IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > C. The Middle East and North Africa, 1500–1800 > 3. North Africa, 1504–1799 > b. Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1504)
b. Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya
In the 16th century the North African countries, with the exception of Morocco, were absorbed into the Ottoman Empire. The provincial administrations set up in Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis soon developed an autonomous character, with local regimes run largely by the military. They were not, however, entirely independent of Ottoman authority: they continued to acknowledge Ottoman suzerainty, to draw on Turkish recruits for their armies, and to seek Ottoman diplomatic support and mediation in local disputes.  1
The corsairs Aruj and Khayr al-Din Barbarossa accepted the patronage of the Hafsid ruler of Tunisia. They made the island of Jerba their base of Mediterranean operations for their jihad, or holy war, against Christian ships. The corsairs, as pirate captains, belonged to a highly valued and organized profession in Muslim North Africa. They banded together into guilds, or ta'ifas, for their mutual benefit. Most of them were Europeans who had converted to Islam. They played a prominent role in the governments of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, the three ports that came under Ottoman control in the 16th century.  2
The Algerian port of Oran taken by the Spanish.  3
Tripoli and Bougie captured by the Spanish. Spanish victories prompted the inhabitants of Algiers to call upon Muslim corsairs to assist with their defense. The Spanish controlled all of the Algerian littoral through a series of coastal garrisons (presidios). They did not occupy Algiers but constructed a fort called the Peñon on an islet overlooking the harbor. They remained isolated in their coastal enclaves, dependent on naval support.  4
Aruj and Khayr al-Din Barbarossa installed at Algiers at the request of the city's inhabitants.  5
ESTABLISHMENT OF OTTOMAN RULE IN ALGIERS. Besieged by the Spanish, Khayr al-Din Barbarossa placed himself under the direct authority of the Ottoman sultan Selim I, who appointed him beylerbey (provincial governor) and sent him as military reinforcement a unit of Janissary musket-bearing infantry. In 1529, after a protracted struggle with the Spanish, he won full control of Algiers and began conquering the interior of Algeria. Garrisons brought the countryside into the sphere of Ottoman control, and provincial taxes were collected in yearly military expeditions (mahallas). But already by the late 16th century, real power rested with local Janissary commanders, not the Ottoman governor.  6
ALGIERS became the prosperous center of an economy based primarily on privateering, or state-sponsored piracy. Corsair wealth funded the development of an imposing city, with tall protective walls, a citadel (completed in 1590), gracious homes, fine public buildings, and various urban amenities. The population grew from some 20,000 to about 100,000 by the 17th century and included a mix of Turks, corsairs, native Algerians (baldis), Berbers, and Jews. Thousands of Christian captives taken on raids were held in prisons called bagnios. They were sold, ransomed, or used as slaves.  7
The Knights of St. John, an order founded by the Habsburg emperor Charles V, established a garrison at Tripoli.  8
Khayr al-Din Barbarossa was appointed admiral of the Ottoman fleet and took direction of Ottoman naval operations in the western Mediterranean.  9
First Ottoman conquest of Tunis by Khayr al-Din Barbarossa. He was pushed out by Spanish forces, which established a garrison in the port. Al-Hasan, the Hafsid ruler of Tunis, became a vassal of Emperor Charles V.  10
Tlemcen captured by the Habsburgs.  11
ESTABLISHMENT OF OTTOMAN RULE IN TRIPOLI. The Ottoman fleet dislodged the Hospitallers of St. John from Tripoli. The corsair captain Draghut (Turghut) was appointed Ottoman governor of the province of Tripoli and began bringing the interior under Ottoman rule. The province remained under direct Ottoman control, through governors appointed by Istanbul, until 1629.  12
Second Ottoman conquest of Tunis. The city was recaptured by the Europeans after their naval victory at Lepanto in 1571.  13
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.