History Timelines 1620s

Image above: Lithograph by Sarony and Major, 1846, of the landing on Plymouth Rock by William Bradford and the pilgrims with the Mayflower in the distance. Courtesy Library of Congress. Right: Painting of the Signing of the Mayflower Compact, 1899, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Mayflower Compact

Pre-Revolution Timeline - The 1600s


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  • 1600 Detail

    January 1, 1600 - Gregorian calendar changes first day of the year to January 1 from the former date of March 25. England and its colonies continue to use the Julian calendar until September 1752.

    Pope Gregory XIII

    As you can see from the above, England, and thus its colonies, refused to change. They would remain on the Julian calendar until the times of the third French and Indian War, King George's War plus the colonial battles over control of their affairs, like iron and more as the American Revolution was approaching.

    But why did the Gregorian calendar take precedence in this year anyway, 1600, and why did nearly everyone else adopt it, and its new first day of the year January 1? Didn't they know it would be much warmer when the New York ball dropped on New Year's Eve if it stayed in March. Okay, we'll start answering that question now, but fully admit, that all this time shifting is confusing. What, did they know of the DC Comics back in the 16th century?

    Well, for most, the Julian calendar, begun by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. had very little historic value to them. Yes, it was the official Roman calendar for almost one thousand six hundred years, but to Pope Gregory XIII, in 1582, he thought that scientific data, advised by German mathematician Christopher Clavius, trumped precedence and wanted Easter back in line with its traditional dates. He agreed with his advisors that to get the calendar back in line with the solar system, it was necessary to shorten the year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days. How did they do that? Change the rules on leap years. Pope Gregory XIII did that on February 24, 1582 by issuing his Papal Bull Inter Gravissimas. It stated that ten days would be almost immediately be added; October 15 would follow October 4, 1582.

    "Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is," National Observatory.

    It took awhile for the rest of the world to catch up to the Gregorian calendar, first coming to Catholic countries, and followed later by Protestant nations. Yes, the Church of England balked for over one hundred and fifty years.

    Dates Countries Chose the Gregorian Calendar

    It was fascinating to watch the world tackle this change. Pope Gregory XIII only controlled the Papal States. Some nations, with strong Catholic ties got onboard within several decades, as noted before, England and its colonies waited until 1752, and some nations did not change until after 1900. Confusing it even further, there were countries that changed to the Gregorian Calendar, then changed back to the Julian. The dates listed below are the dates the Gregorian calendar went into use, after its skipped days.

    October 15, 1582 - Papal States plus Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain. Included Spanish American colonies of Texas, Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico.
    December 20, 1582 - France, except for Alsace, Lorraine, and Strasbourg. Perhaps French colonies of Americas, including Mississippi Valley.
    December 25, 1582 - Luxembourg. Netherlands provinces of Zeeland, Brabant, and "Staten General".
    December 31, 1582 - Limburg and southern provinces, Netherlands, i.e. Belgium.
    January 1, 1583 - Groningen, Netherlands.
    January 12, 1583 - Holland.
    February 21, 1583 - Netherlands, including parts of Belgium. They returned to the Julian calendar in 1584.
    October 16, 1583 - Austrian states of Brixen, Salzburg and Tyrol.
    December 25, 1583 - Austrian states of Carinthia and Styria.
    January 17, 1584 - Czechoslovakia, i.e. Bohemia and Moravia.
    1583 to 1585 - Catholic states of Germany.
    1583 to 1587 - Catholic cantons of Switzerland.
    November 1, 1587 - Hungary.

    September 2, 1610 - Prussia (Germany).
    February 16, 1682 - Alsace (France).
    February 1682 - Strasbourg (France).

    March 1, 1700 - Denmark and Norway, many Protestant states of Germany.
    July 12, 1700 to May 12, 1702 - Provinces of Netherlands and Belgium, including Utrecht, Overijissel, Friesland, Gelderland, Drenthe.
    January 12, 1701 - Protestant cantons of Switzerland with local variations.
    September 14, 1752 - Great Britain and Dominions, including American colonies. Ireland. Scotland. Wales. Canada, Newfoundland and Hudson Bay coast. Nova Scotia switched permanantly on that date, but had previously been Gregorian for a period from 1605-1710 before switching back to Julian in interim years. Remainder of Canada was Gregorian from first settlement.
    February 28, 1750 - Lorraine (France).
    March 1, 1753 - Finland and Sweden.

    October 1867 - Alaska upon purchase by USA.
    January 1, 1873 - Japan as a supplement to the traditional Japanese calendar.
    1875 - Egypt.

    1912/1929 - China switched from Chinese calendar in one of those years, depending on the source.
    December 12, 1912 - Albania.
    1915 - Lithuania.
    1915 to 1918 - Latvia during German occupation.
    April 14, 1916 - Bulgaria.
    January 31, 1918 - Russia, with some eastern parts of the nation not changing until 1920.
    February 14, 1918 - Estonia.
    October 14, 1919 - Romania, Greek Orthodox portions may have changed later.
    1919 - Yugoslavia.
    March 23, 1924 - Greece with some sources noting 1916 or 1920.
    January 21, 1927 - Turkey.

    Other nations, or colonies at the time, not included above, usually followed the edicts of the colonial power. Today there are only four nations that do not follow the Gregorian calendar; Ethiopia, Nepal, Iran, and Afghanistan.

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    Why Change to January 1?

    Now if you're not confused enough, the use of January 1 as the start of a New Year began with the Julian calendar, although its date was moved around from time to time according to religious scholars during its over fifteen hundred years of continuous use. And although it was not in the edict by Pope Gregory III, the revised calendar has often been repeated as moving the first New Year's date to January 1. However, this was not true, or perhaps not true. However, since the Gregorian calendar was slow to be accepted in many countries, they began to use their own dates, usually revolving around religious holidays; i.e. March 1, or March 25 used by the English and their colonies as it reflected the time of Easter or Annunciation. In other countries, the start of the New Year began on December 25, the celebration of Christmas.

    So why is the date listed above as occurring in 1600? We just don't know. Many scholars use the date of January 1, 1600, because by that time, the majority of the states and nations were using it as the first day of the year. However, the year 1622 has also been used in some works; good old Wikipedia for one.

    Source: Engraving of Pope Gregory XIII, 1572, Domenico Pellegrino Tibaldi. Courtesy Library of Congress. Image below: Montage (left) Engraving of Christopher Clavius, 16th Century, Engraver Jean Leclerc, Author Francesco Villamena. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons; (right) First page of the papal bull "Inter Gravissimas" by which Pope Gregory XIII made the Gregorian Calendar, 1582, Pope Gregory XIII. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Info source: National Observatory; "Countries Calendar Reform," webexhibits.org; Wikipedia.

    Christopher Clavius and Papal Bull, Gregorian Calendar

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