Timeline of Human History II: 1500-1799

This is the second part of a four-part Timeline of Human History.  To see the other parts, click on the following links:
Timeline of Human History I: Prehistory-1499
Timeline of Human History III: 1800-1899
Timeline of Human History IV: 1900-Present

NOTE: Some of the dates given below are approximate and others are subject to debate.


  • The French under King Louis XII defeat Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, at the Battle of Novara (Italy).
  • Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral claims Brazil for Portugal.
  • Self-Portrait, a painting by Northern Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer (Germany).

    Albrecht Durer’s self-portrait from 1500 was made when the artist was 28 years old.


  • Shah Ismail I establishes the Safavid Dynasty and unites Persia (Iran).
  • Spanish settlers bring the first African slaves to Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic).
  • Petrus Castellanus edits and Ottaviano Petrucci publishes the Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, a compilation of polyphonic secular songs by the premier composers of the day (Italy).


  • The Chigi Codex, a compilation of polyphonic sacred works, is compiled in Ghent at the request of Philip I of Castile (Belgium).


  • Portugal colonizes Zanzibar.
  • High Renaissance artist Michelangelo completes the sculpture David (Italy).

    Michelangelo’s 17-ft.-tall marble David is now located in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence.

  • Death of Queen Isabella of Castile and León.


  • High Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa (Italy).

    The subject of the Mona Lisa portrait is believed to be Lisa Gherardini, the well-to-do wife of merchant Francesco del Giocondo,


  • Work begins on St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome (Italy).
  • Death of Christopher Columbus.


  • Afonso de Albuquerque of Portugal captures Hormuz, Muscat and other Persian Gulf ports (Iran; Oman; Saudi Arabia).


  • The Safavid Persians capture Baghdad (Iraq).


  • Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque defeats the Muslim occupiers of Goa, led by Ismail Adil Shah, and establishes a colony there (India).
  • The Garden of Earthly Delights, a triptych painted by Early Netherlandish artist Hieronymus Bosch (The Netherlands).

    The Garden of Earthly Delights is located at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.


  • The Portuguese, led by Afonso de Albuquerque, capture Malacca, slaughter or enslave the Muslims and establish a trading post (Malaysia).
  • High Renaissance artist Raphael paints the fresco, The School of Athens, at the Vatican (Italy).

    Raphael’s fresco The School of Athens, which depicts a pantheon of philosophers, is painted on a wall of the Stanza della Segnatura in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican in Rome.

  • The Praise of Folly, a satirical book written in Latin by Erasmus (The Netherlands).


  • The French, led by Gaston de Foix, defeat the Holy League of Pope Julius II at the Battle of Ravenna (Italy).
  • The Medicis overthrow the Florentine Republic (Italy).
  • High Renaissance artist Michelangelo finishes painting the frescoes on the Sistine Chapel ceiling (Italy).

    The Creation of the Sun and Moon, one of the central panels on the ceiling of the, Sistine Chapel.


  • Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa is the first European to cross the Isthmus of Panama from Gulf of Mexico to Pacific Ocean.
  • The Prince, a work of political philosophy, is written in Italian by Niccolò Machiavelli (Italy).


  • The Ottomans under Sultan Selim I defeat the Persian Safavids under Shah Ismail I at the Battle of Chaldiran (Iran).
  • Melencolia I, an engraved woodcut print by Northern Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer (Germany).

    Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I.

  • Andreas Vesalius is born in Brussels, Brabant, Habsburg Netherlands (now Belgium).


  • Ẓahīr-ud-Dīn Muḥammad, known as Babur, conquers the Punjab and occupies Delhi (India).
  • The Renaissance-Gothic Isenheim Altarpiece, with paintings by Matthias Grünewald and sculpture by Niclaus of Haguenau, is completed (France).

    The Isenheim Altarpiece was painted for the chapel of a hospital and shows Jesus as suffering from a horrific disease.

  • Missa Pange Lingua, a polyphonic musical setting of the Roman Catholic mass by Josquin des Préz (France).


  • Thomas More’s philosophical novel Utopia, written in Latin (UK: England).


  • The Ottoman Empire defeats the Mamluks and gains control over Egypt, Arabia and the Levant.
  • The second version of Westminster Abbey, made in the Anglo-French Gothic style, is completed (UK: England).

    The facade of Westminster Abbey.

  • Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses in Saxony, starting the Protestant Reformation (Germany).

    This portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder from around 1530 is now located in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.


  • Charles I of Spain becomes Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
  • Hernán Cortés leads the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
  • Leonardo da Vinci dies.
  • Birth of Catherine de’ Medici in Spain.


  • Suleiman the Magnificent begins his 46-year reign as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).

    A copy of Titian’s portrait of Suleiman the Magnificent from about 1530-1540.


  • Martin Luther appears before the Diet of Worms (Germany).
  • The effects of smallpox and the clever manipulation of local rivalries permit the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés (with the aid of his Tlaxcaltec allies) to defeat the Aztecs in the Siege of Tenochtitlán, a turning point in the Spanish conquest of the Aztec civilization.
  • Pope Leo X excommunicates Martin Luther (Italy).
  • Ferdinand Magellan is killed in battle in the Philippines.


  • In the Luso Sundanese Treaty, the Sunda Kingdom allows Portugal to build a fortress on Sumatra (Indonesia).
  • A Spanish expedition begun by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan completes the first circumnavigation of the globe (Spain; Portugal).

    A map of Magellan’s voyage. Unfortunately, Magellan was killed in the Philippines, but his expedition finished circling the world.


  • Gustav Vasa is elected king of Sweden.


  • The Ottomans defeat the Portuguese in the Red Sea (Egypt; Israel; Palestine).
  • Giovanni da Verrazzano of Italy is the first European to explore the coast of North America between South Carolina and Newfoundland (US).
  • Death of Vasco da Gama.


  • The Mughals, led by Babur of Kabulistan, defeat the army of Ibrahim Lodi, Sultan of Delhi, at the First Battle of Panipat, one of the earliest battles involving gunpowder firearms and artillery. The victory was a watershed in the establishment of the Mughal Empire (India).
  • The Ottomans defeat the Kingdom of Hungary at the Battle of Mohács (Hungary).


  • Troops of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V mutiny due to lack of pay and sack Rome, imprisoning Pope Clement VII and murdering thousands of civilians (Italy).
  • The Florentines eject the Medicis and reestablish a Republic (Italy).
  • The Palace of Charles V in the Alhambra is completed (Spain).

    The circular courtyard of the Palace of Charles V in the Alhambra.

  • Death of Niccolò Machiavelli.


  • Baldassare Castiglione publishes The Book of the Courtier, a dialogue in Italian addressing etiquette, behavior and morals (Italy).

    Raphael’s 1515 portrait of Baldassare Castiglione is now in the Louvre in Paris.


  • In the Treaty of Zaragoza, Portugal obtains the Moluccas and Spain acquires the Philippines (Spain).
  • The failure of Suleiman the Magnificent and his Ottoman army to defeat the Holy Roman Empire in the Siege of Vienna signals the limit of the Ottoman incursion into Western Europe.
  • The Battle of Alexander at Issus, a world landscape painting by Northern Renaissance artist Albrecht Altdorfer (Germany).

    Albrecht Altdorfer’s The Battle of Alexander at Issus.


  • The Medicis overthrow the Florentine Republic and return to power (Italy).


  • Francisco Pizarro leads the Spanish conquest of the Incas, sparked by the Spanish ambush and seizure of Inca ruler Atahualpa at Cajamarca (Peru).
  • Jupiter and Io, a painting by Late Renaissance artist Correggio (Italy).

    Jupiter and Io is one of a series of paintings by Correggio of Jupiter’s transformations.

  • Orlando Furioso, an epic poem written in Italian by Ludovico Ariosto (Italy).


  • Henry VIII divorces Catherine of Aragon and marries Anne Boleyn (UK: England).
  • Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer annuls Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon and validates Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn (UK: England).
  • Pope Clement IV excommunicates Henry VIII and Thomas Cranmer (UK: England).
  • Anne Boleyn gives birth to Elizabeth Tudor (Queen Elizabeth I) in Greenwich (UK: England).
  • The Ambassadors, a painting by Northern Renaissance artist Hans Holbein the Younger (England).

    The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger is a double portrait of the French ambassadors to England.


  • The Anabaptists seize Münster and declare it the New Jerusalem (Germany).
  • Jacques Cartier claims Quebec for France (Canada).
  • Founding of the Jesuits by Ignatius of Loyola.
  • Gargantua and Pantagruel, a work of comic fiction written in French by François Rabelais (France).


  • The Act of Union unites England and Wales (UK).
  • Anne Boleyn is beheaded for adultery and treason (UK: England).

    A portrait of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.

  • The Roman Catholic Church establishes the Inquisition in Portugal.


  • Publication of Ein Hubsch new Gesangbuch, the first Protestant hymn book (Germany).


  • Francisco de Orellana is the first European to explore the Amazon River (Brazil).
  • High Renaissance artist Michelangelo completes The Last Judgment fresco on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel (Italy).

    The Last Judgment altar wall fresco from the Sistine Chapel.


  • Birth of Akbar the Great in Umerkot, Sindh (now India).


  • Portuguese ships arrive in Japan.
  • In On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, written in Latin, Nicholas Copernicus asserts that the Earth and other planets revolve around the sun. (Poland).

    This 1580 portrait of Nikolaus Copernicus is located in the Town Hall of Toruń, Poland.

  • Andreas Vesalius publishes his Latin-language book, On the Fabric of the Human Body, the first comprehensive study of human anatomy (Belgium).
  • Copernicus dies.


  • The victory of Francis I of France over Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (and the Hapsburgs) during the Italian Wars is memorialized in the Treaty of Crépy (France).
  • William Gilbert is born in Colchester, England (now UK).


  • The Songhai Empire occupies Niani, capital of the Mali Empire (Guinea).

    A map showing the Ghana, Mali and Songhai Empires in West Africa.

    A map showing the Ghana, Mali and Songhai Empires in West Africa.

  • Death of Martin Luther.
  • Tycho Brahe is born in Scania, Denmark (now Sweden).


  • The Mughals take Kabul (Afghanistan).
  • Ivan IV the Terrible becomes tsar of Russia.
  • Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and a Catholic alliance defeat the Protestant Schmalkaldic League, led by Elector John Frederick I of Saxony and Landgrave Philip I of Hesse, at the Battle of Mühlberg (Germany).
  • Château de Chambord is built in Loir-et-Cher, France.

    The Chateau de Chambord, seen here in an aerial view, is a fine example of French Renaissance architecture.

  • Death of Hernando Cortés.
  • Death of King Henry VIII of England.
  • Birth of Miguel de Cervantes in Alcalá de Henares, Spain.


  • The Chinese government closes all ports and bans foreign trade.


  • The first Book of Common Prayer is published in England (UK).


  • The Mongols led by Altan Khan breach the Great Wall and burn the suburbs of Beijing (China).
  • Europeans are playing an early form of tennis.
  • The game of cricket is being played in England (UK).
  • Giorgio Vasari’s Italian-language biography Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (Italy).

    The cover of the 1550 First Edition of Vasari’s Lives.

  • John Napier is born in Edinburgh, Scotland (now UK).


  • The Italian War of 1551 (the Hapsburg-Valois War) begins when Henry II of France, allied with the Ottomans, declares war on Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
  • The Ottomans and French lay siege to Tripoli, which is defended by the Knights of Malta (Libya).
  • In a debate at the Colegio de San Gregorio in Valladolid, Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas argues that American natives are free men and deserve equal treatment, while humanist scholar Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda insists that the native people deserve punishment “in order to uproot crimes that offend nature” and enslaving them is consistent with Catholicism and natural law (Spain).


  • After a siege, Russia under Ivan the Terrible conquers and annexes the Khanate of Kazan (Russia).

    Ivan the Terrible's conquests.

    Ivan the Terrible’s conquests.


  • Catholic Charles V and the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League reach the Peace of Augsburg, which adopts the principle of cuius regio, eius religio, in which the religion of each Holy Roman Empire prince becomes the religion of the state and its inhabitants, and those who cannot conform may leave (Germany).


  • The magnitude 8.0 Shaanxi earthquake kills 830,000 people (China).
  • Russia seizes the Khanate of Astrakhan (Russia).
  • Charles V abdicates in favor of his brother Ferdinand I as Holy Roman Emperor and his son Philip II as King of Spain.
  • Akbar the Great becomes Mughal emperor (India).

    A sixteenth century portrait of Akbar the Great.

  • De re Metallica, by Georgius Agricola, a treatise in Latin on mining and metallurgy (Germany).


  • The forces of Hapsburg Spain and England defeat France in the Battle of Saint-Quentin (France).
  • China permits the Portuguese to establish a trading post in Macau.


  • The Livonian War begins between Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Denmark and Russia.
  • Elizabeth I, a Protestant, becomes queen of England (UK).

    This 1575 portrait of Elizabeth I, known as the Darnley Portrait, is now located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

  • France captures Calais from the English (France).
  • The Heptameron, a French-language collection of 72 short stories by Marguerite of Navarre, is published nine years after the author’s death (France).


  • The Peace of Cateau Cambrésis ends the Italian Wars (France).
  • Pope Paul IV issues the first Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list of books and authors banned by the Roman Catholic Church (Italy).


  • Upon the death of Francis II, Catherine de’ Medici becomes Regent of France.
  • Simonio and Lyndiana Bernacotti invent the first graphite pencil (Italy).


  • St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow is completed (Russia).

    The onion domes of St. Basil have no known precedent in architecture.

  • Francis Bacon is born in London, England (now UK).


  • The Massacre at Vassy marks the beginning of the French Wars of Religion between Catholics and Huguenots.
  • The Ottomans occupy Transylvania (Romania).
  • According to legend, the Pope Marcellus Mass, by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, saves polyphony (Italy).


  • Start of Nordic Seven Years’ War between Denmark and Sweden.
  • The Wedding at Cana, a painting by Late Renaissance Mannerist Paolo Veronese (Italy).

    Measuring 22.2 ft. tall and 32.6 ft. wide, The Wedding at Cana is the largest painting in the Louvre.


  • Following criticism of Pope Paul IV’s original list of prohibited books, the Council of Trent approves a less restrictive version of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Italy).
  • Andreas Vesalius dies.
  • Death of Michelangelo Buonarroti.
  • William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England (now UK).
  • Galileo Galilei is born in Pisa, Duchy of Florence (now Italy).


  • Spain begins a colony at Cebu in the Philippines.
  • Malta successfully resists an Ottoman siege.
  • Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founds the city of St. Augustine, the first permanent European settlement in what is now the continental United States.
  • The Hunters in the Snow, a painting by Northern Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Belgium).

    The Hunters in the Snow is one of a series of paintings by Bruegel depicting various times of the year.


  • The Eighty Years’ War between Spain and The Netherlands, also known as the Dutch War of Independence, begins.
  • Death of Suleiman the Magnificent.


  • The Union of Lublin creates the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
  • Gerardus Mercator is the first to use the Mercator Projection in a world map (Belgium).

    Gerardus Mercator’s world map, using the new Mercator projection. 

  • Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún completes La Historia Universal de las Cosas de Nueva España (The Florentine Codex), written in Spanish, regarding the conquest of the Aztecs by the Spanish.


  • The Ottomans take Cyprus.
  • Pope Pius V issues Regnans in Excelsis, which declares Elizabeth I of England to be an excommunicate and a heretic, and releases her subjects from any allegiance to her (Italy).
  • Four Books of Architecture, works in Italian by Andrea Palladio (Italy).


  • Pope Pius V establishes the Holy League (which includes Spain and the Republic of Venice), which defeats the Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto (Gulf of Petras, Ionian Sea).
  • The Crimean Tatars sack Moscow (Russia).
  • Portugal colonizes Angola.
  • Oda Nobunaga defeats the Ikko rebellion near Nara (Japan).
  • Andrea Palladio designs and builds Villa Almerico Capra (“La Rotonda“) in Vicenza (Italy).

    “La Rotunda” was designed by influential 16th Century architect Andrea Palladio.

  • Johannes Kepler is born in the Free Imperial City of Weil der Stadt, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany).


  • In the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, French Catholics murder thousands of French Protestants.
  • Astronomer Tycho Brahe observes and describes a supernova (Czech Republic).
  • The Lusiads, an epic poem written in Portuguese by Luís Vaz de Camões (Portugal).

    A portrait of Luis vaz Camões by Fernão Gomes.


  • The Spanish capture Haarlem after a seven-month siege (The Netherlands).
  • Peasant revolts are crushed in Croatia and Slovenia.


  • Court choreographer Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx presents Le Ballet des Polonais to celebrate the arrival of Polish dignitaries to the court of Catherine de Medici (France).


  • The Ottomans build the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne (Turkey).

    Selimiye Mosque is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.


  • The combined forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga break Takeda Katsuyori’s siege of Nagashino Castle, defended by Tokugawa vassal Okudaira Sadamasa, and defeat Takeda (Japan).

    A portrait of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

  • After a five-year siege, the Ternateans led by Sultan Baabullah defeat the Portuguese (Indonesia).


  • With the Pacification of Ghent, the Hapsburg Netherlands provinces unite to drive out Spanish mutineers and unsuccessfully attempt to bring rebelling Holland and Zeeland back under royal control (Belgium).
  • Jean Bodin publishes Six Books of the Republic, a work of political philosophy, written in French (France).


  • Sweden and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth defeat Russia at the Battle of Wenden, marking a turning point in the Livonian War (Latvia).
  • William Harvey is born in Folkestone, England (now UK).


  • The rebellious Protestant provinces of the northern Netherlands unite in the Union of Utrecht.
  • The Catholic southern Netherlands provinces unite under the Union of Arras and pledge loyalty to Philip II of Spain.
  • Sir Francis Drake claims the California coast for England (US).


  • Philip II of Spain unites Spain and Portugal.
  • Sir Francis Drake completes the second circumnavigation of the world (England).
  • Essays, written in French by Michel de Montaigne (France).

    A portrait of Michel de Montaigne by Dumonstier, c. 1578.


  • The States-General of the Netherlands offers the crown to François, Duke of Anjou (brother of King Henry III of France), who accepts on condition that the Netherlands abjure any allegiance to Philip II of Spain.
  • The States-General of the Netherlands issues the Act of Abjuration, which declares that Philip II of Spain would no longer be accepted as their rightful sovereign.
  • The Ballet Comique de la Reine, choreographed by Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx for a wedding in the court of Catherine de’ Medici, is the first performance to include music, poetry, design and dance in service of telling a story (France).

    In the Ballet Comique de la Reine, a fountain chariot carried Queen Louise and her ladies and musicians. Engraving by Jacques Patin.


  • Pope Gregory XIII adopts the Gregorian calendar, which corrects the errors of the Julian calendar (Italy).

    A copy of Pope Gregory’s 1582 proclamation of the new calendar.


  • The Burmese invade Yunnan Province in China.


  • Balthasar Gérard assassinates Dutch Revolt leader William of Orange in Delft (The Netherlands)
  • El Escorial is completed (Spain).

    El Escorial was the residential palace of the King of Spain.


  • Beginning of the Anglo-Spanish War.
  • English settlers found the short-lived colony of Roanoke in North America.
  • The planned city of Fatehpur Sikri is built (India).

    A view of the planned city of Fatehpur Sikri.

    A panoramic view of the planned city of Fatehpur Sikri.


  • The Mughal Empire annexes Kashmir (India; Pakistan).
  • The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, a painting by Mannerist artist El Greco (Spain).

    El Greco’s The Burial of the Count of Orgaz is located in the Church of Santo Tomé in Toledo, Spain.

  • Robert Bellarmine publishes the first volume of Disputationes, a defense of Roman Catholic dogma, written in Latin (Germany).


  • Elizabeth I, the Protestant queen of England, orders the execution of her Catholic cousin Mary, Queen of Scots (UK).
  • During the French Wars of Religion, a Protestant army under Henry of Navarre defeats a royalist army led by Anne, Duke of Joyeuse at the Battle of Coutras (France).


  • The English navy, led by Lord Howard of Effingham, defeats the Spanish Armada at the Battle of Gravelines, ending Hapsburg Spain’s attempt to invade England.
  • Famine in China.
  • Catholic Paris rises up against Henry III and in favor of the Duke of Guise on the Day of the Barricades, causing the king to flee the city (France).
  • Henry III of France has his rivals the Duke of Guise and Cardinal Guise assassinated (France).
  • Tycho Brahe publishes the first volume of Introduction to the New Astronomy, written in Latin (Czech Republic).
  • Doctor Faustus, a play by Christopher Marlowe, in English (UK: England).

    A 1585 portrait of a man believed to be playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe.

  • Birth of philosopher Thomas Hobbes in Westport, England (now UK).


  • Dominican friar Jacques Clément assassinates Henry III of France.
  • Upon Henry III’s death, Henry of Navarre accedes to the throne of France.
  • Death of Catherine de’ Medici (France).


  • The Peace of Istanbul extends Ottoman rule over Azerbaijan and the Caucasus as far as the Caspian Sea (Turkey).
  • After defeating the Late Hojo clan at the Siege of Odawara, Toyotomi Hideyoshi unites Japan, ending the Sengoku period and ushering in the Momoyama period (Japan).

    A portrait of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

  • Hans Lippershey and Zacharias Janssen make the first compound optical microscope (The Netherlands).
  • The Faerie Queen, an epic poem written in English by Edmund Spenser (UK: England).
  • Arcadia, an epic poem written in English by Philip Sidney (UK: England).


  • The army of Moroccan Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, led by Judar Pasha, defeats the Songhai Empire at the Battle of Tondibi (Mali).
  • Japan invades Korea, beginning the Seven Year War.
  • Feudal disputes and resistance to Castilian authority lead to an uprising in Aragon, which is suppressed by Philip II’s troops (Spain).


  • Richard III, a play written in English by William Shakespeare (UK: England).


  • Romeo and Juliet, a play written in English by William Shakespeare (UK: England).


  • The Hungarians defeat the Ottomans at Giurgiu in Wallachia (Romania).
  • Cornelis de Houtman leads the first Dutch expedition to Indonesia.
  • William Shakespeare’s English-language play A Midsummer Night’s Dream (UK: England).
  • Caravaggio’s Baroque painting, Bacchus (Italy).

    Caravaggio painted Bacchus shortly after joining the Rome household of his patron, Cardinal Del Monte. The painting is now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

  • Posthumous publication of Orlande de Lassus’s Lagrime di San Pietro, a cycle of 20 sacred madrigals with a concluding motet (Germany).


  • The Mughals take Kandahar (Afghanistan).

    A map of the Mughal Empire in about 1600.

    A map of the Mughal Empire in about 1600.

  • The Merchant of Venice, a play written in English by William Shakespeare (UK: England).
  • René Descartes is born in Indre-et-Loire, France.


  • Japan executes 26 Christians.
  • Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, plays written in English by William Shakespeare (UK: England).
  • John Dowland publishes his First Book of Songs, music for the lute, in London (UK: England).
  • Jacopo Peri’s Dafne, the earliest known opera, debuts in Florence (Italy).


  • Korea, assisted by China, repels the second of two Japanese invasions.
  • Onset of the Time of Troubles in Russia.


  • William Shakespeare writes the English-language plays Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night and As You Like It (UK: England).

    A 1610 portrait of a man many believe to be William Shakespeare, probably painted by John Taylor. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

  • Birth of Oliver Cromwell in Huntingdon, England (now UK).


  • Michael the Brave briefly unites the principalities of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia (Romania).

    A portrait of Michael the Brave by Aegidius Sadeler II.

  • The Battle of Sekigahara, in which forces loyal to Tokugawa Ieyasu defeat those fighting for Toyotomi Hideyori, marks the end of the Warring States period and the start of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Edo period (Japan).
  • The Portuguese defeat the Dutch in the Bay of Ambon (Indonesia).
  • Elizabeth I grants a charter to the British East India Company (UK: England).
  • Scientist Giordano Bruno is executed for heresy after stating that the universe is infinite (Italy).
  • Mannerist artist El Greco completes the landscape painting View of Toledo (Spain).

    View of Toledo is a Mannerist painting by El Greco of his adopted home town.

  • In De Magnete, scientist William Gilbert proposes that the Earth is a giant magnet with its own magnetic field (UK: England)
  • Hamlet, a play written in English by William Shakespeare (UK: England).
  • Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo, an opera or oratorio in Italian by Emilio de Cavalieri (Italy).


  • English forces defeat combined Irish and Spanish troops at the Battle of Kinsale (Ireland).
  • Famine in Russia kills one-third of the population from 1601-1603.
  • Tycho Brahe dies.


  • Establishment of the Dutch East India Company.
  • Italian Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci creates the Map of the Myriad Countries of the World while living in China.

    Italian Catholic missionary Matteo Ricci created the Map of the Myriad Countries of the World (Kunyu Wanguo Quantu) for Wanli Emperor.

  • Baroque artist Caravaggio completes painting of Scenes from the Life of St. Matthew for the Contarelli Chapel in Rome’s Church of San Luigi dei Francesi (Italy).

    The Calling of St. Matthew is one of three paintings of the life of St. Matthew by Caravaggio in the Contarelli Chapel of San Luigi dei Francesi church in Rome.

  • Giulio Caccini publishes Le nuove musiche, a collection of monodies and songs for solo voice and basso continuo, composed in the seconda pratica style of the early Baroque (Italy).


  • Following the death of Elizabeth I, James VI of Scotland ascends to the English throne as James I, uniting England and Scotland (UK).

    A 1621 portrait of James I of England by Daniel Mytens.

  • William Gilbert dies.


  • The Treaty of London ends the Anglo-Spanish War (UK).
  • Othello and Measure for Measure, plays written in English by William Shakespeare (UK: England).


  • The Gunpowder Plot, a failed attempt by Guy Fawkes and other Catholics to assassinate James I (UK: England).
  • Johann Carolus publishes Relation aller Fürnemmen un gedenckwürdigen Historienthe first newspaper, in Strasbourg (Germany).
  • Don Quixote, Part 1, a novel written in Spansh by Miguel de Cervantes (Spain).

    This 1600 portrait of Miguel de Cervantes, possibly by Juan de Jauregui, is now located at the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid.

  • King Lear and Macbeth, plays written in English by William Shakespeare (UK: England).
  • Death of Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great (India).


  • A tsunami in the Bristol Channel kills 3,000 people (UK: England)
  • The Peace of Zsitvatorok ends the Long War between the Ottomans and the Hapsburgs (Slovakia).
  • Captain Willen Janszoon and his Dutch crew are the first Europeans to reach Australia.
  • William Shakespeare’s English-language play Antony and Cleopatra (UK: England).
  • Volpone, a play written in English by Ben Jonson (UK: England).

    This 1617 portrait of Ben Jonson by Abraham van Blyenberch is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

  • Birth of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn in Leiden, Dutch Republic (now The Netherlands).


  • The first permanent English settlement in North America is established at Jamestown, Virginia (US).
  • Claudio Monteverdi’s Italian-language L’Orfeothe first opera masterpiece, premieres at Mantua (Italy).

    A 1640 portrait of Claudio Monteverdi by Bernardo Strozzi.


  • French explorer Samuel de Champlain founds Quebec City (Canada).
  • Hans Lippershey, Zacharias Jansen and Jacob Metius create the first refractor telescope (The Netherlands).
  • Evangelista Torricelli is born in Rome (now Italy).


  • War begins between Poland and Russia.
  • Johannes Kepler sets out his first two laws of planetary motion in Astronomia Nova (Germany).

    A 1610 portrait of Johannes Kepler.

  • William Shakespeare publishes his Sonnets, poems written in English (UK).
  • Death Be Not Proud, a poem written in English by John Donne (UK).


  • Henry Hudson discovers Hudson Bay (Canada).
  • Henry IV of France is assassinated.
  • Establishment of the Dahomey Kingdom in West Africa.

    A map of Dahomey and other kingdoms of West Africa.

    A map of Dahomey and other kingdoms of West Africa.

  • Galileo Galilei publishes his telescopic observations in Sidereus Nuncius, written in Latin (Italy).
  • Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine, a setting of the Latin Vespers (Italy).


  • The thermometer is invented (Italy).
  • Publication of the English-language King James Bible (UK: England).
  • The Tempest, a play written in English by William Shakespeare (UK: England).
  • Madrigali libro sesto, a book of madrigals for five voices by Carlo Gesualdo (Italy).


  • Sixteen-year-old Mikhail Romanov becomes tsar of Russia, establishing the House of Romanov and ending the Time of Troubles.
  • Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi paints Judith Slaying Holofernes (Italy).

    This is the first of two versions of Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi. It is located at the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte in Naples.


  • Tokugawa Ieyasu signs the Christian Expulsion Edict, which bans Christianity and expels all Christians and foreigners (Japan).
  • John Napier discovers logarithms (UK: Scotland).


  • Don Quixote, Part 2, a novel written in Spanish by Miguel de Cervantes (Spain).


  • The Sultan Ahmed (“Blue”) Mosque is completed in Istanbul (Turkey).

    The nickname “Blue Mosque” comes from the blue tiles in the entranceway.

  • Death of William Shakespeare.
  • Death of Miguel de Cervantes.


  • The Treaty of Stolbovo ends the Ingrian War between Sweden and Russia (Russia).
  • The Musical Banquet, a collection of variation suites by composer Johann Schein (Germany).
  • John Napier dies.


  • The Defenestration of Prague, in which local Protestant officials throw several representatives of the Catholic King of Bohemia out a third-story castle window, sparks the Thirty Years’ War in Europe (Czech Republic).
  • Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens paints The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus (Belgium).

    Rubens’ Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus is now located at Alte Pinakothek in Munich.


  • The Treaty of Deulino ends war between Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which gains significant territory (Russia).

    A map showing the results of the Treaty of Deulino.

    A map showing the results of the Treaty of Deulino.

  • The first Africans are brought to the English colonies in North America as slave labor (US).
  • Johannes Kepler publishes his three laws of planetary motion in The Harmonies of the World (Austria).
  • Fuenteovejuna (Lost in a Mirror), a play written in Spanish by Lope de Vega (Spain).


  • Puritan dissenters (the Pilgrims) arrive in Massachusetts on the Mayflower (US).
  • William Bourne designs and Cornelius Drebbel builds the first submarine, the oar-propelled Drebbel (UK: England).

    A reduced-scale replica of the Drebbel, built in 2001 is located in Richmond upon Thames, in London.

  • Francis Bacon publishes Novum Organum, a treatise in Latin on logic, philosophy and the scientific method (UK: England).


  • Jan Karol Chodkiewicz leads Polish-Lithuanian and Cossack troops to victory over the Ottomans at the Battle of Chocim (Ukraine).


  • The Safavid Persians take Kandahar from the Mughals and expel the Portuguese from Hormuz (Afghanistan; Iran).

    A map of the Safavid Empire.

    A map of the Safavid Empire.


  • The Safavid Persians take Baghdad, Mosul and Mesopotamia from the Ottoman Empire (Iraq).
  • Dutch East Indies officials massacre English and Japanese settlers on the island of Amboina (Indonesia).
  • Publication of Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies (the First Folio), a collection of Shakespeare’s plays (UK: England).

    The cover page of the First Folio.

  • Blaise Pascal is born in Clermont-Ferrand, France.


  • Japanese leader Jemitsu orders that all Spanish merchants and missionaries be immediately deported (Japan).


  • Justin of Nassau surrenders Breda to Hapsburg general Ambrogio Spinola (The Netherlands).
  • The Dutch West India Company establishes the colony of New Amsterdam on Manhattan island (US).


  • The Hapsburg Emperor Ferdinand II’s Catholic League, led by Johan Tzerclaes, Count of Tilly, decimates the mostly Danish forces of the Lower Saxon Circle, under Christian IV of Denmark, at the Battle of Lutter in the Thirty Years’ War (Germany).
  • The Renaissance and Baroque-style St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is completed (Italy).

    St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

  • Francis Bacon dies.


  • The auroch, the wild ancestor of cattle, becomes extinct.

    A 1551 woodcut by Gesner of a man hunting an auroch.

  • New Atlantis, a utopian novel by Francis Bacon written in Latin and English, is published posthumously (UK: England).
  • Robert Boyle is born in Lismore, Ireland.


  • The Martyrdom of Saint Serapion, a painting by Baroque artist Francisco de Zurbarán (Spain).

    The Martyrdom of Saint Serapion is now located in the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut.

  • William Harvey publishes the Latin book On the Motion of the Heart and Blood, the first comprehensive study of the human circulatory system (UK: England).


  • The Treaty of Altmark ends the war between Poland and Sweden (Poland).
  • Charles I dissolves Parliament (UK: England).
  • The Shah Mosque (later known as the Imam Mosque) is built in Isfahan (Iran).

    The Shah Mosque, in Isfahan, is now called the Imam Mosque.

  • Christiaan Huygens is born in The Hague, Dutch Republic (now The Netherlands).


  • The Deccan Famine of 1630-1632 begins; an estimated seven million people die (India).
  • Sweden intervenes in the Thirty Years’ War.
  • Johannes Kepler dies.


  • Protestant Sweden, led by Gustavus Adolphus defeats the Catholic League (including the Holy Roman Empire, Hungary and Croatia) at the Battle of Breitenfeld and captures Mainz during the Thirty Years’ War. The victory led Protestant German states to ally with Sweden (Germany).
  • After successfully laying siege to mostly Protestant Magdeburg, soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire and Catholic League loot, pillage and burn the city, and massacre 25,000 of its 30,000 residents in the Sack of Magdeburg (Germany).

    An artist’s depiction of the Sack of Magdeburg.


  • Despite the death of King Gustavus Augustus, Sweden defeats the Hapsburgs at the Battle of Lützen (Germany).
  • William Oughtred invents the slide rule (UK: England).
  • Galileo Galilei’s heliocentric Italian-language book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems leads to his arrest, trial and conviction for heresy by the Catholic Church (Italy).
  • The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, a painting by Dutch Golden Age painter Rembrandt (The Netherlands).

    The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp shows the dissection of the body of an executed criminal. The painting is now in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the Netherlands.

  • Antonie van Leeuwenhoek is born in Delft, Dutch Republic (now The Netherlands).
  • John Locke is born in Wrington, England (now UK).


  • The Tokugawa shogunate begins the Sakoku (“chained country”) policy: no Japanese may leave; no foreigners may enter (Japan).
  • A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, a poem written in English by John Donne (UK).

    A portrait of John Donne.


  • Hapsburg forces defeat the Swedes and their allies at the Battle of Nördlingen (Germany).
  • A combined force of Poles and Cossacks lift the Russian siege of Smolensk (Russia).
  • Having been charged with treason by Emperor Ferdinand II, Bohemian military leader Albrecht von Wallenstein is assassinated by Irish and Scottish officers of his army in Cheb (Czech Republic).
  • The Surrender of Breda, a painting by Baroque Spanish Golden Age artist Diego Velázquez (Spain).

    The Surrender of Breda is now located in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.


  • Under the Peace of Prague, Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II and the Electorate of Saxony cease hostilities (Czech Republic).
  • Charles I at the Hunt, a portrait by Flemish Baroque artist Anthony van Dyck (UK: England).

    Charles I at the Hunt shows the British monarch who was later beheaded during the Puritan Revolution.  The painting is now located at the Louvre in Paris.

  • A Dance to the Music of Time, a painting by Classical French Baroque artist Nicolas Poussin (France).

    Poussin’s Dance to the Music of Time is now located at the Wallace Collection in London.

  • Robert Hooke is born in the Isle of Wight, England (now UK).


  • Harvard College is founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts (US).
  • First European reference to lacrosse, a ball game played by the native peoples of eastern North America (Canada; US).
  • The Judgment of Paris, a Baroque painting by Peter Paul Rubens (The Netherlands).

    Rubens’ 1636 version of The Judgment of Paris is now located in the National Gallery in London.


  • René Descartes publishes the French-language works Discourse on Method and The Geometry (France).

    This late 17th Century copy of Franz Hals’ 1649 portrait of René Descartes is located in the Louvre in Paris.

  • Le Cid, a play written in French by Pierre Corneille, premieres in Paris (France).


  • The Ottomans, led by Murad IV, take Baghdad from the Persian Safavids (Iraq).
  • The Dutch and the Singhalese drive the Portuguese from Sri Lanka.
  • English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks is the first to observe and describe the Transit of Venus across the face of the sun (UK: England).
  • Consequences of War, a painting by Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens (Belgium).

    Consequences of War, also known as Horrors of War, is now located in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence.

  • Louis Dieudonné (Louis XIV) is born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France.
  • Nicolas Steno is born in Copenhagen, Denmark.


  • A new tax on salt triggers the Va-Nu-Pied (Barefoot) rebellion in Normandy (France).


  • Portugal rebels against union with Spain, starting the Portuguese Restoration War.
  • John IV is declared King of Portugal.
  • The French government sends troops to Normandy to end the Va-Nu-Pied rebellion, imposes martial law and conducts mass executions of rebels (France).


  • The Irish rebel against English rule.
  • Meditations on First Philosophy is written in Latin by René Descartes (France).


  • The Kaifeng Flood kills 300,000 in China.
  • The English Civil War against Charles I begins with the Battle of Edgehill (UK: England).
  • Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman is the first European to reach New Zealand and Tasmania.
  • Blaise Pascal invents the Pascaline, the first mechanical calculator (France).

    A 1652 version of the Pascaline, Blaise Pascal’s calculator.

  • The Night Watch, a painting by Dutch Golden Age artist Rembrandt (The Netherlands).

    Rembrandt’s The Night Watch depicts a march, not a watch, and takes place during the day. It is now located in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

  • Galileo Galilei dies.


  • Louis XIV becomes king of France while still an infant.
  • Near the end of the Thirty Years’ War, the French, led by the Duc d’Enghien, defeat the Spanish under General Francisco de Melo at the Battle of Rocroi (France).

    A map of the Thirty Years' War.

    A map of the Thirty Years’ War.

  • Evangelista Torricelli discovers atmospheric pressure and invents the mercury barometer (Italy).
  • L’Incoronazione di Poppea, an Italian-language opera by Claudio Monteverdi, premieres in Venice (Italy).
  • Isaac Newton is born in Woolsthorpe, England (now UK).


  • The Manchu conquer Beijing, ending the Ming Dynasty and introducing the Qing Dynasty (China).

    A map of the Qing Empire.

    A map of the Qing Empire.

  • The 30-year-long Char Bouba War begins between the Sanhadja Berbers and the Maqil Arabs (Mauritania).
  • Ole Rømer is born in Aarhus, Denmark.


  • In the English Civil War, the Parliamentarian army, led by Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax, soundly defeats the Royalists under King Charles I at the Battle of Naseby (UK: England).
  • The Cretan War between the Ottomans and the Republic of Venice begins.
  • War begins between the Mughal Empire and the Hindu Marathas (India).


  • Swedish and French armies invade Bavaria in the Thirty Years’ War (Germany).
  • Gottfried Leibniz is born in Leipzig, Electorate of Saxony, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany).


  • Evangelista Torricelli dies.


  • The Thirty Years’ War and Eighty Years’ War are brought to an end by the Peace of Westphalia (Germany).
  • Ukrainian Cossacks, led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky, rebel against Polish-Lithuanian rule in the Khmelnytsky Uprising (Ukraine).


  • Oliver Cromwell suppresses the Irish rebellion and recaptures Ireland for Britain.

    This 1656 portrait of Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper is located in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

  • The rebel Parliamentarians under Oliver Cromwell bring Charles I of England to trial for treason, where he is convicted and beheaded (UK).


  • A judge at Derby refers to George Fox and his followers as “Quakers” during Fox’s trial for blasphemy (UK: England).
  • The Tibetan Buddhist Potala Palace is completed in Lhasa, Tibet (China).

    The Potala Palace in Tibet, home to the Dalai Lamas until 1959, when China invaded Tibet and the Dalai Lama fled into exile.

  • While visiting Rome, Baroque Spanish Golden Age artist Diego Velázquez paints the Portrait of Pope Innocent X (Italy).

    According to legend, when Pope Innocent X first saw the portrait, he said “Troppo vero!” (Too much truth!). The painting is now in the Galleria Doria Pamphilj in Rome.

  • René Descartes dies.
  • Thomas Savery is born in Modbury, England (now UK).


  • The English Civil War ends when the Parlimentarians under Oliver Cromwell defeat the Royalists at the Battle of Worcester (UK: England).
  • The Fountain of the Four Rivers, in Rome, by Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Italy).

    A view of Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers, which is located in the Piazza Navona in Rome.

  • Leviathan, a work of political philosophy written in English by Thomas Hobbes (UK: England).


  • Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini completes The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa in the Cornaro Chapel of Rome’s Santa Maria della Vittoria church (Italy).

    Bernini’s theatrical setting for The Ecstasy of St. Teresa.


  • The English defeat the Dutch at sea in the Battle of the Gabbard, during the First Anglo-Dutch War (UK: England).
  • The Taj Mahal, a memorial for one of the wives of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, is completed in Agra (India).

    The Taj Mahal is a tomb for the favorite wife of Shah Jahan.

  • At age 14, Louis XIV dances the role of the Sun King in Court music director Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Ballet de la Nuit.


  • Otto von Guericke invents the first vacuum pump (Germany).
  • Dutch Golden Age artist Rembrandt’s painting Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (The Netherlands).

    Rembrandt’s Aristotle with a Bust of Homer is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


  • The Dutch seize Colombo from Portugal (Sri Lanka).
  • Christiaan Huygens invents the first pendulum clock (The Netherlands).

    A diagram of the interior workings of Christiaan Huygens’ first pendulum clock.

  • Las Meninas (Maids of Honor), a painting by Baroque Spanish Golden Age artist Diego Velázquez (Spain).

    Las Meninas is now located in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

  • The Commonwealth of Oceana, a work of political philosophy written in English by James Harrington (UK: England).
  • Edmond Halley is born in Haggerston, England (now UK).


  • The Great Fire of Meireki, fueled by a drought and hurricane force winds, destroys 60-70% of Edo (now Tokyo) and kills over 100,000 people (Japan).
  • William Harvey dies.


  • French general Turenne leads French and English Commonwealth troops to victory over Spain and English Royalists in the Battle of the Dunes in the Franco-Spanish and Anglo-Spanish wars (France).
  • The Dutch take control of Sri Lanka from Portugal.
  • Death of Oliver Cromwell.


  • Self-Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar, a painting by Dutch Golden Age artist Rembrandt (The Netherlands).

    Rembrandt’s 1659 Self-Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar is now located in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.


  • The English Commonwealth ends and the monarchy is restored (UK).
  • Founding of the Royal Society of London (UK: England).
  • Otto von Guericke invents the first static electricity generator (Germany).
  • Self-Portrait, a painting by Dutch Golden Age artist Rembrandt (The Netherlands).

    This 1660 Self-Portrait by Rembrandt is now located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

  • First performance of Weihnachtshistorie (Christmas Story), a musical setting of the birth of Jesus, by Heinrich Schütz (Germany).


  • Robert Boyle publishes The Sceptical Chymist, a scientific dialogue (UK: England).
  • View of Delft, a painting by Dutch Golden Age artist Johannes Vermeer (The Netherlands).

    Jan Vermeer’s View of Delft is now located at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the Netherlands.

  • Louis XIV establishes the Académie Royale de Danse in Paris (France).
  • Les fâcheux, with music and choreography by Pierre Beauchamp and words by Molière, is the first known comédie-ballet, a genre that mixes a spoken play with interludes containing music and dance (France)


  • Robert Boyle discovers Boyle’s Law, the mathematical relationship between the pressure and volume of a gas (UK: England).
  • The last dodo is seen on the island of Mauritius.

    A recently-discovered 17th Century Dutch drawing of a dodo (Raphus cucullatus).

  • The Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild, a painting by Dutch Golden Age artist Rembrandt (The Netherlands).

    The Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild is now located at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

  • Blaise Pascal dies.


  • After the Corsican Guard (the Papal militia) attacks the attendants of the Duc de Créqui, the French ambassador to Rome, King Louis XIV‘s troops attack and occupy the Papal enclave of Avignon (France).
  • Thomas Newcomen is born in Dartmouth, England (now UK).


  • Following the Battle of St. Gotthard, the Peace of Vasvár ends the Austro-Turkish War with recognition of Ottoman control over Transylvania and Uyvar (Hungary).
  • The British capture New Amsterdam from the Dutch and rename it New York (now US).


  • The Great Plague of London, an epidemic of bubonic plague, kills 15% of London’s population by the end of 1666 (UK: England).
  • Robert Hooke’s Micrographia reports his observations with a microscope, including the first description of cells (UK: England).

    An illustration from Robert Hooke’s Micrographia, showing ‘cells’ in cork.

  • Girl with a Pearl Earring, a painting by Dutch Golden Age artist Johannes Vermeer (The Netherlands).

    Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring is now located at Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the Netherlands.


  • The Great Fire of London destroys the central portion of the city, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, but few deaths are reported (UK: England).
  • The Misanthrope, a play written in French by Molière (France).


  • Danish scientist Nicolas Steno demonstrates that fossils are the remains of living organisms (Italy).
  • The Jewish Bride, a painting by Dutch Golden Age artist Rembrandt (The Netherlands).

    Rembrandt’s The Jewish Bride is now located at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

  • Paradise Lost, an epic poem written in English by John Milton (UK: England).


  • In the Peace Treaty of Lisbon, Spain recognizes Portugal’s independence.
  • Sir Isaac Newton invents the first reflector telescope (UK: England).

    Isaac Newton’s first reflecting telescope. Photograph by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

  • The Miser, a play written in French by Molière (France).


  • Mt. Etna erupts in Sicily; lava flows destroy at least 10 villages on its southern slope (Italy).
  • Hennig Brand discovers phosphorus (Germany).
  • In Dissertationis prodromus, Nicolas Steno establishes the basic principles of the geological science of stratigraphy (Italy).
  • Tartuffe, a play written in French by Molière (France).
  • Death of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.


  • When the Kangaba, led by Mama Maghan, fail to take the Bamana capital of Segou-Koro after a three-year siege, the Bamana sack and burn the Kangaba capital of Niani (Mali).
  • Dutch Golden Age artist Johannes Vermeer’s The Art of Painting (The Netherlands).

    Vermeer’s The Art of Painting (also known as The Painter in His Studio) is now located in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.


  • Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, a controversial work of philosophy and religion written in Latin by Baruch Spinoza, is published anonymously (The Netherlands).


  • Portugal suppresses a rebellion of the Ndongo Kingdom, ending Ndongo’s official status as an independent kingdom (Angola).
  • Sir Isaac Newton publishes the Latin mathematics treatise Methodus Fluxionum et Serierum Infinitarum, which introduces the fluxional calculus.
  • Paradise Regained, an epic poem written in English by John Milton (UK: England).


  • Start of the Franco-Dutch War and the Third Anglo-Dutch War.
  • Birth of Peter Alekseyevich Romanov (Peter the Great) in Moscow, Russia.


  • The Treaty of Westminster ends the third Anglo-Dutch War (UK: England).
  • Louis XIV’s troops invade and occupy the Franche-Comté (France).
  • Gottfried Leibniz develops a form of infinitesimal calculus using differentials and integrals (Germany).
  • Antonie van Leewenhoek first observes and describes microorganisms (The Netherlands).

    A portrait of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek by Jan Verkolje from between 1670 and 1693. It is located in the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden.


  • Brandenburg-Prussian troops under Frederick William defeat the Swedes led by Count Waldemar von Wrangel at the Battle of Fehrbellin (Germany).
  • First performance of Psyche, a semi-opera by Matthew Locke, at Dorset Garden Theatre in London (UK: England).


  • The Treaty of Zurawno ends the Second Polish-Ottoman War (Ukraine).
  • Disputes between pro-Turk forces and anti-Turk Cossacks in Ukraine lead to the First Russo-Turkish War (Ukraine).
  • Both white indentured servants and black slaves join in Francis Bacon’s rebellion against British Governor William Berkeley in the colony of Virginia, which is sparked by colonists’ concerns that the government is not protecting them from Native American attacks (US).
  • Antonie van Leeuwenhoek is the first to observe and describe bacteria (The Netherlands).
  • Ole Rømer proves that light travels at a finite speed (Denmark, France).


  • Antonie van Leeuwenhoek first observes and describes spermatozoa (The Netherlands).
  • Phaedra, a play written in French by Jean Racine (France).
  • Ethics, a work of philosophy written in Latin by Baruch Spinoza and published posthumously (The Netherlands).

    A 1665 portrait of Baruch Spinoza.

    A 1665 portrait of Baruch Spinoza.


  • The Treaty of Nijmegen resolves numerous European conflicts (The Netherlands).
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress, a religious allegory written in English by John Bunyan (UK: England).


  • Gottfried Leibniz explains the binary number system (Germany).

    A portrait of Gottfried Leibniz by Christoph Bernhard Francke from about 1700.

  • Death of Thomas Hobbes.


  • In the Pueblo Revolt, Native Americans drive Spanish colonists out of New Mexico for a 12-year period (US).

    A map of New Mexico about the time of the Pueblo Revolt.

    A map of New Mexico about the time of the Pueblo Revolt.


  • For the first time, professional female dancers appear onstage in Paris, including the first prima ballerina, Mademoiselle de Lafontaine (France).


  • Peter the Great becomes Tsar of Russia.
  • Rene-Robert La Salle explores the Mississippi River and claims the Louisiana Territory for France (US).
  • Louis XIV officially establishes his court at the mostly-completed Palace of Versailles (France).


  • The Hapsburgs, the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth join forces to defeat the Ottoman army at the Battle of Vienna.
  • Qing Dynasty Admiral Shi Lang defeats the Kingdom of Tungning, led by Liu Guoxuan, in the Battle of Penghu, a massive naval engagement (Taiwan).
  • The Rozwi Empire, under Changamire Dombo, overthrows the Torwa Dynasty (Zimbabwe).


  • The Rozwi Empire, under Changamire Dombo, attacks and defeats the Portuguese garrison at the Battle of Maungwe (Zimbabwe).
  • Completion of the third building campaign at the Palace of Versailles, by architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart (France).

    The Palace of Versailles, home to French kings and queens.


  • Louis XIV’s Edict of Fontainebleau revokes the 1598 Edict of Nantes, which had granted religious tolerance to Protestant Huguenots (France).
  • Birth of Johann Sebastian Bach in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenach (now Germany).


  • Nicolas Steno dies.
  • Daniel Fahrenheit is born in Danzig, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (now Gdańsk, Poland).


  • Sir Isaac Newton publishes the Latin-language Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which explains the law of universal gravitation and the three laws of motion (UK: England).

    This 1689 portrait of Sir Isaac Newton by Sir Godfrey Kneller is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London.


  • A Siamese rebellion overthrows pro-French King Nami (Thailand).
  • The Glorious Revolution in England overthrows James II, a Catholic, and replaces him with Dutch Protestant William of Orange and his English wife, Mary II (UK).


  • John Locke publishes his first Letter Concerning Toleration, on religious tolerance, originally written in Latin, and the Two Treatises of Government, on political philosophy, written in English (UK: England).
  • Dido and Aeneas, an English-language opera by Henry Purcell, is first performed in London (UK).


  • Protestant English King William of Orange defeats the deposed James II, a Catholic, at the Battle of the Boyne near Drogheda (Ireland).
  • The British East India Company arrives in an area that is part of an estate of the Mughal Emperor encompassing the villages of Kalikata, Gobindapur, and Sutanuti, but eventually becomes the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata) (India).
  • Treatise on Light, a work of physics written in French by Christiaan Huygens, first proposes the wave theory of light (The Netherlands).
  • An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, a philosophical work written in English by John Locke (UK: England).

    This 1697 portrait of John Locke by Sir Godfrey Kneller is now located in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.


  • Robert Boyle dies.


  • Spanish Governor Don Diego de Vargas retakes Santa Fe, New Mexico from the Pueblo Indians after a 12-year rebellion (US).
  • Witch trials begin in Salem, Massachusetts, eventually resulting in 20 executions (US).
  • In the Glencoe Massacre, British troops under Captain Robert Campbell murder 38 members of the MacDonald clan in their homes (UK: Scotland).


  • A magnitude 7.4 earthquake in Sicily and the resulting tsunamis kill 60,000 people (Italy).
  • Famine in France.
  • Changamire Dombo and his Rozwi army destroy the Portuguese trading station at Dambarare, effectively driving Europeans from the Zimbabwean Plateau (Zimbabwe).
  • John Harrison is born near Wakefield, England (now UK).


  • The Narrow Road to the Interior, prose and haiku poetry written in Japanese by Matsuo Basho (Japan).

    A 19th Century portrait of Matsuo Basho by Katsushika Hokusai.

  • Birth of François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire) in Paris, France.


  • Christiaan Huygens dies.


  • During the Russo-Turkish War, Peter the Great captures the strategic Ottoman fortress at Azov (Russia).


  • The Treaty of Ryswick ends the War of the League of Augsburg (also known as the Nine Years’ War and King William’s War) by declaring that the parties (France, England, Spain, The Netherlands and the Holy Roman Empire) must restore all lands seized since the 1679 Treaty of Nijmegen (The Netherlands).
  • In a surprise attack, the Hapsburg Imperial army, led by Eugene of Savoy, catches the Ottomans in the process of crossing a river, and inflicts tremendous damage in the Battle of Zenta, a turning point in the Great Turkish War (Serbia).
  • L’Europe galante, by André Campra, is the first true opéra-ballet, a genre that consists of a prologue followed by a number of self-contained acts, often loosely grouped around a single theme.


  • Thomas Savery designs the first practical steam engine (UK: England).

    A drawing of the Savery steam engine, built in 1698.


  • The Treaty of Karlowitz ends the Austro-Ottoman War, marking the end of Ottoman control in much of Central Europe and establishing the Habsburgs as the dominant power in central and southeast Europe (Serbia).


  • Early in the Great Northern War, the Battle of Narva is won by a Swedish relief army under Charles XII, which defeats a Russian siege force three to four times its size (Estonia).
  • The Way of the World, a play written in English by William Congreve (UK: England).
  • Daniel Bernoulli is born in Groningen, Dutch Republic (now The Netherlands).


  • Frederick I establishes the Kingdom of Prussia (Germany).
  • The death of Hapsburg King Charles II of Spain without an heir triggers the War of the Spanish Succession.
  • The Ashanti, led by King Osei Kofu Tuti I, defeat the Denkyira at the Battle of Feyiase, resulting in Ashanti independence and the birth of the Ashanti Empire (Ghana).
  • Jethro Tull invents the horse-drawn seed drill (UK: England).
  • Portrait of Louis XIV, a painting by French Baroque artist Hyacinthe Rigaud (France).

    Hyacinthe Rigaud’s 1701 portrait of Louis XIV is now located in the Louvre in Paris.


  • During the Great Northern War, the Swedes under King Charles XIII defeat the much larger army of Saxony and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, led by August II the Strong, in the Battle of Klissow (Poland).
  • England and the Netherlands inflict severe damage on the French and Spanish fleets in the Battle of Vigo Bay, part of the War of the Spanish Succession (Spain).

    A map of the War of Spanish Succession.


  • In the Great Northern War, Peter the Great of Russia conquers the Swedish fortress of Nyenskans and the city Nyen on the Neva River and founds the city of St. Petersburg on the site.
  • Robert Hooke dies.


  • In the Battle of Blenheim, part of the War of the Spanish Succession, Grand Alliance troops, led by the Duke of Marlborough stop the French advance toward Vienna, destroy the Bavarian army and capture Marshal Tallard, the French commander (Germany).
  • The Boston News-Letter, issued weekly until 1776, is the first continuously-published newspaper in British North America (US).

    An April 1704 edition of the Boston News-Letter.

  • Opticks, a scientific treatise written in English by Sir Isaac Newton, which advocates a particle theory of light (UK: England).
  • Death of John Locke.


  • Edmund Halley predicts the return of the comet that will eventually bear his name (UK: England).
  • Buckingham House, which forms the architectural core of present-day Buckingham Palace, is built for the Duke of Buckingham and Normandy from a design by William Winde, in London (UK: England).

    The facade of Buckingham Palace today.

  • George Frideric Handel’s first opera, Almira, written in German, premieres in Hamburg (Germany).


  • Benjamin Franklin is born in Boston, Massachusetts (now US).


  • The Union of England and Scotland creates the Kingdom of Great Britain (UK).
  • End of the 27-year-long war between the Marathas and the Mughals (India).
  • Carl Linnaeus is born in Råshult, Sweden.


  • A famine kills 250,000 (about 40% of the population) in East Prussia from 1708-1711 (Russia; Poland; Lithuania).


  • The Great Frost of 1709 in Europe is the coldest winter in 500 years.
  • In the Great Northern War, Peter the Great of Russia leads his army to victory over Swedish forces led by Carl Gustav Rehnskiöld at the Battle of Poltava (Ukraine).
  • Mirwais Hotak, chief of the Pashtun Ghilzai tribe, revolts against the Safavid Persians, defeats governor Gurgin Khan and establishes the Hotaki dynasty in Kandahar (Afghanistan).


  • At the Battle of Helsingborg, the Swedes defeat Danish invaders seeking to regain the Scanian provinces they lost in 1658 (Sweden).
  • The Royal Porcelain Factory in Meissen produces the first European porcelain (Germany).

    A Meissen porcelain teapot from the 1720s.

  • Ole Rømer dies.


  • Premiere of George Frideric Handel’s opera Rinaldo, the first all-Italian opera performed in London (UK: England).


  • Peter the Great moves the Russian capital from Moscow to the new city of St. Petersburg.
  • Thomas Newcomen builds the first commercially viable steam engine (UK: England).

    A sketch of Thomas Newcomen’s steam engine.

  • The Rape of the Lock, a poem written in English by Alexander Pope (UK: England).
  • Birth of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Geneva (now Switzerland).


  • The Treaty of Utrecht ends the War of Spanish Succession and gives Great Britain the right to trade in Spain’s American colonies (The Netherlands).


  • Monadology, a work of philosophy originally written in French by Gottfried Leibniz (Germany).


  • Death of Louis XIV of France.
  • Thomas Savery dies.


  • Twelve sovereign states in the Punjab form the Sikh Confederacy (India; Pakistan).
  • Gottfried Leibniz dies.


  • The Embarkation for Cythera, a Rococo painting by Antoine Watteau (France).

    Watteau’s The Embarkation for Cythera is now located in the Louvre in Paris. A second, later version of the same theme is located at the and is in the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin.

  • The Water Music, a set of orchestral suites by George Frideric Handel (UK: England).


  • The Treaty of Passarowitz ends a war that pitted the Ottoman Empire against the Austrian Hapsburg Empire and the Republic of Venice.  The Ottomans lose much of the Balkans to Austria, but gain Mediterranean lands from Venice (Serbia).
  • Following a bloody battle, US Navy Lt. Robert Maynard and his men kill English pirate Blackbeard (Edward Tench) off the coast of North Carolina (US).
  • Probable date of the first performance of Juditha triumphans (Judith Triumphant), an oratorio by Antonio Vivaldi with a libretto in Italian celebrating the Republic of Venice’s victory over the Ottomans at the siege of Corfu (Italy).


  • In First Treaty of Stockholm, Sweden cedes Bremen-Verden to Hanover (Sweden).
  • Antoine Watteau’s Rococo painting Pierrot, formerly known as Gilles (France).

    Watteaus’ Pierrot, formerly known as Gilles is now located at the Louvre in Paris. The subject of the painting was originally thought to be the Commedia dell’arte character Gilles, but art historians now agree it is actually the character Pierrot, thus the unusual title of the work.

  • Robinson Crusoe, a novel written in English by Daniel Defoe (UK: England).
  • Domenico Scarlatti begins writing his harpsichord sonatas (Portugal; Italy; Spain).


  • In the Second Treaty of Stockholm, Sweden cedes portions of Swedish Pomerania to Prussia (Sweden).
  • The English Baroque-style St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, designed by Christopher Wren, is completed (UK: England).

    An aerial view of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

  • Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, by Johann Sebastian Bach (Germany).


  • The Great Northern War concludes with the Treaty of Nystad, in which Sweden regains most of Finland, while recognizing Russian sovereignty over Estonia, Livonia, Ingria, and southeast Finland (Russia).
  • Peter the Great becomes Emperor of the new Russian Empire.

    Paul Delaroche’s posthumous 1838 portrait of Peter the Great is now located in the Hamburger Kunsthalle in Hamburg, Germany.

  • Robert Walpole becomes the first Prime Minister of Great Britain (UK).
  • Six Brandenburg Concertos, by Johann Sebastian Bach (Germany).


  • The Afghans conquer Persia and overthrow Safavid Shah Sultan Husayn (Iran).
  • Composer Jean-Philippe Rameau publishes Traité de l’harmonie (Treatise on Harmony), an influential work of music theory (France).

    Jacques Aved’s 1728 portrait of Jean-Philippe Rameau is now located in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France.


  • Peter the Great abolishes slavery in Russia.
  • Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, by Johann Sebastian Bach (Germany).
  • Antonie van Leewenhoek dies.
  • Birth of Adam Smith in Kirkaldy, Scotland (now UK).


  • The Treaty of Constantinople divides Persia between Russia and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).
  • Daniel Fahrenheit proposes the Fahrenheit temperature scale (Germany).

    One of the original thermometers made by Daniel Fahrenheit, dating to between 1714 and 1724. In 2012 this  thermometer was sold at auction for $107,802.

  • Sir Isaac Newton dies.
  • Birth of Immanuel Kant in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia).


  • Antonio Vivaldi publishes Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (The Contest between Harmony and Invention), a book of twelve concerti, including Le Quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons) (Italy).

    This anonymous 1723 portrait of Antonio Vivaldi is now located at Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica, in Bologna, Italy. The portrait secularizes Vivaldi by omitting any signs that he is a Catholic priest.

  • Johann Joseph Fux publishes Gradus ad Parnassum, a treatise on counterpoint in Renaissance polyphony, written in Latin (Austria).
  • Death of Peter the Great.


  • The encyclopedia Gujin Tushu Jicheng is published in China.
  • Gulliver’s Travels, a satirical novel written in English by Jonathan Swift (Ireland).


  • The Russian Empire and China’s Qing Dynasty sign the Treaty of Kyakhta normalizing trade and diplomatic relations and establishing Mongolia’s northern border (Russia).
  • St. Matthew Passion, a sacred oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach, with a libretto in German (Germany).
  • George Frideric Handel composes the four British coronation anthemsZadok the Priest, Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened, The King Shall Rejoice and My Heart is Inditing – for the coronation of George II and Queen Caroline (UK).

    This portrait of George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner, from c. 1726–1728, is now located in the National Portrait Gallery in London.


  • The premier of The Beggar’s Opera, a ballad opera with English lyrics by John Gay and music arranged by Johann Christoph Pepusch, in London (UK: England).


  • The Kingdom of Dahomey invades the Oyo Empire (Benin; Nigeria).
  • Charles and John Wesley begin Methodism (UK: England).
  • Thomas Newcomen dies.
  • Birth of Sophie Friederike Auguste (Catherine the Great) in Stettin, Pomerania, Kingdom of Prussia (now Szczecin, Poland).


  • A six-year-long series of volcanic eruptions devastates the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands from 1730-1736 (Spain).
  • The Oyo Empire defeats the Kingdom of Dahomey, which becomes an Oyo tributary state (Benin; Nigeria).
  • John Hadley (England) and Thomas Godfrey (US), working independently, invent the octant.
  • The Stonemason’s Yard, a painting by Venetian landscape artist Canaletto (Italy).

    The Stonemason’s Yard, showing an urban landscape in Venice, is now located in the National Gallery in London.

  • Jan Ingenhousz is born in Breda, Dutch Republic (now The Netherlands).


  • The Treaty of Vienna sets France and Spain against Great Britain and Austria, marking the collapse of the Anglo-French Alliance and the start of the Anglo-Austrian Alliance (Austria).


  • Benjamin Franklin begins publishing Poor Richard’s Almanack annually (US).

    The first edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack.

  • Birth of George Washington in Virginia (now US).


  • A civil war over the successor to Polish King Augustus II widens into the War of the Polish Succession (Poland).
  • John Kay invents the flying shuttle, a turning point in the Industrial Revolution (UK: England).
  • A Rake’s Progress, a series of eight paintings and engravings by Rococo artist William Hogarth (UK: England).

    Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress: Scene 5, in which Tom marries a rich old maid. All eight original paintings in the series are now located in Sir John Soane’s Museum in London.

  • Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Italian-language La serva padrona (The Servant turned Mistress), the first opera buffa, premieres in Naples (Italy).
  • Hippolyte et Aricie, the first opera by Jean-Philippe Rameau, with a libretto in French, premieres in Paris (France).
  • Joseph Priestley is born in Birstall, England (now UK).


  • An Essay on Man, a philosophical poem written in English by Alexander Pope (UK: England).

    Michael Dahl’s c. 1727 portrait of Alexander Pope is now located in the National Portrait Gallery in London.


  • Carolus Linnaeus develops the modern system of taxonomy for living organisms (Sweden).
  • The Jantar Mantar, an outdoor astronomical observatory, is constructed in Jaipur (India).

    A view of the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, India.

  • John Adams is born in Massachusetts (now US).


  • Nader Shah founds the Afsharid Dynasty in Persia (Iran).

    An 18th Century  portrait of Nader Shah.

  • Daniel Fahrenheit dies.
  • Birth of James Watt in Greenock, Scotland (now UK).


  • The Calcutta cyclone kills 300,000 people (India).


  • Nader Shah of the Persian Afsharid dynasty attacks the Mughal Empire under Muhammad Shah (India; Iran).
  • In the Treaty of Vienna, which ends the War of the Polish Succession, Stanisław Leszczyński renounces his claim to the Polish throne and recognizes Augustus III, receiving in return the Duchy of Lorraine; Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine, receives the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; and Austria cedes Naples and Sicily to Duke Charles of Parma, who cedes Parma to Austria and gives up his claim to Tuscany (Austria).
  • Daniel Bernoulli proposes the kinetic theory of gases (Switzerland).

    Daniel Bernoulli (1700-1782).

  • William Herschel is born in Hanover, Brunswick-Lüneburg, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany).


  • Nader Shah defeats the Mughal Empire at Battle of Karnal, then sacks Delhi before returning to Iran with booty (India; Iran).


  • David Hume publishes the final volume of A Treatise of Human Nature, a work of philosophy written in English (UK: Scotland).

    Allan Ramsay’s 1766 portrait of David Hume is now located in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

  • Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, an epistolary novel written in English by Samuel Richardson (UK: England).


  • The Hats party pushes Sweden into war with Russia.
  • Puritan clergyman Jonathan Edwards delivers the sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (US).
  • The Goldberg Variations, by Johann Sebastian Bach (Germany).

    A portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach. This is a 1748 copy of Elias Haussmann’s 1746 original, which hangs in the Old Town Hall in Leipzig, Germany.

  • Messiah, an oratorio with an English libretto and music by George Frideric Handel (UK: England).


  • Anders Celsius proposes the Celsius temperature scale (Sweden).
  • Edmond Halley dies.
  • Carl Wilhelm Scheele is born in Stralsund, Swedish Pomerania (now Germany).


  • The Treaty of Åbo ends the Russo-Swedish War as Sweden regains most of Finland, cedes some areas to Russia, moves its border farther north, and agrees to elect Adolf Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp as crown prince (Finland).
  • Thomas Jefferson is born in Virginia (now US).
  • Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier is born in Paris, France.


  • Muhammad bin Saud establishes the Emirate of Diriyah, the first Saudi state (Saudi Arabia).
  • Great Britain enters the War of the Austrian Succession.
  • Mercury Attaching His Wings, a neoclassical sculpture by Jean Baptiste Pigalle (France).

    Pigalle made several versions of Mercury Attaching His Wings (also known as Mercury Fastening His Sandals). This lead cast is at the Louvre in Paris along with a miniature marble version. A life-size marble version is located on the grounds of the San Souci castle in Berlin.

  • Jean-Baptiste Lamarck is born in Bazentin, France.


  • In the Treaty of Dresden, which ends the Second Silesian War, King Frederick II of Prussia maintains control over Silesia, but acknowledges Francis I, husband of Austrian Queen Maria Theresa, as Holy Roman Emperor, while Saxony must pay reparations to Prussia.
  • The French, led by Maurice de Saxe, soundly defeat the Pragmatic Allies, led by Prince William, Duke of Cumberland in the Battle of Fontenoy, part of the War of the Austrian Succession (Belgium).
  • The Marly Horses (Horses Restrained by Grooms), a pair of sculptures by Baroque artist Guillaume Coustou the Elder (France).

    One of the two Marly horses, both of which are now located at the Louvre in Paris.

  • Marriage à-la-mode, a series of six paintings and engravings/prints by Rococo artist William Hogarth (UK: England).

    Scene 2 of Hogarth’s Marriage a la mode: The Tête à Tête.  All six original paintings are located in the National Gallery in London.

  • Alessandro Volta is born in Como, Duchy of Milan (now Italy).


  • The First Carnatic War breaks out between France and Britain and the Nizam of Hyderabad over trading posts of the British and French East India companies (India).


  • The Musical Offering, a collection of keyboard canons and fugues based on a single theme, composed by Johann Sebastian Bach (Germany).


  • The Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle concludes the War of the Austrian Succession and the First Carnatic War (Germany).

    A map of Europe following the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.

    A map of Europe following the Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle.

  • Excavation of the ruins of Pompeii begins (Italy).
  • William Cullen invents artificial refrigeration (UK: Scotland).
  • Montesquieu anonymously publishes The Spirit of the Laws, a French-language work of political philosophy (France).
  • Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady, an epistolary novel written in English by Samuel Richardson (UK: England)


  • Benjamin Franklin invents the lightning rod (US).
  • Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, publishes the first of 36 volumes of his French-language Histoire naturelle, a work of natural history (France).
  • Mass in B minor, a setting of the Latin Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Mass by Johann Sebastian Bach (Germany).
  • The Royal Fireworks Music, a wind band suite by George Frideric Handel (UK: England).
  • Edward Jenner is born in Berkeley, England (now UK).


  • Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, a Rococo-influenced painting by portrait and landscape artist Thomas Gainsborough (UK: England).

    Gainsborough’s Mr. and Mrs. Andrews is now located at the National Gallery in London.

  • Death of Johann Sebastian Bach.


  • Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, a poem written in English by Thomas Gray (UK).


  • By flying a kite in a storm, Benjamin Franklin proves that lightning is a form of static electricity (US).
  • Denis Diderot publishes the first of the 28 volumes of his French-language Encyclopédie (France).


  • Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and his sons complete the frescoes in the Würzburg Residence (Germany).

    Apollo and the Four Continents, the largest of the Tiepolo frescoes at the Würzburg Residence.


  • Beginning of the Seven Years’ War between France and England, known in America as the French and Indian War.


  • An 8.7 magnitude earthquake in Lisbon and the resulting tsunami kill 40,000-50,000 people (Portugal).

    A copper engraving of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.

  • The beginning of the Great Upheaval, in which the British remove the French Acadian population from Canada’s Maritime provinces during the French and Indian War.
  • Samuel Johnson publishes The Dictionary of the English Language (UK: England).

    A copy of the original 1755 edition of Johnson’s English Dictionary.


  • Birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the Archbishopric of Salzburg, Holy Roman Empire (now Austria).


  • The army of the British East India Company defeats the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies at the Battle of Plassey, leading to British control over Bengal (India).
  • John Campbell and John Bird invent the sextant (UK: England).

    A sextant made by John Bird c. 1758.


  • Horatio Nelson (Lord Nelson) is born in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, England (now UK).


  • In the Seven Years’ War, a combined Russian and Austrian army under Pyotr Saltykov defeats Frederick the Great’s Prussian forces at the Battle of Kunersdorf (Germany).
  • A British army led by General James Wolfe defeated the French and Canadians under General Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (also known as the Battle of Quebec), a key turning point in the North American theater of the Seven Years’ War (Canada).
  • The Austrians under Field Marshal Count Daun defeat the Prussians under Friedrich August von Finck at the Battle of Maxen (Germany).
  • Josiah Wedgwood opens the Wedgwood pottery factory in Burslem (UK).
  • Candide, a novel written in French by Voltaire (France).

    Jean-Baptiste Pigalle’s nude statue of an elderly Voltaire, which was controversial in its day for its unflattering realism, is now located at the Louvre in Paris.

  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, a novel written in English by Laurence Sterne (UK: England).
  • Birth of Mary Wollstonecraft in London, England (now UK).
  • Birth of William Wilberforce in Kingston upon Hull, England (now UK).


  • John Joseph Merlin invents the first inline roller skates (France).


  • John Harrison invents the first accurate marine chronometer for determining longitude (UK: England).

    John Harrison’s 1761 ‘sea watch.’


  • Catherine the Great becomes Empress of Russia.
  • The Social Contract, a work of political philosophy, and Émile, a treatise on education, both written in French by Jean-Jacques Rousseau  (Switzerland/France).

    A portrait of Jean-Jacques Rousseau by Maurice Quentin de la Tour between 1750 and 1775. It is located in the Musée Antoine Lécuyer in Saint Germaine, France.

  • The premiere of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s German-language reform opera Orfeo ed Euridice, in Vienna (Austria).


  • In the Treaty of Paris, which ends the Seven Years’ War (French & Indian War), Britain acquires French Canada and Spanish Florida (France).

    A map of North America at the time of the Seven Years' War (French & Indian War).

    A map of North America following the Seven Years’ War (French & Indian War).

  • Dream of the Red Chamber, a novel written in Chinese by Cao Xueqin (China).


  • James Hargreaves invents the spinning jenny, another turning point in the Industrial Revolution (UK: England).

    A spinning jenny, now located at the North Hill Museum (UK).

  • John Dalton is born in Eaglesfied, England (now UK).
  • William Symington is born in Leadhills, Scotland (now UK).


  • China’s Qianlong Emperor invades Burma, led by King Hsinbyushin of the Konbaung dynasty, starting the Sino-Burmese War (Burma).
  • In response to the passage of the Stamp Act, American colonists form the Stamp Act Congress (US).
  • The Grey Lagoon, a painting by Venetian School artist Francesco Guardi (Italy).

    Some believe that Guardi’s Grey Lagoon (also called Gondolas on the Lagoon), which measures less than two inches square, was originally part of a larger painting. measures .

  • Eli Whitney is born in Westborough, Massachusetts (now US).
  • Robert Fulton is born in Little Britain Township, Pennsylvania (now US).


  • The Vicar of Wakefield, a novel written in English by Oliver Goldsmith (UK: England).
  • Jacob Perkins is born in Newburyport, Massachusetts (now US).


  • Hyder Ali, leader of the Kingdom of Mysore, successfully fights off the attacks of the British East India Company, the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad in the first Anglo-Mysore War (India).
  • The Swing, a painting by French Rococo artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard (France).

    Considered a Rococo masterpiece, Fragonard’s The Swing is now located in the Wallace Collection in London.


  • An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby (UK: England).

    Joseph Wright’s An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump is part of the collection of the National Gallery in London.


  • The Great Bengal Famine – the worst famine in Indian history – begins in the lower Gangetic plain; ten million people will die of hunger and disease by 1773.
  • British explorer James Cook explores and maps Australia and New Zealand.
  • Sir Richard Arkwright and John Kay invent the spinning frame (UK: England).
  • Nicolas Joseph Cugnot designs and builds a steam-powered three-wheeled automobile (France).

    Cugnot’s 1771 ‘fadier a vapeur’ was created for the French army, which declined it. The original is now in a Paris museum.

  • James Watt patents an improved steam engine (UK: Scotland).
  • Alexander von Humboldt is born in Berlin, Prussia (now Germany).
  • Birth of Napoleon Bonaparte in Corsica (France).


  • Joseph Priestley and Edward Naime, working independently, invent the eraser after recognizing the ability of raw rubber to erase pencil marks (UK: England).
  • Jonathan Buttall (The Blue Boy), a painting by Rococo portrait and landscape artist Thomas Gainsborough (UK: England).

    Gainsborough’s Blue Boy is now at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

  • Birth of Ludwig van Beethoven in Bonn, Electorate of Cologne, Holy Roman Empire (now Germany).


  • In the First Partition of Poland, Russia, Prussia and the Hapsburgs divide the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth among themselves.

    A map of the first Partition of Poland.

    A map of the first Partition of Poland.

  • Carl Wilhelm Scheele is the first to isolate oxygen gas and identify it as a separate element (Sweden).


  • To protest the British Tea Act, American colonists dump tea into the harbor in the Boston Tea Party (US).
  • She Stoops to Conquer, a play written in English by Oliver Goldsmith (UK: England).


  • The Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca ends the Russo-Turkish War with Russia making a few concessions, but a humiliating loss for the Ottoman Empire (Bulgaria).
  • In response to the so-called Intolerable Acts, American colonists establish the First Continental Congress at Philadelphia (US).
  • Joseph Priestley independently discovers oxygen, and publishes his results before Carl Scheele (UK: England).
  • The Sorrows of Young Werther, a novel written in German by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Germany).

    This 1787 portrait of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe by Angelica Kauffmann is now located in the Goethe National Museum in Weimar, Germany.


  • The American Revolutionary War begins with the Battles of Lexington and Concord (US).
  • André-Marie Ampère is born in Lyon, France.
  • Jane Austen is born in Hampshire, England (now UK).


  • The United States of America declares its independence from Great Britain.
  • The Wealth of Nations, a treatise on economics written in English by Adam Smith (UK: Scotland).

    A portrait of Adam Smith. This is a 19th Century etching based on a 1787 medallion by James Tassie.

  • Edward Gibbon publishes the first volume of his English-language book, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (UK).
  • Common Sense, a pamphlet written in English by Thomas Paine, makes the case for American independence (US).
  • John Harrison dies.
  • Amedeo Avogadro is born in Turin, Piedmont-Sardinia (now Italy).


  • The American victory at the Battle of Saratoga, in which British general John Burgoyne surrenders his entire army, marks a decisive turning point in the Revolutionary War (US).
  • The School for Scandal, a play written in English by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (UK: England).


  • France officially enters the American Revolutionary War on the side of the fledgling United States when France and the US sign a Treaty of Alliance.
  • James Cook becomes the first European to reach the Hawaiian Islands (US).
  • Watson and the Shark, a painting by American expatriate artist John Singleton Copley (UK).

    John Singleton Copley painted three versions of Watson and the Shark: the one shown above is now located in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; a copy Copley made for himself is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; and a version with a more vertical composition is in the Detroit Institute of the Arts.

  • The Marriage of Figaro, a play written in French by Pierre Beaumarchais (France).
  • Carl Linnaeus dies.
  • Death of Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet).
  • Death of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.


  • Start of the First Xhosa war between the Xhosa tribes and European settlers in southern Africa (South Africa).
  • Building on the work of Joseph Priestley, Jan Ingenhousz discovers the basic principles of plant respiration and photosynthesis (Austria).
  • Samuel Crompton invents the spinning mule (UK: England).


  • An indigenous uprising against the Spanish in Peru, led by Túpac Amaru II (born José Gabriel Túpac Amaru), begins with the killing of Governor Antonio de Arriaga and a rebel win in the Battle of Sangarará, followed by a string of defeats.


  • American Continental Army troops, led by George Washington, and French troops under the Comte de Rochambeau defeat a British Army commanded by Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis in the Siege of Yorktown, effectively ending the American Revolutionary War (US).

    John Trumbull’s painting The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis is now located in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

  • The Spanish defeat the rebellion in Peru and its leader, Túpac Amaru II, is quartered and beheaded.
  • Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II issues the Patent of Toleration, which extends religious freedom to Protestants and members of the Eastern Orthodox churches (Austria).
  • William Herschel discovers the planet Uranus (UK: England).

    Uranus, shown here in an image from the Keck telescope in Hawaii, is the only planet whose axis is tilted on its side.

  • Confessions, an autobiography written in French by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is published posthumously (Switzerland).
  • Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, a German-language work of philosophy (Germany).


  • Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor and Hapsburg monarch, issues the Edict of Tolerance, which extends religious freedom to the Jews (Austria).
  • Thomas Jefferson completes Monticello, near Charlottesville, Virginia (US).
  • Catherine the Great dedicates the Monument to Peter the Great (The Bronze Horseman), a statue by French Rococo sculptor Étienne-Maurice Falconet in St. Petersburg (Russia).

    The nickname ‘The Bronze Horseman’ comes from an 1833 poem by Alexander Pushkin.

  • Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), a German opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, premieres in Vienna (Austria).
  • Daniel Bernoulli dies.


  • Eight months of volcanic eruptions in Lakagígar, Iceland emit poisonous gas clouds that kill livestock and crops, triggering a famine. An estimated 42 billion tons of lava destroys 20 villages.
  • The Treaty of Paris ends the American War of Independence (France).
  • Russia annexes the Crimea (see also 2014).
  • The first free, untethered, manned hot-air balloon flight occurs when Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes travel five miles in 25 minutes in a balloon designed by Jacques and Joseph Montgolfier (France).
  • Louis-Sébastien Lenormand designs, builds and demonstrates the first modern parachute (France).

    A 19th Century illustration of Lenormand’s first parachute descent.

  • Birth of Simón Bolívar in Caracas (Venezuela).


  • Benjamin Franklin invents bifocals (US).

    This 1785 portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Charles Wilson Peale is the earliest depiction of anyone wearing bifocal lenses.


  • Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries cross the English Channel in a hydrogen gas balloon powered by flapping wings and a windmill (France).
  • Edmund Cartwright builds the first power loom, which is driven by water power (UK).
  • Oath of the Horatii, a painting by Neoclassical artist Jacques-Louis David (France).

    David’s Oath of the Horatii is now in the Louvre in Paris.

  • Piano Concertos Nos. 20 and 21, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Austria).


  • The Kingdom of Siam, under Rama I of the Chakri dynasty, defeats the Kingdom of Burma, under Bodawpaya of the Konbaung dynasty, in the Burmese-Siamese War (Burma; Thailand).
  • Printers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania successfully strike for higher wages (US).
  • Symphony No. 38 in D Major “Prague” and Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Austria).
  • Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), an Italian opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, premieres in Vienna (Austria).

    A portrait of Mozart taken from a family group portrait by Johann Nepomuk Della Croce in 1780 or 1781. The painting hangs in the Stiftung Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.

  • Carl Wilhelm Scheele dies.


  • First meeting of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade in England (UK).
  • Mozart’s Italian opera Don Giovanni debuts in Prague (Czech Republic).
  • Birth of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France.


  • Ratification of the United States Constitution.
  • Johann Christoph Andreas Mayer recognizes that fingerprints are unique to every individual (Germany).

    Categories of fingerprints.

  • Symphonies No. 39 in Eb Major, No. 40 in G minor and No. 41 in C Major “Jupiter”, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Austria).


  • The French Revolution begins with the storming of the Bastille.
  • The French National Constituent Assembly publishes the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (France).
  • George Washington becomes the first president of the United States.
  • Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier publishes the French-language text Elementary Treatise on Chemistry (France).
  • The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, an autobiography written in English by freed slave Gustavus Vassa, is the first published slave narrative (UK).
  • William Blake publishes the English-language Songs of Innocence, a book of poems and paintings (UK).

    A hand-painted cover of Blake’s Songs of Innocence; each version was slightly different.

  • Georg Ohm is born in Erlangen, Brandenburg-Bayreuth (now Germany).


  • Reflections on the Revolution in France, a work of political philosophy written in English by Edmund Burke (UK: England).
  • Così fan tutte (They All Do It), an Italian opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, premieres in Vienna (Austria).
  • Death of Adam Smith.
  • Benjamin Franklin dies.


  • The French Constitution of 1791 establishes a constitutional monarchy.
  • A slave revolt in the French colony of Saint-Dominigue begins a 13-year war of independence (Haiti).
  • Division of Canada into mostly-French Lower Canada and mostly-English Upper Canada.
  • William Wilberforce introduces the first bill to abolish the slave trade in Parliament (UK: England).

    Anton Hickel’s 1794 portrait of William Wilberforce by Anton Hickel is now located at Wilberforce House at Kingston upon Hull, UK.

  • The penal code of Revolutionary France is the first modern criminal code with no punishment for homosexual activity.
  • The Life of Samuel Johnson, a biography written in English by James Boswell (UK: England).
  • A portion of Benjamin Franklin’s English-language autobiography is translated into French and published as Mémoires de la vie privée de Benjamin Franklin (France).
  • Clarinet Concerto in A Major, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Austria).
  • Symphony No. 94 in G Major “Surprise” by Joseph Haydn (UK).
  • Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), a German Singspiel opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, premieres in Vienna (Austria).
  • Death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Vienna (Austria).
  • Michael Faraday is born in Newington Butts, England (now UK).
  • Charles Babbage is born in Teignmouth, England (now UK).
  • Samuel Morse is born in Boston, Massachusetts, US.


  • A republic is declared in France.
  • The Battle of Valmy, in which a French army stops Prussian troops led by the Duke of Brunswick from marching on Paris, is the first French victory in the Revolutionary Wars that follow the French Revolution (France).
  • Toussaint L’Ouverture becomes leader of the slave revolt in Saint-Dominigue (Haiti).
  • French revolutionaries Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, Laquiante and Antoine Louis, with the help of German engineer Tobias Schmidt, design and build the first guillotine, which removes its first head on April 25. (France).

    The guillotine was intended to make executions efficient and painless. This is a guillotine from the French Revolutionary era.

  • A Vindication of the Rights of Women, a work of feminist philosophy written in English by Mary Wollstonecraft (UK: England).

    John Opie’s portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, from about 1797, is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

  • Mozart’s Requiem is completed posthumously by Franz Xaver Süssmayr (Austria).


  • Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette are executed by the French Revolutionary government.
  • The Committee of Public Safety, under Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins, begins the Reign of Terror in France.
  • Girondin Charlotte Gorday assassinates Jabobin journalist Jean-Paul Marat (France).
  • Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin (US).
  • Antonio Canova’s Neoclassical sculpture, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (Italy).

    Antonio Canova made two marble statues of Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss. The first version (shown above) is at the Louvre in Paris; the second is in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

  • Jacques-Louis David’s Neoclassical painting Death of Marat (France).

    The Death of Marat shows the death of French Revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat, who was assassinated in his bathtub.

  • The first English-language edition of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography is published in London as The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin, LL.D. (UK).


  • The Thermidorian Reaction and the White Terror, in which the surviving Girondists arrest Robespierre and execute Jacobin leaders (France).
  • Philip Vaughan invents the modern ball bearing (UK: Wales).
  • William Blake’s English-language Songs of Experience, a book of poems and paintings (UK: England).

    The hand-painted front cover of William Blake’s Songs of Experience.

  • Zoonomia; or the Laws of Organic Life, a work of biology and medicine written in English by Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandfather (UK).
  • Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier dies.


  • Under a new French constitution, the five-member Directory runs the country.
  • Symphony No. 104 in D Major “London”, by Joseph Haydn (UK: England).


  • Edward Jenner performs the first vaccinations against smallpox (UK: England).
  • Aloys Senefelder invents offset printing (Germany).
  • Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No, 103 in Eb Major (UK: England).
  • Death of Catherine the Great.


  • After Napoleon’s successful Italian campaign, France and Austria sign the Treaty of Campo Formio, which recognizes France’s conquests but also divides Venice between France and Austria (Italy).
  • John Adams takes office as the second president of the United States.

    Official Presidential portrait of John Adams by John Trumbull, from 1792 or 1793. Now located in the White House, Washington, D.C.

  • String Quartets, Op. 76, by Joseph Haydn (Austria).
  • Gott erhalte Franz der Kaiser (God Save Emperor Francis), an anthem with German lyrics by Lorenz Leopold Haschka and music by Joseph Haydn (Austria).
  • Death of Mary Wollstonecraft.
  • Charles Lyell is born in Angus, Scotland (now UK).


  • Despite the aid of the French, the four-month-long rebellion of the United Irishmen, led by Theobald Wolfe Tone, is crushed by the British (Ireland).

    Theobald Wolfe Tone.

  • The anti-French Second Coalition (Britain, Russia, the Ottoman Empire and Austria) begins to roll back some of the military successes that Napoleon achieved since 1793.
  • After Napoleon invades Egypt, the British Navy under Lord Nelson attacks and defeats the French fleet at Aboukir Bay on the Mediterranean coast off Egypt in the Battle of the Nile.
  • Essay on the Principle of Population, a work of biology and sociology, written in English by Thomas Malthus (UK).
  • Lyrical Ballads, a book of poems written in English by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, including Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (UK: England).
  • Joseph Haydn‘s German oratorio Die Schöpfung (The Creation) (Austria).


  • Napoleon Bonaparte stages a coup d’état, overthrows the Directory and appoints himself First Consul of France.
  • French soldier Pierre-François Bouchard discovers the Rosetta Stone in Egypt.

    The Rosetta Stone, which contains the same proclamation in Egyptian hieroglyphics, Egyptian demotic and Greek, has been in the collection of the British Museum in London since 1802.

  • Death of George Washington.
  • Jan Ingenhousz dies.
  • Mary Anning is born in Lyme Regis, England (now UK).

To continue to the next part of the timeline, click on the link below:
Timeline of Human History III: 1800-1899

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