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Europe: A.D. 1601 to 1700

Module by: Jack E. Maxfield. E-mail the author


In the early century, inflation was such that prices were four times what they had been between 1525 and 1550. (Ref. 213) Three great powers contested for dominance – the Ottoman Empire, the Spanish Empire, and France, under Louis XIV and Richelieu. Each had a mass of about 17 million people. (Ref. 260) In spite of the presence of these great monarchies, there were still areas all over Europe from southern Italy to Scandinavia and from Scotland to Auvergne where primitive social enclaves persisted, with hundreds of dialects and local, semibarbaric, religious cults. Attempted control of these numerous pockets sapped the resources of the great powers, similar to the drain on the Roman Empire when it was ringed with barbarians. In addition, after about 1620 the entire continent suffered from food shortages as the population increased to about 118 million by 1648 and the result of this was often political instability. Even by 1640, rebellion was everywhere. Although this is often called the century of scientific revolution, this was completely irrelevant to the mass of Europeans as they squandered most of their energies in massive wars. During the whole of the period there were only seven years of peace in Europe. All of the people tended to revolt against the powers of princes and kings over their bodies and properties and to protest against taxation, interference with trade and arbitrary imprisonment. Over most of Europe the peasantry represented vast numbers of people and in one way or another they were almost always in revolt, with occasional open rebellion, as in Naples in 1647. In Orleans, out of an active population of almost 120,000 there were over 67,000 wage earners, but this did not signal great productivity. Many districts were over-populated with great numbers of unemployed. Vagrants were universally put under lock and key, usually in work-houses. (Ref. 292)

The last quarter of the century saw the establishment of responsible parliamentary government in most areas. By 1700 the old north-south trade axis had swung almost 90~ and ran east-west from England-Holland to Saxony, Bohemia and Silesia. Population growth at the end of the century had been slowed not only by war and famine but also by plague, so that shortly after the turn of the century (1713) the population had dropped to about 102 million. (Ref. 68, 147, 8, 131) Still, Europe remained in a favored position when compared to other civilization, particularly in regard to food. Europeans consumed great quantities of meat. Water-mills supplied the chief energy and were owned and supplied by the lord of the manor, while the peasants contributed their labor. The mill, which ground grain, was thus the essential tool of the manorial economy. Otherwise the 17th century civilization was one of wood and charcoal. Buildings, machines, wine-presses, plows and pumps were all made of wood, with a very minimum of metallic parts. Fortunately Europe was well-endowed with forests. Iron, although available, was still in short supply. (Ref. 260) Wigs and then powdered wigs came into fashion in this century despite initial objection by the church.

Practically all the armies of Europe had adopted the military reforms initiated at the end of the previous century by Maurice of Holland. (See page 792). This resulted in obedient, responsive units of soldiers able to function efficiently in any part of the globe. The new drill and techniques spread from officers trained at Maurice's Military Academy, which was founded in 1619, first to Sweden, then to the northern Protestant European states and finally to France and eventually Spain. (Ref. 279) (Continue on page 942)



Continuing their take-over of Mediterranean islands, the Turks conquered the Cyclades and all of Crete except two off-shore Venetian forts. The Hospital of the Knights of Malta became a kind of teaching institution, treating patients from all over Christendorr. In 1653 Louis XIV of France gave the Knights four Caribbean islands, but they soon sold them to the French West India Co. (Ref. 38, 86) (Continue on page 944)


Greece and most of the Balkans were under Ottoman rule although several Christian communities had survived and there was some degree of local autonomy by the prelates of Greek and Serbian churches. Many of the men of those western Christian Balkans fought as mercenaries, either for Venice or Constantinople. The Turks helped Istran (Stephen) Bocskay drive the Austrians out of Transylvania in 1605 and by the Austro Turkish Treaty of Zsitva-Torok, this area was left to his control. (See also HUNGARY, this chapter). (Ref. 222, 279)

Commercial agriculture became increasingly important with cotton, tobacco, wheat and maize produced by entrepreneurs, a feature which led to the diminution of military land-holding. After 1638 there was no more recruiting of Christian boys for Ottoman administration and the army and this, in turn, meant a widening gap between Christian and Moslem, landlord and peasant, village and town. Eventually this shift in relationships destroyed the Ottoman polity. (Ref. 139) Travel in the Balkans could be precarious and in open country travelers deployed their carriages in a circle at night, with everyone ready for defense, just as in the American west, centuries later. (Ref. 260)

The great Venetian Admiral Francesco Morosini captured the Peloponnesus and laid siege to Athens in 1687. One of his shells hit a powder magazine which the Turks had stored in the Parthenon and it blew up, reducing the structure to its present state. (Ref. 131) The City of Senj of Croatia was the home of the Christian, Uskok pirates and Venice had to make war against them from 1613 on in order to protect its trade and its coastal regions such as Cattaro, Corfu and Levkas. We have noted above that near the end of the century Albanians became the grand viziers of Turkey. (Ref. 8) (Continue on page 946)


Italy continued in an age of invasion with the monarchs of Europe and petty Italian princes fighting over its territory. Most of the old ruling families of the city-states were dying out and Italy had little history of its own in this century. Even Venice fell into some decline and only in its war with Turkey was there some vestige of its earlier glory. The wealthy class of that city-state now abandoned trade and put all its resources into farming. Still, thanks to foreign shipping, Venice remained a very busy port. It was the rise of agricultural prices that drove Venetian capital to the land. (Ref. 292) Genoa lost its island of Corsica and for reasons still debatable, its credit collapsed. Braudel (Ref. 292) believes that it had to do with a change in the discount rate of bills of exchange. A bill had to acquire value as it went from country to country, or someone lost all. The plague obviously did not help. The Black Death killed a million people in north Italy between 1628 and 1631 and in Genoa there were perhaps 700 rich nobles left out of about 80,000 inhabitants. In Venice there were only 14 or 15 wealthy patricians lef t who were capable of holding high state positions. Florence barely existed, being little more than the Grand Duke's court. He had seized everything - money, the right to govern and distribute honors. (Ref. 260) In spite of all these troubles in Italy, active Jewish colonies survived for many years in Piedmont, Venice, Mantua and Ferrara. Jews even launched Leghorn on a prosperous new career in this century. (Ref. 292)

One of Italy's great men, Galileo Galilei, astronomer, experimental physicist and mathematician was throttled by the Inquisition, still being promoted by the Church. The outstanding anatomist of the age was Marcello Malpighi, born at Bologna and teacher of medicine there for 25 years. His descriptions of capillaries, Malpighian tufts and corpuscles are only a few of his multitude of important anatomical discoveries. (Ref. 222, 53, 125, 213)

The island of Sicily remained rooted to the past, pretty well untouched by the machinations of politics and commercialization seen in the market society of most of Europe. (Ref. 292) (Continue on page 947)


Most of central Europe was still a part of the Holy Roman Empire, which, however, consisted of several more or less separate parts. First there was a loosely bound union of almost completely independent German states, seven in number, each ruled by an "Elector" and nominally subject to the Habsburg emperor, who was routinely elected by those Electors. The Protestants of the north gave no support militarily, unless the emperor paid for it. Secondly, there was the true Habsburg Empire, which consisted of the Archduchy of Austria, the Kingdom of Bohemia-Moravia, Silesia, the Kingdom of Hungary and other Balkan territories conquered from the Turks. The Habsburgs also had claims to the throne of Spain with all its possessions in Europe. (Ref. 131) But from 1618 to 1648 the terrible Thirty Years War raged, disrupting the entire continent. This was basically a war of mercenary soldiers, and in lieu of pay they lived on the country, with resulting robbery, pillage and outrage. Neither side won, but hostilities finally stopped with the Treaty of Westphalia. The trouble started in the previous century when Ferdinand took over the German and Austrian half of Charles V's Habsburg Empire. The northern German barons protested against that Catholic ruler, and the conflagration started as a civil conflict of Protestant, northern Germany against Catholic, southern areas. It very soon became complicated, however, by the intervention of various other domestic and foreign elements. Some feel that foreign interference and pressures on the German princes actually precipitated the conflict. It had some similarities to the civil war in England and the War of the Fronde in France, in that in each case the crown was Catholic and the recalcitrant nobles tended to be Protestants. It is to be re-emphasized that the Thirty Years War was brutal and destructive, involving a semi-guerrilla force, which plundered, raped and killed wantonly. It was a series of bloody campaigns in which civilians often suffered more than soldiers. The following material, giving more of the actual details of this war, has been taken chiefly from Roden (Ref. 184), unless otherwise indicated. (Continue on page 948)



To some this was primarily a religious war in defense of one of the three faiths involved. The Calvinists fought for recognition as co-equals with Lutheranism and Catholicism. For most rulers it was a political struggle; for the Habsburgs it was a struggle to retain some measure of control over the various political-units in Germany and to keep some semblance of empire. It was also a civil war among jealous territorial princes and a dynastic struggle among ruling families such as the Wittelbachs in Bavaria. It was a predatory war fought by mercenary generals for fame, power and booty. Finally, it was an international war for territorial and economic gains, including efforts of Dutch, - Spaniards, Swedes, Bohemians and French.

STAGES OF THE WAR (Named for Habsburg opponents in each period)

Frederick V of the Palatinate became a Calvinist Bohemian king and fought Habsburg Ferdinand II, but he got poor support and lasted only one winter. Ferdinand occupied and completely subdued all of Bohemia, outlawed the Czech language and replaced the elective kingship by the hereditary rule of the Habsburgs. The remarkable achievements of the Bohemian Baron von Wallenstein during the war years are detailed in subsequent paragraphs and the CZECHOSLOVAKIA section of this chapter.


Christian IV of Denmark responded to Franco-English pressure and invaded lower Saxony, but was eventually defeated by both General Tilly and General Wallenstein, of the Catholic imperialist forces. In fact, by 1630 imperial and Catholic power had reached its greatest mark and the German princes, Catholic and Protestant alike, began to worry about their own rights and powers.


After Sweden's Gustavus Adolphus finished his Polish War, in which he obtained the Lithuanian coast and bases in Prussia, he swung around and into Germany, probably for both religious and territorial reasons. After defeating Tilly near Leipzig, Gustavus, who spoke fluent German (learned from his mother), became a German hero and Protestant forces flocked to his side. The Swedes moved far into south Germany and even occupied Munich. In 1632, in a battle with Wallenstein, now restored to power again by the Habsburgs, Gustavus Adolphus was killed while leading his victorious forces. Swedish power was at once dimmed by the disappearance of this forceful king-general and his minister, Oxenstierna, could not carry the field much longer. Furthermore, after Wallenstein was murdered by some of his own sub-generals, the Catholic forces again became more active and forced the Swedes out of southern Germany. Then Saxony made a separate peace with Errperor Ferdinand III, in the Peace of Prague (1635). The terms again gave much power to the emperor, and although accepted unwillingly by most of the German princes, France could not acquiesce in this increase in imperial power.

Map taken from Reference 97


So, in 1635 France declared war on Spain and Austria, and began full scale war in the Pyrenees, in the north against the Spanish Netherlands and in the east against Spanish and Austrian possessions in Germany. In the long run Swedish-French power prevailed almost everywhere and Germany was thoroughly exhausted. Debates about peace drug on in Westphalia for 4 years while armies continued to fight, with the final peace concluded in 1648.


The war left the basic Habsburg Empire intact but destitute. Only the territorial lords seemed to get a clear-cut victory. Prussia emerged as a strong state and Bavaria gained territory and retained the Upper Palatinate. While most German cities were ruined, Hamburg actually prospered by taking over the previous function of Antwerp as a center of refuge for all exiles, after the latter city had fallen to the Spaniards. (Ref. 213) No religious freedom remained in the Habsburg hereditary lands. France and Spain remained at war for another 11 years after the treaty, but France, along with Sweden, reaped the most important benefits. Toul, Metz and Verdun were all given to France, along with other valuable cities and territories in Alsace which gave a bridgehead whereby France could move forces into Germany at will. Sweden got western Pomerania, Stettin and many harbors, keeping good control over northern Germany. Holland and the Swiss Cantons were permanently free.

Following the Treaty of Westphalia the histories of Germany and Austria definitely diverge, with various German states remaining definitely independent, although soon to be dominated by Prussia. The Habsburgs confined their interests and power to the soon to be formed Austrio-Hungarian Empire. The war had cut the population of Germany from 20,000,000 to 13,500,000 and there was a dearth of men. At the Congress of Franconia in Nuremberg in 1650 a resolution was adopted that every man should be allowed two wives and every male should be so reminded from the pulpits. Taxes were imposed upon unmarried women. By 1700 equality of the sexes had been restored and there were again 20,000,000 Germans.

The many Jews in Germany led a precarious existence in this century. In Frankfort in 1614 a Christian crowd forced entry into a ghetto and after a night of plunder and destruction, compelled 1,380 Jews to leave the city. In general the higher classes of people and clergy were tolerant, but the lower clergy and masses were easily stirred to a frenzy of hate. After the Thirty Years War persecution lessened and the Jewish settlements expanded rapidly.

The second half of the 17th century after the Treaty of Westphalia presents an entirely new picture in Central Europe and we shall now examine that situation in more detail.


Although still divided into many separate states, overall the peasants of Germany occupied a middle ground between the serfs of the east and the freer life to the west. Their slow emancipation was an important reason for the slow appearance of the industrial revolution in Germany. The food situation was helped greatly as the potato, yielding 4 times as much carbohydrate per acre as wheat, reached even eastern Germany in this century. (Ref. 8) Drunkenness became a universal German characteristic, perhaps fueled by various strong spirits developed by the Dutch. (Ref. 270) The Fuggers had gone bankrupt in 1627; the Hanseatic League, with their trade taken over by Holland, was dissolved in 1669. (Ref. 8) Since prior to that wage-earners had begun to make up at least 50% of the Hanseatic town populations, this probably meant considerable change in life styles. (Ref. 292) German intellectual power could not be denied. Gottfred Wilhelm Leibniz, man of the world, intimate with statesmen and courts, accepting both Protestantism and Catholicism, writing 50 treatises and embracing God and the world with desperate optimism, was the great philosopher of Central Europe, living and working at various times in Leipsig, Jena, Altdorf, Mainz and finally Berlin, where he was the first president of the Berlin Scientific Society. He published an infinitesimal calculus in 1684, 3 years before Newton's similar work. (Ref. 52, 38) (Continue on page 948)

It may help to clarify the rather confusing situation in Germany if we discuss some of the more important divisions, separately.


After 1618 these two states were united by marriage of two branches of Hohenzollerns and were under the same ruler. This was the third largest state in Germany, behind only Bavaria and Saxony in size. (Ref. 8) During the Thirty Years War the area had been devastated by the Swedes, but the accession of Frederick William Hohenzollern, the Great Elector, in 1640, led to an astonishingly rapid recovery in economy, prestige and power. He organized a central government with a civil service, a postal system and a graduated income tax, along with improved roads and a canal system which permitted the growth of Berlin. Because the state was in the path of the Swedish armies in another of their attempts to conquer Poland (First Northern War of 1655-1660), Frederick was inevitably drawn in, but in the end he did gain full sovereignty over East Prussia. In 1680 his warships even defeated the Spanish navy off the Portuguese coast and by 1688 he had a modern standing army of 30,000 men to protect his 1,000,000 people. (Ref. 131)

The success of Frederick's administrative system started Prussia on a path of more absolute monarchy, while Holland and England were moving toward decentralization of government. For many years the Prussian monarch was intermittently at war with France and/or Sweden, sometimes with and sometimes against other German states and the empire, but finally affecting a rapproachment with Louis XIV, joining Saxony, Bavaria and some other states already getting subsidies from France. Frederick broke with that country only after the French king had revoked the Edict of Nantes, in 1685, resuming the persecution of the Huguenots. 15,000 to 20,000 of the latter went to settle in Prussian cities and became influential in cultural life then and for centuries to come.

The Great Elector's pretentious son, Frederick III, took over Prussia in 1688. His constructive efforts were few and concerned entirely with cultural advancements - establishing an Academy of Arts in 1696 and the University of Halle in 1694, which soon became a center for the emancipation of German culture from foreign influence. But the enormous sums he spent on beautifying Berlin, importing architects, painters, etc. almost bankrupted his state. (Ref. 184) In 1700 Berlin had 25,000 Protestant, frugal, efficient people and Prussia was spread all over the northern European plain from the Rhine at Holland to the Neman, some 500 miles east, but cut off from the sea, with poor soil and no natural re- sources. (Ref. 131) (Continue on page 949)


Duke Maxmilian I ruled through the Thirty Years War as an absolutist, with full support of the Catholic Church, actually gaining some territory at the final peace treaty. During the succeeding reign of the next Elector, Maximilian II Immanuel, Bavaria became one of the focal points of European intrigue, chiefly because of involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession of 1700. Bavaria's treasury was subsidized by-the French.

(Continue on page 951)


Saxony quickly regained its importance after the terrible Thirty Years War and Leipzig became a center for book trade, newspapers and journals. Dresden's Art Gallery was one of the best in the north. But Saxony's Elector, Frederick Augustus I, accepted the elective crown of Poland in 1697 and the unnatural tie-up of Saxony and Poland eventually led to the downfall of both. We shall hear much more of this under the discussion of POLAND later in this chapter. (Continue on page 952)


Palatinate, Hanover, Wurttemberg, Baden, Hesse and Mecklenburg remained as other important states in this period, in which overall there were some 300 separate principalities. One of the most basic discoveries of the age was made by the Jesuit, Athanius Kircher of Fulda, Hesse, when he initiated the use of the microscope in diagnosing disease and found the "worms" in the blood of plague victims and realized their significance.

(Continue on page 953)


To regress for a moment, the learned Emperor Rudolf II ruled the Habsburgs domains from the last quarter of the 16th century on into this 17th. As the new century began he lost Hungary, Moravia and Austria to his brother Matthias and when Rudolf died in 1612, Matthias became emperor, living just long enough to see the beginning of the Thirty Years War. He was succeeded by Ferdinand II.

Austria was a Catholic world with a heavy Jesuit influence. The center of the empire was the Hofburg palace in Vienna, a structure not elegant like Versailles, but with a court of 2,000 noblemen and 30,000 servants. The Habsburg monarchy had emerged from the Treaty of Westphalia with only minor losses of territory such as Alsace, but the Holy Roman Empire, as such, had disintegrated. Ferdinand III, emperor at the end of the war, and the next four emperors, were all skilled musicians and composers. There was continued hostility from France and from the Turks who surged-up on Austria's eastern frontier 300,000 strong in 1683, just after Vienna had been hit by a plague which killed 100,000 people. France supported the Turks at that time and Vienna was surrounded on three sides, with even women manning some of the defenses and the people on the point of starvation. At the lowest ebb, Jan Sobieski, the Polish king, marched through the Vienna Woods with 50,000 Poles and Austrians and put the Turks to rout. At that point Leopold I, a typical Habsburg with a swarthy complexion and a projecting lower jaw, which was almost disfiguring, was emperor. Although almost always at war he was not a warrior and preferred theology, arts, the study of genealogy and similar pursuits. The basis of his policy was that the throne and empire had been fixed on the Habsburgs by God, but in actuality his real power came from the sword of Prince Eugene of Savoy, a frail man born in Paris and rejected by the French army, and who had turned to Leopold to become general of the cavalry at age 26 and commander of the Imperial Army of Hungary at 34. It was he who finally crushed the Sultan's main forces, 3 times larger than his own, at Zenta in September of 1697. This led to the Peace of Karlowitz in 1699 which gave all Hungary, with the exception of Croatia, to the Habsburg Empire. (Ref. 131)

In this century Salzburg was a separate territory and was not even involved in the Thirty Years War. A University was established there in 1623. (Continue on page 954)


As the century opened Hungary was still a partitioned country and a battered one. Besides Turkish atrocities, the Habsburg administration began to take land from the estates in eastern Hungary and forced a counter-reformation against the Protestants. Istvan (Stephen) Bocskay revolted against the Austrians with an army of wild soldier-herdsmen and drove the emperor 's General Basta out. Bocskay became the prince of an enlarged Transylvania and by the Treaty of Vienna of 1606, the Protestants were declared equal to the Catholics. In the same year a new treaty with the Ottoman Porte cancelled all tribute to the sultan, although the territories remained as before. There were then no Turkish aggressive moves for a half century. In 1608 the State Assembly had proclaimed the perpetual serfdom of peasants, and later a group of these called "Haiduks" took to the hills and lived by marauding and pillaging the Turks. (Ref. 126, 292)

A successor prince of Transylvania, Gabriel Bethlen (also Bethlen Gabor), developed mines, industry, and foreign trade and promoted education. He and his successor, Rakoczi I (1630-1644) were able to hold off the Habsburgs. The power and status of Transylvania ended, however, when the Turks made another great excursion and installed once again an Ottoman prince over that area. The Hungarians appealed to Leopold I in Vienna for help but he was fighting France and was also reluctant to offend the sultan and gave only token help. Hungary went into a decline and soon the Turks swept across to the walls of Vienna. As described above in the section on AUSTRIA, the tide soon turned and the Turks were beaten back across the Danube. As noted previously too, the Peace of Karlowitz in 1699 gave all of Hungary with the exception of Croatia, back to the Habsburgs. The Hungarian Diet fixed the succession of the ruler of Hungary in the male line of the Habsburgs, so that thereafter there was truly an Austro-Hungarian Empire. (Ref. 126)

An interesting side-light relative to the long, intermittent Christian-Turkish wars in Hungary had to do with the basic prerequisites of battle. Just as modern warfare would grind to a halt without gasoline and related substances, so the 16th and 17th century warfare was inconceivable without barley (or oats) for the cavalry. "No barley, no war."1 At about the same time Hungarian cattle breeders found that they could obtain great profits exporting cattle to western Europe, so they stopped cultivating their arable land and bought grain rather than producing it. (Ref. 292)

(Continue on page 954)


Moravia was a margraviate and Bohemia a kingdom, both under the domination of the Habsburg family, although a Calvinist king was elected in Bohemia in 1618. One of the triggers that initiated the Thirty Years War was a rebellion in Bohemia in that year against heavy taxes which had been levied on all Protestants by Emperor Ferdinand as a measure to bring the country back to Catholicism and Habsburg obedience. The rebellion was put down over a period of 3 years of war by the emperor with troops and money from Spain, German Catholics and the Pope. Thereafter only the Catholic religion was permitted in both Bohemia and Moravia. (Ref. 8) During that war a petty Bohemian nobleman,

Albrecht von Wallenstein, made soldiering into a vast speculative business. Although nominally only a contractor for the emperor, in effect he was almost a sovereign himself, because of the size of military forces which he commanded and supplied by taxation, outright plunder and massive, complex market transactions. In the latter, he cooperated with a Flemish businessman named Hans De Witte. Both were untouched by religious fervor or business scruples, but they developed an army of exceptional efficiency, numbering over 50,000 at its peak. Wallenstein's assassination was arranged by some of his enemies in the emperor's court in 1634. (Ref. 279)

Late in the Thirty Years War Bohemia was invaded again, this time by Swedes under Gustavus Adolphus. Ferdinand II bore the brunt of the fighting, but even then the Swedes penetrated through until they were actually in sight of Vienna. Then their long supply lines began to fail and they withdrew. But Bohemia was ruined, with only 6,000 villages out of an original 35,000 considered habitable. The population fell from 2,000,000 to 700,000. (Ref. 213) The lower classes of Bohemia along with the city-states of Germany were subordinated to princely power based on control by standing, professional armies. (Ref. 279) Recovery began, somewhat, at the end of the century when, along with Saxony, the Bohemian woolen and linen industries began to even outdo the old English and Flemish markets. (Ref. 8) (Continue on page 954)


The long antagonism of the buffer state of Savoy and Switzerland flared again as the Savoyards attacked Geneva in 1602. The attack was frustrated, but it resulted in a reaffirmation of alliance between the whole Swiss Confederation and France, although the Catholic cantons also retained their alliance with Spain. (Ref. 119) Officially the Swiss remained neutral in the Thirty Years War but they were involved some on their border at the Valtelline Pass, the most important link between Habsburg Austria and their Spanish possessions in Italy. In 1625 the pass was seized by a Swiss force in French pay, but in 1637 pastor George Jenatsch, originally a Protestant from Zurich, turned Catholic, secured Austrian aid and drove out the French. By treaty of 1639 the passes were left open to the use of Spanish troops. The chief occupation of the Swiss in the last half of the century was fighting, but usually as mercenaries. Tens of thousands of their men hired out in this way, particularly in France. Some of the Swiss cities, particularly Basle, became important relay stations for intercontinental traffic where overland vehicular freight, the Rhine and mule trains from the mountains came together. Some of the large transport firms made their headquarters in Switzerland. (Ref. 292) (Continue on page 956)


All of the Atlantic coast nations had overseas empires, but the rise of French and British enterprise was made possible by smooth cooperation between business capital and government administrations. In contrast to Spain's constant constraints of the market and confiscatory taxation of private capital, the northern nations set taxation limits and allowed total wealth, private and public, to expand. (Ref. 279) (Continue on page 958)


The Habsburgs had convinced the Castilian nobility that the Spanish, as the strongest, most orthodox and "purest" people in Europe, should police Germany and the Netherlands, control France and invade England2. In these imperial enterprises, the Spanish manpower and the American gold and silver were squandered. Spain became a mere channel for its colonies' silver as it quickly went into the purses of other nations. (Ref. 260)

There was further enfeeblement by the Inquisition and by decline of Spanish industries because of high taxes. The only profitable enterprises seemed to be the making of cheap brandy, production of some cotton and some iron works, particularly in the Basque area where every village seemed to have a forge. Smelting was done with charcoal, which exhausted the forests. Overall, however, it was a period of industrial, commercial and financial failures, along with inadequate government, military defeats and some eleven general famines during the century. (Ref. 260)

In the 1620s and 1630s a powerful Dutch West India Company cut the Spanish shipping lines and stopped the flow of silver from America and thus indirectly allowed French and English settlements in the Caribbean. (Ref. 8) The wool industry was gradually lost to German wool and imported cotton. By 1630 there was violence and revolt. The situation was certainly not helped by terrible epidemics of plague between 1647 and 1654 in which half the population of Seville died. In Galacia the Church and other land owners tried to draw in the land leases (see page 623) and the tenants were thrown into long, legal struggles.

Some migrated to America, Portugal and Madrid. (Ref. 213) War with France, which began as an offshoot of the Thirty Years War, continued on for 12 years after the Treaty of Wesphalia but finally ended in 1659 with the Peace of the Pyrenees, after which Spain was pushed back behind the Pyrenees for good and began sinking down to the level of a secondary power. Even so Spain did add to her overseas empire with the addition of the Philippine Islands.

There is little doubt but what religious issues played a great part in the decline of Spain. Besides the terrible effects of the Inquisition, Philip III's deep religious devotion was a great factor in that as he personally developed 9,000 monasteries he put 1/3 of the entire population in the church service and he left the government entirely to the Duke of Lerma. Intrigue, corruption and decline followed. By 1700 the male line of the Spanish Habsburgs died out. Leopold of Austria had trained his younger son, Karl, to be King of Spain, but due to the early death of the older brother Joseph, who was the Austrian-line successor, Karl had to take over Austria instead of Spain. The resulting vacuum resulted in the War of the Spanish Succession, starting in 1700 and carrying on into the next century.

A few other remarks about Spain in this period seem indicated. Velasquez was a fine painter in that country. A feature often little noticed was the great influx of French into the Iberian peninsula. Artisans, odd job men, retailers, masons, builders as well as peasant farmers came from France apparently because of over-population there. As many as 200,000 Frenchmen may have been in Spain by 1669. (Ref. 260) (Continue on page 958)


Portuguese power and prosperity continued to decline under the Spanish rule which had begun in 1580. By 1640, however, a revolt organized by a Professor Ribeiro, supported by the nobility and the clergy and financed some by France, then at war with Spain, succeeded and the Duke of Braganza became the Portuguese leader. After the country became officially independent by the Treaty of Lisbon in 1668, the Duke became King Joao IV. There followed 28 years of war with Spain to defend that independence. Later, while Pedro II was king, gold fields were discovered in Brazil and after 1697 the Portuguese court was one of the most lavish in Europe, and no local money was needed for support. Multiple aqueducts brought water from the mountains to Portuguese cities throughout this century. (Ref. 260) (Continue on page 960)

FRANCE (The Century of Louis XIV, the Sun-King)

After the assassination of Henri IV in 1610, civil and religious war again erupted, not to end until 1624 when Armand Jean du Plessis, duc de Richelieu (he had been made Cardinal in 1622) took over the reigns of government, as Louis XIII remained chiefly a figure-head. The king died in 1643 of intestinal tuberculosis. (Ref. 260) Although not a good financial administrator, for better or worse Richelieu increased the power of the royal bureaucracy at the expense of the nobles and Huguenots. His greatest achievements, however, were in foreign affairs, as he restored French influence in Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. His work actually laid the foundation for the later power of Louis XIV, all of this occurring in spite of droughts, locust plagues and intermittent famines. (Ref. 260)

France's participation in the Thirty Years War was chiefly as an ally of Sweden, first with subsidies and later with troops who fought the Bavarians. Along with the Swedes they ravaged Bavaria on their second invasion in 1648, just before the Treaty of Westphalia in which France received absolute sovereignty over Metz, Toul, Verdun and Upper and Lower Alsace, although some of those cities retained their membership in the Habsburg Empire. The French monarchy gradually became the greatest and most consolidated power in Europe. One reason for this domination was manpower, as France had 20,000,000 people in 1660 while Spain and England each had but 5,000,000 and Italy 6,000,000. The Holy Roman Empire had 21,000,000 but it was an empire in name only and was impoverished by the Thirty Years War. Although the French had cannon, they were not very effective. They developed a flintlock rifle by 1630, but it was accurate only up to 100 yards and until the end of the century the steel-headed pike on a wooden shaft was still the main infantry weapon. (Ref. 213)

Another reason for French supremacy is to be found in the calibre of its chief ministers. Guilio Mazarini, born in Sicily, sent as papal nuncio to Paris, caught the eye of Richelieu and after he had been made a cardinal (even though he had never been ordained a priest) in 1641, he followed Richelieu as chief minister under the name of Jules Mazarin, in 1642. He was the guiding hand at the Treaty of Westphalia. He served the Queen Mother well (Louis XIV was but 5 years old when he came to the throne) and perhaps was her lover. Even the king was only 1/4 French, being 1/2 Spanish from Aragon, Basque and Castilian lines (with possibly some Jewish and Moorish blood in the back-ground) by his mother Anne of Austria and 1/4 Italian by his grandmother, Marie de Medici. (Ref. 147) He was only 5' 5" tall, but robust, a good horseman and dancer, a skillful jouster and could turn a woman's head. (Ref. 53) He was basically a country person, loving the outdoors and his mind was not as good as his manners. He reigned from 1643 to 1715. Early in his rule some discontented nobles formed a resistance league, the "Fronde", which eventually came to open rebellion resulting in disruption of the Paris government and civil war in 1652. The nobles were conclusively defeated by the Crown and were tamed at the price of escaping taxations so that thereafter the economic burdens of the throne were thrown entirely on the lower classes. It was in this civil war, chiefly a war by Prince de Conde, trying to unseat Mazarin, that Mademoiselle de Montpersier, niece of Louis XIII, became known as the "Maid of Orleans" as she led her soldiers to take Orleans and later Paris, for Conde'. McNeill (Ref. 279) says that the successful suppression of the Fronde marked a turning point in European war and statecraft. Northern Europe then developed civilian control of army supply, paid soldiers regularly with money from tax revenues and learned to coordinate infantry, cavalry and artillery. All this had already been done by the 15th century in Italian city-states.

At the same time as the "Fronde", France was continuing a 23 year war with Spain, ending it in 1659 in the Peace of the Pyrenees, which probably only set up a situation which led to still another, later war. One cannot but help but relate France and German~ in this period to the Middle East in the 20th century where civil wars and wars with neighbors and various types of foreign interventions occur almost simultaneously and constantly. The Peace of the Pyrenees, besides yielding some territories to France, gave Marie Teresa, Spanish King Philip's daughter, in marriage to Louis XIV. Supposedly Louis, in turn, gave up all rights to succession to the Spanish throne. The peace was a triumph for Mazarin, who soon amassed a tremendous personal fortune amid the poverty of the common people. In the latter part of his reign, Louis also began to show defects of bigotry, vainness and arrogance. In spite of everything, however, France was well governed. Laws were revised into the Code Louis (1667-1673), a system of police was established in Paris, the streets of that city were paved and lighted by 5,000 lamps.

Upon Mazarin's death Nicolas Fouquet became chief finance minister, but was found to be incredibly corrupt. He was followed by Jean Baptiste Colbert, a remarkably able man who formed a nationally unified system of agriculture, industry, commerce and finance to support the "Grand Monarchy". Paris had already become a fabulous place, surrounded by a ring of markets. Although livestock markets were held twice a week, there might be 3,000 horses in any one day. Every district had its livery stable. (Ref. 292) But there was scarcely a year without famine someplace in France. Colbert actually sacrificed agriculture to industry, as he brought in Venetian glassworkers, Swedish iron workers and Dutch cloth-makers. By 1669 there were 44,000 looms in the country. The wealth of the business classes grew, but the condition of the workers became lower than ever on the economic scale. It has often been said that northern France was the industrial area while southern France was wine country. That division is somewhat misleading as witness Languedoc in the heart of the wine country with 450,000 textile workers in 1680 and some 12,000 artisans scattered among the villages of Orleans. (Ref. 292) In 1681 the Languedoc canal was completed, connecting the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean via the canal, the Rhone and the Garonne rivers. (Ref. 8)

By the time of Colbert's death in 1683, France had known 10 years of its greatest prosperity, but it had not been easy. Representing the classical Frank of French heritage, Colbert had had trouble with the more frivolous Gauls. The great nobles refused to invest in his overseas projects and the workmen refused to give up their 60 public holidays a year (not counting Sundays) and there were many strikes. Colbert, himself, worked 15 hours a day, 7 days a week. Lest we think too highly of him, however, it should be noted that he encouraged the slave trade and increased the number of galleys in the French navy from 6 to 40, each containing 200 slave oarsmen. He did not use blacks for these galleys, as he felt that they had no stamina and died too quickly, but used French criminals and captured Turks. (Ref. 147) His shipbuilding exploited the forestry resources of the entire kingdom. (Ref. 260)

This was an age of strict manners and loose morals. Public baths became less frequent than previously both because of the fear of infections, particularly syphilis, and the moral concepts of the Church. Even at the king's court baths were taken only rarely, in cases of sickness. (Ref. 260) Table manners were improving and although the "Sun King" ate with his fingers, forks were now in general use and napkins were in vogue. As with many kings and most European nobles, the monarch had many women, some of whom have become among the famous courtesans of history. But there were also famous and productive men in this era. Artists, playwrights (such as Moliere), scultpors, literary men and scientists all thrived in this glorious period of France. We shall speak of Huygens, Descartes, and others in the separate science summary at the end of this chapter. The science of surgery was elevated in France after Felix operated successfully on King Louis XIV's fistula. It was decreed to be a liberal art and its exponents began to assume a high rank in French society. (Ref. 53) There were 24 medical schools in France, of which 4 were dominant - Montpellier, Paris, Toulouse and Strasbourg (Ref. 125), but it must be admitted that in general medicine was bad. Infant mortality, helped by the physicians' bleeding, purging and emetics, was appalling. (Ref. 147) It seems strange that as late as this 17th century the muddy Seine was the chief water source for the city of Paris and no purification system was present. Water was sold by carriers who extolled its virtues, but it was an admitted purgative and, of course, unpleasant for foreigners. (Ref. 260) Religion was an important phase of life and as important as politics is now. One of the scientist-mathematicians of the age was also one of the prominent figures in the great religious furors of the time. Blaise Pascal at age 11 had already composed a treatise on vibrating bodies and at 19 he contrived a computing machine. Later he came close to inventing the calculus, but by that time he was also embroiled in the intra-faith controversy between Jansenism and Jesuitism. Blase's "Provincial Letters" became the strongest Jansenist denunciation of the Jesuit posture. In a sense, Jansenism, in its reformation attitude with the Catholic Church, was the final effort of the Reformation in France.

Map from Reference 97

Louis XIV was suspected by the rest of Europe of wanting to conquer the continent, but actually his military objectives may have been much less extensive, wanting only to secure his own borders from the Spanish Netherlands in the north down to the Barcelonette Valley, which had access from Italy. Thus, the two aggressive wars of France were the War of Devolution to lay claim to a part of the Spanish Netherlands (1667-1678) and the attack in the Dutch Republic in 1672, which unfortunately flared into a European-wide war, in spite of Louis' best attempts at arbitration. Louis XIV built the great palace at Versailles near the end of the century so that he would never have to return to Paris, but actually he lived there only during his later years. Like most feudal kings he was always on the move, generally at war. (Ref. 147) Louis kept a standing peace-time army of 150,000 men, which was increased to 400,000 in the event of war. Versailles became the official seat of government in May of 1682. The palace had 3,000 mica-paned windows in 270 rooms, but no baths or toilets. There were 1,500 jets of water from octagonal lakes. When there was no war in progress with Holland, some 4 million tulip bulbs were imported from that country each year. The construction required 36,000 men, 6,000 horses and there was a high mortality rate from both injury and malaria. (Ref. 131)

Louis' relations with the Protestant Huguenots of France were one of the crucial defects of his reign. Fluctuating between tolerance and non-tolerance for years, this Catholic king finally, in 1681, turned again to a Holy war against the Protestant Huguenots. The majority of the latter, terrified, pretended conversion, but thousands fled, abandoning homes and properties. In 1685 the king revoked the Edict of Nantes and France was almost entirely Catholic. The few remaining Huguenots in many provinces were then subjected to horrible tortures, some say much worse than the later revolutionary terror of 1793. Of the 1,500,000 Huguenots in the country in 1660, 400,000 escaped across guarded borders. The Elector of Brandenburg gave them so friendly a reception that by 1697 one-fifth of Berlin was French. The Protestants were unpopular in France probably for the same reason that Jews were unpopular in pre-World War II Germany - they were too rich, successful and clannish. (Ref. 147)

Colbert's massive system of state-regulated commerce and industry had begun to collapse before his death in 1683. (Ref. 53) Many factors played their part - the drain of men from the farm to the factory and battlefield, self strangulation from governmental regulation, the loss of the Huguenot economic skills and some of their savings. Taxes rose even as prosperity declined. Then, as a final straw, Louis XIV's imperialism frightened Emperor Leopold I, Elector Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria, the Elector of Brandenburg, King Karl (Charles) XI of Sweden and Stadhalder William III of the United Provinces (Netherlands) into forming the League of Augsburg for defense against the French. Louis then made a great mistake. He attacked Germany and thus committed himself to a long, debilitating war and freed his Dutch enemy to help launch William III in his conquest of England. By 1695 Louis had only second-rate generals left and although they were still celebrating victories, the French people, taxed as never before, were nearing exhaustion in body and spirit. In 1694 famine had been added, the national economy verged on collapse, transportation was in chaos, foreign commerce was at a standstill because of enemy fleet blockades and privateers. (Ref. 53) Poverty, famine, disease and war reduced the population of France from some 23,000,000 in 1670 to some 19,000,000 in 1700. At last Louis realized his follies in continuing warfare and the Peace of Ryswick (1697) ended the war in so far as England, Holland and Spain were concerned. Separate peace was signed later with the German empire.

We must not make the mistake of centering all our attention on Paris and the Court in these centuries. Much of what is present day France had only limited or no real allegiance to the central government. In Aquitaine, for example, between 1590 and 1715 there were about 500 insurrections or would-be insurrections among the peasants. In Savoy, which remained separate from France proper in the early century under Charles-Emmanuel I, there were innumerable calamities - plague, extreme poverty, bad harvests and wars of their own. Out of this turmoil a new aristocracy supplanted the old feudal nobility. (Ref. 292) (Continue on page 961)


In 1609 Spain recognized the independence of 7 provinces of which Holland was the chief one, while keeping the entire southern Spanish Netherlands. Those 7 provinces warred with Spain (1621-1648) as an off-shoot of the Thirty Years War and after the peace, formed in essence, the Dutch Republic. (Ref. 8) It was initially ruled by a States-General made up of representatives from each of the provincial assemblies. The control was an oligarchy of business men with the aristocratic House of Orange given the control of the army. Those two ruling classes clashed at intervals, but it did not seriously interfere with the tremendous prosperity and progress of the country. In the first half of the century Holland had the intellectual leadership of Europe. The Frenchman, Descartes, working in Holland, developed his laws of refraction, his philosophy and his mathematics in his Discourse on Method, published in 1637. (Ref. 125) Van Leeuwenhoek did his early work with the microscope and single-celled organisms; the artists Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer and Ruisdael did their painting; and Baruch Espinosa, later known simply as "Spinoza", born in Armsterdam of Jewish-Spanish heritage, wrote his philosophy, alienating all religion, not accepting Christianity - and he was cast out of Judaism. Christian Huygens, who developed the wave theory of light was second only to Newton as the greatest scientist of the age, inventing among other things, the pendulum clock. (Ref. 53) Two Dutchmen were the greatest medical teachers of the time - Sylvius and Boerhaave, both at Leiden. Jan Baptiste van Helmont (1577-1644) was the leading Paracelsian and iatrochemist of the century, although he re jected Paracelsius ' astrology, as well as the medicine practiced by most churchmen of the era. He felt that enzymes were fundamental to all physiological mechanisms, a most modern concept. (Ref. 125)

Amsterdam became the financial and trade center of the world, where both expertise and credit were readily available. When Lisbon was closed to Dutch trade as a result of French and English influence, the Dutch had to find their own way to the East and they were soon challenging command of the Indies with Portugal. The Dutch navy became supreme, supplanting Portuguese commercial power in the South Seas. The Dutch East India Company took control in Batavia in 1619, Ceylon in 1638, the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 and Sumatra in 1667. It paid dividends averaging 18% over a period of 198 years. Of 20,000 vessels carrying the maritime commerce of Europe in 1665, 15,000 were Dutch. In the middle of the century 33% of busy Amsterdam's East India trade was in pepper. (Ref. 53, 222)

But to regress a little, in the middle of the century Holland had some serious difficulties. It was in 1651 that the English Parliament passed a Navigation Act forbidding foreign vessels to bring any merchandise into England except that locally produced. One of the Dutch-Anglo wars resulted and the supremacy of the English naval power at that time was soon obvious. An English blockade of the Dutch coast ruined the economy and the population approached starvation. At that point Jan de Witt undertook the leadership of the country. He was diligent and devoted to the tasks of the government. For awhile England continued to dominate, taking over New Amsterdam in North America, among other indignities and thus started the 2nd Dutch War. In the end the Dutch still lost New York, but gained some territory in South America and more freedom on the seas. A four year Portuguese war over Brazilian interests started in 1657. (Ref. 222) Jan de Witt and his brother Conrelis finally lost favor with their people and were assassinated. The Dutch Republic went down with them.

Protestant Holland and her successes were an affront to Louis XIV and in 1672 he entered Holland at the head of a large army and swept to within sight of the steeples of Amsterdam. William of the House of Orange (a family originally from near Avignon, France), now only 21 years of age, was nevertheless appointed Stadholder and Captain-General of the army, forever. Despite his army's holding efforts, he finally had to open the dikes and flood a great part of Holland, leaving Amsterdam as an island. After much destruction, the French withdrew and a peace came in 1678, but William's hatred of the French king never abated and even after he became King of England, the situation remained unchanged.

In the second half of the century there were 2,000,0003 people in Holland and it had an army of 120,000, with the 2nd largest navy of the world. The very fertile land had a large yield per acre, allowing one farmer to feed two non-farmers, thus allowing the promotion of commerce, industry and shipping. The Dutch had some 4,000 merchantmen ships. Amsterdam was the wealthiest city in the world and the greatest port in Europe. In reality it was an archipelago of 70 islands with 500 bridges and surrounded by great windmills on watch towers, to get the energy to keep out the sea. There were multiple industries, factories, warehouses, iron workers and beautiful homes. (Ref. 131) In the naval yards there were mechanical saws, cranes, mast-erecting machines and factories with hydraulic wheels. Dutch dairy farmers were then specializing in dairy products and the large scale export of cheese. (Ref. 292) From 1609 the Amsterdam Exchange Bank was the focus of continental trade, commerce and finance. The fortune of Amsterdam marks the decline of the great credit fairs of Europe. A stock exchange was developed, dealing in government stocks and shares in the Dutch East India Company. Even the concept of a commodities market was present, with men dealing in "futures" in such things as herring and wheat. Leyden continued as a textile manufacturing center, but already labor-management troubles appeared as a forerunner of capitalism's albatross. There were at least 5 great strikes in that city in this century. (Ref. 8, 292)

It is of interest that one of the greatest trade commodities in early 17th century Holland was the tulip bulb. This famous flower had been brought from Turkey via Carolus Clusius, previously Prefect of the Imperial Medicinal Garden of the Austrian emperor. Any unusual tulip (often resulting from a virus infection) became a status symbol and prices sky-rocketed, with the tulip trade becoming a full-time occupation for many. Speculation in "futures" followed and laws and regulations were drawn up defining the way business should be carried on. Sometimes a single bulb would sell for 2,500 florins. Finally, however, as more and more bulbs flooded the market the collapse came and by mid-century Holland was on the brink of bankruptcy with this as a major factor. Tulip-mania ended, but the flower remained. (Ref. 13) Tea was introduced to the Dutch in this century, probably from Japan and soon all Europe thought that it would cure all illnesses. (Ref. 211)

In religion the Dutch found it profitable to practice a degree of toleration broader than elsewhere in Christendom. The majority were Calvinists, but the Catholics were so numerous that suppression was impractical. Marrano Jews accumulated in many of the cities and they were granted freedom of worship but were forbidden to marry Christians.

The Jews included some of the wealthiest merchants. Some 4,000 Portuguese-Jewish families built a beautiful synagogue, which is still one of the sights -of Amsterdam. About 1630 Ashkenazaic, or Eastern (German) Jews arrived but were not welcomed well by the existing Sephardic group. Dutch cities were flooded with books and publishers and in at least five different cities there were books printed in Latin, Greek, German, English, French and Hebrew, as well as in Dutch. Amsterdam, alone, had 400 shops with books.

The area now called Belgium broke free from Spain for about 20 years at the opening of this century under Archduke Albert, but then it fell back under Spanish rule. Although ethnically diverse, the people were overwhelmingly Catholic, preferring to be dominated by a distant Catholic Spain than be subjected to Protestant neighbors. They welcomed the Jesuits and followed the intellectual lead of the Catholic University of Louvain. By the treaty of Westphalia, Spain had agreed to the closing of the River Scheldt to foreign trade, so that the city of Antwerp and the country 's entire economy was crippled. At the end of the century Belgium served as the battle ground for the French-Spanish wars, with the result that a large section of the beautiful city of Brussels was destroyed by French bombardment in 1695. It is somewhat ironic that Liege had developed a booming armaments industry, supplying much of Europe. (Ref. 279) One of the few great Flemish painters of this century was David Teniers, the Younger. (Continue on page 968)



This 17th century was a time of transition from the island kingdom of Queen Elizabeth to the great European power of the later 18th and l9th centuries. (Ref. 131) The struggle of the English throne to rule with absolute monarchy against the powers of Parliament had ensued through the reigns of Henry VII and VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth I, but it came to an acute reckoning at the death of James I (Stuart of Scotland and son of Mary, Queen of Scots) in 1625. When Charles I then became king, civil war broke out and he countered by declaring war on Spain and France, further deteriorating the financial state of England. In 1628 Parliament issued the "Petition of Right", citing the old Magna Carta and reviewing various limitations on the king. Charles dismissed the Parliament and called none to meet for 11 years. A long civil war followed (the English Revolution, 1640-1688), with the king holding out in Oxford and the Parliament controlling London. Oliver Cromwell emerged as a military organizer, who picked religious enthusiasm as a rallying agent (Puritans), formed the "Ironsides" as a democratic military unit, beheaded Charles after a "trial" by a Rump Commons, suppressed an Irish Catholic insurrection, chastised Scotland again at the battle of Dunbar (1650) and then took to sea, trouncing the Dutch navy and making the English fleet supreme. Cromwell's Puritan supporters, who often wore short hair, were derisively called "Round-heads" in distinction to the wigged Cavaliers, supporters of the king. Commercially England was far behind the Dutch, but it soon became clear that only the English could possibly challenge them. More war with Spain followed and the Spanish fleet was again destroyed. At Cromwell's death in 1658 his republicanism came to an end and the son of Charles I, Charles II, was brought back to the throne, restoring the Stuart Monarchy. Under Cromwell the simple citizen profited little, although the merchant princes prospered from the wars. Rule by army and naked force, even coated by the religious cant of Puritanism, was still offensive and at the end Cromwell's regime was hated perhaps more than any that had gone before.

A few details about the Puritan faith seems appropriate at this time. Durant (Ref. 53) says:

"Perhaps only among the Jews did religion play so pervasive a role in everyday life as among the Puritans; and indeed Puritanism agreed with Judaism in almost everything except the divinity of Christ."

The chief object of life was to escape the fires of hell and the machinations of the Devil. Only a few were destined by God for salvation. They attempted to legislate morality, establishing fasting days, the "blue" Sunday still with us to some extent today, made adultery a capital crime and oaths a severe misdemeanor. Some say that while the Puritan regimen narrowed the mind, it strengthened the will and the character and helped to prepare Englishmen for self rule. An offshoot of the Puritan faith is found in the Quakers, founded by George Fox. Their basic faith was obscured for a time with fantasies and bigotry. They distinguished themselves by allowing no ornaments on their clothing, ref using to remove their hats for any reason whatsoever and by addressing all persons by "thou" and "thee". They were very intemperate in their denunciation of other sects. Pagels (Ref. 163) writes that George Fox, although probably unaware of it, carried on the old Gnostic tradition (see pages 320 and 339), with analogous interpretations of religious experience.

Under Charles II, military and naval power declined and the Dutch navy regained supremacy on the seas. In England, however, there burst out pent-up intellectual energy. We must list such names as Robert Boyle for his work in chemistry, Robert Hooke, the perfecter of the microscope, Halley the great astronomer, Christopher Wren, geometer, astronomer and architect and William Harvey, former student at Padua, who described the circulation of the blood in man. But above all, we must mention Sir Isaac Newton, who, using Galileo's and Kepler’s work, formulated the laws of gravity. Newton developed the calculus and the binomial theorem and used his mathematics in physics and astronomy. His work had far flung consequences, even giving rise in the religious field to Deism. The king conferred an official charter upon the Royal Society of London for improving natural knowledge, in 1662. Most of the men just mentioned, along with some poets like Dryden and Waller, were members. The poet John Milton is said to have introduced more than 600 words into the English language, all derived from the Latin, Greek or Hebrew. (Ref. 218)

The English common man of this time was a coarse, rough, profane individual. When prisoners were hanged, drawn and quartered, their heads were parboiled first with Bay salt and cumin seed, to keep them from putrefaction while on public exhibition and to keep the birds from seizing them. (Ref. 211) Most roads in England were nearly impassable. Carts usually moved at about two miles an hour and were often held up for days by high water. The various parts of England were essentially cut off from each other and that was a factor in making the inns of that day so important and so different from those of today. The inn was a hub of commercial activity. For example, in 1686 Salisbury in Wiltshire, then a small town, could accommodate 548 travelers and 865 horses in its inns. (Ref. 292) Most of London in-city transportation was by boat on the Thames, as the streets were narrow and covered with garbage and filth, crowds of people and deep ruts, which made carriage rides hazardous. There were abnormally cold winters in this century and Londoners held all the festivities of Carnival (Christmas to after Twelfth Night) on the frozen Thames. In early 1683, however, huge ice floes at the mouth of the river froze in ships, so that food and goods ran short and prices quadrupled. But city life took refuge on the frozen river and even huge markets were held. It was a violent city with murders common and frequent hangings and the inevitable drawings and quarterings. Although the richest city in Europe, as late as 1660 London was so short of food that 1/5 of the people who were buried in even prosperous parishes had died of starvation. (Ref. 213) But the nobility continued to live extravagantly. It is said that when Henry Berkeley, Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, went to London he took 150 servants with him. Business in the city was run by fewer than 200 merchants. (Ref. 292)

The population of England and Wales in 1660 has been given at about 5,000,000 and it probably increased to 5,500,000 by 1700. Five-sevenths of the people lived in the towns with 1 out of every 10 Englishmen living in London, with its 750,000 people. Of about 800 market towns in England and Wales, at least 300 were for single trades: 133 for grain; 26 for malt; 6 for fruit; 92 for cattle; 32 for sheep, with others for horses, swine, fishy poultry, dairy products, leather, linen and whatnot. Livestock could be driven to market, sheep much farther (up to 70 miles) than cattle, while grain was carried overland no more than 5 to 10 miles. Leadenhall may have been the largest wholesale market in Europe after about 1666, when 100 stalls sold beef and another 140 were reserved for other meats, not even including fish. (Ref. 292) Child labor was the rule and people were proud to say that any child of 5 years could make his own way. Beer was cheap and everyone drank it, even children, as it was easier to find than decent water. Coffee came in from Turkey about 1650 and tea came from China about the same time. Household staples were dear and the price of grain rose 500% between 1500 and 1700. The historian Nussbaum has stated that a Gregory King estimated in 1696 that 1/4 of the English people were dependent upon alms and that money collected for poor relief equaled 1/4 of the whole export trade. Air pollution was already a problem because of the immoderate use of coal. (Ref. 53)

A very severe epidemic of plague broke out in 1665, with 70,000 Londoners dying of the disease. Tobacco was widely considered to be prophylactic against the plague and even children were encouraged to smoke. (Ref. 214) In 1666 a fire burned for three days, destroying most of London north of the Thames. 200,000 people lost their homes, as 2/3 of the City went up in flames. After this disaster, though, the Corporation of London organized a fire department, fireplugs were placed in the main water pipes, streets were made wider and straighter and sanitation was improved. (Ref. 53) The fire had also destroyed rats, fleas and germs and f or this or perhaps some unknown reason, plague soon disappeared and it was 253 years before native cases of the infection again caused death in England. As a matter of fact, from this time on plague left all of northwestern Europe, although it remained active in the eastern Mediterranean and in Russia. Although quarantine and other public health measures may have helped some, probably the chief reasons lay elsewhere. Wood shortages had resulted in more stone and brick houses4 and thatch roofs, which were homes of rats, had given way to tile and the gray rat had pretty well replaced the carrier black rat. The former did not climb as much and preferred to burrow in the ground rather than live in roofs and house walls. Perhaps also there was some transition in the Pasteurella organism itself, perhaps mutation to the milder Pasteurella pseudo-tuberculosis. (Ref. 140)

It will be noted that no credit has been given the medical profession for the disappearance of the plague. Nevertheless, some progress in this field continued to be made. Thomas Sydenham was a great clinical physician who recognized that each major disease had many varieties. Thomas Willis contributed the De Anatome Cerebi, a thorough study of the nervous system. A circle of arteries at the base of the brain and the 11th cranial nerve still bear his name. The Royal Society, with physicians as the major component, was formed in this century and still exists today. The battle between apothecaries and physicians over the practice of medicine was bitter. (Ref. 125) As the power of plague ebbed, that of typhus fever rose. That infection had first been described in 1643 by Willis, but it did not become a major problem in this century. Measles, in both the 1 6th and 17th centuries appears to have been closely associated with small-pox. A severe epidemic occurred in 1674, causing the extreme degree of contagion of the disease to be recognized. (Ref. 214)

But we must return to the governmental scene. When James II, another devout Catholic, reached the English throne in 1685, he brought back to focus the old "King or Parliament" issue and the latter, continuing the revolt, promptly dethroned him, thus expelling the last Catholic king from the British Isles. After some intrigue, Parliament allowed William of Orange, the great Dutch leader, to arrive with an army and take over the English throne nearly bloodlessly. His royal claim was through his wife, Mary, sister of James, although a Protestant. William, a persistent hater of the French, as we have seen, and Mary made alliances with various European powers in an attempt to curtail the powers of France. Louis XIV was William's sole target. He had taken the English throne to acquire the wealth and land and sea forces to wage a European war. (Ref. 31) He was not interested in the domestic affairs of England and left those problems to ministers, the most influential of which was George Savile, Marquis of Halifax. John Churchill, Earl of Marlborough, was virtually commander-in-chief of armies, leading 8,000 men against the French in Flanders. Later Churchill was dismissed because of royal family intrigues, regaining the king's confidence again only at the end of the century. William just barely lasted out the century, dying in 1702. He was father-less, childless, asthmatic, had a tubercular lung, was partly crippled, lived with a loveless wife (Ref. 31) and was considered a homosexual by most historians. (Ref. 147) During his reign, in spite of an expanding economy, there were constant political battles between landowning Tories (From "Tory", an Irish word for robber) and the money making Whigs (apparently a shortened form of Whiggamore, a band of Scots active in 1648 against Charles I). (Ref. 53) There were also battles between the English and the Scots and with William 's supporters and those who would assassinate him and restore James on the throne. In 1692 an army of 10,000 desperate Irishmen and 10,000 French regulars assembled around Cherbourg, ready to attack England and restore the Catholic James to the English throne. The subsequent invasion fleet was destroyed by the British navy's Admiral Russell, formerly a James backer. On land William's armies were not so successful, with the war finally grinding down to a truce in the Treaty of Ryswick in 1696.

In spite of everything there was some grace and beauty in England. After the Great Fire, Sir Christopher Wren erected 52 new parish churches, most of which stand today. On the economic scene, the Bank of England was formed in 1694 to consolidate some older firms and to get on an even footing with Amsterdam. (Ref. 119) The progressively increasing coal production, particularly at Newcastle, slowly modernized England as this fuel was used in such industries as salt manufacture from sea water, sheet glass, bricks and tile production, sugar refining, bakeries and breweries. We have mentioned before that throughout history people have tended to resist technological progress. This was even true when the first stagecoach went from Manchester to London in a day in 1669 – it would be the end of the noble art of horsemanship, it would ruin saddle and spur manufacturers and Thames boatmen. (Ref. 260) In 1675 10,000 silk-workers of London rose up against the introduction of French ribbon-looms, with which a single worker could weave 10 to 12 ribbons at a time. Soldiers had to be called in when the new machines were burned. But business activity continued anyway. By 1695 the Royal Exchange was handling transactions in public stocks and shares in the Indies and the Bank of England. (Ref. 292)

(Continue on page 970)


Scotland continued as a Protestant stronghold under the common monarchy with England, with Scotland now supplying the Royal House of Stuart for most of the century. On the death of Elizabeth, James VI of Scotland had become James I of England. This was not to say that all was peace and harmony between the two countries, for the Scots were shocked by the execution of Charles I and they were almost immediately to claim the son, Charles II, then exiled in the Netherlands, to be the rightful king of the two nations. This declaration of Charles II as king was made by the Scottish "Covenanters", a group formed to protect Scotland against "popish" practices of the preceding monarch. (Ref. 8) When the new Charles landed in Scotland, professing to support Presbyterianism, he started immediately for the English border, but he was met and defeated by an army led by Cromwell himself. The ultimate result was suppression of this Scottish "revolution" and the country was again subject to England, its separate Parliament dissolved, although it was allowed to send 30 delegates to the London Parliament. Scotland waited and prayed for the Stuart restoration, which came in 1660 with Cromwell's death and finally the ascension of Charles II on the English throne.

Unfortunately, Charles II still had a great tendency to Catholicism and when upon his death his Catholic brother took the throne as James II of England (James VII of Scotland) he immediately started removing Protestants from office, suspended all laws against Catholics and punished ministers who preached against Rome. When the revolution to depose James was started in England it was seconded in Scotland, as bands harried the Jesuits, destroyed the Holyroodhouse printing press and sacked the Chapel Royal. But when William of Orange took over the English throne, he was not immediately accepted by the Scots and in traditional fashion the clans squared off - some for James and some for William - and fought, killed and robbed each other for months. Episcopalians were soon as much the victims as Catholics, as Presbyterianism finally began to triumph. Rob Roy, son-in-law of Gregor Macgregor, became chief of the Macgregor clan in 1693, controlling lands from Loch Lomond to the Braes of Balquihidder. (Ref. 170, 222) (Continue on page 976)


At the end of this section in the last chapter we described the encirclement of 4,000 Spanish troops sent to help the Irish in their rebellion. In the final battle of 1601 the Irish and Spanish lost to the English Lord Mountjoy. The Irish O'Neill with 100 other chieftains and a thousand followers then went into exile on the continent. James and Charles I of England continued the oppression of Ireland, crushing rebellion af ter rebellion and giving land progressively to Protestants at the expense of Catholics. It even became illegal for Catholics to buy land, although most of the Irish remained with their faith, anyway. Caught up in the religious and civil wars of England, in 1641 the Ulster Irish rose, scattering thousands of colonists. In 1646 Irish Catholics beat the English at Blackwater River, but victory was short lived. After Oliver Cromwell defeated and beheaded Charles I, he came to Ireland to get revenge and forever settle the "Irish Question". He smashed Catholic Ireland and its people with massacres. 30,000 lrish hurriedly left for the continent and Ireland lost a quarter of its population. Within 50 years Catholic Ireland was largely owned by wealthy, often absent Protestant English. (Ref. 110)

Later, when James II fled England he went to Ireland, enlisted a Catholic army and attempted to retrieve his throne, but was beaten at the battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Although the resulting treaty yielded the Catholics some land and rights, neither the English nor the Irish Protestant Parliaments would ratify it and the oppression continued. All the inhumanity that was to be visited by Catholics upon the Protestants of France in 1680-1690 had been visited by Protestants upon the Catholics of Ireland, particularly from 1650 to 1660. Those bitter years remain in Irish memory as an undying heritage of hate.

Peasants of Ireland were of ten close to f amine. They bled cows, boiled the blood with some milk and butter and herbs, making a savory blood pudding, a version of which is still known in County Cork and elsewhere. In Tyrone and Derry, the coagulated blood was salted and preserved for use at other times of the year. (Ref. 211) Fortunately for the Irish, one quarter acre of land will yield 20 hundredweight of potatoes and this, with a few pigs, could just sustain a family. (Ref. 213)

The battle of the Boyne was actually not the last gasp for Catholic Ireland. Patrick Sarsfield defended Limerick until a great battle at Aughrim (1691) where William and Mary's Dutch General Ginkel defeated a French General St. Ruth and the Irish. Sarsfield then led some 14,000 troops to the continent to try to continue to fight on against England along with French troops. (Ref. 110) That Irish brigade subsequently played a prominent role in French military history. (Ref. 222) (Continue on page 977)



Many factors allowed the continuation of dominance of Denmark over the geographically larger Norway. Denmark had a much larger population, a much larger capital and much more productive land. Only 5% of Norway is cultivable, while 75% of Denmark is so. The tide of Renaissance splendor which washed in over Denmark never reached as far north as Norway. The country was just basically poor. There was fishing, timber and some farming, but the roads were terrible and the country thinly populated. In the pre-railroad centuries, all of Denmark's military forces could be assembled at any point in a few days, whereas it took weeks or months to bring Norwegians together from scores of separated valleys and fjords. (Ref. 34) Norway stagnated under Danish rule and the only redeeming monarch was Christian IV (1588-1648) who made an honest effort to give the Norwegians a better position. He developed mining, instituted new civil and religious laws and developed Norwegian trading companies. He founded Oslo, naming it "Christiana". In his endless wars with Sweden, however, several Norwegian provinces were given away and Norway's population fell to about 480,000.

The Reformation was manipulated by Denmark to the great detriment of Norway in that Protestantism was forced on her as a means of subjugation. (Ref. 34) Danish language Bibles and hymnals were also forced, doing much to establish a common Dano-Norwegian language. This is still one of the languages of Norway, called "Riksmal", in contrast to the now revived native language "Landsmal". Before Christian IV, the Hansa merchants had established themselves in Bergen and were a parasitic growth on the whole economy. One of the most famous Danish Navy heroes, elevated to nobility under the name of Tordenskjold, was born Peder Wessel, in Trondheim, Norway.

(Continue on page 978)

SWEDEN (Beginning Sweden's Age of Power; the Struggle for the Baltic)

Sweden, proper, goes 1,000 miles north from its southern tip and has 96,000 lakes, but in this 17th century it had only 1,500,000 people. Iron was its chief export, making more that 1/2 the total, with silver and copper being next. (Ref. 131) In about 1625 Flemish techniques of blast furnace construction and metal casting were imported, allowing the casting of excellent iron guns, so that soon Sweden dominated the international cannon market. This boom had been initiated in 1620 when Louis de Geer, a native of Liege, had sent Walloon ironworkers to this Scandinavian country. (Ref. 270) The blast furnaces were financed with money from both Holland and England. (Ref. 260)

The century opened with the youngest son of Gustavus I as first regent and then King Karl (Charles) IX of Sweden. He established Lutheranism as the state church and then because of claims of the Polish Sigismund to the Swedish throne, he invaded Livonia, beginning the long Polish-Swedish Wars. King Gustavus Adolphus (1611-1632), "Lion of the North", made Sweden briefly the greatest military power in Europe. Axel Oxenstierna, his chancellor, helped the nation grow in industry, trade and scholarship. Sweden entered the Thirty Years War in 1630 "to save the Protestant cause" in Germany, but in so doing, virtually conquered most of that country. Adolphus went as far as the Danube but then was killed at age 38, while leading a cavalry charge. His daughter Christina at 6 years of age became queen, but she became an eccentric woman and poor ruler, who at 28 years of age pleaded illness and abdicated to go to Rome, where she announced her Catholicism and became a patroness of the arts and the lover of Cardinal Azzolini. Christina was followed on the throne by her cousin Karl (Charles X, Gustavus), son of John Casimir, count palatine of Zweibrucken, who had had military experience in the Thirty Years War under Torstensson and Chancellor Oxenstierna. He had frank expansionist aims and reopened war with Poland, took Riga and transplanted its iron and steel industry to Sweden, laying the foundations of an even stronger industrial basis for his martial policies. (Ref. 131)

After the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 Sweden, at the peak of its imperial power and "Mistress of the North", completely encircled the Gulf of Bosnia and the Gulf of Finland, controlled Finland, Karelia, Ingria, Estonia and Livonia, most of the Baltic Islands and had two large beach-heads on the north German shore. The first of these was at the mouth of the Oder River, with Stettin, Stralsund and Wismar and reaching to within about 30 miles of Berlin and secondly the Duchy of Holstei-n-Gottorp on the west side of the base of the Danish peninsula. Needing money during the Thirty Years War, the Swedes had cut down vast forest areas in Pomerania, with the result that subsequently many of these areas were invaded by sand dunes. (Ref. 260)

It may have been that frequent harvest failures from cold may have, in part, stimulated the swings of the Swedish kings into Germany and Poland. (Ref. 224) At any rate, Karl X Gustavus found it easy to invade Poland, but difficult to subdue it. When Frederick William of Brandenburg tried to steal West Prussia, while Poland was under duress, Karl turned on him and forced the Treaty of Konigsberg, which gave East Prussia to Sweden. Finally, when the Catholic powers on the continent rose up against him, he turned his forces against Denmark with his army crossing the ice of the frozen Kattegut (1658). Only a valiant defense of Copenhagen saved the Danish throne. Although the open sea in the center of the Baltic did not freeze in winter, the shore line and the northern ½ of the Gulf of Bosnia did freeze from November until early May, shutting down all merchant shipping and in some years, as in that just mentioned, even the Kattegut froze solid. Finally, Karl Gustavus was defeated on the sea by the combined efforts of England and Holland, who wanted no nation to exclusively control access to the Baltic.

Karl (Charles) XI (1660-1697) was not as successful militarily as his predecessors. He was defeated in 1675 in the battle of Fehrbellin by the Great Elector of Brandenburg-Prussia, but later by treaty and through the help of Sweden's new ally, France, he was able to recover Swedish Pomeria. (Ref. 119) At home, however, Karl XI was determined to reduce the power of the aristocracy and one way was to demand the return to the crown of various lands previously given to the nobles, a measure which brought much disfavor to him, not only at home but in the possessions south of the Baltic. When he died in 1698 of cancer of the stomach, he was succeeded by his 15 year old son, Karl (Charles) XII, a frail boy, slender and wiry, but already a superb horseman, hunter and avid student of military science. He did not care for the Swedish language and spoke and wrote it poorly, but used German, which was the court language of all the northern kingdoms. He also had a knowledge of Latin and French and was a student of the campaigns of Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus and particularly of Alexander the Great. Even at his young age he ref used to have a regent and crowned himself king immediately and took over the reign. He participated in dangerous sports such as fighting a bear using only a wooden pitchfork, etc. and played at war as did his contemporary, Peter of Russia. (Ref. 131) (Continue on page 978)


Although Denmark had a king the actual power was in the hands of noblemen who lived well, although not on the scale of other European countries. In large areas of the nation the old Danish "free" peasants had fallen into a dependent state, roads were poor and heather began to take over fields, because farmers did not know how to control it. (Ref. 117) Even then, the Danes were able to send some 80,000 head of cattle to Germany each year.

The most renowned Danish king, Christian IV, was crowned in 1596 and in spite of continued war with Sweden, he was a builder, constructing Europe's largest naval arsenal at Copenhagen and also a new Stock Exchange. He got into a disagreement with the great Tyco Brahe, living on an island in the sound by previous royal decree and Brahe went to Prague where he soon died. During Christian IV's reign, Copenhagen doubled in size. He made the sad mistake of entering the Thirty Years War on the side of the Protestants and after being defeated by Tilly he retreated, only to have the German troops move up and ravage Jutland. Just a few years later, the Swedish troops also came up from Germany into Jutland and then down from Sweden into Scania, thoroughly defeating the Danes.

At the Treaty of Broemsebra in 1645 Denmark lost the island of Gotland as well as Scania, across the sound. Between 1650 and 1660 Denmark lost more than 20% of its population from disease and starvation. (Ref. 222) The wars were continued later in the century when Sweden also tried to take control of Norway. At one point Sweden hired Scots mercenaries to attack the Norwegians, but the peasants rallied and killed most of them. All in all, as Sweden's star rose over Europe, Denmark's began to fall. (Continued on page 981)


Although a part of Sweden, the Finns maintained their own language and way of life. At the beginning of this 17th century Finland was made a Grand Duchy of Sweden and given orders of nobility. Their land served as a battle ground for the later Swedish-Russian wars for control of the Baltic. After a temporary peace with Russia in 1617, Gustavus Adolphus inaugurated the first Finnish Diet, with representatives from the new nobility, the clergy, the town dwellers (burghers) and the peasants. Peasant sailors were small traders, operating between Helsinki and Revel, across -the gulf. (Ref. 292) The University of Turko was founded in this period. Illustrating that the bad side of Europe was the East, however, was the Finnish famine of 1696-7 when perhaps 1/3 of the population died. That was said to be one of the most terrible events of European history. (Ref. 260) (Continue on page 982)


While peasants of western Europe were freeing themselves gradually from serfdom (with the exception of Spain), feudal power grew and spread in eastern Europe, until the peasant state became almost slavery. Free peasants survived only in newly conquered lands where they substituted military service for rent. But eastern Europe's wheat and rye was in great demand in western Europe, some of ten going even to Portugal, Spain and Italy. (Continue on page 983)


As the century unfolded the great struggle for the Baltic continued with Sweden, Russia, Poland, Brandenburg and Denmark all being eager participants. From the Neva Delta southwest, the states lining the Baltic south shore were Ingria (Ingermanland), Estonia, Duchy of Courland, Lithuania, Prussia, Pomerania, Polish corridor to Danzig and Brandenburg. Livonia was now under Polish control, but the Livonian nobility were descendants of the Teutonic Knights and they were not at all happy with the Polish imposed Catholicism, so that late in the century (1660) they had no difficulty becoming aligned with Luthern Sweden. But Livonia, like all the southern Baltic countries, experienced almost a hundred years of being overrun by various armies, with shif ting borders with every treaty. Johann Reinhold von Patkul, of old Livonian nobility - a cultured, experienced military officer spoke to Charles XI of Sweden about his "reduction" policy (the policy of returning nobles’ lands to the crown of Sweden, as mentioned under SWEDEN, above), as Livonia had supposedly been guaranteed against such, but he not only got no relief but was later sought by Swedish officers for arrest. He eluded them and helped a little later to form the alliance which challenged Sweden in the Great Northern War. Thus, in the end when Sweden controlled almost all, the other concerned powers had already entered into an alliance to dismember Sweden by war. We shall have a special feature section on this Great Northern War which actually began in 1700, at the end of this section on Eastern Europe.

Poland deserves further consideration. While a giant in size, it was the weakest and most vulnerable of all the European states. It had a population of about 8,000,000 (France had over 16,000,000), but it was poor politically and militarily and it became a battle ground for invading foreign armies. The causes of Poland's impotence were several. First, there was no real racial or religious cohesion - 1/2 the people were true Poles and were Catholic, but the other half were Orthodox Lithuanians and Russians, Jews and Luthern Germans. In addition the Cossacks obeyed only their Ukranian "Hetman" and refused all orders from the Polish king. To continue, the political situation was bad. Poland was a republic with a king who was elective and who had only that power given him by feuding nobility. The true rulers were the great Polish and Lithuanian lords and among the latter the Sapieha family defied all kings of Poland. Furthermore, neither king nor Diet had any machinery for tax collection. The army, although with individually brave men, had no discipline and the lords might withdraw their own contingents for any reason, at any time. (Ref. 131) At times, particularly early in the century, the Poles tried to be aggressive, but in the end they always seemed to be on the short end of the stick. With these generalities in mind, we shall give a little more political detail.

Upon the death of Bathory at the end of the previous century, the Polish Diet bargained for a year before finally giving the throne to Sigismund III, who, as heir to the Swedish crown, might unite the two countries and control the Baltic, checking Russia. Half of his reign was devoted to this vain struggle. The sudden death of Boris Godunov in Russia, gave Sigismund another idea of also ruling Moscovy. He marched into Russia with an army, took Smolensk and even entered Moscow for a short time (1611-1612), retreated and later again marched on that city but was unable to reach it in the Russian winter. The only result of all this was the possession of Smolensk and Severski and a strong infusion of Polish influence into Russian life. (Ref. 53) The rest of Sigismund's reign was a succession of other disastrous wars, including an expensive struggle with the Turks, during which time the Swedish king took advantage of his preoccupation to invade Livonia. Upon his death in 1632 the Diet gave the crown to his son Ladislas IV, a fine general and an enlightened man who encouraged debate on religion an~ promoted art and music. He died in 1648 just as a great Cossack Revolt threatened the existence of the Polish state. (Ref. 53)

The Cossack Revolt, resulting from a complex set of dissatisfactions, including interference with their Orthodox worship, was first led by Bogdan Chmielnicki and supported by the Moslem Tatars of the Crimea. As the Polish Diet selected the Jesuit John II Casimir as ruler, Chmielnicki cast his lot with Orthodox Russia and offered the Ukraine to Czar Alexis. Russia accepted, knowing that it meant war with Poland. But the Crimean Tatars preferred a Polish to a Russian Ukraine and they shifted their support back to Poland. As the war raged, the Swedish king slipped in and conquered Warsaw. But the Swedes became over-enthusiastic, plundered the country, despoiled the churches, etc, until the populace united and pushed them back. Karl (Charles) X, the Swedish king, died and that part of the Polish war ceased. The Russian involvement came to an end in 1667 with Smolensk, Kiev and the eastern part of the Ukraine ceded to Russia. A terrible side effect of the Cossack Revolt was the accompanying ferocious massacres of the Polish Jews, who had served as stewards and tax gatherers for the Polish and Lithuanian estates. Early in the century 40% to 50% of all trade in Poland was handled by itinerant Jews5, but later they were butchered without mercy and thousands of infants were thrown into wells or buried alive. (Ref. 53, 292) In the town of Polonnoye alone perhaps 10,000 Jews were killed by Cossacks or taken prisoner by Tatars. Altogether in the 10 years of 1648 to 1658 it is estimated that nearly 35,000 Jews were killed in Poland, Lithuania and Russia. This began their massive migration to western Europe and America, resulting in a completely new distribution of the Jewish population.

Poland continued the disastrous war with the Turks and the latter soon gained sovereignty over the western Ukraine. Jan Sobieski, a general of that war, was elected king to become Poland's greatest sovereign. He launched further campaigns against the Turks, wresting the western Ukraine away from them again and finally defeated them in their last siege of Vienna. As a help in this last war, Sobieski signed a treaty with Vasily Golitsyn, prime minister of Russia and incidentally the regent Sophia's lover, by which Russia attacked the Crimean Tartar vassals of the Ottomans. In exchange, Poland again ceded Kiev to Russia. (Ref. 131) At home Sobieski, although he tried, could not improve the conditions of the peasants, for their masters dominated the Sejm (parliamentary body); he could not compel the rich to pay taxes for the wealthy were the Sejm; he could not keep the factious nobles in order, for they refused him a standing army. (Ref. 53) The Turkish domination of the Balkans had cut off the southern trade routes from Poland and this, along with the rise of a class of great landlords, lessened the prosperity of - Poland's commercial centers and prevented the development of a Polish middle class. The nobles, who owned serfs, sent a regular river of grain from their estates down the Vistula to Gdansk. (Ref. 292)

Upon King Sobieski's death, in spite of the Sejm's decision to accept Louis XIV's choice of Prince de Conti, Augustus of Saxony simply marched in with a Saxon army and took over as king. As he changed his religion to Catholicism, it was soon apparent that he was shrewd, deceitful and, in modern terminology, a real "double dealer". At the end of the century in 1700, this section of Europe was wrapped up in the Great Northern War, with Karl (Charles) XII of Sweden defeating Russia's army at Narva, Livonia. But Karl did not pursue, probably because of fever, dysentery and hunger in his army. His horses were eating bark, because of a "scorched earth" policy of the retreating Russians. By the spring of 1700 only 1/2 of Karl's troops were fit for action. (Ref. 131)

(Continue on page 983)

RUSSIA (See Map in RUSSIA section, 19th century)

In the last chapter we left Russia with Boris Godunov on the throne. He immediately had several problems. First of all he was not of royal descent and this aroused the old boyar families - the Golitsyns, Shuiskys, Romanovs and others. Next, crop failures between 1601 and 1603 caused catastrophic famines and finally there were rumors that Boris had actually been involved in the assassination of the "rightful heir", the infant Dimitri. In 1604 a motley army of mercenaries from Poland, including restless Cossacks and disgruntled peasants, marched on Moscow and in the middle of this uprising Boris died and was replaced by his son Theodore. The advancing army had the "False Dimitri" with them and through intrigues with Jesuits and Polish-Lithuanians and various opponents of Theodore, the "False Dimitri" was set up as Czar, taking a Polish girl as his wif e. Polish-Lithuanian influence suddenly became very predominant. When it was discovered that the Czar's wife was Catholic, however, a popular uprising resulted in Dimitri's death and the appointment of Vasili Shuisky as the new ruler.

Violence from political, social and religious elements continued to be present. Led by I.I. Bolotnikov, a former serf, many landless Cossacks and poor peasants formed a mass movement against not only Shuisky, but all nobles. Although Bolotnikov was killed in the first battle with the forces from Moscow, the rebellion continued, again also involving forces from Poland and Lithuania. Helped by local dissidents Polish forces actually occupied Moscow in 1611 and 1612. Prince Dimitri Pozharsky, after getting an agreement with the disgruntled Cossacks, entered Moscow with his own forces in October 1612 and forced the Poles to surrender. (Ref. 135)

In 1613 the National Assembly elected Michael Romanov as Czar, starting a new dynasty. Michael was the son of a patriarch Filaret and he re-established the autocracy and the service nobility as rulers of the Russian state. Under Michael peace was obtained with Sweden in the Treaty of Stolbovo in 1618, with Novgorod going to Russia, but other towns in that area to Sweden. All of the first Romanovs sought to exclude foreign influence. Thus, while foreigners were needed as drillmasters, armament makers, merchant contact for furs, etc., they were all enclosed in special ghettos in Moscow and were treated with general suspicion as dangerous heretics. There was a new formulation of law, but actually it merely codified existing laws based on medieval absolutism and orthodoxy. Thus it was a criminal offense to look at a new moon, play chess or not attend church during Lent. As we have noted in the section above, in 1648 the Ukranians and Cossacks revolted against their Polish rulers for both social and religious reasons and, gaining independence, put themselves under Moscow's protection. It should be noted that at this time Russia's commercial ties were still chiefly with the East and there was no real sense of property, industry or individual enterprise. (Ref. 213)

In this century Moscow was a rich and beautiful city, as large as London. Hundreds of gold domes topped with golden crosses dotted the sky-line, as there were 1,600 churches in the city. Red square was a brawling, open-air market place. Most of the city was of wood, however, and there were great fires in 1611, 1626, and 1671. Even the streets were wooden planks to keep people out of the mud in the spring thaw, although this attempt was often unsuccessful. At noon all Moscovites stopped for a large meal and then a 2 or 3 hours nap. At night few were on the streets but thieves and cutthroats. The Kremlin was on a hill 125 feet above the Moscow River, with walls 12 to 16 feet thick, rising some 65 feet above the surrounding rivers and moat. The whole fortress area included 69 acres.

In 1636 there were more than 40,000 houses in Moscow, but one must not get the idea that Russia was an urban society. In 1630 only 2.5% of the people lived in towns and this had increased only to 3% well into the next century. (Ref. 292) The Nenets continued to be the chief inhabitants of Arctic Russia, spreading to all the peninsulae of the Kara and Barents seas. (Ref. 288) For 300 to 400 miles north of the Black Sea there was a "no-man's land" between the Ukranian Cossacks to the north and the Black Sea itself and this was the hunting ground of the Crimean Tartars, remnants of the old Mongol conquerors and now vassals of the Ottoman Turks. Sometimes these Tartars raided north, taking thousands of Russians as slaves for the Ottoman slave markets.

In the third quarter of the century the Czar was Alexis Mikhailovich, considered a demigod, almost inaccessible to his people but called the "father of Russia", while the earth was "mother". Even when only 16 years of age he had been called the "young monk" and he spent most of every day praying and working. On fast days he frequented midnight prayers, prostrating himself on the ground as many as 1,000 to 1,500 times. He often ate only 3 meals a week. Near the end of his reign there were about 8,000,000 Russians, only a fraction of which lived in the larger towns. Most were scattered in villages in forest clearings or along the rivers. May Day, still celebrated by the communists, was an ancient holiday of rebirth and fertility after the long, frozen winter.

Czar Alexis' first wife, Marie Miloslavsky, died bearing her 14th child, but those that survived were sickly and only 2 lived to rule. Alexis then married Natalya Naryshkina, raised by his chief minister and friend, Artemon Mateev, but whose real father was a Tartar. The bride, through her upbringing in the educated Mateev's home, introduced many western ways into Czar Alexis' previously monastic life. Their "Camp David" was an immense wooden building at Preobrazhenskoe of jumbled architecture. A separate three story building with two peaked towers served for their young son Peter and his half-brother, Ivan. The palace had baths for family and servants while its elaborate contemporary at Versailles in France had none. Alexis died at 47 years, apparently of a respiratory ailment and his invalid son Fedor (by his first wife) became Czar. His legs were so swollen that he had to be carried to his coronation at age 15. His mother's family, the Miloslavskys, had Alexis’ minister and Natalya's surrogate father (Mateev) arrested, stripped of property and sent as a state prisoner to Pustozersk, a remote town north of the Arctic circle - such has always been and remains the custom for change of political power in Russia’ Peter and his mother remained secluded in the Kremlin.

Fedor, with a scurvy-like disease, mild-mannered and relatively intelligent, of ten had to rule giant Russia lying on his back and he lived only 6 more years. But he did one great thing by abolishing a medieval system of precedence which had burdened the administrative system with boyars (nobles) of inadequacy and allowed-henceforth offices and power to be distributed on a basis of merit, not birth. At Fedor's death, his brother Ivan would normally have been the next czar, but he was lame, nearly blind and spoke with difficulty so the throne was given to Peter, 10 years old, with the idea that Mateev, recently removed from exile, would be his advisor, although his mother Natalya would be regent.

In the middle of the century, even though Russia had tried valiantly to remain isolated from Lutheran Sweden, Catholic Poland and the Islamic Turks and Tatars, foreigners and their more modern ideas had begun to f ilter into Russia so that even the church began to doubt itself, resulting in a Great Schism, as in the Catholic World long before. Alexis' patriarch, the iron-willed Nikon was a reformist, trying to get the wandering Russian liturgy and church ritual back to the classical Greek Orthodoxy. Arch priest Avvakum, a fanatical fundamentalist, became the leader of the "old Believers" - many common people who had migrated to the Urals and forests and established remote villages. Avvakum, originally Nikon's friend, was banned to Tobolsk in Siberia in 1653, but by writing and lectures he remained a leader of the Schismatics. Nikon continued as a stern enforcer of discipline on laity and clergy alike, banning Cursing, card playing, sexual promiscuity and drinking. Eventually he assumed powers which seemed to exceed the czar 's and was brought to heel by the four Orthodox patriarchs of Jerusalem, Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandria. Nikon then condemned himself to exile but the turmoil did not end and soon there was a full scale rebellion. After Fedor became czar, Avvakum wrote to him saying that his father Alexis was in hell, suffering terrible torments because he had originally backed Nikon. Fedor had the old patriarch burned at the stake, but as a martyr he inspired 20,000 old Believers to burn themselves to death in the next 6 years (1684-1690). The Schism almost destroyed the Russian Church.

It is appropriate to remark here that Russian women were considered silly, intellectually void, morally irresponsible and potentially evil and promiscuous from childhood on. As wives they could be legally and religiously beaten or divorced by forced entrance into a convent, where they were essentially considered "dead". Any Russian man could thus have two "divorces" but had to keep the third wife. For the men of that time the chief problem was drunkenness and in the lower classes the women joined them in drunken, free-love carousing until all fell asleep in an alcoholic stupor, night after night. Sisters and daughters of the czar were different than other women and could never marry Russians beneath their rank (and there were none other) and their religion prevented marriage with foreigners, considered heretics. They spent their time in prayer, embroidery, gossip and boredom, in what was called the terem.

Almost immediately after the crowning of Peter as czar, his half-sister Sofia Miloslavsky instigated a terrible revolt of the Streltsy, a professional police-army originally formed by Ivan the Terrible and consisting of 22 regiments of 1,000 men each and whose officers had become rich through "moon-lighting" and paying no taxes. Fed by untrue rumors of the poisoning of Fedor and plotting to kill Sophia's brother Ivan, they stormed the Kremlin and in a bloody and terrible massacre dismembered and killed most of the boyars as well as Mateev and finally, after torturing Natayla's brother, demanded the crowning of young Ivan as co-czar, with Sophia serving as regent. In that way she succeeded in ruling Russia for the next 7 years. The impact of all this savage revolt and the murder of many of his family scarred young Peter for life and affected the whole future of Russia, Moscow and the Orthodox religion as well.

Peter was a bright, physically healthy and attractive boy, who started to learn the arts of war from foreigners in the "German" suburb (actually a ghetto), using his boyhood friends and neighboring children in the vicinity of Preobrazhenskoe as soldiers, as each year he had more real implements of war sent out from Moscow. He learned to build and sail western-type boats from Dutchmen in the foreign colony and developed an intense interest in the sea. In the meantime, under Sophia the regent and her prime minister and lover, Vasily Golitsyn, a treaty had been signed with King Sobieski of Poland in which Russia received Kiev in exchange for warring against the Crimean Tatars, vassals of Sobieski's enemy, the Turks. Twice Golitsyn marched south to wipe out those Tatars and twice he came back soundly defeated, although this was never acknowledged in Moscow publicly. The Tatars had previously carried off 20,000 Russian men to slavery in one raid alone in 1662 and by the end of the century Russian slaves manned the oars of galleys in every harbor in the eastern Mediterranean. In Golitsyn's two abortive attacks he lost 80,000 men - dead or taken prisoner - and to aggravate matters the Tatar Khan then raided the Ukraine again, taking 60,000 more prisoners.

When he was 17 Peter's boyar backers overthrew Sophia as regent and confined her to a convent. Although officially czar, Peter did not actually reign until 1694 when he was 22 and in the meantime administration of Russia deteriorated rapidly. There was reaction again against all foreigners and they were stopped at the borders unless permission was obtained from the central government. The patriarch ordered all Jesuits out and even wanted all Protestant churches in the German suburbs destroyed, but Peter spent much time there and prevented that. Peter, as all Russians before and after, was a heavy drinker, often drinking all night long. He even formed "Peter's Jolly Company" in which the primary requisite for membership was a capacity for drink and like the lowest Russian worker, they simply drank every night until they became unconscious. The Jolly Company even created the "Drunken Synod", a thinly veiled mockery of the Church. Married at 16 1/2 years, he soon had a male child but thereafter ignored his wife Eudoxia. At about the time he actually assumed his duties as a czar, he developed what was apparently focal epilepsy, frequently having severe spasms about the left side of his face and neck with occasional radiation to the left arm. This may have resulted from a high fever in l693, now speculated to have been encephalitis. By 1695 Peter's war games had progressed up to the use of 30,000 grown men and as czar he then decided to attack the Ottomans at Azov and promptly took an army there. He failed, partly because he had no ships to control the River Don, bordering Azov. So he next built a shipyard at Voronezh, getting shipbuilding experts sent in by the Doge of Venice, while he cut up and transported a galley previously ordered from Holland from its docking at Archangel down to Voronezh to serve as a model.

Peter's co-czar, crippled half-brother Ivan V, died in the same year that Peter made a second strike at Azov with 46,000 Russian soldiers, 15,000 Ukranian Cossacks, 5,000 Don Cossacks and 3,000 Kalmucks, semi-Asiatic horsemen who could ride with any Tatar, along with hundreds of new barges and 29 war galleys. Af ter a 2 month seige, the Turks surrendered the city. Peter was in the midst of all the fighting and at the end he reorganized and fortified the city and then constructed a new fort, harbor and naval base some 30 miles from the Don on the north shore of the Sea of Azov, at Tagonrog, using some 20,000 Ukranian laborers. He sent 3,000 peasant families and 3,000 Streltsy and their families to Azov as colonizers. The state then undertook to build 10 large ships, but great landowners and monasteries were to supply everything except the timber. Western shipbuilders were imported and Russians were sent west to learn shipbuilding, seamanship and navigation. It is obvious that Russians were not seamen, although wild Cossacks in boats crammed with sails, had pirated the Black Sea throughout this century. (Ref. 131, 260)

Young Czar Peter then took off to western Europe on what has been called "The Great Embassy". The real purpose of this trip was to strengthen the old alliance against the Turks, as Peter had decided he could not f ight them alone. King Sobieski of Poland had died in 1696 and France was possibly preparing for new wars with the Habsburg Empire. In addition, Peter wanted to educate himself concerning his new navy. The czar went incognito, although with his towering height of 6' 7", he was hard to hide and although some deception was kept, the ruling powers of Europe knew his identity. Officially the top ambassador in the group was Peter's Swiss friend and confidant, Lefort, and he was assisted by Fedor Golovin and Prokof y Voznitsyn. There was an additional escort of 20 noblemen and 35 young Russians, chiefly old friends and previous "play" soldiers. Chamberlains, priests, secretaries, interpreters, musicians, cooks and soldiers made up the rest of the party of 250. The trek started in 1697 through Livonia, thence through the Duchy of Courland to Brandenburg and then to Hanover. The embassy's first extended stop was in Holland, where Peter studied and worked in the shipbuilding yards of both Zaandam and Amsterrdam. In the latter city he lived in a small house and cooked his own meals, while he worked each day in the yards. But he also visited engineers, printers, anatomist Fredik Ruysch, botanist Boerhaave and naturalist van Leeuwenhoek, inventor of the microscope. After meeting William of Orange, who was King William of England as well as Stadholder of Holland, the czar was invited with a small party to visit England for 4 months. Although still incognito, he did visit with the King and Princess Anne. His residence in England was Sayes Court, a large, elegant house with great gardens opening onto the dockyard on a river. After 3 months Peter's Russians had practically destroyed the house, the furniture (apparently used for firewood), pictures and portraits (used for target practice) and the garden. Peter paid 28,000 pounds for permission to import a limited amount of tobacco into Russia, although the use of this plant had been accompanied by the death penalty under Czar Michael.

In the meantime the remainder of the embassy in Holland had recruited 640 Dutchmen, including one Rear-Admiral and other navy officers, seamen, engineers, physicians and others along with ten ship loads of equipment to go to Russia. Returning home the embassy went through Saxony to Vienna, where Leopold I reigned as emperor and where Peter was considered scarcely better than other eastern princes who lived in tents. The embassy made great efforts to try to get Austria to push harder against the Turks, but Leopold, becoming more nervous about the French king, was about to make peace with Turkey. Peter then tried to get the emperor to have the Ottomans yield Kerch (controlling the entrance to the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov) to Russia and again Leopold would not accommodate.

At about that time the czar received news from Moscow of a revolt of 4 regiments of Streltsy. The revolters had already all been killed or taken prisoner by an army under General Patrick Gordon, an old Scots friend and advisor of Peter's, but the czar decided to go on home anyway. He had determined to transform Russia into a modern state on western principles. He initially decreed such superficial changes as the cutting off of beards, change to western clothing by abolishing the long cloaks and sleeves going below the finger tips, etc. Women were to use petticoats, skirts, bonnets and western shoes.

The calendar was changed to the Julian one so that the old Russian year 7,206 then became the year 1698. Russian coinage was revised and instead of giving large estates or money for service to the state, one would henceforth get the "Order of St. Andrew" - a ribbon to wear diagonally across the chest. The prisoners remaining from the Streltsy rebellion, numbering 1714, were now "examined" under terrible torture by knout (a type of lash) and fire and then most were executed. A few of the young ones were not killed but were either branded on the right cheek and exiled or had their noses or ears cut off. The Streltsy were no more.

Peter the Great's southern fleet, built at Voronezh on the Don, was never used, because in the Peace of Carlowitz between Austrians, Poles, Turks and indirectly Russi ans, the Turks did concede Azov but not Kerch to the Russians. In June, 1700 the Russian ambassador in Constantinople negotiated a 30 year truce with a demilitarized zone supposedly to be established between the Crimean Tatars and Russia, proper. This agreement infuriated the Tatar Khan, Devlet Gerey. In the meantime, Peter's two most trusted foreign advisors, the Swiss Lefort and the Scot General Gordon, had died. And then the Great Northern War came towards Russia. (Ref. 131)


  1. Quotation from Braudel (Ref. 260), page 110
  2. This was after the ascension of the heretic Queen Elizabeth
  3. Of this number, 10,000 made up the ruling aristocracy. (Ref. 292)
  4. The wood shortage also led to use of coal in houses, and by 1660 Britain produced 1/2 million tons of coal, five times that of the rest of the world. English coal, however, interacted poorly with iron ore and was not good for smelting iron, which was still imported. (Ref. 213)
  5. Italian merchants were also numerous in the cities and fairs of Poland in this century. (Ref. 292)

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