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Beylicate of Constantine (Algeria)

Last modified: 2022-01-29 by ivan sache
Keywords: constantine |
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Flag of the Bey of Constantine - Image by Jaume Ollé, 18 August 2002

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Personal standard of the Bey of Constantine

Ahmad, the Bey of Constantine, set himself up as sovereign within his province and in 1836 repelled a French attack. However, in 1837 the French occupied the city and installed themselves in the province in the succeeding months. In the taking of the capital on 13 October 1837, the French captured the personal standard of Bey Ahmad of Constantine, made of a white zulfikar (the sword of Ali) on a red field.
[Flaggenmitteilungen [fbn] #25]

Jaume Ollé, Joe McMillan & Ivan Sache, 18 August 2002

The red colour of the flag comes from the flags used by the Ottoman dynasty in the 16th century. After Qultan Selim III had recaptured Egypt from the French, he sent a new red flag with a zulfikar sword to Alexandria's citadel. From there, the flag spread quickly along the North African coast and we find its variations in Algiers or Tunisia.
After the French conquest of Algiers, Ahmad I ibn Mustafa, bey of Tunis, picked this most prestigious symbol up. Constantine being closer to Tunis than to Algiers, its still independent ruler (between 1826 and 1837) came to be under the influence of his neighbour and declared the holy war against the French until he was overthrown.
[Abdeljelil Temimi. 1973. Le drapeau constantinois à l'époque de Hadj Ahmed, dernier Bey de Constantine. Revue de l'Occident musulman et de la Méditerranée 15:1, 323-32]