Timeline of the 17th century

Timeline of major events in the 17th century 

1606 Jamestown, Virginia, established-first permanent English colony on American mainland. Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, saves life of John Smith.

1609 Johannes Kepler publishes his Laws of Planetary Motion which explained the movement of planets around the sun.

1610 Galileo Galilei sees the moons of Jupiter through his telescope. Galileo also showed the Copernican system in which the planets circle the sun was correct.

1611 King James Version of the Bible published in England.

1616 William Shakespeare dies.

1618 Start of the Thirty Years’ War – Protestants revolt against Catholic oppression; Denmark, Sweden, and France invade Germany in later phases of war. Johannes Kepler proposes last of three laws of planetary motion.

1619 The first African slaves are brought to Jamestown.
(Slavery is made legal in 1650.)

1620 Pilgrims from England arrive at Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the Mayflower.

1626 Peter Minuit buys Manhattan island for the Dutch from Man-a-hat-a Indians for goods worth $24. The island is renamed New Amsterdam.

1630 Boston is founded by Massachusetts colonists led by John Winthrop.

1631 The Taj Mahal is built in India (1631 – 1653)

1633 The Spanish Inquisition forces Galileo Galilei to recant his belief in Copernican theory.

1642 English Civil War. Cavaliers, supporters of Charles I, against Roundheads, parliamentary forces. Oliver Cromwell defeats Royalists (1646). Parliament demands reforms. Charles I offers concessions, brought to trial (1648), beheaded (1649). Cromwell becomes Lord Protector (1653). Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn paints his Night Watch.

1644 End of Ming Dynasty in China-Manchus come to power. René Descartes’s Principles of Philosophy.

1648 End of the Thirty Years’ War. German population about half of what it was in 1618 because of war and pestilence.

1658 Oliver Cromwell dies; son Richard resigns and Puritan government collapses.

1660 English Parliament calls for the restoration of the monarchy; invites Charles II to return from France.

1661 Charles II is crowned King of England. Louis XIV begins personal rule as absolute monarch; starts to build Versailles.

1664 Isaac Newton’s experiments with gravity. The English seize New Amsterdam from the Dutch. The city is renamed New York.

1665 Great Plague in London kills 75,000.

1699 French settlers move into Mississippi and Louisiana.


Soldier Rankings

Below are the rankings of soldiers in the English Civil War.

Colonels (BELVILE)
Captain (WILLMORE) Moretta refers to Willmore as a corporal which is below his rank.  This can be seen as an insult or represent his waning physical and professional state.
Veteran soldiers
Common rank

This reading describes in detail the duties of each officer.

An educational worksheet describing some of the jobs on the battlefields during the English Civil War.  http://www.battlefieldstrust.com/brentfordandturnhamgreen/education/downloads/Soldiers-Worksheet.pdf




Male Drunkenness

Many of the men in “The Rover” are constantly inebriated, especially the cavaliers.  This article describes the derivation of the popular manly pastime of drinking.  Originally, drunkenness was seen as unmanly because it altered men’s consciousness which separated them from animals.  Yet drinking games began to associate getting drunk with the manly ideals of gambling, socialization and sexuality.  These games made public inebriation socially acceptable for lower, middle and sometime upper class men.



In the 17th century sex was strongly discouraged outside of wedlock.  Yet, casual sex began to arise with the commonality of prostitutes and courtesans.  It was not uncommon for men, especially soldiers, to have sex with many women while abroad.

Pornography and Sexual desires in 17th century England

Primary sources detailing opinions and reflections on sexual experiences by women in the 17th century.

Religion in the 17th Century

The 17th century began a rise in conflict over Religion especially in England.  People were expected to belong to the Church of England, yet there were a great amount of Roman Catholics too.  Those who did not below to the Church were severely frowned upon including Roman Catholics, Jews and Gypsies.  England was primarily Anglican during this time, Spain was primarily Roman Catholic and Italy was primarily Roman Catholic.

To learn more about religion in the 17th century refer to the links below:

Overview of religion in 17th century England

Roman Catholic Beliefs

Anglican Beliefs

Primary sources that represent women’s view on religion and its importance to their lives.  17th-century-religion-and-women

Carnival Masks

“Universal madness… the women, men, and persons of all conditions disguising themselves in antique dresses with extravagant musique and a thousand gambols.” – John Evelyn

Carnival festivities in Italy were widely renowned and were directed at foreigners as well as the locals. It provided the opportunity for men and women to come together without the need to discuss serious matters, though trade often did occur. In order to fully invest in the free and anonymous spirit of Carnival, all partakers donned a mask.

Many Venetians would dress up as their favorite stock characters from commedia dell’arte including:

(1) Mattacino – all white except for red shoes/laces, feathered hat

(2) Pantalone – the emblem of Venice; red waistcoat and black cloak

(3) Arlecchino – multicolored costume

(4) Pulcinella – likely the most popular mask, originating from Naples; dressed with large white trousers and large shirt

(1) image    (2) pantalonew1

(3) cdcarlplate3  (4) imgres


Besides the commedia dell’arte masks, the most popular form of costume was the bauta – silk or velvet the covered the head and shoulders with a three-cornered hat worn on top; the face was then covered by a half-mask or a beak-like mask known as larva.venetian_masks__la_bauta_by_fabula_docet

In addition to these, some individuals wore other styles of masks including some which were meant to be held between the teeth, preventing speech. In general, men tended to wear white masks and women wore black.

Carnival masking traditions were taken quite seriously by the population and even if the mask did not fully disguise the masked individual, their identity was never to be revealed.

Additional reading including more information about commedia dell’arte characters replicated during Carnival:



The World in 1650

The 17th century in Europe is divided into two subsections: Reformation, Restoration and Enlightenment.  At the beginning of the century, wars broke out both civilly and internationally with aims to change monarchical power as well as religious and social reform.  The Enlightenment sparked creative, technological and political innovations in light of new social and political reform.

1 age of growing religious conflict ca. 1500-1618
2 Thirty Years’ War ca. 1618-1648
3 Early Enlightenment ca. 1648-1715
4 Late Enlightenment ca. 1715-1800
5 English Revolution ca. 1640-60
6 French Revolution ca. 1789-99

To find out more refer to these short articles and timelines of Early Modern Europe (Reformation and Enlightenment):



In England…

Prostitution in England during the 17th century was most popular in port cities and more densely populated metropolises. It is thought that as many as 63,000 prostitutes worked in London in the 1700s, meaning that 1 in 5 women were “harlots.” With such large numbers, these London prostitutes were able to generate an enormous amount of profit each year, with an average gross annual profit of approximately £20 million, or £1.5 billion today.

England in particular attracted prostitutes of various nationalities from all across Europe. The Venetians, however, were considered too expensive for most sailors and were typically only patronized by aristocrats and members of the royal court.

Additional reading:



A story in painting’s of one man’s descent into debauchery (painted in 1733): http://www.soane.org/collections-research/key-stories/rakes-progress

In Italy…

“Italian courtesans knew freedom like no other prostitutes of the Renaissance period.” – Hayley Virgil

Italian prostitutes in this period had the unique opportunity to educate themselves freely, while other more “honorable” women were confined to convents if they wished to pursue an education. Courtesans were able to maintain a sense of security and stability similar to those of married women at the time, while still free to explore their sexuality without being attached to a single man. These women were widely considered to be the most educated and cultured women of their time and they were known for holding philosophical conversations and discussing poetry with their clientele, in addition to their sexual services. These women, in some cases, were even able to affect politics through their conversations with powerful and politically connected men.

Unlike many other European nations, Italy permitted and even defended prostitution for far longer. In 1358, the Great Council of Venice declared prostitution to be “absolutely indispensable to the world.” Additionally, government-funded brothels were established in major Italian cities throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. It was not until 1586 that Pope Sixtus V finally spoke out against prostitution, calling for all women engaged in prostitution to be put to death. There exists, however, no evidence that this was ever carried out in the Catholic nations of Europe.

Another restriction was set upon prostitutions following the failure of Pope Sixtus’ decree. The clothing that prostitutes were allowed to wear became increasingly limited, preventing them from wearing finer items such as silks, lace, and pearls. Some cities went as far as to force prostitutes to identify themselves with a specific article of clothing, such as a black cloak, a yellow scarf, gloves, or even bells on their hats.

Women in Italy in the 17th century were typically categorized in one of two ways: “honorable” or “indecent” before they could be wed. It was prostitutes masked during Carnival time, however, that began to blur this line.

Additional reading:



In Spain…

Similar to Italy, almost every large city or town in Spain had official established brothels by the 16th century, ranging from single buildings to vast complexes on the verge of becoming their own ghettos. Some municipal governments would even regulate prostitute fees, and send doctors to call on the brothels on a regular basis. Prostitution continued to be tolerated until the reign on King Philip IV. In 1623 the king issued a decree closing all brothels, forcing women out onto the street. It was not until the reign of Isabel II several hundred years later that more moderate regulations were introduced in place of the outright ban.

Additional reading:


Beyond The Bedroom: The Surprising History Of Prostitution Around The World