You are here: / Education / World History / 17th century

17th century

Dutch Golden Age 1588-1702

The Dutch Golden Age was a period in Dutch history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first half is characterized by the Eighty Years’ War till 1648. The Golden Age went on in peace time during the Dutch Republic until the end of the century. De Gouden Eeuw, Music: Ernst Stolz and Most paintings: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

250px-Académie_des_Sciences_1671Louis XIV visiting the Académie des sciences in 1671. “It is widely accepted that ‘modern science‘ arose in the Europe of the 17th century, introducing a new understanding of the natural world.” —Peter Barrett

The 17th century was the century that lasted from January 1, 1601, to December 31, 1700, in the Gregorian calendar. The 17th century falls into the Early Modern period of Europe and in that continent was characterized by the Dutch Golden Age, the Baroque cultural movement, the French Grand Siècle dominated by Louis XIV, the Scientific Revolution, and The General Crisis. This last is characterised in Europe most notably by the Thirty Years’ War,[1] the Great Turkish War, the end of the Dutch Revolt, the disintegration of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the English Civil War.

200px-Tokugawa_Ieyasu2Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu is the founder of Japan’s last shogunate, which lasted well into the 19th century

Some historians extend the scope of the General Crisis to encompass the globe, as with the demographic collapse of the Ming Dynasty, China lost approximately 30% of its population. It was during this period also that European colonization of the Americas began in earnest, including the exploitation of the fabulously wealthy silver deposits of Potosí in Upper Peruand Mexico, which resulted in great bouts of inflation as wealth was drawn into Europe from the rest of the world.

In the midst of this global General Crisis, there were victory and triumph: In the Near East, the OttomanSafavid Persian and Mughal empires grew in strength and the Sikhs began to rise to power in the Punjab. Farther east in Japan, Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Edo period at the beginning of the century, starting the isolationist Sakoku policy that was to last until the 19th century. In China, the collapsing Ming Dynasty was challenged by a series of conquests led by the Manchu warlord Nurhaci, which were consolidated by his son Hong Taiji and finally consummated by his grandson, the Shunzi Emperor, founder of the Qing Dynasty.

200px-Hendrick_Avercamp_-_A_Scene_on_the_Ice_-_WGA01076A scene on the ice, Dutch Republic, first half of 17th century

European politics during the Crisis were dominated by the France of Louis XIV, where royal power was solidified domestically in the civil war of theFronde, in which the semi-feudal territorial French nobility was weakened and subjugated to the power of an absolute monarchy through the reinvention of the Palace of Versailles from a hunting lodge to a gilded prison in which a greatly expanded royal court could be more easily kept under surveillance. With domestic peace assured, Louis XIV caused the borders of France to be expanded to include, among other regions, RoussillonArtoisDunkirk,Franche-ComtéStrasbourgAlsace and Lorraine. It was during this century that England‘s political system became unique in Europe – by the end of the century, the monarch was a symbolic figurehead and Parliament was the dominant force in government – a stark contrast to the rest of Europe, in particular Louis XIV‘s France.

By the end of the century, Europeans were also aware of logarithms, electricity, the telescope and microscopecalculusuniversal gravitation,Newton’s Laws of Motionair pressure and calculating machines due to the work of the first scientists of the Scientific Revolution, including Galileo Galilei,Johannes KeplerRené DescartesPierre FermatBlaise PascalRobert BoyleChristiaan HuygensAntonie van LeeuwenhoekRobert HookeIsaac Newton, and Gottfried Leibniz, among other luminaries.

200px-Rolka_Mechti_Kuli_BegEvents – 1600’s


Jan Pieterszoon Coen (8 January 1587 – 21 September 1629), the founder of Batavia, was an officer of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in the early seventeenth century, holding two terms as its Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.








Giles Cory was pressed to death during the Salem witch trials in the 1690’s


PureHistory ℗ is your source to learn about the broad and beautiful spectrum of our shared History.