He executed the Sultan and his family, and drowned 1000 of the people… The bloody massacres of the Ottomans in Tlemcen

He executed the Sultan and his family, and drowned 1000 of the people

The bloody massacres of the Ottomans in Tlemcen

The Ottomans and their pirates in the Maghreb were not satisfied with the sight of innocent blood that stained their swords, nor they were deterred by the tears of orphans, so they repeated their massacres and brutal crimes everywhere, as they fed at the blood of the helpless. This how the life of the residents of the city of Tlemcen was, those people who fell into the trap in which the people of Tenes fell, before their suffering from a massacre that finished off their prince and their men.

The historical documents show that the residents of Tlemcen wrote to Aruj Barbarossa after his occupation of the city of Tenes, asking him to overthrow their sultan, Abu Hammou III, who had seized the throne of his nephew Abi Zayan and to return him to his throne. Sources say that Aruj responded immediately, especially that another city called him to occupy it, declaring his brother Khair al-Din Barbarossa on Algeria. The army of Aruj reached the castle of Bani Rashid, as it was the stronghold of one of the allies of the Turks and supporters of Sultan Abi Zayan, so-called Ahmed bin Yusuf Al-Malyani.

The people of Tlemcen fell for the same trap as the people of Tenes, so they summoned Aruj Barbarossa to save them from Sultan Abi Hammou.

A Turkish garrison of 600 mercenaries was left by Aruj under the command of his brother Isaac Barbarossa, were left in the castle, a new name that appears when searching for this family coming from Greece, to occupy Arab lands in favor of the Ottomans. Then Aruj arrived in Tlemcen, and Abu Hamo faced him outside Tlemcen with an army of three thousand men and six thousand knights, but Abu Hamo’s army was not able to confront the Turkish army, so Aruj was victorious and chased him to Tlemcen; so, Abu Hammou fled back to Tlemcen, but its people refused to open the gates to him, so he gathered his supporters and fled to Fez in the far Maghreb.

Once the thug Aruj was victorious, and managed to catch his breath, he turned to the people who warmly welcomed him, and before the gates of the city were opened to him, they took an oath from him not to destroy the city, plunder and cause damage to it, thinking that this might save them, then they believed the oath of Aruj on the Holy Qur’an that no harm shall be caused to them, and that the family of Banu Zayan will remain the rulers, and to carry on with his deception. The moment Aruj entered Tlemcen, Sultan Abu Zayan was assumed to his throne, and returned back to Algeria, leaving behind his agents and soldiers who plundered the city and subdued it, then tampered with the fates of the people, and they were aggressive, which led the people to regret their plea to Aruj and his army. but what good could regression do after it is too late.

On the other hand, the ruler of Tlemcen, Sultan Abu Zayan was not satisfied with the situation in the capital of his kingdom, so he attempted to strip Aruj of his influence and keep the Turks away from the city. as result of these event, an opportunity loomed for the pirate thief Aruj, an opportunity that prompted him to return to Tlemcen and to carry out physical elimination for the whole ruling family, as he executed Sultan Abi Zayan by hanging on the front of his palace known as “Al-Mishwar” along with seventy princes from Bani Zayan, and he massacred a group of notables, sheikhs and leaders of Tlemcen.

Other sources focused on the details, stating that Aruj had hanged Abu Zayan with seven of his sons, and drowned members of the royal family and more than 1,000 notables from Tlemcen in the great tanker of the city. After that, Aruj Barbarossa declared himself ruler of the country, over the bodies of the dead, as he expanded in sending military campaigns and mercenaries to the rest of the neighboring regions of Tlemcen to acquire their allegiance.

It never stopped at killing, intimidating and drowning, he even took it to far, as he imposed large taxes on the local population in order to subdue them and keep them subjugated to serve the Turks who occupied them, and they were the ones who asked him for assistance only to be the one who became their executioner.

Tlemcen is considered the gateway of Algeria to Morocco, by occupying it, the path to occupy the rest of the towns becomes easier, and this is what actually happened, as Aruj sent his forces in every direction to subdue the towns one after the other, leaving his garrisons of mercenaries behind him, to suddenly turns from a thief roaming the seas in search of stray ships to seizes it and enslaves its sailors, and sells them in the slave market to a pirate in disguise of a ruler who enslaves the free Arabs in Algeria, kills and drowns them in ponds

Despite this oppression, the residents of Tlemcen never surrendered, as Prince Aba Hammou returned to regain his city, and the locals proved that they yearn for freedom, away from the humiliation of the Ottoman colonialism, although these attempts did not ultimately end the Turks’ occupation of their homes and the pirates and mercenaries they brought to rule and subdue them.

  1. Muhammad Altansi, History of the kings of Tlemcen, investigation: Mahmoud Bouyad (Algeria: Movm lelnashr, 2011).


  1. Ben Atou Belbroat, “Lights around the city of Tlemcen during the Ottoman era, Mediterranean Dialogue Journal, 1st ed (2009).


  1. Balaraj Abdul Rahman, Cultural life in the City of Tlemcen during the Ottoman rule, Alqurtas Journa, 2nd ed (2015).


  1. Memoirs Barbarossa, Translation: Mohammed Daraj (Algeria: Al Asala Company, 2010).