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The seventeenth century was an age of bold contrasts, change, and disintegration. Social forces strained at progress, and old dynasties were tested. While politicians autocratically tried to dictate the course of church and state, dynamic forces unleashed in parliamentary bodies indicated great disaffection with the old order and old ways.

Upper classes flaunted wealth and status with snuff boxes, perfume, paint, gloves, canes, and powdered wigs. Working classes, landless peasants, and New World natives remained subject to exploitation and conquest.

Ruling houses in France, Russia, and Austria underwent severe trial and made concessions. New states emerged in the Rhineland and Low Countries. In England civil war and revolution led to permanent limitations upon the hierarchy.

Scientific experimentation flourished, and medical knowledge increased with the developments of Newton, Galileo, Descartes, Hooke, and others. Yet at midcentury the plague spread devastation, and three-quarters of London was destroyed by fire.

Even as the Reformation took hold in unexpected places, thousands fled to America to escape religious persecution. Ironically many, in turn, oppressed later arrivals in their quest for religious freedom.

At the forefront of change, the Baptist movement was born out of persecution and ridicule. Baptists stood in vehement opposition to any king’s “divine right” and any church’s determination of their lives. Their call for freedom of conscience between an individual and God opened a door to both conflict and opportunity.

Religion / Reformation

1604 James I orders Roman Catholic priests banished from England, resulting in pro-Catholic Gunpowder Plot to blow up the House of Lords.

1611 Publication of the King James Bible

1620 Pilgrim Fathers found Plymouth Colony

1621 Huguenot rebellion against Louis XIII

1633 Inquisition condemns Galileo advocating theories of Copernicus

1633 Plague in Bavaria leads to passion play vow in Oberammergau; first given in 1634, re-enacted every 10 years

1637 New liturgy in Scotland causes riots

1638 Slaughter of Japanese Christians wipes out Christianity in Japan. Foreign books and contacts prohibited

1641 Catholic rebellion in Ireland; 30,000 Protestants massacred

1642 Theatres in England closed by Puritans’ orders (to 1660)

1646 New England Puritan theocracy enacts laws requiring church attendance and belief in the Bible

1647 Lutherans acknowledge Calvinists as coreligionists

1655 Cromwell prohibits Anglican services

1661 First American Bible edition—Algonquin translation by John Eliot

1667 Publication of Paradise Lost by Eng. poet John Milton

1670 Charles II (Eng.) and Louis XIV (France) make secret treaty of Dover to restore Catholicism to England

1673 Test Act passed in England to bar Catholics and Nonconformists from public office

1676 Observance of Sabbath protected by law in England

1678 False accusations of Catholic “Popish Plot” to murder Charles II

1681 William Penn receives land grant from King; considers Pennsylvania a “holy experiment,” where persecuted minorities could live in freedom

1685 Louis XIV revokes Edict of Nantes, thus forbidding all religions but Roman Catholicism; 50,000 Huguenot families leave France

1686 James II disregards Test Act, appoints Catholics to office

1687 James II grants toleration to all religions

1689 Toleration act grants freedom of worship in England

1692 Salem witchcraft trials in New England

1703 John Wesley born

1703 Jonathan Edwards born

The Baptists

1607 Two Separatist congregations flee England for Amsterdam

1609 John Smyth dialogues with the Waterlander Mennonites and baptizes himself and forty others by affusion

1612 Thomas Helwys, formerly of Smyth’s congregation, returns to England and forms the first General Baptist church. His classic, A Short Declaration of the Mistery of Iniquity, is the first claim for freedom of worship in the English language

1633 John Spilsbury organizes the first “particular” Baptist church in London

1639 Baptists persuade Roger Williams and Ezekial Holliman to accept their view of the church, and thus the first Baptist congregation in America is formed, in Providence, Rhode Island

1644 Seven English churches draw up the First London Confession to distinguish themselves from Anabaptists and General Baptists

1648 George Fox founds Society of Friends

1653 First meeting of the General Assembly of General Baptists at London. Baptists are prominent in Parliament and Cromwell’s New Model Army

1654 Henry Dunster, first president of Harvard College, is forced to resign his of office because he accepted Baptist views

1661 Members of the Seventh Day Baptist congregation at Bull-Stake-Alley in London are jailed at Newgate Prison and their pastor, John James, is hung, drawn, and quartered

1661–1664 Parliament passes a series of acts that exclude Baptists and other Nonconformists from holding public offices, forcing them out of schools and penalizing them for not attending Anglican services and for preaching without a license

1663 John Myles, founder of the first Baptist church in Wales, persuades most of his congregation to emigrate to the colonies, and they settle at Swansea, Massachusetts

1665 Thomas Goold refuses to allow his children to be baptizd in the Puritan church and is banished from the colony. Later in the year he helps to organize the first Baptist church in Boston

1677 English Particular Baptists write the Second London Confession to show their agreement with the Westminster Confession on most points except baptism

1678 The first Baptist meetinghouse in the colonies is raised in Boston

1678 English General Baptists produce the Orthodox Creed that seeks to unite all Protestants against the Catholic tendencies of King Charles II

1689 Catholics barred from the throne in England

1690 General Six Principle Baptists, who practice the laying on of hands, organize the first Baptist association in America in the environs of Providence, Rhode Island

1702 Baptists in colonial Carolina send seven pounds, 12 shillings to the English General Baptists for either a minister or books.

1707 Baptist congregations in Pennsylvania and the Jerseys unite to form a regular associatio

Politics / Discovery

1600 Wigs and dress trains come into fashion

1603 James I succeeds Elizabeth I of England;

1603 Plague in England

1605King Lear and Macbeth by Shakespeare (This is his most productive decade)

1607 Union of England and Scotland rejected by English Parliament;

1607 Founding of Jamestown, Va.

1608 First checks—“cash letters”—used in Netherlands

1609 German astronomer Johannes Kepler publishes his first two laws of planetary motion

1609 Tea from China first shipped to Europe

1610 Henry Hudson discovers Hudson Bay

1612 Tobacco first planted in Virginia

1618 Outbreak of Thirty Years War between Catholics and Protestants; conflict in Europe until 1648

1619 First Negro slaves in North America

1621 Potatoes first planted in Germany

1622 Jan.1 adopted as beginning of year by Papal chancellery (previously Mar. 25)

1623 Patent law protects inventors in England

1626 Peter Minuit buys Manhattan from Indians

1628 Charles I forced to accept Parliament’s petition of civil rights

1629 Charles I dissolves Parliament

1635 Italian Jesuit Giulio Alenio publishes first life of Christ in Chinese

1635 Tobacco in France sold only on doctor’s prescription

1637 Russian explorers cross Siberia, reach Pacific Ocean

1642 Charles I attacks Parliament, leading to civil war

1644Areopagitica, for freedom of the press, by John Milton

1648 Treaty of Westphalia ends Thirty Years War

1649 Charles I executed; England declared a Commonwealth

1650 Overture emerges as a musical form

1653 Cromwell dissolves ‘Rump’ Parliament and becomes Lord Protector of England

1657 Cromwell rejects title of “king”

1660 Convention Parliament restores Charles II to throne

1665 Great Plague of London kills over 68,000

1666 Great Fire of London

1670 Watches first have minute hands

1677 In Paris ice cream becomes popular

1679 Edward Terrill leaves a considerable sum in his estate for the training of Baptist ministers. Eventually this fund will evolve into Bristol Baptist College, oldest in the world

1679 England passes Habeas Corpus Act—imprisonment without trial forbidden

1680 Dodo bird extinct

1687 Sir Isaac Newton experiments with gravitation

1688 Glorious Revolution in England: William of Orange comes to save England from Catholicism

1689 Parliament issues Bill of Rights; Constitutional Monarchy in Britain

1689 William III and Mary II joint monarchs of England and Scotland

1695 Government press censorship ends in England

1702 Serfdom abolished in Denmark

1704 Daniel Defoe begins weekly newspaper The Review from his prison cell