V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > C. The Middle East and North Africa, 1792–1914 > 3. North Africa, 1792–1914 > c. Tunisia
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1799, March 26)
c. Tunisia
At the turn of the century Tunisia was ruled by the Husaynid dynasty, supported by a Turkish military caste. The estimated population of the country was no more than 1 million, two-thirds of whom were sedentary and the rest tribal nomads. The economy, although largely agrarian, still derived two-fifths of its income from corsair raiding activity.  1
War with Algeria. In an effort to end his country's payment of tribute to Algeria, the Tunisian ruler Hamuda Bey (r.1782–1814) besieged Constantine in 1807, but was driven out. After several unsuccessful Algerian counterattacks (1807–12) a peace treaty brokered by the Ottomans was signed in 1821.  2
1811, Sept
Revolt of the Turkish army contingent (jund). Hamuda Bey used this opportunity to lessen his military dependence on Anatolian recruits and began to draw on members of the Zwawa Berber tribe. The Turkish troops revolted again in 1816 and 1829, forcing rulers to continue attempts to reorganize the composition of the military.  3
MAHMUD BEY. He came to power after assassinating his cousin Uthman Bey and ending his short and ineffective rule (Sept.–Nov. 1814). Together with the chief minister Muhammad ibn Zarruq (d. 1822), Mahmud Bey launched a policy of increased taxation that had a negative effect on agricultural production.  4
Bubonic plague, which reduced the population by an estimated one-quarter. Short outbreaks of the disease were almost yearly occurrences throughout North Africa before 1818, but the 1818–20 epidemic was especially severe. There were no further serious instances of the plague after 1822.  5
Mahmud Bey designated olive oil a taxable state monopoly. It was sold to the government at fixed prices and then resold for profit to European exporters.  6
Sept. 21
Anglo-French naval demonstration. A squadron was sent to notify Mahmud Bey of the European protocol adopted at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818 demanding the end of piracy. Mahmud Bey was forced to agree in writing that he would cease to support corsair activity.  7
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.