impr. P. Crescenzo,
  9. ^ Cour, Auguste (2004-09-10). L'établissement des dynasties des Chérifs au Maroc et leur rivalité avec les Turcs de la Régence d'Alger, 1509-1830 (in French). Editions Bouchène. ISBN 978-2-35676-097-5.
  10. ^ Julien, Charles André (1966). Histoire de l'Afrique du Nord: Tunisie, Algérie, Maroc (in French). Payot.
  11. ^ Falkner, James (2015-10-30). The War of the Spanish Succession 1701-1714. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-78159-031-7.
  12. ^ a b Terki Hassaine, Ismet (2004-06-30). "Oran au xviiie siècle : du désarroi à la clairvoyance politique de l'Espagne". Insaniyat / إنسانيات. Revue algérienne d'anthropologie et de sciences sociales (in French) (23–24): 197–222. doi:10.4000/insaniyat.5625. ISSN 1111-2050.
  13. ^ Biographie universelle, ancienne et moderne (in French). 1834.
  14. ^ Niel, Odilon (1878). Géographie de l'Algérie (in French). L. Legendre.
  15. ^ Sánchez Doncel, Gregorio (1991). Presencia de España en Orán, 1509-1792. Toledo: Estudio Teológico de San Ildefonso, Seminario Conciliar. ISBN 84-600-7614-8. OCLC 31374685.