Ottoman Algeria

Coordinates: 36°42′13.8″N 3°9′30.6″E / 36.703833°N 3.158500°E / 36.703833; 3.158500
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36°42′13.8″N 3°9′30.6″E / 36.703833°N 3.158500°E / 36.703833; 3.158500
The Regency of Algiers
دولة الجزائر (Arabic)
Flag of Algiers, Province of[1]
Flag of The Regency of Algiers.svg
Top: Early flag[2]
Bottom: Later flag [3]
Coat of arms of Algiers, Province of[1]
Coat of arms
Map of the Regency of Algiers [4]
Map of the Regency of Algiers [4]
StatusSee Political status
Official languagesArabic
Common languagesAlgerian Arabic
Berber languages
Ottoman Turkish
Sabir (used in trade)
Official, and majority:
Sunni Islam (Maliki and Hanafi)
Ibadi Islam
Shia Islam
Demonym(s)Algerian or Algerine
Government1516-1518: Sultanate
1518-1587: Beylerbeylik
1587-1659: Pashalik
1659-1830: Military Republic
(See Political status)
Beylerbey, Pasha, Agha and Dey 
• 1516-1518
Oruç Reis
• 1710-1718
Baba Ali Chaouch
• 1818-1830
Hussein Dey
• Established
• 1830
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Hafsid dynasty
Kingdom of Tlemcen
French Algeria
Beylik of Oran
Beylik of Constantine
Beylik of Titteri
Today part ofAlgeria

The Regency of Algiers[a] (Arabic: دولة الجزائر, romanizedDawlat al-Jaza'ir[b]) was a state in North Africa from 1516 to 1830, when it was conquered by the French. Situated between the regency of Tunis in the east, the Sultanate of Morocco (from 1553) in the west and Tuat[13][14] as well as the country south of In Salah[15] in the south (and the Spanish and Portuguese possessions of North Africa), the Regency originally extended its borders from La Calle in the east to Trara in the west and from Algiers to Biskra,[16] and afterwards spread to the present eastern and western borders of Algeria.[17]

It had various degrees of autonomy throughout its existence, reaching de facto independence, and its rulers came to be chosen locally, however the Regency still nominally paid homage to the Ottoman sultan, and recognized him as the Caliph, or the leader of the Islamic world.[18]


"Algeria" page in the Civitates Orbis Terrarium of 1575

The establishment of the current divisions of the Maghreb goes back to the installation of the three regencies in the sixteenth 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).[19]

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.[20][21]

In European languages, El Djazâïr became Algiers, Argel, Algiers, Algeria... In English a progressive distinction is made between Algiers, the city, and Algeria, the country. whereas in French, Algiers designates both the city and under the forms "Kingdom of Algiers" or "Republic of Algiers", the country as well. “Algerians” is attested in writing in French as early as 1613 and its use has been constant since that date.[22] In the lexicology of the time, Algerian is Algerine, which refers to the political entity that became the future Algeria. A French document from 1751 describes “patriots or Algerians properly so called” and adds that “the King does not complain of the Algerian nation but only of the Dey as an offender of the treaties”. The terms "Algerian patriots" and "Algerian nation" should be understood in their use of the 18th century. The expression “Algerian patriots” designates the indigenous inhabitants of the country. The term "Algerian nation" refers to all the inhabitants of the country that the French report of the time wanted to differentiate from the country's leaders of Turkish origin.[citation needed] However the Spanish King Charles IV of Spain refers to the Dey of Algiers as a representative of the "Algerian nation" in the peace treaty of 1791.[23]


Central Maghreb in the early 16th century[edit]

Conquest of Oran, by Francisco Jover y Casanova.

After the fall of the Emirate of Granada in 1492, Spain was significantly strengthened economically and militarily. This historical context contributed to a gradual growth of Spain and Portugal as two rising powers who benefited from geographical discoveries in the Americas and the Cape of Good Hope to shift to expansionary imperial projects aimed at controlling the ports in the countries of the Maghreb to secure and repair ships heading towards India. They planned to make them primary stations for incursions into the depths of Africa. By opening sea routes in the Atlantic Ocean, the Portuguese were able to reach the coasts of West Africa and benefit directly from the gold trade, which reduced the importance of the desert trade routes that linked the Maghreb and Europe.[24]

The Spanish imperial project took shape by dominating the cities of the Maghreb, many of which were stations for desert trade caravans from western Sudan, Tripoli and Tunis in the east and Ceuta and Melilla in the west, passing through Bejaia, Algiers, Oran and Tlemcen. Tightening control over this trade and its two main commodities, gold and slaves, became important for the Spanish treasury.[25] In addition, controlling the two shores of the Mediterranean would give the Spanish Empire, which included present-day Italy, the ability to control and monopolize maritime trade between the western and eastern Mediterranean, and control especially the trade resources in Naples and wheat in Sicily.

These conditions left post-Almohad Maghreb with its three states, and in the heart of it the central Maghreb or present-day Algeria, in a major economic crisis, characterized by economic stagnation, a decline in trade resources and the deterioration of crafts in its two intermediate historical capitals, Bejaïia and Tlemcen, due to its loss of its function as commercial mediator in commodity exchanges between Europe and Africa, especially of gold. The country entered a state of political fragmentation and weak centralization because the Iberian monopoly of trade in the Mediterranean affected its tax collection revenues, and its merchant class, which greatly influenced stability and continuity in the central Maghreb throughout the Middle Ages.[26]

The three countries of the Maghreb became more likely to fall like ripe fruit at the first invasion from the northern bank of the Mediterranean. The first decade of the sixteenth century had hardly passed before the Spanish Empire entered into force, and the Moroccan coasts fell under Spanish hegemony. Melilla in 1497 and the Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera in 1508 followed the fate of Ceuta in the far north of Morocco, the cities of Mers El Kébir in 1505 and Oran, the most important sea port directly linked to Tlemcen, the capital of the Zayyanid Kingdom at the time, fell in 1509,[27] while Bejaia in eastern Algeria and Tripoli in Libya were conquered in 1510, and other coastal cities such as Algiers and Tunis chose to submit to Spanish sovereignty through humiliating agreements.[28]


Oruç Reis, Sultan of Algiers
Ottoman Algeria

Barbarossa brothers arrive in 1512[edit]

Beginning in 1512, the Turkish privateer brothers Oruç and Hayreddin—both known to Europeans as Barbarossa, or "Red Beard" operated successfully off Tunisia under the Hafsids. People heard of their victories against Spanish naval vessels at sea and on the shores of Andalusia itself. Scholars and notables of Bejaia contacted them that year, along with the Hafsid emir of Constantine, Abu Bakr, and asked them to help remove the Spaniards from Bejaia. But they did not succeed because of the strong fortifications of the Spaniards and the cooperation of the princes of Bani Abbas with the Spaniards. Oruç was wounded while trying to storm the city. His doctors had to cut off his arm after they could not treat it.[29]

Oruç realized that the concentration of his troops in the valley of La Goulette distanced them from the battlefield and did not help them to outperform the Spaniards. He decided to search for a new position close to Bejaia, and chose Jijel, a trading center between Africa and Italy occupied since 1260 by the Genoese. It was attacked in 1513 by Andrea Doria in the service of the king of France. Opportunity came for Oruç when he received requests for help from its inhabitants, so he took Jijel in 1514 and moved his base to it from La Goulette.[30] After settling in Jijel, Oruç and his brothers took care of persecuted Muslims in Andalusia, so they began frequenting their fleets on the shores of Andalusia and were transported to North Africa. In view of the success achieved by Oruç in Jijel, its inhabitants pledged allegiance to him as their prince, and the tribal elders and the Emir of Kuku. Ahmed bin al-Qadi urged him to attack the Spaniards in Bejaia, so he joined a campaign against them in 1514 with a land army and besieged it for nearly three months but to no avail. He had to lift the siege, but repeated the attempt in The spring of the following year with a large force, but the ammunition ran out and the Hafsid Emir of Tunis refused to provide him with more, forcing him to withdraw after capturing several hundred Spanish prisoners.[31][32]

Capture of Algiers in 1516[edit]

Old Algiers, 17th century

The castle and the military fort built by the Spaniards on the rocks facing the city of Algiers in 1510 turned into a den of spies and sabotage from which the Spaniards launched raids on the city,[citation needed] which put the inhabitants live in a constant state of alert. As a result, a delegation of the city's residents went to Jijel in 1516 and complained to Oruç about the distress and danger they constantly faced. He and his brother were preparing for a fatal blow against the Spaniards in Bejaia. So he bypassed Bejaia and decided to help the inhabitants of the city of Algiers. Oruç went out at the head of a land force of 5,000 Kabyles and 1,500 Turks, followed by 800 arquebusiers, while Hayreddin led a naval fleet of 16 galliots. They met in the city of Algiers[33] where the population hailed them as heroes[34] and they immediately began to bombard the Spanish fort with their cannons. Meanwhile, Oruç went to Cherchell, held by another Turkish captain named Qara Hassan, who was cooperating with some Andalusian immigrants. Oruç eliminated him, then took control of the city before returning to Algiers. Oruç's help was sought to dislodge the Spaniards from their commanding position in the island, and although popular clamour led to his intervention, the ruler of Algiers at that time, Salem al-Tumi, concurred in it. But Oruç did not possess the means to recover the Peñon of Algiers immediately, and as his presence tended to rob al-Thumi of his power, the latter sought Spanish help to drive him out. So Oruç used force to bring the Algerian leaders to accept his authority and arrested Salem al-Toumi and assassinated him in his house.[35] Then he proclaimed himself "Sultan of Algiers", and his banners in green, yellow, and red were raised above the forts of the city.[36][37][38]

The Spaniards considered the presence of Oruç and his two brothers in the city of Algiers a severe threat to them and their future, not only in this city, but in all of North Africa, and therefore they resolved to resist them, destroy their authority and expel them, so they allied with the Emir of Ténès, subject to them and wooed the followers of Salem al-Toumi and some of the leaders of the neighboring tribes of the city through their agents and spies. Then they sent a great force from Oran led by its Spanish governor Diego de Vera. It arrived in Algiers in late September 1516 and landed near Bab al-Oued. Oruç left them until they landed. Then he began to fight them to deplete their strength and energy, and took advantage of their retreat and the emergence of a north wind, so he crawled with his forces against them, drowning many of them, killing some, and capturing others. It was a total defeat for the Spaniards, and a great victory for Oruç and his brothers and for the residents, who did not hide their joy, which prompted the residents of Blida, Miliana, Médéa, Dellys and Kabylia to pledge allegiance to Oruç and declare submission and obedience to him, so his influence expanded further as a result.[39]

Campaign of Tlemcen and the death of Oruç in 1518[edit]

El Mechouar Palace (modern reconstruction) in Tlemcen, the former residence of the Zayyanids

Since the Prince of Ténès was a subject of the Spaniards and cooperated actively with them, Oruç decided to take revenge on him and subjugate his city, so he went to Ténès at the head of large force and stormed it in June 1517 before killing the prince and expelling the Spaniards stationed there. Then he divided his new kingdom into two parts. an eastern part based at Dellys ruled by his brother Hayreddin, and a western part centered on the city of Algiers he ruled himself.[40] While Oruç was in Ténès, a delegation from the city of Tlemcen came to him to complain about the poor conditions in their country and the threat of the Spaniards to occupy their city because of the differences between the Zayyanid princes over the throne. Abu Ahmed III seized the throne in Tlemcen by force after he expelled his nephew, Abu Zian III, and put him in prison. Oruç met the wish of the delegation with approval and appointed his brother Hayreddin as a ruler over the city of Algiers and its surroundings. He then headed to Tlemcen, and passed the Bani Rashid castle near a camp, where he placed a large Turkish garrison under the command of his brother Isaac to protect his back. Oruç along with his troops, entered the city, removed Abu Zayan from prison, and seated him on his throne again.[41] But this sultan soon conspired against Oruç and tried to assassinate him or expel him from the country, which prompted Oruç to arrest and assassinate him. As for Abu Hamo III, he went to Oran to ask for help from his old enemies, the Spaniards. Thus, the Spaniards and Abu Hammou cooperated with some of the allies in the country and launched a campaign against the Bani Rashid castle, occupied it and expelled its owner, Isaac the brother of Oruç, then killed him on the way in late January 1518, and continued marching to Tlemcen before they imposed a severe siege on it. Oruç was forced to sit in the counsel for several days to avoid a hostile populace which opened the gates for the Spanish troops.[41] Oruç left Tlemcen at night in the direction of Bani Yazanasin near the sea coast, but the Spaniards were aware of this. They followed him and killed him along with his Turkish companions between Al-Maleh (Riosalado) and the corner of Sidi Musa in the same year.[42] Then they sent his head to Spain, where it was paraded in most of its cities and other cities in Europe. They also sent his robes, which he was wearing, to the Church of St. Jerome in Cordoba, where they took it as a badge for them.[citation needed].[43]

Algiers joins the Ottoman Empire in 1519[edit]

Hayreddin Barbarossa, first Beylerbey of Algiers

Hayreddin was proclaimed Sultan of Algiers[44] between the end of October and the beginning of November 1519, an assembly made up of Algerian notables and ulemas instructed a delegation to submit to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I a proposal to attach Algiers to the Ottoman Empire,[45] following the disastruous attempt of the Spanish Empire to take Algiers in 1519, where Hayreddin Barbarossa successfully routed the Spanish-Italian attack led by Hugo of Moncada, resulting in shipwreck and the capture and massacre of 3,036 soldiers.[46] Hayreddin Barbarossa became aware of the need to rely on Ottoman aid. He also faced internal difficulty because of the reversal of the alliance with the Kingdom of Kuku, which joined forces with the Hafsids to inflict a severe defeat on him in the the Isser wadi in 1519 on top of the heavy defeat of the Zayyanid and the Spaniards in the west years before. The loss of his various support on the internal level led to the need for "external" support to maintain his possessions around Algiers.[47] The delegation was responsible for making the strategic importance of Algiers in the Western Mediterranean understood to the Ottoman Sultan. The proposal was not initially welcomed with enthusiasm by Constantinople, which found it difficult to integrate a territory so distant and so close to Spain into its sphere of influence. The idea was even considered perilous and was only definitively accepted under Suleiman in 1521.[48] Hayreddin Barbarossa was then named beylerbey (equivalent of Emir of emirs).[44] The important role of the regency fleet in the Ottoman maritime campaigns and this voluntary membership gave a particular character to the relations between Algiers and Constantinople. The regency was considered not a simple province but an Imperial Estate.[49] This state was very important in the eyes of the Turks, because it was the spearhead of Ottoman power in the western Mediterranean.[50]

Revolt of Ahmed Belkadi and conquest of the Peñón of Algiers[edit]

Berber musketeer from Kabylia region

After the defeat at Isser against the joined Kuku-Hafsid forces then the capture of Algiers in 1520. the conquest of the Kabyles of Kuku began a five to seven year period of rule by the Sultan of Kuku Belkadi over Algiers (1520-1525/1527).[51] Qara Hasan, former Agha of Hayreddin, concluded an agreement with Belkadi, settled in Cherchell and reigned over the western province: the coast from Tipaza to Cherchell. This period marked the toponymy of Algiers where a mountain is called Djebel Kuku. Hayreddin only returned to Algeria in 1521, landing at Jijel from whence he put himself in correspondence with the new principality of Kalâa of Ait Abbas, a rival of Kuku.[52] Hayreddin continued his progress in the east with Abdelaziz Amokrane: taking Collo in 1521, Annaba and Constantine in 1523, then with the support of the Beni Abbès, crossed their stronghold of the Babors and the Soummam River. The Djurdjura was crossed without incident, but at Iflissen they had to face a detachment of Belkadi, which they defeated. Belkadi then withdrew to Tizi Naït Aicha (Thénia) to block the main access roads to Algiers. Hayreddin detoured to enter the Mitidja plain. Before the final battle, Belkadi was killed by one of his soldiers. The debacle caused by the assassination opened the way to Algiers, where the population, which had complained about the government of Belkadi opened the doors to Hayreddin in 1525 or 1527.[53] Hayreddin restored the odjack of the janissaries, took the road to Cherchell and defeated Qara Hassan. He also contacted the Zayyanid sultan Moulay Abdallah to tell him that he intended to collect the tribute he owed as a vassal of Algiers.[citation needed]

Admiralty lighthouse in the port of algiers, built on the ruins of the peñón

Hayreddin Barbarossa had finally succeeded in re-establishing his authority in Algiers, Mitidja, Cherchell and Ténès. But Algiers was still threatened by the Spaniards installed at the Peñon, from which they controlled the movements of the port. This thorn in the back of the city had to be removed at all costs. Hayreddin summoned the Spanish commander of the position, Don Martin de Vargas, to surrender with his garrison of two hundred soldiers. With this ultimatum rejected,[54] he attacked and bombarded the Peñon which was completely destroyed on May 27, 1529.[55] With the materials salvaged, the island was attached to the land, hence the "Kheir ad Dine jetty" which today connects the Admiralty to the land. This was the starting point for the development of the port of Algiers, which will be continued by the elevation of the enclosure and the construction of the main bordj on the north and south islets.[56] The capture of the Peñon had a huge impact in Europe and Africa. The Ottomans were firmly established in Algiers; their power eclipsed that of the Spaniards, both in the Mediterranean and in Europe, where they threatened Austria and Hungary. A new destiny was about to open up in the central Maghreb, a new state to be founded there. Called in 1533 by the Sultan to exercise the function of captan pasha, Hayreddin left in Algiers as his successor Hassan Agha. The government then organized itself empirically with the successors of Oruç and Hayreddin Barbarossa.[citation needed].[57]

The last speech of Hayreddin Barbarossa to the Algerians is recorded in an Arabic manuscript that is quoted by Jean Michel de Venture de Paradis (1898):

“Now that there is nothing left to do for your happiness and the safety of the city, I have resolved to leave you; other works, other combats call me; I am leaving places where Christians will no longer dare to reappear and I am going to seek, under the glorious and invincible banners of the sultan, new opportunities to fight the infidels. When I came among you, you were weak, without money, without guns, without warriors; I leave you today a troop of brave men who will know how to make the Algerian name respected, and ships, munitions of war to attempt new enterprises. Your ramparts are guarded by more than four hundred pieces of cannon, which your enemies themselves brought to you and which Allah caused to fall into your hands at the moment when they were about to crush you. So here I am at peace with your fate: the time when I can leave you has finally come. Choose among you the one whom you will believe the most worthy to command and swear to obey him faithfully!”.

To the notables and the mufti who proposed to him, on behalf of the population, to stay in Algiers to continue his work, Hayreddin declared:

“In such a situation I see only one course to take: Algiers (the victorious city) must be put under the protection of Allah; and after him, under that of my sovereign and master, the powerful and redoubtable Emperor of the Ottomans. Victory directs his steps everywhere, and if he deigns to receive us as subjects, he will provide us with relief in money, men and munitions of war, which will allow us to brave and defeat our enemies”.[55]

Hayreddin's successors[edit]

Siege of Algiers in 1541, by Cornelis Anthonisz (1542)

Charles V expedition to Algiers[edit]

Hayreddin Barbarossa established the military basis of the regency. The Ottomans provided a supporting garrison of 2,000 Turkish troops with artillery.[58] He left Hasan Agha in command as his deputy when he had to leave for Constantinople in 1533.[59]

Portrait of Charles V by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz (after Titian).

Two years later, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V conquered Tunis against the troops of Hayreddin Barbarossa and established Spanish guardianship over the city. In October 1541, an expedition was led this time against Algiers to put an end to the Barbary pirates who were spreading terror in the western Mediterranean. A fleet led by Andrea Doria was dispatched with the help of the allied nations including the fleets of the Republic of Genoa, the Kingdom of Naples, the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem to transport the troops from Spain and the Netherlands. Embarked late, the fleet arrived in front of Algiers as a storm formed.[60] The landing of the troops was delayed and only a few troops found refuge on land under an increasing storm. Tired by very unfavorable conditions, the troops on the ground were beaten on October 25 by the Algerian defenders of Beylerbey Hassan Agha,[61] after fighting in the rain, hand to hand, with knives. Meanwhile, the fleet is in distress,[62] ships were thrown to the coast and rescuers were unable to approach. The siege was lifted, sounding a difficult retreat under the assaults of the enemy cavalry, the troops however reached Cap Matifou where Doria awaited them with the remaining ships. Leaving the material, including 100 to 200 guns which would be recovered to furnish the ramparts of Algiers, the Christian ships reached Bougie after two days.

A Maltese knight from the Langue de France thrusts his dagger into the gate of Bab-azoun by Léon Galibert (1844)
The harassment of Algerian horsemen

The chronology of the expedition reconstructed by Daniel Nordman:.[63]

  • October 18, 1541: departure of the expedition from Majorca;
  • October 19: arrival of the expedition in sight of Algiers;
  • October 20: At 7 a.m., the fleet is in the harbor of Algiers. At 3 p.m. the sea swells, Charles V's fleet takes shelter near Cape Matifou and the Spanish fleet at Cape Caxine;
  • October 21: the fleet remains under cover;
  • October 22: the fleet still in shelter but reconnaissance of the beach and water supply;
  • 23 October: return of the Spanish fleet, landing of Spanish, then Italian and German troops (Charles V is ashore at 9 a.m.). Installation of the camp in Hamma. Night attack by the Algerians;
  • October 24: Installation of Charles V's headquarters at Koudiat es-Saboun. Beginning of the fights. The storm rises around 9 p.m.;
  • October 25: storm, Algerian sortie, combat of Ras Tafoura. The storm increases in power destroying part of the fleet with provisions and war material, the rest will take shelter at Cape Matifou;
  • October 26: the storm lasts, Charles V is on the shore, the retreat is decided (the horses are slaughtered) along the sea to the Knis wadi;
  • October 27: retreat to Wadi El-Harrach;
  • October 28: crossing of the overflowing wadi;
  • October 29: the retreat continues to Cape Matifou and gathering of forces;
  • October 30: reconstitution of the forces with rest, council of war and repair of the fleet;
  • 31 October: beginning of the re-embarkation of Italian troops;
  • 1 November: re-embarkation of Charles V and German troops;
  • 2 November: re-embarkation of Spanish troops. The sea is growing again;
  • November 3: navigation in the storm;
  • November 4: landing of Charles V at Bougie. Dispersal of the remains of the expedition fleet for Spain, Majorca and Sardinia;
  • 5 November: arrival of the last five boats in Bougie.

War with Spain for the Zayyanid Kingdom[edit]

Bordj Moulay Hassan, built by Hassan Pasha

In 1544, Hasan Pasha, Hayreddin's son, became the first governor of the Regency to be directly appointed by the Ottoman Empire. He took the title of beylerbey.[citation needed] Beylerbeys continued to be nominated for unlimited tenures until 1587.

In 1534, the Count of Alcaudete took over the stronghold of Orán, from where successive expeditions set out to try to gain control of Mostaganem.

The first expedition was carried out in 1543, in which the Martín Alonso Fernández de Córdoba Montemayor y Velasco, conde de Alcaudete and his son Alonso de Córdoba, Count of Alcaudete mobilized an army between 5,000 and 7,000 men.[64][65] They left on March 21, and first attacked Mazagrán and then besieged Mostaganem. The Turks sent six ships from Algiers, and had about 1,500 men to defend the city. The absence of artillery made it impossible to breach the city walls, and they had to lift the siege and withdraw at night, yet the Turks were warned, and caused a large number of casualties among the Spanish troops on their return to Oran.[65]

In 1547, Count Alcaudete made a second expedition, arriving first at Mazagrán on August 21, and later moving on to Mostaganem. In this case, the city was defended only by forty Turks, although they later received reinforcements from Algiers. Despite the insistent artillery attacks from the Spanish, the Ottoman Algerian resistance meant that the count's troops had to retreat hastily towards Oran, again suffering significant casualties.[66]

Both defeats were caused by poor campaign planning, a shortage of ammunition, and a lack of experience and discipline among the Spanish troops.[67][65]

In 1551 Hasan Pasha, the son of Hayreddin, defeated the Spanish-Moroccan armies during a campaign to recapture Tlemcen, thus cementing Ottoman control in western and central Algeria.[68]

Ottoman Algeria in 1560

After that, the conquest of Algeria sped up. In 1552 Salah Rais, with the help of some Kabyle kingdoms, conquered Touggourt, and established a foothold in the Sahara.[69]

The expedition of 1558 to retake Mostaganem from the Ottomans followed a string of Ottoman successes in the Mediterranean, especially with the Siege of Tripoli in 1551, and the evacuation of Al-Mahdia by the Spaniards. Concurrently, the corsairs of Barbary were operating from their base in Algiers.

The Spanish army sufferred a crushing defeat,[70] around 12,000 Spanish soldiers were taken prisoner.[71] Count Alcaudete, Governor of Oran, died in the expedition.[71] His son Don Martín de Córdoba, the future Governor of Oran, was also captured and would be imprisoned as a Christian slave in Algiers under the beylerbey Hasan Pasha, until he was exchanged for a huge ransom.[72] This battle put an end to the governorship of Oran by count Martín Alonso Fernández, and definitively closed a period when Spain intervened in the Oranian region's affairs. This episode, described as a disaster,[71] saw the Spanish lose their most capable generals in africa, it also marked the end of Spanish territorial claims on western Algeria,[73] corresponding to the former domain of the Zayyanid sultans of Tlemcen. Mansur b. Bûghânim, a Zayyanid caïd who had joined the Spaniards, and was involved in all the struggles to restore the Zayyanid dynasty, changed sides after the battle of Mostaganem and joined the Ottomans. The Spaniards therefore renounced major land expeditions in western Algeria and concentrated on maintaining their positions in Oran and Mers el-Kébir. Henceforth the whole coast escaped their grasp; the ports of Bône, Béjaïa, Cherchell, Ténès and Mostaganem served as a base for the Ottoman Algerian navy.[74] The failure of the expedition of Mostaganem also ended attempts fpr a grand alliance between Spain and Morocco against the common Ottoman enemy.[75]

Between April and June 1563 the Regency of Algiers launched a major military campaign to retake the Spanish military-bases of Oran and Mers el Kébir on the North African coast, occupied by Spain since 1505. The sieges of Oran and Mers El Kébir of 1563 represented a major Hispano-Algerian episode in the larger Ottoman-Habsburg wars of the Mediterranean. Algiers, the Principalities of Kabylia (Kuku and Beni Abbes), and other vassal tribes combined forces as one army under Hasan Pasha, and Jafar Catania. The Spanish commander brothers, Alonso de Córdoba Count of Alcaudete and Martín de Córdoba, managed to hold the strongholds of Oran and Mers El Kébir, respectively, until the relief fleet of Francisco de Mendoza arrived and successfully caused the attackers to rout.[76] During the 16th, 17th, and early 18th century, the Kabyle Kingdoms of Kuku and Ait Abbas managed to maintain their independence[77][78][79] repelling Ottoman attacks several times, notably in the First Battle of Kalaa of the Beni Abbes. This was mainly thanks to their ideal position deep inside the Kabylia Mountains and their great organisation, and the fact that unlike in the west and east where collapsing kingdoms such as Tlemcen or Béjaïa were present, Kabylia had two new and energetic emirates.[citation needed]

Algiers became a base in the war against Spain and also in the Ottoman conflicts with Morocco. After Spain sent an embassy to Constantinople in 1578 to negotiate a truce, leading to a formal peace in August 1580 since the Regency of Algiers was a formal Ottoman territory at that time, rather than just a military base in the war against Spain.[59]

Ottoman dominence in the Maghreb[edit]

A miniature depicting Ramazan Pasha, the beylerbey of Algiers entering Fez in 1576
Ottoman Algerian troops (about 5,000 janissaries) and Kabyle troops, led by Uluç Ali, Pasha of Algiers, marching on Tunis in 1569

In the west, the Algerian-Sharifian conflicts shaped the western border of Algeria.[80] There were numerous battles between the Regency of Algiers and the Sharifian Saadi dynasty in Morocco. For example: the campaign of Tlemcen in 1551, the campaign of Tlemcen in 1557 in which the independent Kabylian Kingdoms also had significant involvement, the Kingdom of Beni Abbes participated in the campaign of Tlemcen in 1551 and The Kingdom of Kuku also participated in the Battle of Taza (1553) and the capture of Fez in 1554 in which Salih Rais defeated the Moroccan army and conquered Morocco up until Fez, placing Ali Abu Hassun as the ruler and vassal to the Ottoman sultan.[81][82][83]

The Kingdom of Kuku provided Zwawa troops for the capture of Fez in 1576 in which Abd al-Malik was installed as an Ottoman vassal ruler over the Saadi dynasty by Caïd Ramazan pasha of Algiers.[84][85]

In 1569 the Beylerbey of Algiers, Uluç Ali, set off over land toward Tunis with 5,300 Turks and 6000 Kabyle cavalry from the Kingdom of Kuku and the Kingdom of Beni Abbes.[86]

Uluç Ali encountered the Hafsid Sultan at Beja, west of Tunis, Uluç Ali defeated him in battle and conquered Tunis without suffering any great losses.[87] Mulay Ahmad III was forced to take refuge in the Spanish presidio of La Goleta in the bay of Tunis. The Christian forces were able to recover Tunis in 1573[88] however the Ottoman forces under Uluç Ali conquered Tunis yet again in 1574.

Mediterranean privateers[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.[89]

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.[89][90] (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.[91]

A contemporary letter states:

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

— Contemporary letter sent from Portugal to England.[92]

The Mediterranean was at first the main objective of the action of the corsairs, the reïs rose in the ocean as soon as they had adopted the use of round vessels. Exploring then the roads of India and America, they disturbed the commerce of all enemy nations. In 1616 the Reis Mourad the Younger (Jan Janszoon) plundered the coasts of Iceland, from where he brought back to Algiers four hundred captives. In 1619 they ravaged Madeira. In 1631, they caused damage on the coasts of England, blocked the English Channel, and would make catches in the North Sea. The reïs pushed the audacity so far as to found in Livorno, with the authorization of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, to whom they paid high royalties, a penal colony warehouse, where they came to deposit under the guard of the soldiers of the Grand Duke, the Christian slaves likely to obtain their freedom by means of a ransom. They still had a station at Cape Verde in order to be nearer to stopping the Indian galleons. The Republic of Genoa tolerated for a very long time the traffic in its ports of goods coming from the looting of the reis.[93]

The Christian captives[edit]

The slave market of Algiers in the early 17th century.

When a corsair ship returned to Algiers towing its booty, goods and captives were landed. The pasha would begin to take his share, or a fifth, in addition to the body and tackle of the captured ship, then, the cargo is sold. The slaves not chosen by the pasha were led into the Badestan, a long street closed at its ends, located at the site of the current street of Mahon square in Algiers. There, brokers ran the captives naked, so that the buyers could make their choice. Half of the proceeds from these sales belonged to the outfitting of the capturing vessel: individual, company, reis himself; the other half was divided into shares, of which forty went to the captain, thirty to the agha of the janissaries on board, ten to the officers, the rest to the sailors and the soldiers.[94]

The number of european christians who fell into captivity in the city of Algeria alone was estimated at about one million people throughout the seventeenth century, equivalent to a quarter of the city’s population, numbering at that time about 100,000 people. In the four Beylik prisons that were established specifically for this purpose since 1607, and most of these prisoners were released in exchange for a certain ransom, and some of them converted to Islam, a number of 8000 converted to Islam in 1634 out of a total of 25,000 prisoners, and some of them were integrated into the population and became an active element in society like many of the beleyrbeys who assumed power before the era of the pashas.[95] As for the work that these prisoners carried out, they were divided into social services and economic tasks within the city of Algiers, and agricultural work in the city of Algiers. The number of prisoners varied from year to year. As evidenced by the following table extracted from European sources, which presents aggregate estimates for the city of Algiers according to the following years:

1580 : 25,000 prisoners.

1620 : 35,000 prisoners.

1634 : 25,000 prisoners.

1630 - 1634 During the war with the King of France, 1331 prisoners were captured on the back of 80 French ships.

1662 : 21,000 prisoners.

1724 : 2000 prisoners.

1785 : 6000 prisoners who were in the prisons of Ali Bitchin Reis without counting other captives.

1788 : 2000 prisoners.

1816 : 1642 prisoners (truce in 1810 AD, then the treaty of 1813 AD with Portugal, in which 541 Portuguese prisoners were ransomed for 850,000 Algerian doro).

1830 : 122 prisoners.[96]

Among the most famous of these prisoners are for example:

1- The Greek scientist Petrus Gyllius was captured in the year 1546 while he was coming from France to Greece on a scientific mission at the request of King Francis I of France.

2- Dominique de Gourgues, the hero of Florida County, was captured while traveling from Europe to America (1558).

3- The famous Italian painter Fra Filippo Lippi de Madone, who was imprisoned in 1435

4- The Italian writer Emmanuel d'Aranda de Bruges, who was captured while traveling from France to Spain in 1640.

5- The French comic poet, who wrote the story known as the beautiful Provençal, Jean-François Regnard, was captured in 1678.

6 - The famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes (the author of the story of Don Quixote) and the author of the moriscan plays inspired by his memories in Algeria, he remained in captivity in Algeria from 1775 to 1780.

7- The French scientist Jean Foy-Vaillant was captured in 1674, when he was on a scientific trip to study money, commissioned by King Louis XIV.

8- The Italian cleric, the priest of the city of Catania, called Caraccioli, was captured in 1561.

9- The Italian poet Antonio Veneziano was captured along with Don Carlo Davagona in April 1578.

10- The writer Rene de Bois (Rene de Boys) was captured in 1642.[95]

Privateers and enslavement 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.[89] Abraham Duquesne fought the Barbary pirates in 1681 and bombarded Algiers between 1682 and 1683, to help Christian captives.[97]

Franco-Algerian war (1681-1689)[edit]

German engraving of Mezzomorto Hussein Pacha, 1687
Portrait of Abraham Duquesne by Antoine Graincourt

Until 1662 no nation had been able to extract the principle “Free Ship–Free Goods” from the Algerian corsairs on a permanent basis. With England obtaining this clause that year, the situation changed fundamentally. England introduced a set of unforgeable and obligatory “Algerian passports” for its southbound merchant ships and thus guaranteed the authenticity of each of them in case they met up with Algerian corsairs.[98] Faced with strong subsequent growth of the English fleet in the Mediterranean, the Algerians broke this peace twice in the following years (1668-1671, 1678-1682) and tried to wage a privateer war against England, only to find out each time that England was able to hit back with overwhelming might. The two wars ended negatively for Algiers with one of them resulting in a change of goverment in that barbary state, and when faced with dangerous French attacks in the 1680s, Algiers definitively opted for peace with England, which was to last for over 140 years.[99]

Tied between the desires and threats from european nations, Algiers reacted by launching its fleet into the seas.[clarification needed] The deys had to face the claims of European countries. They negotiated numerous treaties with them, often thereby asserting their autonomy in matters of foreign policy, without taking into account sovereignty of Istanbul. Very cleverly, they tried to deal with each country separately, negotiating with the French to better attack the English or the Dutch, and vice versa. For their part, the European countries endeavored to obtain advantages or economic privileges and favorable conditions for the release of their captives. They sometimes used negotiation, going so far as to supply arms to the deys, and sometimes they used intimidation like the bombardment of towns. The main relations were established and maintained with France: Louis XIV sought both to have the French flag respected in the Mediterranean, to preserve the economic advantages already obtained, and to play the role of "Most Christian King" (Rex Christianissimus) against Islamic powers, while seeing to the maintaining the French alliance with the Sublime Porte.[100] European countries tried to obtain commercial advantages from the dey Hadj Mohammed Trik (1671-1682). France tried to settle the question of the Bastion, the Spaniards of Oran tried to occupy Tlemcen and the English fleet threatened Algiers. The diwan did not yield to these intimidations: any concession was refused to the French, the Spaniards had to turn around and return to Oran in 1675, and the raïs dispersed the English ships which in 1678 threatened the city of Algiers.[101]

In 1677, following an explosion in Algiers and several attempts on his life, dey Mohammed Trik escaped to Tripoli, leaving Algiers to Baba Hassan.[102] Just one years into his rule he was already at war with one of the most powerful countries in Europe, the Kingdom of France. In 1682 France bombarded Algiers for the first time.[103] The Bombardment was inconclusive, and the leader of the fleet Abraham Duquesne failed to secure the submission of Algiers. The next year, Algiers was bombarded again, this time liberating a few slaves.[104] Before a peace treaty could be signed though, Baba Hassan was deposed and killed by a Rais called Mezzo Morto Hüseyin.[105] Continuing the war against France, The bombardments resumed, killing many victims. Mezzomorto threatened, if the firing did not cease, to put the Christian captives at the mouths of the cannons, still the bombardments continued, So he carried out his threats.[106][107] Despite this, the bombardments continued until October, but the defenders of Algiers held firm, and Duquesne had to return to Toulon. In 1684, Louis XIV sent Duquesne, then Dussault to find an agreement;[108] he had written to the sultan, who dispatched a delegation to the French squadron. After almost a month of negotiations, a treaty was signed in April 1684 which provided for numerous provisions: freedom of trade between the two countries, liberation of slaves, respect of the free passage for naval vessels, free exercise of the Christian religion, establishment of lists of products that are negotiable between the two countries, and assurance given to the dey that his ambassador in Paris could ensure compliance with the treaty.[106] But the agreement was not respected: French corsairs, encouraged by Marseille merchants, again attacked Algerian ships. The dey retaliated by arresting French nationals and even the consul, without however denouncing the treaty in 1686. The King of France supported the Marseillais and sent Marshal d'Estrées to Algiers with more than forty ships in June 1688.[109][110] The bombardment lasted several days, a good part of the city was destroyed, yet the Algerian artillery sank several french ships.[111] Hadj Hassan Mezzomorto killed more than forty Christians by cannon. The French responded by executing Muslim hostages on board. Resistance in Algiers forced Marshal d'Estrées to withdraw his fleet. The great sultan, at the request of the king of France, sent a new pasha to Algiers, but Mezzomorto did not let him disembark. In the end, however, the Janissaries revolted against Mezzomorto, whom they held responsible for the misfortunes of Algiers, forced him to flee. The pasha Hadj Chabane who replaced him (1688-1695) sent a plenipotentiary to Versailles: a peace treaty was finally signed in 1690.[112]

Maghrebi Wars[edit]

Algeria's relations with the rest of the Maghreb countries were not as good and friendly as they should have been for several historical circumstances.[113] Algiers used to consider Tunisia a territory belonging to it by virtue of the fact that it was the one that expelled the Spaniards from it and annexed it to the Ottoman Empire which made the appointment of its pashas the prerogative of the Algerian beylerbeys, and on this basis Algiers was constantly trying to make this dependence a tangible reality, and Tunisia rejected this and saw that, like Algiers, it was subordinate to Constantinople, and more than that, Tunisia had ambitions in the Constantine region inherited from the Hafsid era.[114] As for Al-Maghreb Al-Aqsa (Morocco), it resisted from the beginning, and with determination, the Turks that sought to control it, and it began to view Algiers as a danger hanging over it and therefore it must be avoided by all means, including conspiring with any foreign power, even if it was Christian. More than this, Morocco had ancient ambitions in western Algeria and Tlemcen in particular, and its sultans did not hide this desire in all circumstances and occasions. On this basis, relations between Ottoman Algeria and its neighbors were troubled most of the time. Tunisia adamantly refuses subordination to Algeria. Since 1590, the Diwan of Tunisian Odjack revolted against Algiers, and the country became a vassal of Constantinople itself.[115]

Tunisian campaings[edit]

The Muradid War[edit]
Coat of arms of the Muradids in 1620

In 1675, Murad II Bey died, he left his state to his son Mohamed Bey El Mouradi. Mohamed exiled the Pasha appointed by the Ottoman sultan, Muhammad al-Hafsi. Murad II's second son, Ali bin Murad, disappointed by his share in the division of power had sought refuge in the Beylik of Constantine, a governorate of the Regency of Algiers.[116] He brought the tribes of northwest Tunisia led by Muhammad ben Cheker over to his side with promises of gold and silver. After a short civil war in tunis between the muradid princes, the Dey of Algiers agreed to mediate between them,[117] yet the Turkish janissaries of Tunis elected their own leader, Ahmed Chelebi who attempted to take over the country. He was defeated by the Algerians who feared that the revolutionary spirit of the janissaries in Tunis would spread to their own country. They sacked Tunis in 1686, and left the country in ruins. Mohamed bey suspected his brother of supporting the Algerians, and thus killed him and seized power for himself. Muhammad ben Cheker (the leader of the northwestern tribes), wanted the Beylik to himself, and hearing about the infighting, he visited Algiers to negotiate with the Algerians in 1694.[118] Dey Hadj Chabane agreed to help ben Cheker in conquering Tunis, but only he would subjugate himself and become an Algerian vassal. Muhammad ben Cheker agreed, and declared independence from Tunis. On June 24 Algerian troops entered Tunisian territory, and started rapidly advancing into the heartlands of Tunisia,[119] they met the Tunisian army in the Battle of Kef , which ended in a catastrophic defeat for the Tunisians and the Algerians conquered Tunis and pillaged it before occupying the country, fed up with Muhammed bin chaker, the tunisian population revolted and crown Mohamed bey as king again, who signed an alliance with the sultan of Morocco, which would soon culminate in the Maghrebi war (1699-1701).[120]

In 1700, The Maghrebi war started, Murad III Bey of Tunis took the city of Constantine, but it was not long before the regency of Algiers regained the upper hand and 7000 Tunisians were killed in the Battle of Jouami' al-Ulama.[121][122] Ibrahim Cherif, the Agha of the spahis, put an end to the Muradid regime, he is named Dey by the militia and made pasha by the Ottoman sultan. However, he did not manage to put an end to the Algerian and Tripolitan incursions. Finally defeated by the Dey of Algiers in 1705 near Kef on 8 July 1705,[123][124] he was captured and taken to Algiers.

The Hussainid vassalisation[edit]
Coat of Arms of the beys of Tunis (Husseinic dynasty)

After the incessant disputes between corsairs and janissaries to influence the government of the Ottoman regency during the 17th century, Ben Ali imposed himself in 1705 as bey of Tunis and founded the dynasty of the Hussainids under the name of Hussein I ibn Ali Bey.

After a failed revolt, Abu l-Hasan Ali I Pasha took refuge in Algiers where he managed to gain the support of the Dey.[125] The Dey of Algiers dispatched a force of 7,000 men to invade Tunis in 1735 and install Ali Pasha there as its Bey,[126] who recognised himself as a vassal of Algiers and paid an annual tribute to the Dey.[126][127]

Another campaign was directed against Tunis in 1756. Taken prisoner by the Algerians, Ali I Pasha was deposed on September 2. Brought back to Algiers in chains, he was strangled by supporters of his cousin and successor Muhammad I ar-Rashid on September 22. Algiers imposed a tribute in 1756 on Tunis, the latter had to send oil to light the mosques of Algiers each year. Tunis had become a tributary of Algiers and continued to pay an annual tribute and recognise Algerian suzerainty for more than 50 years.[128][129][130]

Moroccan campaings[edit]

Ismail Ibn Sharif, the thrid Alaouite Sultan

The Moroccan sovereigns had succeeded in preventing the occupation of their country by the Turks. On the other hand, they had not given up on the old Almohad dream of achieving the unity of the Maghreb for their own benefit, or at least extending their frontiers to the east into Orania. With the advent of the Alaouite dynasty, hostilities with the regency of Algiers would resume.[131]

In 1678, Moulay Ismail mounted an expedition to Tlemcen.[132] He assembled his contingents in the Upper Moulouya, joined by the tribes of Orania (Segouna, Hamiane, Hashem) and advanced as far as the Chelif region to fight battle there.[133] The The Turks of Algiers brought in the artillery, which terrified the auxiliary tribes of the Moroccan sovereign, who then broke away from him. Then ended up negotiating and fixing the border on the Moulouya,[134] which throughout the Saadian period, had separated the two countries. In 1690-1691, Moulay Ismail resumed his project and launched a new offensive against Oranie. To the 22,000 Moroccan soldiers, the dey Chaban opposed 10,000 janissaries and Zouaoua contingents. He defeated the Moroccans on the Moulaya and forced them to accept the Treaty of Oujda which confirmed the Moulouya as the border.[135][136] In 1694, the sultan of Istanbul invited that of Morocco to cease its attacks against Algiers.[137] But still in 1700, after coming to an agreement with the Tunisians who were to simultaneously attack Constantine, the Moroccan sovereign launched a new expedition against Orania. He was beaten again in the Chelif river,[138][139] by the dey Hadj Mustapha, who brought back to Algiers an enormous booty and nearly 3,000 prisoners. according to correspondence between the dey Moustapha and the great writer Hussein Agha, his losses amounted to 3,000 men, including 50 caïds.[140] The regency of Algiers, occupied by the siege of Oran in the hands of the Spaniards, did not pursue hostilities, even if relations remained very tense. In the following years Moulay Ismaïl led Saharan incursions towards Ain Madhi and Laghouat without succeeding in settling there permanently.[141] Following these expeditions, the dey of Algiers, Moustapha II then wrote to Moulay Ismaïl about the attachment of the Algerians and their territory to the power of the regency of Algiers.[142] The dey left the bey in Orania Mustafa Bouchelagham who, abandoning Mazouna (the capital of the beylik of the West since 1563), settled in Mascara, from where he undertook to consolidate his authority. The Moroccans had been able to preserve the independence of their country, but by renouncing any project of expansion towards Orania.[143]

Danish–Algerian War[edit]

In the mid-1700s Dano-Norwegian trade in the Mediterranean expanded. To protect the lucrative business against piracy, Denmark–Norway secured a peace deal with the states of the Barbary Coast. It involved paying an annual tribute to the individual rulers and additionally to the states.

In 1766, Algiers had a new ruler, dey Baba Mohammed ben-Osman. He demanded that the annual payment made by Denmark-Norway be increased, and that he receive new gifts. Denmark–Norway refused the demands. Shortly after, Algerian pirates hijacked three Dano-Norwegian ships and allowed the crew to be sold as slaves.

They threatened to bombard the Algerian capital if the Algerians did not agree to a new peace deal on Danish terms. Algiers was not intimidated by the fleet, which was of two frigates, two bomb galiots and four ships of the line.

War with Spain in the 18th century[edit]

The capture of Oran in 1708[edit]

Map of the Algerian Coast Around Oran and Mostaganem by Ottoman Navigator Piri Reis

The inhabitants of Oran and its surroundings were still asking the governors and leaders of Algiers to save them from the yoke of the Spaniards, until Dey Mohamed Bektash came to their aid with an army of 8500 regular soldiers and a number of volunteers that exceeded that of regular soldiers many times over. It was distinguished by the participation of students of institutes and Zawiyas. Between 700 and 1000 students joined the conquering army.[144] The battalions went out on board the ships, led by Hassan Uzun, the son-in-law of the Dey, on 2 June 1707. At the head of the army was Bey "Bouchelaghem" Mustafa bin Youssef Al-Masrati, the ruler of Mazuna. He was the first ruler to combine the military and civil authorities in his beylik. When the Algerian fleet reached the waters of Oran, it turned to the coast of Arzew, so it anchored there, and struck their tents on the beach, about 320 tents, with 25 soldiers in each. They began to direct their cannons towards the enemy barracks there. Leading the defenses was Spanish general Melchor Avellaneda, but despite the help and the garrison that joined him from Malta, he was defeated after the Turks smashed the irrigation canal and demolished the dams, and entered the fort of Burj al-Ayoun in which there were about 540 soldiers, on 10 December 1707. The Algerian army moved again after two weeks and laid siege to the fort of Merjajou which was conquered after three days. Two months later the fort of Zahra fell to the Algerians.[144] The city of Oran was now open for Bouchelaghem bey's forces and the two towers defending it were overrun on 20 January 1708 after the 400 Spanish soldiers defending them surrendered. The Algerian assault kept the pressure on the Spaniards this time in Mers El Kebir, which was the last bastion of the Spanish forces in Algiers supported by a few allied tribes. Despite heavy fighting the Algerians captured the city and took 2000 captives, among them French officers and Maltese volunteers.[145] The military success of the Algerians surprised the Spanish government but also all of the European states at that time. In the Muslim world it was seen as a victory over Christianity. The city of Oran was repopulated with people from all over the western beylik with an influx, in particular, of craftsmen and traders.[146] It opened a first period, from 1708 to 1732, where the city was in the hands of the regency of Algiers before the Spaniards recovered it in 1732.[citation needed]

Spanish reconquest of Oran in 1732[edit]

Don José Carrillo de Albornoz, Duke of Montemar, leader of the expedition against Oran

The Spanish fleet left on June 15, 1732, heading for the Oran region, and reached it after ten days. The entire Spanish campaign was under the leadership of José Carrillo de Albornoz, 1st Duke of Montemar. The bey, Sheikh Mustapha Bouchelaghem, conqueror of Oran and its emir since 1707, was preparing to defend with the forces on hand, and more than 20,000 fighters gathered around him, among them about 2500 janissaries, and Oran was armed with more than 138 cannons. The Spaniards landed on June 28 in Ain al-Turk Square west of Oran, then sent a detachment to confront the Algerian battalions. After a few engagements, the Algerians withdrew to the heights, where a group of allied forces was based.[147]

As soon as the sun rose on the 30th of June, the Spanish army joined in a massive battle with the Algerians, during which the Spanish commander was killed. When the leadership of the Spaniards saw that the Algerian pressure had intensified, it ordered the entire army forward and it defeated the Algerian army, which occupied other positions on both sides of a deep ravine descending from the mountain, which was the corridor of the Spanish army.

Mustafa Bouchelaghem decided to withdraw from the city and evacuate its inhabitants and defenders, as he saw that the means of defense in his hands could not at all enable him to confront the huge Spanish numbers, and what he had of equipment, and he sought to continue the resistance from behind the city until circumstances enabled him to recover. Thus, the Bey and his men left, and the Spaniards entered the city on the eve of the first of July 1732.[148]

Dey Baba Abdi Pasha had quickly sent reinforcements from Algiers of two thousand men under the leadership of his son, but he arrived after the city had been evacuated, so the army joined the defense forces. The city was surrounded on all sides. As soon as news of the fall of the city reached Algiers, a wave of grief and worry gripped it, and Dey Abdi Pasha took refuge in his home, having reached a very old age, and refrained from eating out of grief and distress, until he passed away at the age of 88.[148] The Algerians stationed in the mountains encamped on the city, straitening the siege on it, so the Spaniards could not move into the interior, and returned most of their forces to Spain, leaving the two cities with enough men to defend them, and the fierce battle continued about a year. The Algerians attacked the city, and Bey Mustapha Bouchelaghem at the head of his division arrived at the gates, and clashed with the Spaniards in a fierce battle in which his son was killed. New attacks ensued on the 12th of December then on June 10 in 1733 without notable success for the Algerians. In 1734, Bouchelaghem attacked the center of El-Ayoun around Oran and reached the gates of the city, but was unable to occupy it. Oran and Mers-el-Kebir remained under tight siege for more than fifty years.[149]

Spanish–Algerian war (1775–1792)[edit]

Map of the Spanish attack on Algiers in 1775

In 1775, a Spanish Expedition intended to reduce the pirates of the Mediterranean was ordered by the Irish admiral Alejandro O'Reilly, but resulted in a heavy failure of the attackers; 8000 Spaniards were killed, and the Algerians lost 300 soldiers.[150] The Spanish forces departed Cartagena in 1775 and sailed towards Algiers. On the coast near the city, O'Reilly ordered the Spanish forces to land and capture the city, while the Spanish and Tuscan warships were to protect the landing craft as they landed on the shore. However, the landing was flawed from the start, as the area chosen by the Spanish for the landing was not the one the pilots of the landing craft sailed towards, and the new landing site was totally unsuitable for bringing ashore the heavy artillery meant to bombard the city walls of Algiers. Most of the guns became stuck in wet sand. resulting in their absence from the ensuing fight. Despite this, the Spanish forces assaulted Algerians, who retreated to positions further inland. The Spanish pursued, but walked into a carefully-set trap and suffered massive casualties, losing a quarter of their total force compared with light casualties on the Algerian side. Forced to retreat back to their boats offshore, the assault was a spectacular failure and the campaign a humiliating blow to the Spanish military reorganisation, notably due to a brilliant cavalry charge led by the western contingent commanded by Mohammed el Kebir. Overwhelmed, the Spaniards took advantage of the night to embark, abandoning 17 copper guns and other equipment.[151]

Map of Algiers' Bombardment of 1783 by Antonio Barceló.

From August 1 to August 9, 1783, a Spanish squadron of 25 ships bombarded Algiers, but failed to overcome the defenses of the city.[152] The Spanish squadron, composed of four ships of the line and six frigates, did not inflict significant damage on the city and had to withdraw.[153]

The commander of this fleet and that of 1784 was Spanish Admiral Antonio Barceló. A European league uniting the the Spanish Empire, the Kingdom of Portugal, the Republic of Venice and the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and composed of one hundred and thirty ships began to bombard Algiers on July 12, 1784. This bombardment was a failure, and the Spanish squadron fell back against the defense of the city. The Dey Mohamed ben-Osman asked for an indemnity of 1,000,000 pesos to conclude a peace in 1785. This was followed by a first period of negotiation (1785–87) to achieve a lasting peace between Algiers and Madrid.[146][unreliable source?]

The Spanish expeditions having almost all experienced a catastrophic outcome, the Algerians use the term "Spagnolata" in Lingua franca to designate a poorly conceived military enterprise, executed without art or energy.[154]

In 1792, the reconquest of Oran and Mers el-Kébir began. The city of Oran, then under Spanish domination, was a concern of the Spanish court. In the 18th century, the policy of popular resistance of the Algerians to the Spanish presence and the hostility of the Beylik of the West created a climate of permanent insecurity around Oran and Mers el-Kébir. The Spaniards swung between two imperatives: preservation of their presidency and maintaining a fragile peace with Algiers.[146][unreliable source?]

Spain was torn between its desire to not give in to the threats of the Bey of Mascara and its wish to maintain peace with Algiers. However, military operations gradually turned to the advantage of the bey, and the will to stand up to him gradually crumbled. The Spanish representative asked the dey for a truce while he consulted the Council of State in Madrid, in order to study a proposal for the transfer of the two cities. A truce of one month was granted in March 20, 1791.[155] However certain guarantees requested by the Spaniards (concerning the corso and the demolition of the Spanish forts) were considered an offense by Algiers, which ordered the resumption of hostilities in May 1791. Mohamed el Kebir needed artillery to remove the Spanish defences, so the dey of Algiers dispatched his mehalla as reinforcements.[146]

The Spanish reinforcements flow in but they are clearly outplayed in the battle. The death of Mohamed Ben-Osman, and the election of Sidi Hassan, his first Secretary of State, as Dey once again gave Spain some respite. Under the reign of the latter, reputed to be a friend of Spain, negotiations then began which ended with Count Floridablanca. The Spaniards then undertooke to restore "freely and voluntarily" the two cities, the restrictions of access to the Algerian ports are also lifted for Spanish merchants and they retain the monopoly of trade in the two restored cities. The convention was signed in Algiers on September 12, and on December 12, 1791 in Madrid. On February 12, 1792, the Spanish soldiers evacuated the city.[citation needed]

Hassan Pasha decorates Mohamed el-Kebir with the feather badge, intended for those who have triumphed over the "infidels" and which none of the previous beys of the West had obtained. He attached Oran to his western beylik domain and made him bey of Oran (instead of the title of bey of Mascara).[151]

This confrontation marks the end of the Spanish-Algerian wars.

Barbary Wars[edit]

During the early 19th century, Algiers again resorted to widespread piracy against shipping from Europe and the United States of America, mainly due to internal fiscal difficulties, and the damage caused by the Napoleonic Wars.[89] This in turn led to the First Barbary War and Second Barbary War, which culminated in August 1816 when Lord Exmouth executed a naval bombardment of Algiers, the biggest, and most successful.[156] The Barbary Wars resulted in a major victory for the American, British, and Dutch navies.

French invasion[edit]

During the Napoleonic Wars the Regency of Algiers had greatly benefited from trade in the Mediterranean, and the massive imports of food by France, largely bought on credit. In 1827, Hussein Dey, Algeria's ruler, 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.

The French consul Pierre Deval refused to give answers satisfactory to the dey, and in an outburst of anger, Hussein Dey hit him with his fan. King Charles X used this as an excuse to break diplomatic relations and to start a full-scale invasion of the Algerian Regency on 14 June 1830: Algiers capitulated to the French on 5 July 1830 and Hussein Dey went into exile in Naples. The Regency was subsequently dismantled and its territory directly annexed to the Kingdom of France.[89]

Charles X was overthrown a few weeks later by the July Revolution; however, the new monarch, Louis Philippe I, chose to continue the effort to colonize Algeria.

Political status[edit]

Complete affiliation: The Beylerbey period (1518-1587)[edit]

Uluç Ali Pasha (Occhiali), beylerbey of Algiers

Between 1518 and 1659, the rulers of the Regency of Algiers were chosen by the Ottoman sultan. During the first few decades, Algiers was completely aligned with the Ottoman Empire, since the full authority of the country and the management of its affairs were in the hands of the beylerbey (Turkish: Prince of princes), who reported directly to Istanbul. The beylerbeys were from the sect of Riyas al-Bahr or the Corsairs, most of whom were companions of Hayreddin Barbarossa himself, and it was the Ottoman Sultan who appointed them over whomever the corsairs suggested, by virtue of Algeria’s subordination to the Ottoman Empire. Often one of them remained in power for several years. Also, a number of them were transferred to Constantinople to assume the position of Captain Pasha or the Ministry of the Navy because of their competence in commanding the naval fleets, such as Hayreddin Barbarossa, his son Hassan Pasha, and Uluj Ali Pasha.

In this period, Algiers achieved regional and political unity because the beylerbeys were interested in extending their influence and control to the east, west and south, as they eliminated all the emirates and local sultanates such as the Zayyanid state in Tlemcen and the Hafsid emirates in Bani Abbas, Constantine, and Annaba, and subjugated the Kingdom of Kuku in Kabylia. Saleh Rais is considered the hero for achieving this unity.[157][158] Algiers later gained a certain level of autonomy in 1567 when Muhammad I Pasha unified the corsairs and the janissaries into a single military institution as Algiers was the westernmost province of the Ottoman Empire, and administering it directly would have been problematic.[159] However, by end of the 16th century, the situation has changed because of:

-The weakness and deterioration of the Ottoman fleet after its defeat in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.[citation needed]

-The preoccupation of the Ottoman Empire with the Ottoman–Safavid War (1578–1590).[citation needed]

-The diminished Spanish threat to Algiers due to Spain's preoccupation with the war with France, the Netherlands and England.[citation needed]

The Ottoman Empire had to change the system of government in Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, fearing the independence of the rulers of Algiers and the establishment of an independent north African Islamic state, and so in the year 1587 it abolished the belerbeyat system and established in its place the system of pashas, as it divided the Maghreb countries in its dominion into three separate regencies.[160]

Tension with Ottoman empire: The Pasha period (1587-1659)[edit]

The rule of the pashas lasted nearly 72 years, during which twenty-seven pashas successively ruled, some of whom returned to power as many as four times. This period was known for turmoil, chaos and political instability, and the intensified conflict between the corsairs and the Odjak, who was looking forward to rule by various means, so Pasha Khidr tried to get rid of him with the help of the population who suffered from its tyranny and its control of money and the people revolted against it in the city of Algiers, and the anger spread to neighboring towns, but their attempt failed.[161] Despite the introduction of the pasha system, the Diwan of the Odjak began to strengthen and expand its influence and control, and worked to get rid of the Ottoman hegemony, as his efforts converged with the efforts of the pashas to materialize this trend because of their need for loyalty, so their concern was to collect the largest amount of money while waiting for the end of their three-year term in office. As long as this was the main goal of the pasha, governance became a secondary issue, and little by little actual rule was transferred to the janissary army divisions.[162] With this behavior followed by the pashas in Algiers, they lost all influence and respect, and these pashas were constantly lost between the demands of the corsairs and the Odjak, or with the population, so they tried not to anger any of the parties because they feared for their lives and for their treasures, which they were working to multiply as quickly as possible.At this stage, aversion with the Sublime Porte increased in Algiers, and this was evident when Pasha Khidr encouraged the corsairs to attack the French commercial center(Bastion de France) in the coast of El-Kala and Annaba and enslave the families of the people in it, and when the Ottoman Empire intervened and demanded the rebuilding of Bastion de France and the release of the French captives, the diwan strongly opposed the orders of the Sultan,[163] thus the prestige of the Ottoman sultan in Algiers weakened, and the crisis was at its peak and intensified even more when Ibrahim Pasha took a deduction from the money that the sultan sent to the corsairs to motivate them to join the Ottoman fleet. This caused a major riot in Algiers that reached the point of kidnapping the Pasha and threatening him with death, and ended up being put in prison.[164]

De facto independent Military Republic of Algiers (1659-1830)[edit]

Janissary revolution: the Agha regime in 1659[edit]

After at first being a unit of the Ottoman army, the Odjak of Algiers emerged after 1659 as a self-perpetuating ruling group. In this year the Agha (commander-in-chief) of the janissaries stationed in Algiers usurped supreme authority, saying that the Pashas sent from Istanbul had been mostly corrupt and their conduct of government hampered the regency's dealings with European countries.[165] The janissaries effectively eliminated the authority of the Pasha, whose position became only ceremonial, and they agreed to assign executive authority to the Agha, provided that the period of his rule not exceed two months, so that another Agha would come after him, then they put the legislative power in the hands of the Diwan Council and forced the Sultan to accept this under duress, but he stipulated that the Diwan pay the salaries of the Turkish soldiers. Thus began the era of the Aghas[166][unreliable source?] During this period a form of dual leadership was in place, The Pasha continued to keep both his honorary titles and his private income, but his intervention in the government had was limited to a mostly fictitious control; his presence in the diwan or council of government was no longer required except on great occasions, and he scarcely appeared there except to sanction, by his approval, measures to which, in fact, he remained almost completely foreign.[167]

The Corsair coup: the Deys rise to power in 1671[edit]

Mohammed Trik, first dey of Algiers

The government of the regency underwent another change in 1671 when the destruction of seven of the best Algerian ships by a British squadron commanded by Sir Edward Spragge occasioned a rebellion of the Corsairs and the assassination of Agha Ali (1664–71), the last of four janissary chiefs to rule the country since 1659, all of whom were massacred. In place of the agha of the janissaries, the Corsairs chose as ruler of the regency an officer to whom they gave the title of 'Dey' (maternal uncle), which had been used in Tunisia since the rebellion of the Ottoman troops there in 1591 for the officers chosen by them to rule the country, thus, after 1671, the Deys became the main leaders of the country.[168] Although by 1695 the dey came to be elected by the militaey, the rebellion of the Corsairs in 1671 meant that the Agha was no longer ex officio the ruler of the country. It also meant that Ottoman Algeria became a military republic,[169][170][171][172][173] ruled in the name of the Ottoman sultan by officers chosen by and in the interest of the Odjak. Pashas continued to be sent from Istanbul after 1659 and retained nominal authority as governors of Algiers.

The Deys-Pashas in the 18th century (1710-1830)[edit]

Djenina Palace in Algiers, former residence of the Deys
Banner of the Dey of Algiers taken by France in 1830. Now in Victor Hugo museum in Paris.

From 1710 on, the Deys themselves assumed the title of Pasha and no longer accepted a representative of the sultan at their side, They also imposed their authority on the rais and the janissaries.[169] The territorial unity of Algeria was acheived. Its limits to the west and east were definitively fixed with the retaking of Oran and Mers El Kebir from the Spanish and the establishment of borders with Morocco and with Tunisia. Endowed with a well-defined territory and a well-organized government, both at the central and provincial levels, the Algerian state constituted during this period a military republic practically independent of the Sublime Porte, administered according to Algerian interests.[174][18] The dey Baba Ali Chaouch (1710-1718) established a new diwan, from which he eliminated all the turbulent janissaries. This council made a fundamental decision: Algiers would no longer receive a pasha sent by Istanbul; the dey himself would be considered a pasha, a measure which consolidated the authority of Algiers without breaking its ties with the Sublime Porte.[175] thus confirming their independence vis-à-vis the Sublime Porte.[176] The sultan was obliged to ratify the decision of the diwan. The deys would henceforth govern without being constrained by Istanbul's policies. Thus, in 1719, the Dutch having complained to the sultan about the attacks of the raïs of Algiers, he delegated a capidji to the dey Mohamed Ben Hassen (1718-1724) but obtained nothing: the dey undertook to sign a treaty with the Dutch, on condition that the sultan paid the pay off the militia of Algiers . Similarly in 1725, the dey Kurd Abdi (1724-1732) refused to respect the agreements relating to the race made between the sultan and the European countries. In 1730 again, the dey dismissed the delegates of the Sublime Porte who had come to present him with a new pasha. Algiers thus displayed its sovereignty in matters of foreign policy. When an Ottoman envoy claimed that the Ottoman Padishah was the king of Algiers, Dey Kurd Abdi shouted at the envoy "King of Algiers? King of Algiers? If he is the King of Algiers then who am I?".[177][178] The deys reinforced their authority over the corsairs and the janissaries. The former did not approve of the provisions which restricted racing, their source of income; the latter did not admit military defeats and delays in the payment of their pay. But the deys ended up triumphing over their revolts. The raïs lost the importance they had had in the 17th century, when the race prospered. European reactions, new treaties guaranteeing the safety of navigation and the slowdown in shipbuilding considerably reduced its activity. The rais were obviously very unhappy with this situation, but they no longer had the strength to oppose the government. Their revolt of 1729 failed. They had risen up against the Dey Mohamed ben Hassan whom they accused of favoring the Janissaries to their detriment and killed him;[179] but the new dey, Kurd Abdi (1724-1732), quickly restored order and severely punished the conspirators.[180] The deys succeeded in establishing their authority on the rais and the janissaries; the former remained attached to the external prestige of the kingdom, the latter to the payment of their wages. As revenue from the corso diminished, recourse was had to tax increases, hence the discontent of the tribes and their revolts.

Janissary unrest[edit]
Dey Ali Khoja, surrounded by the severed heads of vanquished enemies after the bombardment of 1816

The Janissaries were more turbulent than the corsairs, In 1713, they wanted to assassinate the dey Ali Chaouch, but the plotters were arrested and strangled.[181] Nearly one thousand seven hundred Janissaries perished. In 1728, the dey Kurd Abdi succeeded in breaking another plot hatched by the Agha and the militia.[182] In 1754, following internal difficulties and a big explosion of powder magazine in Algiers and an epidemic of plague, seven Arnauts (Albanians) of the militia planned to kill the dey Baba Mohamed Torto and to install in his place their chief. Venture de Paradis tells that they succeeded in killing the dey and the khaznadji and in raising the leader of their conspiracy to the throne. But the new dey was killed by the great cook of the Djenina Palace, aided by slaves who had been supplied with arms. The seven conspirators were all eliminated. Ali Baba Bousbaa, Agha commander of the cavalry, was appointed dey and reigned for ten years.[183] In 1805, the Janissaries, following a popular riot, attacked the Jews. Busnach and Bacri's company had large stocks of wheat as the famine raged. A Janissary killed Busnach: this was the signal for the attack against the Jews. Dey Mustapha Pasha (1798-1805) exiled Jewish families and seized their property. These measures being judged insufficient, the janissaries seized the dey and put him to death. In 1808, a new revolt: the Janissaries were dissatisfied with the evolution of Tunisian affairs, Napoleonic demands, the intention of the Dey to punish the survivors, the release of Italian captives and the installation of the Dey's wife in the Djenina. Dey Ahmed was killed, and replaced by Ali al Ghassal, who was himself strangled following a new riot. The diwan was thereafter completely eclipsed by the authority of the deys under Hadj Ali. In 1817, the janissaries accused the Dey Omar Pasha of treason and cowardice, for having agreed under pressure from the local population and the Coulouglis and even from some of them, to negotiate with Lord Exmouth. He was seized and killed,[184] and replaced by Ali Khodja (1817-1818). Suddenly, the new dey saw fit to leave the Djenina for the Kasbah above the city and to settle there under the protection of Koulouglis and Kabyle soldiers. With this support, he imposed himself on the janissaries, and sent the most turbulent on an expedition to Kabylia or encouraged their return to Turkey. There was however a new revolt, which was put down by the new guard of the dey. The janissaries returning from Kabylia were attacked in their barracks, and had to give up avenging theirs. The military finally found itself reduced to obedience.[185][unreliable source?]

Relations with Ottoman empire[edit]

In some cases Algiers participated in the Ottoman Empire's wars, such as the Russo-Turkish War of 1787-1792.[186] However, this was not common, The Ottomans having no influence in Algiers, and Algiers often ignored orders from the Ottoman sultan, such as in 1784.[clarification needed][187] Similarly, in 1798, Algiers sold wheat, through two Jewish traders, to the French forces campaigning in Egypt against the Ottomans.

In some cases, Algiers was declared to be a country rebelling against the holy law of Islam by the Ottoman Caliph.[188] This usually meant a declaration of war by the Ottomans against the Deylik of Algiers.[188] This could happen due to many reasons. For example, under the rule of Haji Ali Dey, Algerian pirates regularly attacked Ottoman shipments, and Algiers waged war against the Beylik of Tunis,[189] despite several protests by the Ottoman Porte, which resulted in a declaration of war.

It can be thus said that the relationship between the Ottoman Empire and Algiers mainly depended on what the Dey at the time wanted. While in some cases, if the relationship between the two was favorable, Algiers did participate in Ottoman wars,[186] Algiers otherwise remained completely autonomous from the rest of the Empire similar to the other Barbary States.


Territorial management[edit]

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

Beyliks of Algiers.

Each beylik was divided into outan (counties) with at their head the caïds directly under the bey. To administer the interior of the country, the administration relied on the tribes called makhzen. These tribes were responsible for securing order and collecting 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 was still divided into tribes and dominated by maraboutic brotherhoods or local djouads (nobles). Several regions of the country thus only lightly recognised the authority of Algiers. Throughout its history, they formed numerous revolts, confederations, tribal fiefs or sultanates that fought with the regency for control. Before 1830, out of the 516 political units, a total of 200 principalities or tribes were considered independent because they controlled over 60% of the territory in Algeria and refused to pay taxes to Algiers.[citation needed]


The Divan of Algiers was started in the 16th century by the Odjak and seated in the Jenina Palace [fr]. This assembly, initially led by a Janissary Agha would soon go from a way to administer the Odjack to a central part of the country's administration.[190] This change started in the 17th century, and the Diwan became an important part of the state, albeit still dominated by the janissaries. Around 1628 the Divan was expanded to include two subdivisions, one called the private (Janissary) Divan (diwan khass), and the public, or Grand Diwan (diwan âm). The latter was composed of Hanafi scholars and preachers, the raïs, and native notables. It numbered between 800 and 1500 people, but was still less important than the private Divan used by the janissaries. During the period when Algiers was ruled by Aghas, the leader of the Divan was also the leader of the country. The Agha called himself the Hakem.[191] In the 18th century, following the coup of Baba Ali Chaouche, the Divan was reformed. The grand divan was now dominan, and was the main body of the government, which elected the leader of the country, the Dey-Pacha. This new reformed Divan was composed of:[citation needed]

  • Officials
  • Ministers
  • Tribal elders
  • Moorish, Arab, and Berber Nobles
  • Janissary commanders (Kouloughlis, and Turks)
  • Rais (Pirate captains)
  • Ulema

The janissary Divan remained completely under the control of the Turkish janissary commanders, albeit it lost all authority other than decisions in the affairs of janissaries.

This Divan normally met once a week, but this wasn't always true, since if the Dey felt powerful enough he could simply stop the Divan's functions. At the beginning of their mandate, the deys consulted the divan on all important questions.[192]

However, as the Deys became stronger, the Divan became weaker. By the 19th century, the Divan was mostly ignored, especially the private Janissary Divan. The dey's council, (also called Divan by the British) became more and more powerful. Dey Ali Khodja weakened the Janissary Divan to the point where they held no power. This angered the Turkish janissaries, who launched a coup against the Dey. The coup failed, since the Dey successfully raised an army of Kabyle Zwawa cavalry, Arab infantry and Kouloughli troops. Many of the Turkish janissaries were executed, while the rest fled. The Janissary Divan was abolished, and the Grand Divan moved to the citadel of the Casbah.[citation needed]


The Dey, along with the Diwan, also appointed and relied on five ministers to govern Algiers. These were the:[59]

  • Khaznadji, similar to the position of prime minister. The Khaznadji also took care of the treasury.
  • Agha al-Mahalla, or supreme chief of the army, minister of internal affairs, was also responsible for governing the Dar as-Soltan region of Algiers
  • Khodjet al-Khil, was responsible for managing fiscal responsibilities, and collecting taxes. They also had the ceremonial role of "secretary of horses". They were assisted by a "Khaznadar".
  • Wakil al-Kharaj, or minister of the navy of Algiers and foreign affairs.
  • Bait al-Maldji, responsible for managing the tribes of the Makhzen of Algiers

These ministers were picked by the Dey of Algiers.

Armed forces[edit]


The Tai'fa of Raïs (Corsair captains community)[edit]

Authentic 200 years old Pirate flag at the Åland Maritime Museum orginating from the North African coast
Inside the Palais des Rais (Palace of the Corsair catains community) in Algiers

Besides the Turkish janissary troops the Odjak included an ethnically mixed group, this being the ta'ifa of reïs (community of corsair captains) or the Corsairs in short. In the days of Hayreddin and his immediate successors the reïs were an integral part of the army, but in the seventeenth century they had become a distinct group. By this time the holy war against the Christians had degenerated into piracy, although it continued to be described as al-jihad fi'l-bahr (holy war at sea), and the community of corsair captains had become penetrated by adventurers from many parts of the Mediterranean area. Non-Turks who came to Algiers as captives of the Algerian corsairs gained admittance to the ta'ifa of reïs through conversion to Islam and by virtue of their knowledge of the areas the corsairs raided. Unlike in Ottoman Tunisia, where privateers were allowed to equip their own piratical ships, piracy in Ottoman Algeria was a monopoly of the state. The captan-reïs, “admiral, hierarchical chief of all the reïs”, or captain of vessels, was often, after the Pasha, the most important personage of the diwan[193] The muslim corso, organized in its beginnings as self-defence against the Christian knights who continued the work of the crusades, became a permanent institution in the regency of Algiers; its main income included in the state budget. Enriching those who cared for it and returning to the treasury one-fifth of the catch, it was essential to the existence of Algiers, which all the efforts of the government tended to develop. It was also the activity upon which the prosperity of the Odjak as well as its religious prestige to a great extent depended. That is why the legendary heroes of Ottoman Algeria were ra'ises (captains of pirate ships) such as Murat Reis the Elder in the 1580s and Hamidou Raïs at the turn of the nineteenth century. These were men who distinguished themselves through audacious attacks on Christian ships and bringing important prizes to Algiers.[194]

In 1529, Hayreddin Barbarossa seized the Peñon facing the city of Algiers from the Spanish and linked the rock to the port by building the pier. This allowed Algiers to become a secure port for naval and corsair companies in the Mediterranean. The city quickly became the main base for corsairs in the Mediterranean.[195] This domination enabled him to repel several attacks from a certain number of European countries, in particular, in October 1541, that of Charles V, whose troops were defeated by the forces of the regency under the command of Hassan Agha, well aided by the storm which destroyed a good part of the enemy fleet. Other attacks were unsuccessfully carried out by the Spaniards in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Algerians armed in war those of the captured merchant ships which seemed fit for the corso, and also bought ships in Europe. They also had construction sites, located in Bab-el-Oued for large buildings, in Bab-Azoun for those of smaller dimensions. Christian slaves were employed on these shipyards, the management of which was often entrusted to renegades, even to free Christians, captains of armament or engineers of naval constructions, who hired their services for a time, without being for that put in the obligation to change religion. The masts, yards, sails, ropes, powder, ammunition, artillery pieces, were supplied by the government of the Ottoman Porte and by certain minor powers of Europe, the latter in the form of tribute.[196]

The crew of the corsairs of Algiers[edit]

A Barbary pirate, Pier Francesco Mola, 1650

According to Diego de Haedo, the fleet of Algiers (including the buildings based at Cherchell) consisted, in 1581, of 35 galliotes - including 2 of 24 benches, 1 of 23 benches, 11 of 22 benches, 8 of 20 benches, 10 of 18 benches, 1 of 19 benches, and 2 of 15 benches — and about 25 frigates (small rowing and undecked vessels), from 8 to 13 benches. More than two thirds of the Algiers galiotes are commanded by European renegades (6 Genoese, 2 Venetians, 2 Albanians, 3 Greeks, 2 Spaniards, 1 French, 1 Hungarian, 1 Sicilian, 1 Neapolitan, 1 Corsican and 3 of their sons).[197] All these renegades occupy the key positions, after the founder of the regency of Algiers, Hayreddin Barbaroassa, it is the Sardinian renegade Hassan Agha (1535-1543), the Corsican Hassan Corso (1549-1556), the Calabrian Uluj Ali Pasha (1568-1571) who ended up with the title of admiral of the fleet, then the Venetian Hassan Veneziano (1577-1580 and 1582-1583).[198] They also take part in the armies of occupation of the subjected zones like local governments before the creation of the three beyliks; of the 23 territorial bosses, thirteen are renegades or sons of renegades. Haedo would be able to say "in them, reside almost all the power, the influence, the government and the wealth of Algiers and of this regency".[199] At the beginning of the 17th century, the introduction of round ships by the Flemish corsair Simon Dansa and the arrival of Moriscos expelled from Spain contributed strongly to the development of the fleet of Algiers, which, in 1625, would have been modernized and enlarged, including six galleys, a large number of brigantines and a hundred privateers, more than sixty of them with 24 to 40 guns.[197]

The rank of reïs or commander of a racing vessel, was obtained only after an examination passed before the council of reïs, chaired by the captan (admiral) position reserved for the oldest of the reïs, who no longer sailed. Another captain, chosen by the council, commanded the fleet. The reis was absolute master on board, where the most rigorous discipline reigned. Until the use of round boats in the 17th century, which did away with oars, the reis composed the crews of their galleys, generally very low on the water, with slaves whom they bought for this purpose, or whom they were procured by capture at sea, or by descent on the Christian coast. The rowers were tied to their benches; there were as many as three hundred on a single building. When, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, navigation was practiced entirely by sail, the employment of slaves on racing ships diminished in notable proportions; but the reïs always employed some for the works of strength: turning with the capstan, the towing of the boats, care of cleanliness of the ships, etc.[200] In 1625, Algiers' pirate fleet numbered 100 ships and employed 8,000 to 10,000 men. The piracy "industry" accounted for 25 percent of the workforce of the city, not counting other activities related directly to the port. The fleet averaged 25 ships in the 1680s, but these were larger vessels than had been used the 1620s, thus the fleet still employed some 7,000 men.[201]

The Algerian corsair fleet[edit]

An Algerine Ship off a Barbary Port by Andries van Eertvelt

In the year 1630, there were about seventy boats in the port of the capital, with what the Algerians owned from the French years ago, and in the year 1632, 13 galleys were found in the port, all of which were driven by oars, and seventy others with sails, and 23 boats of thirty to fifty cannons. In the year 1634, the Algerian fleet consisted of 70 pieces, each of which was armed with between 25 and 40 cannons. Then, in 1657, this number decreased to 23 ship, and each ship included 30 to 50 cannons. In 1662, there were 22 barges and nine galleys in the capital, and in 1681 there were only 17 barges in the port of Algiers and two large ships with heavy weapons of 112 cannons. These 17 ships were mentioned by their names in the report of sieur hayet, among them: the Golden Mare, the Rose, the little Rose, the city of Algiers, the Marzouk, the Canaria.[202] On the consul’s report, Fiolle says that in 1686: "The ship called "the Golden Rose" was armed with forty cannons, the “Seven Stars” with thirty cannons, the “Golden Lion” equipped with thirty-two cannons, and that there were also on this date, 10 ships with two bridges, each containing 30 cannons, and ten single-barreled ships, each containing 14 cannons, sometimes reaching 20. There were also two ships with two bridges containing 45 cannons and a fire equipped with 20 cannons, and five other ships, two of them with 50 cannons, two with thirty cannons, and besides that, there were 39 ships for transport and trade". And it came in the report of Dr. (Duke de Grafton) dated on October 14, 1687, that the number of Algerian ships in the diversity of their forms and the difference in weight and their cargo amounted to sixty ships, which had seventy and five hundred cannons.[202]

In the 18th century the number of Algerian ships diminished and was varying from 20 to 30 ships and were mostly xebecs armed with 12 to 32 cannons. During the Barbary Wars the said number increased in 1802 to 66 barges, each with between 25 and 80 long-range cannons, then in 1815 it began to decrease to 41 ships, and there were only five battleships, four barges and 30 ships in 1816, Gouthrot says on that date only two battleships of 50 to 60 cannons, two corvettes with five cannons, two barges of 80 cannons, four galleys of 15 to 26 cannons, and one shp of 20 cannon type "polacre", and 35 ship, the General Consul of the United States of America William Shaler tells about the Algerian Navy in 1815: "The Algerian fleet was composed of five frigates with 38 to 50 cannons and five corvettes", among those ships were the well-known "Al-Marikana", and the Portuguesa also known as "Mashouda", the latter was captured by Rais Hamidou from the Portugese navy in May 1802 and there were 282 prisoners on its deck, then it was lost and others were burned when Lord admiral Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth attacked Algiers in 1816. There are also names for other ships, such as Miftah al-Salam, Dik al-Marsa, Guide to Alexandria, and others from what the Algerian Navy seized, so it left them with the names known by them before.[203] Two important attacks were the American expedition of 1815, which forced the regency to accept a right of navigation from the Americans, and that of the British and Dutch navies on Algiers in August 1816. The latter suffered great losses and were prevented from landing, but the Algerian armada also loses a very large number of ships including 4 frigates and 8 corvettes, this marked the de facto end of the Algerian Corso.

Odjak of Algiers[edit]

The Odjak of Algiers was a faction in the country which encompassed all janissaries. They often also controlled the country, for example during the period of Aghas from 1659 to 1671.[59] They usually formed the main part of the army as one of the only regular unit they possessed.

The Odjak was initially mainly composed of foreigners[204] as local tribes were deemed unreliable and their allegiance would often shift. Thus Janissaries were used to patrol rural tribal areas, and to garrison smaller forts in important locations and settlements (bordjs).

With the emancipation of Algiers from direct Ottoman control, and the worsening of relations with the Ottoman Porte, the Odjak of Algiers became much less prominent. From then on, they only numbered in the thousands.[205] Many janissaries, possibly most at some point, albeit this is not clear, were recruited among Kouloughlis (mixed Algerian-Turks).[206] Despite the fact that previously all locals had been barred from joining the Odjak, Arabs, Berbers, and Moors were allowed to join it after 1710, as a way to replenish the unit. In 1803, 1 in 17 troops of the Odjak were Arab or Berber,[207] and by 1830 the Odjak of Algiers included ed at least 2,000 native Algerian janissaries, mainly from the Zwawa tribes.[208] According to historian Daniel Panzac, about 10-15% of the Odjak was composed of native Algerians and renegades, not counting Kouloughlis.[209] By the 1820s, even Jews were allowed to join the Odjak of Algiers, although this was a highly controversial choice, and denounced by several members of Algerian society.[210]

The exact size of the Odjak varied greatly, and was usually divided into several hundred smaller units (ortas).[209] These units were mostly stationed in Algiers, Constantine, Mascara, or Medea, although usually every town with a few thousand inhabitants had at least 1 orta stationed there. Unlike the noubachis, regular units, and tribal levy, the Odjak had their own system of leadership, and they operated freely from the Beys and Deys.[209]

Spahis of Algiers[edit]

Not much is known about the spahis of Algiers, other than the fact that they were a regular standing unit, mainly composed of locals, although there were Turks amongst them.[209] They differed greatly from the traditional Ottoman sipahis, in both military equipment and organization, and hardly had anything in common with them other than their names, and both being cavalry units. The Dey also periodically had several thousand spahis in his service acting as a personal guard.[211] Other than the Dey's guard, Spahis were not recruited or stationed in Algiers, instead being usually recruited by the Beys.[212] They were usually more organized than the irregular tribal cavalry, although far less numerous.

The French Spahi units were based on the Algerian spahis,[213] and they were both mainly light cavalry.

Levy warriors[edit]

The levy militia composed from Arab-Berber warriors numbered in the tens of thousands, being overwhelmingly the largest part of the Algerian army. They were called upon from loyal tribes and clans, usually Makhzen ones. They numbered up to 50,000 in the Beylik of Oran alone.[214] The troops were armed with muskets, usually moukahlas, and swords, usually either Nimchas or Flyssas, both of which were traditional local swords.[215][216] The weaponry wasn't supplied by the state, and instead it was self-supplied. As nearly every peasant and tribesman owned a musket, it was expected from the soldiers to be equipped with one. As many of these tribes were traditionally warrior ones, many of these troops were trained since childhood, and thus were relatively effective especially in swordsmanship, albeit they were hampered by their weak organization, and by the 19th century their muskets became outdated.[217]

Modern style units[edit]

Algiers hardly possessed units based on Napoleonic or post-Napoleonic warfare, and many of their units, including the Odjak of Algiers were organized on outdated 17th and 18th century Ottoman standards. The only two main units which existed as Modern-style units were the small Zwawa guard established by Ali Khodja Dey in 1817 to counter-balance the influence of the Odjak, and the small army of Ahmed Bey ben Mohamed Chérif, the last Bey of Constantine, who organized his army on the lines of Muhammad Ali's Egyptian Army. Ahmed Bey's army was composed of 2,000 infantry, and 1,500 cavalry. His entire army was composed of native Algerians,[218] and he also built a complex system of manufactories to support the army and invited several foreigners to train technicians and other specialists.[219]

Leadership, and commanders[edit]

Main units[edit]

The army was divided into 4 regions, the exact same regions as the administrational ones (Beyliks).[citation needed]

These troops were headed by the Beys, and a Khalifa (general) appointed by them. The supreme commander of the army was the Agha al-Mahalla Levying these troops was the job of the Bey. The Odjak was headed by an Agha elected by the Odjak itself. When Algiers came under attack, the Beyliks would send their troops to help the besieged city, such as in 1775 during the Spanish Invasion of Algiers.[211] As the Beys were regional commanders, they also fought the wars in their own region, occasionally reinforced by troops from the Dar as-Soltan army. For example, in 1792, during the reconquest of Oran the Bey of Oran, Mohammed el Kebir, was the one to besiege the city using the army of the Beylik of the West, numbering up to 50,0000 with some additional reinforcements from Algiers. During the Algerian-Tunisian war of 1807 the Eastern army fought against the Tunisians. Its composition was 25,000 levy warriors from Constantine, and 5,000 reinforcements from Algiers.[220] Sub-commanders usually included powerful tribal sheiks, djouads [fr], or qaids.

Command structure of the Odjak of Algiers[edit]

The command structure of the Odjak relied on several tiers of military commanders. Initially based on basic Janissary structures, after the 17th century it was slightly changed to better fit the local warfare styles and politics. The main ranks of the Odjak were:[209]

  • Agha, or marshall of the Odjak. Elected by the Odjak until 1817, after which the Dey appointed the Aghas.[221]
  • Aghabashi, which was equal to the rank of General in western armies
  • Bulukbashi, or senior officer
  • Odabashi, or officer
  • Wakil al-Kharj, a non-commissioned officer or supply clerk
  • Yoldash, or regular soldier


Monetary system[edit]

Algerian money, and some copper household items

Initially using various forms of Ottoman and old Zayyanid and Hafsid coins such as the mangır [fr] (a sub-unit of the akçe), Algiers soon developed its own monetary system, minting its own coins in the Casbah of Algiers and Tlemcen.[222] The "central bank" of the state was located in the capital, and was known locally as the "Dâr al-Sikka".[223][224]

In the 18th century the main categories of currencies produced locally and accepted in Algiers were:

  • Algerian mahboub (Sultani), a gold coin weighing about 3.2g, with an inscription detailing the year it was produced and the year it will be decommissioned. Its production was discontinued under the reign of Baba Ali Bou Sebâa (1754-1766)
  • Algerian budju, and piastres, two types of silver coinage, the most widely used types of currency in Algeria. A budju was worth 24 mazounas and 48 kharoubs and was further divided into "rube'-budju" (1/4 boudjous), "thaman-budju" (1/8 budju)
  • minor conversion coins made of copper or billon, such as mazounas or kharoubs
  • minor coins of small value such as the saïme or pataque-chique

Algiers also had some European (mainly Spanish) and Ottoman coins in circulation.[225]

Mandatory royalties and gifts[edit]

Captain William Bainbridge paying tribute to Mustafa Pasha, dey of Algiers in 1800

The Algerian state imposed royalties on the European countries that deal with it commercially in exchange for allowing them freedom of navigation in the western basin of the Mediterranean, and giving the merchants of those countries special privileges, including significant reductions in customs duties, and this negates the character of banditry, piracy, or assault on the freedom of global trade from the part of the Algerian navy.[226] It is noted that these royalties differed according to the relationship between those countries and Algiers, and the conditions prevailing in that period had an impact on determining the amounts of these royalties, and this is shown in the following table:

Spanish Empire: It contributed $48,000 in the year 1807. And after signing the armistice of 1785 and withdrawing from Oran, it was obliged to pay him 18,000 F.

Grand Duchy of Tuscany: It was obligated before the year 1823 to pay the value of 25,000 doubles or 250,000 F.

Kingdom of Portugal: In 1822, it was obligated to pay the value of 20,000 F.

Kingdom of Sardinia: In 1822, it was forced to pay 216,000 F, following the treaty of 1746.

Kingdom of France: Before the year 1790, it paid 37,000 pounds, and after the year 1790, it pledged to pay 27,000 piasters, or 108,000 F. And in the year 1816, it committed to pay the value of 200,000 F.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland: It pledged in the year 1807 to pay 100,000 piasters, or 267,500 F, in exchange for some privileges.

Kingdom of the Netherlands: After the treaty of 1826, it committed itself to paying 10,000 Algerian sequin, and in 1807, it paid the value of 40,000 piasters, or 160,000 F.

Austrian Empire: The value of the royalties paid in the year 1807 was estimated at 200,000 F.

The United States of America paid in 1795 the value of 1,000,000 dollars, of which 21,600 dollars were in the form of equipment in exchange for special privileges. In the year 1822, it committed itself to paying $22,000.

Kingdom of Naples: In 1816, it paid a royalty estimated at 24,000 In the year 1822, a royalty of 12,000 francs every two years.

Kingdom of Norway: Paid in 1822 a royalty of 12,000 francs every two years.

Kingdom of Denmark: paid in 1822 a royalty of 180,000 francs every two years.

Kingdom of Sweden: paid in the year 1822 a royalty of 120,000 francs every two years.

Republic of Venice: Since 1747, it has paid a royalty of 2,200 gold coins annually. In 1763, the value of the royalties imposed on it became estimated at 50,000 riyals.

This is in addition to the royalties employed on some other countries, which must be paid on some occasions, and they are applied to the states of Bremen, Hanover, and Prussia, in addition to the state of the Pope.[227]

Naval spoils[edit]

The Rais Hamidou: Famous Algerian Corsaire from the 18th century

The spoils of the Corsairs multiplied in the first period of the regency, then began to decrease until they almost disappeared in the eighteenth century, then by the end of the deys period they witnessed a remarkable growth with the attempt to develop the navy and increase its military activity, especially during the period of Europe's preoccupation with the wars of the French Revolution and the conquests of Napoleon. The renewed activity of the Algerian Navy was linked to the efforts of famous sailors, led by Rais Hamidou (1790-1815 AD). the aquittance to the development of the naval spoils from which the state used to take the fifth and distribute the rest to the shipowners who contributed to equipping the fleet is got by reviewing the number of spoils according to the following years:

1628 - 1634 : 80 ships were captured during the war against France comprising 1331 people, which made the value of the total spoils in that war rise to about 4,752,000 pounds.

1737 - 1799 : the rais took over 376 ships among them 16 Portuguese ships were captured by Rais Hamidou in 1797 along with 118 prisoners. In 1785, some Genoese, Venetian and Neapolitan ships were captured, their spoils estimated at seventy-five million francs.

1800 - 1802 : The number of spoils was estimated at 575,152 francs, and 20 ships were seized, of which 19 were Neapolitan, in addition to another Portuguese ship seized by Rais Hamidou, equipped with 44 cannons, and its value was estimated at 194,231.25 francs.

1805 - 1815 : The value of spoils was estimated at 8 million francs, of which 1800 were prisoner with 30 ships.

1825 : The number of spoils reached eight ships, mostly Dutch, Spanish and English, with an estimated value of about 770415.74 francs.

1817 - 1827 : the value of spoils was approximately 700,000 francs.[96]


The agricultural production of the country was mediocre, although fallowing and crop rotation were the most common way of production, techniques and tools were obsolete by the 18th and 19th century. Agricultural products were varied: wheat, corn, cotton, rice, tobacco, watermelon and vegetables were the most commonly grown. In and around towns grapes and pomegranates were cultivated. In mountainous areas of the country, fruit trees, figs and olive trees were grown. The main agricultural export of the country was wheat.[228]

Milk was not often consumed and did not form a major part of the Algerian cuisine. The price of meat was low in Algeria before 1830, and many tribes brought in large amounts of income solely through the sale of cattle leather, although after the collapse of the Deylik and the arrival of the French the demand for cattle meat rapidly increased.[229] Wool and lamb meat were also produced in very large quantities.[229]

The majority of the western population south of the Tell Atlas and the people of the Sahara were pastoralists whose main produce was wool, which was sometimes exported to be sold in the markets of the north, while the population in the north and east settled in villages and practised agriculture. The state and urban notables (mainly Arabs, Berbers, and Kouloughlis) owned lands near the main towns, cultivated by tenant farmers under the "khammas" system.[59]

Manufacturing and craftsmanship[edit]

Manufacturing was poorly developed and restricted to shipyards, but craftsmanship was rich and was present throughout the country.[228] Cities were the seat of great craft and commercial activity. The 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 forms of craftmanship were weaving, woodturning, dyeing and production of ropes, and various tools.[230] In Algiers, a very large number of trades were practiced, and the city was home to many establishments: foundries, shipyards, various workshops, shops, and stalls. Tlemcen had more than 500 looms in it. Even in the small towns where the link with the rural world remained important, there were many craftsmen.[231]

Despite this, Algerian products were severely outcompeted by European products especially after the start of the industrial revolution in the 1760s.

In the 1820s modern industry was first introduced by Ahmed Bey ben Mohamed Chérif who built and opened large numbers of manufactories in the east of the country mainly focused around military production.[219]


The road system throughout Algeria was poorly developed, and often used neglected Roman roads.[232] Generally transport and trade happened on the back of mules, donkeys, and camels. Rural roads controlled by autonomous Makhzen sheikhs were often unpredictable and sometimes dangerous thanks to bandits, although a few main roads often based on old roman ones were regularly policed and protected by authorities, such as the main road passing along the coast all the way to Tunis, and another one passing through the main cities of the inland regions.[233]

Algiers possessed its own, very well developed sewage system based on ones found in Constantinople and Iberia.[234]


Internal trade was extremely important, especially thanks to the Makhzen system, and large amounts of products needed in cities such as wool were imported from inner tribes of the country, and needed products were exported city to city.[235] Foreign trade was mainly conducted through the Mediterranean Sea and land exports to other neighbouring countries such as Tunisia and Morocco. When it came to land trade (both internal and external) transport was mainly done on the backs of animals, but carts were also used. The roads were suitable for vehicles, and many posts held by the Odjak and the Makhzen tribes provided security. In addition, caravanserais (known locally as fonduk) allowed travelers to rest.[235]

Although control over the sahara was often loose, Algiers's economic ties with the sahara were very important,[236] and Algiers and other Algerian cities were one of the main destinations of the Trans-Saharan slave trade.[237]


Captain Walter Croker visiting a hospital at Algiers in 1816

Several hospitals were present throughout the bigger cities in Algeria, especially Algiers.[238] There existed hospitals in Algeria before the establishment of the Regency, and the first hospital built by the authorities of Algiers was built by Hassan Veneziano in the 1570s to treat military personnel.[239] Just before the French invasion, the city of Algiers itself housed two Military hospitals one known as the "Hospital of the Dey" capable of housing 2,000 sick, and another called the "Mustapha hospital" capable of housing 800.[240] When under Algerian rule from 1708 to 1732, several hospitals were built in Oran by Mustapha Bouchelaghem Bey.[241] Cities known to have hospitals were Algiers,[240] Oran,[242] Constantine, Tlemcen,[239] Médéa,[243] Béjaïa,[242] and many more.

The Algerian administration donated under charities to existing small infirmaries and hospices. it designated several lands in cities under the law of Waqf (known as hubous locally), for use of public baths, water fountains, schools and hospices and asylums for the sick and vulnerable, along with sometimes distributing corsair loot to such establishments.[244] Many infirmaries, hospitals and hospices were directly tied to mosques under waqf designation, operating next to them, or sometimes inside of them.[242] There also existed some charitable hospices maintained directly by the state made for taking care of the poor and infirm, the largest of which was the Sidi Ouali Dada hospice in Algiers, which was directly tied to the Sidi Ouali Dada mosque.[242]

There existed a Christian hospital operated by the Lazarist society used to treat Christians in Algeria and European diplomats,[245] along with a small hospital financed by the Kings of Spain and Portugal and operated by priests for treating, taking care of, and burying Christian slaves.[246][247][248] The authorities of Algiers allowed this institution to exist for a sum of $40,000/year (approximately $1,270,800 in modern-day dollars adjusted for inflation), although they personally never invested into the building of edifices made for taking care of Christians. Algiers was not the only city possessing hospitals for taking care of Christians, both free and enslaved. The city of Tlemcen possessed 12 hospitals in total, 4 of which were "Moor" hospitals (some of which were built by the Zayyanid dynasty) made for taking care of the urban Muslim population, 2 of which were Christian hospitals maintained by the Venetians and the Republic of Genoa, and 6 of which were smaller hospitals for "foreigners" (such as merchants, local tribesmen, etc.) and Jews.[242]


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

Education in Algeria was done mainly through small primary schools focused on teaching reading, writing, religious basics and other such skills, while in rural areas especially, most of education was done by local Imams, zawiyas, marabouts, and elders. Secondary and tertiary education could be pursued in various madrasas located mainly in bigger cities of the country, often maintained through waqf and Islamic donations from the central government.[244] The levels of these madrasas varied, and the biggest madrasas functioned as both places of secondary and tertiary learning. Algiers alone had several madrasas, zawiyas, and midrashims (Jewish schools), and also having very famous bookstores "warraqates" located throughout the city.[249] The state of these madrasas depended mainly on the stance of the local authorities at the time. Initially, western Algeria, especially the city of Tlemcen was the main center of learning in the country, but thanks to negligence, these schools and universities declined with some, mainly Abu Hammu II's madrasa falling into complete ruin.[250][251] The decline was only stopped when Mohammed el Kebir, Bey of Oran made a significant investment into the complete renovation and rebuilding of several places of education throughout the region,[252] although many of these centuries old madrasas, such as the Tashfiniya Madrasa fell into ruin and neglect under French rule, and many were demolished by the French.[253] Most major mosques of the country also possessed Quranic schools in them.


Map of the Regency of Algiers in 1829.

The total population of the Regency of Algiers is a highly debated subject. The best estimates put it between 3,000,000 and 5,000,000,[254] although Algerian dignitary Hamdan Khodja estimated the total population of Algeria to be about 10,000,000 before the French invasion in his book written in 1833.[254][210] In 1830, there were about 10,000 'Turks' (including people from Kurdish, Greek and Albanian ancestry[255]) and 5,000 Kouloughli civilians (from the Turkish kul oğlu, "son of slaves (Janissaries)", i.e. creole of Turks and local women).[256] By 1830, more than 17,000 Jews were living in the Regency.[257] According to Moritz Wagner, the Arabs formed the great majority of the population of the Regency of Algiers.[258]


The New Mosque (Djama' el-Djedid) in Algiers (1660)

During this period Algiers developed into a major town and witnessed regular architectural patronage, and as such most of the major monuments from this period are concentrated there. By contrast, the city of Tlemcen, the former major capital of the region, went into relative decline and saw far less architectural activity.[259]: 234–236  Mosque architecture in Algiers during this period demonstrates the convergence of multiple influences as well as peculiarities that may be attributed to the innovations of local architects.[259]: 238–240  Domes of Ottoman influence were introduced into the design of mosques, but minarets generally continued to be built with square shafts instead of round or octagonal ones, thus retaining local tradition, unlike contemporary architecture in Ottoman Tunisia and other Ottoman provinces, where the "pencil"-shaped minaret was a symbol of Ottoman sovereignty.[259]: 238 [260][261] The oldest surviving mosque from this era is the Ali Bitchin (or 'Ali Bitshin) Mosque in Algiers, commissioned by Ali Bitchin in 1622.[259]: 238  The most significant mosque of this era is the New Mosque (Djamaa el-Djedid) in Algiers,[262] built in 1660–1661 by al-Hajj Habib, which became one of the most important Hanafi mosques in the city.[259]: 239 [263]: 433 

Algiers was protected by a wall about 3.1 kilometres (1.9 mi) long with five gates.[259]: 237 [264] A citadel, the qasba (origin of the name "Casbah"), occupied the highest point of the town.[264] By the end of the 18th century the city had over 120 mosques, including over a dozen congregational mosques.[264] The lower part of the city, near the shore, was the center of the Ottoman and regency administration, containing the most important markets, mosques, wealthy residences, janissary barracks, government buildings like the mint, and palaces.[259]: 237 [264] The residential palace of the ruler in Algiers, the Janina or Jenina ('Little Garden'), was situated at the center of a larger palatial complex known as the Dar al-Sultan in the lower part of the city. This complex served as the ruling palace until 1816, when the Dey moved to the qasba following a British bombardment of the city that year.[259]: 237 [264] The only example of architecture from the Dar al-Sultan complex that is still preserved today is the Dar 'Aziza Bint al-Bey, believed to have been built in the 16th century.[259]: 242 [265]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In the historiography relating to the regency of Algiers, it has been named "Kingdom of Algiers",[5] "Republic of Algiers",[6] "State of Algiers",[7] "State of El-Djazair",[8] "Ottoman Regency of Algiers",[7] "precolonial Algeria", "Ottoman Algeria",[9] etc. The Algerian historian Mahfoud Kaddache [fr] said that "Algeria was first a regency, a kingdom-province of the 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".[10]
  2. ^ The French historians Ahmed Koulakssis and Gilbert Meynier write that "its the same word, in international treaty which describes the city and the country it commands : Al Jazâ’ir".[11] Gilbert Meynier adds that "even if the path is difficult to build a State on the rubble of Zayanid's and Hafsids States [...] now, we speak about dawla al-Jaza’ir[12] (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. ^ (1965)كتاب حرب الثلاثمائة سنة بين الجزائر واسبانيا 1492 – 1792 ،أحمد توفيق المدني, p175. According to Tarek Kahlaoui, Creating the Mediterranean: Maps and the Islamic Imagination (Brill, 2018), p. 216, the city of Algiers is represented by a flag of red, yellow and green horizontal stripes in an Ottoman atlas of 1551 (Al-Sharafīʼs atlas of 1551)[1].Mouloud Gaïd : L'Algerie sous les Turcs (Algeria under thr Turks), p.58 : "Le grand drapeau d'Alger, formé de trois bandes de soie, rouge, verte, jaune, se déploya majestueusement au-dessus de la port" (The great flag of Algiers, formed of three bands of silk in red, green and yellow, majestically deployed over the gate) [2]. The Flags of the World - Their History, Blazonry, and Associations, Plate 7. Library of Alexandria, 1890, p149,p179 [3]. 17th and 18th centuries FLAGS PRINT 1950s [4]
  3. ^ The red-and-yellow-striped banner flew over the city of Algiers in 1776 according to an article in The Flag Bulletin, Volume 25 (1986), p166. See also Historical flags of Algeria
  4. ^ Anthony Finley (1824). A New General Atlas, Comprising a Complete Set of Maps: Representing the Grand Divisions of the Globe, Together with the Several Empires, Kingdoms and States in the World. Anthony Finley. p. 57.
  5. ^ Tassy 1725, pp. 1, 3, 5, 7, 12, 15 et al
  6. ^ Tassy 1725, p. 300 chap. XX
  7. ^ a b Ghalem & Ramaoun 2000, p. 27
  8. ^ Kaddache 1998, p. 3
  9. ^ Panzac 1995, p. 62
  10. ^ Kaddache 1998, p. 233
  11. ^ Koulakssis & Meynier 1987, p. 17.
  12. ^ Meynier 2010, p. 315.
  13. ^ Mémoires de la Société Bourguignonne de Géographie et d'Histoire, Volumes 11-12 Societé Bourguignonne de Géographie et d'Histoire, Dijon
  14. ^ Nouvelle géographie universelle: La terre et les hommes, Volume 11 Reclus Librairie Hachette & Cie.,
  15. ^ Sands of Death: An Epic Tale Of Massacre And Survival In The Sahara Michael Asher Hachette UK,
  16. ^ Collective coordinated by Hassan Ramaoun, L'Algérie : histoire, société et culture, Casbah Editions, 2000, 351 p. (ISBN 9961-64-189-2), p. 27
  17. ^ 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 [fr] et Éditions Barzakh, 2012 (ISBN 9782707173263), p. 110-113.
  18. ^ a b ناصر الدين سعيدوني (2009). ورقات جزائرية: دراسات وأبحاث في تاريخ الجزائر في العهد العثماني (Algerian papers: studies and research on the history of Algeria during the Ottoman era). الجزائر: دار البصائر للنشر والتوزيع. p. 195.
  19. ^ Meynier, Gilbert; Koulakssis, Ahmed (1987). L'émir Khaled: premier zaʼîm ?: identité algérienne et colonialisme français [Emir Khaled: first za'im?: Algerian Identity and French Colonialism] (coll. Histoire et perspectives méditerranéennes (Mediterranean History and Perspectives) ed.). Paris: éditions L'Harmattan. pp. 7, 17. ISBN 2-85802-859-1.
  20. ^ Bouchène, Abderrahmane; Peyroulou, Jean-Pierre; Siari Tengour, Ouanassa; Thénault, Sylvie (2014). Histoire de l'Algérie à la période coloniale: 1830-1962 [History of Algeria in the Colonial Period:1830-1962] (2012 ed.). La Découverte. p. 784. ISBN 978-2-7071-8231-9.
  21. ^ Merouche, Lemnouar (2007). Recherches sur l'Algérie à l'époque ottomane II : La course, mythes et réalités (Éditions Bouchène ed.). Paris. p. 353. ISBN 978-2-912946-95-9.
  22. ^ Merouche, Lemnouar (2002). Recherches sur l'Algérie à l'époque ottomane I : Monnaies, prix et revenus 1520-1830. Paris: Éditions Bouchène. p. 314. ISBN 978-2-35676-054-8.
  23. ^ Merouche, Lemnouar (2002). Recherches sur l'Algérie à l'époque ottomane I : Monnaies, prix et revenus 1520-1830. Paris: Éditions Bouchène. p. 314. ISBN 978-2-35676-054-8.
  24. ^ Collectif (2000). L'Algérie histoire, société et culture [Algeria: History, Society and Culture] (Casbah ed.). pp. 26–27. ISBN 9961-64-189-2.
  25. ^ BRAUDEL, FERNAND (1990). La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen à l'époque de Philippe II (Armand Colin ed.). Paris. p. Tome 2, p93. ISBN 2253061697.
  26. ^ Jamil M. Abun Nasr (1999). A History Of The Maghrib In The Islamic Period (University of Beyrouth ed.). p. 147.
  27. ^ Donald Edgar Pitcher (1972). An Historical Geography of the Ottoman Empire from Earliest Times to the End of the Sixteenth Century. Brill. p. 107. ISBN 9789004038288.
  28. ^ أحمد توفيق المدني (1965). كتاب حرب الثلاثمائة سنة بين الجزائر واسبانيا 1492 – 1792 (الطبعة الأولى ed.). دار البعث، قسنطينة – الجزائر: الشركة الوطنية للنشر والتوزيع. pp. 64–71.
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