Political boundaries at the beginning of year 1700
Storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789, an iconic event of the French Revolution.
Development of the Watt steam engine in the late 18th century was an important element in the Industrial Revolution in Europe.
The American Revolutionary War took place in the late 18th century.

The 18th century lasted from 1 January 1701 (represented by the Roman numerals MDCCI) to 31 December 1800 (MDCCC). During the 18th century, elements of Enlightenment thinking culminated in the Atlantic Revolutions. During the century, slave trading and human trafficking expanded across the shores of the Atlantic, while declining in Russia,[1] China,[2] and Korea. Revolutions began to challenge the legitimacy of monarchical and aristocratic power structures, including the structures and beliefs that supported slavery. The Industrial Revolution began during mid-century, leading to radical changes in human society and the environment. The European colonization of the Americas and other parts of the world intensified and associated mass migrations of people grew in size as part of the Age of Sail.

Western historians have occasionally defined the 18th century otherwise for the purposes of their work. For example, the "short" 18th century may be defined as 1715–1789, denoting the period of time between the death of Louis XIV of France and the start of the French Revolution, with an emphasis on directly interconnected events.[3][4] To historians who expand the century to include larger historical movements, the "long" 18th century[5] may run from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815[6] or even later.[7]

In Europe, philosophers ushered in the Age of Enlightenment. This period coincided with the French Revolution of 1789, and was later compromised by the excesses of the Reign of Terror. At first, many monarchies of Europe embraced Enlightenment ideals, but in the wake of the French Revolution they feared loss of power and formed broad coalitions to oppose the French Republic in the French Revolutionary Wars. Various conflicts throughout the century, including the War of the Spanish Succession and the Seven Years' War, saw the Kingdom of Great Britain triumph over its European rivals to become the preeminent power in Europe. However, Britain's attempts to exert its authority over its colonies became a catalyst for the American Revolution.

The 18th century also marked the end of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as an independent state. Its semi-democratic government system was not robust enough to rival the neighboring states of Austria, Prussia, and Russia, which partitioned the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth between themselves, changing the landscape of Central Europe and politics for the next hundred years.

In Africa, the Ethiopian Empire underwent the Zemene Mesafint, a period when the country was ruled by a class of regional noblemen and the emperor was merely a figurehead. The Atlantic slave trade also saw the continued involvement of states such as the Oyo Empire.

The Ottoman Empire experienced an unprecedented period of peace and economic expansion, taking no part in European wars from 1740 to 1768. As a result, the empire was not exposed to Europe's military improvements during the Seven Years' War. The Ottoman military consequently lagged behind and suffered several defeats against Russia in the second half of the century. In West Asia, Nader Shah led Persia in successful military campaigns.

In South Asia, the death of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb marked the end of medieval India and the beginning of an increasing level of European influence and control in the region, this period also with an episode of rapid Maratha expansion. In 1739, Persian emperor Nader Shah invaded and plundered Delhi, the capital of the Mughal Empire. Later, his general Ahmad Shah Abdali scored another defeat against the Marathas, the then dominant power in India, in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761.[8] By the middle of the century, the British East India Company began to conquer eastern India,[9][8] and by the end of the century, the Anglo-Mysore Wars against Tipu Sultan and his father Hyder Ali, led to Company rule over the south.[10][11]

In East Asia, the century marked the High Qing era and the continual seclusion policies of the Tokugawa shogunate. European colonization intensified in present-day Indonesia, where the Dutch East India Company established increasing levels of control over the Mataram Sultanate. Southeast Asia would experience the major upheavals of the Konbaung–Ayutthaya Wars and the Tây Sơn rebellion. In Oceania, the European colonization of Australia and New Zealand began during the late half of the century.


For a chronological guide, see Timeline of the 18th century.

See also: Georgian era


Europe at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, 1700
The Battle of Poltava in 1709 turned the Russian Empire into a European power.
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah with the Persian invader Nader Shah.
The extinction of the Scottish clan system came with the defeat of the clansmen at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.[20]


Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia.
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

Inventions, discoveries, and introductions

Main articles: Timeline of historic inventions § 18th century, and Timeline of scientific discoveries § 18th century

The spinning jenny
The Chinese Putuo Zongcheng Temple of Chengde, completed in 1771, during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.

Literary and philosophical achievements

Main articles: 18th century in literature and 18th century in philosophy

Musical works


  1. ^ Volkov, Sergey. Concise History of Imperial Russia.
  2. ^ Rowe, William T. China's Last Empire.
  3. ^ Anderson, M. S. (1979). Historians and Eighteenth-Century Europe, 1715–1789. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-822548-5. OCLC 185538307.
  4. ^ Ribeiro, Aileen (2002). Dress in Eighteenth-Century Europe 1715–1789 (revised ed.). Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-09151-9. OCLC 186413657.
  5. ^ Baines, Paul (2004). The Long 18th Century. London: Arnold. ISBN 978-0-340-81372-0.
  6. ^ Marshall, P. J., ed. (2001). The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume II: The Eighteenth Century (Oxford History of the British Empire). Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 978-0-19-924677-9. OCLC 174866045., "Introduction" by P. J. Marshall, page 1
  7. ^ O'Gorman, Frank (1997). The Long Eighteenth Century: British Political and Social History 1688–1832 (The Arnold History of Britain Series). A Hodder Arnold Publication. ISBN 978-0-340-56751-7. OCLC 243883533.
  8. ^ a b Chandra, Bipin. Mordern India. India.
  9. ^ Campbell, John; Watts, William (1760). Memoirs of the Revolution in Bengal, anno Dom. 1757. A. Millar, London.
  10. ^ Parthasarathi, Prasannan (2011), Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not: Global Economic Divergence, 1600–1850, Cambridge University Press, p. 207, ISBN 978-1-139-49889-0
  11. ^ Allana, Gulam (1988). Muslim political thought through the ages: 1562–1947 (2 ed.). Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania: Royal Book Company. p. 78. ISBN 9789694070919. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  12. ^ "War of the Spanish Succession, 1701–1714". Historyofwar.org. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  13. ^ Ricklefs (1991), page 82
  14. ^ Historic uk – heritage of britain accommodation guide (3 May 2007). "The history of Scotland – The Act of Union 1707". Historic-uk.com. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  15. ^ Ricklefs (1991), page 84
  16. ^ "Welcome to Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to History". Britannica.com. 31 January 1910. Archived from the original on 16 April 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  17. ^ "List of Wars of the Crimean Tatars". Zum.de. Archived from the original on 12 March 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  18. ^ "Len Milich: Anthropogenic Desertification vs 'Natural' Climate Trends". Ag.arizona.edu. 10 August 1997. Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  19. ^ Wadsworth, Alfred P.; Mann, Julia De Lacy (1931). The Cotton Trade and Industrial Lancashire, 1600–1780. Manchester University Press. p. 433. OCLC 2859370.
  20. ^ "A guide to Scottish clans". Unique-cottages.co.uk. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  21. ^ "Saudi Arabia – The Saud Family and Wahhabi Islam". Countrystudies.us. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  22. ^ "History". Columbia University.
  23. ^ Ricklefs (1991), page 102
  24. ^ "Sufism in the Caucasus". Islamicsupremecouncil.org. Archived from the original on 23 February 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  25. ^ "Table A – Verified Supercentenarians (Listed Chronologically By Birth Date)". Archived from the original on 12 July 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  26. ^ Photo Gallery for Supercentenarians born before 1850, as of May 17, 2019
  27. ^ Balfour-Pau, Glen (20 December 2005). Bagpipes in Babylon: A Lifetime in the Arab World and Beyond. I.B.Tauris, 2006. ISBN 9781845111519.
  28. ^ "The Harvey Family". Priaulx Library. 2005. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013.
  29. ^ "Yellow Fever Attacks Philadelphia, 1793". EyeWitness to History. Archived from the original on 7 June 2007. Retrieved 22 June 2007.
  30. ^ Riedel S (2005). "Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination". Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 18 (1): 21–5. doi:10.1080/08998280.2005.11928028. PMC 1200696. PMID 16200144.
  31. ^ Ricklefs (1991), page 106
  32. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica's Great Inventions, Encyclopædia Britannica Archived August 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ Meggs, Philip B. A History of Graphic Design. (1998) John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p 146 ISBN 978-0-471-29198-5

Further reading