English 245 with Dr. G @ SUNY TC3

 

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Lessons

1. Classical Britain

2. Beowulf 1

3. Beowulf 2

4. Middle Ages

5. Romance

6. Sir Gawain

7. Malory

8. Chaucer's Miller

9. Wife of Bath

10. Religious Protest

11. Biblical Drama

12. Play of Mnkind

13. Early Modern Period

14. Thomas More

15. Philip Sidney

16. Print Culture

17. Walter Raleigh

18. Twelfth Night 1

19. Twelfth Night  2

20. Civil War

21. An Age of Irreverence

22. Aphra Behn

23. Reading Papers

24. Gulliver

25. Rape of the Lock

26. School for Scandal

27. New God

28. Revolution

Final Exam

 

 

 

 


 

*** Basic Timeline***

 


PREHISTORIC PERIOD

CIR 500,000 BCE: Stone age Neanderthal-type inhabitants of the area of modern Britain are using hand axes. They are all gone by about 150,000 BCE.

CIR. 26,000 BCE: Homo sapiens “Red Lady of Paviland,” no lady at all, hunts mammoths in Wales.

CIR. 20,000 BCE: at the peak of the Ice Age, no human inhabitants seem to occupy Britain, though a land bridge connects it to the European continent.

CIR. 9,000 BCE: The end of the Ice Age raises sea levels so that the modern-day British Isles are separated from the Eurasian land mass.

Cheddar Man skeleton, the oldest modern human found in Britain.CIR. 7,150 BCE: At the age of about 23 Cheddar Man, so-called because he was found in a cave in Cheddar Gorge, near Bristol, England, dies from a massive blow to the skull. His bones (the oldest complete skeleton of a modern human ever found in the British Isles) suggest that he was filleted.

CIR. 4,000 BCE:  Farming and herding are practiced throughout the British Isles.

CIR. 3180 BCE: settlement of Skara Brae, a well preserved stone age village in Orkney, Scotland.

CIR. 3,000 BCE: work begins on Stonehenge, later reworked at about 2,500 BCE and 1,500 BCE. Megaliths created throughout Britain during this Neolithic period gave rise to later legends that giants, gods and mighty heros had lived in the land.

CIR. 2,400 BCE: metals are introduced. Bronze Age Britain features development of copper and tin mining.

1159-1141 BCE.: years without summer. Worldwide crop failures bring a catastrophic end to the Bronze Age and introduce a dark age of civil strife, mass migration, world war and religious fanaticism. Fortification appears in Britain.

 

 

Human language may date back to 80,000 BCE--nobody really knows--and cave painting dates to before 30,000 BCE, but by definition no literature exists from the prehistoric era. Knowledge of this time must be drawn from archaeology.


CLASSICAL PERIOD

CIR 1,000 BCE: In medieval lore colored by Roman myth, Trojan Brutus founds Britain by taking the land from giants, and (some say) Britain's name is derived.

CIR. 550 BCE: The British Isles experience the arrivals of iron age farmers from the Atlantic coastal regions that today include northwest Spain and southwest France.

CIR. 500 BCE: Goths establish a homeland "Geatland" in southern Sweden, from whence some will migrate to Britain 1000 years later.

390 BCE. Gauls sack Rome.

325 BCE: In the first literary records that mention the British Isles, a Greek-speaking navigator named Pytheas claims to have investigated "Albion" (Celtic name for the British Isles) or the "Tin Islands" where the Greeks long had traded. The Greeks used tin to make bronze weapons, but the trade diminished after the invention of iron in about 1000 BCE. Pytheas correctly describes the location of the islands and their shape as a kind of triangle.

55-54 BCE: Roman general Julius Caesar twice campaigns in Britain during his wars against the Gauls, but he is forced to withdraw. In his description of the British, Caesar says that the Celtic priests ("Druids") in Britain produced literature in Greek. None of this survives, as later Romans obliterated Druid culture.

52 BCE. Caesar defeats Celtic forces led by Vercingetorix in the battle of Alesia which ends Celtic power on mainland Europe.

Bust of Emperor Claudius, who personally led the Roman invasion of England. 43 CE: Roman Emperor Claudius with 40,000 troops conquers much of modern-day England.

60-61 CE: British Queen Boudicca  leads a rebellion against the Roman Emperor Nero.

Bust of the historian Tacitus, son-in-law to the Roman governor in Britain.77 CE: Roman historian Tacitus moves to Britain in the household of the Roman Governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola. Agricola campaigns in the north, today's Yorkshire and Scotland, until 85 CE.

122-128 CE: Roman Emperor Hadrian establishes a wall across much of modern-day northern England to defend imperial territory from the continuing raids of Pictish tribes to the north. The area of Roman occupation in Britain roughly corresponds to the territory that later will become England (as opposed to Scotland, Wales and Cornwall).

209 CE ? Death of Alban, the first Christian martyr in Britain.

285 CE. Romans begin fortifying southern Britain and "The Saxon shore" against attacks by Anglo pirates.

312 CE. The Roman Emperor Constantine (declared Emperor at York in 306) converts to Christianity and ends the Roman suppression of Christians.

410 CE. Roman Britain comes to an end, in the ignoble reign of Honorius: the Roman legions in Britain defect in rebellions of Marcus, Gratian, Constantine III and Constans II.  Rome is sacked by Goths (Christians who do not believe in the divine nature of Christ) under Alaric I. Augustine of Hippo composes The City of God, redefining the eternal empire as God's kingdom.

 

 

Scholars typically date the invention of writing to about 3,000 BCE. When writing began in Britain is unknown, but it is likely to have been used in the Bronze Age (before 1200 BCE). Classical Roman references to Britain make clear that ancient people in Britain composed literature in both Greek and Latin.

MIDDLE AGES I: ERA OF SAXONS

410-600. Anglo-Saxons settle in Britain.

415.  According to legend, British King Vortigern invites Saxons Hengist and Horsa to serve as his mercenaries, and he gives them land in Kent. Hengist then slaughters British princes at the peace table; Britons flee to Wales. 

420? Murder of Pelagius, British theologian of free will who disagreed with Augustine's doctrines of original sin and divine grace.

460-470. Ambrosius Aurelianus of a pro-Roman faction leads Britons in years of back-and-forth fighting with Saxons. Some say this figure should be identified as the historical "Arthur." Many 0thers identify Arthur as belonging to the early sixth century.

475. Fall of the Rome to Ostrogoths and other Germanic tribes.

493?  Death of Patrick, bishop said to be responsible for conversion of Ireland to Christianity.

 





With the Saxons, English becomes a dominant language in the British Isles.



Comet Tempe 1535. Worldwide climate catastrophe (caused by comet impact?) initiates dark ages, crop failures, and large scale Germanic migrations. A "yellow plague" afflicts the British. The Monk Gildas describes Saxon treachery and brutality in overthrowing the British who are driven into Wales.

565?  Wiglaf becomes King of Geats (Goths) after the death of the Wuffing hero Beowulf.

597. Contemporaries of Muhammad, missionaries from Pope Gregory the Great led by Augustine arrive in Britain to Christianize the Saxons and found Canterbury. Saint Columba, founder of Iona the famed Celtic monastery, dies.

625. Sutton Hoo ship burial of a Saxon king takes place in Suffolk, eventually to be excavated in the 1930's.

627. Saxon King Edwin of Northumbria is converted to Christianity.

658. Caedmon, the first known English poet, produces Biblical songs for Abbess Hilda of Whitby.

 

Most knowledge of the ancient world is lost when Saxons overrun what was to become England or  later when the Roman church converts the British people.

664. Synod of Whitby establishes Roman Catholic rule over the Celtic churches in Ireland and broader Britain. However, Roman control would not be completed until the Norman conquest of Ireland in 1171.

A modern rendering of Bede731. Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English Race, the earliest surviving history of Britain, is written. The most literate man of dark age Britain, Bede attempts to reconstruct what is known of the past from the remnants in his possession,  mostly church manuscripts.

781. Northumbrian scholar Alcuin joins the court of  Charlemagne.

787.  Viking invasions of Britain begin. The monastery of Lindisfarne is raided repeatedly from 793-875 when it is finally abandoned. British often are taken as thralls (slaves) in Viking raids.

829. Welsh monk Nennius is the first to mention Arthur. (Or is Arthur's name a later insertion in this manuscript?)

King Alfred the Great849-899. Founder of England, Alfred the Great becomes King of Wessex in 871 and attempts to unite the Saxon kingdoms. He repels Viking attacks, organizes the military, develops a written law code, and promotes English by translating various Latin works into English.

893Bishop Asser writes the Life of King Alfred.

911-918. Alfred's daughter Queen Ethelfleda ("the Lady of Mercia") succeeds her father and successfully defends Saxons against invading Danes. (Anglo-Saxon women had rights of succession and property ownership.)

924. Alfred's grandson Aethelstan is coroneted at Bath and becomes the first to call himself "King of England" and "King of Britons."

890-1066.  The Anglo Saxon Chronicle is maintained from Alfred's day down beyond the time of the Norman Conquest.

991. Battle of Maldon, the subject of an Anglo Saxon epic, results in Ethelred the Unready paying tribute money for peace with the Danes ("Danegeld").

1055. Westminster Abbey is completed in London.

 


Bede is the inventor of the Christian dating system using BC ("before Christ") and AD (anno domini, year of the Lord). These periods are referred to in American academic writing today as BCE ("before common era") and CE ("commonn era").

MIDDLE AGES 2: ERA OF NORMANS
 and Plantagenets

and Lancastrians  and Yorkists

1066. Death of childless Edward the Confessor (a Saxon King by a Norman mother) results in a succession squabble. Norman forces under William the Conqueror defeat Harold Godwinson, the last Saxon King, at the battle of Hastings.

1067. Tower of London is first constructed.

1086. Domesday Book, the first census, is completed in England by direction of William the Conqueror,

1096. Crusades begin; Jerusalem falls to crusaders in 1099.

1102. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, prohibits marriage and requires celibacy of those in holy orders.

1139. Death of Henry I is followed by a succession dispute and later invasion by Henry's daughter the Empress Matilda to contest the rule of the usurper Stephen. This dispute is settled in 1153 by agreement that Matilda's son Henry Plantagenet  (Henry II) will succeed,

1136. Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain creates the Norman myth of Arthur and establishes connection between Normans and Celts as allies against Saxon enemies.

 

 

With the Norman conquest, French becomes the language of the aristocracy in Britain, Latin remains the language of the church, and English becomes a language of peasants.

1154. Accession of Henry II, the founder of the so-called Plantagenet dynastry or rule by Angevins, and Eleanor of Aquitaine!

1150-1180? Marie de France writes Breton lais in Norman French.

1167. Oxford University is founded. (Cambridge University follows in 1209.)

1169-1171. Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland by Henry II, directed by English Pope Adrian IV, brings the Irish church fully under Roman Catholic control.

1170. Archbishop Thomas Becket is murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by knights of King Henry II.

1170. Madog ab Owain Gwynedd sails from Wales to North America, according to legends in the Tudor period.

1175. Thomas of England writes Tristan and Iseult.

1189-1190. Anti-Jewish riots and confiscations of property of Jews in London and other cities.

c. 1190. Layamon's alliterative Brut is the first source in English that elaborates on Arthur.

1190-1192. Richard I leads third crusade against Saladin.who had re-taken Jerusalem from the crusaders in 1187. This crusade ends in a negotiated truce guaranteeing Christian access to pilgrimage sites. Richard's slaughter of Muslim prisoners is one of the low points.

1192. Gerald of Wales announces discovery of Arthur's body at Glastonbury.

1203. Murder of Prince Arthur (murdered by King John?). compare year 1502.

1215. Signing the Magna Carta, King John is forced by English barons to recognize their right to consent to new taxes.

1258. Provisions of Oxford creates a great council that will advise the king and supervise the treasury and the law. This body will evolve into Parliament.\

1264. Simon de Montfort leads a barons revolt, becomes de facto ruler of England and calls the first elected Parliament.

1278. Edward 1 reinters the supposed bodies of Arthur and Guinevere, initiating the English campaign for the conquest of Waless. Edward completes tthe conquest  in 1282 when Llewellyn ap Gruffydd, the country's last prince, is killed. Wales and England are formally joined by an Act of Union under Henry VIII in 1536.

1290. Edward I's Edict of Expulsion expels all Jews from England. The law was not overturned until 1656.

Robert 1 of Scotland, Robert Bruce1298. In Wars of Scottish Independence, William Wallace ("braveheart") is defeated by the English. Robert Bruce is declared King of Scots in 1306, and he defeats the English at the Battle of Brannockburn in 1314. Wars conclude in 1357 with Treaty of Berwick acknowledging Scottish independence, a status that remains until 1707 when Scotland and England unite in the formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain.

1327. Courtly love reaches its peak in the deposition of Edward II by Parliament and subsequent murder, bringing the reign of his Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer.

1338-1453. England engages in the Hundred Years War against France, creating a new sense of national identity for both.

1348-  The Black Death or bubonic plague kills almost half of the people in Britain. over the next 50 years. Periodic outbreaks continued until the 18th century.

1362. English replaces French in Parliament and in  British law courts.

Geoffrey Chaucer1367-1370, first edition of  William Langland's Piers Plowman is published (revised to tone down revolutionary aspects in 1375 and 1385). The farmer hero is born.

cir. 1370. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is composed.

cir. 1377. The Brus composed by Scots poet John Barbour.

1370-1400. Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales collects the remarkable variety of literary forms in use at the end of the Middle Ages: quest, romance, saint's life, comic tale, traveler's tale, ballad, folktale, allegory, sermon, and more.

c. 1380 Julian of Norwich write Showings..

1380. John Wycliffe translates the Bible  into English, the earliest known English translation. Wycliffe is martyred in 1384.

1381. Peasants' Revolt led by John Ball, Wat Tyler and Jack Straw seeks relief from serfdom and aristocratic oppression. They win repeal of the poll taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381.

1401. King Richard II is overthrown and murdered, inaugurating the Wars of the Roses, a period of civil wars lasting until the succession of the Tudor dynasty in 1485.

1401. Parliament authorizes the burning of witches in order to be rid of proto-Protestants and such.

1415. In the Hundred Years War, King Henry V conquers much of France through a series of victories culminating in the Battle of Agincourt. British fortunes begin to decline after Henry's death in 1422 and after Jeanne d'Arc is burned as a witch at Rouen in 1431. The British are ousted from all but Calais by 1453.

1438. The Booke of Margery Kempe is completed, the earliest English autobiography.

1450. Jack Cade's rebellion seeks protections for the commons but is put down.
 

 


EARLY MODERN PERIOD
 (or age of print) 
 
Tudors and  Stuarts

1455. Gutenberg mechanically produces the Bible on a modified wine press using Gothic blackletter type that resembles the calligraphic writing of medieval scribes. Small private printshops rapidly spread across Europe, to the worry of  church and government authorities. They use  woodcuts to illustrate the texts in crude attempts to produce mechanical books as beautify as manuscripts.

1460. "Roman" font which eventually would become dominant throughout Europe is introduced by Nicholas Jenson and others in Venice in the 1460s; the font is actually not Roman but Carolingian in origin as it was based on documents produced in the 9th century in Charlemagne's empire. Roman font evolves into slimmer Garamond font in the work of French publisher Claude Garamond in the middle 1500's. The text you are reading on this page is a modern variant, "Times New Roman."

1483. Murder of the Princes in the Tower and usurpation of Richard III.

1485. Battle of Bosworth Field brings Henry VII and the Tudor dynasty to power and ends the Wars of the Roses between the Yorkist and Lancastrian claimants to the English throne.

 

The flowering of literature in the Tudor-Stuart era (aka Renaissance) was due largely to the development of the printing press which enabled the mass production of reliable texts.

Illustration from Caxton, Mirror of the World (1489).
1485
.
The first English printer William Caxton (c. 1422- c. 1491) publishes one of the most influential books of popular fiction, a collection of Arthurian tales, Morte d'Arthur

1492. Accidental "discovery" of the New World by Columbus leaves Britain in a favored geographical position, no longer at the western fringe of the Roman world but at the intersection of Europe and North America with strategic advantages over rivals France and Spain. One might argue that this is the most important event in British history, and yet the frugal Henry VII declined to back the Columbus venture, so Columbus sailed for Ferdinand and Isabella instead.

1497. Venetian John Cabot's first voyage to the New World begins the British Age of Discovery with the discovery of cod.

1502. Mysterious death of another Prince Arthur (Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales). Compare year 1203.

1516. Martin Luther calls for church reform.

1525. William Tyndale's original English translation of the New Testament is published.

1528. Patrick Hamilton, the first Protestant martyr, is burned in Scotland

Henry VIII1533. Henry VIII divorces Catherine of Aragon and marries Ann Boleyn because Catherine has not produced a male heir. (Catherine leaves a daughter Mary, who eventually will become queen.) Due to Henry’s problems securing papal approval for his divorce, Parliament passes the Act in Restraint of Appeals which separates the Church of England from Rome.

1534  Act of Supremacy names the monarch (then Henry VIII) head of the Church of England.

 1535. Thomas More is executed for failing to support the Act of Succession which made Anne Boleyn’s daughter Elizabeth heir to the English throne. Anne is executed in 1536, and the king marries Jane Seymour eleven days later. They have a son Edward who later will become king.

1536. Act of Union joins England and Wales.

 1536-1540. Henry VIII confiscates monastery property and sells it to local gentry. Some 10,000 monks and nuns are made homeless. The army and navy are strengthened, turning England to a world power.

 1547. Henry VIII dies and is succeeded by his 9 year-old son Edward.

1553. Edward dies naming a cousin Lady Jane Gray as his Mary Tudorsuccessor, in place of his sisters Mary and Elizabeth. Lady Jane’s reign lasts only a few days when Catherine of Aragon’s daughter Mary is proclaimed queen. Mary’s mission is to suppress Protestantism and return the Church of England to control of the Pope. Executions earn her the nickname among Protestants  “Bloody Mary.”

 1554. Mary marries King Philip of Spain, despite widespread public opposition in England.

1556. Archbishop Thomas Cramer, main author of the Book of Common Prayer and many features of the English Reformation, is burned at the stake..

 1558. Mary dies, and Elizabeth is crowned. In 1559, The Act of Uniformity outlaws the Catholic mass and other forms of service. The Church of England mixes protestant thought and Catholic ritual in a compromise accepted by most English subjects.

1560, The Pope declares Queen Elizabeth a heretic. Underground Catholic clergy are persecuted in England through the 1580s. "Puritans" (people rejecting the Church of England compromise because it failed to purify the church of Catholicism) are similarly persecuted.

1563, John Foxe's Book of Martyrs celebrates the protestant martyrs Francis Drakepersecuted by Catholics for their beliefs.

1580. Francis Drake completes the first circumnavigation of the world by an Englishman, establishes the first English presence in the Pacific.

1581. Philip Sidney writes An Apology for Poetry against fundamentalist censors' attacks. His Astrophel and Stella, the first sonnet sequence in  English, is published in 1591.

1584-1587. Walter Raleigh establishes the Roanoke Colony in Virginia, the first attempted English settlement in the New World. The colony disappears when the English cannot resupply it, due to war with Spain. Raleigh is generally credited with introducing the potato into Britain.

Queen ELizabeth I1587. Elizabeth orders the execution of her cousin Mary Stuart (Mary Queen of Scots, mother of James I), who had been the focus of Catholic plots.

 1588. The Spanish armada attempts an invasion of England, to punish the English for their piracy and to restore Catholic rule. Sir Francis Drake defeats the armada, but England and Spain remain at war throughout Elizabeth’s reign.

1590. Edmund Spenser publishes the first books of the Faerie Queene, praising the virtues of Elizabeth's court. A second installment is published in 1596.

1593. Leading London playwright Christopher Marlowe is murdered.

1596. Walter Raleigh's Discovery of Guiana describes the mother lode of gold to be found in South America. He should have written about his discovery of the potato.

1597. Francis Bacon publishes Essays. (Other editions follow in 1612 and 1625..)

1598. George Chapman's translation of Homer's Iliad first appears. (All of Homer is completed in 1616.)

1599. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is built by the banks of the Thames.

1600. The first corporation, the British East India Company, is formed by Elizabeth for South Asian trade. The Virginia Companies are chartered later for New World trade in 1606. Later development of the British Empire ppwes as much to these quasi-public corporationns as to the military.

1602. Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night is performed at the Middle Temple. (The play is not published until the Shakespeare First Folio of 1623.)

1603. The Nine Years War (Tyrone's Rebellion) results in Ireland acknowledging Elizabeth as queen.

1603. Elizabeth dies and is succeeded by her cousin, James Stewart, a/k/a King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England.  England Scotland and Ireland are thus united for the first time by common rule. James ends the war with Spain in 1604. Dissident English Catholics attempt to assassinate James but are foiled in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

1607. The Jamestown settlement is established in Virginia, led by Captain John Smith.

1611. The King James version of the Bible is published.

1620. The Mayflower sails to Plymouth.

1623. Actors publish the first complete works of Shakespeare (the "first folio").

1625. King James dies and is succeeded by his son, Charles I. In 1627, Charles unsuccessfully attempts to invade France to protect the Protestants there.

1629. Puritan and other Protestant forces gain control of Parliament, and protest Charles’ policies in religion and other matters. Charles dissolves the Parliament and attempts to rule as an absolute monarch.

1642. Outbreak of Civil War (War of the Three Kingdoms) and closing of the theaters by Parliament now dominated by Puritans.

John Milton portrait1644. John Milton's tract Areopagitica advocates freedom on press.

1648. John Lilburne, England’s New Chains Discovered registers complaints against Parliamentarian rule.

1649. The Royalists’ defeat in the Civil War at the Battle of Naseby leads to the execution of Charles I. Milton's Eikonoklastes defends the regicides.

1649-1650. Oliver Cromwell puts down revolts in Ireland. This is followed by military actions in Scotland 1650-1652.

1652. First tea arrives in London.

 


Caxton understands that the world is a globe, as he illustrates and discusses in the Mirror of the World of 1489.

GREAT BRITAIN  
RESTORATION AND 18TH CENTURY
(aka, the Enlightenment)

King Charles II1660. Following Cromwell’s rule of “Lord Protector,” Stuart Charles II (son of Charles 1) is restored from exile in France, but he returns as a figurehead king possessing few of the powers that the previous Stuarts and earlier kings had possessed. The government remains Parliamentarian.

1665. The graphite pencil is invented in England.

1665-1666. Great Plague of London killing 100,000 is the last major outbreak of the epidemic in Britain. The event is recalled famously in Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year (written 1722).

1666. Great Fire of London destroys much of the city.

1667. John Milton publishes Paradise Lost. This is followed in 1671 by other major poems Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. Milton's collected poems appear in 1673, and PL is revised into 12 books in 1674.

1679. Act of Habeas Corpus is passed by Parliament, forbidding imprisonment without trial. (The practice of habeas corpus at English Common Law dates back to at least 1305.)

1681. Poems of Andrew Marvell are published posthumously.

Aphra Behn1687. Isaac Newton publishes Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy).

1688. Aphra Behn's Oroonoko is published. John Dryden's Essay of Dramatick Poesy introduces genre history in literary criticism. Dryden's A Discourse Concerning the Original and Progress of Satire follows in 1693.

1688. Following the death of Charles II, the Glorious Revolution overthrows Charles' brother James II by joint action of Parliament and the invading William III of Orange.  This closes the period of the Dutch Wars with a merger of factions that battled over trade with India.

1689. Parliament draws up the Declaration of Right detailing the unconstitutional acts of King James II. Unsuccessful Jacobite rebellions to restore the Stuart monarchy continue from 1688 to 1746.

1690. John Locke publishes An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

1692. French Academy oversees a new font Roman du Roi for King Louis XIV, a rational font in which the letters though elegant in their serifs are uniform size based on a standard grid.

1694. Modeled on the Dutche system of national public debt, the Bank of England is established, creating a system of finance enabling imperial expansion of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

1701 Daniel Defoe publishes "A True-born Englishman." The seed drill is invented by Jethro Tull.

1707. Act of Union created the Kingdom of Great Britain uniting England and Scotland. 

1707. Isaac Watts publishes Hymns and Spiritual Songs.

1709. The industrial revolution gets under way as the coke blast furnace allowing the production of high grade steel is invented by Englishman Abraham Darby.

1710. St. Paul's Cathedral in London, designed by Christopher Wren in 1668, is completed.

1711. The Tatler is published by Richard Steele. English trumpeter John Shore invents the tuning fork.

1711. Alexander Pope writes "An Essay on Criticism," followed by "The Rape of the Lock" in 1712 (revised 1714). The translations from Homer into heroic couplets follow: the Iliad 1715-1720, the Odyssey 1725-1726.

1714. With the death of Queen Anne, succession falls to her distant cousin, the Elector George of Hanover in Saxony, as King George I,, a great grandson of James I of England. A new parliament is elected with a strong Whig majority, led by Charles Townshend and Robert Walpole.

1719. Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe is published. Moll Flanders and Journal of the Plague Year follow in 1722.

1721. Robert Walpole becomes first Prime Minister of Great Britain.

1725. William Caslon (1692-1766) develops Roman font into Caslon font which becomes the standard in British printing. The original United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence are printed in Caslon. A rival lighter font, Baskerville, is developed by Englishman John Baskerville in 1750, and a modified version of this font is still in use today (as this sentence shows).  Modifications of Caslon in the second half of the 18th century led to so-called modern Roman typefaces.

1726. Jonathan Swift publishes Gulliver's Travels. Swift's "The Lady's Dressing Room" of 1732 is answered in 1734 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's "The Reasons That Induced Dr. Swift to Write a Poem Called the Lady's Dressing Room."

1726. The first circulating library in Britain opens in Edinburgh.

1730. Scot James Thomson publishes Seasons introducing scenes from nature and common life as subjects of poetry. Liberty, a history, follows in 1735-1737. "Rule Britannia" appears in Alfred, in 1740.

1731-1732. William's Hogarth's satiric image series The Rake's Progress and The Harlot's Progress are created in London. Marriage a la mode follows in 1745.

1733. Mechanized textile manufacture begins with John Kay's invention of the "flying shuttle."  A series of refinements by British inventors through the rest of the century make Britain the world's leading cloth manufacturer.

1734. Pope's Essay on Man is published.

1741. Samuel Richardson publishes his epistolary novel, Pamela.

Philosopher David Hume1746. In a final attempted Jacobite revolution, Bonnie Prince Charlie is defeated at the Battle of Culloden

1748. David Hume publishes An Enquiry Regarding Human Understanding, a basic text of modern skepticism.

1749. Henry Fielding publishes his comic novel Tom Jones.

1750. Blue Stocking Society is founded by Elizabeth Montagu for women's discussions of literature and the arts.

1753. Pioneering cartoonist William Hogarth publishes The Analysis of Beauty, attempting to describe the source of beauty in art.

1755. Dr. Samuel Johnson publishes his Dictionary of the English Language. Critical works followed including The Plays of William Shakespeare (1765) and The Lives of the Poets (1781), establishing Johnson as the foremost English "man of letters."

Young George Washington1756-1763. The Seven Years War (aka in the US the "French and Indian War") is fought to determine whether the world will be French or British. In one highlight of this war James Wolfe captures Quebec and expels French forces from Canada in 1759. British naval supremacy is established with destruction of much of the French fleet.

1757. The Battle of Plassey establishes political rule in Bengal.

1759. The British Museum opens to the public. Classical archaeology is underway with such digs as as the excavations at Herculaneum (1738) Pompeii (1748).

1759.  The Wedgwood China factory is established at Burslem.

1761. Laurence Sterne publishes his novel Tristram Shandy. Robert Adam designs Osterley Park in Middlesex.

1765. Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, in 3 volumes, collects ballads and popular songs, sparking an interest in folk song that will lead to Romantic poetry.

1765-1769. William Blackstone publishes his Commentaries on the Laws of England, the first systematic account of the rights and liberties of the people under the law.

1765-1773. English inventor John Harrison perfects the nautical chronometer allowing the accurate measurement of latitude.

1766-1779. Voyages of Captain James Cook complete the picture of the globe and resolve mysteries about the South Pacific (was there a vast southern continent?) and North Pacific (was there a northwest passage across the Atlantic to Asia?).

1768. The Royal Academy of Arts is founded under the leadership of Joshua Reynolds.

1769. Scot James Watt patents the steam engine. The invention of the steam engine is attributed to Englishmen Thomas Savery in 1698 and Thomas Newcomen in 1710..

1770. Boston massacre reflects tension of British forces stationed in America. The Boston Tea Party, British blockade of Boston, and skirmishes at Lexington and Concord follow in 1775.

1771. The Encyclopedia Britannica is first published. Soda water is invented by British scientist and Unitarian theologian Joseph Priestley.

1772. Slavery is declared illegal under English law by Chief Justice Mansfield. Nevertheless, British slavers continue to operate abroad in the colonies until the Slave Trade Act of 1807 abolishes slavery throughout the British empire.

1776. Thomas Paine's Common Sense argues for the independence of the American colonies from Great Britain. The American Revolution (1775-1783) marks the end of the first British Empire with the loss of Britain's prime holdings in the New World, but the heights of the Empire still lay ahead.

1776. Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations lays the basis for modern economics and argues for free trade rather than colonial exploitation as the basis of world order. Edward Gibbon publishes his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, assessing the blame for the Roman decline on the Christian religion and other factors.Lade Teazle from a performance of The School for Scandal.

1777. Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The School for Scandal is acted at Drury Lane Theatre.

1782. Poems of William Cowper is published.

1785. Scottish geologist James Hutton presents at the meetings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh that the earth had a long history and supernatural theories were not needed to explain the geologic history of the earth.

1786. Robert Burns publishes Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect.  Another collection Poems appears in 1790. Tam O'Shanter follows in 1791.

1787. The first British convicts are shipped to Australia.

1789. The US Constitution is adopted, and the French Revolution begins. William Blake publishes Songs of Innocence and Experience. Erasmus Darwin's The Loves of the Plants is published (republished in 1791 as The Botanic Garden, part II).

1791. Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man, opposing Edmund Burke's attack on the French Revolution, states the basis for modern liberal democracy.

1791. Death of John Wesley, founder of Methodism, the first popular evangelical movement in Britain.

Mary Wollstonecraft, cir. 17971792. Mary Wollstonecraft publishes her Vindication of the Rights of Women.

1793. William Blake publishes Visions of the Daughters of Albion and America, A Prophecy. His famous portrait of Isaac Newton is completed in 1795.

 1798. T.R. Malthus warns of overpopulation in his Essay on Population.  Englishman Edward Jenner invents small pox vaccine. Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth publish Lyrical Ballads, introducing the Romantic Age in English Literature.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the final defeat of the royalist cause, French and Roman Catholic influence in England came to an end. The new nation was a parliamentary democracy based on religious tolerance and freedom of expression.

 Copyright 2008 by Gary Homer Gutchess.