The Spanish expansionist policy in North Africa begun with the Catholic Monarchs and the regent Cisneros, once the Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula was finished. That way, several towns and outposts in the Algerian coast were conquered and occupied: Mers El Kébir (1505), Oran (1509), Algiers (1510) and Bugia (1510). The Spaniards left Algiers in 1529, Bujia in 1554, Mers El Kébir and Oran in 1708. The Spanish returned in 1732 when the armada of the Duke of Montemar was victorious in the Battle of Aïn-el-Turk and took again Oran and Mers El Kébir. Both cities were held until 1792, when they were sold by the king Charles IV to the Bey of Algiers.
Ottoman ruleAlthough Algiers remained a part of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman government ceased to have effective influence there. European maritime powers paid the tribute demanded by the rulers of the privateering states of North Africa (Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and Morocco) to prevent attacks on their shipping. The Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century diverted the attention of the maritime powers from suppressing piracy. But when peace was restored to Europe in 1815, Algiers found itself at war with Spain, the Netherlands, Prussia, Denmark, Russia, and Naples. Algeria and surrounding areas, collectively known as the Barbary States, were responsible for piracy in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the enslaving of Christians, actions which brought them into the First and Second Barbary War with the United States of America.Dey Hussein, struck the french consulwith a fly-whisk.
French rulecolonization began in 1830 (French invasion began on July 5). To benefit French colonists (many of whom were not in fact of French origin but Italian, Maltese, and Spanish) and nearly the entirety of whom lived in urban areas, northern Algeria was eventually organized into overseas departments of France, with representatives in the French National Assembly. France controlled the entire country, but the traditional Muslim population in the rural areas remained separated from the modern economic infrastructure of the European community.
As a result of what the French considered an insult to the French consul in Algiers by the Dey in 1827, France blockaded Algiers for three years. In 1830, France invaded and occupied the coastal areas of Algeria, citing a diplomatic incident as casus belli. Hussein Dey went into exile. French colonization then gradually penetrated southwards, and came to have a profound impact on the area and its populations. The European conquest, initially accepted in the Algiers region, was soon met by a rebellion, led by Abdel Kadir, which took roughly a decade for the French troops to put down. By 1848 nearly all of northern Algeria was under French control, and the new government of the Second Republic declared the occupied lands an integral part of France. Three "civil territories"—Algiers, Oran, and Constantine—were organized as French départements (local administrative units) under a civilian government.
In addition to enduring the affront of being ruled by a foreign, non-Muslim power, many Algerians lost their lands to the new government or to colonists. Traditional leaders were eliminated, coopted, or made irrelevant, and the traditional educational system was largely dismantled; social structures were stressed to the breaking point. Viewed by the Europeans with condescension at best and contempt at worst, the Algerians endured 132 years of colonial subjugation. From 1856, native Muslims and Jews were viewed as French subjects, but not French citizens.
However, in 1865, Napoleon III allowed them to apply for full French citizenship, a measure that few took, since it involved renouncing the right to be governed by sharia law in personal matters, and was considered a kind of apostasy; in 1870, French citizenship was made automatic for Jewish natives, a move which largely angered the Muslims, who began to consider the Jews as the accomplices of the colonial power. Nonetheless, this period saw progress in health, some infrastructures, and the overall expansion of the economy of Algeria, as well as the formation of new social classes, which, after exposure to ideas of equality and political liberty, would help propel the country to independence. During the years of French domination, the struggles to survive, to co-exist, to gain equality, and to achieve independence shaped a large part of the Algerian national identity.
As of 1808, the population of the Regency of Algiers numbered around 3 million people, of whom 10,000 were Turks, and 5,000 Kulughlis (from kul oġlu, "son of Janissaries", i.e. metis of Turks and local women).
During the Napoleonic Wars, the Regency of Algiers had greatly benefited from trade in the Mediterranean, and of the massive imports of food by France, largely bought on credit by France. In 1827, Hussein Dey, Algeria's Ottoman ruler, demanded that the French pay a 31-year old debt, contracted in 1799 by purchasing supplies to feed the soldiers of the Napoleonic Campaign in Egypt.
The French consul Pierre Deval refused to give answers satisfactory to the dey, and in an outburst of anger, Hussein Dey touched the consul with his fan. Charles X used this as an excuse to break diplomatic relations. The Regency of Algiers would end with the French invasion of Algiers in 1830, followed by subsequent French rule for the next 132 years.
Rise of Algerian nationalism and French resistanceA new generation of Islamic leadership emerged in Algeria at the time of World War I and grew to maturity during the 1920s and 1930s. Various groups were formed in opposition to French rule, most notable the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the National Algerian Movement.
Colons (colonists), or, more popularly, pieds noirs (literally, black feet) dominated the government and controlled the bulk of Algeria’s wealth. Throughout the colonial era, they continued to block or delay all attempts to implement even the most modest reforms. But from 1933 to 1936, mounting social, political, and economic crises in Algeria induced the indigenous population to engage in numerous acts of political protest. The government responded with more restrictive laws governing public order and security. Algerian Muslims rallied to the French side at the start of World War II as they had done in World War I. But the colons were generally sympathetic to the collaborationist Vichy regime established following France’s defeat by Nazi Germany. After the fall of the Vichy regime in Algeria (November 11, 1942) as a result of Operation Torch, the Free French commander in chief in North Africa slowly rescinded repressive Vichy laws, despite opposition by colon extremists.
Ferhat Abbas presented the French administration with the Manifesto of the Algerian People, signed by 56 Algerian nationalist and international leaders. The manifesto demanded an Algerian constitution that would guarantee immediate and effective political participation and legal equality for Muslims. Instead, the French administration in 1944 instituted a reform package, based on the 1936 Viollette Plan, that granted full French citizenship only to certain categories of "meritorious" Algerian Muslims, who numbered about 60,000. The tensions between the Muslim and colon communities exploded on May 8, 1945, V-E Day. When a Muslim march in was met with violence, marchers rampaged. The army and police responded by conducting a prolonged and systematic ratissage (literally, raking over) of suspected centers of dissidence. According to official French figures, 1,500 Muslims died as a result of these countermeasures. Other estimates vary from 6,000 to as high as 45,000 killed.
In April 1945 the French had arrested the Algerian nationalist leader Messali Hadj. On May 1 the followers of his Parti du Peuple Algérien (PPA) participated in demonstrations which were violently put down by the police. Several Algerians were killed. But it was on May 8, when France celebrated Germany's unconditional surrender, that more deaths provoked a violent uprising by the Algerian population in and around Sétif. The army set villages on fire, and between 6,000 and 8,000 people were killed, according to Yves Bénot; other sources, including the present Algerian government, put the death toll as high as 50,000. Many nationalists drew the conclusion that independence could not be won by peaceful means, and so started organizing for violent rebellion including use of terrorism.
In August 1947, the French National Assembly approved the government-proposed Organic Statute of Algeria. This law called for the creation of an Algerian Assembly with one house representing Europeans and "meritorious" Muslims and the other representing the remaining 8 million or more Muslims. Muslim and colon deputies alike abstained or voted against the statute but for diametrically opposed reasons: the Muslims because it fell short of their expectations and the colons because it went too far.