What happened in the 18th century characteristics and events

What happened in the 18th century

In this article we will provide you the glimpses that What happened in the 18th century Period of history between January 1, 1701 and December 31, 1800 AD. C.

The eighteenth century is a period of history between January 1, 1701 and December 31, 1800 AD. C. , according to the Gregorian calendar.

This was a century marked by the development of rationality and experimentation as methods of knowledge. According to the traditional periodization of history, during this century the Modern Age ended and the Contemporary Age began .

Due to the establishment of European colonies in different parts of the world, the intense commercial circulation and the numerous exploration campaigns , this system of knowledge spread and became hegemonic.

Likewise, the 18th century was a violent period , traversed by wars and armed conflicts.

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18th century characteristics

The most important characteristics of the 18th century were the following:

  • Several political and economic revolutions took place that modified both the structure of society and the relations between states.
  • In France, the old estates regime, which divided society according to the birth of people, was put to an end . During the 19th century , this change would reach the rest of Europe.
  • There were numerous armed conflicts around the world. Europe was marked by several wars of succession in most of its territory.
  • The search for knowledge through human reason , characteristic of the Modern Age, reached all areas of knowledge. As a consequence, there was a strong development of modern sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry and medicine. The first vaccines were made and new branches of mathematics were created, such as topology.
  • In the areas of social sciences, law and education, original thinkers who influenced the future organization of societies stood out . For example, Adam Smith in Economics, Charles Louis de Montesquieu in Politics, Hugo de Groot in Law, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi in Education, among others.
  • The first European naturalist expeditions were carried out which, with new scientific approaches, began to explore areas of the world that were unknown to them, such as large sectors of America, Africa and Oceania. This produced for the first time a survey and geographic, biological and anthropological registry of extensive territories.

Most important events

Among the most important events of the 18th century, we can highlight that:

  • The reign of the Bourbon dynasty began in Spain.
  • The First Industrial Revolution took place in England. This series of innovations in the mode of production of goods definitely changed the development of economic, social and political systems around the world, up to the present.
  • In 1789 the French Revolution broke out , overthrowing the monarchy and changing the power structures in France . As a consequence, important modern concepts emerged, such as citizenship , equality before the law, and people’s rights . The revolutionary process ended in 1804, when Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned emperor.
  • The Independence of the United States from Great Britain occurred. These were the first European colonies in America to initiate a process of autonomy from the metropolis and therefore they became a model to follow for the other American territories, which sought independence from Spain and France.
  • Britain began an aggressive policy of colonial expansion . In 1770, John Cook explored the eastern coast of Australia and began the process of British colonization of the territory. A few years earlier, the British rule of India had begun .
  • The Jesuits, a religious order that had had great influence on European politics, were expelled from French and Spanish territory, and from their colonies. Later, the order was dissolved by the papacy.

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Armed conflicts and wars

Among the conflicts and wars of the 18th century, the following stand out:

Date War Participants
1700-1721 Great Northern War Swedish Empire and Allies vs. Russian empire and allies.
1701-1715 War of the Spanish Succession Bourbon Spaniards, France and Allies vs. Spanish Austracists, Holy Roman Empire , Great Britain and allies.
1733-1738 Polish Succession War Major European powers.
1735-1739 Russo-Turkish war Russian Empire vs. Ottoman empire
1739-1748 Seat War Great Britain vs. Spain
1740-1748 War of the Austrian Succession France, Spain and allies vs. Holy Roman Empire, Great Britain and allies.
1756-1763 7 years war Most of the European powers.
1775-1783 War of Independence of the United States of America Thirteen British Colonies vs. Kingdom of Great Britain.
1792-1802 French Revolutionary Wars French Revolutionary Government vs. Austria.


The 18th century was characterized by the development and diffusion of the Enlightenment , an intellectual movement with great influence on the succession of political and social changes of the period.

From the enlightened thought, in 1751 the Encyclopedia began to be written . This collection of books, started by Jean le Rond d´Alembert and Denis Diderot, aimed to collect all the knowledge of the time in an orderly manner.

The Royal Academies , which had begun to be founded in the previous century, became institutions of great prestige as organizers and legitimators of different areas of knowledge and art. In Spain, for example, the Royal Spanish Academy of the Language published the first Dictionary of the Spanish language, between 1726 and 1739.

Within art, the Rococo style was in force during the first half of the century. As of 1740, with the values ​​defended by the enlightened thought, the neoclassical style prevailed . Enlightenment thinking also prompted an interest in ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, as well as in archaeological activities aimed at recovering their remains. In 1738 the excavation of the Roman city of Herculaneum in southern Italy began.

18th century in America

During the 18th century, most of the American territory was part of the European crowns, as overseas colonies: North America from France, Great Britain and Spain; South America from Spain, Portugal, Holland and France.

Some of the most important American events and processes of the 18th century were the following:

  • The 13 British colonies gained their independence in 1776 and became the United States of America.
  • The Spanish colonies suffered profound reforms in their political and economic organization from the rise of the Bourbons to the Spanish throne. New viceroyalties were formed and the city of Buenos Aires, in present-day Argentina, became the capital of the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata .
  • In the Río de la Plata area, there were successive conflicts with the Portuguese Crown for control of the Sacramento and Montevideo neighborhoods.
  • In 1742, Juan Santos Atahualpa started a rebellion against the Spanish in the Viceroyalty of Peru , with the aim of re-establishing the Inca Empire . However, although he managed to recruit some rebels in the Peruvian jungle, his disappearance (from 1756 there was no more news about him) ended the attempt.
  • In 1767 the Jesuit missionaries, who had established prosperous missions in Indian towns, were expelled from the American continent.
  • Between 1780 and 1782 there was a rebellion of indigenous and mestizo Peruvians led by José Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguera, known as Túpac Amaru II . At first it originated as a protest against the colonial authorities, but in a short time it acquired pro-independence intentions. The rebellion ended when Túpac Amaru was caught and executed by the Spanish authorities.

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