Ottoman Algeria

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Eyalet-i Cezayir-i Garb
ایالت جزاير غرب[2][3]
Eyalet[4] of the Ottoman Empire



Location of Algiers, Province of[1]
The Regency of Algiers and its political dependencies in 18th century.
Capital Algiers
Government Beylerbeylik (1518-1590) then Eyalet (1590-1830) of the Ottoman Empire
 •  1517-1518 Oruç Reis
 •  1818-1830 Hussein Dey
 •  Established 1515
 •  Invasion of Algiers in 1830 1830
 •  1808 3,000,000 
Today part of  Algeria

The regency of Algiers' [a] (in arabic : Al Jazâ'ir) [b], is an ancient state of North Africa which, from 1515 to 1830, preceded the french conquest of Algeria. Situated between the regency of Tunis in east and the Sharifian Empire (from 1553) in west (and the Spanish and Portuguese possessions of North Africa), the Regency originally extended her borders from La Calle to the east to Trara in the west and from Algiers to Biskra[14], and after spread to the present eastern and western borders of Algeria[15].

The Regency, was governed successively by "sultans of Algiers", beylerbeys, pashas, aghas and deys, and was composed by various beyliks (province) under the authority of beys (vassals) : Constantine in the east, Medea in the Titteri and Mazouna, then Mascara and then Oran in the west. Each beylik was divided into various outan (county) with at their head the caïds directly under the bey. To administer the interior of the country, the administration relied on the tribes said makhzen. These tribes were responsible for securing order and collect taxes on the tributary regions of the country. It was through this system that, for three centuries, the State of Algiers extended its authority over the north of Algeria. However, society is still divided into tribes and dominated by maraboutics brotherhoods or local djouads (noble). Several regions of the country thus only lightly recognize the authority of Algiers. Throughout its history, they have formed or continue many revolts, confederations, tribal fiefs or sultanates on the confines of the regency. Before 1830, for 516 political units, a total of 200 principalities or tribes are considered independent because, in dissent with the central government and refusing to pay taxes and they hold 69% of the territory which thus escapes power central.



Hayreddin Barbarossa was the founder of the Regency of Algiers.

From 1496, the Spanish conquered numerous possessions on the North African coast, which had been captured since 1496: Melilla (1496), Mers-el-Kebir (1505), Oran (1509), Bougie (1510), Tripoli (1510), Algiers, Shershell, Dellys, and Tenes.[16]

Around the same time, the Ottoman privateer brothers Oruç and Hayreddin—both known to Europeans as Barbarossa, or "Red Beard"—were operating successfully off Tunisia under the Hafsids. In 1516, Oruç moved his base of operations to Algiers and asked for the protection of the Ottoman Empire in 1517, but was killed in 1518 during his invasion of the Kingdom of Tlemcen. Hayreddin succeeded him as military commander of Algiers.

Occupation of Algiers[edit]

Oruç, Hayreddin Barbarossa's brother, captured Algiers in 1516, apart from the Spanish Peñón of Algiers. Following the death of Oruç in 1518 at the hand of the Spanish in the Fall of Tlemcen, Barbarossa requested the assistance of the Ottoman Empire, in exchange for acknowledging Ottoman authority in his dominions.[17] Before Ottoman help could arrive, the Spanish retook the city of Algiers in 1519. Barbarossa recaptured the city definitively in 1525, and in 1529 the Spanish Peñon in the capture of Algiers.[17]

Base in the war against Spain[edit]

Hayreddin Barbarossa established the military basis of the regency. The Ottomans provided a supporting garrison of 2,000 Turkish troops with artillery.[17] He left Hasan Agha in command as his deputy when he had to leave for Constantinople in 1533.[18]

The son of Barbarossa, Hasan Pashan was in 1544, when his father retired, the first governor of the Regency to be directly appointed by the Ottoman Empire. He took the title of beylerbey.[18] Algiers became a base in the war against Spain, and also in the Ottoman conflicts with Morocco.

Beylerbeys continued to be nominated for unlimited tenures until 1587. After Spain had sent an embassy to Constantinople in 1578 to negotiate a truce, leading to a formal peace in August 1580, the Regency of Algiers was a formal Ottoman territory, rather than just a military base in the war against Spain.[18] At this time, the Ottoman Empire set up a regular Ottoman administration in Algiers and its dependencies, headed by Pashas, with 3 year terms to help considate Ottoman power in the Maghreb.

Mediterranean Privateer[edit]

Purchase of Christian slaves by French friars (Religieux de la Mercy de France) in Algiers in 1662.

Despite the end of formal hostilities with Spain in 1580, attacks on Christian and especially Catholic shipping, with slavery for the captured, became prevalent in Algiers, and were actually the main industry and source of revenues of the Regency.[19]

In the early 17th century, Algiers also became, along with other North African ports such as Tunis, one of the bases for Anglo-Turkish piracy. There were as many as 8,000 renegades in the city in 1634.[19][20] (Renegades were former Christians, sometimes fleeing the law, who voluntarily moved to Muslim territory and converted to Islam.) Hayreddin Barbarossa is credited with tearing down the Peñón of Algiers and using the stone to build the inner harbor.[21]

A contemporary letter states:

"The infinity of goods, merchandise jewels and treasure taken by our English pirates daily from Christians and carried to Allarach [ Larache, in Morocco], Algire and Tunis to the great enriching of Mores and Turks and impoverishing of Christians"

— Contemporary letter sent from Portugal to England.[22]

Privateer and slavery of Christians originating from Algiers were a major problem throughout the centuries, leading to regular punitive expeditions by European powers. Spain (1567, 1775, 1783), Denmark (1770), France (1661, 1665, 1682, 1683, 1688), England (1622, 1655, 1672), all led naval bombardments against Algiers.[19] Abraham Duquesne fought the Barbary pirates in 1681 and bombarded Algiers between 1682 and 1683, to help Christian captives.[23]

Barbary Wars[edit]

During the early 19th century, the Regency of Algiers again resorted to widespread piracy against shipping from Europe and the young United States of America, mainly due to internal fiscal difficulties.[19] This in turn led to the First Barbary War and Second Barbary Wars, which culminated in August 1816 when Lord Exmouth executed a naval Bombardment of Algiers.

French invasion[edit]

During the Napoleonic Wars, the Regency of Algiers had greatly benefited from trade in the Mediterranean, and of the massive imports of food by France, largely bought on credit by France. In 1827, Hussein Dey, Algeria's Ottoman ruler, demanded that the French pay a 31-year-old debt, contracted in 1799 by purchasing supplies to feed the soldiers of the Napoleonic Campaign in Egypt.

The French consul Pierre Deval refused to give answers satisfactory to the dey, and in an outburst of anger, Hussein Dey touched the consul with his fan. Charles X used this as an excuse to break diplomatic relations. The Regency of Algiers would end with the French invasion of Algiers in 1830, followed by subsequent French rule for the next 132 years.[19]

Political status[edit]

After its conquest by Turks, Algeria became a province of the Ottoman Empire. The Regency was successively governed by Beylerbeys (1518–70), Pachas (1570–1659), Aghas (1659–71), then Deys (1671–1830), on behalf of the Ottoman Sultan.

Until 1671, Beylerbeys, Pachas and Aghas were appointed by the Ottoman sultan and were subjucted to him. After a coup in 1671, the Regency acquired a large degree of autonomy and became a military republic, ruled in the name of the Ottoman sultan by Deys, officers chosen either by the Ottoman militia or the Captains.[24][25] From 1718 onwards, Deys were elected by the Divan, an assembly aimed to represent the interests of both Captains and Janissaries.


As of 1808, the population of the Regency of Algiers numbered around 3 million people, of whom 10,000 were 'Turks' (including people from Kurdish, Greek and Albanian ancestry[26]) and 5,000 Kouloughlis (from the Turkish kul oğlu, "son of slaves (Janissaries)", i.e. creole of Turks and local women).[27] By 1830, more than 17,000 Jews were living in the Regency.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In the historiography relating to the regency of Algiers, it possible to read various name as « kingdom of Algiers »[5], « republic of Algiers »[6], « State of Algiers »[7], « State of El-Djazair »[8], « ottoman regency of Algiers »[9] « precolonial Algeria », « ottoman Algeria »[10]... The algerian historian Mahfoud Kaddache says that « Algeria was first a regency, a kingdom-province of Ottoman Empire and then a State with a large autonomy, even independent, called sometimes kingdom or military republic by the historians, but still recognizing the spiritual authority of the caliph of Istanbul »[11]
  2. ^ The french historians Ahmed Koulakssis et Gilbert Meynier write that « it's the same word, in international treaty which is describe the city and the country it command : Al Jazâ’ir »[12]. Gilbert Meynier add that « even if the path is difficult to build a State on the rubbled of Zayanid's and Hafsids States [...] now, we speak about dawla al-Jaza’ir[13] (power-state of Algiers)»...


  1. ^ Gabor Agoston; Bruce Alan Masters (2009-01-01). Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. Infobase Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-4381-1025-7. Retrieved 2013-02-25. 
  2. ^ Salih Özbaran (1994). The Ottoman response to European expansion: studies on Ottoman-Portuguese relations in the Indian Ocean and Ottoman administration in the Arab lands during the sixteenth century. Isis Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-975-428-066-1. Retrieved 2013-02-25. 
  3. ^ Andrew C. Hess (2010-12-01). The Forgotten Frontier: A History of Sixteenth-Century Ibero-African Frontier. University of Chicago Press. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-226-33031-0. Retrieved 2013-02-25. 
  4. ^ William Spencer (1995). Islamic Fundamentalism in the Modern World. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-56294-435-3. Retrieved 2013-02-25. 
  5. ^ (Tassy 1725, p. 1, 3, 5, 7, 12, 15 et al)
  6. ^ (Tassy 1725, p. 300 chap. XX)
  7. ^ (Ghalem & Ramaoun 2000, p. 27)
  8. ^ (Kaddache 1998, p. 3)
  9. ^ (Ghalem & Ramaoun 2000, p. 27)
  10. ^ (Panzac 1995, p. 62)
  11. ^ (Kaddache 1998, p. 233)
  12. ^ (Koulakssis & Meynier 1987, p. 17)
  13. ^ (Meynier 2010, p. 315)
  14. ^ Collective coordinated by Hassan Ramaoun, L'Algérie : histoire, société et culture, Casbah Editions, 2000, 351 p. (ISBN 9961-64-189-2), p. 27
  15. ^ Hélène Blais, « La longue histoire de la délimitation des frontières de l'Algérie », in Abderrahmane Bouchène, Jean-Pierre Peyroulou, Ouanassa Siari Tengour and Sylvie Thénault, Histoire de l'Algérie à la période coloniale : 1830-1962, Éditions La Découverte et Éditions Barzakh, 2012 (ISBN 9782707173263), p. 110-113.
  16. ^ An Historical Geography of the Ottoman Empire p.107ff
  17. ^ a b c Naylorp, by Phillip Chiviges (2009). North Africa: a history from antiquity to the present. University of Texas Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-292-71922-4. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  18. ^ a b c Abun-Nasr, Jamil (20 August 1987). A history of the Maghrib in the Islamic period. Cambridge University Press. p. 151ff. ISBN 978-0-521-33767-0. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  19. ^ a b c d e Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (30 January 2008). Historic cities of the Islamic world. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 24. ISBN 978-90-04-15388-2. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  20. ^ Tenenti, Alberto Tenenti (1967). Piracy and the Decline of Venice, 1580-1615. University of California Press. p. 81. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  21. ^ "Moonlight View, with Lighthouse, Algiers, Algeria". World Digital Library. 1899. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  22. ^ Harris, Jonathan Gil (2003). Sick Economies: Drama, mercantilism, and disease in Shakespeare's England. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 152ff. ISBN 978-0-8122-3773-3. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  23. ^ Martin, Henri (1864). Martin's History of France. Walker, Wise & Co. p. 522. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  24. ^ Saliha Belmessous, Assimilation and Empire: Uniformity in French and British Colonies, 1541-1954, Oxford University Press, 2013 (ISBN 9780199579167), p.119 :

    When the French turned their eyes to the kingdom of Algiers in 1830, the region had been under Ottoman rule since 1516. The Regency of Algiers was a province of the Ottoman empire under the authority of the dey of Algiers, who had acquired a large degree of autonomy from the sultan and who was chosen by Janissaries, the Ottoman militia of Algiers.

  25. ^ Jamil M. Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period, Cambridge University Press, 1987 (ISBN 9780521337670), p.160 :

    [In 1671] Ottoman Algeria became a military republic, ruled in the name of the Ottoman sultan by officers chosen by and in the interest of the Ujaq.

  26. ^ Isichei, Elizabeth Isichei (1997). A history of African societies to 1870. Cambridge University Press. p. 263. ISBN 0-521-45444-1. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  27. ^ Isichei, Elizabeth Isichei (1997). A history of African societies to 1870. Cambridge University Press. p. 273. ISBN 0-521-45444-1. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  28. ^ Yardeni, Myriam (1983). Les juifs dans l'histoire de France: premier colloque internationale de Haïfa. BRILL. p. 167. ISBN 9789004060272. Retrieved 28 January 2014.