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Timeline: 1641 to 1650

1641  Since the entry rise of the British, French and Dutch maritime navies, the Portuguese have not been keeping up with the Dutch as traders, technologically or militarily. Portugal has been weakened by a depletion of manpower and the neglect of domestic agriculture and industry. The Portuguese are having difficulty defending their overstretched network of trading posts and have been at war with the Dutch since 1602. Coastal warfare in January, 1641, along the eastern shoreline of the Malay Peninsula results in the Dutch defeating the Portuguese and taking control of Malacca.

1641  An armada of 21 Dutch ships appears off the coast of Angola. The Dutch capture Luanda and Benguela. The Portuguese retreat inland where they resist assaults by the Dutch and by Jaga tribesmen.

1641  In Ireland, an Anglican bishop, John Atherton, just before being hanged, confesses what he had previously denied. His crime is "buggery." Seven years before he was the leading advocate of hanging as punishment for this act.

1641  A fort is founded at what today is Montreal.

1642  King Charles I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, son of King James, has been ruling since 1625 and is considered too friendly towards Catholicism. He is in conflict with his Calvinist and Puritan subjects and with Parliament. Civil war has erupted. On one side is the king and his army, on the other is Parliament and its army. 

1642  In Iran, Abbas II becomes the seventh shah of the Safavid dynasty. Renewing friendly contacts with Europe he is to regain for his dynasty some prestige, while Shia scholars, the ulama, oppose him, believing the shahs are lax and God's punishment. Increasingly, ulama believe that temporal authority should belong to a mujtahid – a scholar predating the ayatollahs.

1642  Continuing violence between Dutch settlers and Wappinger Indians inspires the governor of New Amsterdam (New York) to call for a massacre of the Indians.

1642  The Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn paints The Rabbi.

1642  Wealth in India is not being invested in commerce to the extent that it is by the Dutch. The Mughal emperor, Jahan, has the Taj Mahal built for one of his wives.

1644  Rebels overthrow the Ming Emperor Chongzhen, who hangs himself. A Manchu army takes power in the capital city, Beijing. Ming supporters flee to Taiwan. The Manchu Qing family begins its rule in China, to last into the 20th century, although the Manchus are never to be more than two percent of the population in China.

1645  Low solar activity begins, to be called the Maunder Minimum. Ice will cut off access to Greenland, canals in Holland will routinely freeze solid, and glaciers will advance in the Alps. This period of low solar activity will last to 1715.

1645  The French establish an outpost at the mouth of Africa's Senegal River, where they trade for gum and for slaves.

1646  Queen Nzinga is at war with the Portuguese. Thousands of slave soldiers have deserted to her, but she suffers military setbacks.

1648  Queen Nzinga's alliance with the Dutch comes to nothing as the Portuguese drive the Dutch from Luanda.

1648  European powers fighting the Thirty Years' War, are exhausted. Germany has lost at least a third of its population. A negotiated settlement called the Peace of Westphalia ends the war, except that France and Spain continue their war for ten more years. Habsburg predominance in Europe is ended -- replaced by French hegemony. The war ends with a realization of the need for more tolerance between Catholics and Protestants. The settlement speaks of a "Christian and universal peace, and a perpetual, true and sincere amity."

1648  With the peace of Westphalia, the 80 Years' War between Spain's Habsburg monarchy and the Dutch ends, Spain recognizing Dutch independence.

1648  People in Moscow revolt when a tax is put on salt. Cossacks invading Poland slaughter 200,000 Jews.

1649  In Britain, King Charles I and his army have been defeated. Charles is beheaded. England is a republic, a commonwealth without a House of Lords and run by the victors of the civil war – parliament. Parliament sends the Puritan Oliver Cromwell to Ireland to subdue rebellious Catholics. He massacres the populations of Drogheda and Wexford.

1649  Shah Abbas II of Iran pushes the Mughals out of Kandahar. 

1650  For five months the famous French philosopher Rene Descartes has been employed as a tutor by Queen Christina of Sweden. The 5 a.m. philosophy sessions with the queen in the cold of her castle aggravates his weakened condition and he dies.

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