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Explorers and Merchants
(Page 3)
The Dutch and British
In the late sixteenth century Iberian dominance of Asian trade was surpassed by the English (EEIC) and Dutch (VOC) East India Companies (more..).

The use of the 'trade winds' across the southern Indian Ocean meant that sailors no longer had the opportunity to replenish stocks at bases in east Africa. The Cape therefore became more strategically important and the English, in particular, increased their trade with the Khoe (more..)

As early as 1608 sailors submitted reports pressing the EEIC to establish a permanent English settlement at the Cape. One can imagine that as they set out tents along the beaches, and traded under the hot sun with the unpredictable Khoe, the idea of a permanent British supply post seemed very attractive.

English sailors feared the VOC would take control of the Cape, and EEIC mariners unilaterally declared the land annexed to Britain in 1605 and again in 1620 - but for political reasons the British government ignored these claims and they were not ratified.

In 1644 the VOC's Mauritius Eylant foundered on the rocks of Mouille Point and 250 men were forced to live on the shore of Table Bay for four months. Three years later the Haarlem ran aground at Granger Bay and 62 VOC sailors were left for a year in a makeshift fort made of ship's salvage.

Their experience, however, was not as the Dutch expected. They sent reports to the Directors of the VOC to allay fears. They declared that the Khoekhoe were not ferocious cannibals - as rumoured - but friendly, and willing to live on good terms with Europeans. They also reported on the available resources and fertile soils, and how they had provided not only for themselves but also supplied passing ships.

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Heritage Sections
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History · Society
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In this period of Cape History:


Portuguese Explorers

Merchants Sailors

The Dutch and British

A New Base

Bibliography & Contacts


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