17th century

The 17th century was the century that lasted from January 1, 1601 (MDCI), to December 31, 1700 (MDCC). It falls into the Early Modern period of Europe and in that continent (whose impact on the world was increasing) was characterized by the Baroque cultural movement, the latter part of the Spanish Golden Age, the Dutch Golden Age, the French Grand Siècle dominated by Louis XIV, the Scientific Revolution, the world's first public company and megacorporation known as the Dutch East India Company, and according to some historians, the General Crisis. The greatest military conflicts were the Thirty Years' War,[1] the Great Turkish War, Mughal–Safavid Wars (Mughal–Safavid War (1622–23), Mughal–Safavid War (1649–53)), Anglo-Mughal Indian War, and the Dutch–Portuguese War. It was during this period also that European colonization of the Americas began in earnest, including the exploitation of the silver deposits, which resulted in bouts of inflation as wealth was drawn into Europe.[2]

Mughal emperor Aurangzeb
A scene on the ice, Dutch Republic, first half of 17th century
Persian Ambassador during his entry into Kraków for the wedding ceremonies of King Sigismund III of Poland in 1605.
Åbo Akademi University's inauguration on 1640 in Turku.
Catholic general Albrecht von Wallenstein
René Descartes with Queen Christina of Sweden.
James I of England and VI of Scotland
Tsar Michael I of Russia
Battle of Nördlingen (1634). The Catholic Imperial army, bolstered by professional Habsburg Spanish troops won a great victory in the battle over the combined Protestant armies of Sweden and their German allies
The Night Watch or The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq, 1642. Oil on canvas; on display at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
The massacre of settlers in 1622. The massacre was instrumental in causing English colonists to view all natives as enemies.
Map of Europe in 1648 at the end of the Thirty Years' War
Claiming Louisiana for France
Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu is the founder of Japan's last shogunate, which lasted well into the 19th century
Millennium: 2nd millennium
State leaders:
  • 16th century
  • 17th century
  • 18th century
  • 1600s
  • 1610s
  • 1620s
  • 1630s
  • 1640s
  • 1650s
  • 1660s
  • 1670s
  • 1680s
  • 1690s
Categories: Births – Deaths
Establishments – Disestablishments

In the Islamic world, the gunpowder empires – the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal – grew in strength. Especially in the Indian subcontinent, Mughal architecture, culture and art reached its zenith, while the empire itself, during the sharia reign of Emperor Aurangzeb, is believed to have had the world's largest economy, bigger than the entirety of Western Europe and worth 25% of global GDP,[3] and its wealthiest province, the Bengal Subah, signaled the period of proto-industrialization.[4]

In Japan, Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Tokugawa shogunate at the beginning of the century, beginning the Edo period; the isolationist Sakoku policy began in the 1630s and lasted until the 19th century. In China, the collapsing Ming dynasty was challenged by a series of conquests led by the Manchu warlord Nurhaci, which were consolidated by his son Hong Taiji and finally consummated by his grandson, the Shunzi Emperor, founder of the Qing dynasty.

From the middle decades of the 17th century, European politics were increasingly dominated by the Kingdom of France of Louis XIV, where royal power was solidified domestically in the civil war of the Fronde. The semi-feudal territorial French nobility was weakened and subjugated to the power of an absolute monarchy through the reinvention of the Palace of Versailles from a hunting lodge to a gilded prison, in which a greatly expanded royal court could be more easily kept under surveillance. With domestic peace assured, Louis XIV caused the borders of France to be expanded. It was during this century that the English monarch became a symbolic figurehead and Parliament was the dominant force in government – a contrast to most of Europe, in particular France.

By the end of the century, Europeans were aware of logarithms, electricity, the telescope and microscope, calculus, universal gravitation, Newton's Laws of Motion, air pressure and calculating machines due to the work of the first scientists of the Scientific Revolution, including Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, René Descartes, Pierre Fermat, Blaise Pascal, Robert Boyle, Christiaan Huygens, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Robert Hooke, Isaac Newton, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. It was also a period of development of culture in general (especially theater, music, visual arts and philosophy).



  • 1600: Michael the Brave unifies the three Romanian principalities: Wallachia, Moldavia and Translyvania after the Battle of Șelimbăr from 1599.
  • 1601: In the Battle of Kinsale, England defeats Irish and Spanish forces at the town of Kinsale, driving the Gaelic aristocracy out of Ireland and destroying the Gaelic clan system.
  • 1601–1603: The Russian famine of 1601–1603 kills perhaps one-third of Russia.
  • 1602: Matteo Ricci produces the Map of the Myriad Countries of the World (坤輿萬國全圖, Kūnyú Wànguó Quántú), a world map that will be used throughout East Asia for centuries.
  • 1602: The Dutch East India Company (VOC) is established by merging competing Dutch trading companies.[5] Its success contributes to the Dutch Golden Age.
  • 1603: Elizabeth I of England dies and is succeeded by her cousin King James VI of Scotland, uniting the crowns of Scotland and England.
  • 1603: Tokugawa Ieyasu takes the title of shōgun, establishing the Tokugawa shogunate. This begins the Edo period, which will last until 1868.
  • 1603: In Nagasaki, the Portuguese Jesuit missionary João Rodrigues publishes Nippo Jisho, the first dictionary of Japanese to a European language (Portuguese)
  • 1605: The King of Gowa, a Makassarese kingdom in South Sulawesi, converts to Islam.
  • 1605-1627: The reign of Mughal emperor Jahangir after the death of emperor Akbar.
  • 1606: The Long War between the Ottoman Empire and Austria is ended with the Peace of Zsitvatorok—Austria abandons Transylvania.
  • 1606: Treaty of Vienna ends anti-Habsburg uprising in Royal Hungary.
  • 1607: Flight of the Earls (the fleeing of most of the native Gaelic aristocracy) occurs from County Donegal in the west of Ulster in Ireland.
  • 1607: Iskandar Muda becomes the Sultan of Aceh (r. 1607–1637). He will launch a series of naval conquests that will transform Aceh into a great power in the western Malay Archipelago.
  • 1610: The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth army defeats combined Russian–Swedish forces at the Battle of Klushino and conquers Moscow.
  • 1610: King Henry IV of France is assassinated by François Ravaillac.
  • 1611: The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, the oldest existing university in Asia, established by the Dominican Order in Manila[6]
  • 1611: The first publication of the King James Bible.
  • 1612: Cotswold Olympic Games, Robert Dover
  • 1613: The Time of Troubles in Russia ends with the establishment of the House of Romanov, which rules until 1917.
  • 1613–1617: Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth is invaded by the Tatars dozens of times.[7]
  • 1613: The Dutch East India Company is forced to evacuate Gresik because of the Mataram siege of neighboring Surabaya. The VOC enters into negotiations with Mataram and is allowed to set up a trading post in Jepara.
  • 1614–1615: The Siege of Osaka (last major threat to Tokugawa shogunate) ends.
  • 1616: The last remaining Moriscos (Moors who had nominally converted to Christianity) in Spain are expelled.
  • 1616: English poet and playwright William Shakespeare dies.
  • 1618: The Defenestration of Prague.
  • 1618: The Bohemian Revolt precipitates the Thirty Years' War, which devastates Europe in the years 1618–48.
  • 1618: The Manchus start invading China. Their conquest eventually topples the Ming dynasty.
  • 1619: Dutch East India Company, English East India Company, and Sultanate of Banten all fighting over port city of Jayakarta. VOC forces storm the city and withstand a months-long siege by the combined English, Bantenese, and Jayakartan forces. They are relieved by Jan Pieterszoon Coen and a fleet of nineteen ships out of Ambon. Coen had burned Jepara and its EIC post along the way. The VOC levels the old city of Jayakarta and builds its new headquarters, Batavia, on top of it.
Jan Pieterszoon Coen (8 January 1587 – 21 September 1629), the founder of Batavia, was an officer of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in the early seventeenth century, holding two terms as its Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.
  • 1620–1621: Polish-Ottoman War over Moldavia.
  • 1620: Bethlen Gabor allies with the Ottomans and an invasion of Moldavia takes place. The Polish suffer a disaster at Cecora on the River Prut.
  • 1620: The Mayflower sets sail from Plymouth, England to what became Plymouth Colony in the New England region of North America.
  • 1621: The Battle of Chocim: Poles and Cossacks under Jan Karol Chodkiewicz defeat the Ottomans.
  • 1622: Jamestown massacre: Algonquian natives kill 347 English settlers outside Jamestown, Virginia (one-third of the colony's population) and burn the Henricus settlement.
  • 1624–1642: As chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu centralises power in France.
  • 1626: St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican completed.
  • 1627: Aurochs go extinct.
  • 1628—1629: Sultan Agung of Mataram launches a failed campaign to conquer Dutch Batavia.
  • 1629: Abbas I, the Safavids king, died.
  • 1629: Cardinal Richelieu allies with Swedish Protestant forces in the Thirty Years' War to counter Ferdinand II's expansion.
  • 1630 : Birth of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at Shivneri fort
  • 1631: Mount Vesuvius erupts.
  • 1632: Battle of Lützen, death of king of Sweden Gustav II Adolf.
  • 1632: Taj Mahal building work started in Agra, India.
  • 1633: Galileo Galilei arrives in Rome for his trial before the Inquisition.
  • 1633–1639: Japan transforms into "locked country".
  • 1634: Battle of Nördlingen results in Catholic victory.
  • 1636: Harvard University is founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • 1637: Shimabara Rebellion of Japanese Christians, rōnin and peasants against Edo.
  • 1637: The first opera house, Teatro San Cassiano, opens in Venice.
  • 1637: Qing dynasty attacked Joseon dynasty.
  • 1639: Naval Battle of the Downs – Republic of the United Provinces fleet decisively defeats a Spanish fleet in English waters.
  • 1639: Disagreements between the Farnese and Barberini Pope Urban VIII escalate into the Wars of Castro and last until 1649.
  • 1639–1651: Wars of the Three Kingdoms, civil wars throughout Scotland, Ireland, and England.
  • 1640–1668: The Portuguese Restoration War led to the end of the Iberian Union.
  • 1641: The Irish Rebellion.
  • 1641: René Descartes publishes Meditationes de prima philosophia Meditations on First Philosophy.
  • 1642: Beginning of English Civil War, conflict will end in 1649 with the execution of King Charles I, abolishment of the monarchy and the establishment of the supremacy of Parliament over the king.
  • 1643: L'incoronazione di Poppea, Monterverdi
  • 1644: The Manchu conquer China ending the Ming dynasty. The subsequent Qing dynasty rules until 1912.
  • 1644–1674: The Mauritanian Thirty-Year War.
  • 1645–1669: Ottoman war with Venice. The Ottomans invade Crete and capture Canea.
  • 1647–1652: The Great Plague of Seville.
  • 1648: The Peace of Westphalia ends the Thirty Years' War and the Eighty Years' War and marks the ends of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire as major European powers.
  • 1648–1653: Fronde civil war in France.
  • 1648–1657: The Khmelnytsky Uprising – a Cossack rebellion in Ukraine which turned into a Ukrainian war of liberation from Poland.
  • 1648–1667: The Deluge wars leave Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in ruins.
  • 1648–1669: The Ottomans capture Crete from the Venetians after the Siege of Candia.
  • 1649: King Charles I is executed for High treason, the first and only English king to be subjected to legal proceedings in a High Court of Justice and put to death.
  • 1649–1653: The Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.


  • 1651: English Civil War ends with the Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester.
  • 1656–1661: Mehmed Köprülü is Grand Vizier.
  • 1655–1661: The Northern Wars cement Sweden's rise as a Great Power.
  • 1658: After his father Shah Jahan completes the Taj Mahal, his son Aurangzeb deposes him as ruler of the Mughal Empire.
  • 1660: The Commonwealth of England ends and the monarchy is brought back during the English Restoration.
  • 1660: The Royal Society is founded
  • 1661: The reign of the Kangxi Emperor of China begins.
  • 1663: Ottoman war against Habsburg Hungary.
  • 1664: The Battle of St. Gotthard: count Raimondo Montecuccoli defeats the Ottomans. The Peace of Vasvar – intended to keep the peace for 20 years.
  • 1665: Robert Hooke discovers cells using a microscope.
  • 1665: Portugal defeats the Kongo Empire at the Battle of Mbwila.
  • 1665–1667: The Second Anglo-Dutch War fought between England and the United Provinces.
  • 1666: The Great Fire of London.
  • 1667: The Raid on the Medway during the Second Anglo-Dutch War.
  • 1667–1668: The War of Devolution; France invades the Netherlands. The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1668) brings this to a halt.
  • 1667–1699: The Great Turkish War halts the Ottoman Empire's expansion into Europe.
  • 1672–1673: Ottoman campaign to help the Ukrainian Cossacks. John Sobieski defeats the Ottomans at the second battle of Khotyn (1673).
  • 1672–1674: The Third Anglo-Dutch War fought between England and the United Provinces
  • 1672–1676: Polish–Ottoman War.
  • 1672–1678: Franco-Dutch War.
  • 1674: Shivaji forms the Maratha Empire, which lasts until 1818.
  • 1676–1681: Russia and the Ottoman Empire commence the Russo-Turkish Wars.
  • 1678: The Treaty of Nijmegen ends various interconnected wars among France, the Dutch Republic, Spain, Brandenburg, Sweden, Denmark, the Prince-Bishopric of Münster, and the Holy Roman Empire.
French invasion of the Netherlands, which Louis XIV initiated in 1672, starting the Franco-Dutch War
The Battle of Vienna marked the historic end of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Europe.
  • 1680: The Pueblo Revolt drives the Spanish out of New Mexico until 1692.
  • 1682: Chateau de Versailles, Saint-Gobain
  • 1682 – In North America, the French explorer Robert La Salle claims all the land east of the Mississippi River.
  • 1683: China conquers the Kingdom of Tungning and annexes Taiwan.
  • 1683: The Ottoman Empire is defeated in the second Siege of Vienna.
  • 1683–1699: The Great Turkish War leads to the conquest of most of Ottoman Hungary by the Habsburgs.
  • 1687: Isaac Newton publishes Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
  • 1688: The Siege of Derry.
  • 1688: Siamese revolution of 1688 ousted French influence and virtually severed all ties with the West until the 19th century.
  • 1688–1689: The Glorious Revolution starts with the Dutch Republic invading England, England becomes a constitutional monarchy.
  • 1688–1691: The War of the Two Kings in Ireland.
  • 1688–1697: The Grand Alliance sought to stop French expansion during the Nine Years' War.
  • 1689: The Battle of Killiecrankie is fought between Jacobite and Williamite forces in Highland Perthshire.
  • 1689: The Karposh rebellion is crushed in present-day North Macedonia, Skopje is retaken by the Ottoman Turks. Karposh is killed, and the rebels are defeated.
  • 1689: Bill of Rights
  • 1690: The Battle of the Boyne in Ireland.
  • 1692: Port Royal in Jamaica is struck by an earthquake and a tsunami. Approximately 2,000 people die and 2,300 are injured.
  • 1692–1694: Famine in France kills two million.[8]
  • 1693: The College of William and Mary is founded in Williamsburg, Virginia, by a royal charter.
  • 1694: The Bank of England is established.
  • 1695: The Mughal Empire nearly bans the East India Company in response to pirate Henry Every's capture of the Ganj-i-Sawai.
  • 1696–1697: Famine in Finland wipes out almost one-third of the population.[9]
  • 1697–1699: Grand Embassy of Peter the Great
  • 1699: Thomas Savery demonstrates his first steam engine to the Royal Society.

Inventions, discoveries, introductions

Major changes in philosophy and science take place, often characterized as the Scientific revolution.

  • Banknotes reintroduced in Europe.
  • Ice cream.
  • Tea and coffee become popular in Europe.
  • Central Banking in France and modern Finance by Scottish economist John Law.
  • Minarets, Jamé Mosque of Isfahan, Isfahan, Persia (Iran), are built.
  • 1604: Supernova SN 1604 is observed in the Milky Way.
  • 1605: Johannes Kepler starts investigating elliptical orbits of planets.
  • 1605: Johann Carolus of Germany publishes the 'Relation', the first newspaper.
  • 1608: Refracting telescope's first appear. Dutch spectacle-maker Hans Lippershey tries to obtain a patent on one spreading word of the invention.
  • 1610: The Orion Nebula is identified by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc of France.
  • 1610: Galileo Galilei and Simon Marius observe Jupiter's Galilean moons.
  • 1611: King James Bible or 'Authorized Version' first published.
  • 1612: The first flintlock musket likely created for Louis XIII of France by gunsmith Marin Bourgeois.
  • 1614: John Napier introduces the logarithm to simplify calculations.
  • 1616: Niccolò Zucchi describes experiments with a bronze parabolic mirror trying to make a reflecting telescope.
  • 1620: Cornelis Drebbel, funded by James I of England, builds the first 'submarine' made of wood and greased leather.
  • 1623: The first English dictionary, 'English Dictionarie' is published by Henry Cockeram, listing difficult words with definitions.
  • 1628: William Harvey publishes and elucidates his earlier discovery of the circulatory system.
  • 1637: Dutch Bible published.
  • 1637: Teatro San Cassiano, the first public opera house, opened in Venice.
  • 1637: Pierre de Fermat formulates his so-called Last Theorem, unsolved until 1995.
  • 1637: Although Chinese naval mines were earlier described in the 14th century Huolongjing, the Tian Gong Kai Wu book of Ming dynasty scholar Song Yingxing describes naval mines wrapped in a lacquer bag and ignited by an ambusher pulling a rip cord on the nearby shore that triggers a steel-wheel flint mechanism.
  • 1642: Blaise Pascal invents the mechanical calculator called Pascal's calculator.
  • 1642: Mezzotint engraving introduces grey tones to printed images.
  • 1643: Evangelista Torricelli of Italy invents the mercury barometer.
  • 1645: Giacomo Torelli of Venice, Italy invents the first rotating stage.
  • 1651: Giovanni Riccioli renames the lunar maria.
  • 1656: Christiaan Huygens describes the true shape of the rings of Saturn.
  • 1657: Christiaan Huygens develops the first functional pendulum clock based on the learnings of Galileo Galilei.
  • 1659: Christiaan Huygens first to observe surface details of Mars.
  • 1662: Christopher Merret presents first paper on the production of sparkling wine.
  • 1663: James Gregory publishes designs for a reflecting telescope.
  • 1669: The first known operational reflecting telescope is built by Isaac Newton.
  • 1676: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discovers Bacteria.
  • 1676: First measurement of the speed of light.
  • 1679: Binary system developed by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.
  • 1684: Calculus independently developed by both Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Sir Isaac Newton and used to formulate classical mechanics.


  1. "The Thirty-Years-War". Western New England College. Archived from the original on 1999-10-09. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
  2. "The Seventeenth-Century Decline". The Library of Iberian resources online. Retrieved 13 August 2008.
  3. Maddison, Angus (2003): Development Centre Studies The World Economy Historical Statistics: Historical Statistics, OECD Publishing, ISBN 9264104143, pages 259–261
  4. Lex Heerma van Voss; Els Hiemstra-Kuperus; Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk (2010). "The Long Globalization and Textile Producers in India". The Ashgate Companion to the History of Textile Workers, 1650–2000. Ashgate Publishing. p. 255.
  5. Ricklefs (1991), page 28
  6. History of UST UST.edu.ph. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
  7. "The Tatar Khanate of Crimea". Archived from the original on 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
  8. Alan Macfarlane (1997). The savage wars of peace: England, Japan and the Malthusian trap. Wiley . p. 64. ISBN 0-631-18117-2
  9. Karen J. Cullen (2010). "Famine in Scotland: The 'Ill Years' of the 1690s". Edinburgh University Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-7486-3887-3

Further reading

Detail of a 17th-century Tekke Turkmen carpet
  • Chang, Chun-shu, and Shelley Hsueh-lun Chang. Crisis and Transformation in Seventeenth-Century China" (1998).
  • Langer, William. An Encyclopedia of World History (5th ed. 1973); highly detailed outline of events online free
  • Reid, A. J. S. Trade and State Power in 16th & 17th Century Southeast Asia (1977).
  • Spence, J. D. The Death of Woman Wang: Rural Life in China in the 17th Century (1978).

Focus on Europe

  • Clark, George. The Seventeenth Century (2nd ed. 1945).
  • Hampshire, Stuart. The Age of Reason the 17th Century Philosophers, Selected, with Introduction and Interpretive Commentary (1961).
  • Lewitter, Lucian Ryszard. "Poland, the Ukraine and Russia in the 17th Century." The Slavonic and East European Review (1948): 157–171. in JSTOR
  • Ogg, David. Europe in the Seventeenth Century (6th ed. 1965).
  • Rowbotham, Sheila. Hidden from history: Rediscovering women in history from the 17th century to the present (1976).
  • Trevor-Roper, Hugh R. "The general crisis of the 17th century." Past & Present 16 (1959): 31–64.
  • Vistorica: Timelines of 17th century events, science, culture and persons
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