Answer to Question #130821 in History for Marno Plank

Question #130821
What were the main difficulties faced by freeburgers farmers in the south western cape in the early decades of the VOC settlement.
Expert's answer

Free burgers farmers faced challenges that could be alluded to the economic crises that the VOC had. Napoleonic wars that took place in 1799 lead to a great economic challenge by the VOC to support its governance and providing wages to the farmers. This condition caused the VOC to be declared bankrupt in 1799.

VOC company was in a strategic position to enjoy the monopoly of the market. Monopoly posed a great challenge to the fee burgher farmers in the cape for the company formulated fixed policies on prices and other operations. Price was considerably lower than the market standards for grains and vegetables. VOC also enforced a law to restrict farmers to very specific crops that were to be produced. VOC had uneven financial flows because they concentrated on short-term maximum profit by ensuring that they incurred low cost on production. Free burgher hence was faced with a lack of funds for capital that could enable them to practice agriculture that was based on Dutch traditions. Forced and heavy taxation and payment of tithes made it difficult for the farmers to finance their loans and other farming activities. The general commissioner, Hendrick imposed payments of tithes obligatory.

Moreover, the resettlement of the Khoekhoe at the expanded conflict led to the conflict among them with free burgers over livestock and land. The conflict was further fueled by the slaves who escaped and participated in the first world war.


1.     Groenewald, G. (2007). Een dienstig inwoonder: entrepreneurs, social capital and identity in Cape Town, c. 1720–1750. South African historical journal59(1), 126-152.

2.     Groenewald, G. (2010). Slaves and free blacks in VOC Cape Town, 1652–1795. History Compass8(9), 964-983.

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