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By Sword and PlowFrance and the Conquest of Algeria$
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Jennifer E. Sessions

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449758

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449758.001.0001

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A Tale of Two Despots

A Tale of Two Despots

The Invasion of Algeria and the Revolution of 1830

(p.19) 1 A Tale of Two Despots
By Sword and Plow

Jennifer E. Sessions

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the roots of the French conquest of Algeria in 1830. According to historians of both French politics and North African colonialism, the invasion of the then-Ottoman regency was a by-product of the Bourbon Restoration's final collapse. Faced with widespread popular opposition and a strong liberal majority in the elected Chamber of Deputies, King Charles X and his ultraroyalist prime minister, Jules de Polignac, engineered the expedition against Algiers in a last, desperate bid for public and electoral support. The chapter shows that monarchy did intend the expedition to divert public attention from domestic travails, including a worsening economic recession, a wave of mysterious fires in Normandy, and the growing unpopularity of the Polignac government. However, a closer investigation of the ways that the government and its opponents represented the expedition shows not only why it failed to salvage the monarchy, but how it actually served to further undermine the legitimacy of the Bourbon regime.

Keywords:   France, French conquest, Algeria, Charlez X, Bourbon Restoration, Jules de Polignac

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