19th century painting of the English ambassador, Thomas Roe, presenting his credentials to Jahangir, 1615

In 1627 CE, the usual kinds of colonial practices continued, of course, to be pursued around the world by the raiding/trading empires of Portugal, Spain, England, and Netherlands; and in Europe, the Thirty Years War continued to roil Central Europe while Spain and Netherlands continued to pursue their Eighty Years War.

But today I’m going to focus on the death of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir who died “of a severe cold” in late October 1627, while journeying from Kashmir to Lahore. Here, I shall first quickly examine the reign of Emperor Jahangir, including the role of his favorite wife Nur…


In 1626 we can start to see many enduring aspects of the takeover by European colonial projects of many parts of the world.

  • In the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, English and French settlers joined hands to plan and commit a genocide of the indigenous Kalinago people.
  • In North America, a Dutch trader paid in trade-goods worth less than $1,200 in today’s dollars to “buy” the island of Manhattan.
  • Deep in the interior of South America, Jesuits corralled Indigenous people into strategic hamlets intended for physical control, mind control, and exploitation.
  • Off the coast of China, Spanish conquistadors built a…


Portrait of many Nassaus. In the front row of riders are, left to right, Maurice, Philip William, and Frederick Henry.

1625 CE was a year of transition in England, where King James I died in late March, and Netherlands, where Prince/Stadtholder Maurice of Nassau died in late April. Maurice’s role had been foundational to the emergence of a coherent, separate polity in Netherlands.

In the months after these deaths, Dutch naval forces undertook serious assaults against Spanish/Portuguese outposts in San Juan (in today’s Puerto Rico), in Elmina (in today’s Ghana), and even- in alliance with English forces- against Cádiz itself. …


Lower down in today’s bulletin I’ll provide a quick overview of how, in 1624 CE, the four big European colonialisms- in chronological order, Portugal, Spain, England, and Netherlands- were roiling the world and what was happening in France that showed it to be on the brink of a big eruption of the same maladie de grandeur.

But first, here’s a shoutout to Queen Nzingha Mbande (1583–1663), who in 1624 became Queen of the Ambundu Kingdom of Ndongo, located in present-day northern Angola. (She is represented in a UNESCO publication, in the banner image above.)

English-WP says about Queen Nzingha that…


In 1623, by far the most important development in imperial geopolitics was a confrontation the officials of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) had in Amboyna (Ambon) in the Spice Islands with the handful of English East India Company (EIC) officials there. After a torture-based kangaroo-court trial of all the local EIC officials, the VOC people executed ten of them. This incident became known in England as the “Amboyna Massacre” and had numerous longlasting repercussions, which I shall examine briefly here.


Photo of some of the Atocha treasure, from the website of Mel Fisher’s Treasure Salvors

1622 CE was a huge year in geopolitics. A lot of what happened this year had to do with the very long-drawn-out deterioration of the Portuguese empire’s position on the fringes of the Indian Ocean.

I’ll try to keep each entry here brief. Here’s the main Table of Contents. Scroll on down to what interests you:

Two main stories:

  • Powhatans try to expel English invaders at Jamestown
  • The Dutch VOC tries but fails to seize Portuguese fort at Macau

Two side stories:

  • An indigenous uprising against the Portuguese in Kongo
  • Anglo-Persian force takes Hormuz from Portugal

Two significant incidents:

  • Strangling…


A 1724 view of Bandaneira

The major geopolitical development in 1621 CE was the end of the Twelve Years Truce that Spain and the United Provinces of the Netherlands concluded at Antwerp in April 1609. The Dutch were ready to take advantage of the new freedom of action this afforded them on the world scene and launched a Dutch West India Company (GWC) to do so.

In Spain, King Philip III died. Spanish America saw the founding of a Mint in Bogotá and the planting of numerous other settler-colonial projects. The Spanish East Indies (Philippines) saw the establishment of a large new church in Manila.


Today marks my successful completion of the first 100 days/years of this project! I have learned a huge amount so far by doing this- and yes, I feel I’ve also been getting my writing-well-to-deadline chops back again. (I’ll be working on another “What I’ve learned to date” longform article soon. Did you see my earlier one, here?)

But anyway, 1620… I think the main story has to be the Mayflower. But first a couple of shorts, including another episode of what we might call the Real Concubines of Ming China…

First, though, this:

EIC captain “claims” Cape Town and Jask (in Persia)

And this: In 1620, an English EIC…


1627 map of the VOC headquarters of Batavia

The year 1619 CE is commonly thought of here in the United States as the year slavery first “arrived” in one of the country’s constituent colonies, which in some sense is true. But it is definitely thought-provoking that 1619 is also hailed as marking the (re-)birth of “representative government” in the exact same colonial settlement- Virginia.

More on all that, and on the big moves the Dutch colonial corporation the VOC was making in the East Indies, further down. …


A 19th-century rendering of the Defenestration of Prague

Well, I am so glad I made a strategic decision yesterday not to pay too much attention in my work on this project to the minutiae of developments within land-based empires. Because this year, 1618 CE, an event happened in Prague that launched the extremely complex series of Central European conflicts that became known ever after as the Thirty Years War.

Of course, no-one set out one day and said, “Oh, let’s start a war that will last thirty years, devastate most of Central Europe, and end up killing 20% of the area’s entire population.” (Just as no-one in late…

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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