Map of the Regency of Algiers in 1609
|Common languages||Arabic (official, government, religious, literature), Berber, Ottoman Turkish (elite, diplomatic)|
|Religion||Islam (Maliki and Hanafi), Judaism|
|Government||Beylerbeylik (1518-1590) then Eyalet (1590-1830) of the Ottoman Empire|
|Today part of||Algeria|
The regency of Algiers[a] (in Arabic: Al Jazâ'ir),[b] was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire in North Africa lasting from 1515 to 1830, when it was conquered by the French. Situated between the regency of Tunis in the east and the Sharifian Empire (from 1553) in the west (and the Spanish and Portuguese possessions of North Africa), the Regency originally extended its borders from La Calle to the east to Trara in the west and from Algiers to Biskra, and after spread to the present eastern and western borders of Algeria.
The Regency was governed by beylerbeys, pashas, aghas and deys, and was composed of various beyliks (provinces) under the authority of beys (vassals): Constantine in the east, Medea in the Titteri and Mazouna, then Mascara and then Oran in the west. Each beylik was divided into various outan (counties) with at their head the caïds directly under the bey. To administer the interior of the country, the administration relied on the tribes said makhzen. These tribes were responsible for securing order and 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 maraboutics 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.
From 1496, the Spanish conquered numerous possessions on the North African coast, which had been captured since 1496: Melilla (1496), Mers El Kébir (1505), Oran (1509), Bougie (1510), Tripoli (1510), Algiers, Shershell, Dellys, and Tenes.
Around the same time, the Ottoman privateer brothers Oruç and Hayreddin--both known to Europeans as Barbarossa, or "Red Beard"--were operating successfully off Tunisia under the Hafsids. In 1516, Oruç moved his base of operations to Algiers and asked for the protection of the Ottoman Empire in 1517, but was killed in 1518 during his invasion of the Kingdom of Tlemcen. Hayreddin succeeded him as military commander of Algiers.
Oruç, Hayreddin Barbarossa's brother, captured Algiers in 1516, apart from the Spanish Peñón of Algiers. Following the death of Oruç in 1518 at the hand of the Spanish in the Fall of Tlemcen, Barbarossa requested the assistance of the Ottoman Empire, in exchange for acknowledging Ottoman authority in his dominions. Before Ottoman help could arrive, the Spanish retook the city of Algiers in 1519. Barbarossa recaptured the city definitively in 1525, and in 1529 the Spanish Peñon in the capture of Algiers.
Hayreddin Barbarossa established the military basis of the regency. The Ottomans provided a supporting garrison of 2,000 Turkish troops with artillery. He left Hasan Agha in command as his deputy when he had to leave for Constantinople in 1533.
The son of Barbarossa, Hasan Pashan was in 1544, when his father retired, the first governor of the Regency to be directly appointed by the Ottoman Empire. He took the title of beylerbey. Algiers became a base in the war against Spain, and also in the Ottoman conflicts with Morocco.
Beylerbeys continued to be nominated for unlimited tenures until 1587. After Spain had sent an embassy to Constantinople in 1578 to negotiate a truce, leading to a formal peace in August 1580, the Regency of Algiers was a formal Ottoman territory, rather than just a military base in the war against Spain. At this time, the Ottoman Empire set up a regular Ottoman administration in Algiers and its dependencies, headed by Pashas, with 3 year terms to help considate Ottoman power in the Maghreb.
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.
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. (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.
A contemporary letter states:
The infinity of goods, merchandise jewels and treasure taken by our English pirates daily from Christians and carried to Allarach [ Larache, in Morocco], Algire and Tunis to the great enriching of Mores and Turks and impoverishing of Christians-- Contemporary letter sent from Portugal to England.
Privateer and slavery of Christians originating from Algiers were a major problem throughout the centuries, leading to regular punitive expeditions by European powers. Spain (1567, 1775, 1783), Denmark (1770), France (1661, 1665, 1682, 1683, 1688), England (1622, 1655, 1672), all led naval bombardments against Algiers.Abraham Duquesne fought the Barbary pirates in 1681 and bombarded Algiers between 1682 and 1683, to help Christian captives.
In the mid-1700s Dano-Norwegian trade in the Mediterranean expanded. In order to protect the lucrative business against piracy, Denmark-Norway had secured a peace deal with the states of 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 should be increased, and he should 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 bomb the Algerian capital if the Algerians did not agree to a new peace deal on Danish terms. Algiers was not intimidated by the fleet, the fleet was of 2 frigates, 2 bomb galiot and 4 ship of the line.
During the early 19th century, the Regency of Algiers again resorted to widespread piracy against shipping from Europe and the young United States of America, mainly due to internal fiscal difficulties. This in turn led to the First Barbary War and Second Barbary Wars, which culminated in August 1816 when Lord Exmouth executed a naval Bombardment of Algiers. The Barbary Wars resulted on a major victory for the American Navy.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the Regency of Algiers had greatly benefited from trade in the Mediterranean, and of the massive imports of food by France, largely bought on credit by France. In 1827, Hussein Dey, Algeria's Ottoman ruler, demanded that the French pay a 31-year-old debt, contracted in 1799 by purchasing supplies to feed the soldiers of the Napoleonic Campaign in Egypt.
The French consul Pierre Deval refused to give answers satisfactory to the dey, and in an outburst of anger, Hussein Dey touched the consul with his fan. Charles X used this as an excuse to break diplomatic relations. The Regency of Algiers would end with the French invasion of Algiers in 1830, followed by subsequent French rule for the next 132 years.
After its conquest by Turks, Algeria became a province of the Ottoman Empire. The Regency was successively governed by Beylerbeys (1518-70), Pachas (1570-1659), Aghas (1659-71), then Deys (1671-1830), on behalf of the Ottoman Sultan.
Until 1671, Beylerbeys, Pachas and Aghas were appointed by the Ottoman sultan and were subjucted to him. After a coup in 1671, the Regency acquired a large degree of autonomy and became a military republic, ruled in the name of the Ottoman sultan by Deys, officers chosen either by the Ottoman militia or the Captains. From 1718 onwards, Deys were elected by the Divan, an assembly aimed to represent the interests of both Captains and Janissaries.
As of 1808, the population of the Regency of Algiers numbered around 3 million people, of whom 10,000 were 'Turks' (including people from Kurdish, Greek and Albanian ancestry) and 5,000 Kouloughlis (from the Turkish kul o?lu, "son of slaves (Janissaries)", i.e. creole of Turks and local women). By 1830, more than 17,000 Jews were living in the Regency.
[In 1671] Ottoman Algeria became a military republic, ruled in the name of the Ottoman sultan by officers chosen by and in the interest of the Ujaq.
When the French turned their eyes to the kingdom of Algiers in 1830, the region had been under Ottoman rule since 1516. The Regency of Algiers was a province of the Ottoman empire under the authority of the dey of Algiers, who had acquired a large degree of autonomy from the sultan and who was chosen by Janissaries, the Ottoman militia of Algiers.