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Algeria: Abd-el-Kader's revolt (1835-1847)

Part 1

Last modified: 2012-05-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: abd-el-kader | mascara | hands: 2 (blue) | hand (red) | hand of fatima |
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Historical outline

On 28 May 1835, Abd-el-Kader, Emir of Mascara since 1832, revolted and defeated the French troops in la Macta. General Bugeaud (1784-1849) defeated Abd-el-Kader in Sickak and forced him to sign a new treaty in Tafna. The Emir kept control of the provinces of Oran and Algiers, excluding the coastal areas, but acknowledged some French suzerainty. In the Eastern part of Algeria, Ahmed, Bey of Constantine (now Qacentina), resisted to the French troops. The city was eventually seized on 13 October 1837.

In November 1839, Abd-el-Kader proclaimed the Jihad and sacked the Mitidja plain, where colonization had just started. On 29 December 1840, Bugeaud was appointed Governor General of Algeria, with a clear motto,"Conquest or abandon". The smalah (camp) of Abd-el-Kader was seized on 16 May 1843 by Duke of Aumale, one of Louis-Philippe's sons. The Emir fled to Morocco. On 14 August 1844, Bugeaud defeated on oued (river) Isly the troops of the Moroccan Sultan Abd-el-Rahman, who had attempred to help Abd-el-Kader.

On 15 April 1845, an Ordinance created three provinces, each of them including civil territories, Arab territories, and mixed territories. In 1848, the mixed territories were suppressed. The civil territories became departments, administrated by a Prefet, whereas the military territories were administrated by a Division General. The conquest was however not achieved and progressed in a succession of bloodbaths on both sides. In 1847, Bugeaud, whose Algerian politics was very criticized in Paris, resigned. On 23 December 1847, Abd-el-Kader capitulated to Duke of Aumale. At that time, there were c. 110,000 colonists in Algeria, half of them being French.

Ivan Sache, 11 December 2001

Flags captured during the seizure of Abd-el-Kader's smalah

[Abd-el-Kader's flag?]         [Abd-el-Kader's flag?]

Two flags allegedly captured from Abd-el-Kader - Images by Ivan Sache, 23 January 2002

Several flags were captured. They have not been preserved, but records of them are in the French Army Museum. Another flag was destroyed by fire in 1851 and its descriptive record has not been preserved. The flags shown above were captured in front of the Emir's tent, but it is not certain what they represent. Their shape is also discussed.

Jaume Ollé, translated by Joe McMillan, 23 January 2002

Standard of the Caliphe (?)

[Flag of the Caliphe (?)]         [Flag of the Caliphe?]

Flag of the Caliph of the Emir, Khalifat ben Allal Olud Sidi Embarak (Khalifalik of Mliana) - Images by Ivan Sache, 23 January 2002
Left, source unspecified
Right, after Charrière, Vexillinfo #93 [vxf].

Regimental flag

[Regimental flag]

Regimental flag - Image by Jaume Ollé & Ivan Sache, 23 January 2002, after Vexilllogie [vex] #83.

Flag of uncertain status

[Unattributed flag]

Unidentified flag - Image by Jaume Ollé, 23 January 2002

In 1846 a flag was used that is frequently attributed to the Emirate of Mascara but probably pertained to princesses. Pal Azan, in his book Life of Abdelkader mentions that a green and white flag flew on the tent of the mother and wives of Abd el Kader in 1846, but Herbert Pitt (cited by W. Smith) indicates that this type of flag (green-white or green-white-green, always horizontal) was frequently used in the areas assigned to Muslim princesses in Morocco and India and probably was in general use for that purpose.
The mention of green and white calls to mind that the colors of the present Algerian national flag was inspired by those of Abd el Kader (some even conclude that the flag was identical except in a ratio of about 3:5), but the reality is that the Algerian national flag arose much later.

Jaume Ollé, translated by Joe McMillan, 23 January 2002

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