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European Settlement
(page 8)
The Boom of the 1780s
In the 1780s Cape Town enjoyed a 'boom' decade. France and Holland were at war with Britain and French troops were stationed in Cape Town 1781 - 1784 to prevent a British invasion. French mercenaries remained thereafter, at great expense to the VOC.

The garrison developed the 'French lines' - a network of defences to protect the eastern approaches to the town, and complement the VOC's 'sea lines' and Signal Hill batteries. Furthermore, French merchants made the Cape their base for trade in the Indian Ocean and to supply French bases at Reunion and Mauritius.

All of this led to a mercantile boom. Several impressive buildings in Cape Town date back to this time, not least the work of French military engineer Louis-Michel Thibault and the German sculptor and wood carver Anton Anreith. They worked together on the cellar at Groot Constantia, the re-building of the Slave Lodge and, separately, on modifications at the Groote Kerk, the Lutheran Church and Koopmans de Wet House. All of these may be seen today.

The boom, however, led to inflation. Furthermore, the VOC was in terminal decline. The British East India Company had broken the VOC monopoly in Indonesia. Furthermore, trade was shifting to the products of India and China, where the British were dominant.

The VOC paid no more dividends after 1782. Meanwhile, the number of its employees at the Cape tripled to 3000 as the VOC employed mercenaries to defend the colony. Corruption and the loss of morale crippled the Company.
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Heritage Sections
· Culture ·
· Environment ·
History · Society
Personalities · Areas

In this period of Cape History:


The First Years

A Town Develops

Simon v.d. Stel

VOC Control

Frontier Expansion

Cape Town in the 1700s

Cosmopolitan Cape Town

The Boom of the 1780s

The VOC Legacy

Bibliography & Contacts


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