Since the 4000 BC, the indigenous peoples of northern Africa (identified by the Romans as Berbers) were pushed back from the coast by successive waves of Phoenician, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, Arab, Turkish, and, finally, French invaders.
The Carthaginian state declined because of successive defeats by the Romans in the Punic Wars, and in 146 BC the city of Carthage was destroyed. As Carthaginian power waned, the influence of Berber leaders in the hinterland grew.
By the 2nd century BC, several large but loosely administered Berber kingdoms had emerged. After that king Massinissa managed to unify Numidia under his rule.
Madghis (Madghacen) was a king of independent kingdoms of the Numidians, between 12 and 3 BC.
Berber territory was annexed by the Roman Empire in AD 24. Increases in urbanization and in the area under cultivation during Roman rule caused wholesale dislocations of Berber society, and Berber opposition to the Roman presence was nearly constant. The prosperity of most towns depended on agriculture, and the region was known as the breadbasket of the empire.
Christianity arrived in the 2nd century AD. By the end of the 4th century, the settled areas had become Christianized, and some Berber tribes had converted en masse.
Several Berber dynasties have emerged during the Middle Ages to the Maghreb, Sudan, in Andalusia, Italy, in Mali, Niger, Senegal, Egypt ... etc.. Ibn Khaldoun made a table of Berber Dynasties: Zirid, Banu Ifran, Maghrawa, Almoravid, Hammadid, Almohad, Merinid, Abdalwadid, Wattasid, Meknassa, Hafsid dynasty.
Islam and the Arabic language.The introduction of Islam and Arabic had a profound impact on North Africa (or the Maghreb) beginning in the 7th century. The new religion and language introduced changes in social and economic relations, established links with a rich culture, and provided a powerful idiom of political discourse and organisation. From the great Berber dynasties of the Almoravids and Almohads to the militants seeking an Islamic state in the 1990s, the call to return to true Islamic values and practices has had social resonance and political power.
The first Arab military expeditions into the Maghreb, between 642 and 669, resulted in the spread of Islam. The Umayyads (a Muslim dynasty based in Damascus from 661 to 750) recognised that the strategic necessity of dominating the Mediterranean dictated a concerted military effort on the North African front. By 711 Umayyad forces helped by Berber converts to Islam had conquered all of North Africa. In 750 the Abbasids succeeded the Umayyads as Muslim rulers and moved the caliphate to Baghdad. Under the Abbasids, Berber Kharijites Sufri Banu Ifran were opposed to Umayyad and Abbasids. After, the Rustumids (761–909) actually ruled most of the central Maghrib from Tahirt, southwest of Algiers. The imams gained a reputation for honesty, piety, and justice, and the court of Tahirt was noted for its support of scholarship. The Rustumid imams failed, however, to organise a reliable standing army, which opened the way for Tahirt’s demise under the assault of the Fatimid dynasty.
With their interest focused primarily on Egypt and Muslim lands beyond, the Fatimids left the rule of most of Algeria to the Zirids and Hammadid (972–1148), a Berber dynasty that centered significant local power in Algeria for the first time but they still in war with Banu Ifran (kingdom of Tlemcen) and Maghraoua (942-1068). This period was marked by constant conflict, political instability, and economic decline. Following a large incursion of Arab bedouin from Egypt beginning in the first half of the 11th century, the use of Arabic spread to the countryside, and sedentary Berbers were gradually Arabised.
- 1 Islamisation
- 2. Spanish enclaves
- 3.Ottoman rule
- 4.French rule
- 5. Independent Algeria
- 5.1 Ben Bella presidency (1962-65)
- 5.2 The 1965 coup and the Boumédienne military regime
- 5.3 Bendjedid rule (1978-92) and the rise of the civil war
- 5.4 Normalization under Bouteflika (1999)
- The Almoravid (“those who have made a religious retreat”) movement developed early in the 11th century among the Sanhaja Berbers of the western Sahara. The movement’s initial impetus was religious, an attempt by a tribal leader to impose moral discipline and strict adherence to Islamic principles on followers. But the Almoravid movement shifted to engaging in military conquest after 1054. By 1106 the Almoravids had conquered Morocco, the Maghreb as far east as Algiers, and Spain up to the Ebro River.Like the Almoravids, the Almohads (“unitarians”) found their inspiration in Islamic reform. The Almohads took control of Morocco by 1146, captured Algiers around 1151, and by 1160 had completed the conquest of the central Maghrib. The zenith of Almohad power occurred between 1163 and 1199. For the first time, the Maghrib was united under a local regime, but the continuing wars in Spain overtaxed the resources of the Almohads, and in the Maghrib their position was compromised by factional strife and a renewal of tribal warfare.In the central Maghrib, the Abdalwadid founded a dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of Tlemcen in Algeria. For more than 300 years, until the region came under Ottoman suzerainty in the 16th century, the Zayanids kept a tenuous hold in the central Maghrib. Many coastal cities asserted their autonomy as municipal republics governed by merchant oligarchies, tribal chieftains from the surrounding countryside, or the privateers who operated out of their ports. Nonetheless, Tlemcen, the “pearl of the Maghrib,” prospered as a commercial center.The final triumph of the 700-year Christian reconquest of Spain was marked by the fall of Granada in 1492. Christian Spain imposed its influence on the Maghrib coast by constructing fortified outposts and collecting tribute. But Spain never sought to extend its North African conquests much beyond a few modest enclaves. Privateering was an age-old practice in the Mediterranean, and North African rulers engaged in it increasingly in the late 16th and early 17th centuries because it was so lucrative. Algeria became the privateering city-state par excellence, and two privateer brothers were instrumental in extending Ottoman influence in Algeria. At about the time Spain was establishing its presidios in the Maghrib, the Muslim privateer brothers Aruj and Khair ad Din—the latter known to Europeans as Barbarossa, or Red Beard—were operating successfully off Tunisia. In 1516 Aruj moved his base of operations to Algiers but was killed in 1518. Khair ad Din succeeded him as military commander of Algiers, and the Ottoman sultan gave him the title of beylerbey (provincial governor).