World history timeline
c.3.8 million years ago Australopithecines, the first human-like creatures (hominids) to walk upright, appear.
c.2.5 million year ago Homo habilis (“handy man”) evolves in Africa. It uses simple tools. The start of the Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age.
c.1.9 million year ago Homo ergaster and Homo erectus (“upright man”) both evolve in Africa (they may have been closely related, or even identical, species). They use sharper tools and fire.
c.1.8 million years ago Homo erectus spread east into China and on into Southeast Asia.
c.850,000 BC Homo heidelbergensis evolves from Homo erectus and lives in Europe. They make tools from animal bone and antler as well as stone. They are expert hunters and have begun to use fire.
c.650,000-350,000 BC The first Neanderthal people evolve from Homo heidelbergensis.
c.200,000 BC The first modern people, Homo sapiens, evolve in Africa.
c.70,000 BC Modern humans move into the Middle East from Africa.
c.55,000 BC People first arrive in Australia.
c.40,000 BC Homo sapiens reaches Europe.
c.35,000 BC The first people begin to cross into America.
c.25,000 BC Last Neanderthals die out.
c.15,000 BC The climate warms up, allowing people to settle permanently in Britain.
c.10,000 BC The end of the Ice Ages (or its latest coldest phase). The start of the Neolithic Period, or New Stone Age.
c.10,000 BC Farming begins in Mesopotamia. Some animals are domesticated for the first time.
c.8350 BC The founding of Jericho, the first walled town in the world.
c.7500 BC The first people arrive in Ireland.
c.7000 BC Catal Huyuk, probably the largest city of its day, is built in Turkey.
c.7000 BC Farming of root crops begins in New Guinea.
c.6500 BC Farming in Greece and the Aegean spreads up the River Danube to Hungary by about 5500.
c.6500 BC Britain and Ireland become islands and separate from the rest of Europe.
c.6000 BC The Minoans arrive on Crete.
c.6000 BC Rice cultivation begins (Thailand).
c.5000 BC The first farming communities settle by the River Nile in Egypt.
c.5000 BC Groups of farmers begin irrigation in Mesopotamia.
c.5000 BC People in southeast Europe make copper and gold objects.
c.5000 BC The Chinese civilization begins. Farming communities settle in the Indus valley in India.
c.4500 BC Scratch plough first used (in Mesopotamia).
c.4500 BC Farming spreads to most other parts of western Europe.
c.4500 BC The Sumerian city of Eridu is founded.
c.3750 BC The start of bronze-casting in the Near East.
c.3400 BC Egypt has developed as two kingdoms, Upper and Lower Egypt.
c.3300 BC Early writing develops in Mesopotamia.
c.3200 BC Wooden wheels, made from planks pegged together, in use in Mesopotamia.
c.3200 BC Newgrange burial mound is built in Ireland.
c.3100 BC Egypt is united under the first pharaoh, Menes. The Egyptians are the first people in the ancient world to form a unified nation (other civilizations consist of separate city-states).
c.3000 BC The spread of copper-working in Europe.
c.3000 BC The development of major cities, such as Ur, in Sumer.
c.3000 BC Arable farming spreads to central Africa.
c.3000 BC First pottery made in the Americas.
3000-1800 BC The Norte Chico civilization grows up in Peru.
c.2200 BC Construction work begins on Stonehenge, a stone monument in England.
c.2575 BC The start of the Old Kingdom in Egypt. Powerful pharaohs send out trading expeditions to find treasures to bring back. Work begins on the pyramids at Giza. They become one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Local nobles become more and more rich and powerful. Eventually, unified rule of Egypt collapses and civil war for the next 100 years brings the Old Kingdom to an end in 2134.
c.2500 BC The rise of the Assyrian civilization in northern Mesopotamia. The Assyrians adopt the religion and culture of Sumer.
c.2400 BC The Indian civilization develops, with Mohenjo Daro and Harappa as its major cities.
c.2370-2230 BC Sargon I of Akkad (to the north of Sumer) founds the first empire in the Middle East by taking control of the Sumerian region and leading his armies into Anatolia and Syria.
c.2300 BC Bronze Age in Europe begins.
c.2100 BC The Hebrews, led by Abraham, settle in Canaan on the eastern Mediterranean coast.
c.2040 BC The start of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt. The country is united under a king from Thebes, Mentuhotep. Hyksos invaders begin to arrive from Syria from about 1730. They gradually gain control of Egypt (there are at least five Hyksos kings of Egypt). The Middle Kingdom ends in chaos in 1640 bc.
c.2000 BC The Minoan civilization begins on Crete with the building of palaces.
c.2000 BC Metal-working begins in Peru.
c.2000 BC Sea-going ships with sails are developed in the Aegean.
c.1792 BC King Hammurabi comes to the throne of Babylon, which now begins to dominate Mesopotamia as Hammurabi builds up his empire.
c.1750 BC The Indus Valley civilization comes to an end.
c.1650 BC The start of the Hittite Empire. The Hittites settled Anatolia (present-day Turkey in c.2000 bc. Under King Hattushili I, they conquer northern Syria.
c.1600 BC The Shang dynasty comes to power in China.
c.1600 BC A great famine drives the Hebrews from Canaan to Egypt.
c.1600 BC The Mycenaean civilization begins in Greece.
c.1595 BC Hittites overthrow Babylonian Empire.
c.1560 BC The Theban prince Ahmose drives the Hyksos from Egypt and the New Kingdom begins. During this period, Egypt controls Nubia to the south and much of Syria and Canaan. Pharaohs are no longer buried in pyramids but in smaller tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
c.1500 BC Complex communities led by chieftains develop in Europe.
c.1500 BC Writing develops both in China and Greece.
c.1450 BC The Minoan civilization disappears.
1400–300 BC The Olmec civilization thrives in Mexico.
c.1377 BC Akhenaten, pharaoh of Egypt, enforces the worship of a single god, Aten.
c.1290 BC Rameses II (Rameses the Great) comes to the throne of Egypt and reigns for 67 years. The Hittites wage war on the Egyptians during his reign and fight them at the Battle of Qadesh. Although neither side wins, Rameses records the battle as a victory for Egypt.
c.1270 BC The Hebrews leave Egypt (the “Exodus”) and settle in Canaan.
1225 BC Babylon is sacked by the Assyrians and the city comes under their influence.
c.1200 BC The Hittite Empire collapses.
c.1200 BC Egypt is attacked by groups of raiders called the “Sea People”, who are defeated by the army of the pharaoh Rameses III. Some Sea People settle in Canaan.They become known as the Philistines.
c.1200 BC The Mycenaean civilization in Greece collapses.
c.1200 BC The Olmec civilization begins in Mexico.
c.1160 BC The death of Rameses III, the last great pharoah of Egypt.
c.1100-850 BC The Dark Ages in Greece.
c.1046 BC The Shang dynasty is overthrown in China. The Zhou dynasty begins.
c.1000 BC The Phoenicians expand their influence in the Mediterranean region.They develop an alphabet script, the basis of modern western European scripts.
c.1000 BC King David unites Israel and Judah.
814 BC A Phoenician colony is founded at Carthage, North Africa.
c.800 BC The Etruscan civilization begins in Italy.
c.800 BC City-states are founded in Greece.
776 BC The first Olympic Games are held in Greece.
771-746 BC Spring and Autumn period. Zhou dynasty kings ruled China, but real power was held by powerful nobles.
753 BC The traditional date for the founding of Rome.
c.750 BC Homer writes the Iliad and later the Odyssey.
671 BC The Assyrians conquer Egypt.
650 BC Iron technology is introduced in China
625 BC King Nabopolassar overthrows the Assyrians and Babylon is powerful again.
604–562 BC Reign of Nebuchadnezzar II. Babylon conquers Assyria and Judah, widening its empire.
563 BC The birth of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) in India.
c.560 BC The rise of the Persian Empire under Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great)
551 BC The birth of the philosopher Confucius in China.
539 BC Babylon falls to the Persians in the Battle of Opis. Babylon goes on to become one of the most important cities in the Persian Empire.
521 BC The Persian Empire expands under Darius I (Darius the Great). It stretches from Egypt to India.
509 BC Tarquin the Proud, the last king of Rome, is driven out and Rome becomes a republic with two classes, the patricians (nobles) and the plebeians (workers).
c.500 BC The dawn of the Classical Age in Greece and the start of democratic government. Each city-state has its own army, although only Sparta’s is full-time.
c.500 BC The start of Nok culture in Nigeria, Africa. The Nok provide what are thought to be the first examples of African sculpture.
c.500 BC Celtic speakers settle in Britain.
492-449 BC The Persians invade Greece and raid Athens. They are defeated at the Battle of Marathon.
c.483 BC The death of Buddha.
480 BC The Persian fleet is defeated by the Athenians at the Battle of Salamis.
479 BC The Greeks defeat the Persians at Plataea. This victory marks the end of the Persian invasions on Greece.
479 BC The death of Confucius in China.
475-221 BC Period of unrest across China as separate states gradually become independent and begin to fight each other (Warring States period).
449 BC The Greeks make peace with Persia. Athens begins to flourish under its new leader, Pericles. The Parthenon is built.
431-404 BC The Peloponnesian Wars are fought between Athens and Sparta. Athens surrenders to Sparta, which attempts to found an empire.
391 BC The Gauls attack Rome but are bribed with gold to leave.
371 BC The Spartans are defeated by General Epaminondas from the city-state of Thebes. This puts an end to Spartan rule
359 BC Philip becomes king of Macedonia in northern Greece.
338 BC Philip of Macedonia defeats the Greeks at the Battle of Chaerona and unites Greece under his rule.
336 BC Philip is murdered and his son Alexander becomes king of Macedonia.
334 BC Alexander the Great invades Persia and defeats Darius III.
326 BC Alexander conquers northern India.
323 BC Alexander dies in Babylon. The Hellenistic Period begins in Greece.
322 BC The Mauryan empire is founded in India by Chandragupta Maurya.
304 BC Ptolemy I, Macedonian governor of Egypt, founds a new dynasty of pharaohs.
300 BC The Olmec civilization disappears in Mexico.
290 BC Rome completes its conquest of central Italy by defeating the Samnites from the west.
290 BC The library is founded at Alexandria
264-41 BC The First Punic War with Carthage gives Rome control of Sicily.
262 BC Asoka, the Mauryan emperor (rules 272-36) converts to Buddhism.
225 BC Roman army defeats the Gauls, a Celtic people, at the Battle of Telamon
221 BC Qin rule begins in China. Shi Huangdi becomes the first emperor. Work on the Great Wall of China begins.
218-201 BC The Second Punic War. Hannibal of Carthage invades Italy by marching with 36 elephants across the Alps.
210 BC Shi Huangdi of China dies.
206 BC-AD 220 The Han dynasty rules China.
206 BC Rome gains control of Spain.
202 BC Rome defeats Hannibal and invades Spain.
149-46 BC The Third Punic War. Rome destroys Carthage. North Africa becomes a Roman province.
146 BC Greece is dominated by Rome.
141 BC The Chinese emperor, Wu Ti, expands the power of the Han dynasty across eastern Asia.
138-125 BC Zhang Qian travels around central Asia.
c.114 BC The Silk Route is opened, linking China to the West.
c.100 BC The Moche civilization begins in Peru.
100 BC Indian monks bring Buddhism to China.
73-71 BC The gladiator Spartacus leads a slaves’ revolt in Rome. Spartacus is killed by the Roman army.
59 BC Julius Caesar is elected consul of Rome.
58 BC Julius Caesar conquers Gaul.
55 BC Julius Caesar sends a mission to punish Celtic tribes of England.
54 BC Julius Caesar returns with a large army to attack Britain.
49 BC Julius Caesar rules Rome as a dictator. Cleopatra is made queen of Egypt.
44 BC Julius Caesar is stabbed to death by Brutus and a group of senators
43 BC Mark Antony and Octavian, Caesar’s nephew, come to power in Rome.
31 BC Octavian defeats Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium.
30 BC The death of Antony and Cleopatra.
27 BC Octavian becomes Augustus, the first emperor of Rome.
c.5 BC The birth of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity.
1st century AD The city of Teotihuacan is built in Mexico.
14 AD Augustus dies and his stepson Tiberius becomes emperor of Rome.
c.30 Jesus Christ is crucified in Jerusalem.
37 Caligula becomes emperor of Rome on the death of Tiberius.
41 Caligula is murdered and his uncle, Claudius, becomes emperor of Rome.
43 Emperor Claudius conquers Britain.
54 Claudius is poisoned by his wife. Her son Nero becomes emperor.
60 British leader Boudicca rebels against Roman rule, but is defeated.
64 Fire destroys part of Rome.
79 Pompeii and Herculaneum are destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius.
100–800 The Moche civilization flourishes in northern Peru.
105-117 Emperor Trajan conquers land in eastern Europe.
117 The Roman Empire is at its greatest extent. Hadrian becomes emperor.
122 Works begins to construct Hadrian’s Wall on the border between Roman Britain and the lands to the north.
220-280 China splits into three kingdoms: Wei, Shu and Wu.
235-284 Plague, famine, rebellions and Barbarian attacks weaken the empire. Rome is defeated by Persia in AD 260 and abandons parts of eastern Europe.
250–900 The Maya build stone cities and temples in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.
280-420 The Jin dynasty rules China.
c.300 The rise of the Hopewell Indian chiefdoms in North America.
c.300 The rise of Mayan civilization in Central America.
313 Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire under the emperor Constantine.
330 Constantinople (now Istanbul,Turkey) becomes the capital of the Roman Empire.
370-410 The Roman empire is invaded by Huns from Asia and Barbarians from the north and east. Romans withdraw from Gaul and Britain.
380 Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman empire.
390s Christian missionaries first visit Ireland. St Ninian brings Christianity to Scotland.
395 The Roman empire is split into two—East and West. The West is rapidly overrun by Barbarians.
399 Chinese monk Faxian visits India and Sri Lanka to study Buddhism.
400 Settlers reach Easter Island.
410 The Romans tell the Britons to defend themselves as Roman legions leave.
410 The barbarian Visigoths invade Italy and sack Rome.
420-581 China is ruled by Southern and Northern dynasties
429 Vandals invade northern Africa.
432 St Patrick visits Ireland.
449 Angles, Saxons and Jutes begin conquest of Britain.
455 Vandals sack Rome.
476 Odoacer, Barbarian commander of Rome’s army, deposes Emperor Romulus Augustulus and makes himself King of Italy, marking the end of the Western Empire.
480 Gupta Empire in India overthrown.
486 Frankish kingdom founded by Clovis.
c.500-1000 Civilization of Tiahuanaco in Andes Mountains of South America.
527-65 Justinian rules over Byzantine Empire.
532-63 Construction of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
552 Buddhism introduced into Japan.
560s St David sets up monasteries in Wales.
c.570 Birth of the Prophet Mohammed.
589-618 Sui dynasty rules in China.
597 St Augustine brings Christianity to England.
c.600-900 Huari civilization in South America.
600s Seven English kingdoms of the Heptarchy established.
613 King Aethelfrith of Northumbria defeats the Britons at Chester.
617 King Raedwald is buried at Sutton Hoo in East Anglia.
618-901 Tang dynasty rules in China.
629-645 Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk, travels around Central Asia and India. He returns with a large collection of precious religious texts and sacred relics.
632 Death of the Prophet Mohammed.
c.632-700 Arab armies spread Islam throughout North Africa.
642 Arab armies defeat Sassanian Empire.
650 The holy book of Islam, the Koran, is written down.
661-750 Umayyad dynasty holds power in the Islamic world.
c.700 Start of Pueblo period in northwest America.
711 Muslim armies conquer part of Spain.
718 Arab siege of Constantinople repulsed.
732 Muslim armies defeated at Battle of Poitiers.
750-1258 Abbasid dynasty holds power in the Islamic world.
c.750 Vikings begin raiding voyages in Europe.
762 Baghdad becomes the capital of the Islamic Empire.
768-814 Reign of Frankish leader, Charlemagne.
793 Vikings begin their raiding voyages in Europe.
795 Vikings first raid Ireland.
800 Charlemagne crowned emperor in Rome of Holy Roman Empire.
c.800 Height of Huari Empire in South America.
c.800 Rise of Kingdom of Ghana in West Africa.
802 Khmer Kingdom founded in Cambodia.
829 Ecgberht of Wessex is recognized as king of all England.
843 Kenneth MacAlpin crushes the Picts and unites northern Scotland for the first time.
c.850 First buildings constructed at Great Zimbabwe in southern Africa.
c.860 Swedish Vikings start to move east, to Russia.
862 Novgorod founded by Vikings.
871-899 Alfred the Great rules.
876 Vikings settle in northern England and East Anglia, marking the beginning of the Danelaw.
c.900 Construction starts on city of Angkor in Khmer Kingdom.
930 The first meeting of the Althing in Iceland.
c.957 Death of Al-Masudi, geographer and historian.
960-1279 Song dynasty rules in China.
c.982 Viking Erik the Red explores Greenland coast.
969 Fatimids conquer Egypt and found Cairo.
c.985 The first Viking settlers move to Greenland.
c.992 First motte-and-bailey castles built in Anjou, France.
1000 Christianity becomes the official religion of Iceland.
c.1000 Viking Leif Eriksson sails to Vinland in North America.
c.1000-1476 Chimu civilization in South America.
1004-13 Viking settlement established in Newfoundland, North America (possibly known as Vinland).
1005 Brian Boru is the first king of Ireland.
1013-14 The Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard rules England.
1014 Vikings defeated at Battle of Clontarf in Ireland.
1016-35 Canute rules a vast empire in England and Scandinavia.
1018 Malcolm II of Scotland wins the Battle of Carham and unites the whole of Scotland.
1035 William becomes Duke of Normandy.
1042-66 Edward the Confessor rules as one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England.
1066-87 Duke William of Normandy conquers and rules England.
1086 Compilation of the Domesday Book in England.
1087-1100 William II, William Rufus, rules England.
1095 Turks ban Christians from entering Jerusalem, and Pope Urban II calls on Christians to recapture the “Holy Land”.
1096-1272 Period of the Crusades.
1099 Knights of First Crusade capture Jerusalem.
1100s Keep castles are developed. These have extra walls surrounding the keep tower.
1100-35 Henry I rules England.
1115-1166 Al-Idrisi travels across Europe and the Near East.
1120 Henry I’s son and heir, William, dies in the White Ship in the English Channel.
1135-54 Stephen engages in a lengthy civil war throughout his reign with the rightful queen, Matilda.
1147-49 Second Crusade.
1150-1250 Major castle building across Germany.
1154-1485 Plantagenet kings rule England.
1154-89 Henry II rules England.
1162 Birth of Mongol leader Genghis Khan.
1171 Muslim leader, Saladin defeats Fatimids and conquers Egypt.
1171 Henry II invades Ireland and becomes Lord of Ireland.
1176 The First Welsh Eisteddfod is held in Wales.
1187 Saladin, defeats Crusaders and recaptures Jerusalem.
1189-92 Third Crusade ends in failure.
1189-99 Richard I, Richard the Lionheart, rules.
1192-1333 Kamakura shogunate in Japan.
1199-1216 John rules England.
c.1200 The Inca capital of Cusco is founded in Peru.
1200s Features of crusader castles, such as portcullises and rounded towers, are introduced into European castles.
1200s Wales is united under Llywelyn Fawr.
1202-04 Fourth Crusade.
1206 Founding of Sultanate of Delhi.
1211 The Mongols invade China under the command of Genghis Khan.
1212 Children’s Crusade.
1215 Mongols capture Beijing in China.
1215 King John of England signs Magna Carta.
1216-72 Henry III rules England.
1217-22 Fifth Crusade.
1223 Mongols attack Russia.
1227 Death of Mongol leader Genghis Khan.
1228-29 Sixth Crusade.
1237 Russia becomes part of the Mongol Empire.
1248-54 Seventh Crusade.
1258 The Mongols seize Baghdad.
1265 Simon de Montford calls a new parliament.
1270-72 Eighth Crusade.
1271-92 Marco Polo travels across Asia and the Far East.
1271-1368 The Mongol (Yuan) dynasty rules China.
1272 The great crusader castle Krak des Chevaliers falls to the Muslims.
1272-1307 Edward I rules England.
1274 Mongol fleet defeated by Japan.
1279 Kublai Khan conquers China.
1281 Mongol fleet again defeated by Japan.
1282 Edward I invades Wales: the last Welsh prince is killed.
1284 Welsh independence is ended by the Statute of Rhuddlan.
1294 Death of Mongol leader Kublai Khan.
1295 The Scots sign the Auld Alliance with France.
1296 Edward I invades Scotland.
1300-1922 Rule of the Ottoman Empire.
1301 The future Edward II is created first Prince of Wales.
1306 Robert the Bruce rebels against English rule in Scotland.
1307-27 Edward II rules England.
1322-5 Mansa Musa makes a lavish pilgrimage across Africa to Mecca.
1325 The Aztecs found their city of Tenochtitlán in Mexico.
1325-1353 Ibn Battuta travels throughout the Islamic world.
1328 England recognizes the independence of Scotland.
1337-1453 Hundred Years’ War fought between England and France.
1338-1573 Muromachi period in Japan; rule of Ashikaga shoguns.
1348 Black Death arrives in Europe, killing millions of people.
1362 English replaces French as the official language of England.
1371 Robert II becomes first the Stewart king of Scotland.
1377-99 Richard II rules England.
1380 Russian armies defeat Mongols at Battle of Kulikovo.
1381 The Peasants’ Revolt takes place.
1368-1644 Ming dynasty rules in China.
1394 Henry the Navigator, son of King John I of Portugal, is born.
1398 Tamerlane’s troops attack Delhi, India.
1399 Richard II is deposed by his Lancastrian cousin, Henry IV.
c.1400-1521 Period of the Aztec Empire in Mexico and Central America.
1401 Owain Glyndwr rises in revolt in Wales.
1402 Tamerlane defeats Ottomans at Battle of Ankara.
1405 Death of Tamerlane.
1405-33 Zheng He, Chinese explorer, makes seven voyages.
1406 Building starts on the Forbidden City, China.
1415 Portuguese capture Ceuta in Africa.
1415 Battle of Agincourt between France and England.
1418-19 Prince Henry the Navigator establishes a naval school for teaching navigation, map reading and cartography.
1419 Madeira Islands discovered by Portuguese explorers Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira.
1424-34 Prince Henry of Portugal, “Henry the Navigator” sends expeditions to explore the African coastline.
1428-30 Joan of Arc leads French armies against England.
1429 Siege of Orleans. Joan of Arc fends off the English besiegers and wins back the French city.
1432 Portuguese navigator Diogo Silves discovers the Azores in the North Atlantic.
1434 Portuguese exploration of the west coast of Africa begins.
1438 Pachacuti begins his expansion of the Inca Empire by conquering neighbouring lands.
c.1438-1572 Inca Empire established in Peru, South America.
c.1450-1600 Period in Western Europe known as the Renaissance.
1453 Constantinople falls to Turkish armies. End of the Byzantine Empire.
1453 England loses all territories in France except Calais.
1455-85 Wars of the Roses in England.
1458 Portuguese navigator Diego Gomes reaches the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of equatorial Africa.
1461 Edward IV wins the English crown as the first Yorkist king.
1471-93 During Tupac Inca’s reign, the Inca Empire expands southward to Chile and Argentina.
1480 Mongol power in Russia finally comes to an end.
1482 Diego Cão is the first European to cross the Equator.
1485 Richard III is defeated by Henry Tudor at Bosworth Field. The Tudor dynasty begins.
1485-1509 Henry VII rules England.
1487-8 Bartholomeu Dias sails around the Cape of Good Hope.
1487 Pedro da Covilhã and Afonso da Paiva sail across the Mediterranean and down the Red Sea.
1492 Christopher Columbus sails across the Atlantic Ocean and explores the Caribbean islands.
1494 Spain and Portugal sign the Treaty of Tordesillas, dividing any new land discoveries between them. Spain is entitled to any land to the west of a line drawn from north to south through the Atlantic Ocean, while Portugal may claim all new lands discovered to the east of this line.
1498 Vasco da Gama reaches India.
1500 Spanish explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral discovers Brazil.
1501-1722 Safavid dynasty rules Persia.
1502 Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian who sailed on behalf of Portugal, returns from the New World. The Americas are named after him.
1509-47 Henry VIII rules England.
1511 Portugal takes control of the Spice Islands (Maluku) in Indonesia.
1517 Martin Luther nails the “Ninety-five Theses” to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, marking the beginning of the Reformation.
1519 Charles I of Spain becomes emperor Charles V of Holy Roman Empire.
1519-22 Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet circumnavigates the world.
1521 Aztec Empire defeated by Spanish conquistadors.
1520-66 Rule of Sulaiman I over the Ottoman Empire.
1525 Tupac Inca’s son, Huayna Capac, dies from smallpox.
1526 Mughal Empire founded by Babur at the Battle of Panipat.
1526-1857 Mughal Empire rules India.
1530 Portugal sets up colonies in Brazil.
1530-32 Civil war between Tupac Inca’s sons, Huascar and Atahualpa, for the Inca throne. Atahuallpa is the victor.
1532 Francisco Pizarro begins conquest of Inca Empire in South America.
1533-84 Reign of Ivan IV (“Ivan the Terrible”) in Russia.
1534 The Act of Supremacy makes Henry VIII Supreme Head of the English church.
1535-42 Wales is united with England.
1536-39 The monasteries are dissolved in England.
1541 Henry VIII becomes King of Ireland.
1542 The Maya fall under Spanish control.
1542-67 Mary, Queen of Scots rules Scotland.
1543 Portuguese sailors are the first Europeans to land in Japan.
1547-53 Edward VI rules England and Ireland.
1553-58 Mary I attempts to restore Catholicism to England.
1556-1605 Reign of Akbar the Great over the Mughal Empire.
1556 The first English plantations are set up in Ireland.
1558-1603 Elizabeth I rules England and Ireland.
1560 Scotland becomes Protestant.
1571 Christian fleet defeats Ottoman fleet at Battle of Lepanto.
1572 Murder of thousands of French Huguenots in St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.
1572 The final Inca resistance to Spanish rule is crushed.
1580 Phillip II of Spain defeats Portugal at the Battle of Alcantara, uniting the two countries. Despite this, Portugal remains relatively independent, and trade with India continues as normal.
1582-1615 Great period of castle building by Samurai knights in Japan. Siege of Osaka 1615.
1583 Newfoundland becomes England’s first colonial possession.
1584-1613 “Time of Troubles” in Russia.
1587 Mary, Queen of Scots is executed for treason.
1588-1629 Rule of Shah Abbas over Safavids.
1588 Spanish Armada defeated off coast of Britain.
1599 Holland establishes its first Dutch trading posts in the Spice Islands.
1600s Holland gradually wrests control of the spice trade from Portugal.
1600s Cannons are now powerful enough to destroy the strongest castle walls. Many castles ruined or abandoned. Some turned into private homes, for instance, Saumur Château in France.
1603 James VI of Scotland becomes the first Stuart king of England as James I.
1603-1868 Tokugawa shogunate in Japan.
1607 Jamestown becomes the first British colony in North America.
1618-48 Thirty Years’ War in Europe.
1620 The Pilgrim Fathers establish a colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
1628-58 Reign of Shah Jahan over Mughal Empire.
1625-49 Charles I rules England, Scotland and Ireland.
1632 Work starts on Taj Mahal in India
1639-49 Civil wars are fought in Scotland, Ireland and England.
1644-1912 Period of Qing (Manchu) dynasty rule in China.
1649 Charles I is executed as England becomes a republic.
1649-50 Oliver Cromwell suppresses Ireland.
1653 The Protectorate is established under Oliver Cromwell.
1658-1707 Reign of Aurangzeb, last Great Mughal, over Mughal Empire.
1660 The Restoration of the monarchy: Charles II becomes king.
1661 The East India Company establishes its first trading base in India.
1665 Plague strikes London.
1666 The Great Fire of London takes place.
1682-1725 Reign of Peter the Great in Russia.
1685-88 James II is king of England, Ireland and Scotland.
1688 The Glorious Revolution overthrows James II.
1689 Parliament offers throne jointly to William of Orange and Mary, daughter of James II.
1701-13 The War of the Spanish Succession is fought against France.
1701 The Act of Settlement settles the royal succession on the Protestant Hanoverian family.
1702-14 Anne is queen of England, Scotland and Ireland.
1703 Peter the Great founds St. Petersburg.
1707 Union of Scotland with England as Scottish parliament is abolished.
1714-27 George I of Hanover is king of Great Britain and Ireland.
1715 The Jacobite Rebellion of the Old Pretender takes place.
1721 Robert Walpole becomes the first prime minister of Great Britain.
1727-60 George II is king of Great Britain and Ireland.
1745 The Jacobite Rebellion of the Young Pretender takes place.
1756-63 Seven Years’ War, fought between Britain and Prussia on one side and France, Russia, Austria and Sweden on the other.
1760-1820 George III is king of Great Britain and Ireland.
1775-83 American Revolution.
1776 Declaration of Independence: the United States of America is founded.
1762-96 Reign of Catherine the Great in Russia.
1768 James Cook makes first voyage to the Pacific Ocean.
1789 Storming of the Bastille prison in Paris marks the start of the French Revolution.
1793 King Louis XIV executed in France.
1799 Napoleon seizes power in France.
1793-1815 Napoleonic Wars end in defeat for Napoleon at Waterloo.
1798 United Irishmen rise in revolt against British rule.
1800s Castles, such as Neuschwanstein in Germany, built as luxury houses rather than fortresses.
1801 The Act of Union with Ireland creates the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
1803 President Jefferson makes Louisiana Purchase.
1803-5 Lewis and Clark lead expedition to west coast of America.
1807 The slave trade is abolished in the UK.
1811-20 The Regency of George, Prince of Wales.
1820-30 George IV is king of the United Kingdom.
1825 The world’s first passenger railway opens between Stockton and Darlington.
1830-37 William IV is king of the United Kingdom.
1832 The Great Reform Act gives more men the vote.
1833 The Factory Act begins to tackle working conditions in factories.
1834 Slavery is abolished in the British Empire.
1837-1901 Victoria is queen of the United Kingdom.
1839-42, 1856-60 Opium Wars between Britain and China.
1841 The first party of travellers, about 100 farmers and their families in the Bidwell-Bartleson party, heads for California. On the way, some decide to go to Oregon.
1843 The first major migration to Oregon, to be made by over 800 people, begins.
1845-49 Famine devastates Ireland.
1847 Brigham Young leads the Mormon Brigade along the Oregon Trail, before striking out for Utah.
1848 Year of Revolutions in Europe.
1849-50 Discovery of gold in California, USA leads to Gold Rush.
1851 The Great Exhibition is held in London.
1854-57 The American Indian Wars reduce the numbers of travellers.
1857-58 The Indian Mutiny takes place against British rule.
1859 The first stagecoaches travel along the Oregon Trail.
1860 The Pony Express, an overland mail route using the California Trail, is established. Relays of young men carry mail on horseback.
1861 The Pony Express goes bankrupt as transcontinental telegraph lines are completed.
1861 Prince Albert dies.
1861-65 American Civil War
1862 Homestead Act encourages settlers to move to Midwest of USA.
1868 Meiji Restoration in Japan.
1869 Completion of first railway line to cross the USA from coast to coast.
1870 The Education Act provides primary education for all.
1870-71 Franco-Prussian War.
1876 Victoria becomes Empress of India.
1884 Conference in Berlin held by European nations to decide carve-up of Africa.
1886 Home Rule for Ireland fails to become law.
1887 Queen Victoria celebrates her Golden Jubilee.
1899-1902 The Boer War is fought in southern Africa.
1901-10 Edward VII is king of the United Kingdom.
1903 First powered flight made by American brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright.
1904-05 Russo-Japanese War, in which Russia is defeated by Japan.
1910-36 George V is king of the United Kingdom.
1911 Chinese Revolution; Sun Yixian becomes first president of the republic.
1911 The Parliament Act restricts the powers of the House of Lords.
1914-18 World War I.
1916 The Easter Rising takes place in Dublin against British rule.
1917 Russian Revolution brings Communists to power under their leader, Lenin.
1918 Women over 30 get the vote for the first time.
1918 Irish Sinn Fein MPs set up their own Dáil or parliament in Dublin.
1920 Ireland is partitioned between north and south.
1922 The Irish Free State is established.
1922 Founding of the Soviet Union (USSR).
1922 Fascist leader Benito Mussolini marches on Rome and siezes power in Italy.
1926 General Strike takes place in support of the miners.
1928 Everyone aged 21 or over gets the vote.
1929 Wall Street Crash plunges world into the Great Depression.
1933 Adolf Hitler is elected German Chancellor.
1936 Edward VIII abdicates to marry Wallis Simpson.
1936-52 George VI is king of the United Kingdom.
1936-39 Spanish Civil War ends in victory for Fascist leader General Franco.
1939-45 World War II.
1940 Winston Churchill becomes prime minister.
1945 Atomic bombs are dropped by Allies on Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
1945 United Nations is set up by former Allies.
1945-51 The Labour government introduces widespread reforms.
1947 India becomes independent. Partition leads to formation of Muslim state of Pakistan.
1948 Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated in India.
1948 The National Health Service is set up.
1949 Communists come to power in China under leadership of Mao Zedong.
1949 Ireland becomes a republic and leaves the Commonwealth.
1950-53 Korean War.
1952 Elizabeth II becomes queen of the United Kingdom.
1953 Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reach the summit of Mount Everest.
1957 European Economic Community established at Treaty of Rome.
1957 Ghana becomes the first black African colony to gain independence.
1961 Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is first human in space.
1961 Wall built to divide East and West Berlin in Germany.
1962 Cuban missile crisis brings world to brink of nuclear war.
1963 Assassination of US president, John F. Kennedy.
1964-76 Vietnam War.
1966-76 Cultural Revolution in China.
1967 Six Day War in Middle East.
1968 Assassination of US civil rights campaigner, Martin Luther King.
1969 US astronaut Neil Armstrong is the first man on the Moon.
1969 The Troubles break out in Northern Ireland.
1971 Britain introduces decimal currency.
1972 Northern Irish government is suspended and direct rule from London is set up.
1973 Britain joins the European Economic Community (now European Union).
1979 Establishment of Islamic Republic in Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini.
1979-90 Margaret Thatcher is the first woman prime minister.
1980-88 War between Iran and Iraq.
1986 Disastrous accident at Chernobyl nuclear power station in USSR.
1989 Chinese soldiers open fire on students in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.
1989-90 Collapse of Communism in eastern Europe.
1990-91 Iraq invades Kuwait, leading to outbreak of Gulf War.
1991 End of apartheid in South Africa.
1991 Break-up of Yugoslavia, leading to war between Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia.
1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro.
1994 Nelson Mandela becomes president of South Africa.
1997 Hong Kong is handed back to China.
1998 The Good Friday Peace agreement is signed in Northern Ireland.
1999 NATO allies defeat Serbia during Kosovo crisis.
1999 Devolution to Scotland and Wales.
2001 Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, USA.
2001 War breaks out in Afghanistan: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces and allies invade and drive the Taliban from power.
2003 Beginning of war in Iraq and the downfall of Saddam Hussein.
2004 (December) Indian Ocean tsunami claims more than 200,000 lives.
2005 (July) 7/7 bombings in London kill 56 people.
2005 (August) Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans.
2008 Global financial crisis hits economies worldwide.
2010 (January) More 200,000 people are killed in Haiti earthquake.
2010 (December) Demonstrations break out in Tunisia, marking the beginning of the Arab Spring.
2011 Arab Spring: revolution in Egypt results in the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak (January); Libyan uprising leads to civil war (February) Civil war breaks out in Syria between the government and a range of opposition groups trying to overthrow it (March).
2013 (April) Death of Nelson Mandela
2014 Ukraine crisis begins: President Viktor Yanukovych is ousted by protestors (February); Crimea is annexed by Russia (March); war breaks out in Donbass, eastern Ukraine between the forces of the new Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels (March).
2014 (June) Forces of the organization called ISIS (Islamic State) start to seize territory in Iraq and later Syria, establishing a self-proclaimed caliphate
2015 (January) Gunmen murder 11 people working for the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
2015 (March) Civil War breaks out in Yemen
2015 (April) The number of migrants travelling to Europe, most of them refugees from wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the Middle East and Africa, rises sharply.
2015 (November) Gunmen and suicide bombers, organized by the IS (Islamic State), attack a concert hall, stadium, restaurants and bars in Paris, leaving 130 people dead and hundreds wounded.
2016 (June) UK votes to leave the European Union.
2016 (July) An Islamist terrorist drives a truck through a crowded promenade in Nice, France, killing 87 people.
2016 (November) Donald Trump wins the US presidential election.