17th Century Timeline: 1601 to 1700 AD
Dutch defeat the Portuguese in a naval battle in the Indonesian
Archipelago (the Spice Islands).
Shah Abbas of Iran drives the Portuguese from Bahrain.
The Dutch government (United Netherlands) grants the Dutch East India
Company a monopoly to pursue trade in Asia.
William Shakespeare has written: "Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
which we ascribe to heaven. (From All's Well that Ends Well, first
performed in 1602.)
Japan's royal court recognizes the military dominance of Tokugawa
Ieyasu and grants him the title of shogun. His military government is
based at Edo (Tokyo).
A frail Queen Elizabeth dies at age 69. She is succeeded by a Calvinist
and devout Presbyterian, King James VI of Scotland, eldest son of
Elizabeth's cousin, Mary I, Queen of Scots. James becomes James I, King
of England, Ireland and Scotland. Scotland is no longer independent.
James dislikes England's Puritans but he agrees to their request for an
official translation of the Bible - to be known as the Authorized King
James Bible - in place of three other versions: the Geneva Bible, the
Great Bible (an English language translation authorized by Henry VIII)
and the (Anglican) Bishop's Bible.
A plot by extremist Catholics to blow up the Britain's Parliament
fails. The perpetrators are hanged.
With the help of British advisors, an Iranian army defeats an Ottoman
army of greater size.
The Dutch "discover" northern Australia - at what today is called Cape
A London company has sent three ships and a small group to what today
is the state of Virginia, and there, in the spring, on an island in a
river, a settlement is founded, the river to be named after King James,
as is the town - James Towne.
The Dutch defeat a Spanish fleet at Gibraltar.
Frenchmen interested in trading with the Indians and in animal furs
build a settlement at Quebec. Only 8 of the 28 settlers are to survive
the first winter. More settlers are to arrive in the spring.
Henry Hudson, employed by the Dutch East India Company, anchors
off Manhattan Island and trades with local Indians. He then
sails up the river to be named after him, to look for but not find a
water way to the Far East.
The Dutch have ended Portugal's domination of the Indian Ocean, and
they establish a trading outpost on the western coast of India.
The Jesuit priest, Matteo Ricci, is surprised to find in China an
attitude toward homosexuality different from that in Christendom. He
finds homosexuality not illegal and people not reluctant to speak of it
Johann Kepler has discovered that Mars is moving about the sun not in a
perfect circle but in an ellipse - contradicting Plato's belief about
perfection and the heavens.
Henry IV of France, a progressive king who is religiously tolerant, is
assassinated by François Ravaillac, who is unbalanced and highly
Timeline: 1611 to 1620
Galileo exhibits the wonders of the telescope to the pontifical court.
He tries to produce scriptural confirmation of the view that the earth
revolves around the sun, but he is rebuffed.
The Dutch East India Company builds a factory on India's coast in the
southeast, at Pulicat, to make gunpowder.
The English further reduce Portugal's presence in the Indian Ocean by
defeating them in a naval battle off the western coast of India, at
Surat. From the Mughals the English receive permission to build a
factory at Surat. The Mughals, without a navy, had looked to the
Portuguese to protect the ship that took Muslim Indians on their annual
pilgrimage to Mecca, and now they turn to the English for this
Dutch arrive at the island of Timur, previously claimed by Portugal and
now claimed by the Dutch.
The first barrels of cured tobacco reach England from the colony of
In Japan, the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu outlaws Christianity.
Tokugawa Ieyasu defeats the last of his competitors, capturing the
Osaka castle. The Warring States (Sengoku) period is ended. The
Tokugawa Period of Japanese history has begun (from 1603 according to
some), to last into the 1800s.
William Shakespeare dies. So too does Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Blown off course, a Dutch sea captain, Dirk Hartog, "discovers" western
Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu has been succeeded by his son, Tokugawa
Hitetada. At Edo he establishes a district for hedonistic impulses that
are outside the shogun's code of Confucian conduct. The district
provides theater, musical and sexual entertainment to anyone who can
afford it. There a new genre of paintings, prints, literature and
Ships are carrying 50,000 pounds of cured tobacco annually from
Virginia to England. Smoking has become a fad in England, with King
James describing it as "loathsome," harmful to the brain and dangerous
to the lungs.
The pious Catholic Habsburg, King Ferdinand II, closes some Protestant
churches in Prague. His Protestant subjects there rebel. Siding with
Ferdinand are Maximilian, the Catholic monarch of Bavaria, and Philip
III, King of Spain. Siding with the Protestants are some German
princes. It is the beginning of the Thirty Years' War.
Forces of the Dutch East India Company conquer the city of Jayakarta
and rename it Batavia (Latin for the Netherlands). They make it their
capital in the Spice Islands. Also this year, the Dutch East
India Company and the Britain's East India Company agree to cease all
fighting, to return each other's captured ships and prisoners and to
create a joint fleet (one-third English, two-thirds Dutch) to expel
Spain and Portugal from the Spice Islands, China, the Philippines, and
the Malay Peninsula.
African slaves are being transported to the West Indies to replace
those Africans who have died there. The sugar industry is killing them
faster than they can be replaced by procreation.
To work their tobacco fields, colonists in Virginia buy 20 blacks from
a Dutch ship that arrives for supplies.
Lucilio Vanini is accused of atheism and burned at the stake.
In England the slide rule is invented.
Puritans are blown off course and land in Massachusetts.
1621 to 1630
In Prague twenty-six noblemen are executed. In Bohemia and Moravia,
other nobles who had rebelled against Ferdinand II have their property
confiscated and given to nobles who have demonstrated loyalty to the
Catholic Church and to Ferdinand.
The Pilgrims in Massachusetts have a meal with the Wompanoag chieftain,
Massasoit, and more than ninety of his warriors. The Pilgrims have been
struggling and are thankful. The day is to be celebrated in the United
States as Thanksgiving.
In cooperation with Britain's East India Company, Shah Abbas I of Iran
expels the Portuguese from the island of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
The grandson of the late Tokugawa Ieyasu, Tokugawa Iemitsu, replaces
his father as shogun.
The Dutch establish a fur trading post, Fort Orange, at what today is
Albany, New York.
The African kingdom of Ndongo (east of Luanda ) acquires a queen:
In China the Ming emperor has allowed a eunuch the power to dismiss
from government service anyone he thinks disloyal to him. A rebellion
led by six Confucianists attempting a moral revival of "pure"
Confucianism is crushed. They are tortured and beaten to death, and
seven hundred of their supporters are purged from their government
Fearing the power of the Catholic monarchs, the King of Denmark, a
Lutheran, joins the Thirty Years' War on the side of the Protestants.
The French establish an outpost on Madagascar.
With fish hooks and trinkets, the Dutch buy Manhattan Island from
Canarsie chiefs of the Wappinger Confederacy.
William Harvey discards ancient writers whose theories have been used
in medical practice for millennia. From firsthand observation - the
rise of science - and digging into the human body, Harvey discovers
In the Holy Roman Empire, hundreds are being burned as witches.
Fearing Habsburg power along the Baltic Sea, Sweden joins the Thirty
Year's War. The Swedes invade northern Germany and are not welcomed
there by fellow Lutherans.
1631 to 1640
The English build a fort on the northern "Gold Coast" in Western Africa.
The Republic of Venice, a maritime power, has been declining,
exacerbated by the bubonic plague killing almost 500,000 people. The
government responds with a church built for Our Lady of Health and
Deliverance - Madonna della Salute.
Galileo publishes his ideas about the universe. Intellectuals across
Europe applaud. The Church prohibits further sales of the book, and
Galileo is ordered to appear before the Inquisition in Rome.
The town of Boston is founded.
Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu forbids travel abroad, except for restricted
voyages by ships to China and Korea. Books from abroad are banned
except for those on science, technology and military tactics. A trading
post near Nagasake remains after the Dutch there agree to restrictions
regarding trading and an end of signs of Christianity. The Dutch enjoy
seeing their trading rivals, the Spanish and Portuguese, expelled.
The Puritans in Massachusetts colony see tolerance as compromise with
God's will. They banish an English clergyman, Roger Williams.
Roger Williams arrives in what today is Rhode Island, where he is to
established a settlement with twelve "loving friends and neighbors."
France, a largely Catholic country but allied with the Dutch and the
Swedes, enters the Thirty Years' War against Spain and the Holy Roman
Manchu troops, 30,000 in number, have crossed the Yalu River into
northern Korea. The Koreans recognize Manchu suzerainty in place of
Chinese suzerainty. A non-aggression pact and trade agreement are
established, and the Manchu withdraw.
A raid by Pequot Indians kills 600 members of the Massachusetts Bay
Works by the philosopher, mathematician and scientist Rene Descartes
have entered Dutch universities. Descartes rejects relying on
authorities regarding idea. He advocates disciplined philosophical
argumentation integrated with physical science.
Timeline: 1641 to 1650
Since the entry rise of the British, French and Dutch maritime navies,
the Portuguese have not been keeping up with the Dutch as traders,
technologically or militarily. Portugal has been weakened by a
depletion of manpower and the neglect of domestic agriculture and
industry. The Portuguese are having difficulty defending their
overstretched network of trading posts and have been at war with the
Dutch since 1602. Coastal warfare in January, 1641, along the eastern
shoreline of the Malay Peninsula results in the Dutch defeating the
Portuguese and taking control of Malacca.
An armada of 21 Dutch ships appears off the coast of Angola. The Dutch
capture Luanda and Benguela. The Portuguese retreat inland where they
resist assaults by the Dutch and by Jaga tribesmen.
In Ireland, an Anglican bishop, John Atherton, just before being
hanged, confesses what he had previously denied. His crime is
"buggery." Seven years before he was the leading advocate of hanging as
punishment for this act.
A fort is founded at what today is Montreal.
King Charles I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, son of King
James, has been ruling since 1625 and is considered too friendly
towards Catholicism. He is in conflict with his Calvinist and Puritan
subjects and with Parliament. Civil war has erupted. On one side is the
king and his army, on the other is Parliament and its army.
In Iran, Abbas II becomes the seventh shah of the Safavid dynasty.
Renewing friendly contacts with Europe he is to regain for his dynasty
some prestige, while Shia scholars, the ulama, oppose him, believing
the shahs are lax and God's punishment. Increasingly, ulama believe
that temporal authority should belong to a mujtahid - a scholar
predating the ayatollahs.
Continuing violence between Dutch settlers and Wappinger Indians
inspires the governor of New Amsterdam (New York) to call for a
massacre of the Indians.
The Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn paints The Rabbi.
Wealth in India is not being invested in commerce to the extent that it
is by the Dutch. The Mughal emperor, Jahan, has the Taj Mahal built for
one of his wives.
Rebels overthrow the Ming Emperor Chongzhen, who hangs himself. A
Manchu army takes power in the capital city, Beijing. Ming supporters
flee to Taiwan. The Manchu Qing family begins its rule in China, to
last into the 20th century, although the Manchus are never to be more
than two percent of the population in China.
Low solar activity begins, to be called the Maunder Minimum. Ice will
cut off access to Greenland, canals in Holland will routinely freeze
solid, and glaciers will advance in the Alps. This period of low solar
activity will last to 1715.
The French establish an outpost at the mouth of Africa's Senegal River,
where they trade for gum and for slaves.
Queen Nzinga is at war with the Portuguese. Thousands of slave soldiers
have deserted to her, but she suffers military setbacks.
Queen Nzinga's alliance with the Dutch comes to nothing as the
Portuguese drive the Dutch from Luanda.
European powers fighting the Thirty Years' War, are exhausted. Germany
has lost at least a third of its population. A negotiated settlement
called the Peace of Westphalia ends the war, except that France and
Spain continue their war for ten more years. Habsburg predominance in
Europe is ended -- replaced by French hegemony. The war ends with a
realization of the need for more tolerance between Catholics and
Protestants. The settlement speaks of a "Christian and universal peace,
and a perpetual, true and sincere amity."
With the peace of Westphalia, the 80 Years' War between Spain's
Habsburg monarchy and the Dutch ends, Spain recognizing Dutch
People in Moscow revolt when a tax is put on salt. Cossacks invading
Poland slaughter 200,000 Jews.
In Britain, King Charles I and his army have been defeated. Charles is
beheaded. England is a republic, a commonwealth without a House of
Lords and run by the victors of the civil war - parliament. Parliament
sends the Puritan Oliver Cromwell to Ireland to subdue rebellious
Catholics. He massacres the populations of Drogheda and Wexford.
Shah Abbas II of Iran pushes the Mughals out of Kandahar.
For five months the famous French philosopher Rene Descartes has been
employed as a tutor by Queen Christina of Sweden. The 5 a.m. philosophy
sessions with the queen in the cold of her castle aggravates his
weakened condition and he dies.
1651 to 1660
Cromwell defeats Scottish armies.
In Leviathan, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who dislikes
democracy and the passions of the mob, favors a commonwealth, a social
contract, with people delegating their powers to a central authority
and submitting to that authority.
The Dutch East India Company establishes a toe hold in southern Africa,
near the Cape of Good Hope, to serve Dutch ships passing to and from
Nikita Nikon, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, wishes to
return to the purity of previous times. He wants people to cross
themselves with three fingers rather than two and creates a great
disturbance among the faithful.
A war begins between the English and Dutch, inspired by commercial
Oliver Cromwell dissolves parliament and his army makes him Lord
Protector - a dictator.
The Russo-Polish war begins with Cossacks rebelling against the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Cossacks request the help of
Russia. Russia declares war and captures the cities of Minsk and Vilna.
Ottoman historian Haji Khalifa dies. He saw Ottoman society as sick
because of corruption, high taxation and oppression of the masses.
Edo burns, Japan's biggest urban fire. About 100,000 people die.
In India, Aurangzeb, son of the Mughal emperor Jahan, has defeated his
brother, the crown prince, Dara Shikoh. Aurangzeb has imprisonsd his
father and his other brother, Murad, and he crowns himself, taking the
title Alamgir (Grasper of the Universe). He is to prohibit Hindu fairs
and festivals, to re-institute the tax on non-Muslims that his great
grandfather removed and to end the semi-independent status that had
been given to Hindu kingdoms within the Mughal empire.
Cromwell dies and the English are relieved. They have had their fill of
Near Cape Town, Dutch farmers are taking over Khoikhoi (Hottentot)
grazing land. The Khoikhoi attack the Dutch, who successfully defend
England's parliament restores the monarchy to the eldest son of Charles
I, Charles II, who arrives from France three weeks later amid great
1661 to 1670
Charles marries a Portuguese princess and acquires Tangier in North
Africa and Bombay on the west coast of India.
Extensive use of the microscope has begun. Robert Hooke, an English
natural philosopher, finds in cork and live plants what he calls cells.
Speaking of those in the pirate business, Barbados is described as a
dung hill where England casts its rubbish.
Another war between the English and Dutch has begun. English soldiers
seize the town of New Amsterdam and rename it New York after the king's
brother, the Duke of York.
Two-thirds of London is evacuated to avoid the Black Plague, but nearly
70,000 die of the disease in one week.
In England, Elizabeth Gaunt is burned at the stake for treason: her
involvement in the Rye House Plot.
It is an era of big city fires. London is a city of mostly thatched
roofs or timber and pitch. Much of London burns. Seeing a
possible connection between the fire and God's displeasure, authorities
begin an official investigation into atheism in London, and the English
philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, burns some of his writings to hide evidence
that could be used against him. The city is to be rebuilt with brick
and stone and institutionalized fire fighting developed.
It has been two years since the first successful blood transfusion -
dogs kept alive by transfusion of blood from other dogs. In England and
in France this year there are separate reports of successful
transfusions of blood from lambs to humans. There will be failures to
keep a patient alive, and within ten years transfusions will be
prohibited by law in both countries.
The war between Russia and Poland, which began in 1654, ends after
three years of negotiations. Russia has won possession of most of the
Ukraine. Russia's army has moved closer toward becoming a permanent
(standing) force. Russia has become a more significant force in East
Europe. The Ukraine is split between its Roman Catholic west and an
Eastern Orthodox east.
The French establish their first factory in India, at Surat.
On the Atlantic coast the Carolina colony, Puritans found Charles Town
(Charleston) named for Charles II.
1671 to 1680
Charles II joins Louis XIV of France in another war against the Dutch.
A third living son, Peter, is born to Tsar Alexius (1629-76).
A Hindu conqueror, Shivaji, is crowned king at Rajgarh. Maratha power
is established. Shivaji gives assurance to Hindus across India.
The French establish a trading post in India.
The economic burdens of the war and rising opposition to the war by
Protestants and Parliament results in Charles II agreeing to a
negotiated settlement with the Dutch.
A Dutchman, Anton van Leeuwenhoek, discovers microorganisms, using a
microscope of his own design. This would eventually put to rest the
theory that small creatures or insects arose from inanimate matter such
as dirt or dung.
The Mugal emperor, Alamgir, has escecuted Tegh Bahadur for refusing to
accept Islam. Tegh Bahadur's son and successor, Guru Gobind Rai, vows
to combat Alamgir's oppression. He adopts the surname Singh (lion) and
gives his closest followers the same surname.
Metacom, chief of the Wampanoag Indians, son of Massasoit who feasted
with the Pilgrims in 1621, tried to live in harmony with the colonists.
He adopted the name Philip and is called King Philip by the colonists.
But continuing expansion against the Indians finally led to war - King
Philip's War. Metacom and the Wampanoag Indians are defeated. Metacom's
wife and and eight-year-old son are sold as slaves and shipped to
Bermuda. Metacom's body is cut into quarters and hung in trees and his
head is mounted on a pike at the entrance to Fort Plymouth where it is
to remain for more than two decades.
Tsar Alexius dies. His son, at the age of twelve, inherits the throne
as Theodor III.
The French build a fort on the island of Goree, a little more than a
hundred miles to the south of the mouth of the Senegal River.
Responding to public pressure, England's parliament passes the Habeas
Corpus Act, against abusive detentions and detentions without legal
1681 to 1690
In London a woman is flogged for the crime of having become involved in
Robert Cavalier LaSalle claims the Mississippi River valley for France.
Tsar Theodor III dies without a son. Peter, age 10, is made tsar, with
his mother as regent. A war within the royal family ensues, with Peter
witnessing the murder of his mother's family. A council of nobles,
trying to settle matters, makes Peter a co-tsar with his unhealthy
sixteen-year-old brother, Ivan.
Japan is benefiting from an era of peace, order and prosperity. Food
production has risen. The use of money has spread to Japan's
farmers. Merchant values such as thrift and prudence in all things
mixes with Confucianism's regard for order.
Taiwan submits to Manchu authority.
Tenant farming continues to dominate Korea's agriculture, with slaves
laboring for some landowners. Except for small peddlers and rural
crafts, commerce is government controlled. Law keeps people bound to
their place of work. Confucianism inhibits economic growth, the
Confucianists believing that exchange should be that of gift-giving
rather inspired by gain.
The Ottoman Empire is trying to resume its conquests of centuries
before. An Ottoman army penetrates the outer fortifications of Vienna -
during what is to be known as the Second Siege of Vienna. An army of
70,000 Habsburg and Polish troops are on their way to rescue the city.
Around what today is Zimbabwe, following the breakdown of other African
empires, cattle owners have been competing for power, and the cattle
owner who emerges supreme has been Changamire Dombo, who controls gold
mining and, backed by warriors, collects tributes. He is building an
empire and begins expelling the Portuguese.
Isaac Newton presents his Principia, Book I, to the Royal Society. He
is changing how people see the world, replacing the magic of the gods
with an understanding of gravity, inertia and physical force and
counter force. A contemporary poet, Alexander Pope, is to write his
epitaph as "nature's laws hid by night, God said Let Newton be! and All
The Ottomans are falling back. The Austrians push them from Hungary and
the city of Budapest.
Hostility to Catholicism and to King James II results in a rebellion
against his rule. Parliament has invited a European royal, William of
Orange, to rule. William lands with an army and defeats the army of
James II - whose overthrow is called the Glorious Revolution.
Parliament creates a Bill of Rights and the Toleration Act. Freedom of
speech is guaranteed. People have the right to petition government.
They are to be free from cruel and unusual punishments. They are not to
be compelled to become members of the Church of England.
The philosopher John Locke returns to England from Holland. He gives
conscious ideology to Whig liberalism. He rejects church authority in
matters of philosophy and science. He has advocated that churches be
voluntary societies rather than appendages of higher authority
associated with the state, as has been the Anglican Church. He rejects
political power derived from the authority of God, as in rule by divine
right of the old monarchies. He is afraid of the passions of the masses
and advocates religious tolerance. Not quite a century later his ideas
would be a part of the constitution created by the American Revolution.
At a village 60 miles upriver in the Ganges delta, The British East
India Company founds a trading post - Calcutta.
1691 to 1700
In Iran, Shah Suleiman (Sulayman) has died, and his rule follows the
tradition of being passed to his son, Shah Husayn. Shah Husayn is not
much interested in affairs of state. He is to let influence pass to
courtiers and eunuchs and to seek instruction on what to do from the
In Africa, the English destroy the French fort on the Senegal River.
In Africa, the French blow up the English fort on the Gambia River.
Peter's brother, Ivan, dies. At the age of 24, Peter becomes Russia's
Peter has been building Russia's naval strength is ready to take on the
Ottomans. He drives them out of Azov. And that year the Austrians
defeat the Ottomans at Zenta, about 100 hundred miles southwest of
With an entourage and sometimes disguised as a commoner, Peter is
visiting Western Europe to examine the international situation, to
strengthen a coalition against the Ottomans and to learn about the
economies and cultures of Western Europe.
Under diplomatic pressure from the Dutch, British and Venetians, the
Ottomans sign the Treaty of Karlowitz - a dictated treaty. Hungary and
Transylvania are ceded to Austria. Podolia, occupied by the Ottomans in
1672, is returned to Poland. The Ottomans give up Morea
(the Peloponnesian Peninsula) and most of Dalmatia.
The world is populated by between 600 and 680 million people, up from
between 540 to 580 in 1600 - roughly calculated.
Life expectancy at birth in England is 36 years. (Calculated in a study
in the 1980s by the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and
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