185. The Consulate, start of the adventurers
Не ходите в Африку,
Дети, никогда!” 
“Всю мне душу Африка сожгла:
Крокодилы, пальмы, баобабы,…
И жена французского посла.” 
After the peace was established the Consuls faced the obvious question: what to do now?
Well, everybody was seemingly enjoying a peace. Manufacturing was growing, especially in the former Austrian Netherlands where it already was well-developed, but along the Rhine as well.
The arts were, seemingly flourishing in their own way. The painters had been producing rather hideous paintings on which the modern figures had been put together with the mythological personages but the public loved them and asked for more of the kind
The theaters had been staging the sycophantic operas, presumably from the Greek or Roman history, in which the obnoxious content and questionable musical merits had been compensated by the lavish production. The “Consulate Style” furniture and the gilded bronze had been exported all over Europe.
Taken together with the salons and proliferation of the newspapers and magazines (properly controlled by the Ministry of Police), this all amounted for a good cultural life.
The political oppositions were at that point were not too dangerous:
- On the right, the royalists wanted something unrealistic: return of the Bourbons (which was rather naive) and return of the properties lost during the Revolution (which was plain foolish) and as a result could be with a relative ease confined to the fashionable salons where they could keep blabbing whatever they wanted under the watchful eye of Fouche’s agents recruited among their own ranks. When these salons had been visited by Consul Bernadotte (his colleagues were not big funs of the “high society”), those present could enjoy his long and rather fanciful speeches of a very unclear content, which could be interpreted as a support to the restoration at some point in the future. As a result, the Consul was getting a firmly established reputation of a person with the high moral qualities. 
- On the left, the Jacobins did not really know what exactly is that they want except to be allowed to keep gathering in their clubs and make speeches filled with the references to the Ancient Greece, Roman Republic and not quite clear “virtues”. The Directory closed their main club in Paris but the Consulate was more lenient and the same Bernadotte was visiting this club from time to time to show that he did not forget his revolutionary past and to make more speeches which were completely incomprehensible except for the required references to the Ancient history and “the virtues”. The Left was quite happy.
Practically everybody in the middle were rather busy minding their own business and probably the only group which did have the clearly defined “strategic” interests were financiers and big-scale manufacturers and merchants. And their interests, expressed both in private and publicly through the politicians they sponsored, were along the lines “France needs the colonies”. The Consuls had been listening attentively so it was a matter not of “if” but rather of “where, when” and who is in charge.
Answer to the first two questions was easy. There was seemingly
a perfect place:
- It was close.
- It did not have a strong army.
- It was reasonably wealthy.
- It has a potential for the French settlement. This could alleviate a growing pressure in France’s agricultural sector: even with the massive migration to the cities, the rural population had been growing too fast creating danger of a land crisis in a near future.
- Nobody in Europe will have any objections because it was a pain in everybody’s posteriors.
In other words, the first target was Algeria
. Formally, it was a part of the Ottoman Empire but in a reality the Deylik of Algeirs was pretty much independent. The dey
ruled the entire Deylik of Algiers, but only exercised direct control in and around Algiers
, with Beyliks
) established in the Western
, and Eastern
parts of the country. The remainder of the territory (including much of the interior), while nominally controlled by Algiers, was effectively under the control of local Berber
leaders, who usually acted as vassals to Dey, albeit not always.
There was also the Odjak of Algiers, an autonomous part of the Janissary Corps counting 14,000 , which was doing pretty much whatever it wanted and quite often exercised a direct control over the Deylik.
The most important thing was that the Deylik was a home (not the only one but the best-known) of the Barbary pirates who were making the trade on the Med a rather risky enterprise pissing off even the seemingly unlikely countries like Denmark, Sweden and the newly-created United States. At the moment the United States and Sweden were in the state of war with Pasha of Tripoli. In 1805 the Americans will win a victory but will also pay a significant ransom of $60,000 for release of 300 American prisoners.
In other words, nobody would object if France will take care of one of the main sources of this pestilence. The cause had been easily found.
In 1795–96, the French Republic contracted to purchase wheat for the French army from two Jewish merchants in Algiers. The merchants, who had debts to Mustafa Dey
, the Dey of Algiers, claimed inability to pay those debts until France paid its debts to them. The dey unsuccessfully negotiated with the French consul, to rectify this situation, and suspected him of collaborating with the merchants against him, especially since the French government made no provision to pay the merchants. After a contentious meeting on 29 April 1803 in which the consul refused to provide satisfactory answers, the Dey struck him with his fly-whisk
(then called a fan
If there was a need for an excuse, here it was. Now the issue was whom to appoint as a commander. Bernadotte favored general Vandamme who was unquestionably brave, talented and popular among the troops. To which Moreau reasonably objected that while all this is true, Vandamme is also insubordinate, extremely brutal and prone to looting. Which, of course, could be useful during the conquest but may cause very serious problems with the natives afterwards. Also, with a popular general like Vandamme one never can guarantee that he will not try to …er… misuse his position relying upon loyalty of his troops.
As an alternative he offered a perfect candidate:
- All consuls intensively disliked him because he was probably the most obnoxious prick in the whole army.
- His colleagues intensively disliked him because he never hesitated to express his (generally low) opinion about their qualifications and mental capacities. The fact that these comments were mostly true made them only more offensive.
- His subordinates, except for a small group of the ultimate sycophants with a masochistic  inclinations, disliked him because he had zero tolerance to the imperfection.
- His troops did not like him because he was a strict disciplinarian and was always trying to prevent the looting.
- He was a very competent general .
- He was taking a good care about proper supply of his troops (which, of course, did not compensate for the absence of looting).
- He was dedicated to the service and his loyalty could be counted upon.
- Judging by how he managed his troops, he should be a good administrator.
- He was personally honest and probably as incorruptible as it goes.
- It could be expected that with the “natives” he will be strict but just and that his own troops will be prevented from creating unnecessary animosity. OTOH, chances that he will be liked by these natives were close to zero: nobody could like him.
In other words, general Davout got this prestigious appointment. An armada of 600 ships was assembled at Toulon and then headed for Algiers landing 34,000 soldiers 27 kilometres (17 mi) west of Algiers, at Sidi Ferruch
, on 14 June 1803. To face the French, the dey sent 7,000 janissaries
, 19,000 troops from the beys of Constantine and Oran, and about 17,000 Kabyles
. The French established a strong beachhead and pushed toward Algiers, thanks in part to superior artillery and better organization. On 19 June the French defeated the dey's army at the battle of Staouéli
, and entered Algiers on 5 July after a three-week campaign. The dey accepted capitulation in exchange for his freedom and the offer to retain possession of his personal wealth. Five days later, he went into exile in Naples
with his family. The Turkish Janissaries also quit the territory, leaving for Turkey. The French command had nominally agreed to preserve the liberties, properties, and religious freedoms of the inhabitants and it took Davout all his reputation and willpower to prevent the looting and arbitrary killings .
In France the victory was enormously popular. In Algiers Davout introduced a formal civil administration in Algiers, and began recruiting zouaves
, or native auxiliaries to the French forces, with the goal of establishing a proper colonial presence. He and others formed a company to acquire agricultural land and to subsidize its settlement by European farmers, triggering a land rush
. Davout recognized the farming potential of the Mitidja Plain
and envisioned the production there of cotton
on a large scale. The officers and bureaucrats were encouraged to make private investments in land which created a vested interest among government officials in greater French involvement in Algeria. Commercial interests with influence in the government also began to recognize the prospects for profitable land speculation in expanding the French zone of occupation. Over a ten-year period they created large agricultural tracts, built factories and businesses, and bought cheap local labor.
France formally annexed the occupied areas of Algeria, which had an estimated Muslim population of about two million, as a military colony
. The colony was run by a military governor who had both civilian and military authority, including the power of executive decree. His authority was nominally over an area of "limited occupation" near the coast, but the realities of French colonial expansion beyond those areas ensured continued resistance from the local population.
But the Algiers campaign was only a part of the ambition plan to create a new colonial empire to substitute for the lost one. India was out of question which meant Indo-China or at least the feasible parts of it.
However, even with the vassal Batavian Republic, it made sense to establish some bases in Africa on the way there. Unfortunately, a big stretch of the coast to the North of Cape Colony was absolutely unsuitable for the landing. The first suitable bay to the South of what will be later called Skeleton Coast was discovered in 1487 by Bartolomeu Dias
. In the 18th century Dutch adventurers and scientists explored the area in search of minerals but did not have much success. Now the French expedition led by the Dutch captain Franz Adolf Eduard Lüderitz purchased the area from the local chief and founded a small trade post there, which the captain who did not suffer from excessive modesty, called after … himself, Lüderitz. It will take few years before the first small shiny stone will be found nearby but in a meantime the enterprises were set up, including whaling
, seal hunting
Tasks for the following expeditions were to find convenient sites for the bases on the way to the main goal and to look for the suitable opportunities in Africa: so far, Britain was predominantly occupied elsewhere giving France a free hand.
 “Africa is terrible,
Yes, yes, yes!
Africa is dangerous,
Yes, yes, yes!
Don't go to Africa,
Children, ever!” K. Chukovsky “Barmaley”
 “Africa burned my whole soul:
Crocodiles, palm trees, baobabs,…
And the wife of the French ambassador.” Gorodnitsky “Wife of the French ambassador”
 The painting below is “Peace of Amiens” but it is peanuts comparing to the works of David with much more unnatural poses.
 In OTL this opinion had been expressed by Swedish representative in France during the succession discussion.
 Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch was not born, yet, so this is a pure anachronism used just to give an idea.
 In OTL (in 1830) the large scale atrocities did happen accompanied by the looting on a scale of more than fifty million francs. Small wonder than the future relations with the local population were not exactly rosy.