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§Of World Interest

November 7 - Transit of Mercury across the Sun

December 7 - Transit of Venus as predicted by J. Kepler



May 30 – La Gazette, the first French newspaper, was founded.


May 10 – Thirty Years' War: Imperial troops storm the German city of Magdeburg and massacre 20,000 inhabitants.

September 17 – Thirty Years' War: Battle of Breitenfield (1631) – King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden defeats the Catholic League and the Holy Roman Empire, ensuring religious liberty for the Protestant states of Germany.

Cautio Criminalis (Precautions for Prosecutors), a book written by Jesuit, Friedrich Spee, is a layout for the prosecution of witchcraft, based on his own experiences in Westphalia. It is thought that he acted for a long time as "witch confessor" in Würzburg, as he seems to have knowledge of what could be considered the private thoughts of the condemned. The work was printed in 1631 at Rinteln without Spee's name or permission. He does not advocate the immediate abolition of trials for witchcraft, but describes with sarcasm the abuses in the prevailing legal proceedings, particularly the use of the rack. He demands measures of reform, such as a new German imperial law on the subject and liability to damages on the part of the judges. If these had been carried out, they would have quickly put an end to the persecution of witches.

Nevertheless, the Cautio Criminalis did bring about the abolition of witch-burning in a number of places, especially at Mainz, and led the way to its gradual suppression. The moral impact created by the publication was considerable. Even in the seventeenth century a number of new editions and German translations appeared. Among the members of Spee's Jesuit order his treatise found a favourable reception. A memorable observation in the book suggests that Germany and England must have more witches and devils than Spain and Italy since there are so many more stake burnings in the former. This may have been a not so subtle criticism of Protestant reform Europe which he believed was guilty of even greater abuses than the Catholic countries. The book is still in print.


Heerhugowaard municipality was created by draining the lake, which had been artificially created through the mining of peat. It was hopeful that the land would be fertile, as was the land in Holland's first Polder, Beemster. But the land was disappointing to the point that some consideration was given to refilling the lake, as fishing would be more profitable.


April 6 - In passing between the armed camps to achieve an accommodation, Jules Raymond Mazarin detected the weakness of the Spanish general, the Marqués de Santa-Cruz, and perceived that he desired to come to terms without exposing his army to combat. By emphasizing French strengths in the Spanish camp, Mazarin effected the Treaty of Cherasco, 6 April 1631, in which the Emperor and the Duke of Savoy recognized the possession of Mantua and part of Monferrat by Charles Gonzaga and the French occupation of the strategic stronghold of Pinerolo, the gate to the valley of the Po, to the great satisfaction of Richelieu and the King of France. Richelieu was in particular impressed by the young man's resourceful ruses, and asked him to come to Paris, where he received him with great demonstrations of affection, promised him great things, and gave him a gold chain with the portrait of the King, some jewels, and a valuable ceremonial sword.

June 19 - The Italian peace was eventually made with the Treaty of Cherasco, signed in a city in Piedmont on 19 June 1631. Charles Gonzaga-Nevers was confirmed as ruler in Mantua and Montferrat, with concessions to the other claimants: Vittorio Amedeo I, who succeeded in Savoy after the sudden death of his father, Duke Charles Emmanuel, gained Trino and Alba in Montferrat; while Cesare II of Guastalla, Ferrante's son, was given Luzzara and Reggiolo. Later it was discovered that by a secret treaty with Vittorio Amedeo, Pinerolo was surrendered to France.

The Great Plague of Milan, claimed the lives of approximately 280,000 people, with the cities of Lombardy and Venice experiencing particularly high death rates. This episode is considered one of the last outbreaks of the centuries-long pandemic of bubonic plague which began with the Black Death. This was the final year of this epidemic.

December 16 - Mount Vesuvius erupts in Pompeii, a major eruption burying many villages under lava flows, killing around 3,000 people. Torrents of boiling water were also ejected, adding to the devastation.

§Modern Czech Republic

October 10 – Thirty Years' War: A Saxon army takes over Prague.


Shah Jahan, emperor of the Mughal Empire during a period of great prosperity, controlled extensive resources. In 1631 his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their daughter Gauhara Begum, their fourteenth child. Shah Jahan was reportedly inconsolable. Contemporary court chronicles contain many stories concerning Shah Jahan's grief at Mumtaz's death; these are the basis of the "love-story" traditionally held as the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. 'Abd al-Hamid Lahawri, for example, noted that before her death the Emperor had "but twenty white hairs in his beard," but thereafter many more.

Construction of the Taj Mahal was begun in Agra soon after Mumtaz's death. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648, and the surrounding buildings and garden five years later.

The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan gave orders in 1631 to Qasim Khan, the Mughal viceroy of Bengal, to drive out the Portuguese from their trading post at Port Hoogly, the trading post was heavily armed with cannons, battleships, fortified walls, and other instruments of war. The Portuguese were accused of trafficking by high Mughal officials and due to commercial competition the Mughal-controlled port of Saptagram began to slump. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was particularly outraged by the activities of Jesuits in that region particularly when they were accused of abducting peasants.

§North America

§United States

May 18 – In Dorchester, Massachusetts, John Winthrop takes the oath of office and becomes the first Governor of Massachusetts.

§U.S. Religion

February 5 - Roger Williams and his family arrived in Boston. He was welcomed and almost immediately invited to become the Teacher (assistant minister) in the Boston church to officiate while Rev. John Wilson returned to England to fetch his wife. He shocked them by declining the position, saying that he found that it was "an unseparated church". In addition he asserted that the civil magistrates may not punish any sort of "breach of the first table [of the Ten Commandments]", such as idolatry, Sabbath-breaking, false worship, and blasphemy, and that every individual should be free to follow his own convictions in religious matters. Right from the beginning, he sounded three principles which were central to his subsequent career: Separatism, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.

As a Separatist he had concluded that the Church of England was irredeemably corrupt and that one must completely separate from it to establish a new church for the true and pure worship of God. His search for the true church eventually carried him out of Congregationalism, the Baptists, and any visible church. From 1639 forward, he waited for Christ to send a new apostle to reestablish the church, and he saw himself as a "witness" to Christianity until that time came. He believed that soul liberty freedom of conscience, was a gift from God, and that everyone had the natural right to freedom of religion. Religious freedom demanded that church and state be separated. Williams was the first to use the phrase "wall of separation" to describe the relationship of the church and state. He called for a high wall of separation between the "Garden of Christ" and the "Wilderness of the World". This idea might have been one of the foundations of the religion clauses in the United States Constitution, and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, although the language used by the founders is quite different. Years later, in 1802 CE Thomas Jefferson, writing of the "wall of separation" echoed Roger Williams in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.

May 18 - Limits were placed on who could participate in politics by the General Court of the Massachusetts. "no man shall be admitted to the body politic but such as are members of some of the churches..."


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