Competitive Imperialism in the Nineteenth-Century Mediterranean

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Abstract

Historians of empire are well aware of the importance of finding moments and spaces of connectedness between empires. The question of how to do so meaningfully remains open. This article brings to light a significant moment of imperial connectedness, through imperial contest. It tells the story of the humiliating expulsion of the British consul John Falcon from the strategic Mediterranean port of Algiers, during the Napoleonic wars. Both France and Britain sought to establish an informal imperial presence in the regency of Algiers, for access to the grain that both needed - France for its southern regions and armies, and Britain for the supply of its Mediterranean base in Gibraltar. The consuls of both powers were obliged to deal with a Jewish trading house that acted as middleman, both in trade and in diplomatic relations in the regency: the House of Bacri and Busnach. As the two powers competed, and sought to shut one another out, they attributed failures and frustrations to this trading house. Through French and British perceptions of Falcon's expulsion, and both powers' understanding of the role of the trading house in events, this article offers a picture of imperial connection, bringing together middlemen, diplomacy, and international relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1160-1180
Number of pages21
JournalHistorical Journal
Volume63
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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