In 1867 the British Empire successfully managed to impart a federation-style political system on its Canadian territory, and it believed a similar setup might work well in its African colonies. To that end, the British High Commissioner, Sir Henry Bartle Frere, was sent to begin preparations for this act.
On December 11, 1878 he issued an ultimatum to the Zulu Kingdom to submit or face war. They refused and Britain declared war on 11 January, suffering a heavy loss in the opening battle of the war at Isandlwana. The war was notable for several battles, including the defense of an area known as Rorke's Drift when a small force of around 140 British Army soldiers defended their post against 3,000-4,000 Zulu combatants. This was dramatized in the 1964 film Zulu.
Eventually the British defeated the Zulu and annexed their territory. The last head of the French royal House of Bonaparte, Napoléon, was also killed in the war, shocking Europe who saw him as the last hope to restore the Bonaparte dynasty on the throne.
Photographer: Paul Jamin
Location taken: Zulu Kingdom, Modern-day South Africa
Source: Wikimedia Commons
- 1878-12-11 Anglo-Zulu War: British high commissioner Henry Bartle Frere presents an ultimatum to the Zulu Kingdom to submit to British rule or face war
- 1879-01-11 Anglo-Zulu War begins as British Lt-General Chelmsford invades Zululand in South Africa
- 1879-06-01 Napoleon Eugene, the last dynastic Bonaparte, is killed serving with British forces in the Anglo-Zulu War. He is buried in Farnborough, Hampshire.