Regency of Algiers

(Redirected from Ottoman Algeria)

The Regency of Algiers[a] (Arabic: دولة الجزائر, romanizedDawlat al-Jaza'ir) was a largely independent tributary state of the Ottoman Empire during the early modern period, located on the Barbary Coast of North Africa from 1516 to 1830. Founded by the corsair brothers Aruj and Hayreddin Barbarossa (Also known as Oruc and Khayr ad-Din), the Regency was a formidable pirate base infamous for its corsairs. First ruled by Ottoman viceroys, o later became a sovereign military republic[b] that plundered and waged maritime holy war against European Christian powers.

Regency of Algiers
دولة الجزائر (Arabic)
Flag of Algiers[1]
Motto: دار الجهاد
Bulwark of the Holy War[2][3]
Overall territorial extent of the Regency of Algiers in the late 17th to 19th centuries[4]
Overall territorial extent of the Regency of Algiers in the late 17th to 19th centuries[4]
StatusAutonomous eyalet (Client state) of the Ottoman Empire[5][6]
De facto independent since mid-17th century[7][8][9]
Official languagesOttoman Turkish and Arabic (since 1671)[10]
Common languagesAlgerian Arabic
Sabir (used in trade)
Official, and majority:
Sunni Islam (Maliki and Hanafi)
Ibadi Islam
Shia Islam
Demonym(s)Algerian or Algerine
Government1516–1519: Sultanate
1519–1659: Viceroyalty
1659–1830: Stratocracy[11][12]
(Political status)
• 1516–1518
Aruj Barbarossa
• 1710–1718
Baba Ali Chaouch
• 1818–1830
Hussein Dey
Historical eraEarly modern period
• 1830
CurrencyMajor coins:
mahboub (sultani)
Minor coins:
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Hafsids of Béjaïa
Kingdom of Tlemcen
French Algeria
Beylik of Titteri
Beylik of Constantine
Western Beylik
Emirate of Abdelkader
Kingdom of Beni Abbas
Sultanate of Tuggurt
Awlad Sidi Shaykh
Today part ofAlgeria

The regency emerged during the 16th-century Ottoman–Habsburg wars, a unique military oligarchy of janissaries and corsairs that drew its revenues and political power from its maritime strength. When the war between the two empires ended in the early 17th century, merchant ships and goods belonging to France, England and the Netherlands were being captured and their crews and passengers enslaved. The Ottoman sultan could not stop these attacks so the European powers negotiated with the Regency directly and conducted vigorous sea operations against it, but the pirates expanded across the Atlantic and the Barbary slave trade reached its apex in Algiers. After the janissary coup in 1659, elected local rulers emerged.

Wars with France, Maghrebi states and Spain followed in the 18th century over consolidation of territory, diplomatic relations with European states and Mediterranean trade. The American war of independence led to U.S. shipping to the Mediterranean, and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars allowed large bursts of Algerian privateering. Increased demands from Algiers for tribute caused the Barbary wars, in which American, British and Dutch navies engaged the Barbary corsairs at the beginning of the 19th century, and decisively defeated Algiers for the first time. Internal central authority weakened due to political intrigue, failed harvests and the decline of privateering. Violent tribal revolts ensued, mainly led by maraboutic orders such as the Darqawis and Tijanis. France took advantage of this domestic turmoil to invade in 1830. The French conquest of Algeria eventually led to French colonial rule until 1962.

History edit

Establishment (1516–1533) edit

Spanish expansion in the Maghreb edit

Conquest of Oran, 19th century painting by Francisco Jover y Casanova. Cardinal Cisneros in red

In ports conquered along the Maghreb coast after the Emirate of Granada fell in 1492, the Spanish Empire established garrisons at fortified defensive strongpoints, walled presidios.[13] First came the conquest of Melilla in 1497,[14] then the Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera fell in 1508. Along Algeria's coast, Mers El Kébir fell in 1505, followed in 1509 by Oran, the most important seaport of the time, directly linked to Tlemcen, capital of the Zayyanid Kingdom.[15] After the Spanish conquest of Tripoli in 1510, the Hafsids in Tunis decided they did not have the means to resist and submitted to Spanish sovereignty through humiliating agreements.[16] This allowed the Spaniards to control the waystations for caravans from western Sudan, Tripoli and Tunis in the east and Ceuta and Melilla in the west, via trade routes that passed through Béjaïa, Algiers, Oran and Tlemcen. Control over this trade and its gold and slaves became essential to the Spanish treasury.[17]

The Maghreb was no longer the middleman between Europe and Africa it had been, especially in gold. The loss of this trade led to political fragmentation,[18] economic stagnation, and a deterioration of craftsmanship.[19] Weak centralization was exacerbated by the trade monopoly of Spain and its merchant class, and also the Spanish capacity to collect taxes.[20]

Barbarossa brothers arrive edit

Ottoman privateer brothers Aruj and Hayreddin, both known to Europeans as Barbarossa ("Red Beard"), were corsair chiefs, skilful politicians and warriors feared by the Christian armies of the Mediterranean.[21] In 1512, they were successfully operating off the coast of Hafsid Tunisia, famous for victories against Spanish naval vessels on the high sea and off the shores of Andalusia. Scholars and notables of Bejaïa asked them for help in dislodging the Spanish.[22] They failed however due to Bejaïa's formidable fortifications. Aruj was wounded while trying to storm the city, and his arm had to be amputated.[23] He realized that his forces' position in the valley of La Goulette hampered their efforts against the Spaniards and moved them to Jijel, a center for trade between Africa and Italy, occupied since 1260 by the Genoese, whose inhabitants had asked him for help. Aruj conquered the city in 1514, established a base of operations there and formalized an alliance with the tribal leaders of Kabylia.[24][25] In 1514 Aruj attacked Bejaïa again with a larger force in the spring of the following year, but withdrew when his ammunition ran out and the emir of Tunis refused to supply him with any more.[25] He did however succeed in capturing hundreds of Spanish prisoners.[26]

Aruj Berbarossa, Sultan of Algiers, 1590s
Model of Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha's flagship "The Algerian" at the Istanbul Naval Museum, October 2013
Hayreddin Barbarossa, first beylerbey of Algiers

New masters of Algiers edit

Birds-eye town map of Algiers, published in 1575 by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg

Pedro Navarro and Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros captured Bejaïa in 1510, after taking Oran in 1509. The leader of Algiers, sheikh Salim al-Tumi of the Thaaliba, recognized Catholic king Ferdinand II of Aragon as his sovereign, and made a number of pledges. He said he would pay tribute every year, release Christian prisoners, forsake piracy, and prevent the enemies of Spain from entering his harbor.[27] To monitor Algiers' compliance with these pledges and observe the residents of Algiers, Pedro Navarro captured the island of Peñon, within artillery range of the city, and put a fort there garrisoned with 200 men.[28] The Algerians sought to break free of the Spanish and took advantage of the excitement over the death of King Ferdinand to send a delegation from Algiers to Jijel in 1516 seeking help from Aruj and his men.[24]

Aruj set out at the head of 5,000 Kabyles and 800 Turkish arquebusiers,[29] while Hayreddin led a naval fleet of 16 galliots. They met up at Algiers,[30] whose population celebrated their arrival and hailed them as heroes.[31] Hayreddin bombarded the Spanish Peñón of Algiers from sea, and Aruj took Cherchell, where he eliminated another Turkish captain who had been cooperating with Andalusians.[24] Aruj was not immediately able to recover the Peñón, and his presence often undermined al-Tumi's authority, so the latter eventually sought the help of the Spaniards to drive him out. Oruc assassinated him,[32] proclaimed himself Sultan of Algiers, and raised his banners in green, yellow, and red above the forts of the city.[33][34][35] The Spaniards reacted by sending the governor of Oran, Diego de Vera, to attack Algiers in late September 1516 with 8000 troops.[36] Aruj allowed De Vera's forces to land then moved against them, taking advantage of the northern wind to pursue them as they retreated, drowning and killing many, and also capturing many prisoners in a total defeat for the Spaniards, and a momentous victory for Aruj,[36] which further expanded his influence in the Algerian heartland.[37]

Campaign of Tlemcen: Death of Aruj edit

Aruj Raïs in combat, by Léopold Flameng

Aruj attacked Spanish vassal Prince of Ténès Hamid bin Abid and seized his city,[36] vanquishing his army at the Battle of Oued Djer in June 1517. He killed the prince and expelled the Spaniards stationed at Ténès. Aruj then divided his kingdom into two parts: an eastern part based in Dellys to be ruled by his brother Hayreddin, and a western part centered on the city of Algiers, to be ruled by him personally.[38] While Aruj was in Ténès, a delegation from Tlemcen arrived to complain about conditions there and the growing threat of the Spanish, exacerbated by squabbling between the Zayyanid princes over the throne.[24] Abu Hammou III [fr] had seized power in Tlemcen, expelled his nephew, Abu Zayan III [fr] and imprisoning him. Aruj appointed Hayreddin as regent over Algiers and its surroundings[39] and marched towards Tlemcen, capturing the castle of the Banu Rashid along the way, and to protect his rear garrisoned it with a large force led by his brother Isaac. Aruj and his troops entered the city and released Abu Zayan from prison, restoring him to his throne, before progressing westward along the Moulouya to bring the Beni Amer and Beni Snassen [simple] tribes under his authority.[40] Abu Zayan began to conspire against Aruj, who arrested and executed him. Meanwhile, the deposed Abu Hammou III fled to Oran to beg for help from his former enemies the Spaniards to retake his throne.[41] The Spaniards chose to help him, capturing the Banu Rashid castle and killing Isaac in late January 1518. Then they began a siege of Tlemcen that was to last six months. Aruj was able to resist for several months but finally locked himself inside the Mechouar palace with 500 Turks for several days to avoid the increasingly hostile populace, who eventually opened the gates for the Spanish in May 1518.[40] Aruj attempted to flee Tlemcen, but the Spaniards pursued and killed him along with his Ottoman companions.[42] His head was then sent to Spain, where it was paraded across its cities and those of Europe. His robes were sent to the Church of St. Jerome in Cordoba, where they were kept as a trophy.[43]

Algiers joins the Ottoman Empire edit

Hayreddin Barbarossa (Anon, c. 1580)

Hayreddin was proclaimed Sultan of Algiers in late 1519.[44] He increasingly felt a need for Ottoman support to maintain his possessions around Algiers.[45] In early 1520, a delegation of Algerian notables and ulemas led by Sinan Rais arrived in Constantinople,[46] instructed to propose to Ottoman sultan Selim I that Algiers join the Ottoman Empire,[47] making clear to the sultan the strategic importance of Algiers in the Western Mediterranean.[44] Algiers officially became part of the Ottoman Empire under Suleiman I in the spring of 1521,[48] even though Constantinople found the idea of integrating a territory so distant and so close to Spain quite perilous.

The Sublime Porte named Hayreddin Barbarossa beylerbey and supported him with 2000 janissaries.[44]

Because of this voluntary membership in the Ottoman Empire, Algiers was considered an estate of the empire rather than a province. The important role in Ottoman maritime wars of the Regency fleet made Algiers the spearhead of Ottoman power in the western Mediterranean.[45][49]

Reconquest of Algiers edit

After defeating Barbarossa at the Battle of Issers with the joint Kuku-Hafsid forces then capturing Algiers in 1520, Sultan Belkadi ruled over Algiers for five years (1520–1525).[50][51][52] Hayreddin retreated to Jijel in 1521 and allied himself with the Kabyle people of Beni Abbas, rivals of Kuku.[51][53]

Taking advantage of the corsairs' reputation as "holy warriors" and social divisions between urban and rural populations, Hayreddin bolstered his ranks with Andalusi refugees and local tribesmen,[51] taking Collo in 1521, Annaba and Constantine in 1523.[54] He crossed the mountains of Kabylia without incident, and faced Belkadi in Thénia. Belkadi was killed by his own soldiers before a battle could take place.[55] The debacle caused by this assassination cleared the road to Algiers, whose population had complained about Belkadi and opened the gates for Hayreddin in 1525.[56][57]

But Algiers was still threatened by the Spaniards, who controlled the port from the Peñon. The Spanish commander, Don Martin de Vargas, rejected a demand for surrender with his garrison of 200 soldiers. Hayreddin bombarded the Peñon and captured it on 27 May 1529.[58][55] Using the Peñon debris, Morisco stonemasons and Christian captive labor, Hayreddin attached the islets to the shore by creating and building a causeway 220 yards (200 m) long, over 80 feet (24 m) wide and 13 feet (4 m) high from a stone breakwater,[50][59] enlarging the harbor into what became a major port and the headquarters of the Algerian corsair fleet.[60]

Morisco rescue missions edit

Moors of Algiers, by Jacob Van Meurs (1668)

In summer 1529, Barbarossa sent ships under Aydin Rais to help Spanish Muslim Moriscos flee the Spanish Inquisition,[58] After he descended in the Valencian coast, captured Christians and taken 200 muslims in his ships, a Spanish squadron was sent under admiral Rodrigo de Portuondo against Aydın Rais in Formentera, where he managed to defeat the attackers, capturing seven ships and their crews, including the dead admiral's son, and freeing 1000 Muslim galley slaves.[61]

In 1531, Barbarossa successfully repelled Andrea Doria's Genoese navy from landing at Cherchell,[62] and set about ferrying about 70,000 refugees to the shores of Algiers.[63][64][65] When there weren't enough ships to carry all the refugees the pirates would shuttle the refugees down the coast to a safer place, leaving them with guards, and go back to rescue another shipload.[65] In Algiers, the Morisco refugees settled in the heights of the city close to the kasbah, in the area known today as the "Tagarin". Others settled in Algerian cities to the east and west, where they built, as Leo Africanus said, "2,000 houses, and among them were those who settled in Morocco and Tunisia. The Maghreb people learned much of their craft, imitated their luxury, and rejoiced in them".[65]

Hayreddin's successors (1534–1580) edit

Barbarossa raided the coasts of Spain and Italy, taking thousands of prisoners in Mahon and Naples.[64] He captured Italian countess Giulia Gonzaga, but she escaped shortly afterward.[66] The sultan called Barbarossa to the Porte in 1533 to become Kapudan Pasha (Admiral). He put Hasan Agha in charge in Algiers as his deputy and went to Constantinople.[67] Two years later in June 1535, Charles V of Spain conquered Tunis, held by Hayreddin at the time.[68]

Barbary corsairs in the Battle of Lepanto (1571), Laureys a Castro
The Battle of Algiers. Oil on canvas (1541) Antwerp school.
Algerian expansion edit
Maltese Knights assault the Bab Azzoun gate of Algiers, 1541

In October 1541, Charles V led another expedition, this time against Algiers, seeking to end the Barbary pirates' dominance of the western Mediterranean.[69] As a storm broke, Hernán Cortés joined an imperial fleet of around 500 ships led by Andrea Doria carrying 24,000 soldiers and 12,000 sailors before Algiers.[70][71][72] Hasan Agha repelled the Maltese knights from the city on October 25, exhausted and out of dry powder, as increasing winds blew the Spanish ships onto the rocky shore.[72] Under constant assault by Berber cavalry, Charles V led a difficult retreat to the remaining ships at Cap Matifou.[70]

Sources differ on Spanish losses, from 8,000[73] to 12,000 men.[74] They included more than 150 ships as well as 200 cannons, which were recovered for use in the ramparts of Algiers.[75] The slave market of Algiers filled with 4,000 prisoners.[76][73] Hasan Agha received the title of Pasha as a reward,[77] then sent a punitive expedition against the Kabyles of Kuku in 1542.[78]

Successive expeditions tried to take control of the city of Mostaganem. A first expedition set out in 1543, then a second in 1547,[79] in which Martín Alonso Fernández, Count of Alcaudete was defeated due to poor planning, a shortage of ammunition, and a lack of experience and discipline among the Spanish troops.[80]

Ottoman Algeria in 1560

Hasan Pasha, Hayreddin's son, endeavored to end the see-sawing of Tlemcen's allegiance between Ottomans and Spaniards by taking control of it in 1551.[81] After that, the conquest of Algeria accelerated. In 1552, Salah Rais, with the help of the Kabyle kingdoms of Kuku and Beni Abbas, conquered Touggourt and Ouargla,[82][83] making them tributaries.[84] After leaving a permanent Ottoman garrison in Biskra,[81] Salah Rais expelled the Portuguese from the peñon of Valez and left a garrison there.[82]

In 1555, Salah Rais expelled the Spanish from Bejaïa.[85] Hasan Pasha vanquished Count Alcaudete's 12,000 men in Mostaganem three years later,[86] setting in stone the Ottoman control of North Africa.[87] This was followed by a failed attempt to take Oran in 1563,[88] in which the independent Kabylian kingdoms had significant involvement.[89]

The kingdom of Beni Abbas managed to maintain its independence, reeepelling the Ottomans in the First Battle of Kalaa of the Beni Abbès then the Battle of Oued-el-Lhâm, and lasting until early 18th century.[90] Algiers had finally reached its 1830 borders towards the end of the 16th century.[91]

War against the Spanish-Moroccans edit
Uluç Ali Pasha (Occhiali), beylerbey of Algiers

The Saadi dynasty of Morocco expanded eastward,[92] taking Tlemcen and Mostaganem and reaching the Chelif River.[83] These incursions into western Algeria resulted in the campaign of Tlemcen in 1551, where Hassan Pasha defeated the Moroccans and solidified Ottoman control of western Algeria.[83] This was followed by the Battle of Taza (1553) and the capture of Fez in 1554, in which Salah Rais defeated the Moroccan army, and conquered Morocco as far west as Fez, then put Ali Abu Hassun in place as ruler and vassal to the Ottoman sultan.[93] The Saadi ruler Mohammed al-Shaykh concluded an alliance with Spain, but his armies were again removed from Tlemcen in 1557.[94]

After the failed Ottoman siege of Malta in 1565 and the Morisco revolt in 1568, beylerbey Uluç Ali marched on Tunis with 5300 Turks and 6000 Kabyle cavalry.[95] Uluç Ali defeated the Hafsid sultan at Béja, and conquered Tunis with few losses.[96] He then led the left wing of the corsair fleet in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, and vanquished the Christian right wing of Andrea Doria and the Maltese Knights, saving what remained of the defeated Ottoman navy.[97]

Christian forces under the victor of Lepanto John of Austria were able to retake Tunis in 1573, leaving 8,000 men in the Spanish presidio of La Goletta.[98] But Uluç Ali reconquered Tunis in 1574.[99] With the capture of Fez in 1576, Caïd Ramdan [fr], pasha of Algiers, put Abd al-Malik on the throne as an Ottoman vassal ruler of the Saadi Sultanate.[100][101]

During the rule of Uluç Ali's former subordinate Hassan Veneziano Pasha in the late 16th century, Algerian privateering ravaged the Mediterranean, reaching as far as the Canary Islands.[102] The waters from Valencia and Catalonia to Naples and Sicily were infested with Algerian pirate vessels.{Sfn|BRAUDEL|1990|pp=882-883}} Twenty-eight ships were captured near Málaga and 50 near the Gibraltar strait in a single season, and raiding Granada brought 4000 slaves to Algiers,[103] including Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, whose time as a captive of Dragut inspired his novel Don Quixote.[104]

In 1578, Hassan Veneziano's troops ventured deep into the Sahara to Tuat in response to pleas from its inhabitants for help against Saadi-allied tribes from Tafilalt.[105][106] Kapudan Pasha Uluj Ali's campaign against Ahmad al-Mansur was cancelled in 1581;[102] Al-Mansur had at first vehemently refused subordination to Ottoman sultan Murad III, but sent an embassy to the Porte and signed a treaty that protected Moroccan de facto independence in exchange for annual tribute.[107] Nonetheless Figuig was Ottoman Algerian by 1584.[108]

17th century: Golden Age of Algiers edit

An Algerine Ship off a Barbary Port, by Andries van Eertvelt (1590–1652)

Algiers grew increasingly independent from Constantinople and engaged in widespread piracy in the 17th century in a period that became known as the "Golden age of Corsairs":[109] In the Mediterranean, the corsairs raided the Roman countryside, taking captives in Civitavecchia.[110] The expulsion of the Moriscos bolstered the corsairs with new sailors who painfully weakened Spain, ravaging its mainland and domains in Sicily and the islands of Italy, where people were taken captive en masse.[111]

Around 1600, they adopted the use of square-rigged sailing ships, which were introduced by Dutch renegade sailors such as Zymen Danseker[112] and began to rely less on Christian galley slaves.[113] These new vessels enabled the corsairs to sail far into the Atlantic Ocean, using speed and surprise of nearly a hundred well armed square-rigged ships based in Algiers to grow powerful in the Atlantic.[113] Exploring trade routes to India and America, the corsairs disrupted the commerce of all enemy nations. In 1619 the corsairs ravaged Madeira. Rais Mourad the younger plundered the coasts of Iceland in 1627, bringing 400 captives. The slave raid of Suðuroy took place in 1629, and in 1631, corsairs famously sacked Baltimore in Ireland, blocked the English Channel, and seized vessels in the North Sea.[114][115]

Algiers' port and navy grew and its population reached 100,000 to 125,000 in the 17th century,[7] due to its pirate economy of forced exchange and paid protection for the safety of crews, cargo and ships at sea.[116][117] The Maghrebi population became wealthy from selling seized ships and cargo through merchants in Genoa, Livorno, Amsterdam and Rotterdam.[110] and from ransoms paid for the release of prisoners captured on the high seas.[116] Homes and palaces were built with "the most precious objects and delicacies from the European and Eastern worlds".[109][118]

Battle of a French ship of the line and two galleys of the Barbary corsairs, Théodore Gudin (1802–1880)
Combat between Portuguese vessels and Barbary pirates in 1685, Peter Monamy (–1749)
HMS Mary Rose in battle with seven Algerian pirate ships on 28 December 1669, Willem van de Velde the Younger
Action Between a Dutch Fleet and Barbary Pirates, Lieve Verschuier

Ottoman suzerainty weakens edit

Layout and appearance of the Bastion de France on the Barbary Coast
A capydji [fr] (Imperial envoy) (17th century) Andreas Matthäus Wolfgang

In the 16th century, France signed capitulation treaties with the Ottomans, formalizing the Franco-Ottoman Alliance.[119] In 1547, French trade rights and coral fishing were established in Algiers.[120] The French trade post in eastern Algeria, known as the Bastion of France, was taken over by the French "Lenche Company [Fr]".[121] Believing it gave too many privileges to foreigners, Algiers disapproved of Constantinople's foreign policy.[122]

The authority of the pashas that the Sublime Porte appointed was not uncontested.[123] By the 1570s, the corsairs started to hunt European ships without taking heed of the alliances of Constantinople,[124] and the janissaries stationed in and paid by Algiers began to ignore the sultan and determine war strategy at their military council, known as the dîwân.[125] In clear defiance of the Ottoman treaty with France, Khider Pasha [fr] of Algiers, backed by the galleys of Murat Rais,[126] attacked the Bastion of France in 1604, then seized 6,000 sequins that Sultan Ahmed I had sent to French merchants to compensate for losses in the raid,[127] under the pretext of breaching agreements regarding wheat exports, tribute payments, and violation of good faith in trading with Moors.[121] The sultan ordered the new pasha Mohammed Koucha [fr] to have Khider Pasha strangled in 1605.[127]

The Porte renewed a treaty in May 20, 1605 that gave more privileges to France;[128] Clause 14 of the treaty authorized the French to use force against Algiers if the treaty was broken.[125] The French king Henry IV's envoy came to Algiers with a firman from the Porte ordering the French captives released and the Bastion rebuilt.[128] Mohammed Koucha Pasha agreed, but the janissaries revolted, imprisoned the Pasha and tortured him to death in 1606.[128] The dîwân refused to authorize the reconstruction of the Bastion, but agreed to release their French captives only on condition that Muslims detained in Marseilles also be released, a sign of how differently Algiers and Constantinople saw relations with France.[125][129]

Ali Bitchin Raïs edit
Ali Bitchin Mosque, Algiers. (2017 photo)
Sultan Mehmed IV, unknown artist, circa 1682, Ptuj Ormož Regional Museum

The Barbary corsair captains, also known as the "raïs", were represented by the "tai'fa", or community of corsair captains headed by a Kapudan rais (Admiral and Minister of Foreign affairs).[130] They became the dominant poltico-military power in early 17th century Algiers, as they provided a majority of the revenue of the regency through privateering, which became the main driver of Mediterranean diplomacy.[131] due to a influx of crewsmen: European renegades moriscos expelled from Spain.[131]

Ali Bitchin Raïs became admiral and head of the tai'fa in 1621.[132] Immensely rich, He built a mosque and two palaces in Algiers, owned 500 slaves and married the daughter of the king of Kuku.[133] Ali Bitchin's power was clearly displayed in international treaties where he called himself "Governor and Captain general of the sea and land of Algiers".[134] In 1638 Sultan Murad IV called the corsairs up against Venice. A storm forced their ships to shelter at Valona, but the Venetians attacked them and destroyed part of their fleet. To their great anger, the sultan refused to compensate them for their losses, claiming they were not under his service.[135][136]

Sultan Ibrahim IV, also known as :Ibrahim the Mad", wanted to arrest Ali Bitchin for refusing to join the Cretan War, but the population rose up against him.[137] The diwân demanded that he pay the janissaries' wages. Ali Bitchin took refuge in Kabylia for nearly a year, then returned in force to Algiers[137] to claim the title of pasha and demand from Sultan Mehmed IV 16,000 sultanis in exchange for 16 galleys.[138] The sultan appointed another pasha in 1645. When he arrived, Ali Bitchin suddenly died, possibly poisoned.[139][137]

Foreign policy edit

Map of the Mediterranean balance of power in the 17th century. An archer threatens Philip IV of Spain with his bow while Louis XIII is self-absorbed

The Habsburg monarchy signed a peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire in the early 17th century, ending the Long Turkish War, Algiers refused to abide by the capitulation treaties between Europe and Constantinople, however, prompting European powers to negotiate treaties directly with Algiers on commerce, tribute payments and slave ransoms.[122] in an acknowledgement of the autonomy of Algiers despite its formal subordination to the Sublime Porte.[140]

Algiers couldn't be at peace with all European states at the same time without weakening privateering; a religious, codified and strictly controlled form of warfare engaged by Algiers,[141][142] conferring on its foreign military elites an international legitimacy;[143][142] Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius (1583–1645) noted that "Algiers exercised the jus ad bellum of a sovereign power through its corsairs".[144]

Algeria's foreign relations strategy for the European powers was to play its adversaries off against each other and avert any coalition that could pose a serious threat.[110][145][c] European nations at war with Algiers could not compete with shipping from nations at peace with it.[146] In fact, the lucrative cabotage business between Mediterranean ports required peaceful relations with Algiers.[147] European vessels carried passports issued by their diplomatic missions in Algiers to protect them from Algerian pirates.[122] Thus, a treaty with the Dutch in 1663 led to privateering against French vessels, then a treaty with France in 1670 prompted Algiers to break off relations with England and the Dutch.[148]

This would in turn give internal legitimacy to the military rulers of Algiers as champions of jihad,[140] while gaining revenues from naval spoils and tribute payments.[149]

Kingdom of France edit

France began direct negotiations with Algiers in 1617 after more than 900 ships were taken and 8000 Frenchmen enslaved,[150] They reached an impasse however in part over two cannons Dutch corsair Simon Rais had taken with him to give to Charles, Duke of Guise when he left the Algerian navy in 1607.[151] A treaty was signed in 1619,[152] and another in 1628.[153][121] Algerians undertook to:[154][155]

  • Respect France's vessels and coast
  • Prohibit the sale of goods seized from French ships in their ports
  • Allow French traders to safely live in Algiers
  • Recognize and protect French concessions at the Bastion de France
  • Allow trade in leather and wax.

Sanson Napollon [it], head of the Bastion de France, was able to supply Marseille with all the wheat it needed. In 1629 however, fifteen corsairs from an Algerian ship were massacred and the rest taken prisoner.[156] In 1637, Ali Bitchin razed the French fortress in response. "Never the said Bastion would recover, neither by request of the King of France, nor by command of the Grand Sultan, and that the first who would speak of it would lose his head", the dîwân declared.[157] In 1640, a new treaty returned to France its previous holdings in Africa, however, and the coral concession obtained the right to take security measures against raids,[157] in exchange for paying the pasha nearly 17,000 pounds.[151][158]

Dutch engraving "During the French bombardment of Algiers, the French consul Pere Levacher is loaded into a cannon by the Algerians and killed" (1698) Amsterdam Museum
Dutch satirical medal whose caption says in Dutch "the friend of the Turks, the friend of the Algerians, the friend of the Barbarians, hateful enemy of the Christians" while on the right Louis XIV kneels before the Ottoman sultan and the dey of Algiers

France was engulfed in the Fronde civil unrest by 1650, while the raïs operated off Marseilles and ravaged Corsica. But they had to face the French Levant fleet and the Knights of Malta, who scored a minor victory against Algerian vessels near Cherchell in 1655. Cardinal Mazarin gave the order to reconnoitre the Algerian coasts with a view to a permanent installation. [125] First Minister of State Jean-Baptiste Colbert sent large forces to occupy Collo in the spring of 1663, but the expedition failed. In July 1664 King Louis XIV ordered another military campaign against Jijel, which took nearly three months and also ended in defeat.[159] France was forced to negotiate with Algiers and sign the 7 May 1666 agreement, stipulating the implementation of the 1628 treaty.[160][161] Louis XIV, who sought to have the French flag respected in the Mediterranean, ordered several intense bombing campaigns against Algiers from 1682 to 1688 in what is known as the Franco-Algerian war.[110] After fierce resistance led by Dey Hussein Mezzomorto, a conclusive peace treaty was finally signed.[162]

Kingdom of England edit
English fireship set on seven captured ships in Béjaïa on 18 May 1671, by Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633–1707)
Treaty of peace and trade with England, signed 23 April 1662

English admiral Robert Mansell led an expedition in 1621 that sent fireships (burning ships) into the fleet moored in Algiers, but it failed and Mansell was recalled to England on 24 May 1621.[163] James I negotiated directly with the pasha of Algiers [153][164] in 1622 but more than 3000 Englishmen remained enslaved in Algiers. A fleet under Admiral Blake managed to sink several Tunisian ships, which convinced Algiers to sign a peace treaty with Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.[165] England introduced a series of anti-counterfeiting and mandatory "Algerian passports" on southbound merchant ships to guarantee each ship's authentic registry to Algerian pirate vessels.[166] Fighting with a combined Anglo-Dutch force in 1670 cost Algiers several ships and 2200 sailors near Cape Spartel, and English ships burned seven other ships in Béjaïa. A regime change in Algiers ensued.[167]

From 1674 to 1681 Algiers captured around 350 ships and 3000 to 5000 slaves.[168][169] But since the French were also attacking them, they signed a peace treaty with Charles II on 10 April 1682 where he recognised that his subjects were slaves in Algiers.[169]

Dutch Republic edit
View of Algiers with Michiel de Ruyter's ship 'De Liefde' (1662), Reinier Nooms (1623/1624–1664)
Michiel de Ruyter Admiraal Generaal (c.1664), Hendrick Berckman

The English peace treaty with Algiers affected Dutch shipping. Merchants arriving at The Hague all indicated that the Dutch were losing trade to the English.[170][171] From 1661 to 1664, the Dutch sent Michiel de Ruyter and Cornelis Tromp on several expeditions to Algiers in an attempt to make the Algerians accept the free ships, free goods principle.[172][171] Although the Algerians had accepted the principle in 1663, they went back on their agreement the following year. De Ruyter was again dispatched to Algiers, but the beginning of hostilities with England, leading up to the Second Anglo-Dutch War, cut his mission short.[173]

A peace agreement signed in 1679 was the result of four years of negotiations, and until 1686, precariously maintained a peace for Dutch trade with southern Europe,[174][171] at the price of tribute to Algiers in the form of cannons, gunpowder and naval stores, which France and England both condemned.[175] But peace did not last. Between 1714 and 1720, 40 ships were captured, and their seamen taken captive.[176]

After lengthy negotiations and several military expeditions, the Dutch finally achieved peace.[176] The new Dutch consul in Algiers, Ludwig Hameken, asked for a Mediterranean pass,[177] and agreed to pay a yearly tribute for the next century. The Anglo-Spanish War (1727–1729) distracted the British from their trade rivalries, and the Dutch managed to provide stiff competition. When the war ended however, British shipping again flourished in the Mediterranean, and Dutch trade fell off.[177]

Map of the Barbary coast in 1667, by Richard Blome

Maghrebi wars (1678–1756) edit

Algeria's relations with other Maghreb countries were troubled most of the time,[178] for several historical reasons.[91] Algiers considered Tunisia a dependency because it had annexed it to the Ottoman Empire, which made the appointment of its pashas a prerogative of the Algerian beylerbeys.[179] Tunis had inherited ambitions in the Constantine region from the Hafsid era, and rejected Algerian suzerainty. Morocco opposed the Ottomans with determination, and saw Algiers as a danger to its independence. It also had ancient ambitions in western Algeria and especially in Tlemcen.[178]

Both states also supported rebellions in Algiers. In 1692 inhabitants of the capital and neighboring tribes tried to depose the Ottomans while Dey Hadj Chabane was campaigning in Morocco. They set fire to several buildings and some of the ships at anchor there.[180]

City of Tunis, 17th century
City of Algiers, 17th century
Map of North Africa. Relief shown pictorially. Boundaries hand-colored. (c. 1650) Jan Janssonius (1588–1664)

Tunisian campaigns edit

Tunis adamantly refused subordination to Algeria. Beginning in 1590, the diwân of Tunisian janissaries revolted against Algiers, and the country became a vassal of Constantinople itself.[178] A peace treaty concluded on 17 May 1628, following an Algerian victory was devoted to the delimitation of the borders between them.[181] In 1675, Murad II Bey of Tunis died. This unleashed a twenty-year civil war between his sons.[182] Dey Chabane took this opportunity to defeat the Tunisians in the Battle of Kef, conquer Tunis and depose Mohamed Bey El Mouradi in 1694, replacing him with puppet ruler Ahmed ben Tcherkes. Hadj Chabane went back to Algiers with heavy booty, including cannons, slaves, and 120 mules loaded with gold.[183] Fed up with this situation, Tunisians revolted. Unwilling to make another campaign against Tunis, the janissaries mutinied, tortured Hadj Chabane and executed him in August 15, 1695.[184]

After he signed an alliance with the sultan of Morocco Moulay Ismail, Murad III Bey of Tunis started the Maghrebi war in 1700.[91] He took Constantine before Algiers regained the upper hand in the Battle of Jouami' al-Ulama.[91] Ibrahim Cherif, the Agha of the Tunisian sipahi cavalry, put an end to the Muradid regime and was named Dey by the militia and pasha and by the Ottoman sultan.[185] However, he did not manage to put an end to the Algerian and Tripolitan incursions. Finally defeated near Kef by the Dey of Algiers on 8 July 1705, he was captured and taken to Algiers.[186] By this time, Hussein I ibn Ali Bey founded the Husainid dynasty of Tunis. After a failed revolt, Abu l-Hasan Ali I Pasha took refuge in Algiers, where he managed to gain the support of Dey Ibrahim Pasha.[187] Hassan Bey of Constantine sent a force of 7,000 men led by Danish slave Hark Olufs to invade Tunis in 1735 and installed bey Ali I Pasha,[188] as a vassal of Algiers, who promised an annual tribute to the dey.[188][189]

In another campaign directed against Tunis in 1756,[190] Ali I Pasha was deposed and brought to Algiers in chains, then strangled by supporters of his cousin and successor Muhammad I ar-Rashid on 22 September. Tunis became a tributary of Algiers, recognized its suzerainty for 50 years, and agreed to send oil to light the mosques of Algiers every year.[191][192]

Moroccan campaigns edit

Sultan of Morocco with the Black Guard, Eugène Delacroix

In 1678, Moulay Ismail mounted an expedition to Tlemcen. He assembled his contingents on the Upper Moulouya, joined by the tribes of Orania, and advanced to the Chelif region to give battle there.[193] The Ottoman Algerians brought in artillery, and routed the Moroccans. Negotiations with Dey Chabane fixed the border at the Moulouya, where it remained throughout the Saadian period.[194] In 1691, Moulay Ismail launched a new offensive against Orania, and Dey Chabane, supported by 10,000 janissaries and 3,000 Zwawa infantry,[195] killed 5,000 and routed the rest of the attackers on the Moulouya before marching on Fez.[196] Moulay Ismail reportedly prostrated before the Dey in his tent, saying: "You are the knife and I the flesh that you can cut".[197][180] He agreed to pay tribute and sign the treaty of Oujda which confirmed the Moulouya river border.[198] In 1694, the Ottoman sultan invited that of Morocco to cease his attacks against Algiers.[194]

In 1700, after coming to an agreement with the Tunisian Muradids to simultaneously attack Constantine, the Moroccan sovereign launched a new expedition against Orania with an army composed mostly of Black Guards.[199] But Moulay Ismail's 60,000 men were beaten again at the Chelif river by Dey Hadj Mustapha [fr].[200][201] Following these expeditions, Hadj Moustapha wrote to Moulay Ismaïl about the attachment of the Algerians and their territory to the power of the Regency of Algiers.[202] Moulay Ismail made one last attempt to capture Oran in 1707, but his army was almost entirely destroyed,[203][204] which ended his projects of expansion towards Orania.[205] In the following years, Moulay Ismaïl led Saharan incursions towards Aïn Madhi and Laghouat without succeeding in settling them permanently.[201]

Dey Muhammad ben Othman Pasha (1766–1792) edit

Fountain in Mosque of El-Kebir, Algiers.

Muhammad ben Othman Pasha became dey in 1766 as his predecessor, Dey Ali Bousbaa [fr], had wished. He ruled over a powerful and prosperous Algiers for a full quarter-century until he died in 1791.[206] He was a "rational, courageous, and determined man who adhered to working according to Islamic law, loved jihad, was austere even with regard to public treasury funds", according to the memoirs of Ahmad Sharif al-Zahhar, a naqib al-ashraf of Algiers during the late Ottoman era there.[207] He succeessfully handled most of the problems he faced during his rule, especially Spanish and Portuguese raids. He fortified Algiers with a number of forts and towers,[208] such as the Borj Sardinah, Borj Djedid, and Borj Ras Ammar, and repaired the Sayyida mosque next to Jenina Palace, which had been damaged by Spanish bombardment. He brought water to the city, and supplied it to all the castles, towers, fortresses, and mosques. He also built springs in the center of the city for people to drink from, and set up a special financial reserve to take care of and maintain the water supply from these streams.[207]

As dey Muhammad ben Othman Pasha kept the janissaries in check, developped trade,[206] secured regular tribute payments from European states,[206][149] strengthened the Algerian fleet and supplied it with men, weapons, and ships. Several captains became famous during his reign, such as Raïs Hamidou, Reis Haj Suleiman, Reis Ibn Yunus and Reis Hajj Muhammad, who according to Al-Zahar, commanded about 24,000 men during his various maritime incursions.[209]

Pacification of the Regency edit

The population revolted in Blida, Al-Houdna and Isser, in some oases of the south and in Al-Nammasha in the Aurès.[210] Muhammad Othman started his rule by leading campaigns against the tribes of Felissa in Kabylia, which were in constant rebellion. A first attempt in 1767 ended in failure and the tribes managed to reach the gates of Algiers itself. Nine years later however, the dey surrounded them in their mountains and made their leaders submit.[211] The eastern Salah Bey ben Mostefa of Constantine launched several expeditions south. In 1785, he marched through the Amour Range, then stormed Aïn Beida and Aïn Madhi, and occupied all of Laghouat. He then received tribute from the Ibadi community of the south. In 1789, Salah bey occupied the city of Touggourt, appointed Ben-Gana as "Sheikh of the Arabs" and imposed heavy tribute on the Berber Beni Djellab dynasty there.[212]

War with Denmark edit

Dey Muhammad Othman Pasha increased the annual royalties paid by the Netherlands, Venice, Sweden and Denmark. They accepted, except for Denmark, which assigned Frederick Kaas to lead four ships of the line, two bomb galiots and two frigates, against the city of Algiers in 1770. The bombardment ended in failure.[213] Shortly after, Algerian pirates attacked Dano-Norwegian ships for a whole year.[214] Denmark submitted to the dey's conditions and agreed to pay 2.5 million dollars in compensation for the damage to the city, and provide 44 cannons, 500 quintals of gunpowder, and 50 sails. It also agreed to ransom its captives and pay royalties every two years with various gifts to statesmen.[215]

War with Spain edit

Spanish attack on Oran, 1732
Algiers under fire in 1784 from Spanish and Maltese men o'war. (18th century). British School.
The Treaty of 1791 ended almost 300 years of war

The War of the Spanish Succession, gave western bey Mustapha Bouchelaghem the opportunity to capture Oran and Mers-el Kebir in 1708,[216] but he lost them back in 1732 to a successful campaign by the Duke of Montemar.[217] In 1775 Irish-born admiral of the Spanish Empire Alejandro O'Reilly led an expedition to knock down pirate activity in the Mediterranean. The assault's spectacular failure dealt a humiliating blow to the Spanish military reorganisation.[218]

From August 1st to 9th 1783, a Spanish squadron of 25 ships bombarded Algiers, but could not overcome its defenses. A Spanish squadron of four ships of the line and six frigates inflicted no significant damage on the city and had to withdraw from its guns.[219] The commander of this fleet and that of 1784 was Spanish admiral Antonio Barceló. A European league of 130 ships from the Spanish Empire, Kingdom of Portugal, Republic of Venice and Order of Saint John of Jerusalem bombarded Algiers on 12 July 1784. This failed, and the Spanish squadron fell back from the city's defenses.[220] Dey Mohamed ben-Osman asked for a 1,000,000 pesos to conclude a peace in 1785. Negotiations (1785–87) followed for a lasting peace between Algiers and Madrid.[221]

After a massive earthquake in 1790, the reconquest of Oran and Mers El Kébir began.[222][149] Oran was a concern for the 18th-century Spanish, torn between the competing imperatives of preserving their presidio and maintaining a fragile peace with Algiers.[221] After the death of Mohamed ben Othman, his khaznagy (vizier) qnd adopted son Sidi Hassan was elected dey and negotiations with Count Floridablanca resumed. The resulting Spanish-Algerian Peace Treaty of 1791 ended almost 300 years of war. Mers-el-Kebir and Oran once again rejoined Algeria, and Spain undertook to "freely and voluntarily" return two cities in exchange for the exclusive right to trade certain agricultural products in Oran and Mers-el-Kébir. On 12 February 1792 Spanish soldiers left Oran, and Mohammed el Kebir entered the city. Algerians had freed their land from foreign occupation.[223][224]

Fort and chapel of Santa Cruz, Oran
Cannon of Dey Muhammed ben Othman, Hotel des Invalides

Decline of Algiers (1800–1830) edit

Algerian Jewish merchants edit

Jewish man from Algeria

The Jews of Algiers became an economic power and eliminated many European merchant houses from the Mediterranean, which deeply worried the Marseillais defending their threatened monopoly.[d] French consuls resented the Jews, and urged their King to pass ordinances to prevent them from trading in French harbors. But the Jewish merchants dealt in prize goods from the corsairs as well as in more regular merchandise, and were essential to government because of their contacts and skill in aligning their affairs with the interests of the Algerian state.[225] They were at the origin of various Algerian disputes with Spain and especially with France.[225][226]

To avoid further difficulty, the French king established rules, port regulations, and tariffs to make good the losses of the French. These prevented Algerian merchants from trading in French ports and transporting their cargoes of wax, wheat and honey to the French market themselves.[225] The Marseillais wanted to prohibit Algerian Jews from remaining more than three days in port, and appealed to the dey to prohibit Jews from trading in Marseilles. Muslim merchants had a cemetery in Marseilles and wanted to build a mosque there, but were refused. Moreover, the raïs, especially the Christian converts to Islam, did not dare land on Christian soil, where they risked imprisonment and torture.[227]

Unable to own commercial vessels or to transport their goods themselves to Europe, the Algerians used foreign intermediaries and fell back again on the corso to compensate them.[227]

Crisis of the 19th century edit

In the early 19th century, Algiers was struck with political turmoil and economic stress.[228] Misery caused by failed wheat harvests resulted in public riots. Prominent Jewish grain merchant Naphtali Busnash was blamed for the shortages and killed. A pogrom followed, then assassination of the dey who had encouraged it, which began a 20-year period of coups.[228]

Constant war burdened the population with heavy taxes and fines that took no account of the hardship they caused. This burden primed the population to respond to calls for disobedience, which the deys always met with brute force.[229] In 1792 in Constantine popular administrator of the eastern Beylik Saleh Bey was killed, a loss to Algiers of a seasoned politician and military and administrative leader.[230] At the start of the 19th century, intrigues at the Moroccan court in Fez inspired the Zawiyas to stir up unrest and revolt.[231] Muhammad ibn Al-Ahrash, a marabout from Morocco and leader of the Darqawiyyah-Shadhili religious order, led the revolt in eastern Algeria with his Rahmaniyya allies.[232] The Darqawis in western Algeria joined the revolt and besieged Tlemcen, and the Tijanis also joined the revolt in the south. But the revolt was defeated by Bey Osman, and he himself was killed by Dey Hadj Ali.[233] Morocco took possession of Figuig in 1805, then Tuat and Oujda in 1808,[234][235][236] and Tunisia freed itself from Algeria after the wars of 1807 and 1813.[237]

Destructive earthquakes, epidemics and a drought in 1814 led to the death of thousands and a decline in trade.[238]

Barbary Wars edit

Internal fiscal problems in the early 19th century led Algiers to again engage in widespread piracy against American and European shipping, taking full advantage of the Napoleonic Wars.[239] Being the most notorious Barbary state,[240][241] and willing to curb American trade in the Mediterranean, Algiers declared war on the U.S in 1785 on the pretext of asserting its rights to search and seizure in the absence of a treaty with a given nation.[242] It captured 11 American ships and enslaved 100 sailors. In 1797 Rais Hamidou captured 16 Portuguese ships and 118 prisoners.[243] The U.S. agreed to buy peace with Algiers in 1795 for $10 million including ransoms and annual tribute over 12 years.[239] Another treaty with Portugal in 1812 brought $690,337 in ransom and $500,000 in tribute.[244] But Algiers was defeated in the Second Barbary War when U.S. admiral Stephen Decatur captured the Algerian flagship "Mashouda" in the battle off Cape Gata, killing Rais Hamidou on June 17, 1815.[245] Decatur went to Algiers and imposed war reparations on the dey and the immidiate cease of paying tribute to him on June 29, 1815.[245]

Thd new European order that arose from the French revolutionary wars and the Congress of Vienna no longer tolerated Algerian piracy, deeming it as "barbarous relic of a previous age".[246] This culminated in August 1816 when Lord Exmouth executed a naval bombardment of Algiers,[247] ending in a victory for the British and Dutch, a weakened Algerian navy, and liberation of 1200 slaves.[248]

Following this defeat, dey Omar Agha managed to restore the defenses of Algiers,[249] and some European nations already agreed to pay tribute again, but he was eventually killed.[250] To stabilize the state, his successor Ali Khodja suppressed insubordinate elements of the Odjak with the help of Koulouglis and Zwawa soldiers.[246][251] The last dey of Algiers Hussein Pasha sought to nullify the consequences of earlier Algerian defeats by restarting piracy again, and withstanding a fruitless British attack on Algiers in 1824 led by Vice-Admiral Harry Burrard Neale.[252] This cemented a false belief that Algiers could still fight off a disunited Europe.[253]

1816 Bombardment of Algiers, Thomas Luny.
Dey Omar Agha receiving the representative of Lord Exmouth after the bombardment of Algiers in 1816
U.S. Squadron before the City of Algiers, 1815.

French invasion edit

Landing at Sidi Fredj

During the Napoleonic Wars, the Regency of Algiers greatly benefited from Mediterranean trade and massive food imports by France, largely bought on credit. In 1827, Hussein Dey demanded that the restored Kingdom of France pay a 31-year-old debt contracted in 1799 for supplies to feed the soldiers of the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt.[254]

The answers of French consul Pierre Deval displeased Hussein Dey, who hit him with a fan. King Charles X used this incident as an excuse to break ties[254] and start a full-scale invasion of Algeria. The French military landed on 14 June 1830. Algiers surrendered on 5 July, and Hussein Dey went into exile in Naples.[117] Charles X was overthrown a few weeks later by the July Revolution and replaced by his cousin, Louis Philippe I.[254]

Political status edit

"Algeria" page in the Civitates Orbis Terrarium of 1575

The Regency of Algiers emerged from the Ottoman–Habsburg wars in the western Mediterranean as the center of Ottoman rule in northwest Africa after 1516.[255][256] As a bastion of the Ottoman Empire in its competition with the West for control over the western Mediterranean,[256] Algiers became the headquarters of probably the greatest janissary force in the empire outside Constantinople, and much like the island of Malta that served as a base for Christian pirates and privateers, the Barbary coast regency was home to the Muslim pirates of the region.[257]

"Aruj effectively began the powerful greatness of Algiers and the Barbary", wrote Fray Diego de Haedo [fr], a Spanish Benedictine from Sicily who was held captive in Algiers in 1577-1580.[258] Algiers underwent numerous political developpements with the transformation of the Ottoman Empire from strength and expansion to weakness and stagnation as a local government that accepted Ottoman legitimacy.[255]

1516: State of Algiers established edit

Aruj set out to build a powerful Muslim state in the central Maghreb at the expense of its principalities.[258] He sought the support of the religious authorities, in particular the popular maraboutic and Sufi orders. [259] He conveyed his vision to them the government structure he envisioned, the Odjak of Algiers.[37] It was to be a military republic like that of the island of Rhodes, occupied by the Christian Knights Hospitaller.[260]

This Odjak administrative structure and the religiously sanctioned power of Aruj were freely accepted by the military, with the scimitars of Turks and Christian renegades behind him. They made his authority absolute, and accepted without resistance by the population.[260]

Power was in the hands of the Odjak, and native Algerians and Kouloughlis were excluded from high government positions,[37] although they could still hold legal and police powers within Algiers as mayors.[261]

Hayreddin's consolidation edit

Sultan Charardin of Algeria, Called Barbarossa, by Lorenzo de Musi (Italian, active c. 1535)

The new pasha, Hayreddin Barbarossa, inherited his brother's position unopposed.[258] As a shrewd statesman and a great captain,[262] he in fact designed the strategy for the Algerian state's existence.[258]

He pledged allegiance to the Sublime Porte to obtain its support against the Spanish Empire and the rebellions fomented by his opponents, and had himself recognized as sovereign by the Sultan,[41] with the title of beylerbey.[258]

To manage state affairs and govern the country, he relied on the carefully chosen janissary members of the dîwân council.[263][264] Even if they reflected the Ottoman ruling class, the leaders and diwan members still referred to themselves as "Algerians".[265][266] Barbarossa had established the military basis of the Regency,[267] formalising corsair activities into a well-organized institution that recruited, financed and operated the infamous tai'fa of raïs. It became the model for other Barbary corsairs in Tunis, Tripoli and the Republic of Salé.[268]

Thanks to the Barbarossa brothers' campaigns, the city of Algiers was fortified and developped enough to become a new capital for what would soon become the modern Algerian state and its growing naval power.[269]

Ottoman Viceroyalty (1519–1659) edit

Beylerbeylik period (1519–1587) edit

The foreign policy of Algiers in its first few decades aligned completely with that of the Ottoman Empire, since the country and its affairs were in the hands of the Ottoman beylerbey (governor-general). Mostly companions of Hayreddin Barbarossa, beylerbeys were appointed as viceroys by the Ottoman sultan from among the corsair captains of Algiers.[270] They often remained in power for several years, exercising their authority over Tunis and Tripoli, and led Ottoman expansion in the Mediterranean.[88] Because of their experience in fleet command, some beylerbeys became Kapudan Pasha.[60] Algiers became the most successful port in the Maghreb and a very cosmopolitan city.[271][272] European powers portrayed it as the "scourge of Christendom" and a 16th-century "rogue state".[272]

But the beylerbeys acted as independent sovereigns despite acknowledging the suzerainty of the sultan. De Haëdo called them "Kings of Algiers".[273][270] This manifested in the open rebellion of the janissary-elected Hasan Corso in 1556, a Corsican convert who refused to submit to the pasha sent by Constantinople.[274] Aided by the corsairs, the pasha murdered Hasan, but was in turn murdered by the janissaries.[275] This instability prompted Suleiman the Magnificent to send back Hasan Pasha,[81] who relied heavily on native troops as did other beylerbeys.[89]

In addition, the "timar" system was not applied in Algiers. Instead the beylerbeys sent tribute to Constantinople every year, after meeting the expenses of the state.[5] In return, Constantinople provided a steady stream of janissaries.[276] The sultan gave the ruler of Algiers a free hand but expected Algerian ships to help enforce Ottoman foreign policy if need be.[130] Eventually the internal and external interests of Algiers and Constantinople diverged on the matter of privateering, over which the Porte had no control.[277]

Pashalik period (1587–1659) edit

The arrival of the new pasha, Viceroy of Algiers sent from by the great lord (Ottoman Sultan), by Jan Luyken (1684)

Fearful of the growing independence of the rulers of Algiers, the Ottoman Empire abolished the beylerbeylik system in 1587, and put the pashalik system in its place,[278] dividing the Maghreb countries into three separate regencies: Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli.[279] This period of nearly 72 years was known for political instability, as power formally rested in the hands of governors that Constantinople replaced every three years. However, this was also considered the "Golden Age of Algiers" due to its massive corsair fleet.[280][115] By the end of the 16th century, the janissaries were allowed to join the corsair ships, strengthening the combat effectiveness of the Algerian fleet,[281] and filling its coffers with riches thanks to intensified privateering.[109][278]

The Algerian janissary Odjak grew stronger, more autonomous, and more influencial.[5][276] In 1596, Khider Pasha [fr] led a revolt on Algiers in an effort to overthrow the Odjak. Although the revolt spread to neighboring towns, it ultimately failed.[282][283] The janissaries organized themselves in their diwan or military council, which became the effective government of Algiers, gaining the right to exercise all power by 1626 at the expense of the pashas,[284] allowing it to conclude diplomatic treaties with the Dutch republic in 1622,[285] and France in 1628.[286] The pasha had to begin the official acts with the formula: "We, Pasha and diwan of the invincible militia of Algiers".[287]

The corsairs, in their part organized themselves in their tai'fa, a council of corsair captains, who were tasked with privateering operations, ignoring the Ottoman Kapudan pasha, and relying on piracy and captivity to keep Algiers financially and politically independent from Constantinople.[286]

The later pashas sent from the porte were constantly torn between the demands of the corsairs and the Odjak.[277] The corsair captains were effectively outside the pashas' control, and the janissaries' loyalty to them depended on their ability to collect taxes and meet payroll.[256] Thus, both could refuse orders from the sultan or even send back appointed pashas.[277]

Sovereign Military Republic of Algiers (1659–1830) edit

Janissary revolution: Agha regime in 1659 edit

Corsair captain of Algiers
Janissary of the Odjak of Algiers

When Khider Pasha and the janissaries opposed the Ottoman capitulation treaties in 1604, aversion with the Sublime porte increased.[288] The pashas sent by the porte worked to multiply their wealth as quickly as possible before the end of their three-year term in office. As long as this was their main goal, governance became a secondary issue, and the pashas lost all influence and respect.[289]

In 1659, Ibrahim Pasha pocketed some of the money the Ottoman sultan sent the corsairs to compensate them for their losses in the Cretan War. This ignited a massive revolt [123] and he was arrested and imprisoned.[290] Taking advantage of this incident, Khalil Agha, commander-in-chief of the janissaries of Algiers, seized power,[291][160] accusing the pashas sent by the Sublime Porte of corruption and hindering the Regency's affairs with European countries.[292] The janissaries effectively eliminated the authority of the pasha,[293] whose position became purely ceremonial. They assigned executive authority to Khalil Agha, provided that his rule not exceed two months. They put legislative power in the hands of the dîwân council. The sultan, forced to accept the new government, stipulated that the dîwân pay the salaries of the Turkish soldiers stationed there.[294] Khalil Agha launched his rule by building the iconic Djamaa el Djedid mosque.[294] The era of the Aghas began[160] and the pashalik became a military republic.[295][296][297]

Deylik period (1671–1830) edit

In 1671 Sir Edward Spragge's squadron [298] destroyed seven ships anchored in the harbor at Algiers, and the corsairs killed Agha Ali (1664–71), The three previous heads of the janissaries since 1659 had also all been assassinated.[67] Caught unaware, janissary leaders wanted to appoint another agha of a sovereign Algiers, but given the lack of candidates, they and the corsairs resorted to an old expedient Ali Bitchin Raïs had used in 1644–45. They entrusted both the Regency and the responsibility for its payroll to an old Dutch raïs named "Hadj Mohammed Trik".[299][300]

They gave him the titles of Dey (maternal uncle), Doulateli (head of state) and Hakem (military ruler).[301] After 1671, the deys became the leaders of the country,[299][302] but their power was limited by the diwan council.[266] This institutionalization of the relationship between holders of military and financial power and formal diplomatic recognition from European states,[9] effectively made Algiers de-facto independent of the Ottoman Empire.[8]

Mohamed Ben Hassan Pasha-Dey giving audience to the King of France's envoy Mr Dusault in 1719

The pashas intrigued in the shadows, stirred up conflicts and fomented sedition to overthrow the unpopular deys and regain some of their lost authority.[291] From 1710 on, the deys assumed the title of Pasha, at the initiative of Dey Baba Ali Chaouch (1710–1718) and no longer accepted a sultan's representative at their side.[9] They also imposed their authority on the janissaries and the raïs.[67] The latter did not approve of treaty provisions which restricted privateering, their main source of income, as they remained attached to the external prestige of the Regency.[303] But European reactions, new treaties guaranteeing the safety of navigation and a slowdown in shipbuilding considerably reduced their activity. The raïs rose up and killed Dey Mohamed Ben Hassan in 1724.[304] The new dey, Ali Abdi (1724–1732), quickly restored order and severely punished the conspirators.[305]

Ali Abdi Pasha managed to stabilize the regency and fight off corruption. The diwân was gradually weakened in favor of the dey's cabinet. While relations with Constantinople became even more tenuous, they were not broken off.[306]

Administration edit

Banner of the dey of Algiers, Victor Hugo museum, Paris
Djenina Palace, seat of power of the regency of Algiers

The administrative apparatus of Ottoman Algeria organized itself through a mixture of borrowed Ottoman systems, maintained by regular recruitment of military elements from Ottoman lands in exchange for sending tribute to the Porte, and local traditions inherited from the Almohad Caliphate, which were adopted by the courts of the Marinids, Zayyanids, and Hafsids.[307]

The corsairs founded the Regency of Algiers under the Ottoman banner,[308] carrying out a holy war against the Christians through the use of gunpowder and the resources of the Ottoman Empire, and exploiting their political and military superiority to defeat weak local emirates and impose a foreign elite on a divided Maghrebi society.[309] Thus, politics in Algiers depended on the Ottoman military elite that kept its autonomy without integrating in a tribal and self-ruled indigenous society in the countryside, which still gave alliegence and paid taxes to a military authority that respected their marabouts and defended them against Christian powers.[e][310] A distinction was made between:[311]

  • State or "Khassa" composed of Ottoman officials, Arab tribal lowlanders known as "makhzen", and Berber highlanders known as zwawas.
  • Society or "Ra'iya" comprised diverse national religious, tribal and urban communities.

Algerian stratocratic government edit

The Regency was described by some contemporary observers as a "despotic, military-aristocratic republic", since the executive, legislative and judicial powers were held by the military body of Algiers,[312][f] comparing it to the Roman Empire under Nero and Caligula.[313]

Montesquieu considered that the Algerian government consisted of an aristocracy with republican and egalitarian characteristics, elevating and deposing a despotic sovereign, while historian Edward Gibbon considers Algiers a "military government that floats between absolute monarchy and wild democracy".[313] It was unique among Muslim countries, and unusual even compared to 18th-century Europe, in having elected rulers and limited democracy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was impressed by this.[314] Algiers was not a modern political democracy based on majority rule, alternation of power, and competition between political parties. Instead, politics was based on the principle of consensus (ijma), legitimized by Islam and by jihad.[314]

Dey of Algiers edit

Hussein Pasha, last dey of Algiers (1818–1830)

According to French historian Charles-André Julien, the dey of Algiers was head of an elective but absolute monarchy as a de-facto constitutional autocrat,[315][316][317] He was charged of enforcing civil and military laws, ensuring internal security, generating necessary revenues, organizing and providing regular pay for the troops and assuring correspondences with the tribes.[318] But his power was still limited by the corso captains and the diwan of the janissaries, since any member of either body could aspire to become dey.[317] His fortune came from his civil list that didn't exceed that of the highest paid member of the janissaries, and although he could still receive presents from consuls, beys and shares from privateer booty, his fortune reverted back to the public treasury in the event of assassination.[319][320] This led some authors who compared the dey to the king of Poland–Lithuania to call him a "despot without liberty",[315][321] a "king of slaves and slave of his subjects", and a "man of wealth without being able to master his treasures".[322][323]

Electing the dey was accomplished in absolute equality and unanimous vote among the armed forces.[324] Ottoman Algerian dignitary Hamdan Khodja wrote:[325]

Among the members of the government two of them are called, one "wakil-el-kharge", and the other "khaznagy". It is from these dignitaries that the dey is chosen; sovereignty in Algiers is not hereditary: personal merit is not transmitted to children. In a way we could say that they adopted the principles of a republic, of which the dey is only the president.

Election was required for confirmation from the Ottoman sultan, who inevitably sent a firman of investiture, a red kaftan of honor, a saber of state and the rank of Pasha of three Horsetails in the Ottoman army.[326] However, the dey was elected for life and could only be replaced on his death. Overthrowing the current leader was thus the only path to power, so violence and instability flourished. This volatility led many early 18th-century European observers to point to Algiers as an example of the inherent dangers of democracy.[314]

Cabinet edit

Palace of Mustafa Khodjet al-Khil (secretary of horses)
Admiralty of Algiers in 1880, seat of Captain Raïs, harbourmaster and Wakil al-kharaj (minister of the navy)

The dey appointed and relied on five ministers (except the Agha), who formed up the council the "powers"[327] to govern Algiers :[67]

  • Khodjet al-khil [fr]: Responsible for relations with tribes, fiscal responsibilities and tax collections, he usually headed expeditions to the tribal interior. He also had the ceremonial role of "secretary of horses" and was assisted by a Khaznadar.[329]
  • Bait al-Maldji: Responsible for the state domain (makhzen) and for rights devolved to the treasury such as vacant inheritances, registrations and confiscations.[329]

Based on their honesty and learning, the dey also nominated muftis (Islamic jurists) as the highest echelon of Algerian justice. [330]

Diwân council edit

Courtyard of the Diwân of Algiers, later the Palace of the Dey, known by the French as "Pavilion of the Fan"
Janissary headquarters, Henri Klein (1910)

The Diwân of Algiers was established in the 16th century by Hayreddin Barbarossa and seated first in the Jenina Palace [fr] then at the kasbah citadel. This assembly, initially led by a janissary Agha, evolved from an administrative body of the Odjak of Algiers into the country's country's primary administrative institution.[331] The diwân held true power in the regency, and by the mid-17th century elected the head of state.[317]

The Diwân expanded into two subdivisions:[123]

  • The private (janissary) Diwân (diwân khass): Any recruit could rise through the ranks, one every three years. Over time, he would serve among 24 janissary bulukbasis (senior officers), who voted on high policy.[332] The commander-in-chief or "Agha of Two Moons" was elected for a term of two months as president of the diwân through a system of "democracy by seniority".[333] During the Agha period (1659–1671) he also held the title of Hakem.[123]
  • The public, or Grand Diwân (diwan âm), composed of 800 to 1500 Hanafi scholars and preachers, the raïs, and native notables.[334] At the beginning of their mandate, the deys consulted the diwân on all important questions and decrees. This council in principle met weekly, depending on the dey. By the 19th century, he could ignore the diwân whenever he felt powerful enough to govern alone.[335][331]

Territorial management edit

Ottoman Algeria

The Regency was composed of various beyliks (provinces) under the authority of beys (vassals):[336]

These beyliks were institutionally divergent and enjoyed significant autonomy.[338]

Ottoman administration of Algeria relied on Arab makhzen tribes.[293] Under the beylik system, the beys divided their beyliks into chiefdoms. Each province was divided into outan, or counties, governed by caïds (commanders) under the authority of the bey to maintain order and collect taxes.[339] The beys ran an administrative system and managed their beyliks with the help of commanders and governors among the makhzen tribes. In return, these tribes enjoyed special privileges, including exemption from taxes.[340]

The bey of Constantine relied on the strength of the local tribes. At their forefront of were the Beni Abbas in Medjana and the Arab tribes in Hodna and the M'zab region. The chiefs of these tribes were called "Sheikh of the Arabs".[339] This system allowed Algiers to expand its authority over northern Algeria for three centuries.[341]

Economy edit

Algerian slave ransom economy edit

Purchase of Christian captives from the Barbary States, 17th century.
Slave market in Algiers, 17th century

The Algerian corsairs raided coasts and seized ships, capturing many people on land and at sea from Mediterranean shores to the Atlantic high seas.[342] Prisoners were brought to the slave market in Algiers, through which passed between 25,000 and 36,000 slaves of many nationalities,[109][118] over one million European slaves total in the entire early modern period, which made this the cornerstone of the Barbary economy.[343]

After they were paraded naked, examined and inspected to assess their qualities, social position and value,[344] the captured individuals were divided into three groups:[345]

  • Those who were believed ransomable: Usually rich and better referred to as "captives", they were an important source of revenue. The owners of these captives spared them the hardest tasks to preserve their value, as they were to be ransomed as quickly as possible.[346] According to Julien: "The captive was a piece of merchandise which it was to no one's interest to damage."[347]
  • Those who were not believed ransomable: A poorer class and lower-priced, like their Muslim counterparts in France,[348] they often became galley slaves or were assigned to forced labor like moving rocks. Some were chosen as domestic slaves for their masters' households.[342]
  • Those who were freed without ransom: This had to do with exchanges for Muslim captives, honoring past agreements between states, or lost wars.
French slave in Algiers working as a tailor before his ransoming (1670–1685). This depiction was done by himself in Paris.

Government-owned captives were lodged in prisons called "Bagnos". Six main prisons existed in Algiers.[347] The privately-owned captives were lodged inside houses or larger prisons funded by slave owners,[349] who were often rich individuals or privateering companies.[350]

In Spain, France and the Dutch republic,[346] ransom funds were drawn from the captive's family, donations from the state, or religious orders of the Catholic church who negotiated in Algiers for the captives.[351] Ransoming missions such as "the Trinitarians" and "the Mercedarians"[348] were instructed to identify captives who were in danger of apostacy, captives whose family and friends had raised money, and valuable individuals before a ransom agreement was reached.[352] The captives who could buy their own freedom were allowed to move freely in Algiers, and often managed its taverns.[347]

Christians were exchanged for small sums in early 16th century. In the 17th century however, the redemptionist missions paid 100 and 200 to 300 pounds or more for their freedom. Persons of distinction were almoast priceless: the governor of the Canary Islands bought himself back in 1670 for 60,000 pounds.[353]

After ransom was paid, an additional fee for customs duties was still needed, over fifty percent of the agreed ransom. These fees broke down as follows:[354]

  • 10% for customs
  • 15% for the pasha or dey
  • 4% for the khaznaji (Secretary of State)
  • 7% for the wakil Al-kharaj (harbourmaster)
  • 17% for the prison guards

Slaves who became master carpenters, and built or repaired ships, could not be ransomed for any price.

Mandatory royalties and gifts edit

Algiers imposed royalties on its European trading partners in exchange for freedom of navigation in the western Mediterranean, and gave the merchants of those countries special privileges, including lower customs duties.[355][120] These royalties differed according to the relationship between those countries and Algiers, and the conditions prevailing in that period had an impact on determining their amounts, shown in the following table:[355]

Royalties imposed by the Regency of Algiers in late 18th century - early 19th century
Country Year Value
Spanish Empire 1785 –1807 After signing the armistice of 1785 and withdrawing from Oran, it was obliged to pay 18,000 francs. It contributed 48,000 dollars in 1807.
Grand Duchy of Tuscany 1823 Before 1823, it was forced to pay 25,000 doubles (Tuscan lira) or 250,000 francs.
Kingdom of Portugal 1822 It was required to pay the 20,000 francs.
Kingdom of Sardinia 1746 - 1822 Following the treaty of 1746, it was forced to pay 216,000 francs by 1822.
Kingdom of France 1790 - 1816 Before the year 1790, it paid 37,000 pounds. After 1790, it pledged to pay 27,000 piasters, or 108,000 francs, and in 1816, it committed to pay 200,000 francs.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 1807 It pledged to pay 100,000 piasters, or 267,500 francs, in exchange for some privileges.
Kingdom of the Netherlands 1807 - 1826 After the treaty of 1826, it committed to paying 10,000 Algerian sequins, and in 1807, it paid the 40,000 piasters, or 160,000 francs.
Austrian Empire 1807 In the year 1807 paid an estimated 200,000 francs.
The United States of America 1795 - 1822 In 1795 paid 1,000,000 dollars, of which 21,600 dollars in equipment, in exchange for special privileges.
Kingdom of Naples 1816 - 1822 Paid a royalty estimated at 24,000 francs. In 1822, a royalty of 12,000 francs was paid every two years.
Kingdom of Norway 1822 Paid a royalty of 12,000 francs every two years.
Kingdom of Denmark 1822 Paid a royalty of 180,000 francs every two years.
Kingdom of Sweden 1822 Paid a royalty of 120,000 francs every two years.
Republic of Venice 1747 - 1763 From 1747, it paid a royalty of 2,200 Gold coins annually. In 1763, the royalties became an estimated 50,000 riyals (Venetian lira).

Royalties were also imposed on Bremen, Hanover, and Prussia, in addition to the Papal States on some occasions.[355]

Taxation edit

Sultani of Sulayman I, 1520/21, minted in Algiers.

Some of the taxes levied by the regency fell under Islamic law, including the cushr (tithe) on agricultural products, but some had elements of extortion.[356] Periodic tithes could only be collected from crops grown on private farmland near the towns. Instead, nomadic tribes in the mountains paid a fixed tax, called garama (compensation), based on a rough estimate of their wealth. In addition, rural populations also paid a tax known as lazma (obligation) or ma'una (support), that paid for Muslim armies to defend the country from Christians. City dwellers had other taxes, including market taxes and dues to artisan guilds.[357] Beys also collected gifts (dannush), every six months for the deys and their chief ministers. Every bey had to personally bring dannush every three years. In other years, his khalifa (deputy) could take it to Algiers.[358]

The arrival of a bey or khalifa in Algiers with dannush was a notable event governed by a protocol setting out how to receive him and when his gifts were to be given to the dey, his ministers, officials and the poor. The honors that the bey received depended on the value of the gifts he brought. Al-Zahar reported that the chief of the western province was expected to pay more than 20,000 doro in cash, half that in jewelry, four horses, fifty black slaves, woollen tilimsan garments, Fez silk garments, and twenty quintals each of wax, honey, butter, and walnuts . Dannush from the Eastern Province was larger and included Tunisian products such as perfumes and clothing.[356]

Agriculture edit

Kabyle Shepherd, by Eugène Fromentin (1820–1876)

Agricultural production benefited the regency even more than privateering at some point.[60] Fallowing and crop rotation were widely practiced. The most important crops, wheat, cotton, rice, tobacco, watermelon and corn and other vegetables, were the most commonly grown products.[359] Cereals and livestock products especially constituted much of the export trade after providing for local consumption of oil, grain, wool, wax and leather.[360]

State and urban notables owned very fertile lands near the main towns, known as fahs, cultivated by tenant farmers who received a fifth of the harvest under the khammas sharecropping system for common land.[361] These provided various fruits, vegetables, vines, rice, cotton, blackberries used for breeding silkworms. Grapes and pomegranates were also cultivated and in the mountaikns, fruit trees, figs and olive trees.[361]

Feudal lords held vast areas of Algeria's best land, where monoculture of wheat and barley predominated. This feudal regime did not always distribute the usufruct equitably and the tribe sometimes de facto excluded members from their land.[361]

Algeria's agricultural wealth came from the quality of the cultivated land, but also from agricultural techniques that used all the means of the time (ploughs dragged by oxen, donkeys, mules, or camels) and irrigation and ingenious water systems supplying small collective dams. Mouloud Gaid [fr] wrote: "Tlemcen, Mostaganem, Miliana, Médéa, Mila, Constantine, M'sila, Aïn El-Hamma, etc., were always sought after for their green sites, their orchards and their succulent fruits."[362]

The majority of the western population south of the Tell Atlas and the people of the Sahara were pastoralists, nomads and semi-nomads who lived from date cultivation and Livestock, sheep, goat and camel breeding. Their products (butter, wool, skins, camel hair) were traded north.[363]

Manufacturing and craftsmanship edit

Pistols presented by the dey of Algiers as a gift to the Prince Regent (future George IV of Great Britain) in 1811 and 1819, evidence of the high esteem in which these coral-decorated firearms were held

Manufacturing was poorly developed and restricted to shipyards, which built frigates from 300 to 400 tons of oak sourced from Béjaïa and Djidjelli. The smaller ports of Ténès, Cherchell, Dellys, Béjaïa and Djidjelli built shallops, brigs, galiots, tartanes and xebecs used for fishing and to transport goods between Algerian ports. Several workshops supported repairs and rope-making. The quarries of Bejaia, Skikda and Bab El-Oued extracted stone, raw material for buildings and fortifications. The Bab El-Oued foundries produced cannons of all sizes for the warships of the Algerian navy and for use as fort batteries and field artillery.[361]

Craftsmanship was rich and widespread across the country. Cities were centers of great craft and commercial activity.[360] Urban people were mostly artisans and merchants, notably in Nedroma, Tlemcen, Oran, Mostaganem, Kalaa, Dellys, Blida, Médéa, Collo, M'Sila, Mila and Constantine. The most common crafts were weaving, woodturning, dyeing, rope-making and tools.[364] In Algiers, a very large number of trades were practiced; the city was home to foundries, shipyards, workshops, shops, and stalls. Tlemcen had more than 500 looms. Artisans were prevalent even in small towns with close ties to rural areas.[365]

Trade edit

Dutch shipping off the harbour and city of Algiers. oil on canvas, Reinier Nooms (1623/1624–1664)

Internal trade was extremely important due to the makhzen system. Products such as wool that city-dwellers needed came in from the tribal interior and were traded between cities.[366] Foreign trade mainly shipped by sea but also included overland exports to neighbouring Tunisia and Morocco.[360] Overland trade used animals to transport goods, mainly on their backs, but also used carts. The roads were suitable for vehicles, and the many posts of the Odjak and the makhzen tribes provided security. In addition, caravanserais, locally known as fonduk, gave travelers a place to rest.[366]

Control over the Sahara was often loose, but Algiers' economic ties to it were very important,[367] and Algiers and other Algerian cities were among the main destinations of the trans-Saharan slave trade.[368]

Society edit

Tribal organizations were only one affiliation or group that individuals might have felt they belonged to. Many Algerian texts written since the 17th century speak of the watan al jazâ'ir (country of Algeria), and use the term "our homeland". Such wordings descriptions suggest an incarnation of the state governance intermediate between tribal anarchy and the modern nation-state.[369]

Urban population edit

Coffeehouse of Sidi Mohamed Sherif, named after the mosque in the heart of the Kasbah, one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Algiers. Olivier Bro de Comeres (1812-1874).
Algerine qasba at night in the month of Ramadan. Mohammed Racim (1896-1975) Arabic inscription says: "Memory of old islamic Algeria, Night of the middle of the month of Ramadan" (Sidi Mohammed El-Sharif neighbourhood)

Around 10,000 Turks made up the ruling class of Algerian society, including senior officials, politicians, administrators and soldiers.[316] There were no harems in Algiers since its elected rulers did not require heirs and also were often challenged.[370] However a class of Kouloughlis[316] emerged, the offspring of Turkish soldiers and Algerian women, as well as indigenous Algerians, Blacks, urban immigrants from Andalusia and a Jewish minority.[371] Social exercise of the muslim faith prevailed in every aspect life, as both Turks and moors were zealous.[372] While guilds and quarters within cities, headed by 'Amins', ensured to regulate major trades, provide most of the residents needs, hedge against emergencies, and strengthen the sense of solidarity.[373] Public business was carried out in both Arabic and Osmanli.[374]

The bourgeoisie of the coastal cities owned the best homes and land. The 6% of the population who lived in cities[375] had access to springs, fountains, bath houses,[374] Shops[376] and bazaars.[375] Algiers alone had 60 "Moorish coffeehouses", where friends could chat over mint tea. These well-appointed and decorated places of rest and idleness overlooked the sea in the lower town, or were strategically located at certain crossroads. The most famous coffeehouses in the qasba were Café Tlemçani, Café El Fouara, Café Gourari and Café Larriche.

Social structures edit

In precolonial Maghreb, the tribe was a primary political structure and could itself be the central power or the reigning dynasty in the makhzen system. Others (siba) were independent or had their own territory. This system persisted under the Regency. A complex link of interdependencies developed between tribes and the central state, with tribes adapting to central government pressure.[377][378]

Central authority was sometimes necessary for the consolidation of the tribes. These relations even seemed complementary.[378] Makhzen tribes derived their legitimacy from their relationship to the central power. Without it, they were reduced to relying on their own strength. The rayas (tax payers) and siba tribes opposed taxes, which reduced their surplus production, more than they opposed the central authority itself, and depended on market access organized by the central authorities and the makhzen tribes.[379] Even insubordinate tribes often organized themselves as another authority. The markets outside the territories dependent on central powers were managed by the marabouts who, in the absence of central authority, very often acted as guarantors of tribal order.[377]

Nineteenth-century ethnologist Émile Masqueray compared the "Berber city of the Maghreb", to the city-state of Antiquity. Cities and villages articulated their own organizations within the tribal systems and confederations they composed.[380] The cities, made up of families, left room for individuality. Although they depended on tribal society, the cities distanced people from tribal ways. However, the tribe did not disappear, but adapted to the village framework, and its importance varied from region to region. It remained relatively important in the Aurès, for example.[377]

Tribal aristocracy edit

Ali Ben-Hamet, Caliph de Constantine and Chief of the Haractas, Followed by his Escort, (oil on canvas), Théodore Chassériau (1845). Palace of Versailles

The political authority of the tribes often depended on either their military strength or their religious lineage.[377] These two aristocracies, the religious brotherhoods who dominated the west, and the djouad strongman families of the east, often opposed one another. [381] Algerian society had three forms of aristocracy in all:[382]

Territory of the Awled Sidi Cheikh in 1842

The marabouts were a “principality”, a polity based on princedom, but they were not themselves a central power, but vassals of Algiers. Nor were they a dynasty, but rather a political confederation, headed by a riyasa (chiefdom) of the Awlad Sidi Cheikh maraboutic brotherhoods.[377] The marabouts also shared in the booty of the corsairs.[385]

Culture edit

The large number of schools dominated by an otherworldly religious ethos indicates that intellectual life in Algiers lacked not innovation and reform, but institutions or organization.[386] The dominant political culture hastened the decline of intellectuals, not just traditionalism, [387]

The military and naval Ottoman elites' strong belief that northern Christendom needed to be prevented from military expansion into the Maghreb hampered the development of learning, and pushed intellectual culture to the margins,[386] since they were more interested in building forts, navies, and castles.[388]

Education edit

Letter of invitation from Salah Bey ben Mostefa to teacher Ibn al Fara al Baghaoui to teach in the university (madrasa) of Constantine, 1783

Education in Algeria mainly took place in small primary schools focused on teaching basic reading, writing and religion, especially in rural areas. Local imams, zawiyas, marabouts, and elders provided most of the teaching.[389] These madrasas relied on local authorities.[387]

Secondary and tertiary education in the madrasas of the larger cities, was often maintained through waqf and central government funding. Dey Baba Ali Chaouch for example commissioned a school. Algiers alone had several madrasas, zawiyas, and midrashims (Jewish schools), and also very famous bookstores (warraqates).

Initially, western Algeria, especially Tlemcen, was the main center of learning, but schools and universities there declined due to neglect. Abu Hammu II's madrasa especially fell into complete ruin. This decline ended only when Mohammed el Kebir, bey of Oran, significantly invested in renovating and rebuilding several educational facilities in the region.[390]

Architecture edit

The New Mosque (Djamaa el-Djedid) in Algiers, built in 1660–1661, is an example of how Ottoman and North African architecture blended in this period.[391]

Architecture in Algiers during this period showed the convergence of multiple influences, as well as innovations by local architects.[392] Domes of Ottoman influence were introduced into the design of mosques, but minarets generally still had square shafts in the local tradition, not round or octagonal shafts, as seen in other Ottoman provinces, where the pencil-shaped minaret was a symbol of Ottoman sovereignty.[393][394] The oldest surviving mosque from this era in Algiers was commissioned by Ali Bitchin in 1622.[393] The New Mosque (Djamaa el-Djedid) in Algiers, built in 1660–1661, became one of the most important Hanafi mosques in the city.[395][396] Architecturally one of the most significant preserved mosques of this era, it exemplifies the mix of Ottoman, North African, and possibly European design elements, with its main dome preceded by a large barrel-vaulted nave.[391] By the end of the 18th century, the city had over 120 mosques, including over a dozen congregational mosques.[397] The emblematic Ketchaoua Mosque, built by dey Hassan III Pasha was described in 1795 by Moroccan statesman and historian Abu al-Qasim al-Zayyani, saying: "The money spent on it, the types of marble and alabaster brought to it, and the rent and property endowed for it, was as so much that no one could allow himself to spend except those whom God grants success."[398] Originally similar in design to the Ali Bitchin Mosque, its appearance was radically changed under later French colonial rule.[393]

A radical change occurred in artistic taste, as widespread use began of stars and polygons of architectural ceramic tile [399] in a geometric patterns known as zellij. Square decorative tiles were diverse and widespread in Algiers and Constantine, with some simpler examples in Tlemcen. The tiles came in three types: Turkish, Tunisian, and European, from Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.[400] and decorated interior walls and floors, forming bands, patterns and frames around doors, windows, and entrances. They were also used on door jambs, window frames and balusters.

Algiers was protected by a wall about 3.1 kilometres (1.9 mi) long with five gates.[401] Seafront fortifications were supplemented by forts outside the city, including the "star fort", built above the qasba in 1568, defending the landward approaches to the city, the 'twenty-four hour fort', and the Eulj Ali burj, covering the Bab al-Oued beach, built in 1569. Facing south was the "Emperor fort" or Sultan Kalassi, built between 1545 and 1580.[402] A citadel, the qasba, occupied the highest point of the city. The lower town near the harbor was the center of Regency administration and contained the most important markets, mosques, palaces, janissary barracks and government buildings such as the mint.[401]

The Djenina Palace ('Little Garden'), also called the Pasha's palace, was begun in 1552 by Salah Rais and finished in 1556.[403] Ali Bitchin's Spanish captive Emmanuel de Aranda described it as "a public structure for those who are advanced to that charge [i.e., the position of governor], well built after the modern way of Architecture." He added: "The most beautiful house in Algiers is that of Bacha [Bassa], or Viceroy, which is almost in the middle of the city. [It has] two small galleries one above the other, supported by a double row of columns of marble and porphyry."[404] The Djenina was located at the center of a larger complex known as the Dar al-Sultan until 1817, when Dey Ali Khodja moved to the Palace of the Dey in the qasba.[401] The only building from the Dar al-Sultan complex that remains ttoday, the Dar 'Aziza Bint al-Bey, is believed to have been built in the 16th century.[405]

Inside the Palace of Ahmed Bey, last governor of the eastern beylik
Square tiles inside the palais des raïs
Tiles in the interior of Hassan III Pasha Khaznaji Palace (1791)
Djamaa el Djedid and Djamaa el Kebir mosques in Algiers, by Niels Simonsen (1843)
Galleries of the Hassan Pacha Palace

Arts edit

Crafts edit

Kaftan sent as part of a large gift presented by dey Ali Abdi Pasha [fr] of Algiers to the Swedish king in 1731 in connection with the peace treaty between Sweden and Algiers

Three centuries of Ottoman influence in Algeria left many cultural elements of Turkish origin or influence, wrote Lucien Golvin.[406]

  • Brassware imported by janissaries likely inspired many of the copper lanterns, trays, and ewers made in Algiers, Constantine and Tlemcen. Ottoman decorative elements like tulips and carnations[407] appeared on both chiseled and incised brass.
  • Ornate bronze door knockers were manufactured in Tlemcen until about 1930. Algiers and Constantine produced simpler examples.
  • Saddlers made velvet-covered saddles embroidered with gold or silver thread,[408] and bridles, belts, saddlecloths and boots with traditional Ottoman ornamentation.
  • Ghiordés rugs and rugs from Kula seem to have influenced the early 19th-century adoption in rug production in the Guergour region and by the Nemencha and Harakta tribes of patterns with large central lozenge-shaped medallions with arched lobes in a mihrab shape bordered by bands of floral elements, but those produced at the Qal'a of the Banu Rashid displayed multiple medallions in a more Andalusi style, and in the Amour mountans [fr] traditional tent rugs in geometric patterns continued to be produced.[408]
  • Clothing of janissaries, deys and other dignitaries was distinctive enough to be known in the Mediterranean as "Algerian style", including turbans and red sheshias, burnouses, kaftans, vests (sédria) embroidered with patterns, wide and baggy trousers belted with broad silk sashes, and Babouche slippers.[370] They were frequently armed with yatagans.
  • needle lace (chebika) and embroidery from Algiers were made under a ma'allema (teacher) on a horizontal loom (gargaf). Embroidery from Annaba and Djidjilli was multicolored, with flat dots.
  • Gold- and silversmiths produced jewellery that included coronet-like khit errouh and assabah, worn across the forehead, especially by brides, as well as earrings, bracelets, anklets, necklaces and pins.
Luce Ben Aben School of Arab Embroidery, Algiers
Coppersmith, Casbah, Algiers

Music edit

Constant arrivals from Anatolia and Al-Andalus brought a mix of Ottoman military music with Sufi bektashi origins, called "mehter", played by janissary bands in a strongly accented style.[409] Andalusian music brought by moriscos developed three styles; Tlemcenian gharnati, Constantine's ma'luf and sana' in Algiers.[410] It was widespread in coffeehouses and often played by orchestras of tar, oud and rebab.[409]

Contemporary Algerian chaabi musician El-Hachemi Guerouabi recounts the exploits of corsairs against the Knights of Malta in his song "Corsani Ghanem" (Our ship captured a prize) based on 16th century Algerian Arabic poetry by Imad Al-Din Doukkali.[411]

El Fouara coffee house, Algiers. Mohamed Temmam
Detail, Andalusian orchestra in Tlemcen. (2009) Bachir Yellès
Dancer and musicians, 1834

Legacy edit

View of the city of Algiers in 1828

Algiers was portrayed by Europeans as " the center of pirate activity" and political anarchy, a fearsome enemy that captivated European imaginations,[412] enslaving Christians and "subjecting to the humiliation of an annual tribute three quarters of Europe and the United States of America".[413] American historian Jean Baptist Wolf argued that the local population resented occupation by a republic of "cutthroats and thieves", and the French "civilizing mission", although carried out by brutal means, did offer much to the Algerian people.[414] However, historians John Douglas Ruedy and William Spencer write that the Ottomans in North Africa created an Algerian political entity with all the classical attributes of statehood and a high standard of living.[415][h] Algerian historian Yahia Boaziz added that the Ottomans repelled European attacks and convinced the people of the central Maghreb to abide by the decisions of a centralised state.[416] Historian Mahfoud Kaddache considered the Ottoman period "catalytic to the modern geopolitical and national development of Algeria."[417]

Algerian historian Nacereddin Saidouni argues that although Algeria was not a nation in the modern sense, it was nevertheless a state with its own specificity and a local political entity with its own policy that helped deepen the sense of community among large segments of the Algerian population in the countryside and cities. Thus, Algeria took a similar path as the rest of North African states that gradually imposed their sovereignty, as it was no different from Muhammad Ali's Egypt, Husainid dynasty's Tunisia and Alawi's Morocco.[255] Yet, Ruedy notes, the end of tribal rivalries and the emergence of a true nation state occurred only after long years of brutal French conquest and colonial implantation and unrelenting Algerian resistance, culminating in the Algerian war of independence in 1954.[415]

See also edit

Ahmed Muhiddin Piri (c. 1465[1] – 1553[2]), better known as Piri Reis (Turkish: Pîrî Reis or Hacı Ahmet Muhittin Pîrî Bey), was an Ottoman navigator, geographer and cartographer. He is primarily known today for his maps and charts collected in his Kitab-ı Bahriye [tr] (Book of Navigation),

Notes edit

  1. ^ In the historiography of the Regency of Algiers, it has been called the "Kingdom of Algiers",[418] "Republic of Algiers",[419] "State of Algiers",[420] "State of El-Djazair",[421] "Ottoman Regency of Algiers",[420] and "Ottoman Algeria",[422] The current division of the Maghreb goes back to the three regencies of the 16th century: Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli. Algiers became the capital of its state and this term in the international acts applied to both the city and the country which it ordered: الجزائر (El-Djazâ'ir). However a distinction was made in the spoken language between on the one hand El-Djazâ'ir, the space which was neither the Extreme Maghreb, nor the regency of Tunis, and on the other hand, the city commonly designated by the contraction دزاير (Dzayer) or in a more classic register الجزائر العاصمة (El-Djazâ'ir El 'âçima, Algiers the Capital).[423] The regency, which lasted over three centuries, shaped what Arab geographers designate as جزيرة المغرب (Djazirat El Maghrib). This period saw the installation of a political and administrative organization which participated in the establishment of the Algerian: وطن الجزائر (watan el djazâïr, country of Algiers) and the definition of its borders with its neighboring entities on the east and west.[424] In European languages, El Djazâïr became Alger, Argel, Algiers, Algeria, etc. In English, a progressive distinction was made between Algiers, the city, and Algeria, the country. Whereas in French, Algiers designated both the city and the country, under the forms of "Kingdom of Algiers" or "Republic of Algiers". "Algerians" as a demonym is attested in writing in French as early as 1613 and its use has been constant since that date. Meanwhile in the English lexicology of the time, Algerian is "Algerine", which referred to the political entity that later became Algeria.[425]
  2. ^ Algerian historian Mahfoud Kaddache [fr] wrote that "Algeria was first a regency, a kingdom-province of the Ottoman Empire and then a state with great autonomy, independent even, sometimes called a kingdom or military republic by historians, but which still recognized the spiritual authority of the caliph of Istanbul".(Kaddache (1998) p. 233)
  3. ^ William Spencer notes: "For three centuries, Algerine foreign relations were conducted in such a manner as to preserve and advance the state's interests in total indifference to the actions of its adversaries, and to enhance Ottoman interests in the process. Algerine foreign policy was flexible, imaginative, and subtle; it blended an absolute conviction of naval superiority and belief in the permanence of the state as a vital cog in the political community of Islam, with a profound understanding of the fears, ambitions, and rivalries of Christian Europe." (Spencer (1976) pp. xi)
  4. ^ The Chamber of Commerce of Marseilles complained in a memoir in 1783: "Everything announces that this trade will one day imperceptibly be of some consideration, because the country has by itself a capital fund which has given the awakening to the peoples who live there, and that nothing is so common today, to see Algerians and Jews domiciled in Algiers coming to Marseilles to bring us the products of this kingdom." (Kaddache (2003) p. 538)
  5. ^ Ottoman Algerian dignitary Hamdan Khodja recalls: "The old officials who had completed their work were always repeating to their young successors: “We are foreigners. We did not obtain the submission of this people and the possession of this land by force and sword; Rather, thanks to kindness and leniency, we have become leaders !!! We were not statesmen in our country, and we did not obtain our titles and positions except on this land. Therefore, this country is our homeland, and our duty and interests require us to exert ourselves in contributing to the success and prosperity of this people. Just like we do it for ourselves.” (Khoja (2016) pp. 106-107)
  6. ^ American consul in Algiers William Shaler would describe the Algerian regency's government as following: "The merits of this government have been proved by its continuance, with few variations in it forms of administration, for three centuries. It is in fact a military republic with a chief elective for life, and upon a small scale resembling that of the Roman Empire after the death of Commodus. This government ostensibly consists of a sovereign chief, who is termed the Dey of Algiers, and a Divan, or great Council, indefinite in point of number, which is composed of the ancient military who are or have been commanders of corps. The divan elects the Deys, and deliberates upon such affairs as he chooses to lay before them." (Shaler (1826) p. 16)
  7. ^ (fol. 172a(L)-171b(R))
  8. ^ William Spencer writes: "Algiers' status in the Mediterranean world was merited by its contributions as well as the exploits of the corsairs. Through the medium of Regency government, Ottoman institutions brought stability to North Africa. The flow of Anatolian recruits and the attachment to the Porte introduced many elements of the eclectic Ottoman civilization into the western Mediterranean. Corsair campaigns produced a fusion of Ottoman with native Maghribi and European styles, social patterns, architecture, crafts, and the like. A regular system of revenue collection, an efficient subsistence agriculture, and a well-established legitimate commerce along with corsair profits brought to the Regency a high standard of living. Its lands, while they never corresponded to the total territory conquered by France and incorporated into French Algeria, were homogeneous, well managed, and formed of an effective and collaborating social mixture the exact opposite of the situation which prevailed during the one hundred and thirty years of French control." (Spencer (1976) pp. xi-xii)

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Further reading edit

36°47′6″N 3°3′45″E / 36.78500°N 3.06250°E / 36.78500; 3.06250