As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century was that century which lasted from 1701-1800; however, historians will sometimes specifically refer to the 18th Century as 1715-89; which denotes the period of time between the death of King Louis XIV and the start of the French Revolution. In Europe, the primary nations of this period (in terms of industrial capacity) were: Austria, Britain, France, Prussia, and Russia. This was the period of the so-called "enlightened absolutism". The 18th century can easily be described in the political changes and the opening stages for nations to enter the modern world. France's absolutism would lead to the beginning of peasant revolts that, for the first time, would begin to shake the old ways and feudal life. The Enlightenment was in full bloom and threatened the power of theology. The rise of nations like Austria, Russia, and Prussia began to shift the balance of power away from the west and create new competition in Europe other than France, England, and Spain.
Other major aspects of the 18th century were the rise of cultural centers like Paris and Vienna where nations could boast their power, enlightenment, and impression to the rest of Europe. Across the globe, European colonies were being both established, as well as breaking away. In Asia, exploration and influences from Europe were beginning to shake the structures of old empires, especially India where civil war was giving the British an easy "pushover" for taking the entire peninsula.
In a strict aesthetic analysis, the 18th century was the beginning of Europe's changes and influence around the world.
- 1707 - The Kingdom of Great Britain is formed
- 1715 - Louis XIV dies
- 1750 -- peak of the Little Ice Age
- 1770s - James Cook explorations
- 1786 - On behalf of the British East India Company, Francis Light acquires the island of Penang from the Sultan of Kedah- the first British colony in South-East Asia.
- 1788 - First European settlement established in Australia
- 1789 - The French Revolution
- The Enlightenment
- Scientific discovery and early Industrial Revolution. See the History of Science and Technology.
- American Revolution leading to United States declaration of independence in 1776 and Constitution in 1789.
- Rosetta stone is found by Napoleon's troops in 1799.
- Wars of Empire between Great Britain, France, Spain, Austria.
- Catherine the Great (Russian Tsarina)
- James Cook (British navigator)
- Leonhard Euler (mathematician)
- Benjamin Franklin (inventor and diplomat)
- Alexander Hamilton (American statesman)
- David Hume (philosopher)
- Thomas Jefferson (American politician)
- Immanuel Kant (philosopher)
- Louis XIV of France (monarch)
- Adam Smith (Scottish economist)
- George Washington (General, 1st American President)
- Johann Sebastian Bach (composer)
- Denis Diderot (French writer and philosopher)
- Thomas Gainsborough (painter)
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German writer)
- Thomas Gray (British writer)
- William Hogarth (painter and engraver)
- Samuel Johnson (British writer)
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (composer)
- Sir Joshua Reynolds (painter)
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau (French writer and philosopher)
- Friedrich Schiller (German writer)
- Jonathan Swift (British writer)
- Voltaire (French writer and philosopher)
- Benedict Arnold, considered a traitor by many people on both sides (United States and Britain) of the American Revolutionary War.
Inventions, discoveries, introductions
- Cotton gin by Eli Whitney
- The marine chronometer of John Harrison solves the longitude problem for navigation.
- Improved steam engines by Thomas Newcomen and James Watt
- first steam-powered automobile by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot
- textile manufacturing:
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