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On the Dutch attempt in 1623 to force China to open up a port, five Dutch ships were sent to Liu-ao and the mission ended in failure for the Dutch, with a number of Dutch sailors taken prisoner and one of their ships lost. In response to the Dutch using captured Chinese for forced labor and strengthening their garrison in Penghu with five more ships in addition to the six already there, the new Governor of Fujian Nan Juyi (Nan Chü-yi) was permitted by China to begin preparations to attack the Dutch forces in July 1623. A Dutch raid was defeated by the Chinese at Amoy on October 1623, with the Chinese taking the Dutch commander Christian Francs prisoner and burning one of the four Dutch ships.


Hidetada retires and his son, Iemitsu, becomes third Shōgun. However, as is usual, Hidetada retained all authority until his death.

The English abandon their trading post at Hirado and abandon the idea of trading with Japan.


Dutch traders in search of an Asian base first arrived on the island in 1623 to use the island as a base for Dutch commerce with Japan and the coastal areas of China. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) built Fort Zeelandia on the coastal islet of Tayowan (off modern Tainan).


February – France, Savoy, and Venice sign the Treaty of Paris, agreeing to cooperate in removing Spanish forces from the strategic Alpine pass of Valtelline.


The famine of 1623 has been analysed in detail: high wheat prices during pregnancy caused subsequent severe infant mortality but did not have indirect effects on the subsequent mortality of the surviving children over the age of 1 year.


The famous Secret History (Lat. Historia Arcana) of Procopius was discovered in the Vatican Library and published by Niccolò Alamanni in 1623 at Lyons.


February 25 – Thirty Years' War: Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria becomes Elector of the Palatinate.

August 6 – Thirty Years' War: Chased by Tilly's army, Christian of Brunswick's army attempts to flee to the Dutch Republic. Tilly's army catches Brunswick 5 miles from the border. In the resulting Battle of Stadtlohn, Christian's army is destroyed.


April 29th, a fleet of 11 Dutch ships departed for the conquest of Peru.


August 6 – Papal Conclave of 1623: Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini) succeeds Pope Gregory XV as the 235th pope.

§Near East


September 10 – Murat IV (1623–1640) succeeds Mustafa I (1622–1623) as Ottoman Emperor.

§North America

§United States

March 5 - The first American temperance law is enacted, in Virginia.

March 20 – Richard Frethorne begins writing a letter to his parents from the Jamestown Settlement.

Richard Frethorne (sometimes spelled Freethorne) was a seventeenth century New World indentured servant associated with Jamestown Settlement, though he lived (by his own account) about ten miles away. Between March 20 and April 3, 1623, he wrote a letter to his parents, which still survives and is one of the earliest documents describing conditions in the colony. The letter reports a difficult life:

But I have nothing at all no, not a shirt to my back but two rags (2), nor clothes but one poor suit, nor but one pair of shoes, but one pair of stockings, but one cap, [and] but two bands [collars]. My cloak is stolen by one of my fellows, and to his dying hour [he] would not tell me what he did with it; but some of my fellows saw him have butter and beef out of a ship, which my cloak, I doubt [not], paid for.

Frethorne's letter has been cited as evidence that the reports in England that the colonies in Virginia were being run as a model of justice and equity were incorrect.

June 14 – The first breach-of-promise lawsuit: Rev. Gerville Pooley, in Virginia, files against Cicely Jordan, but he loses.

July – The ship Anne arrives from England at "New Plymouth" (Plymouth Colony), carrying more settlers.

July – The ship Little James arrives from England at "New Plymouth" (Plymouth Colony), a week or two after the ship Anne.

November 1 – Fire at Plymouth Colony destroys several buildings.

§Southeast Asia


Chey Chettha allowed the Vietnamese to establish a custom-house at Prey Nokor, near what is now Ho Chi Minh City (until 1975, Saigon). Chey Chettha allowed the Vietnamese to set up a custom house at Prey Nokor, in order to collect taxes. This settlement was the start of a major expansion by the Vietnamese beyond the borders established by Lê Thánh Tông in 1471. The increasing waves of Vietnamese settlers which followed overwhelmed Chey Chettha II's kingdom—weakened as it was due to war with the Siamese.

§South Pacific


March 9 – Amboyna massacre: Ten men in the service of the British East India Company, 9 Japanese and 1 Portuguese, are executed by the Dutch East India Company.

The Amboyna massacre was the torture and execution on Ambon Island of twenty men, ten of whom were in the service of the British East India Company, by agents of the Dutch East India Company, on accusations of treason. It was the result of the intense rivalry between the East India companies of England and the United Provinces in the spice trade and remained a source of tension between the two nations until late in the 17th century.


August 15 - Occultation of Jupiter and Uranus (Uranus had not been discovered yet)


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