Explorers and Merchants
and the Cape of Good Hope
(Portuguese and Spanish) dominated the trade route via the Cape throughout the
The Portuguese maintained a number of strategic bases in East
Africa and Asia to support their fleets - but the Cape was not one of them.
Antonio de Saldanha was probably the first man to sail into Table Bay, but
there he was wounded when a misunderstanding developed between his sailors and
the Khoekhoe. More clashes followed and the Khoekhoe became regarded as
'dangerous cannibals' to be avoided (more..).
The Cape also developed a fearsome reputation among Iberian
sailors for its dangerous seas. Dias - the first to call it a 'Cape of Storms'
- disappeared without trace, with half his fleet, when trying to round the Cape
on the expedition of 1500.
Terrifying legends developed about the Cape. Cameon in 'the
Lusiads' compared the Cape to the fearsome monster Adamastor. Offended by his
discovery Adamastor sends storms upon passing ships.
There was also the story of the Flying Dutchman - of a sea
captain on a ghost ship, cursed to forever battle the Cape's storms (later,
Wagner made the story into an opera). The Iberians grew wary, and avoided
lingering at the Cape, mindful of curses, storms and dangerous locals. Thus,
the Cape remained isolated.
An Englishman, however, had a very different perspective, and he set the tone
for the English attitude to the Cape. Sir Francis Drake, pursued by the Spanish
fleet, his ship laden with booty, escaped the Pacific by heading west and
circumnavigating the world.
He encountered the Cape Peninsula in fair weather and later
affirmed it 'the fairest Cape and the most stately thing we saw in the whole
circumference of the globe.' He arrived in England in 1580, after three years
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· Culture ·
In this period of Cape History: