17th Century Facts: Everything About The Early Modern Period | Kidadl


17th Century Facts: Everything About The Early Modern Period

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

The 17th century was a period of political upheavals, catastrophic wars, and even climate change.

It can be categorized by the Early Modern period of Europe, the Dutch and the latter part of the Spanish Golden Ages, the Baroque cultural movement, the Scientific Revolution, and the French Grand Siècle. Major political power shifts were happening in Britain and the new country of America, as well as in France, and across the Ottoman Empire.

We have curated a brief historical list of major inventions, scientists, and the dominant force of European politics.

Fun Facts About The 17th Century

A lot of things we take for granted today originated, or were popularised, in the 17th century. Catherine of Braganza, Charles II’s Portuguese wife, is credited with making tea drinking popular in England among upper-class girls and ladies. Hackney carriages (early forms of taxi) first became available in 1625 at the maypole in the Strand. During the 17th century, a girl and boy could be married when they were as young as 12 and 14 respectively. The concept of a strictly male-dominated, nuclear family began to spread in the 17th century. During this century, the average family in England did not yet have access to piped water, leading them to rarely clean or bathe. These unhygienic conditions and unsanitary lifestyles triggered recurrences of the plague.

And the end of the 17th century marked the worst part of the Little Ice Age in New England. The average temperature was about 32.9 F (0.5 C). It led to intense rainfall, lack of sunshine, increased famines, and lower temperatures, which decreased productive harvests.

The average life expectancy in Great Britain was 35, and life expectancy was under 25 in Virginia, America.

Historical Facts About The 17th Century

At the beginning of the century, Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Tokugawa shogunate, marking the beginning of the Edo period in Japan (Edo being the old word for Tokyo). During the 1630s, the isolationist Sakoku policy began, which lasted until the 19th century.

Meanwhile, in China, the Ming dynasty was challenged by a series of conquests conducted by Manchurian commander Nurhaci.

Great Britain, as we know it today, was formed by annexing Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to England.

It was during the 17th century that European colonization of the Americas continued, including the exploitation of silver deposits, eventually leading to inflation. The history of American literature also began with the arrival of English speakers during colonization.

From 1618-1648, the 30 Years' War engulfed many states, from the Holy Roman Empire throughout the Continent, and proved very destructive.

In the Islamic world, the Ottoman, Mughal, and Safavid empires became powerful. As a result, Mughal architecture, culture, and art became popular in the Indian subcontinent. The plague remained a major event in the Ottoman Empire until the second quarter of the 19th century. However, the empire boasted the largest economy in the world during the sharia reign of Emperor Aurangzeb.

From the middle decades of the 17th century, the Kingdom of France under Louis XIV increasingly dominated European politics, where royal power was consolidated domestically in the Fronde civil war. With domestic peace assured, Louis XIV ordered French invasion, with professional troops expanding France's borders. During this century, the French Parliament acted like the royal court and it turned out to be the dominant force in the government.

17th century facts are fascinating.

17th Century Inventions And Scientists

The 17th century marked major changes in the fields of philosophy and science. The scientific revolution had taken hold by the end of the 17th century, with the evolution and transition of medieval alchemy to the science of chemistry.

Prior to the 17th century, scientists and scientific studies were not truly recognized. However, with the emergence of newly invented machines becoming part of the daily life of people, the first scientists were hailed as pioneers of the emerging scientific revolution.

In 1608, a German-Dutch spectacle maker, Hans Lipperhey, popularly called Lippershey or Johann Lippershey, made history for the invention of the first refracting telescope. A fellow Dutch inventor and engineer, Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel, was credited with the invention of the earliest model of the human-powered submarine in 1620.

Meanwhile, William Oughtred, the English mathematician, invented the slide rule in 1624.

The year 1625 marked the invention of a method for blood transfusion by French physician Jean-Baptiste Denys (though it wasn't put into practice until 1667).

Italian engineer and architect Giovanni Branca invented a steam turbine in 1629.

In 1636, English astronomer and mathematician W. Gascoigne invented the micrometer, but he was later killed in the English Civil War.

Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, was credited with the invention of the adding machine in 1642, the precursor to the calculator. (In 1671, German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz invented another calculating machine.)

In 1643, Evangelista Torricelli, an Italian physicist and mathematician, invented the barometer.

A German scientist, inventor, and politician, Otto von Guericke, invented an air pump in 1650.

Dutch mathematician, astronomer, inventor, and scientist Christian Huygens is credited with the invention of the pendulum clock in 1556.

In 1663, James Gregory, a mathematician and astronomer, invented the first reflecting telescope. Isaac Newton, a mathematician and physicist, also invented a reflecting telescope, in 1668.

The year 1670 was a good one for new food and drink. The first reference to a candy cane was made in this year. This year also marked the creation of Champagne by the French Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon.

Dutch microbiologist Anton Van Leeuwenhoek became the first to view and describe bacteria with a microscope in 1674. In 1675, fellow Dutchman and mathematician, physicist, and astronomer Christian Huygens got the pocket watch patented.

In 1679, French physicist, mathematician, and inventor Denis Papin ​invented the pressure cooker.

Finally, in 1698, the English inventor and engineer Thomas Savery invented a steam pump.

Facts About The 17th Century's Economy

During the 17th century, the status of merchants improved. Since rich landowners held political and royal power and influence, they became nobles. For people from the upper class and the middle class, life became increasingly comfortable with more money, but poor people, who dominated agriculture, saw their daily life mostly remain unchanged.

However, staggering changes transformed the social lives of many British people, especially in London. Increased literacy and social interaction further deepened the already prevalent class distinctions. Commercialization and industrialization influenced available professions in the British Parliament.

Culture In The 17th Century

Innovations in entertainment, in theater, and town planning were prevalent in 17th century Britain and France. Both London and Paris were remodeled and many 17th century additions survive to this day as landmarks.

Shakespeare was still writing plays, and performing them to all strands of society, until his death in 1616.

It became the fashion to wear fitted clothes, such as bodices for women and doublets for men. In royal society during the 17th century, corsets for women were considered a necessity for good posture. Wearing a hat was common for both men and women. And shoes in the 17th century were designed to fit either foot.

With more international travel, in an age of increasing discovery and colonization, new foods, including bananas, pineapples, and chocolate, as well as the first coffee house, also gained popularity among the upper class in England.

Who ruled Britain?

Britain also suffered its own civil war. King Charles I, the second son of King James I, who was the first of the Stuart line, was crowned in 1625. He took over a staunchly Protestant country but outraged many when he married a Catholic French noble, Henrietta Maria, in 1625. Several politicians considered the king to be too easily influenced by the Catholic army. He was also enacting a regime of punishing taxes and religious intolerance.

A new Parliament provided an alternative to an unpopular king, and led to the civil war, which resulted in greater parliamentary powers after the execution of the king. This led to the Interregnum, in which the country was ruled by Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, followed by his son, Richard.

Major 17th Century Events

There was a major series of upheavals to life in the 17th century.

The Gunpowder Plot happened in the early 17th century, in 1605, when a group of Catholic rebels attempted to assassinate James I by blowing up Parliament.

The Great Plague reappeared in the 17th century, and was thought to be wiped out by the Great Fire of London of 1666.

Jamestown, Virginia, became the first permanent British colony in North America. It is also the century in which America separated from Great Britain. Disputes with the mother country over taxation and political representation led to the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), which established the nation's independence.

Why was the 17th century so important?

All these 17th century facts show us that life in the 1600s was often turbulent but paved the way for modern society. Cultural and political revolution, and colonization and expansion, made the world more cosmopolitan and introduced people to new cultures, and a more modern way of living.

Written By
Srija Chanda

<p>An aspiring media professional, Srija is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Mass Communication at St. Xavier's University, Kolkata, after completing her degree in journalism. With experience in PR and social media, she has also honed her leadership skills through her participation in a youth parliament. Srija's interests include devouring books, watching movies, and exploring new places through travel.</p>

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?