Introduction to the Resolutions
of the Council of Policy of Cape of Good Hope

Context: History of the Cape of Good Hope

The Resolutions can best be understood in the context of the history of South Africa. The establishment of the Cape of Good Hope is, therefore, described first in the Introduction. Its history actually began in 1486 with the Portuguese explorers. In their footsteps followed Dutch merchants who went to Asia to make their fortune. An attempt by English merchants to settle at the Cabo de Boa Esperance failed. After a Dutch ship had run ashore in Table Bay in 1647 the idea of establishing a permanent refreshment station at the Cape was broached. Four years later three Dutch ships reached the southern point of Africa with this objective and the settlers built the Fort de Goede Hoop [Fort of Good Hope].

Then follows the nature of the local management structure of the VOC. The Council of Policy held the highest authority. The tasks were distributed among various functionaries. In order to aid researchers, the Introduction also contains a list of all the VOC commanding officers at the Cape. The representatives of the VOC had judicial authority. Because the Colony developed so rapidly the town of Cabo experienced the need for a local government following the Dutch example.

In the Introduction much attention is given to the various population groups of the Cape of Good Hope under the following headings: indigenous peoples, VOC officials, freemen, slaves, bandits and exiles.

Then follows a discussion of a number of place names appearing in the Resolutions, namely the variety of names for the Cape itself, place names of Khoi origin, places named after members of the Council of Policy, and a few Oriental place names.

Towards the end of the Introduction shipping round the Cape, expeditions to other countries and islands, and the VOC settlement in Mozambique (Rio de la Goa) are discussed. In 1795 the British seized power from the VOC and became the new rulers of the Cape of Good Hope Colony.


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