What brought the French to Algeria?


Ad Honorem
Jun 2011
California, USA
France wanted to reasser tiself as a military power after 1815. This is why it embarked in several limited adventures before the conquest of Algerie : in 1821-22, it intervened in Spain to defeat the Liberals and give power back to the monarchist faction (it was quite a massive intervention with 100,000 french soldiers actually). It also sent a military force (around 10,000 men i think, mostly vets of the napoleonic wars) in Greece to help them against the Ottomans though I'm not sure that it was an official intervention. And then, came Algeria : Charles X knew that a military conflict against an European power would upset all the other great powers of that time, mainly UK and Russia. Hence, he decided upon a conquest across the med : Algeria.

The French easily defeated the ottomans and conquered the coast of Algeria. The war against the Algerian and berber guerrilla proved much more difficult and brutal, and Algeria was not conquered until 1847 (it was the third such war the French fought in half a century after the massive western revolts in France during the Revolution and the peninsular war. Marshal Bugeaud, the main French commander, was a veteran of the latter conflict). By that time, one third of the Algerian population had died as a result of permanent warfare. The French did not wait until the end of the military combats to send settlers in Algeria, believing that this would help them greatly in their conquest.