Literature and Inventions of Renaissance Europe

Timeline created by wmdelong
In History
  • 1300

    "The Travels of Marco Polo"

    By Rustichello da Pisa; based on stories told by Marco Polo about his adventures in Asia; written while Pisa and Polo were imprisoned together in Genoa; though, written before the turn of the century, the work was completed close to 1300.
  • 1300

    "Gesta Romanorum"

    By Anonymous; a collection of anecdotes written in Latin; both popular in its own time, and influential to future writers, including Chaucer, Boccaccio, and Shakespeare. No specific date is known, when the work was completed, but it was some time around 1300.
  • 1300

    "King Alisaunder"

    By Anonymous; a middle-english romance about Alexander the Great; the date of completion is unknown, but is believed to have been completed some time around the turn of the century.
  • 1307

    "Rosa Medicinæ"

    By John of Gaddesden; a medical treatise named after the rose because the book is in five parts and is superior to other books of its kind, much like the rose has five petals and is valued higher than other flowers.
  • 1309

    "Speculum Humanae Salvationis"

    By Anonymous; the title translates to "Mirror of Human Salvation;" a medieval work of theology focusing on the prophecies in the Old Testament foretelling events in the New Testament.
  • 1310

    "Queen Mary Psalter"

    By Anonymous, though, possibly written and illuminated by a scribe in London; named after Queen Mary I of England; famous for its magnificent illustrations.
  • 1310

    The Artistic Innovation of Giotto

    Giotto, often called "The Father of the Renaissance," painted using increased volume of figures and a noticeable emotion of characters, which conveyed more human emotion, rather than symbology; a transition from Gothic art.
  • 1312

    "Les Voeux du paon"

    By Jacques de Longuyon; the title translates to "The Vow of the Peacocks;" a French romance, which gained popularity throughout Europe during the Middle Ages.
  • 1320

    "Divina Commedia"

    By Dante Alighieri; a poem describing the journey of Dante through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven; an important work of literature for many reasons, including that it is a reflection of the view of the afterlife during the time it was written.
  • 1320


    By Anonymous; the title translates to "The Eric Chronicle;" it is the oldest Swedish chronicle in existence.
  • 1330


    By Anonymous; a romance consisting of prose and poetry with connections to Arthurian legend and Alexander the Great.
  • 1335

    "Il Filostrato"

    By Giovanni Boccaccio; a poem of which the title may be translated to "Laid Prostrate by Love."
  • 1340


    By Giovanni Boccaccio; an epic poem telling of the ancient Greek hero Theseus, his rule and career; the main source of "The Knight's Tale" in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales."
  • 1353

    "The Decameron"

    By Giovanni Boccaccio; a collection of novellas encompassing one hundred stories told by ten people living in a village just outside Florence to escape the Black Death; a very successful example of early Italian prose.
  • 1357

    "The Travels of Sir John Mandeville"

    Probably written by Sir John Mandeville; a memoir of Mandeville's travels in Eastern lands, which gained remarkable popularity, and was influential to Christopher Columbus.
  • 1370

    "Piers Plowman"

    By William Langland; an allegorical story written in Middle English; contains the first known allusion to Robin Hood.
  • 1371

    "The Book of the Knight of the Tower"

    By Geoffroy IV de la Tour Landry; translated to William Caxton into English; a strong theme about the dangers of vanity.
  • 1384

    Wycliffe's Bible

    Wycliffe's translation into Middle-English of the Latin Vulgate completed (with the help of others); refined and updated by John Purvey (with the help of others) at a later date.
  • 1387

    "The Canterbury Tales"

    By Geoffrey Chaucer; a collection of twenty-four stories presented in the form of a story-telling contest between pilgrims traveling from London to Canterbury to visit the Shrine of Thomas Becket; considered the author's magum opus.
  • 1390

    "The Forme of Cury"

    By the Master Cooks of King Richard II (Anonymous); one of the oldest, if not the oldest, English cook book.
  • 1395

    "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"

    By Anonymous; a Middle English chivalric romance, and one of the best known Arthurian stories; a story about Sir Gawain, one of the Knights of the Round Table, and his acceptance of challenge by a mysterious Green Knight.
  • 1396


    By Petrarch; an epic poem, of which the hero and protagonist is Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, who led a successful Roman invasion of North Africa.
  • 1400

    The Cranked Reel

    Introduced sometime in the early fifteenth-century; used for winding skeins of yarn.
  • 1404

    "Voynich manuscript"

    By Anonymous; written in an a mysterious lettering system; possible origins in Northen Italy during the Renaissance
  • 1405

    An Improved Version of Archimedes' Screw

    Improved upon by Konrad Kyeser; Archimedes' Screw was used to pump water from a lower area to higher ground by turning a screw housed within pipe; the process had required more labor before the addition of a crank attached to the screw by Kyeser.
  • 1413

    Technique of Linear Perspective

    Developed by Filippo Brunelleschi; the modern geometrical perspective used by artists; a perspective, in which shapes and sizes of objects are determined by real or imaginary lines that all converge on a single horizon; used widely by Renaissance artists, and still used today.
  • 1427

    "The Imitation of Christ"

    By Thomas à Kempis; a Christian devotional book, said to be the most widely read Christian book other than the Bible; printed 745 times before 1650, and translated into more languages than any other book at the time (with the exception of the Bible). First written somewhere between 1418-1427.
  • 1430

    "Lincoln Thornton Manuscript"

    Compiled and copied by Robert Thornton; contains a retelling of part of the legend of King Arthur.
  • 1440

    The Printing Press

    Invented by Johannes Gutenberg; a German blacksmith, goldsmith, publisher, and inventor. The printing press utilized older technologies of printing, but with the addition of the first kind of moveable type made possible by the use of matrices. This allowed for the printing of many characters with precision and efficiency.
  • 1444

    "The Tale of Two Lovers"

    By Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini; a love story and a fifteenth-century bestseller.
  • 1450

    The Anemometer

    Invented by Leon Battista Albert; a device designed to measure wind speed, which was later improved upon by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • 1469

    "Natural History"

    By Pliny the Elder; an influential book during the Renaissance first written in the first century AD; first printed by Johann and Wendelin of Speyer in Venice in
  • 1476

    First Printing Press in England

    William Caxton introduces the printing press to England, sets up shop in Westminster, and begins translating and publishing various works of literature.
  • 1478

    "De Materia Medica"

    By Dioscorides; printed during the Renaissance in Italian, German, Spanish, and French.
  • 1481

    The Astrolabe

    The invention came earlier, but the earliest European documentation of its practical use for navigation was recorded by the Portuguese explorers Diogo de Azambuja, Bartholomew Diaz, and Vasco da Gama.
  • 1482


    By Euclid; an ancient Greek text found and tranlsated to Latin by an English monk named Adelard of Bath; first printed in 1482.
  • 1483

    "Golden Legend"

    By Jacobus de Voragine; translation by William Caxton; with more than a thousand manuscripts surviving at present, it was a medieval best-seller; includes tales of miracles, lore regarding Saints, and more.
  • 1483

    "Historia Plantarum"

    By Theophrastus; translation to Latin by Theodore Gaza in 1483; the title meaning "Enquiry Into Plants;" an important book of natural history influential during the Renaissance.
  • 1485

    "Le Morte D'Arthur"

    By Sir Thomas Mallory; A translation and compilation, with a few original additions, of Arthurian legend; first published by William Caxton.
  • 1485

    Da Vinci's Ornithopter

    An early flying machine designed by Leonardo da Vinci, in which a man lies prostrate on a plank attached to wings that were moveable via levers, foot pedals, and pulleys.
  • 1488

    The Viola Organista

    Invented by Leonardo da Vinci; a musical instrument, which uses a friction belt to vibrate strings; though, the invention was never actually created, it has been a source of inspiration for instrument makers over the centuries.
  • 1493

    "Nuremberg Chronicle"

    By Hartmann Schedel; written in latin; named after the German town in which it was translated and published; tells the story of human history as perceived from the Bible, as well as, the history of some Western cities.
  • 1495

    The Robotic Knight

    Invented by Leonard da Vinci; his design was a precursor to modern robots; consisted of a suit of armor encasing a complex array of gears and pulley systems designed to allow the suit of armor to move.
  • 1496

    The Needle-Grinding Machine

    Invented by Leonardo da Vinci; a machine designed to grind needles using gears and polishing strips, which would have been valuable to the textile industries of Italy, however, it was not completed.
  • 1499

    "De Inventoribus Rerum"

    By Polydore Vergil; a history of origins and inventions, including the origin of gods, and other religious topics, as well as a large variety of other topics, from agriculture to prostitution; originally three books written in three months, but Vergil later added five more books concentrated on the origins of Christian rites and institutions.
  • 1499

    Moveable Barricades

    Designed by Leonardo da Vinci; a design for a system of moveable barricades to protect the city of Venice from attack.
  • 1501

    "Handbook of a Christian Knight"

    By Desiderius Erasmus; began as an appeal to a single Christian knight who mistreated his wife to change his ways, and eventually expanded to become a "handbook" to all Christians urging them to live piously, rather than just performing the necessary rites. Written in 1501 and published by William Tyndale in 1533.
  • 1509

    "In Praise of Folly"

    By Desiderius Erasmus; an essay written to satirize the superstitions and traditions of Western society; as well as an attack on the Western church. Written in 1509 and printed in 1511.
  • 1516

    "Fabyan's Chronicle"

    By Robert Fabyan; describes the parallel histories of England and France, beginning with the arrival of Brutus of Troy in England and ending with the the death of Henry VII. Printed initially without mentioning Fabyan's name in 1516, but later printed with his name on the title page. Fabyan died in 1512, so it was first written sometime before then.
  • 1516


    By Thomas More; a fictional work in which many of the socio-political aspects of Western European society are satirized. It is debatable what his purpose for writing the book may have been.
  • 1522

    German Translation of the New Testament

    By Martin Luther and his fellow laborers.
  • 1528

    "The Obedience of a Christian Man"

    By William Tyndale; a book proposing the concept of the "divine right of kings." Henry VIII is alleged to have exclaimed, "This is a book for me and all kings to read!"
  • 1530

    First French Translation of the Bible

    By Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples; the first French translation of the Bible.
  • 1531

    "De occulta philosophia libri tres"

    By Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa; a book concerning magic and a solution to its skepticism. Circulated in manuscript some time before it was published in 1531.
  • 1532

    "The Prince"

    By Niccolò Machiavelli; a political treatise proposing the importance of realism, rather than idealism, and setting aside morals to achieve one's goals; contrasting greatly with the ethical ideology held by the Catholic Church; appeared around 1513, but not published until 1532.
  • 1532

    "The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel"

    By François Rabelais; a series of books telling of the adventures of two giants, a father and his son; filled with obscenities, the books were controversial in a time of religious oppression; the author is hailed by many as being among the creators of modern European writing. The first book was published in 1532, and the last in 1564.
  • 1534

    First German Translation of the Old Testament

    By Martin Luther and his fellow laborers.
  • 1535

    Tyndale's English Translation of the Bible

    By William Tyndale and, subsequently, Miles Coverdale; the first english translation of the Bible to derive directly from Greek and Hebrew texts; not finished in Tyndale's lifetime, though he had finished the New Testament, and part of the Old, the work was finished by Coverdale in 1535.
  • 1536

    "Institutes of the Christian Religion"

    By John Calvin; written as an introductory guide to the Protestant Faith; originally published in Latin in 1536, and later published in French.
  • 1536


    By Petar Zoranić; considered to be the first Croatian novel; about a broken-hearted poet who travels for seven days through Croatian mountains.
  • 1543

    "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium"

    By Nicolaus Copenicus; an German mathematician and astronomer. A book that discussed a new heliocentric theory of the universe, an alternative to the Ancient Greek Ptolemaic geocentric theory. Geocentric theory states that Earth sits in the middle of the universe, while heliocentric theory refers to the sun positioned in the middle, with all of the planets orbiting around it. Copernican heliocentrism is often cited as launching the Scientific Revolution.
  • 1545


    By Roger Ascham; the first book on archery in written in English; dedicated to King Henry VIII.
  • 1545

    "Prayers of Meditations"

    By English Queen Catherine Parr; the first book published by a woman in England by her own name; a Christian devotional book based on the earlier "The Imitations of Christ."
  • 1546

    "Yn y lhyvyr hwnn"

    By John Price of Becon; the first book to be published in the Welsh language.
  • 1547

    "A Dictionary in Englyshe and Welshe"

    By William Salesbury; it is, precisely, what the title claims it to be.
  • 1547

    "The Simple Words of Catechism"

    By Martynas Mažvydas; the first book published in the Lithuanian language; aiming to educate and consolidate the Protestant faith; only two out of the original two-hundred copies have survived.
  • 1548

    "A Summary of the Famous Writers of Great Britain"

    By John Bale; a chronological catalogue of authors and their works covering five centuries; partly founded on a previous dictionary of British authors by John Leland called "De uiris illustribus." Both of these authors were able to view monastic libraries before they were dissolved, and have preserved history that, otherwise, would have been lost.
  • 1549

    "Book of Common Prayer"

    By Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer; the first prayer book, written in the vernacular, to include the complete forms of Christian worship for every day of the week; later revised, and translated to other languages, though, this was the first of its kind; published in 1549.
  • 1552

    "Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis"

    Composed by the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, the first european college in the Americas; an Aztec manuscript describing the medicinal properties of various plants; translated to latin by Juan Badiano in 1552. The title translates to: "Little Book of the Medicinal Herbs of the Indians."
  • 1559


    By Jorge de Montemayor; a bestselling romance in its time; influential to William Shakespeare.
  • 1559

    "The History of the Reformation in Scotland"

    By John Knox; written in five volumes between 1559 and 1566.
  • 1560

    The Violin

    This is the violin as we generally know it today, but it was based off of the inventions of previous stringed instruments. Invented (or at least believed to be) by Andrea Amati, an Italian luthier.
  • 1560

    "Geneva Bible"

    By Protestant scholars, who had fled to Geneva, Switzerland from England; William Whittington supervised the translation, and his collaborators included Myles Coverdale, Christopher Goodman, Anthony Gilby, Thomas Sampson, and William Cole; the first Bible to have an old testament translated directly from Hebrew scriptures, as well as the first to be mass-produced and widely available to the public. This is one reason why it was one of the Bibles taken on The Mayflower.
  • 1563

    "Foxe's Book of Martyrs"

    By John Foxe; a book describing the history, oppression, and martyrs of the Protestant faith, especially in Britain.
  • 1563

    "The Profitable Arte of Gardening"

    By Thomas Hill; the first popular book in English written on the subject of gardening; the even more successful "The Gardener's Labyrinth" was written by the same author.
  • 1564

    "Monas Hieroglyphica"

    By John Dee; the name of the book shares the name of a symbol created by the author; the book explains the meaning of the symbol, which has to do with the unity of the universe. However, the explanation was not entirely successful, and there is still speculation on the meaning of Dee's glyph.
  • 1568

    "Bishop's Bible"

    By a number of collaborating translators; the second English translation of the Bible approved by the Church of England.
  • 1569

    "La Araucana"

    By Alonso de Ercilla; a Spanish epic poem about the Spanish conquest of Chile; a story based on the author's own experiences in the New World.
  • 1577

    "Holinshed's Chronicles"

    By Raphael Holinshed and collaborators; though, the work began with Reginald Wolfe attempting a chronology on a universal scale, when Wolfe died, the work was changed to a history of the British Isles, albeit a very extensive one; used for reference by Shakespeare.
  • 1578

    "Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit"

    By John Lyly; a prose romance, which gave rise to the style of English prose referred to as Euphuism.
  • The Pendulum

    Galileo Galilei makes note of the pendulum's constant oscillation period.
  • "The Anatomie of Abuses"

    By Philip Stubbs; a work criticizing the popular behavior of the period relating to gambling, fashion, alcohol, and the theatre.
  • "The Discoverie of Witchcraft"

    By Reginald Scott; a book claiming that witchcraft does not exist; considered the first published work on the topic of illusory, or stage magic.
  • "The Arte of English Poesie"

    By George Puttenham; a general history of poetry, and its various forms.
  • "Nine Worthies of London"

    By Richard Johnson; a book describing the rise to fame of nine "worthies" who had originally been ordinary citizens; including Sir William Walworth, who had been the leader of the Peasant's Revolt of 1381, and later became Lord Mayor of London twice.
  • "The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus"

    By Thomas Marlowe; an Elizabethan tragedy retelling German stories of Johann Georg Faust, who, according to legend, sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge; there is an account of actual demonic entities appearing on stage before a live audience.
  • Thermoscope

    Designed (or at least believed to be) by Galileo Galilei. An early form of temperature reading technology. A glass flask filled with water attached to a tube containing a glass ball that rose and fell as the temperature changed. The precursor to the mercury filled thermometer used today.
  • "The Unfortunate Traveller"

    By Thomas Nashe; a work of prose fiction; the story of Jack Wilton's adventures in Europe and his encounters with historical figures of the time.
  • "The Seaman's Secrets"

    By John Davis; a treatise on maritime navigation.
  • "The Shadow of Night"

    By George Chapman; a long poem with references to many Greek and Roman authors; encompasses the Renaissance concept of melancholy, that it is not a negative thing, but rather a feeling which signifies and inspires deeper thinking and understanding.
  • "Romeo and Juliet"

    By William Shakespeare; a tragedy written early in Shakespeare's career, though, one of his most famous works; based on earlier romances.
  • "The Discovery of Guiana"

    By Sir Walter Raleigh; a book describing the author's personal account of a 1595 expedition to Guayana, Venezuela; includes the suggestion that a city of gold exists in the New World, called Manoa, or El Dorado.
  • The Flushable Toilet

    Invented by Sir John Harrington; a present for Harrington's godmother, Queen Elizabeth I, who used it despite her anger toward him in regard to a book he wrote about the invention, which alluded to the Earl of Leicester.
  • "Essays"

    By Francis Bacon; "Essayes: Religious Meditations. Places of Perswasion and Disswasion. Seene and Allowed" being the first published work by the author in 1597, followed by a larger edition in 1612, and a final edition of 58 essays in 1625; covering a wide variety of topics.
  • "Survey of London"

    By John Stow; a book describing the architecture and social life in London during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
  • "The True Law of Free Monarchies"

    By James VI of Scotland; a treatise on the matters of political theory and kingship; a work which also suggested the divine right of kings.
  • "Hamlet"

    By William Shakespeare; a tragedy about Prince Hamlet's revenge upon his uncle; Shakespeare's longest play, and one of his most influential; written sometime between 1599 and 1602.
  • "El Buscón"

    By Francisco de Quevedo; a picaresque novel, and the only novel written by the author; tells of the adventures of Don Pablos who sets out to better himself and become a gentleman; considered a parody of Spanish life.
  • "Don Quixote"

    By Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra; a book about a noble who spends so much time reading chivalric romances that he loses his mind, and decides to rename himself Don Quixote and bring justice to the world through acts of chivalry; an extremely influential work of literature, and highly regarded as a prototypical work for modern Western literature.
  • The Newspaper

    A new form of media that was a product of the invention of the printing press; the German publication, "Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien," is regarded by the World Association of Newspapers as the world's first newspaper.
  • "The Tragedy of Macbeth"

    By William Shakespeare; the shortest tragedy by Shakespeare, though, one of the most powerful, in which Macbeth encounters three witches that foretell his future, and that he will become king, leading him to become overly ambitious, and to his eventual ruination.
  • "The Revenger's Tragedy"

    By Thomas Middleton; a play which tells of violence and ambition within the Italian court.
  • "The Knight of the Burning Pestle"

    By Francis Beaumont; the first whole English parody; a satire on chivalric romances.
  • The Telescope

    Hans Lippershey tried to obtain a patent for the telescope, though, it is unclear if he ever built one; news of his potential patent was spread across Europe quickly leading others to begin work on the invention, including Galileo Galilei who is often credited for it. However, Galilei was quite successful, and eventually able to create a telescope capable of magnification up to 30x.
  • The Flintlock Mechanism

    Invented by Marin le Bourgeoys; replaced other locking mechanisms for firearms, which had been used in previous centuries, although, some of these were still used in various places until much later.
  • "Sidereus Nuncius"

    By Galileo Galilei; the title translates to "Starry Messenger;" the first published work relating to the observations of the sky with the help of a telescope.
  • "King James Bible"

    By a number of collaborating translators; succeeded the Bishop's Bible as the third English translation of the Bible approved by the Church of England; made for the Church of England.
  • "The Duchess of Malfi"

    By John Webster; a play which relates a story of love that ends in horrible tragedy; continuing a trend of violence upon the stage, which was popular in Jacobean plays.
  • "Resolves, Divine, Moral, and Political"

    By Owen Feltham; a collection of 146 essays, which were widely popular during the seventeenth-century; influential to the English essay as a developing genre.
  • "The Anatomy of Melancholy"

    By Robert Burton; a book which explains that melancholy is a feeling through which all human emotion can be understood; a medical textbook, but also very philosophical.
  • Graded Lenses

    Invented by the Spanish; significantly diminished the trial and error process of finding the right lenses for an individual looking to buy eye-glasses.
  • "The Phantom Lady"

    By Pedro Calderón de la Barca; a Spanish play in which a man falls in love with an invisible woman.
  • "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems"

    By Galileo Galilei; a book comparing the Copernican and Ptolemaic views of the universe; a controversial work, which was placed under the Index of Forbidden Books, and not released until 1835; the author was suspected of heresy by the Catholic Church in 1633, and because of this book, anything else he had written, or was to write, was heavily scrutinized and considered heretic by the Church.
  • "The Temple"

    By George Herbert; a compilation of all of the author's poems, all of which are religiously themed, which makes sense because the author was a priest of the Church of England.
  • "Discourse on the Method"

    By René Descartes; the source of the phrase "I think, therefore I am;" a book in which the author begins his reasoning of the world by doubting everything, thus eliminating any preconceptions, or bias; a text relating to the philosophy of skepticism.
  • "Two New Sciences"

    By Galileo Galilei; the author's final book; dealing with research on physics; eventually published in Holland after several failed attempts in other countries.
  • "The Bay Psalm Book"

    By thirty hired ministers of the early Massachusetts Bay Colony; a translation of several of the psalters and prayer books brought over by early Puritan colonists to the New World; the first British book printed in North America.
  • Barometer

    Invented by Evangelista Torricelli, a physicist and mathematician inspired by the writings of Galileo Galilei. Torricelli also had the first scientific explanation for the cause of wind: that wind exists due to a difference in air pressure between two regions of earth. Rumors circulated about his involvement in witchcraft following his invention of the barometer.
  • "Principles of Philosophy"

    By René Descartes; a book containing the author's philosophy on the principles of nature and physics.
  • "Areopagitica"

    By John Milton; a book containing the author's view on censorship and the right to free speech; principles that have had far-reaching influence.
  • "Pseudodoxia Epidemica"

    By Thomas Browne; a work criticizing the contemporary superstitions of the time, which was a popular household book in the seventeenth-century.
  • "Leviathan"

    By Thomas Hobbes; a book concerning political philosophy, and specifically, the idea that peace is synonymous with an absolute, undivided monarchy; written during the English Civil War (1642-51)
  • "The Compleat Angler"

    By Izaak Walton; a book written on the art and sport of fishing.
  • The Pendulum Clock

    Invented by Christiaan Huygens; a Dutch mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and inventor. The first clock powered by a pendulum.
  • "The Commonwealth of Oceana"

    By James Harrington; a work of political philosophy, explaining how an ideal constitution could allow for a utopian republic; though, the work was censored by Oliver Cromwell, the book was later published with a dedication to Cromwell.
  • Huygenian Eyepiece

    The very first compound eyepiece, though, it is now considered obsolete, can still be found on inexpensive microscopes and telescopes. Invented by, none other than, Christiaan Huygen; the Dutch mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and inventor; most famous for his invention of the pendulum clock.
  • "Don Juan"

    By Molière; a French play about the fictional character and legend of Don Juan, who originated in the Spanish Golden Age, and is portrayed as a devoted womanizer.
  • "The Blazing World"

    By Margaret Cavendish; a utopian prose fiction; regarded as an early precursor to science fiction; set in another world, which can be reached from the North Pole.
  • "Paradise Lost"

    By John Milton; an epic poem telling of Adam and Eve's temptation by Satan, and their subsequent expulsion from Eden; there are two narratives: the story of the fallen angel Lucifer, and the other of Adam and Eve; Milton's purpose for the work is proposed in the first book, in which he says "to justify the ways of God to men."
  • "Annus Mirabilis"

    By John Dryden; a poem about the years 1665 and 1666 in London; an optimistic outlook on these eventful years, which included the the Great Fire of London, which he viewed as a miracle because the fire was stopped, God had saved the city, and the King would rebuild it.
  • "The Country Wife"

    By William Wycherley; a comedy controversial for being sexually explicit, even in the period of Restoration, which was somewhat more tolerant than in previous years; a story of a woman newly arrived to London from the country.
  • "The Pilgrim's Progress"

    By John Bunyan; an allegorical Christian story written sometime while the author was in prison; follows the journey of the protagonist Christian from the "City of Destruction" to the "Celestial City;" extremely influential to future writers, and regarded as the first English novel.
  • The Steam Digester

    Invented by Denis Papin; used to extract fat from bones using a steamy, high-pressure atmosphere inside of a chamber; the precursor to the steam engine, and the autoclave.
  • "Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica"

    By Isaac Newton; three books stating the author's laws of motion, universal gravitation, and planetary motion; one of the most important works of scientific literature.
  • "The Hind and the Panther"

    By John Dryden; the longest poem by the author; describes the various denominations of Christianity, which he likens to animals, except for the Catholic Church which he symbolizes as a "milk-white hind, immortal and unchanged;" controversial for covering topics about church and royal authority.
  • "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding"

    By John Locke; an essay stating that the mind is, at first, a blank slate, developed only by experience, that there are no innate thoughts.
  • Birth of Voltaire

    The soon-to-be-famous François-Marie Arouet is born in Paris.
  • "A New Voyage Round the World"

    By William Dampier; a book based on the diaries of the author, who was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, which he did three times, and the first Englishman to explore what is now Australia.
  • Steam-powered Water Pump

    Invented by Thomas Savery; not a very useful model because of how much coal it required, but still a milestone in human history, which helped pave the way for inventions of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Period:

    The Renaissance

    The term "renaissance" is French for "rebirth," which is an accurate description of this time period, which extends from somewhere in the fourteenth-century until some time in the seventeenth-century, but for the purpose of this timeline, I have allowed a little extra room on either end for simplicity. The Renaissance began in Italy with a renewed interest in the Classical world, and the idea of humanism, and spread North over time, adapted in various ways. Renaissance+Europe=a lot of new things
  • Period:

    The Printing Revolution

    The Printing Revolution began with the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg. Printing had been around for a long time, but the Gutenberg press largely mechanized that process, which allowed for much more precise and efficient printing. Just like other "revolutions" of this kind, there is no definite end date, and since the printing press, the way Gutenberg invented it, remained about the same even into the Age of Exploration, I'll extend this period to the end of the timeline.
  • Period:

    Spanish Golden Age

    A period of burgeoning literature and art in Spain.
  • Period:

    The Scientific Revolution

    The period is often considered to have begun with the publication of Nicolaus Copernicus's "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium". It is a period characterized by burgeoning scientific theories, and the beginning of modern science. The Scientific Revolution is considered to have extended far into the eighteenth-century, but I will end it at 1700, where the timeline ends.
  • Period: to

    English Restoration

    Beginning in 1660 when King Charles II restored the English, Scottish, and Irish Monarchies. It can be said to cover the whole span of the Stuart Monarchs (but I've marked its end at 1700, since that is where the timeline ends). A re-opening of theaters in 1660, after they had been banned by a Puritan government for the previous eighteen years, sparked a wave of comedic plays known as Restoration Comedies, which were explicit, and often inappropriate, but were extremely popular.