Battle of Majuba Hill

The Battle of Majuba Hill, drawn by Richard Caton Woodville for the Illustrated London News, 1889.

Majuba Hill (27 February 1881) was the main battle fought between British and Boer forces during the First Anglo-Boer War (1880-81). It was a comprehensive victory for the Boers, who routed a 400-strong British force occupying the summit of the hill.

Shocked by this defeat at and unwilling to fight a long (and costly) war, the British signed a provisional peace treaty with the Boers in March 1881. The First Anglo-Boer War officially ended with the signing of the Pretoria Convention (August-October 1881), which restored Boer self-rule in the Transvaal, albeit under British oversight for the next few years.

The discovery of gold in the Transvaal in 1886 led to a large influx of mainly British settlers. Concerned about losing control of their country, the Boers refused to grant these uitlanders (‘outlanders’) citizenship. This situation heightened tensions between Britain and Transvaal (and its Orange Free State ally).

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