At the close of the sixteenth century, Habsburg Spain remained the world's foremost Christian power. Through its connections via the Iberian Union and the possessions of the Castillian Crown, Spain almost wielded influence in every inhabited continent on the planet; this was despite several stinging defeats by various powers, including England (which was ensconced on the Atlantic seaboard of North America) and a costly insurrection in the Netherlands, which was then ruled by Spain. This however would change even as the lucrative profits from the mines of South America and the ports of Southeast Asia invited meddling from other jealous rivals, especially the Dutch, who were now fighting against the Spanish occupation of their own lands.
To the east, the only other European nation of geographic significance, Russia, was facing the "Time of Troubles": the death of the last Rurikid tsar, Feodor, in 1598 had sparked off a succession crisis which concided with a famine. Russia was now fighting for survival against Poland, Sweden, and the Tatar khanates, and peace would only come with the election of the boyar Mikhail Romanovich as tsar in 1613, but even so Russia would remain a weak, disunited and underdeveloped country until the ascension of tsar Mikhail's grandson Pyotr early in the following century.
Further east in Central-Western Asia, the Ottomans, the Safavids, and the Mughals were at the zenith; while the Ming continued to remain the foremost power in north Asia, although their authority was by now facing a series of challenges; in China this was especially most severe due to war with the Japanese in Korea, which placed great stress on Ming finances; it did not help either that European colonisation was unravelling the complex pan-Asian tributary system that China had enjoyed for centuries since time began.
Neither Japan nor Southeast Asia were faring any better, either. The failure to benefit from the Imjin War had destabilised Toyotomi Hideyoshi's regime, and Japan was embroiled in internecine conflict. In Indochina, the Ayutthaya kingdom in Siam was embroiled in a struggle for independence from the Bamar kingdoms to the north-west; they however fared better than the others in that they were decisively making headway against the foe. The Straits of Melaka was also rent with war, with the native sultanates of Aceh and Johor having to vie for power with the Portuguese in Melaka and the Dutch newcomers ensconced at Batavia on Jawa.
- Battle of Sekigahara resulted in a Tokugawa victory.
- Safavids contacted Holy Roman Empire. Among other subjects discussed was the prospect of an Imperial-Safavid pact against Ottoman Turkey.
- Queen Elizabeth I of England granted a charter founding the Honourable East India Company, or EIC.
- Greatest extent of the Ayuthaya kingdom in Southeast Asia.
- Foundation of Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or Dutch East India Company, known as the VOC, in Amsterdam. Its American counterpart, the Geoctroyeerde West-Indische Compagnie (GWC), would be founded nineteen years later.
- Safavids signed alliance with Spain against the Ottomans.
- The daimyo of the Tokugawa clan, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was made shogun of all Japan.
- Death of Elizabeth I in England. The succession of James I of Stuart to the throne paved the way towards English annexation of Scotland.
- Samuel de Champlain, French explorer, sailed to Canada,. In later years, he would found Québec.
- Pogrom of ethnic Chinese in Spanish-held Manila.
- Mayflower expedition founded New Plymouth. First black slaves landed at Jamestown, present-day Virginia.
- Batavia seized by the Dutch VOC from defending Anglo-Malay forces.
- Charles I succeeded James I as king of England.
- Franco-Savoyard forces besieged Genoa with little success.
- Arrival of Dutch at present-day Manhattan.
- Death of Sir Francis Bacon.
- Manhattan Purchase. The Dutch GWC purchased Manhattan (now present-day New York) for the equivalent of several thousand dollars in today's currency from the Powhatan tribe in North America.
- Ascension of Hong Taiji as khan of the Manchu tribe and emperor of Qing China.
- Dutch seized Melaka from the Portuguese, with help from the Sultanate of Johor.
- Due to mounting unrest, Charles I forced to flee to North England.
- VOC established trading factory of Dejima in Nagasaki; Japan.
- Outbreak of disease epidemic in China, devastating the nation.
- Louis XIV king of France.
- Dutch mariner Abel Tasman passed by Tonga and Fiji.
- Death of Hong Taiji, the first effective Qing emperor of China.
- New England Confederation established among Puritan settlements throughout North America as a self-defence league.
- Manchus entered China, effectively establishing Qing dynasty.
- Battle of Marston Moor. Royalist forces loyal to Charles I lost Northern England to the Parlamentarians.
- Powhatan Rebellion against English colonists at Jamestown, present-day Virginia, USA.
- Treaty of Westphalia, recognising independence of Holland and Switzerland.
- War of the Fronde ended, with monarchist victory in France.
- Charles I executed outside Whitehall, London.
- Cromwell campaigned in Ireland, devastating major Irish cities such as Wexford and Drogheda.
- Outbreak of First Anglo-Dutch War.
- Mounting dissent in Parliament forced Oliver Cromwell to declare a Protectorate, effectively becoming military dictator of England in 1653.
- Charles II invited back to England to rule.
- French crown took Martinique, dispossessing the native inhabitants.
- Prussian crown established a standing army.
- A series of diplomatic events intensified Anglo-Dutch rivalry over trade in Asia and Africa and led to the Second Anglo-Dutch War, with the battle of Lowestoft.
- Battle of Montes Claros in present-day Portugal between Spanish forces and Portugese insurrectionists effectively ended Spanish control of Portugal, formally recognised by the Spanish at the Treaty of Lisboa three years later.
- Treaty of Westminster. The Dutch colony of New Netherlands in Northern America, centred around Nieuw Amsterdam near Manhattan, was ceded to the British and renamed as New York.
- Rise of Emperor Shivaji of the Maratha Confederacy. Shivaji was known for many military and civic reforms that transformed his state into an empire and promoted the welfare of his people.
- Battle of Penghu. Taiwan annexed by Qing, effectively ending Chinese independence once and for all.
- Second Siege of Vienna ended with Ottoman forces driven from Austria.
- Peter I seized power from Sofia of Russia, becoming the tsar. He would be later known with the epithet Veliky ("the Great").
- Treaty of Nerchinsk signed between Russia and Manchu-held China delineated the border between the Russian Far East and China well for over two centuries.
- The Glorious Revolution. King James II of England was deposed and replaced with Queen Anne and prince-consort William III of Orange.
- The Elector of Brandenburg-Prussia, Friedrich III, is proclaimed Frederick I Hohenzollern, king of Prussia.
- A trading post founded by French in America named Fort Pontchatrain, this is today Detroit, present-day Michigan.
- Introduction of the seed drill by Jethro Tull.
- Death of Aurangzeb. The Moghul empire disintegrated.
- Act of Union ratified by Scottish Parliament, rendering Scotland a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain with England.
- Birth of Friedrich II of Prussia, later known as der Groβe or "the Great".
- Treaties of Utrecht between Britain, France and Spain ceded to the former various possessions of the latter two powers. Of these, the most significant were Gibraltar (from Spain) and Newfoundland and Acadia in North America.
- With the Second Treaty of Utrecht, French Acadiens were forced out of Canada, and began migrating towards the Gulf at Louisiana.
- Louis XV succeded Louis XIV as king of France.
- First enclosed wet dock opened in Liverpool, Great Britain: this marked the rise of Liverpool as a major shipping production centre and a vital player in the Africa–America trade.
- The Seven Years' War: Conflict broke out between the European powers. While in Europe political progress was ineffectual, overseas the British rose to prominence in India and North America for the first time.
- The earthquake of 1755 razed Lisboa, in Portugal on All Saints' Day; aftershocks released tsunamis that resulted in fatalities even in North Africa. Although insignificant politically, the earthquake started the decline of Christianity as a driving intellectual and political force.
- The Battle of the Plains of Abraham. French influence in North America faded with Britain acquiring Québec, but at the cost of the commanding general, Wolfe, who died of his injuries shortly after.
- Josiah Wedgwood founded the Wedgwood Pottery Company near Stoke-upon-Trent, England.
- George III of England.
- At this point, Western nations had paid an estimated 3 million ounces of silver for Chinese goods.
- Zand dynasty now ruled all Iran, with the exception of Khorasan.
- Peace of Paris: French relinquished control of Canada to British; Britain dominant in India.
- George III's Royal Proclamation, forbid further colonial expansion westwards in America, and set the stage for the American Revolution by galvanising property-owning classes into sponsoring revolution against increasingly unpopular home rule.
- Napoleone Buonaparte, later stylised Napoleon Bonaparte, born in Corsica.
- James Watt patented improvements to the steam engine.
- Corsica acquired from Genoa by France.
- James Cook lands at Poverty Bay, present-day New Zealand.
- Patenting of the Spinning Frame by Richard Arkwright.
- Acession of Louis XVI in France.
- Boston Port Act issed by colonial government as retaliation for the Boston Tea Party.
- Publication of Common Sense by Thomas Paine, advocating self-rule in North America.
- Publication of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith in Britain, advocating free trade.
- Declaration of Independence of America from Great Britain, forming the United States of America (USA).
- Volcanic explosion of Laki on Iceland resulted in famine throughout the world, due to changes in global temperature and sunlight levels worldwide due to the ash.
- Treaty of peace between Great Britain and the USA.
- First hot-air balloon deminstrated at Annonay, France.
- First manned flight in a hydrogen-filled balloon in Paris, France.
- Constitutional Convention of Philadelphia set up the Federal Government of the USA.
- End of Shays' Rebellion.
- The First Fleet: A British penal expedition of 1,100 convicts and prison officials embarked in 11 ships from England to New South Wales in what is now known as Australia.
- France was by now bankrupt.
- Arrival of the First Fleet at Botany Bay, now present-day Sydney, Australia.
- First Federal Congress of the United States held at New York.
- Day of the Tiles in Grenoble, France: French troops dispersed an anti-tax uprising.
- In France, the Estates-General assembled.
- The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen proclaimed in France, despite being utterly silent on slavery and women's rights.
- Storming of the Bastille in France.
- First contact between Japanese and Americans.
- Unsuccessful Flight to Varennes by Louis XVI.
- Champs de Mar Massacre: anti-royalist demonstrations in Paris put down with bloodshed.
- Louis XVI deposed and held under house arrest.
- France invaded by Austro-Prussian forces, but independence is guaranteed at Battle of Valmy.
- Partition of Poland by Russia and Prussia.
- Louis XVI sent to the guillotine; his wife Marie Antoinette and his mistress Madame du Barry soon followed him to the scaffold.
- The Reign of Terror: the Committee of Public Safety created by the French government with Georges Danton as its head.
- Jacobins seized power in France, ousting the more moderate Girondins.
- After several decades of civil war, Iran is once more unified under the Qajars, led by Agha Mohammed Khan.
- Execution of Robespierre ended the Reign of Terror France.
- Battle of Fleurus. French republicans seized Netherlands from the Austrians.
- Whiskey Rebellion in the USA.
- The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen translated into Spanish and disseminated in South America.
- The Directorate in France. Napoleon suppressed a revolt and was expedited to Italy as commander-in-chief of the Armée d'Italie, taking Milan in the same year.
- Batavian Republic established in Netherlands after a popular uprising with help by Revolutionary France. The Stathouder and the Dutch aristocracy forced into exile in London.
- Bonaparte successful in Egypt, but returned back to France.
- In his absence, French occupiers driven out following defeat by British at Abukir.
- Bonaparte First Consul of France.
- The VOC officially insolvent, and nationalised, effectively coming under control by the Dutch government.
- Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor Napoleon I of France.
- Franz II of Austria abandoned the title of "Holy Roman Emperor", effectively ending the Holy Roman Empire as a legal entity.
- The Code Napoleon came into effect in French-held Europe.
- Lewis and Clark expedition set out to explore continental North America, hoping to reach the Pacific.
- Human population on Earth reaches one billion.
- Prussians crushed at Jena, effectively coming under French influence.
- British industrial iron output estimated to have reached 260,000 tonnes.
- Return of the Lewis and Clark expedition to Missouri.
- Joseph Bonaparte appointed king of Spain, replacing the Bourbon dynasts.
- HMS Hyperion bombarded Nagasaki.
- Uprisings in Spanish America against colonial government.
- Jean Bernadotte, one of Napoleon's Generals, installed as Crown Prince of Sweden, eventually crowned Karl III Johan of Sweden in 1818.
- Metric system introduced in France.
- Napoleon's retreat from Moscow.
- War of 1812 between Britain and America.
- Anglo-Portuguese forces retook Madrid from French occupying forces following Battle of Salamanca.
- Troops of the Sixth Coallition entered Paris after heavy fighting, exiling Napoleon to the Italian coast.
- Louis XVIII appointed king in Napoleon's stead after the latter's abdication.
- Treaty between Britain and Holland: British-held Bangka swapped for Dutch Melaka, consolidating British control over Straits of Melaka.
- Charles X of France.
- Simon Bolivar dictator of Peru.
- Anglo-Dutch Treaty divided Malay archipelago into British and Dutch spheres of influence.
- British territories in New Holland were collectively redubbed as "Australia".
- Nicholas I of Russia.
- First railway established from Stockton to Darlington in Northern Yorkshire, England.
- For the first time in history, Beijing is surpassed by London as the world's largest city.
- Battle of Navarino in the Ionian Sea guaranteed Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. This was the last battle to take place using wooden sailing ships.
- Southern Netherlands seceded to form Kingdom of Belgium, under British auspices.
- Louis-Philippe ousted Charles X of France as King.
- France invaded Algeria, sparking off French colonisation of Africa.
- Protocol of Poros ratified by France, Russia and Britain established the Kingdom of Greece, following a successful rebellion by Greek patriots, ending almost four centuries of Ottoman rule in Greece.
- November Uprising in Poland against Russian rule.
- The term "Socialism" first emerged in English parlance.
- Outbreak of the Texas Revolution.
- Charles Darwin reached the Galapagos. His experiences and observations there gave rise to the theory of evolution.
- First railway in continental Europe established in Belgium between Brussels and Mechelen.
- Treaty of Waitangi between Maori tribes of New Zealand and the British Crown.
- Victoria queen of England.
- Introduction of the telegraph by Samuel Morse.
- President Napoleon crowned Napoleon III of France.
- British seized Yangdon and Pegu from the Konbaung, gaining control of the Irawaddy.
- Crimean War.
- First streetlamps made their appearance, being powered by coal gas.
- Sardinia succesfully united the Italian homelands, forming the Kingdom of Italy. The Sardinian monarch, Vittorio Emmanuele, installed as king of Italy.
- Outbreak of the Civil War in America over the issues of slavery and state autonomy.
- Surrender of Confederate forces at Appomatox Court House, in Richmond, present-day West Virginia.
- Japan opened up to the world. The tensions and humiliation of the Shogunate by Western powers, led by the United States of America, would subsequently see it overthrown in the Boshin War of 1868.
- With the end of the Boshin War in the summer of the previous year, Japan is now a unified and sovereign nation once more.
- Napoleon III declared war on Prussia.
- Due to popular demand and coercion by Royal troops, the Papal States incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy. Subsequently, Rome became the capital of the kingdom.
- Paris surrendered to Prussian forces in January.
- From that time onward, the Prussian King would take on the title of Kaiser, or "Emperor of the Germans".
- The Treaty of Frankfurt ended the war between France and Prussia, with Alsace-Lorraine annexed to the German Empire.
- Phonograph patented by Thomas Alva Edison.
- Cyprus is leased to Britain.
- Treaty of Berlin granted independence to three Balkan nations, but set the stage for the Great War.
- Under British auspices, the sultanates of Selangor, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang were reformed into the Federated Malay States.
- During this period, friction between Siam and France erupted in the Franco-Siamese War of 1893, resulting in the annexation of Luang Prabang (now present-day Laos) by France.
- Outbreak of the Yihe Uprising (in Western circles, the Boxer Rebellion) in China.
- With the Treaty of Portsmouth signed the previous year, Manchuria, Korea and South Sakhalin were now firmly under Japanese control, but riots broke out in Japan over the terms of the treaty.
- Kingdom of Bali annexed by the Netherlands, ending effective resistance by the Malay peoples against foreign agression.
- Iran reformed as a constitutional monarchy.
- Commissioning of HMS Dreadnought, the world's first modern battleship.
- Outbreak of the Mexican Revolution.
- Japan annexed Korea.
- By this time, an estimated 10,000 automobiles were estimated to have been sold by Henry Ford.
- Foundation of the Chinese Kuomintang, which would go on to found the Republic of China in later years.
- Outbreak of Xinhai Revolution in China, with coups d'étâts and popular uprisings throughout various Chinese cities.
- Emperor Henry of Qing abdicated.
- First military use of aerostat-type craft by the Italians in Libya against Ottoman forces.
- Foundation of the Republic of China.
- Caisimir Funk, a Polish-American biochemist, identified a compound later known as vitamins.
- The Sultanate of Johor, although formally independent, was compelled to become a British protectorate.
- An assasination in Sarajevo of the Austrian regent Franz Ferdinand resulted in a diplomatic crisis between Russia and Austria, sparking off the Great War.
- Germany, using its alliance with Austria as a pretext, declared war on France.
- Later the same year, the Ottoman fleet bombarded Sebastopol, effectively embroiling all Europe into war.
- Italy entered into war on the side of the Triple Entente of Russia, France and Britain.
- President Yuan Shikai of China declared himself Emperor of China, but was soon forced to abdicate.
- Germano-American relations deteoriated, due to the Lusitania Incident, the Zimmerman Affair and news of German saboteurs in North America.
- Two revolutions in Russia toppled the Tsar. Outbreak of Russian Civil War.
- The USA entered the Great War on the side of the Entente, later known as the Allies.
- Armistice declared among the European nations, ending the Great War.
- Polish Uprising installed Second Polish Republic in Poland.
- The German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, abdicated. A German Republic declared 9 November.
- Saint-Germain treaty dissolved Austria-Hungary, effectively ending the Habsburg dynasty.
- Outbreak of Polish-Soviet War with Poland invading the Ukraine.
- Ottoman sultanate collapsed. Britain, France, Italy, Greece and an independent Armenia invaded Anatolia and the northern Middle East.
- First metting of the League of Nations. Austria, Turkey and Germany were excluded, however, and the USA refused to join.
- Polish forces under Marshall Piłsudski decisively defeated Soviet armies outside Warsaw, ending Soviet aggression in Poland.
- Treaty of Rapallo signed between Weimar Germany and the Soviet Union, reducing tensions between the two nations.
- Turkey successfully defended against various European powers led by France, Armenia and Greece, but lost its influence in the Middle East to France.
- Josif Stalin appointed General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party.
- Washington Naval Treaty signed between USA, France, Japan, Britain and Italy to restrict warship tonnage in an attempt to avert armed conflict.
- Fascist March on Rome installs Benito Mussolini in power first as Prime Minister, and later as "Duce" in the Kingdom of Italy.
- Formation of the USSR centred in Russia.
- With the annexation of former German territories now complete, the British Empire is now the largest empire, ruling over 25% of the world's population.