In 1881 and again in 1899, Britain was drawn into a conflict with settlers of Dutch descent in the South African Republic, also known as Transvaal, as her Empire continued to grow apace under the twin forces of colonial emigration and international trade - much to the chagrin of her colonial rival, Germany.
IN 1836, disaffected colonists of Dutch descent from the British-run Cape Colony made their ‘Great Trek’ north, and founded Natal, Transvaal and Orange Free State. British governance followed close behind, however, occupying Natal in 1842, and invading Transvaal in 1877 after it fell into bankruptcy.
A fierce backlash from the Transvaal’s farmers, the Boers, drove the British out, but in 1886 a gold rush flooded the state with British settlers from the Cape. Cecil Rhodes’s British South Africa Company responded by plotting to overthrow Paul Kruger’s government, but bungled it, and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany gleefully stirred the pot by sending Kruger a congratulatory telegram.
Emboldened, Kruger’s Boers marched against Natal and the Cape on 11th October 1899, but there was no help from Germany, and early successes at Mafeking, Kimberley and Ladysmith came to nothing. The Peace of Vereeniging on May 31st, 1902, was a victory for the British, and in 1910 London brought Transvaal into the newly-formed Union of South Africa.