Algeria in declining Ottoman hierarchy: Why Algiers remained loyal to the falling patron


The shattering Ottoman order in the early nineteenth century offers an intriguing puzzle about the behaviors of subordinates within declining hierarchical orders. While Greece, Egypt, and many other provinces challenged the Porte, Algiers preferred to remain within the Ottoman order. The puzzle turns into a riddle when considering that Algeria was bounded to the center in a loose way and uprising against the Porte was less risky and less costly. Why did a geographically remote and loosely integrated subordinate remain within the Ottoman hierarchical order at a time when well-integrated and geographically close subordinates, one after another, picked the challenge option? This paper proposes three factors, which may be more generally applicable to the clients of declining patrons: the inability of the Porte to force Algeria against its interests, which decreased the costs of continued allegiance; Algeria's need for a balancer against threats from European naval powers, which the Porte provided; and the domestic political legitimacy that allegiance to the Porte also provided to Algeria's rulers.


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