Seventeenth Century History : 1650 – 1699
1650 Otto von Guericke invents an air pump. Anne Bradstreet becomes the first published American woman writer with The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America.
1652 The Dutch establish a settlement in Cape Town, South Africa. These settlers would become the first people to be called “Africans” – the black peoples on the continent were known only by their tribal names.
1653 Oliver Cromwell becomes ruler of England, Scotland and Ireland.
1655 Dutch mathematician Christiaan Huygens develops a new method for grinding telescope lenses, making a more powerful telescope, with which he discovers the rings and one moon of Saturn.
1656 Christiaan Huygens invents a pendulum clock.
1658 The first illustrated book for children published in Germany.
1659 Anglo-Irish physicist and chemist Robert Boyle develops an air pump for creating vacuums, confirms Galilei’s view that bodies fall in a vacuum at the same rate, regardless of weight; discovers that sound does not travel in a vacuum.
1660 Robert Hooke of London claims he invented and applied the hairspring to the balance wheel. However, the invention is widely credited to Christiaan Huygens and Abbé d’Hautefeuille who simultaneously developed the use of a hairspring with the balance wheel in 1674. Charles II crowned King of England.
1661 Paris Opera Ballet founded. Irish-born scientist Robert Boyle publishes The Skeptical Chymist, rejecting both the classical elements of earth, air, fire, and water, and the medieval elements of salt, sulfur, and mercury proposed by Aristotle and Paracelsus. Boyle’s mechanical philosophy forms the basis of chemistry as a scientific discipline, leaving behind its roots in alchemy.
1662 Boyle develops Boyle’s Law: the volume of a gas varies with its pressure.
1663 Royal Society of England chartered. James Gregory invents the first reflecting telescope.
1664 Isaac Newton experiments with gravity.
1665 Shabbetai Zevi claims to be the Messiah, and confronts the Sultan of Ottoman Turkey to hand over Eretz Israel to the Jews. But faced with a choice between death and conversion to Islam, Shabbetai converted. Believing that this is a necessary part of the Messianic plan, some followed him and created a separate Muslim sect that lasted to the 20th century.
1666 Fire destroys four-fifths of London, but killing only 16 people. The first blood transfusions take place. Isaac Newton develops calculus (fluxions). Molière publishes Misanthrope.
1668 Isaac Newton invents a reflecting telescope.
1669 Isaac Newton in England and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibrniz in Germany determine the principles of calculus at the same time. (The word is derived from the Latin word for pebble, referring to the use of pebble for counting.) Robert Hooke observes that the star Gamma Draconis has a parallax of 30 seconds of arc. German alchemist Hennig Brand discovers phosphorus, the first new element found since ancient times.
1670 A Paris cafe begins serving ice cream.
1671 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz invents a calculating machine. (some sources give the date as 1673) His machine, working with gears and rods and called the Stepped Reckoner, can multiply, divide, and calculate square roots.
1674 Dutchman Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek discovers one-celled micro-organisms in marsh water using his microscope – he calls them animalcules. Christiaan Huygens and Abbé d’Hautefeuille simultaneously develops the use of a hairspring with the balance wheel.
1675 Leibniz determines integral and differential calculus. Christian Huygens patents the pocket watch.
1678 Christiaan Huygens discovers the polarization of light.
1682 Edmond Halley discovers Halley’s comet.
1683 First museum opens to the public in Oxford, England. Anthony van Leeuwenhoek discovers bacteria, the significance of which was not understood until the 19th century.
1685 Persecution of the Huguenots, thousands flee France.
1686 Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit invents the thermometer for measuring temperature.
1687 Isaac Newton describes the theory of gravity. The era of modern physics is inaugurated by the publication of his Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, commonly called the Principia’. It was published in Latin and did not appear in English until 1729.
1688 Newton constructs the first reflecting telescope. Jesuit priest Ferdianand Verbiest, who worked in China from 1659 until his death in 1688, leaves a description of a steam car he had built.
1689 William III and Mary II crowned joint rulers of Britain. Peter the Great crowned Czar of Russia. 1689: The English Bill of Rights, a precursor to the American Bill of Rights, set out strict limits on the Royal Family’s legal prerogatives such as a prohibition against arbitrary suspension of Parliament’s laws. More importantly, it limited the right to raise money through taxation to Parliament. Deposed James II flees to Ireland and is defeated at the Battle of the Boyne two years later.
1690 John Locke publishes Essay Concerning Human Understanding, penning the line, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” [Had Locke been alive today he would have thought that we live in total anarchy. With “liberty” he meant sticking to the rules that governed social class mobility and with “happiness” he meant gathering property and riches without being bothered by government. Locke died in 1704 – he never visited the US. Thomas Jefferson would later incorporate Locke’s words in the US Declaration of Independence.]
1694 First of the modern world’s central banks, the Bank of England, incorporated by English Parliament.
1697 Charles Perrault publishes Sleeping Beauty
1698 Thomas Savery invents a steam pump. Germany and the Netherlands adopts the Gregorian calendar.
1600- 1649 | 1650 – 1699
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