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18th Century - A Global View

The eighteenth century is sometimes referred to as The Age of Enlightenment. This was a time when artists, writers and philosophers began to question the way things were done and traditional beliefs such as the divine rights of kings.

Here are some of the significant events happening across the world at the time:

The Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved African People: Britain’s transatlantic slavery trade began in 1562 and by the 1700s was the largest in Europe. The route was triangular with ships carrying goods from Britain to countries in Africa which were exchanged for captured and enslaved women, men and children.  They were transported under terrible conditions to America and the Caribbean to be sold into forced labour. The same ships returned to Britain with the produce that these people had grown, mainly sugar, tobacco and cotton. Huge amounts of money were made from this process.

The Agricultural and Industrial Revolution: The agricultural revolution included the development of crop rotation and large farms. The industrial revolutions included the invention of the steam engine, spinning jenny and power looms which all transformed how people worked in Britain.

The American Revolution: the 13 British colonies in North America declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776, leading to a war that lasted until 1783 and the beginning of the United States of America.

The Seven Years War: A global conflict involving several European powers, between 1756 and 1763. The rival sides were led by Britain and France, both wanting to gain power and make more money. There were military conflicts when both sides tried to claim territory in America and India.  This war was won by Great Britain and its allies and resulted in territorial changes and power shifts.

The French Revolution: In 1789, the people of France began the French Revolution by storming the Bastille prison. They felt that society was unfair, rich people wanted more power and poorer people were tired of working for very little and paying high taxes. The revolution brought down the French king and made France a republic led by Napoleon Bonaparte.