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The Fall of Tlemcen occurred in 1517, when the Ottoman corsair Uruj Barbarossa captured the city of Tlemcen from its sultan, Abu Zayan, the last member of the Beni-Zian lineage.[1] The fall of Tlemcen followed the capture of Ténès, also by Uruj and his brother.[1] The Sultan of Tlemcen then fled to Fez in Morocco.[1] Uruj crowned himself king of Tlemcen.[1] The only survivor of Abu Zayan's dynasty was Sheikh Buhammud, who escaped to Oran and called for Spain's assistance.

This victory put Uruj in control of the backcountry behind the Spanish base of Oran, which greatly threatened their usual supply routes.[1] This victory put Uruj in control of a considerable territory, the size of colonial French Algeria.[2]

The Spanish however soon reacted in 1518 by launching an attack on Tlemcen, which was 70 miles away from Oran, and managed to corner and kill Uruj. They took possession of the region of Tlemcen.[1]

Soon however, the king of Morocco raised a considerable army and marched on Tlemcen, expelling the Spanish.[1] The Ottomans would again exert direct influence in Tlemcen from 1545.[3] That year, the Wattassid ruler of Morocco Sultan Ahmad was taken prisoner by his rivals, the sharifian Saadians. His successor, Ali Abu Hassun, regent for Ahmad's young son Nasir al-Qasiri, decided to pledge allegiance to the Ottomans in order to obtain their support.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "The town of Tenes fell into the hands of the brothers, with an immense booty, and then Uruj marched on Tlemcen. The Sultan of Tlemcen, the last of the royal race of the Beni-Zian, did not await the coming of the corsair." in Sea-Wolves of the Mediterranean by E. Hamilton Currey p. 72ff
  2. "With the fall of Tlemcen Uruj became master of a territory as large as the modern French colony of Algeria, and his exploits made many of the rulers about the Mediterranean quake in their shoes." in The book of pirates Henry Gilbert, 207-208
  3. 3.0 3.1 A history of the Maghrib in the Islamic period by Jamil M. Abun-Nasr p.155ff

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