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Millennium | 20. Early Modern Timeline

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This timeline covers the period of the growth of the modern world, starting in the 1500s in European centres such as Venice, Amsterdam and London. It was done on what nowadays we now regard as crimes - piracy, slavery, exploitation, violence, killing, pillage - and also on hard work, inventiveness, bravery, imagination, risk-taking and initiative. It spread globally through colonialism, settlement and commerce.

Arguably it was humanity integrating itself as a planetary race by extremely perverse and painful means. Globalisation is 500 years old. Attempts had been made earlier, by Alexander the Great, the Mongols, the Muslims and the Chinese, but the cheeky, upstart, uncivilised Europeans did it. Today, we now stand at a stage where it is turning into something else. Former colonial subjects now hold the initiative and the world is equalising. We are now becoming a planetary people.

1500s
1500 PERSIA: Shah Ismael founds Safavid dynasty (to 1736)
+       INNOVN: Wynkyn de Worde's printing press on Fleet St, London
+       RUSSIA: end of Golden Horde khanate in Uzbekistan & Astrakhan
1502 INDIA: Portuguese colony at Cochin (first Euro foothold in India)
1504 C ASIA: Babur (Uzbek adventurer) captures Kabul, Afghanistan
1505 GERMANY: HRE Counter-Reformation (Habsburg power-designs)
+       GERMANY: spices from East Indies imported to Europe
1510 INDIA: Goa captured by Portuguese
+       ATLANTIC: growth of slave trade - Portuguese take slaves to Brazil
1512 INNOVN: Copernicus proposes heliocentric solar system
+       PERSIA: Shi'ite Islam becomes the state religion of Persia
1516 EUROPE: Charles I unites Habsburg lands across Europe
+       OTTOMANS: Turks take Syria, Jerusalem, Egypt, Arabia & Mecca
1517 C AMERICA: Mayan civilisation in Yucatan found by Spaniards
+       GERMANY: Reformation: M Luther's "95 Theses" on church abuses
+       AFRICA: Hausa defeat Songhai empire (becoming main power)
+       EUROPE: spectacles, Asian porcelain, coffee & chocolate on sale
1519 INNOVN: Magellan circumnavigates world
1520 S AMERICA: Cortes conquers Aztecs (mainly by disease)
1521 GERMANY: M Luther outlawed (Reformation getting serious)
1524 GERMANY: Peasants' War against feudalism and oppression
1526 C EUROPE: Habsburg Austro-Hungarian state (to resist Turks)
+        INDIA: Babur conquers Punjab & Delhi, founds Mughal empire
1528 OTTOMANS: empire at peak of extent (failure to take Vienna)
1529 C EUROPE: Civil war between Catholics and Protestants
1532 S AMERICA: Spanish Conquistadors attack Incas
+       NW AFRICA: Ashanti, Dahomey and Benin sell slaves to Europeans
1534 BRITAIN: Henry VIII breaks with Rome (tips power to NW Europe)
1536 S AMERICA: Spanish foundation of Buenos Aires and Lima
1545 EUROPE: Council of Trent initiates Catholic Counter-Reformation
1550 CHINA: under attack from Mongols & Japanese pirate raids
+       W EUROPE: beginning of the Early Baroque period
+       SPAIN: zenith of growth and power (to 1600)
+       INNOVN: early playing of cricket (England) and billiards (Italy)
1559 INNOVN: tobacco introduced to Europe (snuff, in Portugal)
+       S AMERICA: smallpox in Brazil kills millions of Indians
1565 INDIA: Akbar the Great extends Mughal power; fall of Vijayanagar
+       E ASIA: Spaniards take Philippines, building capital Manila 1571
+       INNOVN: a regular newspaper appears in Venice
+       OTTOMANS: slow disintegration of Ottoman empire (1567-1661)
1567 JAPAN: Nobunaga takeover (centralisation, Japan opens to Euros)
1572 INNOVN: Danish Tycho Brahe pioneers observational astronomy
1577 BRITAIN: colonial trading companies founded (first multinationals)
1579 W EUROPE: Dutch Republic founded; Anglo-Dutch alliance (trade)
1590 INNOVN: coal mining in Ruhr valley (prelude to industrial revolution)
+       S AMERICA: Spanish colonial peak of growth, prosperity & influence
1594 FRANCE: Henry IV king; freedom of worship given to Huguenots
1597 BRITAIN: Sir Francis Bacon, scientist and philosopher, at work

1600s
1608 W EUROPE: first use of cheques in Holland
1609 W EUROPE: independence of Dutch Republic
1610 EUROPE: Scientific Revolution: Kepler, Bacon, Galileo, Descartes
1620 N AMERICA: Pilgrim Fathers land in Massachussetts
+       INNOVN: weekly newspapers in Europe (Mainz & Amsterdam)
1621 EUROPE: Thirty Years' War (Protestants against Catholics)
1630 W EUROPE: Dutch culture: Hals, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Reubens
+       ARTS: High Baroque Period (to 1680): opera, aria, overture
+       GERMANY: Protestant victories, Swedes enter Germany
1636 N AMERICA: Harvard College, first university in N America
1641 INNOVN: cotton industry in Manchester (early industrial revolution)
1642 BRITAIN: English Civil War begins; Puritan ascendancy
+       OCEANIA: Tasman (Dutch) visits Tasmania and New Zealand
1644 CHINA: Manchus found Ch'ing dynasty (covering China by 1652)
1646 BRITAIN: Civil War ends; Puritan Parliament wins
1648 EUROPE: Thirty Years War ends (Europe carved up, devastated)
+       FRANCE: Fronde Rebellion of Protestants and people
+       W ASIA: Shabtai Zvi claims to be Messiah (unrest in E Europe)
1652 W EUROPE: first Anglo-Dutch war (start of Dutch decline)
+       S AFRICA: Cape Colony founded by Dutch
1655 WORLD: growth of English colonialism & economy (Cromwell)
1656 INDIA: Aurangzeb expands Mughal empire to greatest extent
1658 N EUROPE: Peace of Roskilde: Swedish empire at its zenith
1660 FRANCE: classical period of French aristocratic culture
+       BRITAIN: Parliament turns royalist again
1662 AFRICA: Portuguese destroy Kongo kingdom
1664 N AMERICA: British take New Amsterdam (New York) from Dutch
+       BRITAIN: strong restrictions put on Puritans; plague in England
1666 FRANCE: Academie Francaise founded in Paris
+       BRITAIN: Great Fire of London (city destroyed)
+       IDEAS: Newton's Laws of Gravitation
1668 W EUROPE: Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (ending power of France)
+       INDIA: Bombay taken by East India Co (English influence in India)
+       AFRICA: rise of Bambara kingdoms, Nigeria
1669 MEDITERRANEAN: Venice in decline
+       INDIA: Moghuls ban Hindu faith (forced conversion); famine, 3m die
1675 CHINA: Ch'ing peace & prosperity starts, lasting 100 years
1676 INNOVN: Greenwich Observatory opened (John Flamsteed)
1686 N AMERICA: English colonies reorganised - Fed'n of New England
+       N AMERICA: French in Texas, claim Mississippi & Louisiana
1687 C EUROPE: Mohacs: Euros beat Ottomans (weakening Turkey)
+       INDIA: friction between Mughals (N) & Marathas (S), chaos in India
+       BRITAIN: Britain now leading economic power in world (to 1914)
1695 BRITAIN: end of press censorship
+       W AFRICA: rise of Ashanti empire (Gold Coast)
+       C AMERICA: last remnants of Maya culture destroyed by Spaniards

1700s
1700 GERMANY: Baroque: Buxtehude, Handel, Bach, Pachelbel
+        INDIA: chaos: Maratha & Rajput wars; Sikh, Jat & Satnami revolts
1701 EUROPE: War of Spanish Succession (world war over power)
1707 INDIA: death of Aurangzeb brings decline of Mughal empire
1709 E EUROPE: Poltava: Russians defeat Sweden (decline of Sweden)
1710 EUROPE: European wars lapse into complexity and stalemate
+       RUSSIA: St Petersburg, new capital of westernising Russia
1712 EUROPE: last witchcraft trials and executions
1713 EUROPE: Treaty of Utrecht: Spain & Britain gain, Habsburgs lose
1715 N AMERICA: uprising of Indian tribes in Carolina against settlers
+       EUROPE: Rococo, Georgian buildings, 'Cabinet Politics', modernity
1720 W EUROPE: financial collapse (England & France)
1728 PACIFIC: Dutch explore Bering Strait (America & Asia separate)
1735 ISLAM: reform Wahhabite Movement to purify Islam, Mecca
1736 PERSIA: Safavid dynasty ends; Nadir Shah, stabiliser and moderniser
1741 C EUROPE: Prussia takes Silesia, Saxony, Bavaria, Prague
+       N AMERICA: Russia explores California; French in Rocky Mts
+       CHINA: Ch'ing zenith, Emp Ch'ien Lung (to 1796) (growth in C Asia)
1748 EUROPE: Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle settles Habsburg succession
1756 EUROPE: Seven Years' War: Britain & Prussia vs other powers
1757 INDIA: Clive destroys French influence, gains Bengal, Bihar, Orissa
+       BRITAIN: Pitt the Elder, prime minister (architect of British empire)
1760 EUROPE: European Enlightenment: Voltaire, Diderot, Hume
1763 N AMERICA: Treaty of Paris: Canada, Louisiana & Florida to British
+       EUROPE: end of Seven Years' War: no major changes

1700s (continued)
1768 PACIFIC: Cook explores N Z and E Australia; circumnavigates world
1769 N AMERICA: frictions between colonists and England
+       EUROPE: Industrial Revolution (free trade, civil libs, technologies)
1770 EUROPE: Technology: Priestley, Lavoisier, Bolta, Watt, Arkwright
1771 GERMANY: Goethe, Schiller, Grimm, Fichte, Niebuhr
+       AFRICA: Ethiopia in decline; rebellions
1775 N AMERICA: Revolution and Independence (Washington, Jefferson)
1776 S AMERICA: Argentina-Uruguay-Paraguay unieted; Brazil founded
+       IDEAS: Adam Smith, Tom Paine, Malthus
1784 BRITAIN: Pitt's India Act (British gov't control of East India Co)
1787 USA: US constitution (first modern democracy, Dollar introduced)
1788 OCEANIA: British colony founded in Australia
+       AFRICA: Sierra Leone founded (for freed slaves)
1789 FRANCE: French Revolution: feudalism abolished, 'Rights of Man'
1790 EUROPE: orchestral music: Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven
+       N AFRICA: Islamic proselytising holy wars against Ottomans
+       CHINA: Yao uprising ; opium trade started by European powers
1791 E EUROPE: Russia gains Ukraine, Austria takes Ottoman Serbia
+      GERMANY: world's first general strike, Hamburg
1792 FRANCE: French Republic: beginning of Revolutionary Wars
+       INDIA: major British acquisitions in India, Ceylon, Cape Colony
1793 OTTOMANS: Selim III attempts to reform Ottoman empire
+       FRANCE: Louis XVI executed, Reign of Terror, invasion of Benelux
1795 E EUROPE: dissolution of Poland (by Prussia, Russia & Austria)
1796 CHINA: end of Ch'ien Lung era; Miao uprising, corruption, Triads
1798 EUROPE: Napoleon takes Switz, Malta & Italy; Britain controls seas
+       BRITAIN: 10% income tax introduced (to finance war)
1799 FRANCE: Napoleonic constitution (rational standardisation)
+       N AFRICA: Rosetta Stone found (deciphering heiroglyphics)
+       BRITAIN: Mungo Park's "Travels in Africa" (broadens Euro horizons)

1800s
1800 IDEAS: Romanticism: Byron, Shelley, Keats, Hugo, Pushkin
1801 EUROPE: Napoleon dominates Europe; Britain master of seas
1803 USA: Louisiana Purchase doubles USA (opens Mississippi & West)
1806 EUROPE: Age Of Reform; Napoleonic Continental System
1807 BRITAIN: Slave trade abolished in British empire (Wilberforce)
+    C ASIA: rebellion of Tibetans against Chinese domination
1810 BRITAIN: industrialisation, urbanisation, rural depop, Luddite riots
+    S AMERICA: Venezuela, Paraguay, Chile declare independence
1812 EUROPE: greatest extent of Napoleonic empire; invasion of Russia
+    W ASIA: Egypt attacks Wahhabists, occupying Mecca-Riyadh
1814 EUROPE: business slump (to 1820) (unemployment, hardship)
+    INNOVN: Stephenson's 'Rocket'; cylinder press, The Times, London
1815 EUROPE: Napoleon defeated at Waterloo, exiled to St Helena
1816 EUROPE: Conservative Restoration (1815-30) (royalism, authority)
1817 ARTS: Byron, Coleridge, Keats, Austen, Goya, Turner, Landseer
1818 S AFRICA: Shaka's Zulu kingdom in S Africa
1819 WORLD: Imperialism (1814-1914): European world domination
1821 S AMERICA: independence of Mexico, Peru, Brazil, C America
1822 W AFRICA: Liberia founded for freed slaves (anti-slavery movement)
+  EUROPE: liberal W (Fr, UK), reactionary E (Austria, Russia, Prussia)
1824 BRITAIN: trades unions permitted; Stockton and Darlington railway
1825 ASIA: Java War (anti-Dutch); anti-Chinese rebellion in Turkestan
1828 INDIA: Brahmo-Samaj (Hindu revivalist movement) founded
1830 EUROPE: revolutions in France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Belgium
+    INNOVN: Liverpool-Manchester railway (first viable public railway)
1831 OTTOMANS: Mohammed Ali obtains Egypt & Syria from Ottomans
1834 RUSSIA: Caucasian wars (to 1859) against Chechens and Ingush
1835 S AFRICA: Boer Trek (to 1844): Natal, Orange Free State, Transvaal
1837 BRITAIN: Queen Victoria (to 1901); Chartist democratic movement
1838 PERSIA: revolt of Aga Khan (reforms, Shi'ite influence grows)
1839 E EUROPE: Eastern Crisis (Ottoman instability, Russian expansion)
+    OTTOMANS: judicial & admin modernisation, foreign influence
1840 OCEANIA: Britain annexes New Zealand
1842 CHINA: Opium Wars, UK takes Hong Kong (foreign powers gain)
1845 IRELAND: Potato Famine (1m die, hostility to England, emigration)
1846 N AMERICA: USA opens up the West; California Gold Rush
+    EUROPE: economic crisis (unemployment, bankruptcy)
1848 EUROPE: Revolutions (unsuccessful, new realism, emigration)
+    IDEAS: "Communist Manifesto", Marx and Engels
1849 PERSIA: Nasir Ud-din, Shah (to 1896) (western influence, oil trade)
1850 CHINA: T'ai P'ing Rebellion (1850-55), great loss of life
1851 BRITAIN: Great Exhibition (first World Fair) in London
1853 RUSSIA: Crimean War (Ottoman near-collapse, modern warfare)
1854 ARTS: Thackeray, Tennyson, Kingsley, Dickens, Berlioz, Wagner
1857 INDIA: Indian Mutiny (rebellion against British rule, failed)
1859 IDEAS: Darwin's "Origin of Species"; age of novel: Dumas, Tolstoi
1860 CHINA: Treaty of Peking (penetration of China by West)
+    RUSSIA: Russian expansion in E Siberia; emancipation of serfs
1861 USA: Civil War (1861-5) over slavery, North vs South, many die
+    ITALY: unification of Italy (Garibaldi, Cavour)
1862 USA: Homestead Law, new land claims, expansion, harming Indians
1863 SE ASIA: France takes Cambodia, Vietnam, Cochin China and Laos
1866 GERMANY: war (Prussia vs Austria) for German dominance
+    S AMERICA: Paraguayan War (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay)
1867 AMERICAS: Alaska to USA; self-rule in Canada; Mexican republic
1868 JAPAN: Meiji Restoration (western ways and industrialisation)
+     BRITAIN: Trades Union Congress (first national union organisation)
1869 N AFRICA: Suez Canal opens; USA: first transcontinental railroad
1870 W EUROPE: Franco-Prussian war (for dominance in W Europe)
+    FRANCE: Third Republic; beginning of colonial Empire Francais
1871 GERMANY: unification (Wilhelm I & Bismarck), liberal reforms
+    FRANCE: Paris Commune uprising (fails, 30,000 people killed)
1872 IBERIA: civil war in Spain (royalists vs republicans, king flees)
+    ARTS: Turgenev, Jules Verne, Samuel Butler, Hardy, Hugo, Zola
1875 EUROPE: Socialist parties founded, 1870s-90s
+    E EUROPE: Balkan crisis (nationalist uprisings, Turkish retreat)
1880 WORLD: High Capitalism (to 1914); Euro 'mission to civilise' world
1882 INNOVN: hydro-electric power, Edison; Daimler & Benz, motor car
+    S AMERICA: extermination of Pampas Indians in Argentina
1885 INDIA: Indian National Congress (independence movement)
1887 WORLD: British Colonial Conference (to become Commonwealth)
+    INNOVN: el lamp (Edison & Swan); Tesla's motor; Kodak camera
1891 EUROPE: Berne Peace Bureau (leading to Int Court of the Hague)
1892 RUSSIA: modernisation & industry, Trans-Siberian railway
+    USA: ind growth (tycoons Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan)
1893 WORLD: emigration from Europe to USA, Australia and colonies
+    INNOVN: Benz (Germany) & Ford (USA) construct first motor cars
1894 ASIA: Sino-Japanese war: Japan takes Formosa; Euros in China
1895 C AMERICA: Cuban uprising against Spain (US dominates S Am)
+    W ASIA: Ottomans massacre Armenians (envy of business strength)
1896 RUSSIA: strikes & revolts against czarist rule (to 1917)
+    ARTS: Shaw, H G Wells, Hardy, Wilde, Chekhov, Strindberg, Ibsen
1898 CHINA: abortive 100 Days Reform; capitalism, working class
+    WORLD: USA takes Guam, P Rico and Philippines; Spanish empire ends
1899 S AFRICA: Boer War (turning of military tide in British empire)
+    EUROPE: Hague Peace Conference (pacifists vs militarists)

NEXT: The 1900s

The Illustrated Guide to the Millennium

© Copyright Palden Jenkins 1998, 2012.
This material may be downloaded, printed out in single copies for personal use
and quoted in parts with proper attribution and a link to this site.
All other uses require permission of the author, Palden Jenkins.
The Illustrated Guide to the Millennium was partially written in 1997-98 and never published.

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