1902 Encyclopedia > Algeria > Algeria - History

Algeria
(Part 14)



Algeria: History

In early times this country was inhabited by two nbations, the Massyli and the Massaesyli. During the struggle between Hannibal and the Romans, Syphax, the prince of the Massaesyli, espoused the cause of the former, and Massinisa, the prince of the Massyli, that of the latter. On the defeat of the Carthaginians the territories of Syphax were annexed to those of Massinissa, who received the title of King of Numidia. During the Roman civil war, Juba, king of Numidia, sided with Pompey, and being defeated by Caesar, his kingdom became a Roman province. Under the Romans the country enjoyed a great degree of prosperity. Agriculture was encouraged, commerce extended, roads, were formed, and towns sprang up. Christianity, too was early introuced and flourished. This state of things, however, received a severe check when the Romans were driven out of Africa by the Vandals about the middle of the 5th century. These in turn were expelled by Belisarius. Justinian's general, in 533. About the middle of the 7th century the Saracens made themselves masters of the country, which came afterwards to be divided into a number of petty states under independent chiefs, and the people sank into a state of barbarism. About the middle of the 11th century Abdallah-ben Yazim, a learned Arab, formed a numerous sect of religionists, known as Morabites, who overran the country, subdued many of the petty chiefs, and laid the foundation of the dynasty of the Almoravides. That dynasty reigned for nearly a hundred years, and at one time nearly the whole of Barbary and a great part of Spain were under their government. They were succeeded by the dynasty of the Almohades, who reigned over the region till 1273, when it was again split up into a number of small states. In 1505, Ferdinand, king of Spain, sent a powerful fleet and army against the country, under the Count of Navarre, who soon made himself master of Oran, Bugia, and other towns, and finally, in 1509, took the town of Algiers. The Spanish rule, however, was very distasteful to the Algerines; and on hearing of the death of Ferdinand , in 1516, one of the native princes sent an embassy to Aruch Barbarossa, the famous Turkish pirate, requesting his aid against the invaders. This was readily granted; and no sooner had he established himself in the country than he murdered the prince and caused himself to be proclaimed king in his room. He introduced that system of piracy for which Algeria was afterwards noted down to 1830. be force and treachery he extended his dominion over other parts of the country, till at length the Spaniards marched a large army against him from Oran, and being joined by many of the natives, defeated him in various engagements, took him prisoner, and beheaded him. His brother Hayradin was then chosen sultan; and he feeling himself unable to cope with the Spaniards, sought the assistance of Turkey, and put himself under the protection of the Grand Seignior. Aid was readily granted, and he himself was appointed pasha or viceroy of Algiers. Having thus got rid of his enemies the Spaniards, he turned his attention to the extension of his piratical enterprises; and in order to do this with the greater security, he fortified the port of Algiers and built a strong mole for the protection of his ships. He is said to have employed 30,000 Christian slaves for three years in the construction of the mole. The Algerine pirates soon became dreaded, not only by the Arabs and Moors, but also by the maritime Christian powers, particularly the Spaniards. At length Pope Paul III induced Charles V. to undertake an expedition to suppress these depredations, and issued a bull offering remission of sins and the crown of martyrdom to all who either fell in battle or were made slaves. The emperor set sail with 120 ships and 20 galleys, having on board 30,000 chosen men. They landed in safety, and were proceeding to attack the town of Algiers when a fearful storm arose, and in one night (28th Oct. 1541) destroyed 86 ships and 15 galleys with all their crews and military stores, so that the army on shore was deprived of the means of subsistence. This was then fallen upon by the Algerines, when many were killed and a great number taken prisoners, Charles himself and the remains of his army escaping with difficulty.

Algiers continued to be governed by viceroys or pashas appointed by the Porte till the beginning of the 17th century, when the janissaries solicited and obtained the right to choose their own dey or governor from among themselves. This subsequently led to frequent altercations between the pashas and the deys, the former seeking to recover their lost power, the latter to reduce it. In 1609, the Moors being expelled from Spain, flocked in great numbers to Algiers, and, as many of them were very able sailors, they contributed to raise the power of the Algerine fleet. In 1616 it consisted of forty sail of ships, of between 200 and 400 tons, their flagship having 500 tons. The Algerine pirates now became so formidable too the European powers, that in 1617 the French sent against them a fleet of fifty sail, under Beaulieu, who defeated their fleet and took two of their vessels. In 1620 the English sent out a squadron under the command of Sir Robert Mansel on the same errand, but it returned without effecting anything. Their depredations becoming still more frequent and troublesome, the Venetians equipped a fleet of twenty-eight sail, under the command of Admiral Capello, with orders to burn, sink, or take all the Barbary corsairs he should meet. In an engagement which speedily took place he signally defeated them, and took and destroyed sixteen of their galleys. They soon, however, regained their former strength; and at length Louis XIV., provoked by the outrages committed by them on the coasts of Provence and Languedoc, ordered, in 1681, a considerable fleet to be fitted out against them, under the command of Vice-admiral Duquesne. He attacked them near the island of Scios, and destroyed fourteen of their ships. This, however, had little effect upon them, and the following year he combarded the town of Algiers and nearly reduced it to ashes. The Algerines, by way of reprisal, sent a number of galleys to the coast of Provence, where they committed great ravages. In May 1683, Duquesne with his fleet again cast anchor before Algiers, and proceeded to bombard the town. The dey and the people sued for peace; but Mezomorto, the Algerine admiral, who was to have been delivered up as one of the hostages, violently opposed coming to terms, stirred up the soldiery against the dey, and caused him to be murdered, and was himself chosen as his successor. The bomdardment was renewed, and Mezomorto, reduced to extremities, caused all the French in city to be cruelly murdered, and the French consul to be tied to the mouth of a mortar and shot off in the direction of the bombarding fleet. Duquesne was so exasperated by this piece of cruelty that he did not leave Algiers till he had utterly destroyed the fortifications, shipping, almost all the lower, and about two-thirds of the upper part of the town. The Algerines, now thoroughly humbled, sent an embassy to France to sue for peace, which was readily granted them. in 1686 the English concluded a treaty with the Algerines on favourable terms, and this was several times subsequently renewed; but it was not the taking of Gibraltar and Port Mahon that England had sufficient check upon them, to enforce the observance of treaties. From that time England was treated with greater deference than any other European power. In 1710 the Turkish pasha was expelled and his office united to that of dey. The dey thus became the supreme ruler in the country. He had the charge of the Turkish militis recruited from Constantinople and Smyrna, because their children by native mothers could not be allowed to enjoy the same privileges as themselves in consequence of former rebellions against the government. Under the dey there was a divan or council state, chosen from the principal civic functionaries.

Matters continued very much in the same state, and the history of Algiers present little calling for special notice down to the expedition of Lord Exmouth. The principal States of Europe had had their attention taken up with weighing matters; but on the establishment of the peace of 1815 the English sent a squadron of ships, under Lord Exmouth, to Algiers, to demand the liberation of all slaves then in bondage there, and the entire discontinuance of piratical depredations. Afraid to refuse, the Algerines returned a conciliatory answer, and released a number of their slaves; but no sooner had the ships left than they redoubled their activity and perpetrated every sort of cruelty against the Christians. Among other acts of cruelty, they attacked and massacred a number of Neapolitan fishermen who were engaged in the pearl-fishery at Bona. The news of this excited great indiguation in England, and Lord Exmouth was again dispatched with five ships of the line and eight smaller vessels, and at Gibraltar he was joined by a Dutch fleet of six frigates, under Admiral Capellen. They anchored in front of Algiers on the 26th August 1816. Certain terms, which were extremely moderate, were proposed to the dey; but these not meeting with acceptance, a fierce bombardment was at once commenced. At first the assailants were subjected to a heavy fire from the enemy's batteries; but after a time these were one by silenced, and ship after ship caught fire, till the destruction of the Algerine naval force was complete. Next day the terms proposed to the dey were accepted; Christian slaves to the number of 1211 were set at liberty, and a promise was given that piracy and Christian slavery should cease for ever. The Algerines, however, did not long adhere to the terms of the treaty. They lost to time in putting their city in a more formidable state of defense than before, and this done, they considered themselves in a condition so set the great powers of Europe at defiance.

Various injuries had from time to time been inflicted on the French shipping, but that which more directly led to a declaration of war was an insult offered to the French consul by the dey. A debt had been contracted by the French government to two Jewish merchants of Algiers at the time of the expedition to Egypt, and the dey having a direct interest in the matter, had made repeated applications for payment, but without success. Annoyed at this and at what he considered insulting language on the part of the consul, he struck the latter on the face in public. In consequence of this, a French squadron was sent to Algiers which took the consul on board, and for three-years maintained an ineffective blockade. At length war on a great scale was resolved on, and a fleet was equipped at Toulon in May 1830 under the command of Admiral Duperre. It had also on board a land force, under the command of General Bourmont, consisting of 37,000 infantry, 4000 cavalry, and a proportionate number of artillery. The troops began to land on the 14th June upon the western side of the peninsula of Sidi Ferruch, in the bay of Torre China. They did not meet with much opposition till the 19th, when a general attack was made upon them by a force of from 40,000 to 50,000 men. These, after a fierce conflict, were completely routed. They renewed their attack on the 24th and 25th, but were on both occasions repulsed. The French then advanced upon Algiers, and on the 29th the trenches were opened. On the morning of the 4th of July the bombardment commenced, and before night a treaty was concluded for the entire surrender of Algiers. The next day the French took possession of the town ; and 12 ships of war,1500 brass cannon, and over 12,000,000 sterling came into their hands as conquerors. The Turkish troops were permitted to go wherever they pleased, provided they left Algiers, and most of them were conveyed to Asia Minor. The dey himself, with his private property and a large body of attendants, retired to Naples.

When the French undertook the expedition against Algiers a pledge was given to the English government that they did not aim at the permanent possession of the country, but only at obtaining satisfaction for the injuries and insults that they had received, and putting down that system of piracy which had so long outraged Europe. The French government engaged that these objects being accomplished, the final settlement and government of the country should be arranged in concert with the other European powers for the general advantage. Notwithstanding this, the French ministry in 1833 publicly declared that it was the intention of their government to retain possession of Algiers and to colonize it. Subsequently, the English government acquiesced in this, receiving an engagement that the French would not extend their conquests beyond Algeria either on the side of Tunis or of Marocco.

The capture of Algiers was celebrated in France with great demonstrations of joy. General Bourmont was raised to the rank of marshal, and Admiral Duperre was promoted to the peerage. The revolution of 1830 followed, when Bourmont was deposed, and General Clausel appoint to succeed him. The conquerors, instead of attempting to gain the good-will of the natives, destroyed a number of their mosques, seized upon lands set apart for religious purposes, and attempted to introduce their own laws and usages in place of those of the country, the consequence of which was that the natives entertained the greatest abhorrence for their oppressors, whom they regarded as the enemies of God and their prophet. General Clausel incensed them still more by seizing upon the possession of the dey, the beys, and the expelled Turks in direct opposition to the conditions on which the capital had been surrendered. Bona was taken possession of, and an incursion was made into the southern province of Titterie, when the troops of the bey were defeated Mediah taken. The beys of Titterie and Oran were deposed, and tributary rulers set up in their room. Still the war continued. The French were incessantly harassed by irruptions of hordes of t he Arabs, so that no Frenchmen was safe, even in the vicinity of the town; and little reliance could be placed on the fidelity of the beys who governed the provinces. Mediah was evacuated, and Oran abandoned. In February 1831 General Berthezene was appointed commander-in-chief, and undertook several expedition into the interior to chastise the hostile tribes, but met with little success. In October Bona was surrounded and taken by the Kabyles. There was now no safety but in the town of Algiers; agriculture was consequently neglected, and it was necessary to send to France for supplies of provisions and for fresh troops. In November 1831 General Savary, Duc de Rovigo, was sent out with an additional force of 16,000 men. The new governor sought to accomplish his ends by the grossest acts of cruelty and treachery. One of his exploits was the massacre of a whole Arab tribe, including old men, women, and children, during night, on account of a robbery committed by some of them. he also treacherously murdered two Arab chiefs whom he had enticed into his power by a written assurance of safety. These proceedings exasperated the natives still further against the French, and those tribes that had hitherto remained quiet took up arms against them.

About this time Abd-el Kader first appears upon the field. His father, a Marabout, had collected a few followers, and attacked and taken possession of the town of Oran. On this they wished to elect him as their chief, but he declined the honour on account of his great age; and recommended his son whom he said, was endowed with all the qualities necessary to success. Abd-el-Kader was born about the beginning of 1807, and had early acquired a great reputation among his countrymen for learning and piety, as he was also distinguished among them for skill in horsemanship and other manly exercises. He had made two pilgrimages to Mecca in company with his father, once when a child and again in 1828, by which he obtained the title of Hadji. At this time he was living in obscurity, distinguished by the austerity of his manners, his piety, and his zeal in observing the precepts of the Koran. He collected an army of 10,000 horsemen, and accompanied by his father, marched to attack Oran, which had been taken possession of by the French. They arrived before the town about the middle of May 1832, but after continuing their attack for three days with great bravery they were repulsed with considerable loss. This was followed by a series of conflicts, more or less severe, between the parties, but without any permanent or decided advantage to either side. In March 1833 the Duc de Rovigo was obliged, on account of his health, to return to France, and General Avizard was appointed interim governor; but the latter dying soon after, General Voirol was nominated his successor. Abd-el-Kader was still extending his influence more and more widely among the Arab tribes; and the French at last considered it to be their interest to offer him terms of peace. A treaty was accordingly concluded with him by General Desmichels, governor of Oran, in February 1834, in which he acknowledged the supremacy of France, and was recognized by them as emir of the province of Mascara. One of the conditions of the treaty was that the emir was to have a monopoly of the trade with the French in corn. This part of the treaty was regarded with great dissatisfaction at home, and the general was removed from his post. In July General Drouet d'Erlon was sent out as governor-general of the colony. An intendant or head of the civil department was also appointed as well as a commissary of justice at the head of the judicature. Tribunals of justice were also established, by which both French and natives were allowed to enjoy their respective laws. From the tranquil state of the country at this time the new governor was enabled to devote his attention to its improvement. The French, however, soon became jealous of the power of the emir, and on the pretence that he had been encroaching on their territory, General Trezel, who had succeeded Desmichels in the governorship of Oran, was sent against him with a considerable force. The armies met at the river Makta, and the French were routed with great slaughter on the 28th of June 1835. On the news of this defeat Marshal Clausel was sent to Algiers to succeed Count d'Erlon. In order effectually to humble the emir, he set out his capital, Mascara, accompanied by the Duke of Orleans, at the head of 11,000 men. On reaching the town the French found it deserted, and having set it on fire, they returned without having effected anything of consequence. In January 1836 Marshall Clausel undertook an expedition against Tlemcen, which he took and garrisoned. Soon after this the emir attacked an put to flight a body of 3000 men under Count d'Arlanges on the Tafna. General Bugeaud, who had sicceeded Marshal Clausel, attacked the Arabs under Abd-el-Kader on the Sikak river, 6th July 1836, and gained a complete victory over them. an expedition against the bey of Constantine was next resolved on, and Marshal Clausel, at the head of 8000 men, set out from Bona for this purpose in November 1836. They encountered on their march a severe storm of hail and snow, followed by a sharp frost, so that many of them died; and when they arrived before the walls of the town they were unable to undertake the siege, and effected their retreat with difficulty. The French were now anxious to conclude a peace with Abd-el-Kader, and with this view General Bugeaud arranged a meeting with him on the banks of the tafna, and a treaty was signed, 30th May 1837. They were then free to turn their strength against the bey of Constantine, and an army 20,000 men set out from Bona with this object under the command of General Damremont early in October. The town was, after a very gallant defence, taken by storm on the 12th of that month by General Valee, General Damremont having been killed by a cannon-ball the previous day. on the capture of the city the neighboring tribes hastened to make their submission to the conquerors, and a strong garrison being left to defend the town, the army returned to Bona. As a reward for his services General Valee was made a marshal and appointed governor- general of the colony. Disputes with the emir as to the boundaries of his territory were frequent, and at length war was again declared between the parties. The immediate cause of war on this occasion was the marching of an armed force of French troops through the emir's territory. This the latter looked upon as an infringement of the treaty, and consequently declared war. In October 1839, he suddenly fell upon the French troops in the plain of Matidja, and routed them with great slaughter, destroying and laying waste the European settlements. He surprised and cut to pieces bodies of troops on their march; outposts and encampments were taken by sudden assault; and at length the possessions of the French were reduced to the fortified places which they occupied. On the news of these events reaching France, reinforcements to the amount of 20,000 men were sent out. The spring campaign was vigorously opened on both sides, and numerous skirmishes took place, but without decisive results to either party. The French were, indeed, everywhere successful in the field, but the scattered troops of the enemy would speedily reassemble and sweep the plains, so that there was no safety beyond the camp and the walls of the towns. The fort of Masagran, near Mostagenem, with a garrison of only 123 men, gallantly withstood a fierce attack by 12,000 to 15,000 Arabs, which lasted for three days. Marshall Valee was now recalled, and General Bugeaud appointed to succeed him. The latter arrived at Algiers on the 22d of February 1841, and adopted a new system, which was completely successful. He made use of movable columns radiating from Algiers, Oran, and Constantine, and having from 80,000 to 100,000 troops at his disposal, the result soon told against the emir. Many of the Arab tribes were thus intimidated or brought under subjection, hard pressed garrisons were relieved and victualled, and town after town taken. Tekedemt, the principal stronghold of Abd-el-Kader, was destroyed, and the citadel blown up; Mascara was taken; and Saida, the only remaining fortress in the possession of the emir, was entirely demolished. In January 1842 the town of Tlemcen was taken, and ten days afterwards the fort of Tafna, which was demolished. The terrified Arabs submitted on all sides, and now almost the entire country was subdued. The emir himself, driven to extremities, was compelled to take refuge in Marocco. Here he succeeded in raising a considerable force, and returned to Algeria. He made up for the want of troops by the rapidity of his place when he was supposed to be in quite an opposite quarter. In November 1842 the Duke of Aumale arrived in Algiers to take part in the operations against the emir and in the spring of the following year, he suddenly fell upon the camp of Abd-el-Kader while the great body of his troops were absent, and took several thousand prisoners and a large booty, the emir himself making his escape with difficulty. Not long afterwards the latter again took refuge in Marocco, and so excited the fanatical passions of the people of that country that their ruler was forced into a war with France. The army which was sent into Algeria was attacked and defeated by Bugeaud at the river Isly 14th August 1844. the emperor of Marocco soon afterwards sued for peace, which was granted him on condition that he should no longer succour or shelter the emir, but aid in pursuing him. Abd-el-Kader was now reduced to aid in pursuing him. Abd-el-Kader was now reduced to great extremities, and obliged to take refuge in the mountain fastnesses, whence he would from time to time come down to annoy the French. In June 1845 a tribe of Arabs, who were being pursued by a body of French troops under General Pelissier, took refuge in a cave. As they refused to surrender, the general ordered a fire to be kindled at the mouth of the cave, and the whole of those within men, women, and children, to the number of 500, were suffocated. The emir at length was brought to such straits that he agreed to deliver himself up to the French on being allowed to retire to Alexandria or St Jean d'Acre. Notwithstanding this promise, which was given by General Lamoriciere, and ratified by the governor-general he was taken to France, where he arrived on the 29th of January 1848; and was imprisoned first in the castle of Pau, and afterwards in that of Amboise, near Blois. In October 1852 Louis Napoleon, then president of the French Republic, gave him his liberty on condition that he should not return to Algeria, but reside at Brousso in Asia Minor. Here he remained till 1855, when, in consequence of the destruction of that town by an earthquake, he obtained permission to remove to Constantinople, and afterwards to Damascus. At the latter place he rendered valuable and to the Christians by protecting them during the massacre by the Turks in Syria in 1860.

On the revolution in France of 1848, General Cavaignac was appointed governor-general of the colony; and the National Assembly, wishing to establish a closer connection between the country and France, offered to incorporate it with the republic. This proposal, however, met with considerable opposition, and Algeria was simply declared a permanent possession, with the right to send four deputies to the National Assembly, to be heard on all matters affecting the interests of the colony. Colonists were also sent out to settle there, and other means taken to further its prosperity. Still the republic did not seem to be more successful in the administration of affairs than the monarchy had been. The colonists died off or left in disgust, the natives were not more reconciled to the French yoke, and many of them rose in open rebellion. The Kabyles, in particular, the most intelligent and industrious of the native population, manifested the greatest repugnance to the imposition of taxes and of the usages of civilization. In 1849 General Pelissier marched against several of the rebellious tribes, and reduced them to subjection. General Canrobert and Herbillon were sent into the district of Zaab to queel an insurrection excited by the Marabout Bon-Zian. The latter was driven to take refuge in Zaatcha, which resisted the utmost efforts of the French to take it for fifty-one days, but at last it was carried by storm. In 1850 there were several expeditions sent out against the natives, and in 1851 General St Arnaud succeeded in reducing to subjection Little Kabylia. In 1852 General McMahon set out against Eastern Kabylia, and Pelissier, in the south, took Laghouat by storm. The next dew years present us with several expeditions against the Kabyles, but these were not productive of very marked results. In 1854 there was an expedition against certain Arab tribes in the south, who were reduced to subjection. In 1856 a great expedition, under the command of General Randon, was organized against the tribes of Great Kabylia that had not yet submitted to the French; and after many months' fighting they were brought under subjection. The authority of France was now undisputed over the country, and peace for a time was established.

In 1858 the administration of the colony was confided to a special minister, the first nominated being Prince Napoleon; but he only held office for a short time; and soon after, the special ministry was abolished. In October 1859 certain Arab tribes rose in rebellion, but were speedily subdued. In 1860 Marshall Pelissier was made governor -general, with a vice-governor, a director-general of civil affairs and a council of thirty members. In the beginning of 1863 the emperor promised to Algeria a constitution, with a representative assembly for provincial matters; and said that it was not a colony properly so called, but an Arab kingdom, and that the natives had an equal right to his protection with the colonists. In April 1864 a formidable insurrection of the Arabs broke out in the south, in consequence of an insult offered to one of their chiefs in a court of justice, and they suddenly fell upon and cut to pieces a detachment of French troops. A large force was speedily assembled and sent against them, and after they had been beaten in several encounters the insurrection was at length put down. Marshall Pelissier died in May, and Marshal McMahon was appointed to succeed him. A fresh insurrection of the Arabs broke out in October, but after several defeats they were brought to subjection. In May 1865 the Emperor Napoleon visited Algeria, and was everywhere received with the greatest demonstrations of joy. After this return to France wrote a letter to Marshal McMahon respecting the future government the colony. He particularly pointed out the necessity of seeking to gain the good-will of the natives by permitting them to enjoy their territories unmolested, and to maintain their own customs, and that they should be held as equal with the colonists before the law. He further directed him to seek to stimulate the industry of the colonists, and to strive to develop the resources of the country. In October a fresh insurrection broke out in the province of Oran. It commenced with an attack upon a friendly tribe, but was at length put down by a body of troops under the command of Colonel de Colomb. It again broke out in March 1866, and Colonel de Colomb was a second time sent out against the insurgents. He encountered them on the 16th, and, after a fierce engagement, put them to flight with great loss. In the beginning of 1867 a new expedition was organized against the refractory Arabs in the south, and these being effectually put down, a period of comparative peace followed. The crops in 1866 were almost entirely destroyed by an invasion of locusts, and in January 1867 a violent earthquake destroyed several villages in the vicinity Blidah. A prolonged drought followed, which dried up the sources of the springs and produced a famine, from which the natives suffered much. A visitation of cholera succeeded, which is estimated to have carried off not less than 50,000 persons. In January 1868 a fresh revolt broke out among the Arabs, instigated by Si-Hamed, who had led on more than one of the previous revolts. They assailed and plundered some of the friendly tribes, and being pursued and attacked by a body of French troops, a fierce enagegement took place, in which Si-Hamed as killed and his followers put to flight. Peace was enjoyed for the rest of that year; but towards the end of January 1869 several large bands of insurgent Arabs in the extreme south marched northward, took by surprise Tagguin, and being joined by others, in a short time they numbered 3000 horse. A body of French troops was sent out against them from Laghouat, under the command of Colonel Sonis, and after two and a half hours' hard fighting the insurgents were put to flight with great slaughter. In 1871 a widespread insurrection of Arab and Kabyle tribes broke out, stimulated no doubt by a knowledge of the weakened condition of France at home. It commenced with El-Mokrani, the hereditary bach-agha of the Medjana, attacking and burning the village of Brody-Bon-Arreredy, destroying isolated houses and posts throughout the district subject to his influence, the colonists who did not succeed in reaching a place of safety being massacred. All his attacks against the fortified places, however, failed; and as soon as the French were able to assume the offensive he was beaten in every engagement, and subsequently killed in action. When this rebellion appeared almost overcome, the whole of Kabylia rose in arms at the command of the sheikh El-Haddad, one of the most powerful chiefs in Kabylia, and head of an influential religious confraternity. The Kabyles, for the first time in history, descended from their mountain fastnesses, and attempted to invade the plains of the Metidja. The most horrible massacres were perpetrated, and all the principal ports on the coast were strictly blockaded on the landward side. It was not till after the fall of the commune in Paris that troops could be spared in sufficient numbers to suppress the insurrection. But this was at length effected, and a war contribution of £1,200,000 imposed upon the rebels, whose lands were also sequestrated, but the owners were permitted to resume possession on comparatively easy terms. The greater part of the sum recovered was distributed among the colonists who had suffered during the insurrection, and a considerable portion of it has been allotted for public works. The sequestration has also opened up much valuable territory for European colonization. Since the insurrection many new colonists have arrived here, and among them many from Alsace and Lorraine. A law passed by the French Chamber, 15th September 1871, authorizes, on certain conditions, the gratuitous concession of 247,000 acres of land to such natives of Alsace and Lorraine as might desire to preserve their French nationality. A more favourable era, it is believed, has now dawned for the colony. Down to 1871 it had continued under military rule, and this, it was thought, had had not a little to do with the frequent insurrections that had broken out in the country. Accordingly, in October of that year, a civil government was established, as has been already noticed, and since that time the colony has continued in a more peaceable and flourishing condition. (D. K.)





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The above article was written by: David Kay, F.R.G.S., author of Austria-Hungary in the Foreign Countries and British Colonies Series.




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