Settler Colonialism Uncovered

France Launches Assault

S. M. Charles X, Roi De France

King Charles X of France (1824-1830)

After King Louis XVIII's death in 1824, his younger brother, Charles X, ascended to the throne and reigned until 1830.

As tensions rose between France and Algeria between 1827 and 1830, so, too, did social unrest within France. King Charles X supported both the nobility and clergy and had kept or appointed like-minded ministers whose views ran counter to the rising nationalist sentiments of the politically engaged populace. At the same time, the prosperity of the early- to mid-1820s quickly vanished as poor grain harvests led to rising costs of staple foods, bankruptcies, a banking crisis, and an economic depression. This, in part, was also a consquence of the French blockade of Algiers. French shipping companies were forced to transport products in convoys that included armed merchantmen to protect the goods from Algerian retaliation. Consequently, shipping costs rose to extraordinary levels, as did the price of the transported goods.

Under pressure from political opposition, Charles X appointed a moderate prime minister, Martignac, in 1827. Two years later, Martignac sent a plenipotentiary to Algiers to negotiate a settlement with the Dey. After delivering his offer of peace, the French plenipotentiary and his staff reboarded the waiting ships and began to sail for the homeland. However, shortly after their departure, Algerian batteries fired parting shots over the bow of the French flagship, infuriating the French once again. Irritated by the failure, Charles fired Martignac and appointed Prince Jules de Polignac in his place.

The following year, in 1830, Polignac observed the growing opposition to Charles' reign and used the series of perceived Algerian insults as a pretext for invasion, believing that a successful campaign in Algeria would pacify French unrest. On the contrary, Charles' policies in Algeria contributed to the factors that motivated opposition to his rule, but the invasion proceeded nevertheless.