chapter  18
12 Pages

The peripheralization of the Ottoman Algerian elite: Tal Shuval

At the turn of the fifteenth century, after the fall of Granada in , a war zone in the western Mediterranean marked the area where the southwards-advancing Christian Iberian troops met the defensive, unorganized local North African Muslim forces. In their western policy the Ottomans were hampered until  by dynastic problems, and their attention was focused on a continuing conflict with the Mamluks of Egypt. A war with Venice (–) prevented them from ending revolts in Albania. Above all, they had to deal with disturbances in western Anatolia and with the new threat posed by Safavid Iran in the east. Thus Ottoman efforts were concentrated in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean. Much as the events which took place in the western Mediterranean interested them, there was little they could do, and the small size of their fleet at the time prevented their assistance to the Muslims of Spain.1 And yet, irregular forces originating within the Ottoman empire not only participated in these events, they initiated the move that joined all of the North African shore, except Morocco, to the empire. Ottoman corsairs (‘privateers’) operating in the region managed to take the city of Algiers and its hinterland; in  their leader Hayreddin Barbarossa placed the territory he controlled under Ottoman sovereignty. In return, Selim I (–) sent him troops and artillery.2 This marked the foundation of what was to become a new Ottoman province.