The intellectual baggage in the heads of the first European immigrants was much more important than their clothes and other belongings. Of the external influences that shaped Cape society the most fundamental were the Roman-Dutch law, the Reformed religion, early capitalism, and the laws and practices the VOC had developed in running its colonies in the East.
Two quite different influences had an impact on the Cape. One was the egalitarian tendencies of the Netherlands, the other the ‘aristocratic’ or hierarchical tendencies emanating from the Dutch possessions in the Far East. When the VOC founded the Cape in 1652 it placed it under the authority of both the directors of the Company in Amsterdam, called the Lords Seventeen, and the Council of India in Batavia. Until 1731, the Cape was effectively governed from Batavia. It was also profoundly influenced by the regulations, practices and attitudes that were imported by officials who spent timethere before being stationed at the Cape.