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Barbary Coast (Algeria, XVth century - 1671)

Last modified: 2004-12-22 by
Keywords: barbary coast | bejaia | constantine | crossbow |
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Historical overview

From the XVth century onward, the inhabitants of the Algerine coast devoted themselves to piracy, to which the European states tried to respond.
Algiers, Oran, Bejaia, Mers-el-Kebir and other cities of the Algerine coast were conquered by King Ferran of Catalonia in 1509 and attached to the dominions of the Catalan crown.
In 1515, the pirate Aruj Barbarossa, who had been called in by Emir Selim of Mitidja, captured the city of Algiers, which was defended by an Iberian garrison. But then he put the Emir to death and, with popular support, proclaimed himself the ruler, establishing a military despotism based on piracy. He quickly extended his domains throughout Algeria, conquering Miliana, Medea, Tenes, and Tlemcen, where he met his death in 1518 while besieging the Catalans.
His brother, Khaireddin Barbarossa, who succeeded him, declared himself a vassal of the Ottoman Sultan Selim for the purpose of restoring the situation that had been compromised by the death of the founder. With the Castilians expelled from almost all parts of his possessions, he continued exercising sure control over piracy from a fortress erected on on island near Algiers, the so-called Rock of Algiers. Barbarossa captured this fortress in 1529.
In 1533 he was appointed Kapudan Pasha, which is to say commander in chief of the Ottoman fleet, and left the administration of the country in the hands of beylerbeys appointed by the Sublime Porte.

As some of the rulers acted too independently, the system of beylerbeys was replaced in 1587 by pashas appointed for a term of three years. Starting in 1659 the pashas effectively lost power to the aghas commanders of the militia. All four of the aghas who ruled died by assassination, and in 1671 a system of deys was instituted.

Flags from this period and earlier are shown in portolanos and were reported in Vexilologie [vex] in 1967 and 1969, for Bejaia, Constantine and Tlemcen.

Jaume Ollé, translated by Joe McMillan, 19 January 2002


Bejaia

[Bejaia]by Jaume Ollé

[Bejaia, other flag]by Jaume Ollé


Constantine

[Constantine]by Ivan Sache

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