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The Natalia Republic was a short-lived
Boer republic 500px, Boer Republics and Griqua states in Southern Africa, 19th century The Boer Republics (sometimes also referred to as Boer states) were independent, self-governing republics formed (especially in the last half of the nineteenth century) by Dut ...
founded in 1839 after a Voortrekker victory against the Zulus at the
Battle of Blood River The Battle of Blood River (16 December 1838) was fought on the bank of the Ncome River, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa between 464 Voortrekkers ("Pioneers"), led by Andries Pretorius, and an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Zulu . Casual ...
. The area was previously named ''Natália'' by Portuguese sailors, due to its discovery on Christmas ('Natal' is the Portuguese word for Christmas). The republic came to an end in 1843 when British forces annexed it to form the
Colony of Natal The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on 4 May 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three other colonies to fo ...
. After the British annexation of the Natalia Republic, most local Voortrekkers trekked north into Transorangia, later known as the
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat, af, Oranje-Vrystaat, abbreviated as OVS) was an independent Boer sovereign republic under British suzerainty in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, which ceased to exist afte ...
, and the
South African Republic The South African Republic ( nl, Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek; the ZAR; also known as the Transvaal Republic, af, Suid-Afrikaanse Republiek) was an independent and internationally recognised state in what is now South Africa, from 1852 to 1902. ...
.


History


European settlement and setbacks

On Christmas Day 1497
Vasco da Gama#REDIRECT Vasco da Gama#REDIRECT Vasco da Gama {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
was sailing past the region now known as Transkei and named the country Terra Natalis. He next sighted the bluff at the entrance to what is now the harbour of
Durban Durban ( ) ( zu, eThekwini, from meaning 'the bay'), nicknamed ''Durbs'',Ishani ChettyCity nicknames in SA and across the worldArticle on ''news24.com'' from 25 October 2017. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
. Da Gama made no landing here, but in later years the name Natália became associated with it. Like the rest of South Africa, Natal was neglected by the Portuguese, whose nearest settlement was at
Delagoa Bay Maputo Bay ( pt, Baía de Maputo), formerly also known as Delagoa Bay from ''Baía da Lagoa'' in Portuguese, is an inlet of the Indian Ocean on the coast of Mozambique, between 25° 40' and 26° 20' S, with a length from north to south of over 90&nbs ...
. It is not proven when the clan settled in the region which was inhabited by
Nguni people Nguni people are a group of closely related Bantu ethnic groups that reside in Southern Africa. They predominantly live in South Africa. Swazi people live in both South Africa and Eswatini, while Ndebele people live in both South Africa and Zimbab ...
. A small clan living north of the Tugela River, the amaZulu, was greatly enlarged by its leader
Shaka Shaka kaSenzangakhona ( – 22 September 1828), also known as Shaka Zulu () and Sigidi kaSenzangakhona, was the King of the Zulu Kingdom from 1816 to 1828. He was one of the most influential monarchs of the Zulu Kingdom, responsible for re-org ...
, and between 1818 and 1820 his
Zulu Kingdom The Zulu Kingdom (, ), sometimes referred to as the Zulu Empire or the Kingdom of Zululand, was a monarchy in Southern Africa that extended along the coast of the Indian Ocean from the Tugela River in the south to Pongola River in the north. T ...
’s military campaigns overran the area. British traders established a small settlement at Port Natal, so founding what became the town of
Durban Durban ( ) ( zu, eThekwini, from meaning 'the bay'), nicknamed ''Durbs'',Ishani ChettyCity nicknames in SA and across the worldArticle on ''news24.com'' from 25 October 2017. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
, established in 1835. The next Europeans to settle the country were emigrant
Boers Boers () ( af , Boere) refers to the descendants of the proto-Afrikaans-speaking colonists of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th and much of the 19th century. From 1652 to 1795, the Dutch East India Company controlle ...
from the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope. The British colony was preceded by an earlier Corporate colony that became a Dutch col ...
, who came by land over the passes of the
Drakensberg The Drakensberg (Afrikaans: Drakensberge, Zulu: uKhahlamba, Sotho: Maluti) is the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, which encloses the central Southern African plateau. The Great Escarpment reaches its greatest elevation – within the b ...
. These Voortrekkers were led by
Piet Retief Pieter Mauritz Retief (12 November 1780 – 6 February 1838) was a ''Voortrekker'' leader. Settling in 1814 in the frontier region of the Cape Colony, he assumed command of punitive expeditions in response to raiding parties from the adjacent Xho ...
. Passing through the almost deserted upper regions, Retief arrived at
Port Natal Durban ( ) ( zu, eThekwini, from meaning 'the bay'), nicknamed ''Durbs'',Ishani ChettyCity nicknames in SA and across the worldArticle on ''news24.com'' from 25 October 2017. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
in October 1837. During this journey, he chose a site for the capital of the future state which he envisioned. He went to the
kraal 260px, An illustration of a kraal near Bulawayo in the 19th century. Kraal (also spelled ''craal'' or ''kraul'') is an Afrikaans and Dutch word, also used in South African English, for an enclosure for cattle or other livestock, located within a ...
of Shaka’s successor
Dingane Dingane ka Senzangakhona Zulu (–29 January 1840), commonly referred to as Dingane or Dingaan, was a Zulu chief who became king of the Zulu Kingdom in 1828. He set up his royal capital, uMgungundlovu, and one of numerous military encampments, o ...

Dingane
, ruler of the
Zulu Kingdom The Zulu Kingdom (, ), sometimes referred to as the Zulu Empire or the Kingdom of Zululand, was a monarchy in Southern Africa that extended along the coast of the Indian Ocean from the Tugela River in the south to Pongola River in the north. T ...
, to obtain a cession of territory for the Boer farmers. Dingane consented on condition that the Boers recover cattle stolen by another chief. Retief managed that and, with the help of
missionary A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or perform ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development.Thomas Hale 'On Being a Missionary' 2003, ...
the Rev Francis Owen, living at Dingane’s kraal, he drew up a deed of cession in English. Dingane and Retief signed it on 4 February 1838. Two days later, Dingane ordered the execution of Retief and all of his party, 66 whites and 34
Khoikhoi Khoekhoen (or Khoikhoi in the former orthography; formerly also ''Hottentots''"Hottentot, n. and adj." ''OED Online'', Oxford University Press, March 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88829. Accessed 13 May 2018. Citing G. S. Nienaber, 'The origin ...
servants. The Zulu king commanded his
impi Impi is a Zulu word meaning war or combat, and by association any body of men gathered for war, for example ''impi ya masosha'' is a term denoting 'an army'. Impi were formed from multiple regiments(amabutho in Zulu) from amakhanda(large militar ...
s to kill all the Boers who had entered Natal. The Zulu forces crossed the
Tugela River The Tugela River ( zu, Thukela; af, Tugelarivier) is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. It is one of the most important rivers of the country. The river originates in Mont-aux-Sources of the Drakensberg Mountains and plung ...
the same day, and the most advanced parties of the Boers were massacred, many at a spot near where the town of
Weenen Weenen (Dutch for "wept") is the second oldest European settlement in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is situated on the banks of the Bushman River. The farms around the town grow vegetables, lucerne, groundnuts, and citrus fruit. The town was laid ...
now stands, its name (meaning wailing or weeping) commemorating the event. Other of the farmers hastily
laager A wagon fort, wagon fortress, or corral, often referred to as circling the wagons, is a temporary fortification made of wagons arranged into a rectangle, circle, or other shape and possibly joined with each other to produce an improvised military ...
ed and were able to repulse the Zulu attacks; the assailants suffering serious loss at a fight near
Bushman River The Bushman's River ( af, Boesmansrivier) is an east to north-easterly flowing tributary of the Tugela River, in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. It rises in the Drakensberg Mountain range, with its upper catchment in the Giant's Castle G ...
. In one week after the murder of Retief, the Zulus had killed 600 Boers. Hearing of the attack on the Boers, the British settlers at the bay sent a force to help them. Robert Biggar commanded 20 British and a following of 700 friendly Zulus and crossed the
Tugela River The Tugela River ( zu, Thukela; af, Tugelarivier) is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. It is one of the most important rivers of the country. The river originates in Mont-aux-Sources of the Drakensberg Mountains and plung ...
near its mouth. On 17 April, in a desperate fight with a Zulu force, the British were overwhelmed and only four Europeans escaped to the bay. Pursued by the Zulus, the surviving inhabitants of
Durban Durban ( ) ( zu, eThekwini, from meaning 'the bay'), nicknamed ''Durbs'',Ishani ChettyCity nicknames in SA and across the worldArticle on ''news24.com'' from 25 October 2017. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
took refuge on a ship then in harbour. After the Zulus retired, fewer than a dozen Englishmen returned to live at the port; the missionaries, hunters and other traders returned to
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope. The British colony was preceded by an earlier Corporate colony that became a Dutch col ...
. The Boers had repelled the Zulu attacks on their laagers; joined by others from the
Drakensberg The Drakensberg (Afrikaans: Drakensberge, Zulu: uKhahlamba, Sotho: Maluti) is the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, which encloses the central Southern African plateau. The Great Escarpment reaches its greatest elevation – within the b ...
, about 400 men under
Hendrik Potgieter Andries Hendrik Potgieter, known as Hendrik Potgieter (19 December 1792 – 16 December 1852) was a Voortrekker leader and the last known Champion of the Potgieter family. He served as the first head of state of Potchefstroom from 1840 and 1845 ...
and
Piet Uys Petrus Lafras Uys (more commonly known as Piet Uys) (1797–1838) was a Voortrekker leader during the Great Trek. Early life He was born in Swellendam, the third son (of six) of Jacobus Johannes Uys (nicknamed ''Koos Bybel'' (Bible) because of his ...
advanced to attack Dingane. On 11 April, they were attacked and with difficulty cut their way out. Among those slain were Piet Uys and his son Dirk, aged 15.


Battle of Blood River

Toward the end of the year, the Boers received reinforcements. In December 460 men set out under Boer general
Andries Pretorius Andries Wilhelmus Jacobus Pretorius (27 November 179823 July 1853) was a leader of the Boers who was instrumental in the creation of the South African Republic, as well as the earlier but short-lived Natalia Republic, in present-day South Africa. ...

Andries Pretorius
to take on the Zulus. Andries Pretorius selected Jan Gerritze Bantjes (1817-1887) as his scribe and secretary in recording events of the campaign and coming retaliation battle with the Zulus. Bantjes documented daily in his journal the progress of the commando, from their start on 27 November 1838 until they reached their selected battle site on 15 December 1838. They avoided being led into a trap as happened on the previous attempt to attack the Zulus in April which ended in disaster. On the journey, they had small skirmishes with various kraals but the main Zulu army had not arrived yet to attack. Boer and Zulu scouts were constantly monitoring each other's whereabouts. On 9 December 1838 as Bantjes wrote in his journal, the Boers congregated under a clear sky to sing appropriate psalms and celebrate the Sabbath, taking a vow which became known as the "Day of The Vow or Covenant" that "if the Lord might give us victory, we hereby deem to found a house as a memorial of his Great Name at a place where it shall please Him", and that they also implore the help and assistance of God in accomplishing this Vow and that they write down this Day of Victory in a book and disclose this event to our very last posterities in order that this will forever be celebrated in the honour of God." On 16 December 1838, while
laager A wagon fort, wagon fortress, or corral, often referred to as circling the wagons, is a temporary fortification made of wagons arranged into a rectangle, circle, or other shape and possibly joined with each other to produce an improvised military ...
ed near the Umslatos River or Hippo Pool, they were attacked by more than 10,000 Zulus. As Bantjes wrote in his journal: The Boers fought off the Zulu. After three hours, the Boers had killed thousands of Zulus and had fewer than a dozen of their men wounded. The Zulus withdrew in defeat, many crossing the river which had turned red with blood and thereafter known as the
Battle of Blood River The Battle of Blood River (16 December 1838) was fought on the bank of the Ncome River, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa between 464 Voortrekkers ("Pioneers"), led by Andries Pretorius, and an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Zulu . Casual ...
. Modern-day Afrikaners still celebrate the
Day of the Vow The Day of the Vow ( af, Geloftedag) was a religious public holiday in South Africa. It is an important holiday for Afrikaners, originating from the Battle of Blood River on 16 December 1838. Initially called Dingane's Day ( af, Dingaansdag), 16 De ...
every year on 16 December.


British at Port Natal

Returning south, Pretorius and his fighters found that the British had annexed Port Natal (now
Durban Durban ( ) ( zu, eThekwini, from meaning 'the bay'), nicknamed ''Durbs'',Ishani ChettyCity nicknames in SA and across the worldArticle on ''news24.com'' from 25 October 2017. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
) on 4 December with a detachment of the
72nd Highlanders The 72nd Highlanders was a British Army Highland Infantry Regiment of the Line. Raised in 1778, it was originally numbered 78th, before being redesignated the 72nd in 1786. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 78th (Highlanders) Reg ...
from Cape Colony. While the governor of the Cape, Major-General Sir George Thomas Napier, George Napier, had invited the British emigrants from Natal to return to the colony, and stated his intention to take military possession of the port. In sanctioning the occupation of the port the British government of the day had no intention of making Natal a British colony, but wished to prevent the Boers establishing an independent republic upon the coast with a harbour through which access to the interior could be gained. After remaining at the port just over a year the Highlanders were withdrawn, on 24 December 1839.


Overthrow of Dingane

After the battle, Pretorius took advantage of dissension in the Zulu kingdom to ally himself with Mpande, brother of the Zulu king
Dingane Dingane ka Senzangakhona Zulu (–29 January 1840), commonly referred to as Dingane or Dingaan, was a Zulu chief who became king of the Zulu Kingdom in 1828. He set up his royal capital, uMgungundlovu, and one of numerous military encampments, o ...

Dingane
. Dingane's attempt to extend his kingdom north to compensate for losses to the Boers had failed. He was defeated by the Swazi people in 1839, leading to discontent with his rule. In exchange for cattle and territory Pretorius agreed to support Mpande's bid to overthrow Dingane. A Boer force supported Mpande's Zulu
impi Impi is a Zulu word meaning war or combat, and by association any body of men gathered for war, for example ''impi ya masosha'' is a term denoting 'an army'. Impi were formed from multiple regiments(amabutho in Zulu) from amakhanda(large militar ...
in the invasion. At the Battle of Maqongqo, Dingane was crushed and was put to flight with what retainers chose to follow him into exile. Pretorius took 36,000 head of cattle and proclaimed a large tract of land extending from St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal, St Lucia Bay to be part of the Natalia Republic.


Government of Natalia


Internal affairs

Meantime the Boers had founded Pietermaritzburg, named in honour of leaders Piet Retief and Gerrit Maritz. They made it their capital and the seat of their volksraad. Legislative power was vested in the volksraad (consisting of 24 members), while the president and executive were changed every three months. For issues of importance, a meeting was called of ''het publiek'', that is, of all who chose to attend, to sanction or reject it. "The result," says the historian George McCall Theal, "was utter anarchy. Decisions of one day were frequently reversed the next, and every one held himself free to disobey any law that he did not approve of. ... Public opinion of the hour in each section of the community was the only force in the land."


Territorial policy

The Zulus continued to exist as a distinct and numerous people with their own dispensation within their own territory to the north and east, in the region known as Zulu Kingdom, Zululand. The settlers were in loose alliance with and in quasi-supremacy over the Boer communities that had left the Cape and settled at Winburg and at Potchefstroom. They declared a free and independent state under the title of "The Republic of Port Natal and adjacent countries," and sought (September 1840) from Sir George Thomas Napier, George Napier an acknowledgment of their independence by Great Britain. Sir George did not give an answer but was friendly to the Boer farmers. He was disturbed when a commando force under Andries Pretorius attacked the Xhosa people, Xhosa in December 1840. The national government declined to recognize Natalia's independence but proposed to trade with it if the people would accept a military force to defend against other European powers. Sir George communicated this decision to the volksraad in September 1841.


British and Dutch influences

The Boers strongly resented the contention of the British that they could not shake off British nationality, though beyond the bounds of any recognized British possession. They also wanted control of the British Natal Port (now renamed Durban). They rejected Napier's overtures. On 2 December 1841, Napier announced his intention to resume military occupation of Port Natal, citing the Boers' attack on the Xhosa. On 21 February 1842 the settlers responded, with a document written by Jacobus Boshoff. The farmers complained about the lack of representative government, and concluded by a protest against the occupation of any part of their territory by British troops. Soon after, an event occurred which encouraged the Boers in their opposition to Great Britain. In March 1842 a Dutch vessel sent out by Gregorius Ohrig, an Amsterdam merchant who sympathized with the farmers, reached Port Natal. Johan Arnold Smellekamp concluded a treaty with the volksraad assuring them of the protection of the Netherlands. The Natal Boers believed the Netherlands to be one of the great powers of Europe, and were firmly persuaded that its government would aid them in resisting Great Britain.


Transfer to colonial government


Battle of Congella

On 1 April 1842 Captain T. C. Smith with a force of 263 men left his camp at the Umgazi, on the eastern frontier of
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope. The British colony was preceded by an earlier Corporate colony that became a Dutch col ...
, and marching overland reached
Durban Durban ( ) ( zu, eThekwini, from meaning 'the bay'), nicknamed ''Durbs'',Ishani ChettyCity nicknames in SA and across the worldArticle on ''news24.com'' from 25 October 2017. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
without opposition, and encamped, on 4 May, at the base of the Berea hills. The Boers, cut off from their port, called out a commando of some 300 to 400 men under Andries Pretorius and gathered at Congella at the head of the bay. On the night of 23 May, Smith made an unsuccessful attack on the Boer camp, losing his guns and fifty men were killed or wounded. On 26 May the Boers captured the harbour and settlement, and on 31 May blockaded the British camp, the women and children being removed, on the suggestion of Pretorius, to a ship in the harbour of which the Boers had taken possession. Meantime, an old Durban resident, Dick King, had undertaken to convey tidings of the perilous position of the British force to the commandant at Grahamstown. He started on the night of 24 May, and escaping the Boer outposts rode through the dense bush, and in nine days reached his destination—a distance of in a direct line, and nearly by the route to be followed. This remarkable ride was accomplished with one change of mount, obtained from a missionary in Pondoland. A comparatively strong force under Colonel A. J. Cloete was at once sent by sea to Port Natal, and on 26 June, Captain Smith was relieved. The besieged had suffered greatly from lack of food. Within a fortnight Colonel Cloete had received the submission of the volksraad at Pietermaritzburg. The burghers represented that they were under the protection of the Netherlands, but this plea was peremptorily rejected by the commander of the British forces. The British government was still undecided as to its policy towards Natal. In April 1842 Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, Lord Stanley, then Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in the Second Peel ministry, second Peel Administration, wrote to George Thomas Napier, Sir George Napier that the establishment of a colony in Natal would be attended with little prospect of advantage, but at the same time stated that the pretensions of the emigrants to be regarded as an independent community could not be admitted. Various measures were proposed which would but have aggravated the situation.


Annexation

Finally, in deference to the strongly urged views of Sir George Napier, Lord Stanley, in a despatch of 13 December, received in Cape Town on 23 April 1843, consented to Natal becoming a British colony. The institutions adopted were to be as far as possible in accordance with the wishes of the people, but it was a fundamental condition "that there should not be in the eye of the law any distinction or disqualification whatever, founded on mere difference of colour, origin, language or creed." Sir George then appointed Mr Henry Cloete (a brother of Colonel Josias Cloete) a special commissioner to explain to the Natal volksraad the decision of the government. There was a considerable party of Natal Boers still strongly opposed to the British, and they were reinforced by numerous bands of Boers who came over the Drakensberg from Winburg and Potchefstroom. Commandant Jan Mocke of Winburg (who had helped to besiege Captain Smith at Durban) and others of the "war party" attempted to induce the volksraad not to submit, and a plan was formed to murder Andries Pretorius, Pretorius, Jacobus Boshoff, Boshoff and other leaders, who were now convinced that the only chance of ending the state of complete anarchy into which the country had fallen was by accepting British sovereignty.


Extent of the colony

On 8 August 1843 the Natal wikt:volksraad, Volksraad unanimously agreed to the terms proposed by Lord Stanley, setting Drakensberg as the northern limit of Natal. Many of the Boers who would not acknowledge British rule trekked once more over the mountains into what became the
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat, af, Oranje-Vrystaat, abbreviated as OVS) was an independent Boer sovereign republic under British suzerainty in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, which ceased to exist afte ...
and Transvaal Province, Transvaal provinces to seek their freedom and independence. At the end of 1843 there were not more than 500 Dutch families left in Natal. Cloete, before returning to the Cape, visited Mpande and obtained from him a valuable concession. Hitherto the
Tugela River The Tugela River ( zu, Thukela; af, Tugelarivier) is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. It is one of the most important rivers of the country. The river originates in Mont-aux-Sources of the Drakensberg Mountains and plung ...
from source to mouth had been the recognized frontier between Natal and Zululand. Mpande gave up to Natal all the territory between the Buffalo River (KwaZulu-Natal), Buffalo and Tugela rivers, which later formed Klip River county.


Aftermath

Proclaimed a British
Colony of Natal The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on 4 May 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three other colonies to fo ...
in 1843, it became a part of Cape Colony in 1844, not being separated again until 1856. The power of the volksraad did not truly end until 1845, when an effective British administration was established under Martin West (colonial administrator), Martin West as lieutenant-governor. After the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, the British defeated the Zulu army, and annexed Zulu Kingdom, Zululand to Natal in 1897. One of the four founding provinces of South Africa, it is now KwaZulu-Natal. This province is still home to the Zulu nation; native speakers of the Zulu language form 77.8% of the population. The province also has a large ethnic Indian South African, Indian population, as well as Boer-descended residents and ethnic British descendants.


See also

* KwaZulu-Natal Province *
South African Republic The South African Republic ( nl, Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek; the ZAR; also known as the Transvaal Republic, af, Suid-Afrikaanse Republiek) was an independent and internationally recognised state in what is now South Africa, from 1852 to 1902. ...
*
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat, af, Oranje-Vrystaat, abbreviated as OVS) was an independent Boer sovereign republic under British suzerainty in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, which ceased to exist afte ...
* Volkstaat * Boer republics


References


Notes


Sources

* * * {{Political history of South Africa History of KwaZulu-Natal History of South Africa 19th century in Africa States and territories established in 1839