Detail from a 1703 engraving of William and Mary

1688 CE was a huge year in the history of “the big 4 (or 4.5)” of the Western imperialisms- being in order of empire-building Portugal, Spain, England, the Dutch UPs, with France being the 0.5 at the end.

These things happened:

  • The Stadtholder of Holland, William III of Orange, invaded England (ostensibly at the invitation of seven key members of the Anglican elite) and effectively ousted the very Catholic King James II who was both his father-in-law and his uncle, though the story put about was that James had “abandoned” his Crown. (He went to France.) …

A 19th-century Hungarian painting of the Battle of Mohács

These are the three main story-lines of 1687 CE relevant to the continuing development of West European empires. I’ll deal with the Ottoman development first, then French, then English.

Ottoman army defeated, Sultan deposed

It had been a bad few years for the Ottoman Empire. In 1683 it had reached its greatest extent and since then, in Eastern Europe and (somewhat separately) in the Eastern Mediterranean maritime space, it had suffered a string of setbacks and defeats.

In August 1687, a Habsburg army coming down, one imagines, from the north, confronted the Ottoman army at Mohács, located in the SSW of today’s Hungary. It was…

1686 CE was the year in which a confrontation against the Mughal Empire sought by the relatively new head of English East India Company (EIC), Josiah Child, was launched in earnest, with the arrival in India of a fleet of 12 well-armed English Navy ships determined to impose the EIC’s conditions on the Mughals. (It did not turn out well.)

An early engraving of enslaved workers in French Martinique

Two big developments in the history of Western imperialism in 1685 CE. France’s Louis XIV introduced his infamous ‘Code Noir’ to regulate treatment of the enslaved (and exclusion of Jews) from France’s colonies, in the Caribbean and elsewhere. And in England, King Charles II died; his very Catholic (and slave-trading) brother James took over, but was immediately challenged by an armed, Protestant uprising led by Charles’s illegitimate son.

The shenanigans in England’s royal family may seem like a niche interest, but to me one of the interesting issues is how those shenanigans and the parallel contest between the royals and…

In 1684 CE, honestly not much happened that was worth recording here. Previously, during the 163 days I’ve been running this project to date and there was nothing much to report, I would scurry around my online and in-print sources to find something- anything!- I might expand on. But today I’m feeling very under the weather, so I need to rest. See you tomorrow!

Originally published at

1683 CE saw two events occurred, affecting three large land-based empires, that had significance for the power balance far beyond the borders of those empires. In Europe, the Habsburgs beat the Ottomans at Vienna, starting a long slow decline in Ottoman power (and giving the modern world, by some accounts, both the croissant pastry and the cappucino milky coffee into which to dip it.) …

A near-contemporary Spanish painting of the Moroccan liberators dragging the Jesus statue in the street in Mehdya

In 1681 CE there were several notable developments in the continuing growth of West-European colonial networks worldwide. The grant that England’s King Charles II gave to William Penn to found (and own!) his own massive colony in mid-Atlantic North America was possibly not the most momentous. The English East India Company’s appointment of the self-made entrepreneur and economic theorist Josiah Child to be its new Director would definitely compete for that honor. But Child’s moment of greatest infamy would come later. So today I’ll focus mainly on Mr. …

Picture showing some sacred kachina dolls from Pueblos of the area of the Pueblo Revolt

The major development in the history of imperialism/anti-imperialism in 1680 CE was almost certainly the large-scale uprising that members of various Indigenous-American Pueblos launched against the Spanish colonizers in the area of today’s New Mexico. In today’s bulletin I will pull together what information I have time for on that uprising, then quickly survey the results of a census that that the English Governor of Barbados conducted in 1680 of the residents of that island colony so crucial to the development of empire and capitalism in England.

Pueblo Revolt in North America’s interior

English Wikipedia has a pretty good page on this revolt, and another on…

In 1679 CE, the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, took additional steps against the Hindus in his empire. In London, parliament tried to cut the king’s powerful brother James, Duke of York, out of succession because of his Catholicism. (They failed to do that but won another, more lasting victory.) In France, Louis’s engineers took a key step toward completion of a visionary project designed to allow navigation between the Atlantic and Mediterranean. And in N. America, the English king created an enclave for settlers seeking to escape the Puritan rigors of Massachusetts.

So we’ll take these one at a time.

A new Aurangzeb crackdown on Hindus


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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