15-18th century Europe

Includes info on Spain, Austria, Russia, France, and England. Includes major wars (layer 1) religious events (layer 2) and important exploration events (layer 3)


Hundred Year's war

1337 - 1453

Hundred Years’ War, an intermittent struggle between England and France in the 14th–15th century over a series of disputes, including the question of the legitimate succession to the French crown. The struggle involved several generations of English and French claimants to the crown and actually occupied a period of more than 100 years. By convention it is said to have started in 1337 and ended in 1453, but there had been periodic fighting over the question of English fiefs in France going back to the 12th century.

War of roses

1455 - 1487

Wars of the Roses, (1455–85), in English history, the series of dynastic civil wars whose violence and civil strife preceded the strong government of the Tudors. Fought between the Houses of Lancaster and York for the English throne, the wars were named many years afterward from the supposed badges of the contending parties: the white rose of York and the red of Lancaster.

Schmalkaldic Wars

1546 - 1555

The Schmalkaldic War (German: Schmalkaldischer Krieg) refers to the period of violence from 1546 until 1547 between the armies of Charles V and the Schmalkaldic League within the realms of the Holy Roman Empire. The Schmalkaldic League was a defensive alliance of Lutheran princes within the Holy Roman Empire during the mid-16th century. starting for religious reasons at the Protestant Reformation, its members eventually wanted to substitute the Holy Roman Empire as a political allegiance. It was a militarily powerful alliance to confront Charles V and defend their political and religious interests.The war began when the Duke of Albertine Saxony, Maurice, invaded the lands of his rival and stepbrother in Ernestine Saxony, John Frederick, for political reasons. Both rulers were Protestant. John Frederick, as co-founder of the Schmalkaldic League, received the support of its allies against the Catholics, allied to Charles V. Ernestine Saxony was swiftly liberated by the army of John Frederick. He later occupied Albertine Saxony and Bohemia. Without the expected military support of the Protestants of Bohemia, Charles V forced John Frederick to retreat. Strategies divergences caused the defeat of the League's defenses on 24 April 1547, at the Battle of Mühlberg, where John Frederick was taken prisoner.

French Wars of Religion

1562 - 1598

Wars of Religion, (1562–98) conflicts in France between Protestants and Roman Catholics. The spread of French Calvinism persuaded the French ruler Catherine de Médicis to show more tolerance for the Huguenots, which angered the powerful Roman Catholic Guise family. Its partisans massacred a Huguenot congregation at Vassy (1562), causing an uprising in the provinces. Many inconclusive skirmishes followed, and compromises were reached in 1563, 1568, and 1570. After the murder of the Huguenot leader Gaspard II de Coligny in the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day (1572), the civil war resumed. A peace compromise in 1576 allowed the Huguenots freedom of worship. An uneasy peace existed until 1584, when the Huguenot leader Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV) became heir to the French throne. This led to the War of the Three Henrys and later brought Spain to the aid the Roman Catholics. The wars ended with Henry’s embrace of Roman Catholicism and the religious toleration of the Huguenots guaranteed by the Edict of Nantes (1598).

Spanish Religious Wars (Dutch Revolt)

1568 - 1648

The revolt of the Netherlands against Spanish rule, also known as the Eighty Years' War, is traditionally said to have begun in June 1568, when the Spanish executed Counts Egmont and Horne in Brussels. The tensions that led to open revolt, however, had much earlier origins. The revolt itself is best viewed as a series of related uprisings and wars that, taken together, constitute the Dutch Revolt. The eventual outcome of the revolt was decided for the most part by 1609, when the combatants agreed to the Twelve Years' Truce, but the war between the United Provinces of the Netherlands (Dutch Republic) and the Kingdom of Spain did not officially come to an end until both parties agreed to the Peace of Münster, which was part of the Peace of Westphalia, in 1648.

30 Years' War

1618 - 1648

The Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) began when Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II of Bohemia attempted to curtail the religious activities of his subjects, sparking rebellion among Protestants. The war came to involve the major powers of Europe, with Sweden, France, Spain and Austria all waging campaigns primarily on German soil. Known in part for the atrocities committed by mercenary soldiers, the war ended with a series of treaties that made up the Peace of Westphalia. The fallout reshaped the religious and political map of central Europe, setting the stage for the old centralized Roman Catholic empire to give way to a community of sovereign states.

English Civil War

1642 - 1651

Fought 1642-1651, the English Civil War saw King Charles I battle Parliament for control of the English government. The war began as a result of a conflict over the power of the monarchy and the rights of Parliament. During the early phases of the war, the Parliamentarians expected to retain Charles as king, but with expanded powers for Parliament. Though the Royalists won early victories, the Parliamentarians ultimately triumphed. As the conflict progressed, Charles was executed and a republic formed. Known as the the Commonwealth of England, this state later became the Protectorate under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell. Though Charles II was invited to take the throne in 1660, Parliament's victory established the precedent that the monarch could not rule without the consent of Parliament and placed the nation on the path towards a formal parliamentary monarchy.

Louis XIV's Dutch Wars #1

1672 - 1678

The war of 1672–78 was the first of the great wars of Louis XIV of France. It was fought to end Dutch competition with French trade and to extend Louis XIV's empire. Having obtained the support of Charles II of England by the secret Treaty of Dover (1670) and allied himself with Sweden and several German states, Louis overran the southern provinces of the Netherlands (May, 1672). The Dutch stopped his advance on Amsterdam by opening the dikes; about the same time, under the command of De Ruyter, the Dutch defeated the English and French fleets at Southwold Bay. When Dutch peace proposals made at this juncture were spurned by the French, a revolution broke out, and William of Orange (later William III of England) took over Dutch leadership from the ill-fated Jan de Witt (July, 1672). William's attempt to divide the French lines and enter France was countered by the French seizure of Maastricht (1673). By the end of the year the French were forced to retreat, and Spain, the Holy Roman emperor, Brandenburg, Denmark, and other powers entered the war on the side of the Dutch. In 1674, England made peace with the Dutch. Nevertheless, the military situation changed in favor of France. In 1674, Louis II de Condé (see Command) won the battle of Seneff, while Turenne (see Command) was victorious at Sinzheim. The defeats Créquy suffered in 1675 were balanced by the successful naval campaign of Abraham Duquesne in 1676, and in 1677 the French defeated William at Cassel and took Freiburg. Peace was negotiated at Nijmegen in 1678. Maastricht was ceded to the Dutch and a trade treaty modified the French restrictive tariffs in favor of the Dutch. By a subsequent treaty with Spain, Louis received Franche-Comté and a chain of border fortresses in return for evacuating the Spanish Netherlands. By a treaty with the Holy Roman emperor (1679), France was confirmed in possession of Freiburg and a part of Lorraine.

Nine year's war

1688 - 1697

War of the Grand Alliance, also called War of the League of Augsburg, (1689–97), the third major war of Louis XIV of France, in which his expansionist plans were blocked by an alliance led by England, the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and the Austrian Habsburgs. The deeper issue underlying the war was the balance of power between the rival Bourbon and Habsburg dynasties. There was general uncertainty in Europe over the succession to the Spanish throne because that country’s Habsburg ruler, the epileptic and partly insane king Charles II, was unable to produce heirs. Upon Charles’s anticipated demise, the inheritance would have to be through the female line, and through marriage alliances the Bourbons of France could justly contest for the succession with the Austrian Habsburgs, headed by the Holy Roman emperor Leopold I. The aggressive foreign policy Louis displayed in the War of the Grand Alliance was thus a form of jockeying for position in anticipation of the death of the last male heir of the Spanish Habsburg line.

War of Austrian Succession

1700 - 1748

War of the Austrian Succession, (1740–48), a conglomeration of related wars, two of which developed directly from the death of Charles VI, Holy Roman emperor and head of the Austrian branch of the house of Habsburg, on Oct. 20, 1740.

In the war for the Austrian succession itself, France unsuccessfully supported the dubious claims of Bavaria, Saxony, and Spain to parts of the Habsburg domain and supported the claim of Charles Albert, elector of Bavaria, to the imperial crown, all with the overall aim of crippling or destroying Austria, France’s long-standing continental enemy.

War of Spanish Succession

1701 - 1714

The War of the Spanish Succession broke out when the Spanish king Charles II died without an heir. ... The War of the Spanish Succession took place in 1701-14 after a dispute occurred over the succession to the throne of Spain following the death of the childless Charles II.

7 Years War

1756 - 1763

The Seven Years’ War essentially comprised two struggles. One centered on the maritime and colonial conflict between Britain and its Bourbon enemies, France and Spain; the second, on the conflict between Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia and his opponents: Austria, France, Russia, and Sweden. Two other less prominent struggles were also worthy of note. As an ally of Frederick, George II of Britain, as elector of Hanover, resisted French attacks in Germany, initially only with Hanoverian and Hessian troops but from 1758 with the assistance of British forces also. In 1762, Spain, with French support, attacked Britain’s ally Portugal, but, after initial checks, the Portuguese, thanks to British assistance, managed to resist successfully.

French Revolution

1789 - 1799

A watershed event in modern European history, the French Revolution began in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s with the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte. During this period, French citizens razed and redesigned their country’s political landscape, uprooting centuries-old institutions such as absolute monarchy and the feudal system. Like the American Revolution before it, the French Revolution was influenced by Enlightenment ideals, particularly the concepts of popular sovereignty and inalienable rights. Although it failed to achieve all of its goals and at times degenerated into a chaotic bloodbath, the movement played a critical role in shaping modern nations by showing the world the power inherent in the will of the people.

Religious events

The renaissance

1300 - 1700

The Italian Renaissance followed on the heels of the Middle Ages, and was spawned by the birth of the philosophy of humanism, which emphasized the importance of individual achievement in a wide range of fields. ... Though it eventually spread through Europe, the Renaissance began in the great city-states of Italy.

End of the Great Schism

1414 - 1417

The Council of Constance seeks to end the Great Schism, the embarrassment of having two or three popes competing for authority and power. This same council burns Czech priest John Hus as a heretic and condemns John Wycliffe posthumously.

Death of Joan of Arc


French peasant woman Joan of Arc is burned at Rouen as a witch.

Birth of the Printing Press


Johann Gutenburg develops his printing press and prints the first Bible.

Spanish Inquisition started


The Inquisition against heresy in Spain set up by Ferdinand and Isabella with papal approval. Under Torquemada Jews are given 3 months to become Christians or leave the country.

The reformation

1517 - 1648

The Protestant Reformation was the 16th-century religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe, setting in place the structures and beliefs that would define the continent in the modern era.

Nailing of the 95 Theses


Committed to the idea that salvation could be reached through faith and by divine grace only, Luther vigorously objected to the corrupt practice of selling indulgences. Acting on this belief, he wrote the “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” also known as “The 95 Theses,” a list of questions and propositions for debate. Popular legend has it that on October 31, 1517 Luther defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. The reality was probably not so dramatic; Luther more likely hung the document on the door of the church matter-of-factly to announce the ensuing academic discussion around it that he was organizing.

The Enlightenment

1685 - 1815

European politics, philosophy, science and communications were radically reoriented during the course of the “long 18th century” (1685-1815) as part of a movement referred to by its participants as the Age of Reason, or simply the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers in Britain, in France and throughout Europe questioned traditional authority and embraced the notion that humanity could be improved through rational change. The Enlightenment produced numerous books, essays, inventions, scientific discoveries, laws, wars and revolutions. The American and French Revolutions were directly inspired by Enlightenment ideals and respectively marked the peak of its influence and the beginning of its decline. The Enlightenment ultimately gave way to 19th-century Romanticism.


Christopher Columbus lands in the Caribbean.

October 12, 1492

Inspired by Portugal's early success in navigation, Spain finances Christopher Columbus' voyage to find a western trade route to Asia. Columbus lands in the Caribbean in 1492, convinced he has reached East Asia. His voyage opens the Americas to later European explorers.

John Cabot lands on the east coast of North America.

June 24, 1497

Hoping to find a northwest passage to Asia, explorer John Cabot sets out on a voyage from England. When he lands on the east coast of North America, he claims the land in the name of King Henry VII, mistakenly believing he is in Asia.

Hernan Cortés lands in Mexico.

February 1519

Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernan Cortés lands on the coast of Mexico with 600 men, 16 horses, and a few cannons. While the Spaniards are vastly outnumbered by the Aztecs, they capture and demolish the capital city of Tenochtitlán in a brutal assault in 1521. Their actions inspire other conquistadors to conquer regions in the Americas.

Francisco Pizarro executes the last Inca emperor.

August 29, 1533

Inspired by the success of Cortés in Mexico, Francisco Pizarro arrives in Peru in 1532. He capitalizes on the unrest in the Incan empire and quickly captures the Inca emperor, whom he executes in 1533. The Spanish spread across Ecuador and Chile, adding much of South America to Spain's empire.

Martin Frobisher sights land in North America.

July 28, 1576

Determined to find the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic Ocean and Asia, English explorer Martin Frobisher sets sail for North America. In 1576 he sights the coast of what is now Labrador, Canada. Despite three voyages, Frobisher is unsuccessful in finding the Northwest Passage.
December 31, 1600

Samuel De Champlain creates french trading post


During 1608, Samuel de Champlain made his way back to Canada. The plan was to establish a fur trading post. After looking over the St. Lawrence River region, he settled upon a spot along the area. He decided to name the trading post Quebec. It would quickly establish itself as the first permanent settlement for New France. It was also during this time that Champlain would wage his first significant battle against the Iroquois. This conflict would begin a hostile relationship between colonists and natives that would last for over a century.