17th century

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17th Century

The 17th century was a period from January 1, 1601 to December 31, 1700 in the Gregorian calendar. It falls into the Early Modern period of Europe and in that continent (where it is most commonly associated) was characterized by the Baroque cultural movement, the latter phases of the Thirty Years' War, and the formation of the first true nation-states. The 17th century saw the emergence of modern science, the building of the foundations of modern economics, and the first use of modern manufacturing processes.

Events[edit | edit source]

The 17th century was marked by several significant events that shaped the course of history. The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) devastated much of Europe, particularly the Holy Roman Empire including modern-day Germany, leaving it fragmented. The English Civil War (1642–1651) led to the trial and execution of Charles I of England and the establishment of a brief republican period in England, the Commonwealth of England. The century also witnessed the blossoming of Dutch Golden Age painting and advances in science by figures such as Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton.

Science and Technology[edit | edit source]

The 17th century is considered the start of the Age of Enlightenment, with the rise of scientists such as Isaac Newton who formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation, and Galileo Galilei who improved the telescope and made significant astronomical observations. These developments challenged traditional geocentric models of the universe and laid the groundwork for modern physics and astronomy.

Economics[edit | edit source]

This century also saw significant developments in the global economy. The establishment of the Dutch East India Company and the British East India Company led to the expansion of colonial empires and trade networks between Europe, Asia, and the Americas. This period marked the beginning of global capitalism and a shift towards modern economic systems.

Culture[edit | edit source]

The Baroque period dominated the 17th century in terms of culture, art, and architecture. Characterized by its dramatic use of light and shadow, as well as its ornate detail, Baroque art and architecture reflected the tensions of the age, as well as the wealth and power of the Catholic Church and the aristocracy. Notable figures include Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Johann Sebastian Bach.

Politics[edit | edit source]

The concept of the sovereign state emerged in the 17th century, influenced by the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which ended the Thirty Years' War. This treaty is often cited as the beginning of the modern international system, where the sovereignty of states and the principle of non-interference in their internal affairs became key elements of international law.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

The 17th century was a period of profound change and development. It laid the foundations for many aspects of the modern world, from the sciences and economics to politics and culture. Its legacy is seen in the rise of the nation-state, the spread of capitalism, and the shift towards modern scientific thinking.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD