Timeline of world history




Timeline of world history


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World history


Timeline of world history


Approx. Time

Events & People

3500 BC

The wheel is used in Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq.

3114 BC, August 13

Start of the Mayan calendar. The Mayans had 20 days in their month starting with day 0 and ending with day 19. They understood zero not only as a place holder, but as a true counting number.

3100 BC

Work begins on Stonehenge in England. Some of the stones came from 240 miles away, the Preseli Mountains in southwestern Wales. What possessed the Neolithic people to build such a momument is still unknown.

2900 BC

First Egyptian hieroglyphs

2750 BC

Egyptians build first known dam called the Sadd el-Kafara 37 ft tall, 348 ft wide of rubble masonry filled with 100,000 tons of gravel and stone.

2700 BC

Egyptians create 365 day calendar with new year starting in June.

2575 BC

Work begins on the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt.

2000 BC

Minoan Bronze age culture on Crete develops hieroglyphic script and extensive palace complex at Knossos.

1650-1700 BC

Minoan "Linear A" asyllabic script created - still undeciphered.

1650 BC

Minoan "Linear B" script created.

1450 BC

Minoan culture destroyed perhaps by the Mycenaeans

1200 BC

Invasion of the Sea Peoples destroys Mycenaean civilization. Greece enters a 400 year "Dark Age"; writing was forgotten; cities abandoned. Linear B would not be read again until modern times.

1185 BC

Trojan War.

1130 BC

Iron used for weapons and tools.

1120 BC

Magnetic compass invented

1100 BC

Phoenicians develop alphabetic script

1000 BC

Chinese develop gunpowder by mixing saltpeter, charcoal, and sulfur and grinding carefully

750-700? BC

Homer writes the Iliad and the Odyssey

750-680? BC

Hesiod writes Theogony, ("Birth of the Gods"), which details a version of Greek mythology.

776 BC

Olympic games start in Greece.

775-750 BC

Lycurgus gives laws to the Spartans which included the banning of silver and gold, redistribution of all land, creation of a senate, eating at public mess (so no dainty desire for expensive food would develop), and forbidding all useless occupations.

753 BC

According to legend, Rome is founded by Romulus. Twelve birds circled overhead during the founding ceremonies and legend had it that the city would survive for 12 centuries.

725 BC

Sparta conquers Messenia and forms Helot slavery. Having slaves to do all the tedious work of farming allows the Spartans to spend all their time in military training.

650 BC

Earliest coins appear. Later, Lydian kingdom produces the first true coins with guaranteed quality and weight.

650 BC

Earliest writing in the Americas by the Olmec culture.

621 BC

Draco publishes his harsh laws for Athens. Many crimes punishable by death (hence the term 'Draconian').

600 BC

Anaximander theorizes that humans arose from other species.

594 BC

Wide reaching reforms of Solon in Athens.

585 BC, May 28

Greek philosopher Thales predicts an eclipse.

559 BC

Cyrus the Great becomes king and will lead Persia to form a great empire that will stretch from Egypt to India.

550 BC

The Greek engineer Eupalinos designs a water tunnel 1036 meters long through a solid limestone mountain to bring water to the ancient city of Samos. Work started on both ends and met in the middle, an extraordinary feat of ancient mentioned by Herodotus.

532 BC

Pythagoras starts his school in Croton Greece. He founds a brotherhood which sees the world through numbers.

508 BC

Cleisthenes reforms enacted in Athens. Attica divided into demes.

505 BC

Cleisthenes starts what will become democracy in Athens

500 BC

The concept of the wheel roles into Britain, but not the Americas.

490 BC

Twenty-six miles from Athens on the plain of Marathon, 11,000 Athenians fight 100,000 Persians. If the Greeks lose the battle, the city of Athens will flee to the hills. If the Athenians win the battle at Marathon, the Athenians will stay and try to hold the city against the Persian navy. While the battle rages the Athenians waited for the word, to flee or to fortify. A lone runner, Eucles, runs 26 miles and brings the much awaited news. According to legend, he utters "Nike" (victory) and then dies from exhaustion. 6,400 Persians are killed but only 192 Greeks.

480 BC

Spartan King Leonidas, 300 Spartans, and their allies make a sacrificial last stand at Thermopylae against Xerxes and the Persians. King Xerxes demands the surrender of the Greeks weapons, to which King Leonidas replies, "Molon Labe", or "Come and take them." (See: Texas Independence, "Come and Take It" flag).

479 BC

Athenian navy is victorious over the Persian Navy at battle of Salamis.

479 BC

110,000 Greek hoplites defeat 300,000 Persians at the battle of Plataea. The Persians suffered 257,000 casualties, the Greek only 159.

480 BC

Anaxagoras of Clazomenae arrives in Athens. He taught the philosophy of Ionia to the Athenians sparking the flowering of Western philosophy.

485 BC

Protagoras of Abdera (485-415) is born. He states that truth, goodness, and all other values are relative, depending solely on the person or society.

484-425 BC

Herodotus of Halicarnassus aka, the first Historian. Oddly enough, for being a Historian, we know practically nothing about him. He writes The Histories about the Persian War with Greece creating the genre of historical writing.

460-455 BC

Birth of Thucydides who writes The Peloponnesian War and builds upon Herodotus's work of recording history. Thucydides though, is more direct and rigorous in his writing, leaving out extraneous stories and dubious material. He also omits references to the gods as causing events in human affairs.

480 BC

Second Persian War. The Athenians retreat, and the Persian forces led by Xerxes destroy Athens, but Greek forces win a major naval battle at Salamis.

371 BC

The Theban commander Epaminondas defeats the reigning champs of the Peloponnese, the Spartans, in the Battle of Leuctra. This is the beginning of the end of the Spartans as a Greek superpower.

450 BC

Twelve Tables of Roman law are published.

433 BC

The Parthenon in Athens is completed after 40 years of work. This stunning piece of architecture was the crowning achievement of Pericles.

430 BC

Democritus theorizes that matter is composed of tiny grains that cannot be subdivided. He calls them "atomos".

415 BC

The disastrous Athenian invasion of Sicily. Before his death, Pericles warned the Athenians not to try to expand their empire until the war with Sparta was completed. They knew better and destroyed two fleets trying to win new territory. Although not the final blow in the war with Sparta, this disaster started the decline of Athens.

406 BC

Battle of Arginusae.

404 BC

Sparta finally defeats Athens in the Peloponnesian War with a navy financed by the Persians.

399 BC

Socrates is put on trial. He is arrogant and antagonistic during the proceedings. Had he been more gracious he might have escaped the hemlock. The vote was 281 to 220.

396 BC

Rome defeats the Etruscan city of Veii after 80 years of war and starts the eventual rise of Rome. The Etruscans were skilled engineers and craftsmen. Many of the "Roman" innovations, like their numerals, were really taken from the Etruscans.

371 BC

The Thebans defeat of a Spartan Army at Leucrra. This marks the end of the centuries-old Spartan reputation of being unbeatable.

386 BC

The Gallic Senones tribesmen sack Rome and occupy it for seven months. The Romans never forgot this.

386 BC

Plato starts "The Academy" in Athens.

Battle of Mantinea

Epaminondas leads the Thebans to war against the Spartans again, and wins again. He is killed in the battle. The war between Thebes and Sparta leaves Greece weaken just in time for the upstart Macedonians to enter the stage.

21 July 356 BC

Herostratus burns the temple of Artemis in Ephesus to ground in an attempt to immortalize his name. Alexander the Great was born the same night.

338 BC

Philip of Macedon conquers Greece in the battle of Chaeronea.

336 BC

Aristotle starts "The Lyceum" in Athens .

333 BC

Alexander the Great defeats Persia under Darius at battle of Issus. Alexander was the fourth in a line of great men and scholars: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. Darius escapes and gathers his forces for the next battle.

October 1, 331 BC

Alexander's 35,000 troops fight Darius's 200,000 in the battle of Gaugamela. Darius has leveled the wide plain to allow better use of his chariots and superior numbers. Alexander leads his troops off to the edge of the prepared field. This tatic opens a gap in the Persian lines that Alexander drives into, threatening King Darius himself. In panic Darius flees. Seeing their king depart, some in the Persian army scatter.

332 BC

Alexander the Great conquers Egypt. The Greeks bring coinage into Egypt for the first time.

Summer 326 BC

At the Hyphasis river, Alexander's army refuses to march further into India and he is forced to turn back.

323 BC

Alexander dies near Babylon and is reported to have left kingdom, "to the best". Four of his generals carve up the empire and usher in the Hellenistic period.

310 BC

Greek astronomer Aristarchus of Samos born. He was one of the first to suggest the earth moved about the sun.

287 BC

Strato of Lampsacus (ca. 340-ca. 270 BC) becomes the third head of the Aristotle's school, the Lyceum. Strato correctly theorizes that objects accelerate when falling. He notes this by observing water flows from a roof as a solid stream at first and then breaks into droplets as it is getting faster. Another demonstration is that stones dropped from higher heights have larger craters in sand.

297 BC

The Pharos Lighthouse built by the Ptolemies

279 BC

"One more such victory and we are lost," said the Greek King Pyrrhus after the battle of Asculum in Italy with the Romans.

280 BC

King Pyrrhus of Epirus wins a battle against the Romans, but his casualties are very high.

264-241 BC

First Punic War between Rome and Carthage (called "Punic" from "Phoenician"). Hamilcar Barca commands the army and never loses a major battle. Hamilcar feels betrayed when the politicians of Carthage surrender. He feels they can still win the war. Hamilcar makes his son Hannibal swear an oath to hate Rome.


Alexandrian Librarian Eratosthenes of Cyrene calculates dimensions of the earth to within a 5 percent. After reading that on the summer solstice the sun is directly overhead at Aswan and shines straight down into a well, one the same day of the year, he calculates the angle of a shadow at noon in Alexandria to be 7 degrees. Knowing the distance to Aswan was 5,000 stadia, the circumference must be 360/7 times larger or about 250,000 stadia (25,000 miles).

206 BC

Qin Shi Huang dies - first emperor to unite all of china.

218 BC

Second Punic War - Hannibal Barca crosses the Alps to attack Rome. (Hannibal is praised by Machiavelli for being brutal in visible examples, thereby gaining order in his army, so the amount of true cruelty to his soldiers was less than if he had been softer). Hannibal is wildly successful militarily, but cannot pry the Italian cities away from Rome.

216 BC

Hannibal has one of the greatest military victories at Cannae. About 70,000 men from the Roman forces are killed, only 6,000 of Hannibal's.

202 BC

Hannibal defeated at the battle of Zama by Scipio Africanus.

133 BC

Tiberius Gracchus has Marcus Octavius physically ejected from the Assembly to prevent Octavius from vetoing one of Tiberius's laws. This egregious violation of ancient law and custom starts a series of events that will eventually destroy the Republic. Ironically, Plutarch claimed Marcus Octavius was an ancestor of Emperor Augustus.

87-80 BC

Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla fight over Rome. Sulla makes himself dictator and resigns in 80 BC.

73 BC

Spartacus, a former Roman soldier and gladiator fights against Rome.

44 BC

Julius Caesar assassinated.

52 BC, September

Battle of Alesia - Vercingetorix, leader of the Gauls, retreats to a natural fortress at Alesia. Caesar orders his men to build fortifications all around the fortress so Vercingetorix is trapped inside. Reinforcements for the Gauls start to arrive, and Caesar orders his men to build fortifications on the other side. The Romans are now trapped inside a "donut" with Gauls on the inside and outside. Caesar narrowly wins the battle through a personal charge with his German cavalry.

51 BC

Cleopatra & Ptolemy XII inherit Egypt. Ptolemy was the name of Alexander the Great's general who "inherited" Egypt. Cleopatra was the name of Alexander the Great's sister. Almost three centuries later, the Greek influence in Egypt was still strong.

31 BC

Against all odds, Octavian defeats Antony at battle of Actium. (His soldiers lose heart when Antony leaves the fight to follow Cleopatra who is fleeing the battle).

27 BC

Caesar Augustus made Roman Emperor.

5 BC - 6 AD

Jesus born

1 AD

Unfortunately, since the scholars designing the new calendar didn't have the concept of zero, the new date system is calculated to start at year 1.

Approx. Time

Events & People

1 AD

Unfortunately, since the scholars designing the new calendar didn't have the concept of zero, the new Gregorian calendar is calculated to start at year 1.

9 AD

Battle of Teutoberg Forest - 20,000 Roman soldiers under the command of Publius Quinctilius Varus in Germany are ambushed while in a long convoy line through the Teutoberg Forest. Many years later Emperor Augustus, desperately needing those legions, went around the palace late at night muttering, "Varus, give me back my legions."


Jesus is crucified.


The Romans under Titus destroy Jerusalem, after a long siege; 1.5 million Jews die. The gold taken from the temple finances the Colosseum in Rome.


Claudius Ptolemy devises a framework of Astronomy which will last for 1400 years. He also calculates pi as 3+8/60+30/602 which in decimals is "3.1416666...", not too bad an estimate for the time.


Rome has several consecutive "Good Emperors": Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antonius Pius and Marcus Aurelius .


Roman Emperor Hadrian begins the impressive 73 mile long defensive wall in the north of England to keep out the Picts and other warring tribes.


Beginning of the Classic period for the Maya.


Edict of Milan is issued. Christians are now tolerated in the Roman Empire.


Emperor Julian, "The Apostate," tries to return the Empire back to the Pagan religions.

378. August 9

The Battle of Adrianople (Hadrianopolis) - the beginning of the end of Roman military power. Not waiting for reinforcements becasue he wanted all the glory for himself, Emperor Valens gives the order to his weary men to attack the circled wagons of the Goths. In a surprise to all, the absent Gothic Cavalry happens to return just as the battle is about to begin. The heavy Cavalry routes the light horsemen of the Romans and is victorious over the Roman infantry. Some scholars think this was a historic turning point in the tactics of warfare when the Cavalry gained supremacy over infantry. Others counter that the Roman infantry could have withstood the Cavalry if they had been properly rested, trained, and had a better commander. In either case, the Battle of Adrianople shook the confidence of the Roman Empire. From this point onward the Romans will deal in a defensive manner with the Goths. The Goths were originally glad to be allowed to enter the Empire, but were treated very badly and abused by corrupt Roman administrators. This treatment angered the Goths and they turned against the Romans.


Rome sacked by Visigoths under Alaric

476, September 4

Odovacar, a Germanic chieftain, removes the last western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustus. His name is ironic since Romulus founded Rome and Augustus was its first emperor.


Clovis converts to orthodox Christianity


Justinian's Plague starts and kills 40% of Constantinople by 544 and 25% of Europe south of the Alps. By the Eighth century this bubonic plague disappears mysteriously not to return to Europe until the Fourteenth century.


Persians use windmills to power irrigation pumps.


Mohammad born. Syria, Jerusalem, Egypt, Persia, & N. Africa fall to Muslim armies many decades later.


Muhammad dies.


A vastly superior army of Iranian Sassanians is defeated by determined Arab Muslims in the battle of Qadisiyya.


The beginning of the Mississipian Cahokia culture in America, the most advanced of the plains people. The Cahokia people will build the largest earthen mound structure in North America, Monk's Mound and create an astronomic observatory now known as Woodhenge, and trade from the Great Lakes to the Gulf coast. They decline in 1400, a century before the Europeans arrive.


The earliest poem written in English, Caedmon's Hymn, is composed.


Battle of Tours, Charles Martel stops a Muslim army and the Muslim advance into Western Europe.


Vikings start raiding Ireland.


The "Medieval Warming Period" starts and lasts until 1315 or 1350. The Vikings settle Greenland. English farmers grow grapes for wine. Temperatures rise in Europe and farming does well. The population on Europe swells.


Fall of the Mayan Classic period. Cities deserted all over Mesoamerica.


Gerbert (940-1003) becomes Pope Sylvester II and writes about "Arabic" numerals. Unfortunately the new numbering system doesn't really take hold in Europe until the 14th century. From Paul Gans "It should be noted that the Arabic numerals were neither invented by nor used by the Arabs. They were developed in India by the Hindus around 600 AD." (I dimly remember reading about "counting boards" being used with roman numerals in US Colonial times. Does anyone else remember hearing that?)


An army led by Caliph al-Hakim destroys the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This desecration will be a rallying point for the Crusades to come.


Pope Urban II calls for the First Crusade to protect the Christian pilgrims from attack. In 1099 they succeed.


The Chinese issue the first paper money.


Harold Godwinson wins the Battle of Stamford Bridge and a second battle at Fulford against the Viking invaders of England lead by Harold Hardraada. Harold then marched his weary army to Hastings to meet yet another invader, Duke William of Normandy. Harold Godwinson was defeated, and the period of Norman domination began. William brought with him the French practice of building stone castles. Few stone castles had been in England before, but by only 1100 England had 84.


The Doomsday Book is written for William the Conqueror to detail the wealth and property of England.


The first crusade captures Jerusalem.


Angkor Wat, a huge temple complex, is built in Cambodia.


Second Crusade started by Bernard of Clairveaux after the Christian kingdom of Edessa falls to Muslims.


Oxford University is founded in Oxford England.


The Toltec civilization collapses in Mexico.


The magnetic compass becomes common for ocean going ships.


The Mayan culture revives after it's collapse in 900ad and survives until the 1450s when it falls shortly before the Europeans arrive.


Leonardo Fibonacci publishes "The Book of the Abacus" and revolutionizes mathematics in Europe.


Genghis Khan leads the Mongol armies. 30 to 60 million people are killed in their campaigns building the largest known land empire. It stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Sea.


On the way to the holy land for the Fourth Crusade, the Crusaders get a little confused and take over Constantinople instead.

1215, June 15

King John of England and his nobles sign the Magna Carta.


Genghis Kahn invades Russia.

1241 April 9

The Battle of Liegnitz is fought between Prince Henry and the Mongols commanded by Batu Khan for control of Poland. The Mongols successfully defeated another European army.


Florence Italy mints the florin, the first gold coin in Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire. It is a sign that stability, trade, and wealth are returning to Europe. The florin would remain a popular coin for five centuries.


European sailors now begin to use the magnetic compass.


Marco Polo starts on his alleged trip to China. He returns in 1295 to Venice.

1281, August

After conquering most of Asia, Kublai Khan invades Japan with 4,400 ships and 140,000 soldiers, but a Typhoon, a "Divine wind", (Kamikaze) destroys most of the fleet. 70,000 troops die in the storm - the worst naval disaster in history.


Spectacles for the farsighted are invented in Italy.


Eyeglasses are common in Rome for scholars.


After 1,500 years, the Anasazi of Arizona abandon their cliff dwellings for unknown reasons.


Gunpowder is being used for warfare in England after being introduced to Europe in 1242.


Great Famine of 1315-1317 Torrential rains and cool weather devastate crops in Europe. Millions die. Criminal activity increases. Acts of cannibalism, infanticide, and child abandonment abounds. The Medieval Warming Period is waning.


Pope Clement V moves papacy to Avignon, starting the 70 year "Babylonian Exile" in France.


The Aztec tribe is forced to flee their homeland to a remote island in a lake because they sacrificed a young Colhua princess from the neighboring tribe to their god instead of marrying her to a prince. In their new island home they see an eagle perched on a cactus which the Aztecs, or Mexica as they are called, take for a divine sign that this is their home.


Timur-i Lang (Tamerlane) a Muslim conqueror of Mongol descent, is born. Through a savage campaign, he wins a huge territory in the middle east and Asia. Some think his feats rival Alexander the Great. 17 million people may have died from his conquests.


The Bubonic plague starts in China and moves westward aided by the ease of travel in the Mongol empire. The Mongols laid siege to the port of Kaffa on the Crimean peninsula and catapulted plague corpses into the beseiged city. The Mongol army withdraws, but has succeeded in bringing the plague to Europe.


The Black Plague (aka Bubonic) enters Sicily. Contemporary accounts place the death toll at one third of inhabitants. Vast social changes result. Workers become a scarce commodity, increasing their bargaining power with employers. Farm land reverts back to forests as the number of farmers decrease.


English defeat the French at battle of Crecy.


Using the Welsh longbow, the English devastate the French at Agincourt.


Joan of Arc burned at the stake. She is credited with leading the French in victory over the English. The English had been dominating France since Agincourt. The Welsh Longbow was a major reason. Joan of Arc was helped by artillery that could now damage castle walls.


First documented black African slaves imported into Europe.


The Christian kingdom of Constantinople finally falls to the Muslims. Mahomet II using European artillery mercenaries destroys the walls. This is the first use of a forward observer to direct artillery fire whose crews cannot see their targets. In a sense this is the final fall of the Roman Empire.


German inventor Johann Gutenberg revolutionizes knowledge transfer. He improves or invents three items: the printing press, movable metal type, and an oil-based ink. His first work is the 42-line Bible.


Ivan III finally overthrows the mongol overlords and declares Russia the third Rome; which is why the title 'Czar' sounds so much like 'Ceasar'.


The Chimu civilization in Peru is defeated by the rising power of the Inca. The Chimu started around 1100.


Aztec ruler Ahuitzotl sacrifices 20,000 prisoners to the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli.


Instead of using abbreviated words to indicate addition and subtraction, German mathematician Johann Widmann starts the practice of using the symbols "+" and "-".

1492, October 12

Queen Isabella's advisers correctly state that China could be visited by going West since they knew the earth was round, but that a ship would run out of supplies first since it was so far. Chistopher Columbus uses some creative math and Fortunately for Christopher Columbus the Americas got in the way. He lands in the Bahamas. He dies in 1506 still thinking he had landed in Asia.


Charles VIII invades Italy with new bronze cannons. In only eight hours, the French break through the fortress walls of Monte San Giovanni, which had previously withstood a siege of seven years. The arrival of the mobile cannon greatly reduces the value of fortresses and had wide political impact - mostly increasing the power of kings over their nobles, since nobles could no longer defy the king and hide behind their castle walls.


Captain Vasco da Gama becomes the first European to travel to India via sea.


Portuguese trader Cabral swings to far West in his route to India and accidently discovers Brazil. If Columbus had not been successful eight years earlier, this is when the New World would be discovered.


Vasco Nunez de Balboa is the first European to see the Pacific ocean. Jealous of his fame, members of the Spanish court convince the King that Balboa is guilty of treason. Balboa is beheaded in 1519.


After studying in Italy, Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543) returns to Poland convinced that the earth revolves around the sun. He dedicates his work to his friend Pope Paul III.


An Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, nails his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg; unknowingly initiating the Protestant revolution.


Ferdinand Magellan starts what will be the first circumnavigation of the globe. He is killed in 1521, but 15 of his sailors will continue back to Europe.


Hernando Cortez conquers the Aztec empire by turning its neighbors against it.

1521, May

The Constable of France, Charles de Bourbon, attacks Rome. He is killed early by a crossbow dart, but his army sacks the treasures of ages from the eternal city.

1532, November

Inca ruler Atahuallpa mets Francisco Pizarro. Atahuallpa wanted to impress the Spanish and the Inca by coming to the meeting with 4,000 unarmed men showing that he was so powerful he needed no soldiers to protect the royal personage. The Spanish slaughter the Incas and hold Atahuallpa hostage. With 150 men, Pizarro conquers the Inca empire of six million people. Moral to the story: Don't trust strangers wanting gifts.


John Calvin writes The Institutes of the Christian Religion.


The Little Ice Age strikes Europe. After the Medievel Warming Period, when climate was ideal for raising grains in Europe, temperatures start to fall, and with them the fortunes of many in Europe. Crops fail and many starve and freeze to death.


Earthquake in China kills 830,000.


The Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Tens of thousands of Huguenots (French Protestants) are killed in France.


In Japan two armies meet. The side with guns wins for the first time, yet by mutual agreement, guns are outlawed 100 years later.


Thomas Hariot first writes about an amazing herbal remedy introduced to him by the local peoples of America called tobacco. (It's really the revenge of the indigenous peoples of America - its killed more Europeans than they could have imagined).

1582, October 4

To correct for the drifting of the equinox from March 21, Pope Gregory XIII decrees that the next day would be October 15. Not all countries obey his edict and many disputes arise over interest to be paid, and wages.


Gerardus Mercator publishes his cylindrical projection of the earth.


Philip II's Spanish Armada of 130 ships attack England, but are defeated.

March 20, 1602

United East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie ), or the VOC founded. This was the first multinational joint-stock company, a landmark in economic development. The VOC prospered for centuries, but went bankrupt in 1795 due to corruption and poor management.

1603, Feb 7

Battle at Glenfruin when the MacGregors slaughtered the Colquhouns (my ancestors).


The city of Santa Fe, New Mexico is founded.

1617, Apr 4

John Napier, inventor of logarithms (1614) and Napier's Bones (ivory sticks which foreshadowed the slide rule) dies in Edinburgh.


Johann Kepler finally solves the mystery of the motion of the planets. The early Greeks thought the study of the heavens was the highest calling of mankind and Johann discovered the plan. He stated three laws of planetary motion. His third law states: "The squares of the planets' orbital periods are proportional to the cubes of the semi-major axes of their orbits." I personally think he is one of the most underrated scientist in history.


Pilgrims arrive at Plymouth.


1/4 of Polish Jews are massacred, many move to Jerusalem.


The Edict of Nantes revoked by Louis XIV in France. Many Huguenots are killed and many (like my ancestors) flee France.

1653,Dec 16

Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.


Isaac Newton writes Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy which shows the laws of the heavens are the same as the laws of earth.

1707, October

Four British warships lead by Admiral Shovell run aground on the Scilly Islands off the English coast killing 2000 sailors. This intensifies the search for a solution to "The Longitude Problem". Eventually solved by John Harrison with an accurate clock.


Thomas Newcomen creates the first successful steam engine used to evacuate water from mines.


Jethro Tull perfects the seed drill, which produces eight times more wheat from the sown seed. For his efforts, he is vilified.


Carolus Linneaus creates a taxonomic system for naming species


Scottish chemist Joseph Black discovers carbon dioxide and later the latent heat of fusion.


The American colonies declare themselves independent of Great Britain.

1776, September 6

David Bushnell navigates his primitive submarine, the Turtle, toward a British ship. His attempt at sinking the ship fails, but scares the blockading British ship away.

1777, September 7

A British sharpshooter, Major Patrick Ferguson, has an American officer in his sights, but does not fire, since it would be unprofessional to kill an unsuspecting officer. The officer is later revealed to be George Washington.

1778, January 18

James Cook is the first European to travel to Hawaii.

1781, October 19

General Cornwallis surrenders to the colonists in American while the band plays "The World Turned Upside Down". 25,000 Americans died in the war.

1783, November 21

First manned hot air balloon flight in Paris by Jean Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis D'Arlands.


Sir William Jones, Chief Justice of India, proposes that Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and many European languages were all descended from a common Proto-Indo-European language.

1789, July 14

The French Revolution begins with the storming of the Bastille to free prisoners. Oddly enough the Bastille was empty of any real prisoners.

1791, November 4

Miami Chief 'Little Turtle' inflicts the worst defeat by Native Americans on the US Army under the command of Arthur St. Clair, ninth President of the Continental Congress in the Battle of Wabash. Six hundred soldiers are killed, one-quarter of the US Army.


Based on traveling thouands of miles in England, John McAdam invents a new way to create roads by using crushed stones and gravel to remove water quickly from the roadbed. His improvement allows for faster travel and more trade in England.


The Metric system of measurement was introduced into France.


Thomas Malthus publishes An Essay on the Principle of Population claiming starvation was inevitable for the human race. Oddly enough, 200 years later the world is better feed than ever, but many still believe him.


Joseph-Marie Jacquard invents a loom that uses punched cards to create designs in fabric. Workers fearful for their jobs threw their sabots, or shoes, into the machines to destroy them; giving rise to our word 'sabotage'.


Napoleon is crowned Emperor of France.


Napoleon's navy defeated at the Battle of Trafalgar by Nelson.

1805, April 27

William Eaton leads the first American overseas miltary action on land. Against enormous odds, the Marines and mercenaries take the city of Derna, Tripoli.

1812, June 24

Napoleon takes Moscow, but its a hallow victory. The city is burned to the ground and the Tsar does not surrender. Napoleon and whats left of the Grand Armee retreat.


The Battle of Trafalgar. The British fleet under the command of Horatio Nelson defeats a combined Spanish-French Fleet. AGAMEMNON was the name of one of his ships (see Babylon5).


During the War of 1812, the British under the command of General Robert Ross attack Washington DC and burned the White House, but not before enjoying a lovely dinner prepared by Dolly Madison before she fled.

1815, June 18

Napoleon defeated at Waterloo


The Year Without a Summer. Mount Tambora erupts and throws so much dust in the air that it causes 10 inches of snow to fall in June in New England (US). Crops fail and famine is common. Many blame Benjamin Franklin and his experiments with electricity for the freak weather. Mary Shelley is forced inside and writes Frankenstein.


Jakob Grimm, of Grimm Fairy Tales fame, proposes 'Grimm's Law' - that many consonants have shifted in a consistent way from Non-Germanic languages (like Latin and Greek) to Germanic languages (like English). For example, 'p's become 'f's, as in Latin 'pater' becoming English 'father'; Latin 'pisces' becomes English 'fish'.


Charles Babbage designs the Difference Machine - a forerunner of the modern computer. Traditionally it was thought to fail because metallurgy was not yet advanced enough. Recent views blame his machinist for wasting the money and being lazy.


England outlaws slavery and frees 780,993 slaves in its possessions.

1838 January 24

Samuel Morse demonstrates the telegraph in public.

1840, March 28

The ironclad gunboat, the Nemesis, built by a Scottish shipbuilder John Laird, leaves England bound for China becoming the first ironclad to round the Cape of Good Hope. In China, she destroys nine war-junks, five forts, two military stations and a shore battery in a single day. The technological gap in warfare is widdening between Europe and the rest of the world.


The Great Hunger (aka Potato Famine). Blight causes potato crop to fail. 1.5 million die of starvation and disease. Ireland still exports grain to England to pay rents. Help from England was too little too late.

1847, Sept 14

United States troops enter Mexico City under the command of General Winfield Scott. A treaty ending the Mexican American war was signed in February.

1848, February 26

Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels publish a little pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto.


Admiral Perry visits Japan with his Black Ships and opens trade with the West.

1854, October 25

During the Crimean War, Lord Cardigan led the British cavalry against the Russians in what would become known as "The Charge of the Light Brigade".


Louis Pasteur shows that disease is spread from tiny, little organisms, instead of bad vapors. Germ theory is born.


Charles Darwin publishes Origin of Species.


George Bissel sees prices for whale oil skyrocketing as the spermicitti whales are overhunted and gambles on hiring Edwin Drake to drill an oil well in Titusville, PA. Progress is very slow and Bissel mails Drake to shut down the well. Fortunately the letter arrives late. Edwin Drake had just stuck the first oil well the day before. Whale oil was selling for 5 dollars a gallon, and kerosene soon sold for 10-25 cents a gallon.


James Clerk Maxwell completes his four equations of electromagnetism.


Herman Hollerith invents an electronic tabulator for the US Census. He starts a company that eventually becomes IBM.

1864, February 17

The Confederate H. L. Hunley becomes the first submarine to sink an enemy ship, the Union Housatonic. The Hunley sinks shortly afterwords killing all nine men on board.

1864, April 19

The CSS Albemarle, a Confederate ironclad designed by an 19 year old, and built in a corn field, sinks a Union ship and wins the Battle of Plymouth for the South.


Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel lays the foundation for modern genetics

1862, May 4

A scout in the Civil War became the first person to be killed by a pressure activated land mine. This novel instrument of war was developed by Southern Gabriel J. Rains. and has been a scourge of the earth ever since. Land mines caused a third of the American injuries in Vietnam War.


Prussia invades Austria. Prussia had smartly sent observers to the American Civil War. They learned of railroads, telegraphs, and new firearms. The Prussians used this newfound knowledge in a war with Austria. They slaughtered the Austrians using their new Needle guns which used a cartridge instead of muzzle loading, and could be reloaded in a prone position. With the railroads they brought fresh troops quickly to battle areas.


The United States and Europe are connected by a 2,500 mile long telegraph cable.

1867, August 2

Using their new .50 caliber Springfield breech loading rifles, 26 soldiers from Fort Kearny, Wyoming fend off 1,500 Lakota Indians led by Red Cloud in "The Wagon Box Fight". The Lakota attacked in waves. The second wave expected to kill the reloading soldiers, but instead were greeted by a round of bullets from the new repeating rifles. Three soldiers and approximately 50 Indians were killed.


Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone.


Michelson and Morley fail to verify the existence of the ether.


At the Battle of Little Big Horn, the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Crow Indians defeated General George Custer's troops. Many have speculated that if Custer had not split his troops, and kept the cannon, he could have won easily. 25% of the Indians are estimated to have had superior weapons than the US Cavalry. The Indians had Spencers, Winchesters, and Henry repeating rifles. Custer's men were armed primarily with the Springfield single shot rifles.

August 26,1883

The island volcano of Krakatoa in Indonesia brilliantly explodes. 36,000 people are killed. The tide is influenced in England and fine volcanic dust settles in New York. The sound of the explosion is heard 3,000 miles away.

April 20, 1898

The Spanish-American War starts. Newspaper reports of alleged atrocities by the Spaniards against Cubans fanned the flames for the US to intervene to free the Cubans from their Colonial overlords. Ironically after the war, The US was in possession of its own colonies of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam.


Boer War. The descendants of the Dutch fight for independence from Britain.


Guglielmo Marconi sends the first wireless transatlantic radio signal from England to Newfoundland.


Orville and Wilbur Wright fly the first heavier than air craft.


Japanese sink half the Russian fleet in the opening move of the Russo-Japanese war. The Russians badly underestimate the modern Japanese fleet which a year later destroys most of the remaining navy. The Japanese used the new Marconi radios to scout for the oncoming Russian Navy.


While working as a patent clerk, Albert Einstein, publishes his theory of relativity and also states energy equals matter (E = mc2). This is his 'miracle year'. He publishes four vastly different papers. Three of them are Nobel prize winning material in their own right.


HMS Dreadnought starts new era in warships. It was unique in some of the following ways: more armor (11 inch plate), larger than predecessors (18,000 tons), used steam turbine engine for smoother, faster, more reliable power, used single caliber guns instead of a mix of large and small guns. The Dreadnought battleship design started a very expensive arms race.


Rutherford proposes the 'Solar System' model of the atom.


Instead of each state's legislature selecting them, United States senators are to be elected by popular vote.


The unsinkable Titanic goes down with over 1,500 souls. A steward from the White Star Line is reported as having said, "Not even God Himself can sink this ship". "Hubris" is what the Greeks called it.

1914, August 3

Germany declares war on France starting the "war to end all wars".

1916, April

Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley, and four others begin a treacherous 800-mile ocean crossing from Antarctica to South Georgia Island in what will be, according to many, the greatest sailing journey of all time. Their original ship, the Endurance was crushed in the ice so six of the men set sail in one of the life boats, the James Caird, to get help for the others trapped back in Antarctica.


Einstein publishes his 'General Relativity' paper.

1916, 31 May

The Battle of Jutland. The first and last great battle of the Dreadnought class ships. Britain and Germany spent untold fortunes to build and man these ship, but battle was inconclusive.


The First Battle of the Somme began. It lasted five months and the death toll of over one million was for the sake of an Allied advance of 125 square miles.

1917, Apr 6

The United States enters World War I against Germany. The tide of the war is already against the Germans. Ten million people will die from the war.

1917, December 17

The first true aircraft carrier, the British HMS Argus is launched.

1918, November 11

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month World War I is officially over. The treaty was signed at 5am with hostilities to cease at 11am. During those 6 hours, 2,738 soldiers died, 320 of those were American. American commanders who knew the war was to be over in hours still sent soldiers into battle to "punish" the Germans.

1940, November

Proving the worth of aircraft carriers, the HMS Illustrious launches an attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto with 21 out-dated Fairey Swordfish biplanes. Three of the six battleships are severely damaged. Some naval officers take note, many still dismiss aircraft carriers as just novelties.


Influenza virus kills 20 million people. About a quarter of the US population catches it and 2 to 3% die from it.

June 4, 1942

The battle of Midway starts in the Pacific. Japan loses four carriers and more importantly 200 highly trained pilots. This is the turning point in the Pacific war and cements the role of the aircraft carrier as the dominant naval vessel.


DeBroglie proposes the matter-wave theory.


Heisenberg probably stated his uncertainty principle.


First Soviet 5-year Plan. 5 million Ukrainian peasants are deliberately starved to death. Visiting journalists ignore famine and praise Stalin's success.

1928 Sept 15

Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming notices penicillin mold killing a staphylococcus culture. The revolution of antibiotics is started.


The "planet" Pluto discovered


Sir James Chadwick discovers the neutron


Scottish engineer Robert Watson-Watt shows his new invention, Radar, to the British Military. 19 Radar stations are active on the eve of WWII saving countless British lives.

1937, May 6

The German airship Hindenburg explodes in New Jersey. Amazingly 61 of the 97 persons aboard survive.

1938, November 10

Kristallnacht, a night of terror visited upon the Jews of Germany by the Nazis. Hundreds of Jews are killed and the glass from synagogues and businesses are shattered onto the streets.

1939, November 30

The Soviet Union invades Finland and starts the Russo-Finish War. The Soviets do so poorly against such a weaker opponent that Hitler is confirmed in his belief that the political purge eviscerated the Red Army. The Soviets do win the war on March 12, 1940.


Alan Turing with help from Polish sources and Cambridge mathematician, W. G. Welchman breaks the German Enigma code saving countless Allied lives.

1941, June 22

Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia, is launched 129 years to the day after Napoleon crossed the Niemen into Russia. Stalin did not believe the numerous intelligence reports detailing the German buildup. It was the largest military operation ever mounted.

1941, December 8

Japanese attack Wake island. The defenders of the tiny island fight against overwhelming odds and hold the island, providing the first victory for the US in the Pacific. Reinforcements are sent from Hawaii, but later, in a very controversial decision, recalled back to Hawaii. The Wake island defenders push back advancing Japanese soldiers, but the American officers surrender the island on Decmeber 23, in another controversial decision.

1942, December 2

At the University of Chicago Enrico Fermi and friends generate the first self-sustained nuclear reaction.

1942, February 23

A Japanese submarine shells an oil refinery near Santa Barbara California

1942, May 7

Carrier groups of Japanese and Americans fight the Battle of the Coral Sea. This is the first time that the ships fighting never had sight of each other; airplanes did the damage. Although the battle is a draw, one carrier loss for both sides, the Japanese invasion plans in the south are thwarted.

1943, July 12

The largest tank engagement, the Battle of Kursk, is fought between the Germans and the Russians.

1943, September 9

The battleship Roma is attacked by two German Fritz X bombs, becoming the first vessel sunk by a guided weapon.

1944, June 6

The largest amphibious landing in history, the invasion of Normandy, starts. This begins the end for the Third Reich (well, unless you talk with the Russians about the Eastern Front).

1945, March 9-10

First fire-bombing of Tokyo.

1945, August 6

At 08:16, the B-29 Enola Gay, piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets, dropped an atomic bomb containing 60 kg of uranium-235 on Hiroshima Japan, killing an estimated 80,000 civilians outright and perhaps over 200,000 total.

1945, August 9

The B-29 named "Bocks Car" dropped a the bomb, "Fat Man", containing 8 kg of plutonium-239 on Nagasaki Japan. (The B-29 program cost 3 million dollars, while the atomic bomb cost less, 2 million).

1945, August 14

VJ Day - Japan surrenders in WWII eight days after the second atom bomb is dropped. His subjects hear Emperor Hirohito voice the next day for the first time on the radio as he announces the surrender.


Half of all the gold mined in history, 22,000 tons, is in the United States.

1952, November 1

Ushering in the thermonuclear age, the first hydrogen bomb named 'Mike' is detonated by the US. 'Mike' was not a practical weapon since it weighed 70 tons and was a big as a house.

1954, January 21

Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine, is launched.


Sputnik I becomes the first man-made satellite.

1959 December

Launching the SSBN George Washington, the world's first nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine, the US moves unknowingly ahead in the cold war.

1960, January 23

Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh travel to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the lowest point on earth, in the Bathyscaphe Trieste. Oddly, no one has ever gone back a second time.

1961, January 3

An experimental nuclear power plant in Idaho, the SL-1, goes "prompt critcal" during maintence and kills three Army specialists. The reactor is buried on site.

1961, April 11

Yuri A. Gargarin becomes the first human in space and to orbit the earth


Norman Borlaug launches the "Green Revolution" by breeding a strain of wheat that yields three to five times than ordinary wheat. Borlaug saves millions of lives in India, which after much bureaucratic red tape, finally allows the grain to be imported.


Quarks are proposed to be the basic building blocks of most matter.

1969, July 20

Neil Armstrong walks on the surface of the moon.

1982, March 19

A group of Argentine scrap-metal merchants raise their flag over the island of South Georgia in the opening scene of what will become the Falklands War with Great Britain.


Largest bio-terrorist attack in the United States modern history occurs in The Dalles, Oregon. 751 people become ill with the salmonella bacteria spread by followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.


Hutus massacre 800,000 Tutsis in a few weeks using Machetes and clubs (Why can't we all just get along?)


Source : http://teacherweb.com/TN/DicksonCountyHighSchool/VStevens/Timeline-of-World-History.docx

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Source 3 : http://roadlessroad.blogspot.com/p/timeline-of-world-history.html

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Timeline of world history



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