A Glimpse into the 1600s: 35 Interesting Facts to Know

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Several years before the publishing of the renowned 1611 bible which was named after him, King James published a demonology describing the types of ghosts, spirits, vampires, fairies, witches, and even werewolves that haunt the land, which inspired Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

2. The Japanese Samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga in the years 1613 through 1620 sailed to Rome via Mexico, where he met the Pope and was made a Roman citizen. It was the last official Japanese visit to Europe until 1862.

3. There is an old English anecdote claiming that the name ‘Sirloin steak’ is derived from an occasion when King James I of England while being entertained at Hoghton Tower in 1617, was so impressed by the quality of his steak that he knighted the loin of beef, which was referred to thereafter as “Sirloin.”

4. Since 1617, breaches of etiquette at Oxford University have been punished by making the offender drink up to four pints of beer in one go.

5. Zildjian, the cymbal maker, is one of the oldest companies in the world. Founded in 1618, it's just under 400-year-old. Zildjian means "Bell Maker," a name given to the Alchemist hired by the Ottoman Sultan to create noise-makers for war. The manufacturing process remains a family secret to this day.

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6Bandaneira Island

Bandaneira Island

In 1621, the Dutch hired Japanese mercenaries to murder 40 inhabitants of Bandaneira Island in Indonesia, which was a lucrative source of nutmeg. Of the 12,000-15,000 residents, all but 1,000 were killed or forced to leave the island as the Dutch created a nutmeg monopoly.

7. In 1625, English officers called off an invasion of Spain after their soldiers stopped off at a local winery and got hammered.

8. A man named Jeronimus Cornelisz survived a shipwreck in 1628 and transformed into a murderous dictator over the remaining survivors. He and his henchmen killed over 100 men, women, and children over a 2 month period while being stranded. Ultimately he was overcome by a group loyal to the ship's captain and was executed.

9. In 1648, a military drummer in French Canada was sentenced to death for being homosexual. He was pardoned on the condition that he became the colony’s first permanent executioner.

10. In the 1650s, an African man named Anthony Johnson won a court case that let him keep another African named John Casor, as his slave instead of ending his indentured servitude. This meant that the first legally recognized owner of a permanent slave in America was an African man.

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11Christiaan Huygens

Christiaan Huygens

With the invention of the pendulum clock in 1656, a Dutch physicist named Christiaan Huygens increased the best accuracy of clocks from 15 minutes deviation a day to around 15 seconds a day.

12. Christmas was banned in Boston between 1659 and 1681.

13. 3 slaves were hanged for the 1660 murder of their master William Harrison in the year 1661. In 1662, William Harrison returned on a ship after escaping slavery, having been kidnapped by pirates. This lead to the "no body, no murder" rule.

14. Miyamoto Musashi was a 17th century Japanese swordsman, who twice arrived late to duels and defeated both opponents. Upon his next duel, he arrived early, and ambushed the force that was assembling to ambush him.

15. Until the 17th century most scientists believed that the speed of light was infinite. It was only in 1676 that Ole Rømer and Giovanni Cassini made the first measurement of the velocity of light by observing the orbits of the moons of Jupiter and they were the just 27% off the real value of the speed of light.

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16James II of England

James II of England

New Amsterdam was given to the Duke of York in 1664 as the 18th birthday present from his father. He then renamed the city, New York.

17. In 1669, an alchemist named Hennig Brand discovered phosphorus by boiling down urine and heating the residue to very high temperatures. He was trying to make gold though, and he hoped that the yellow color of urine meant that there was gold in it.

18. The Easter Bunny tradition originated among German Lutherans in 1682. The Easter Bunny originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior at the start of the season of Eastertide. He then would proceed with bringing colored eggs for the children.

19. The largest cavalry charge in history occurred during the 1684 Turkish siege of Vienna. 18,000 Holy league Polish and German knights charged the Ottoman line, completely routing them. The battle marked the end of Turkish expansion into Europe.

20. While not strictly legal, starting in the 1690s, British husbands used to sell their wives to end bad marriages. It was usually an auction announced by a newspaper advertisement, to which the wife was led by a rope around her neck. Often the buyer was pre-arranged and the sale was a form of symbolic separation.



A guy named Thiess in 1692 talked his way out of death in front of a werewolf tribunal by admitting that he was a werewolf in the service of God, in a longstanding war with the witches of the underworld.

22. Carbon nanotubes have been found in a Damascus steel sword from the 17th century. It is thought that the nanotubes along with the nanowires is what gives the legendary Damascus steel its strength.

23. In the 17th century, standard English Army field rations consisted of an entire week's worth of biscuits and cheese.

24. Wearing wigs became popular in the 17th century because they covered up the scarring and baldness that was caused by Syphilis.

25. The "Highland Charge" was a 17th century Scottish tactic of sprinting into musket lines and hacking at the enemy with broadswords as they struggled to fix their bayonets.

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