50 Fascinating and Historical Facts About The 1600s


26Miyamoto Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi was a 17th century Japanese swordsman, who twice arrived late to duels and defeated both opponents. Upon his next duel, he arrived early, and ambushed the force that was assembling to ambush him.

27. Until the 17th century most scientists believed that the speed of light was infinite. It was only in 1676 that Ole Rømer and Giovanni Cassini made the first measurement of the velocity of light by observing the orbits of the moons of Jupiter and they were the just 27% off the real value of the speed of light.

28. New Amsterdam was given to the Duke of York in 1664 as the 18th birthday present from his father. He then renamed the city, New York.

29. In 1669, an alchemist named Hennig Brand discovered phosphorus by boiling down urine and heating the residue to very high temperatures. He was trying to make gold though, and he hoped that the yellow color of urine meant that there was gold in it.

30. The Easter Bunny tradition originated among German Lutherans in 1682. The Easter Bunny originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior at the start of the season of Eastertide. He then would proceed with bringing colored eggs for the children.

31Battle of Vienna

Battle of Vienna

The largest cavalry charge in history occurred during the 1684 Turkish siege of Vienna. 18,000 Holy league Polish and German knights charged the Ottoman line, completely routing them. The battle marked the end of Turkish expansion into Europe.

32. While not strictly legal, starting in the 1690s, British husbands used to sell their wives to end bad marriages. It was usually an auction announced by a newspaper advertisement, to which the wife was led by a rope around her neck. Often the buyer was pre-arranged and the sale was a form of symbolic separation.

33. A guy named Thiess in 1692 talked his way out of death in front of a werewolf tribunal by admitting that he was a werewolf in the service of God, in a longstanding war with the witches of the underworld.

34. Carbon nanotubes have been found in a Damascus steel sword from the 17th century. It is thought that the nanotubes along with the nanowires is what gives the legendary Damascus steel its strength.

35. In the 17th century, standard English Army field rations consisted of an entire week's worth of biscuits and cheese.

36Powdered Wigs

Powdered Wigs

Wearing wigs became popular in the 17th century because they covered up the scarring and baldness that was caused by Syphilis.

37. The "Highland Charge" was a 17th century Scottish tactic of sprinting into musket lines and hacking at the enemy with broadswords as they struggled to fix their bayonets.

38. The 17th century Europeans used to glue patches to their faces (velvet for the rich, mouse skin for the poor) in order to conceal blemishes or make a fashion statement.

39. Isaac Newton was like a Dirty Harry of 17th century London. He chased counterfeiters of the Royal Mint, bribed crooks for info, threatened criminals and their families, eventually focusing on his nemesis and finally he burned all his notes to cover his dirty ways of catching crooks.

40. The Sultan of Morocco and Queen Elizabeth I drew up a plan to conquer the Spanish Americas and partition them between Morocco and England in 1603. Historians speculate that had the Sultan and the Queen not die the next year, Morocco might have colonized much of the New World.



In the 17th century, the Finnish used a unit of measurement called Poronkusema, which was the distance a reindeer could walk before needing to urinate.

42. On January 7th, 1610 Galileo Galilei improved the telescope's design and used it to study Jupiter. He discovered 4 of Jupiter's moons and helped disprove the Ptolemaic world system (Earth-centric universe) theory.

43. Uriel Acosta was a 17th century Jewish philosopher. After being found guilty of heresy, he was given 39 lashes and was forced to lie in the doorway to his synagogue while the congregation stepped on him as they entered. He was so humiliated that he then grabbed a pistol and shot himself.

44. Kit Kat was a political club in the 17th century London and a Kit-Kat portrait is a particular type of portrait used for members of the club.

45. The "Philosophers tree" experiment was a previously well kept secret by alchemists from the 17th century. The experiment which was recently recreated resulted in the formation of a "golden" tree.



During the 17th century, women's fashions with exposed breasts were common in society, from queens to common prostitutes, and it emulated by all classes. An exposed ankle however was considered to be more risqué.

47. 2012 wasn’t the first time a Mayan calendar ended. In fact, it has happened on September 18, 1618, after which a new calendar began.

48. An essay by 17th century philosopher Leo Allatius claims that the circumcised foreskin of Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven at the same time as him and became the rings of Saturn.

49. In 1623, the German polymath Wilhelm Schickard designed what was probably the first mechanical digital computer. Schickard died of bubonic plague soon, but his machine was replicated later and is likely to have worked in spite of some imperfections.

50. There was an explosion in 1626 in China which killed 20,000 people. The cause of the explosion has not been conclusively determined.