All links are to Wikipedia entries.

Government, Politics, and War:

  • February 14: A British fleet under the command of Admiral Jervis defeats a larger Spanish fleet at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. Captain Horatio Nelson distinguishes himself by seizing four Spanish ships; he is promoted to Rear Admiral and is knighted. Jervis is granted an earldom.
  • February 18: The Spanish Governor of Trinidad peacefully surrenders the colony over to a British naval force.
  • March 2: The Bank of England issues the first £1 note.
  • March 4: John Adams becomes the second President of the United States.
  • April – June: Naval mutinies occur at Spithead and Nore over sailors’ pay and living conditions.
  • May 12: Napoleon conquers Venice, ending the city’s 1070 years of independence.
  • July 24: Horatio Nelson is wounded at the Battle of Santa Cruz, losing an arm.
  • October 11: The British Royal Navy defeats the fleet of the Batavian Republic off the coast of Holland at the Battle of Camperdown.
  • October 18: France and Austria sign peace treaty.
  • November 16: Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia dies and is succeeded by his grandson, Frederick William III.

topperSociety and Social History:

  • January 15: London haberdasher John Hetherington leaves his shop in the Strand wearing England’s first silk top hat and attracting a crowd of spectators whose shoving causes police to arrest him. He is charged with disturbing the peace and wearing “a tall structure having a shining luster calculated to frighten timid people.” Within a month he is overwhelmed by orders for the silk hats.
  • March 2: Politician, writer, and antiquarian Horace Walpole dies at age 79.
  • July 9: British statesman, orator, and political theorist Edmund Burke dies at age 68.
  • September 10: Mary Wollstonecraft dies at age 38 after complications from the birth of her daughter, Mary.

Literature, Journalism, and Publishing:

  • January: The first edition of the French fashion magazine, Journal des Dames et des Modes is published in Paris.
  • March 2: English writer and politician Horace Walpole dies at age 79.
  • October: Samuel Coleridge composes the poem Kubla Khan in an opium-induced dream.
  • November 1: Jane Austen‘s father writes to London bookseller Thomas Cadell to ask if he is interested in seeing the manuscript of Jane’s recently-completed novel First Impressions (later re-titled Pride and Prejudice). Cadell declines.

Art, Architecture, and Design:

  • Ditherington Flax Mill, in Shrewsbury, England, is completed, now the oldest iron-framed building in the world, and the “grandfather of skyscrapers”.
  • August 29: Painter Joseph Wright of Derby dies at age 62.


  • Joseph Haydn composes the music to Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser, the tune of which also became the music to the German national anthem, Deutschland, Deutschland über alles.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven completes Piano Sonata, Op. 7, in E-flat.
  • Joseph Haydn –completes String Quartets, Op. 76, “Erdödy Quartets”.

Natural History and Exploration:

  • January 3: Three of the stones making up Stonehenge fall due to heavy frosts