Newton and Friends

Look at this man:

Isaac Newton

This is none other than Sir Isaac Newton (Dec. 25, 1642 – Mar. 20, 1726), who, among other things, laid the foundation for modern mathematics and physics. Of course, Wikipedia has more information than you could ever possibly want to know about this mathematician-physicist-philosopher-alchemist, but this site is shorter and is more focused on his scientific accomplishments.

You might be wondering what else was happening in the world while Isaac was attempting to turn lead into gold and calculating the orbit of Jupiter. Good thing you asked, because I’ve got two killer contemporaneous historical events for you:

Event 1: Qing Control of China

Flag of the Qing Empire

This flag, sporting a pretty rad dragon, represents the Qing, the last imperial dynasty of China. While the dynasty was established in 1636, it didn’t control China proper until 1644, which is, conveniently, two years of Newton was born. The Qing would continue to rule in China, in some capacity, until 1912 thus ending some 2,000 years of imperial rule in China.

Event 2: Coronation of Louis XIV

It’s Louis

This is Louis “the Sun King” XIV. He became king of France in 1643, which was after Newton was born. His ascension to the throne was kind of important because he was a fan of absolute monarchism, wherein the monarch holds absolute power and whose authority is granted by God. Mighty suspicious that he thought this, considering he was himself a monarch and all. Absolute monarchy in France was a contributing factor in the French revolution. Enough of Louis XIV and onto the main event.

Historical Person


You guessed it, it’s Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. He lived from June 9, 1640 until May 5, 1705, so he was around for most of Newton’s lifetime. Leopold did not like France. At all. In fact, he fought three separate wars with France, the last of which being the War of the Spanish Succession, where Leopold attempted to throw his son until the Spanish throne, getting to fight France as a nice bonus. Over one million people died in this war, and Leopold’s son didn’t even get the Spanish inheritance.


I think it is interesting seeing things completely unrelated to science which were going on at the same time as various scientific developments because these historical events are usually not mentioned when the history of science is being discussed. It was especially interesting seeing what was going in far away from these scientific events.


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