As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th Century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. During this period, the power of England and the United Provinces increased; while that of Spain and Portugal declined.
- The Thirty Years' War in Europe (1618-1648).
- Union of the Crowns of Scotland and England
- Scottish and English Protestants sent to colonize Ireland, as reaction to Catholicism there
- The English Civil War (1642-1651).
- The Deluge: series of wars and civil wars in Poland with Sweden, Russia, Prussia and Transylvania which caused Poland to lose power status and began rise of Russia to power status.
- Antwerp merchants established the Dutch East India Company in 1602, embarking on colonial expansion based on shareholdership rather than royal control
- The Dutch republic became the dominant economic and political power in Europe. It also underwent crashes, e.g. the windhandel in tulips led to many bankruptcies in 1637
- Republic of the Seven United Netherlands gains formal independence from Spain in 1648. Dutch merchant ships sail all over the world, leading to the "Golden Age of the Dutch Republic".
- Major changes in philosophy and science take place, often characterised as the Scientific revolution.
- William Shakespeare, author and poet
- Isaac Newton, physicist and mathematician
- Gottfried Leibniz, philosopher and mathematician
- Galileo Galilei, scientist
- René Descartes, philosopher and mathematician
- Blaise Pascal, theologian, mathematician and physicist.
- Baruch Spinoza, philosopher
- Thomas Hobbes, philosopher
- John Locke, philosopher
- Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England
- Christina of Sweden, high profile catholic convert, matron of arts
- Sir Thomas Browne author,philosopher and scientist
- Calculus is invented and used to formulate classical mechanics.
- Cannon and gunpowder technology refined.
- First measurement of the speed of light, 1676.