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 ...

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