Settler Colonialism Uncovered

1827: The Fly Whisk Incident

In 1798, Napoleon I invaded Egypt. To feed his troops, he bought grain from two Jewish merchants in Algeria, but he never paid them back. Following Napoleon's downfall, the next French government under Louis XVIII ignored the previous regime's debts, as did the successive regime under Charles X.

In 1827, Hussein Dey, the Ottoman governor of Algiers, called in the loans of these two Jewish merchants, but they claimed that they could not meet their obligations to the Dey until they themselves were repaid by the French. While trying to resolve the matter, the Dey met with French consul Pierre Deval. However, Deval refused to discuss the matter, remarking that His Most Christian Majesty could not deign to correspond with the Dey. Finally losing his temper, the Dey struck Deval with his fly whisk.

News of the traded insults flew around the Mediterranean, causing international embarrassment for the French government and prompting the Dey to explain repeatedly that he was only responding to the agravating individual responsible for continued tensions between France and Algiers and that he meant no disrespect to King Charles or the French government in general.

"Le coup d'eventail" (The flyswatter attack)

The Flyswatter Attack

In retalliation for the perceived slight, France broke off diplomatic communication with Algiers and blockaded her port.

The Dey then ordered several French trading posts destroyed at Bône (Annaba) and La Calle on the Algerian coast.

Unable to permit the insults to go unanswered, the government of French King Charles X launched an all-out assault on Algiers in 1830...

"Le blocus de la ville d'Alger par l'armée française" (Blockade of Algiers by the French Army)

Blockade of Algiers

1827: The Fly Whisk Incident