Painting of the 1653 Battle of Scheveningen, by J.A. Beerstraaten (detail)

Without a doubt, the major development of geo-historical impact in 1652 CE was the outbreak of armed conflict between the navies of the two powerful Protestant-European global empires that had emerged over the preceding eight decades, when they displaced to a considerable degree (though not wholly) the two older Catholic-European empires that had preceded them.

Remember how, back in 1581, a clump of little Protestant provinces in West Europe’s low-lying “Netherlands” had joined together to secede from the uber-Catholic Spanish Habsburg empire that sought to retain control over them- and how England’s Protestant queen had given them extensive support in…


Detail from an engraving of the strangling of Kösem Sultan

The three development of geo-historical significance in 1651 CE were as follows:

  1. Conquistadors in Chile negotiate deal with Mapuche indigenes but a naval incident threatens that.
  2. Cromwell lures Charles II’s Scottish army into a deadly trap far south of the border.
  3. London’s Parliament gets serious about seapower and its link to imperial trade.

I will address each of those in order below. First, the year’s Small News.

Small News of 1651

1. T. Hobbes publishes ‘Leviathan’, ducks ensuing uproar


Painting of Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar

Lots of shortish news this year, 1650 CE. Throughout the year, the politically and religiously complex Commonwealth vs. monarchist conflict continued to roil England, Scotland, and Ireland (though mainly the latter two of those lands.) I shall note below only what was happening in Scotland and a small event in England. Remember though that these were just two parts of the broader picture.

I guess I will start with the news about Harvard since I find it amusing and little bit informative. English-WP tells us that:

In 1650, at the request of Harvard President Henry Dunster, the Great and General…


A 1718 map French map of the Iroquois/Haudenosaunee areas.

The biggest developments of 1649 CE in the continuing development of Western hegemony of the world all centered on Oliver Cromwell. In last year’s bulletin we took his story up to the beheading of King Charles I in January 1649 and Cromwell’s announcement of an anti-monarchical Commonwealth. Throughout the rest of the year he consolidated his rule at home, including by clamping down on the more “extremist” religio-political groups like the Ranters, Levellers, and Diggers. He also clamped down extremely harshly on the remnants of the Confederacy in Ireland, who had proclaimed Charles’s son Charles II as their king. …


Detail from a painting of signatories swearing the oath of ratification of the Treaty of Munster by Gerard ter Borch. He painted himself grinning out from the left side of it.

In international affairs, the Peace of Westphalia that was concluded among numerous, European-only parties in 1648 CE set the basic rules of inter-state conduct that are still fundamentally in place, covering the entire world of humankind, until today. Already in 1648, four European states had extensive transoceanic empires through which they were able to affect the balance of power in many non-European parts of the world. Over the centuries that followed 1648, the power that a handful of European states were able to wield- and did wield- over the non-European world increased greatly. …


One of the diagrams in Richard Ligon’s book on Barbados. It shows how to construct a sugar mill.

1647 CE saw continuations of most of the big story-lines we’ve been following for some years now. And (spoiler alert!) 1648 will be a huge year in geopolitics. Here are three smaller but still notable developments of 1647.

A battle in Ireland


Detail from an 18th century painting of King Charles I at Carrisbrooke

The two major developments of 1646 CE that affected the history of Western imperialism were the Parliamentary victory in the first round of England’s civil war and a series of attempts the Dutch VOC’s navy made in the Indies to oust the Spanish from the Philippines. We will get to them below.

One smaller but definitely non-trivial event in 1646 was that in October, a preacher in the (Puritan) Massachusetts Bay Colony preached to a group of Native Americans of the Nipmuc (Algonquian) group in their own language and made a convert! He was called Waban. This was significant because…


A Portuguese-Brazilian painting of one of their notable victories over the Dutch-Brazilians

The biggest geopolitical trend in 1645 CE was the push by independent Portugal to start recapturing the extensive portions of Brazil’s coast that had earlier been taken from them by the Dutch. But I retain my interest in the civil war in England which was already a globe-active power and whose colonial projects (including in Ireland!) were linked in many ways to the conflict at home… 1645 saw a significant development in that conflict. There were a few news items in Asia in 1645, too. So I’ll start with them, then go to England, then Brazil.

Asian news


Detail from a Portuguese tilework image of the Battle of Montijo

Without a doubt, the main development in 1644 CE was the ousting of the Ming Dynasty from Beijing and, after further turmoil there, the installation of the robust and longlasting Qing Dynasty. Other notable events in the continuing story of the rise of “the West” were the uprising that the capable but ageing Powhatan chief Opechancanough launched against the Anglo colonists in “Virginia”, and the exploration travels that Abel Tasman continued to conduct around “Australia”, on behalf of the Dutch VOC.

Two other remaining stories were:

  • the continuation of the English Civil War, which saw the front-line between Royalists and…


A French painting of (l. to r.) Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Queen Anne

In 1643 CE I’ll look at England’s continuing King vs. Parliament civil war, and its many repercussions including on Ireland, the Anglo colonies in North America, and the East India Company (EIC.) The other significant story is an attempt the Dutch swashbucklers made to take a chunk of Chile from Spain.

I’ll come to those stories lower down. First, four non-trivial side-eddies in the world history of 1643:

1. France’s King Louis XIII dies

Louis died of tuberculosis in May 1643.His four-year-old son Louis XIV succeeded him. Per the dad’s will, so long as the son was a minor, power was to be exercised by a…

Helena Cobban

Veteran analyst of global affairs, with a focus on the Middle East. Senior Fellow, Ctr for International Policy. Fuller bio at my Wikipedia page.

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