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3rd Duke of Portland by Matthew Pratt.

3rd Duke of Portland by Matthew Pratt. (Click on image to see a larger version.)

Government, Politics, and War:

  • February: Napoleon attacks Russia.
  • March 25: Parliament passes the Slave Trade Act, ending the trade in slaves but not slavery.
  • March 31: George III dismisses his prime minister Lord Grenville and  replaces him with the Duke of Portland.
  • April 27:  French forces capture Danzig after a 6-week siege.
  • June 14: Napoleon defeats Russian troops at the Battle of Friedland.
  • July 7: The Treaty of Tilsit between France and Russia divides Europe between the two powers. The new kingdom of Westphalia is created by merging territories ceded by Prussia, including the former Electorate of Hanover, with the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and the Electorate of Hesse. Napoleon’s brother Jérôme Bonaparte is named King of Westphalia.
  • July: The Earl of Minto becomes the Governor-General of India.
  • September 2 – September 7: Battle of Copenhagen: The Royal Navy bombards Copenhagen with fire bombs and phosphorus rockets to prevent Denmark from surrendering its fleet to Napoleon; 30% of the city is destroyed and 2,000 citizens are killed.
  • November: Portugal refuses to honor the trade embargo against England, and Napoleon sends an army into Spain with the task of invading Portugal. Spain enters into the alliance with France under promises of Portuguese territories, and also with an eye on the Portuguese fleet.
  • December: Lisbon is captured by the French.

Society and Social History:

  • July 13: With the death of Henry Benedict Stuart, the last Stuart claimant to the throne of the England, the movement of Jacobitism comes to an effective end.

Literature, Journalism, and Publishing:

  • Lord Byron publishes his first volume of poetry, Hours of Idleness.
  • Wordsworth publishes Poems In Two Volumes, including the poems “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” and “The World is Too Much With Us.”
  • Charles Lamb and his sister Mary publish the children’s book, Tales of Shakespeare, and it is an instant bestseller.
Horseman from the west frieze of the Parthenon, part of the "Elgin Marbles."

Horseman from the west frieze of the Parthenon, part of the “Elgin Marbles.” (Click on image to read more about the marbles.)

Art, Architecture, and Design:


  • Muzio Clementi begins negotiating for British publication rights to the music of Beethoven.
  • March: Beethoven premiers his Fourth Symphony (Symphony No. 4 in B Flat Major, Opus 60) in Vienna.
"A Peep at the Gaslights in Pall Mall" engraved by Thomas Rowlandson after a drawing by George Woodward.

“A Peep at the Gaslights in Pall Mall” engraved by Thomas Rowlandson after a drawing by George Woodward. (Click on image to see a larger version.)

Science and Industry:

  • January 28: London’s Pall Mall is the first street to be lit by gaslight.
  • March 25: The horse-powered Swansea and Mumbles Railway in Wales, originally built to transport mined ore to the Swansea docks, becomes the first passenger carrying railway in the world. It does not covert to steam-powered locomotives until 1877.
  • July 20: Nicéphore Niépce was awarded a patent by Napoleon  for the Pyréolophore, the world’s first internal combustion engine, after it successfully powered a boat upstream on the river Saône in France.
  • August 17: The Clermont, Robert Fulton‘s first American steamboat, leaves New York City for Albany, New York on the Hudson River, inaugurating the first commercial steamboat service in the world.
  • October 13: The Geological Society of London is founded, the first society devoted to earth sciences in the world. Humphry Davy is one of its founders.