History of the 17th-Century West
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The history of the 17th-century West is part of the Early Modern period of Europe, whose impact on the world was increasing. It was characterized by the culture of the Baroque, the Spanish Golden Age, and the Dutch Golden Age. France’s Grand Siècle was dominated by Louis XIV, as the Scientific Revolution was by Sir Isaac Newton. The global spirit of the age was seen in the Dutch East India Company, which became the world’s first global corporation from its lucrative role in the Dutch takeover of Portugal’s Spice Empire. However, the 17th Century was always in crisis from war: the Thirty Years’ War that killed nearly a third of Europe; the Great Turkish War; the Mughal–Safavid Wars; and the Anglo-Mughal Indian War. With the discovery of the Americas by Colombus, European colonization of the Americas hastened. But Spain’s massive exploitation of the silver deposits of the New World brought inflation and decay to the Spanish court.
The monarchy of France’s Sun King Louis XIV grew stronger as the semi-feudal French nobility weakened and was subjugated to the power of the absolute monarchy. Louis XIV converted the Palace of Versailles from a hunting lodge to a gilded prison, in which the intrigues of the bloated royal court could be observed and manipulated. Then, with domestic peace thus assured, Louis XIV embarked on a campaign to expand the borders of France. In England, the monarch became a figurehead who answered to Parliament, unlike most of European government, especially France. As technology dawned, Europeans became fascinated with logarithms, electricity, the telescope and microscope, calculus, universal gravitation, Newton’s Laws of Motion, and measuring and calculating machines. All of this was due to the Scientific Revolution and its galaxy of talent that included 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. Along with science, the culture of the 17th century flourished in theater, music, visual arts and philosophy.
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Pre-Modern West Index | 17th Century Index | Society: Crises • Population • Revolt • Witchcraft | Culture: Architecture: Baroque | Art: Baroque • Mannerism • Rococo | Literature: Novels | Music | Power: Progression • Thirty Years’ War: Bohemian Phase • Danish Phase • Swedish Phase • Franco-Swedish Phase | Economy: Banking • Commerce • Trade | Austria: Power | Central Europe: Power | England: Culture • Power: Governance | English Civil War: Charles I • Long Parliament | Glorious Revolution: Revolutionary Settlement • Responses | France: Culture: Art • Drama | Power: Progression • Governance • Economy | Iberia: Culture • Power | Italy | Netherlands: Culture • Power: Governance • United Provinces of the Netherlands • Economy | Poland: Power | Prussia: Power | Russia: Society • Power | Scandinavia: Power
Pre-Modern West: Index
17th-Century West: Index
Art of the Baroque
Thirty Years’ War
Thirty Years’ War: Bohemian Phase
Thirty Years’ War: Danish Phase
Thirty Years’ War: Swedish Phase
Thirty Years’ War: Franco-Swedish Phase
Central Europe: Power
English Civil War
English Civil War: Charles I
English Civil War: Long Parliament
England: Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution: Revolutionary Settlement
Glorious Revolution: Responses
United Provinces of the Netherlands