The Utrecht District and the Disputed Territory—A Cause of the Anglo-Zulu War Re-Examined (Miscellanea)


The causes of the Anglo-Zulu War have been seen by historians primarily in terms of the larger geopolitical issues of the mid to late 19th Century. This paper focuses upon the much smaller entities of the Utrecht District of Northern Natal and the adjacent Zulu territory which came to be known as the Disputed Territory. The Utrecht District is shown to be seriously deficient in rainfall, soils, grazing and agricultural potential, to the extent that it was unable to support the occupying Boers, forcing them to encroach upon Zulu territory, contravening concessions granted by the Zulus. This action by the Utrecht Boers disrupted relations with the Zulus, precipitating a colonial commission of inquiry which was found in favor of the Zulus. Despite this finding, larger issues came to the forefront obscuring the core role played by the environmental circumstances of the Utrecht District and the resulting Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

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Coleman, A. and Garstang, M. (2014) The Utrecht District and the Disputed Territory—A Cause of the Anglo-Zulu War Re-Examined. Advances in Historical Studies, 3, 170-181. doi: 10.4236/ahs.2014.33015.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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