Timeline of English Literary History, 1475-1789
year English Literature English History European History and Culture
1475 Caxton publ. Recuyell in Bruges, first moveable type book pr. in English    
1476 Caxton publ. the Dictes of Cato at Westminster, first moveable type book pr. in England    
1478 More b.    
1483   Edward IV dies; Princes in the Tower; Richard III crowned Luther b.
1485 Caxton publ. Malory’s Morte Darthur at Westminster Battle of Bosworth Field, Tudor ascendancy; Henry VII crowned; Prince Arthur born  
1486     Maximilian I crowned Holy Roman Emperor
1487     Diaz circumnavigates Cape of Good Hope
1491   Henry VIII b.  
1492     Columbus to San Salvador; Reconquista
1494     Savonarola excomm. and burned
1497   John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) disc. Newfoundland  
1498     Vasco de Gama est. route to India
1501   Prince Arthur m. Katherine of Aragon  
1502   Arthur d. Vespucci disc. N. America
1503 Wyatt b. Margaret Tudor m. James IV of Scotland  
1509   Henry VII d. Henry VIII crowned; m. Katharine of Aragon John Calvin (Jean Cauvin) b.
1513   James IV killed at Flodden Field Leo X, Medici Pope, begins indulgences to finance St. Peter’s; sets Reformation into motion
1515 Ascham b. Wolsey made Lord Chancellor  
1516 More, Utopia, Louvain    
1519     Magellan beg. first circumnavigation of earth; Spanish conquest of Aztecs
1517 More, Richard III; Surrey b.   Luther’s 95 theses
1521   Henry meets François I at Field of Cloth of Gold; Pope awards Defender of the Faith to Henry for polemic against Luther  
1523 More, Responsio ad Lutherum    
1525 Tyndale’s tr. of New Testament, Cologne   Peasants’ War in Germany
1527     Sack of Rome by Imperial Troops
1529   Fall of Wolsey  
1531 Elyot, Governor    
1532     Calvin, Institutes
1533   Great Divorce; Henry m. Anne Boleyn; Elizabeth b.  
1534     Founding of Jesuit Order
1535 More ex. Henry VIII declares himself Supreme Head of Church of England  
1536   Anne Boleyn ex.; Henry marries Jane Seymour; dissolution of monasteries begins  
1537   Prince Edward b.; Jane Seymour d.  
1538 Elyot, Latin-English Dictionary    
1539 Great Bible publ.    
1542 Wyatt d. Mary Stuart b.  
1543     Copernicus, De Revolutionibus
1544     Council of Trent; reform of Church in resp. to Reformation
1546 Elyot d.    
1547 Surrey ex. Henry VIII d.; Edward VI crowned  
1549 First Book of Common Prayer    
1552 Spenser b. Norfolk Rebellion; 42 Articles retaining some RC worship  
1553   Edward d.; Mary Tudor crowned; Marian persecutions  
1554 Sidney b. Mary m. Philip of Spain  
1555   English exiles found church in Geneva  
1556   Archbishop Cranmer burned for heresy  
1557 Tottel publ. Songes and Sonets; More, Works; Surrey tr. of Aeneid    
1558   Mary d. Elizabeth crowned  
1559   Book of Common Prayer only legal form of worship; Oath of Supermacy; Act of Uniformity  
1560 Geneva Bible   John Knox est. Scottish Natl. Church; Catherine de Medici beg. regency in France
1561 Bacon b. Mary Stuart returns to Scotland  
1563   Est. of 39 Articles, some Calvinist forms of worship Beg. of Huguenot Wars
1564 Shakespeare and Marlowe b.   Galileo and Cervantes b.
1565   Mary m. Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley  
1566   James I and VI b.  
1567 Golding tr. of Metamorphoses Darnley murdered; Mary abdicates  
1568 Bishops’ Bible; Ascham d. Mary arrives in England Vasari, Lives of the Painters; uses term renaissance
1569 Spenser, Theatre Northern earls rebel in favor of Mary; English colonization of Ulster begins  
1570 Ascham, Schoolmaster Pope declares Elizabeth a heretic  
1572     St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of Huguenots
1573 Jonson b.    
1576 J. Burbage builds the Theatre, Shoreditch    
1577     Drake begins second circumnavigation of earth
1579 North’s tr. of Amyot’s tr. of Plutarch; Spenser, Shepheardes Calender French marriage scare  
1580 Sidney, first Arcadia earthquake  
1582     Douai-Rheims New Testament; Gregorian Calendar
1584   Virginia Colony  
1585   Leicester leads army into Holland v. Spain  
1586 Sidney d.    
1587 Marlowe, Tamburlaine Babington plot; Mary Stuart ex.  
1588 Hobbes b. Armada  
1589 Shakespeare’s first plays prod.    
1590 Spenser, Faerie Queene, 1-3    
1591 Marlowe, Edward II; Sidney, Astrophil; Herrick b.    
1593 Marlowe d.; Herbert b.    
1595 Spenser, Amoretti and Epithalamion    
1596 Spenser, Faerie Queene (entire)    
1597 Bacon, Essays    
1598   Rebellion in Munster; battle of Yellow Ford Edict of Nantes, toleration of Huguenots
1599 Globe built; Spenser d. Defeat in Ireland; battle of Blackwater  
1600 Hamlet (Q1) Charles I b.; founding of East India Company  
1601   Essex rebellion, ex.  
1603 theaters closed, plague Elizabeth d.; James I crowned; flight of the earls in Ulster  
1604   Hampton Court Conference: condemnation of Puritanism and Catholicism  
1605 Bacon, Advancement of Learning Gunpowder Plot Cervantes, Don Quixote; Kepler publ. on principle of telescope
1606 Jonson, Volpone; Waller b.    
1607   Jamestown Colony  
1608 Shakespeare, King Lear (Q1); Milton b.    
1609 Shakespeare, Sonnets   Galileo publ. on bodies in motion; Kepler publ. on motions of planetary bodies
1610 Jonson, Alchemist    
1611 Authorized version of the Bible    
1613 Globe burns Princess Elizabeth m. Elector Palatine, Frederick, “Winter King”  
1616 Shakespeare d.; Jonson, Works    
1618 Cowley b.; Harvey publ. on circulation of blood   Thirty Years’ War begins
1619   Slave trade begins in N. American colonies  
1620   Massachussetts Bay Colony  
1621 Marvell b.    
1623 First Folio publ.    
1625 Bacon, Essays James I d.; Charles I crowned  
1626 Bacon d.    
1628   Assassination of Buckingham  
1629   Personal rule; Parliament dismissed  
1630   Charles II b.  
1631 Donne and Jonson d.; Milton, LAllegro and Il Penseroso; Dryden b.    
1632 Second Folio of Shakespeare    
1633 Donne, Songs and Sonnets; Herbert, Temple   Galileo tried
1634 Milton, Comus    
1635     Richelieu est. Académie français
1637 Milton, Lycidas; Jonson d.    
1639   Bishops’ War;  
1640 Aphra Behn b.    
1641   Long Parliament; Irish rebellion  
1642 Parliament closes the theaters; Browne, Religio Medici; Denham, Cooper’s Hill First Civil War; Battle of Edgehill  
1643   Alliance of Scotland and Parliament  
1644 Milton, Areopagitica; Of Education Scots and Parliament def. king’s northern army Descartes, Principia Philosophiae
1645 Waller, Poems Laud ex.; New Model Army est.; King def. at Naseby  
1646 Milton, Poems King surrenders to Scots; imprisoned  
1647 Rochester b.    
1648   Second Civil War; Pride's Purge; Rump Parliament; Cromwell def. Scots End of Thirty Years’ War; La Fronde (French Civil Wars) beg.
1649   Charles I ex.; Commonwealth; reconquest of Ireland; Drogheda; def. of Levellers  
1650     Descartes d.
1651 Hobbes, Leviathan Charles II crowns himself in Scotland; def. at Worcester; flees into French exile  
1652   Cromwell returns from Ireland; First Dutch War  
1653   Protectorate  
1658   Cromwell d.  
1660   Restoration; Charles II crowned  
1662 Royal Society est.    
1664 K. Philips d.; Third Folio of Shakespeare    
1665   plague; Second Dutch War  
1666   Great Fire; Newton publ. on gravity  
1667 Milton, Paradise Lost, 10 bks. Dutch def. English fleet in the Medway  
1669 Newton publ. on refractory telescope    
1671 Milton, Samson Agonistes; Paradise Regained    
1672   Third Dutch War  
1673   Test Act; Catholics barred from public office  
1674 Herrick, Milton d.; Paradise Lost, 12 bks.    
1675 Wycherley, Country-Wife    
1676 Etheredge, Man of Mode    
1678 Marvell d.; Dryden, MacFlecknoe Popish Plot; Habeas Corpus Act; Whigs and Tories found parties in Parliament  
1680 Rochester d.    
1681 Marvell, Miscellaneous Poems    
1685 Fourth Folio of Shakespeare Charles II d.; James II crowned; Monmouth rebellion  
1688 Pope b. Glorious Revolution; William invited to invade; deposition of James II begins  
1689 Behn d. Locke, Two Treatises on Government William and Mary crowned; Declaration of Rights  
1690 Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding Battle of the Boyne  
1694   Bank of England est.; Mary d.  
1695 Purcell d.; Congreve, Love for Love    
1697 Dryden, tr. of Vergil; Vanbrugh, Relapse    
1700 Dryden d. Congreve, Way of the World    
1701   Act of Settlement, Hanoverians added to royal line War of the Spanish Succession
1702   William d. Anne crowned  
1704 Locke d.; Newton, Opticks Marlborough victorious at Blenheim  
1707   Act of Union w/ Scotland  
1708      
1709 First Copyright Act; Rowe, ed. Shakespeare; Dr. Johnson b.    
1710 Handel arrives in England    
1711 Pope, Essay on Criticism; Addison and Steele, Spectator    
1713 Pope, Rape of the Lock (2 cantos) Treaty of Utrecht  
1714 Pope, Rape of the Lock (5 cantos) Anne d.; George I crowned  
1715   Jacobite Rebellion; Louis Quatorze d.  
1716 Handel, Water Music    
1719 Defoe, Robinson Crusoe    
1720   South Sea Bubble  
    Walpole first Prime Minister  
1722 Defoe, Moll Flanders; Journal of the Plague Year Marlborough d.  
1725 Pope ed. of Shakespeare    
1726 Swift, Gulliver’s Travels    
1727 Newton d. George I d.; George II (his grandson) crowned  
1728 Pope, First Dunciad    
1729 Congreve d.; Swift, Modest Proposal    
1731 Defoe d.    
1732 Covent Garden Theatre built    
1733 Hogarth, Rake’s Progress; Pope, Essay on Man; Theobald, ed. of Shakespeare    
1735   Huntsman, cast steel  
1738 Johnson, London    
1739 Swift, Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift Methodist missions; War of Jenkins’ Ear  
1740 Cibber, Apology; Richardson, Pamela    
1742 Fielding, Joseph Andrews    
1744 Pope d.    
1745 Swift d. Jacobite Rebellion  
1746   Battle of Culloden; def. of Bonnie Prince Charlie  
1747 Richardson, Clarissa    
1749 Fielding, Tom Jones; Dr. Johnson, Vanity of Human Wishes    
1751 Gray, Elegy    
1752   Britain adopts Gregorian Calendar  
1753   British Museum established  
1754 Fielding d.    
1755 Dr. Johnson, Dictionary    
1756   Seven Years’ War  
1759 Smollett, Tristam Shandy first appears British Museum opens Voltaire, Candide
1760   George II d.; George III crowned  
1761 Richardson d.    
1763     Peace of Paris
1765 Johnson, ed. of Shakespeare Stamp Act; rebellion in America  
1767   Hargreaves, spinning jenny  
1769   Watt, steam engine  
1773 Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer Boston Tea Party  
1774 Chesterfield, Letters to His Son    
1775 Sheridan, The Rivals War of American Independence begins  
1776 Paine, Common Sense; Hume d.; Smith, Wealth of Nations; Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire American Declaration of Independence  
1777 Sheridan, School for Scandal    
1778      
1779 Dr. Johnson’s Lives of the Poets first appears    
1781   Herschel discovers Uranus; Cornwallis surrenders to Americans Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
1784 Dr. Johnson d.    
1788 Times of London founded    
1789 Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience   Storming of Bastille; French Revolution
1790 Malone, ed. of Shakespeare    

Here is the BBC interactive timeline of English history