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The 100 Most Significant Events of the Last Thousand Years

A list of milestones from the last millenium.
Grades:
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7 |
8 |
9
Subjects:
Holidays:
Holidays (389)

Reducing the last millennium to a laundry list of highlights cannot pretend to be a definitive or accurate exercise. Note that only events judged to have world significance are included. Apologies for the inevitable bias toward Western as well as twentieth century events—we are all prisoners of our own history.

1066 – Norman Conquest of Britain
1095 – Pope Urban II calls for the Crusades
1100s – Angkor Wat is built
1206 – Genghis Khan begins creation of largest land empire in history
1215 – Magna Carta signed
1260 – Chartres Cathedral consecrated
1271 – Marco Polo begins travels to Asia
1273 – Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica
1300s – Renaissance begins in Italy
1347 – Bubonic plague (Black Death) spreads in Europe
c.1387 – Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
1399 – Tamerlane begins last great conquest
1438 – Incan Empire formed in Peru
1455 – Gutenberg's movable-type printing press produces the Bible
1492 – Columbus reaches the New World
1509 – Michelangelo begins painting Sistine Chapel
1513 – Machiavelli's The Prince
1517 – Martin Luther initiates Reformation
1519 – Aztec Empire at height as Spanish arrive
1520 – Suleiman I “the Magnificent” presides over the Ottoman Empire's greatest period
1522 – Magellan's expedition circumnavigates the globe
1543 – Copernicus postulates a heliocentric universe
1582 – Pope Gregory XIII reforms calendar
1603 – Shakespeare's Hamlet
1605 – Cervantes's Don Quixote, first modern novel
1609 – Galileo makes first astronomical observations with a telescope
1637 – Descartes publishes Discours de la methode
1643 – Taj Mahal completed
1664 – Newton's theory of universal gravitation
1667 – Milton's Paradise Lost
1684 – Leibniz's calculus published
1690 – Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding
1721 – Bach completes the Brandenburg Concertos
1755 – Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language
1760 – Industrial Revolution begins in England
1762 – Rousseau's The Social Contract
1764 – Mozart (aged eight) writes first symphony
1769 – Watt patents first practical steam engine
1776 – U.S. Declaration of Independence; Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations
1787 – U.S. Constitution signed
1789 – French Revolution begins
1792 – Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman
1796 – Jenner discovers smallpox vaccine
1808 – Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
1815 – Battle of Waterloo crushes Napoleon
1819 – Bolivar defeats Spanish forces at Boyaca
1826 – Niepce takes first photograph
1833 – Slavery abolished in British Empire
1842 – Long uses first anesthetic (ether)
1859 – Darwin's On the Origin of Species; Lenoir builds first practical internal-combustion engine
1862 – Pasteur's experiments lead to germ theory; Salon des Refuses introduces impressionism
1867 – Japan ends 675-year shogun rule
1876 – Bell patents the telephone
1879 – Edison invents electric light
1880s – Europe colonizes African continent
1885 – World's first skyscraper built in Chicago
1893 – New Zealand becomes first country in the world to grant women the vote
1895 – Lumiere brothers introduce motion pictures; Marconi sends first radio signals
1897 – Herzl launches Zionist movement
1900 – Freud's Interpretation of Dreams
1903 – Wright brothers fly first motorized airplane
1905 – Einstein announces theory of relativity
1907 – Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon introduces cubism
1911 – Rutherford discovers structure of atom
1913 – Ford develops first moving assembly line
1914 – World War I begins
1916 – Sanger founds international birth control movement
1917 – Lenin leads the Bolshevik Revolution
1918 – Global “Spanish flu” epidemic
1922 – Joyce's Ulysses published
1927 – Farnsworth demonstrates working model of a television; Lemaitre proposes Big Bang theory
1928 – Fleming discovers penicillin
1929 – Hubble proposes theory of expanding universe; U.S. stock market crash precipitates global depression
1936 – Keynes's General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
1939 – Hitler invades Poland; World War II begins
1942 – Nazi leaders at Wannsee Conference coordinate “final solution to the Jewish question”
1945 – Atomic bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; first electronic computer, ENIAC, is built; Arab League launches modern pan-Arabism
1946 – First meeting of U.N. General Assembly; Churchill's “Iron Curtain” speech marks beginning of cold war
1947 – Gandhi's civil disobedience movement leads to an independent India
1949 – Communist victory in China under Mao Zedong
1950s – Abstract expressionism introduced
1953 – Watson, Crick, and Franklin discover DNA's structure
1954 – Brown v. Board of Education begins unraveling of U.S. racial segregation
1957 – Russia launches first satellite, Sputnik I
1959 – Mary and Louis Leakey uncover hominid fossils
1969 – Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the Moon; Internet (ARPA) goes online
1980 – Smallpox eradicated
1981 – Scientists identify AIDS
1989 – Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe
1991 – Breakup of Soviet Union; apartheid ends in South Africa

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