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Setting the Scene: Algeria in Context

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the impact made by the French army and colonists on the ancient landscape of Algeria and its monuments. Algeria was known largely through literary accounts and the occasional diplomacy, bombardment, and invasion. Its towns and road network, developed by the Romans, were surely radically changed by the Arab invasions. Apart from the controlling importance of the Romans and their achievement, several elements make up the mix of themes that set the scene for the French in North Africa, namely Christians, Arabs, earlier invasions, and expected trade. North Africa had been a land of riches in the days of Rome, just as its shore had harboured pirates. It was the target of several European military expeditions from the Crusades onwards, sometimes for territorial conquest, sometimes to control the endemic problem of piracy, not least the Barbary Wars fought by the United States.

Keywords: Algeria; Barbary Wars; Christians; French army; Rome; United States

10.1163/9789004271630_002
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