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The Enlightenment: Timelines

AP History

‘La Sainte Cène du Patriarche’

La Sainte Cène du Patriarche’ by Jean Huber
Oxford, Voltaire Foundation; the original of which can be seen at the Besterman Centre for the Enlightenment

AP History- Youtube

The Renaissance

1325 – The Renaissance begins in Italy; Muslim culture in Spain reaches its peak.

1331 – Nicaea falls to the Ottomans.

1347-1351 – At least 25 million people die in Europe’s “Black Death” (bubonic plague).  The Plague reaches Genoa from Crimea.

1353 – Boccaccios’s Decameron is written.

1361 – The second wave of the Plague.

1370-1444 – Life of Leonardo Bruni.

1374 – Petrarch dies.

1376-1382 – John Wycliffe, pre-Reformation religious reformer, and followers translate the Bible from Latin into English.

1377-1466 – Life of Filippo Brunelleschi.

1378-1455 – Life of Lorenzo Ghiberti

1386-1466 – Life of Donatello.

1387 – Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is written.

1395-1441 – Life of Jan van Eyck.

1397 – Norway, Denmark and Sweden are united by the Union of Kalmar.  Medici bank is founded.

1397-1475 – Life of Paolo Uccello.

1400 – Chaucer dies.

1404 – The University of Turin is founded.

1406 – Florence conquers Pisa.

1409 – The University of Leipzig is founded.

1412-1431 – Life of Joan of Arc.

1415 – Henry V defeats the French at the Battle of Agincourt.  Jan Hus, Bohemian preacher and follower of Wycliffe, is burned at the stake in Constance as a heretic.

1420 – Brunelleschi begins work on the Duomo in Florence.

1434 – Cosimo de Medici begins his 30-year domination of Florence.

1435-1488 – Life of Andrea del Verrocchio.

1442 – Naples and Sicily come under the rule of the Spanish House of Aragon.

1444-1510 – Life of Sandro Botticelli.

1444-1514 – Life of Donato Bramante.

1447 – The Vatican Library is founded.

1450 – Gutenberg invents the moveable printing press; Florence becomes the center of Renaissance arts and learning under the Medicis; Francesco Sforza conquers Milan.

1452-1519 – Life of Leonardo da Vinci.

1453 – Constantinople falls to the Turks, under Mehmed II, ending the Byzantine Empire and beginning the Ottoman Empire.

1455 – The Wars of the Roses, civil wars between rival noble factions, begin in England (to 1485).  Johann Gutenberg completes first printed Bible.

1456 – Ottoman Turks capture Athens.

1462 – The Platonic Academy is founded. 

1463 – Venice begins a 16-year war with the Turks.

1469-1522 – Life of Nicolo Machiavelli

1471 – The University of Genoa is founded

1473-1543 – Life of Nicolaus  Copernicus.

1475-1564 – Life of Michelangelo Buonarroti.

1479 – Venice is defeated by the Turks.

1483-1520 – Life of Raphael.

1488-1576 – Life of Titian.

1494 – Charles VIII invades Italy; Medici is driven from Florence.

1494-1534 – Life of Corregio.

1497 – Michelangelo sculpts the Bacchus.

1503-1566 – Life of Nostradamus.

1503 – Leonardo da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa.

1504 – Spain conquers the Kingdom of Naples.  Michelangelo sculpts the David.

1506-1626 – St. Peter’s Church in Rome is constructed, designed and decorated by such artists and architects as Bramante, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Raphael, and Bernini.

1509 – Michelangelo paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  Erasmus’ Praise of Folly is written.

1512 – Medici power is restored in Florence.

1513 – Machiavelli writes The Prince.

1515 – Sir Thomas More writes Utopia.

1527 – Troops of the Holy Roman Empire attack Rome, imprison Pope Clement VII, ending the Italian Renaissance.  Castiglione writes The Courtier.  The Medici family is expelled from Florence.

1530 – Medici is restored.

1532 – Machiavelli’s The Prince is published posthumously.

1536 – Michelangelo completes his Last Judgment.  Guicciardini writes The History of Italy.

1548 – The University of Messina is founded.

1558 – The Renaissance reaches its height in England: Shakespeare, Marlowe, Spenser.

1580 – Montaigne’s Essays are published.

1587 – Monteverdi composes the First Book of Madrigals.

1605 – Cervantes writes Don Quixote de la Mancha, the first modern novel.

Weinsteiger, Brigitte.  “Historical Timelines: Medieval & Early Modern Europe Timeline.” Pennsylvania State University.

Scientific Revolution

1514 – Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus circulates the Commentariolus.

1543 – Copernicus publishes De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (The Revolutions of the Heavenly Sphere.).  He dies shortly thereafter.

1572 – Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe observes a supernova in the constellation Cassiopeia.  The star appears and then fades, thus challenging the belief in the unchanging nature of the heavens.

1583 – Galileo Galilei discovers by experiment that the oscillations of a swinging pendulum take the same amount of time regardless of their amplitude.

1586 – Galileo publishes work on experiments with the motion of bodies along inclined planes under the influence of gravity.  His experiments allow him to “slow down” gravity’s effect, allowing more accurate measures than experiments with free-falling objects.

1591 – Galileo conducts his famous experiments on gravity.  According to legend, he drops two weights, one ten times heavier than the other, from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  They both hit the ground at nearly the same time, proving wrong Aristotle’s theory that heavier objects fall more quickly than lighter objects.

1596 – German astronomer Johannes Kepler publishes Mysterium Cosmographicum, a mystical interpretation of the Copernican system.

1600 – Kepler becomes Tycho’s assistant in Tycho’s observatory near Prague, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic).

1604 – Kepler and many other astronomers witness the outburst of a supernova in the constellation Serpens.  At its peak, it is as bright as Venus and then fades away over the next year.  It is the last supernova seen in the Milky Way galaxy.

1605 – Francis Bacon publishes The Advancement of Learning, in which he urges collaboration between the inductive and experimental methods of proof, as opposed to Scholasticism’s a priori method.

1609 – Galileo constructs his telescope; over time, he improves the magnification of the telescope from four to thirty times.  Kepler publishes Tycho Brahe’s calculation of the orbit of Mars, revealing his first and second laws of planetary motion.

1610 - Galileo discovers Jupiter’s four largest moons.  The discovery is further proof that the Ptolemaic system is wrong and is published in The Starry Messenger.

1613 – Galileo publishes his work on sunspots, and again, the medieval view that the heavenly bodies are “perfect” and unchanging is challenged.

1619 – Kepler publishes De cometis (On Comets) and Harmoniae mundi (The Harmonies of the World); these contain his third law of planetary motion, which relates the size of the orbit to the time it takes for the planet to orbit the sun.  On November 10, French mathematician Rene Descartes has three dreams that he considers critical inspiration for his work in analytic geometry.

1620 – Francis Bacon publishes the Novum Organum, a milestone in the philosophy of science.  Bacon argues that scientists must communicate their discoveries to each other, even when working in different fields.

1632 – Galileo publishes Dialogue Concerning the Two World Systems, supporting Copernicus’s view that the planets circle the sun.

1633 – Galileo is prosecuted by the Inquisition in Rome and recants his views.

1635 – The Academie Francaise is founded.

1637 – Descartes publishes the Discourse on Method.  Descartes’s work sets out principles of reasoning deductively; that is, from a few first principles to a logical conclusion.

1638 – Galileo publishes Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences.

1642 – Galileo dies.  Isaac Newton is born.

1646 – English scientists including Robert Boyle meet as the Invisible College to discuss natural philosophy.  This secretive body will be superseded by the more open Royal Society.

1655 – Dutch mathematician Christiaan Huygens develops a new method for grinding telescope lenses, making a more powerful telescope, with which he discovers one moon of Saturn an the rings of Saturn.  His findings are published in 1659 in Systema Saturnium.

1659 – Boyle develops an air pump for creating vacuums; confirms Galileo’s view that bodies fall in a vacuum at the same rate, regardless of weight; and discovers that sound does not travel in a vacuum.

1660 – Boyle publishes New Experiments Physico-Mechanical Touching the Spring of the Air, in which he states his laws of gases.  The Royal Society of England is founded; three years later it gets a royal charter to further its mission of improving experimental science and communication among scientists.

1665 – Newton graduates from Cambridge University.

1666 – Newton develops calculus (“fluxions”); this invention was necessary to apply mathematics to the motions of the planets.  Boyle publishes Origin of Form and Qualities; this treatise on chemistry is wrong on several points, but Boyle’s experimental techniques point the way toward the future.

1672 – Newton sends a brief exposition of his theory of colors to the Royal Society in London, which republishes it in the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions, leading to criticism of Newton.

1679 – English scientist Robert Hooke writes Newton suggesting that planets would travel in a straight line except for a constant diversion from this movement around a central point of attraction.  Newton does not reply.  Later, Hooke claims that he was the inspiration for Newton’s theories of gravity and planetary motion.

1687 – Newton publishes Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), setting out his three laws of motion.

1688 – Newton constructs the first reflecting telescope.  This telescope, based on the idea that beams of light are concentrated by a concave mirror, avoids the distortions of color caused by lenses used in refracting telescopes.

1690 – English philosopher John Locke publishes his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which gives philosophical grounding for empirical science.

1704 – Newton publishes Opticks.  He starts with clearly stated axioms, or first principles, and derives a logical argument from these axioms.  He then conducts empirical tests of the conclusions reached by logical argument.

1727 – Isaac Newton dies.  He is buried at Westminster Abbey in London.

Young, Mitchell. “Turning Points in World History: The Scientific Revolution.” Greenhaven Press; New York, 2006.

The Enlightenment

1688 – Glorious Revolution in England: abdication of Catholic monarch James II and accession to the throne by Protestants William and Mary of Orange

1689 – Birth of Charles-Louis de Secondat de Montesquieu

1690 – John Locke’s Two Treatises on Government published

1694 – Birth of Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire

1712 – Birth of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

1713 – Birth of Denis Diderot

1714-1727 – Reign of George I of England

1715 – Death of Louis XIV of France

1715-1774 – Reign of Louis XV of France

1721 – Montesquieu’s Persian Letters published

1727-1760 – Reign of George II of England

1740-1780 – Reign of Maria Theresa of Austria

1740-1786 – Reign of Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia

1748 – Publication of Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws and David Hume’s Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding

1751-1772 – Publication of twenty-eight volumes of the Encyclopedia, edited by Diderot

1755 – Death of Montesquieu

1759 – Voltaire’s Candide published

1760-1820 – Reign of George III of England

1762 – Rousseau’s The Social Contract and Emile published

1762-1769 – Reign of Catherine II (the Great) of Russia

1764 – Publication of Cesare Bonesana Beccaria’s On Crimes and Punishments

1774-1793 – Reign of Louis XVI of France

1776 – American Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution; publication of Adam Smith’s Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

1778 – Death of Rousseau and Voltaire

1780-1790 – Reign of Joseph II of Austria

1781 – Joseph II’s decree emancipating the serfs and his Edict of Toleration for Protestants; Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason published

1782 – Joseph II’s Edict of Toleration for Jews; posthumous publication of first six volumes of Rousseau’s Confessions

1784 – Death of Diderot

1789 – Proclamation in France of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and the French Revolution

1791 – Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man published

1792 – Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman published

Harold Maltz and Miriam Maltz, "Turning Points in World History: The Enlightenment"; New York, 2005.