Share on LinkedIn
Share on WhatsApp
Share on Telegram

Algeria’s accession to the Ottoman Empire

1- Introduction

The western mediterranean basin made a collision zone between the islamic and the crusader powers. The zone had gained prominence and challenges after the king Ferdinand of Aragon and his spouse Isabella queen of Castile showed their rapacity, and declared a war against muslim homes in the Islamic Maghreb; therefore, the Algerian coasts recieved repetitive attacks. With the internal situation’s difficulties in Algeria, and not being able to face the challenges, the inhabitants sought help from the Ottoman state, as it represented the muslims’ protector, and Holder of the Islamic Caliphate Brigade. And this is where a crucial phase in the modern history of Algeria started.

2-Algeria’s situation before the Ottomans’ arrival

The fall of the Almohad state was followed by severe conflicts between the Maghreb countries, and Algeria was exposed to those conflicts more than Tunisia and Morocco because of its geographical location, which weakened the central authority of Beni Ziane. The state of Beni Ziane was theoretically controlling the western part of the current Algeria that was established by “Yahia Ighmrasin Ben Ziane” in 1236,AD. However, this empire was prone to Beni Marine’s invasions in Morocco, and Beni Hafs in Tunisia, which made the states Beni Ziane, and Beni Hafs in Tunisia weak.

Besides, the previous connections that were still normalizing the Maghreb community, had led to the division of many tribes, and the appearance of princedoms that refused to be subject to any central authority. Therefore, the Maghreb was in the middle of a social chaos, political division, and tribal conflicts. On the other hand, Europe and Spain had known an industrial development, and a renaissance in different domains, but mainly in the military field. Another important event had taken place in Spain, which is the political matrimony of the king king “Ferdinand of Aragon” and his spouse “Isabella” queen of Castile, and the union of the Ibirian peninsula in 1479,AD, that led to the expulsion of muslims from andalusia and the confiscation of their properties after the fall of Granada in 1492 AD. A big part of the expelled muslims settled down in the Maghreb, so the Spaniards tracked them fearing that they would come back, and this helped them overcome their conflicts  about the city Melilia with the Portugals, and that is through the “Tordesillas” treaty.

Under these circumstances, the Spaniards were able to take over many coastal towns including the Big Port in 1505 AD, Oran in 1509 AD, and Bejaia in 1510 AD. They met with the Spanish leader “Pedro Navarro” and the two parties agreed on the following: To make peace, to  commit on releasing the christian prisoners by the Algerian party, to guarantee not to subvert the Spanish ships by the Algerians, to allow a delegation to travel in order to make a final convention with the king’s government, and to make the Algerians pay an annual tax to the Spanish governor in Bejaia, and that is in recognition of dependency in exchange for not attacking Algeria by the Spanish.

On this basis, the Algerian delegation traveled to Spain, and the two parties agreed on Algeria’s extradition of its biggest rocky islands ‘Penon’ to Spain in order for them to build a bastion that ensures the freedom of their businesses and their maritime transportations. Except that, this bastion had put obstacles for the Algerian maritime industry, and it remained the same. Mostaganem had signed the treaty with the Spaniards, it stated that the Mostaganem and Mazagran inhabitants should commit on paying the taxes to the Spaniards, and release the christian slaves emprisoned.

In addition to that, handing the christian slaves who escape to Spain, financing the big port and Oran, and allowing them to colonize the forts and bastions , and building others in both cities if they wanted to. Even Tlemcen joined those cities and developed alliances with the Spaniards in 1511 AD, then became under Spanish protection. Regarding the Algerian traders, they were still at the mercy of Spanish cannons, and it remained the same up until 1516 AD, when the Spanish King “Ferdinand V” passed away, and the Algerians took advantage of it to get rid of the tax they were paying for the Spaniards. However, they were afraid of their revenge, so they asked for “Arouj”’s help while he was in Jijel, and he met their demands. Therefore, he set up a marine revolution led by his brother “Khair El Din Barbarossa”, and an inland revolution led by himself and some of his armies. When he arrived at Algiers, he didn't make a stop at Algiers, he continued his way to the city of Cherchel aiming at reckoning with its ruler “Hassan Kara”, and assassinated him fearing that he would betray him. Following this, he went to Algiers, and the inhabitants warmly welcomed him. When “Baarouj” was getting ready to fight Spain, he felt that “Salim Toumi” did not like his presence because he considered him as a rival, therefore he spied on him, and eventually discovered his intentions, so he assassinated him.

This is how things started to settle down in Algeria, except that the presence of the Ottomans annoyed their neighbors, such as, the ruler of the city ‘Tness’ “Hamid El Eid” who set up a campaign against “Arouj” . The latter discovered his intrigues, so he called “Khair El Din” from the city ‘Delles’, and he entrusted him with ruling the city during his absence. He initiated attacking his opponent in his hometown, so “Hamid” ran away to the mountains, and “Arouj” made his entrance to the city “Tness” in June 1517 AD. This is when he received delegations from the city Tlemcen appealing for help about their Sultan “Abu Hamou” III who made an alliance with Spain against their legal Sultan “Abu Zian”, then he headed to the city “Tlemcen. When “Abu Hamou” III knew about his arrival, he escaped to the city of Oran and asked the Spaniards for help, so they prepared a campaign against him, and “Arouj” responded to them. However, not having reinforcement made him leave the city, except that the Spaniards blocked his way and assassinated him near “El Maleh” valley in 1518 AD.

Those events and updates affected Khair El Din starting from the martyrdom of his brother that negatively impacted his mental health, in addition to the lack of people and equipment, in addition to the appearance of rebelliance pioneers after his brother’s death in some of the hostile regions like Tenes and Cherchel and some elements that were excluded from governance came back to rule with an alliance with Span , therefore he decided to leave, however the the inhabitants asked his to stay, then the scholars of Algeria released a fatwa that consisted of putting Khair Eddine responsible for any bloodshed cause by Spain. 

Algeria’s connection to the Ottoman empire

The inhabitants' insistence on Khair Eddine to stay affected his psychology so he decided to stay. Nonetheless, his weakness made him look for a strong-arm to protect him, and that was the Ottoman state. It was very natural for a muslim city threatened by christians to have the desire to be under the protection of the islamic caliphate. The inhabitants accepted “Khair El Din’s suggestion to join Algeria to the islamic caliphate, therefore, he asked them to write a book to the Ottoman sultan, telling him about their obedience. He also wrote him a book containing the same offer, and then he sent a delegation headed by “Haj Hussein” to the sultan “Salim I” with an incredible gift.

The Ottoman sultan accepted Khair El Din’s offer, and so Algeria entered under the auspices of the Ottoman caliphate in 1518 AD.