The Question of Tunisia’s Status Quo and the Firman of 1871
Marmara University, Institute of Middle East and Islamic Countries Studies, İstanbul/TÜRKİYE
Keywords: Tunisia, Ottoman Empire, British Empire, France, North Africa, Richard Wood.
The status quo of Tunisia, that is, the nature of its relationship with the Ottoman centre emerged as a problem with the occupation of Algerian costs in 1830 and the centralisation of Tripoli in 1835. France frequently warned the Ottoman Empire not to subvert the status quo in Tunisia. Clarifying and internationally securing this formally undefined state of affairs had been the British policy in the region since the 1850s. Britain, especially with its consul, Richard Wood, endeavoured for a declaration of a firman stating that the Ottoman Empire recognised the inherited governorship of the Husaynid Dynasty and that the beys accepted the Sultan’s political suzerainty in Tunisia. This project, which was constantly delayed by the opposition of France, was realised in 1871. So the firman, which was expected to bring the region’s political position to wider international acceptance, was declared.
This study aims to examine the debates about Tunisia’s status quo based on British and Ottoman archival sources. So, the efforts of the Ottoman Empire to protect the province, as well as the approaches and plans of Britain and France towards Tunisia, were explored.