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QARAMANLI  DYNASTY. A Turkish dynasty founded by the original Qaramanli, Ahmed Bey, controlled Ottoman Tripolitania and, intermittently, Cyrenaica and Fezzan, from 1711 to 1835. Ahmed Bey had been appointed to a subprovincial administrative position and took advantage of disorders within the Ottoman military to usurp power. Efforts by Sultan Ahmed III to install a new governor were rebuffed, and Ahmed won recognition as pasha by 1722.

From this point to the end of the century, two Qaramanli successors, first Ahmed’s son Mehmed (r. 17451754) and then Mehmed’s son Ali (r. 1754-1793) obtained recognition of their control over Tripolitania. They gained even broader authority from their ability to suppress local uprisings in neighboring Cyrenaica and the Fezzan. Apparently this ability was based on different sources of military support for the Qaramanlis, including remaining imperial Janissary units as well as mercenary forces of diverse nationalities. At the same time, Tripoli became a base for pirates who, by contributing to the pashas’ coffers, enjoyed Qaramanll patronage. Symbiotic relations with pirates played an important role in Qaramanll history from the end of Ali’s reign to the dynasty’s fall four decades later.

Already under Ahmed Pasha, efforts had been made to secure trade relations with European powers. France and England, specifically, signed several bilateral agreements with Tripoli. By superseding Ottoman capitulations the rulers of Tripoli already held, such treaties in effect recognized the independence of the Qaramanlis. To maintain benefits offered by bilateral treaties, Tripoli often had to press protected pirate factions not to attack maritime traders operating under the flags of signatory nations. This led to diplomatic clashes with victims of Tripoli-based piracy, particularly from neighboring Italian states and, most notably in 1800, the United States.

It was factors such as these that gradually weakened Qaramanll control. In 1790 the assassination of All Pasha’s heir apparent precipitated a succession struggle. Two sons and a total outsider from Algiers vied for Ali’s post. Expanding intrigues brought Hamuda Bey of the Ottoman Regency of Tunis into the succession struggle on the side of the Qaramanh family. Conflicting claims between Ali’s two sons Ahmed and Yusuf, and then among Yusuf` s descendants, continued to plague Qaramanli rule over the next few decades. At each stage of infighting one finds external sponsorship for one or another of the candidates for the Tripoli governorship. From Napoleonic times until his abdication in 1832, Yusuf Pasha clearly preferred French sponsorship. His error was to offer France a formal treaty in 1830, soon after the French occupied the Algiers Regency. Alarmed critics of France’s advance into Algeria, led by the British, tried to undermine Yusuf’s pro-French posture by championing an heir who would reverse the TripoliAlgiers-Paris alignment. When Yusuf attempted to pass his governorship on to his son Ali in 1832, his grandson Mehmed Bey counted on British support to thwart his grandfather’s preference for Ali.

After Istanbul failed to obtain Britain’s recognition of an imperial fuman granting the succession to Ali, Sultan Mahmud 11 finally decided in 1835 to send an armed force to proclaim the end of Qaramanh ascendancy. The return to direct imperial rule was in part tied to pressures by Britain to oppose a Qaramanll successor who was openly receptive to French overtures. It is also likely, however, that the Ottoman sultan was reacting to another, more serious threat from Tripoli’s dominant neighbor to the east; this threat had taken form in 1831 when Muhammad `Ali, governor of Egypt, had expanded his control across Sinai in Syria.


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Mantran, Robert. “Le statut de l’Algerie de la Tunisie et de la Tripolitaine dans I’Empire Ottoman.” In Atti del primo congresso internazionale di studi nord africani. Cagliari, 1965.

Rossi, Ettore. Storia di Tripoli e della Tripolitania: Dalla conquista araba al 1911. Rome, 1968.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/qaramanli-dynasty/

  • writerPosted On: July 7, 2017
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