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The 18th century lasted from January 1, 1701 to December 31, 1800. The term is often used to refer to the 1700s, the century between January 1, 1700 and December 31, 1799. During the 18th century, elements of Enlightenment thinking culminated in the American, French, and Haitian revolutions. During the century, slave trading and human trafficking expanded on a global scale. Revolutions began to challenge the legitimacy of monarchical and aristocratic power structures, including the structures and beliefs that supported the slave trade.

The period is also known as the "century of lights" or the "century of reason". In continental Europe, philosophers dreamed of a brighter age. For some, this dream turned into a reality with the French Revolution of 1789, though this was later compromised by the excesses of the Reign of Terror. At first, many monarchies of Europe embraced Enlightenment ideals, but in the wake of the French Revolution they feared loss of power and formed broad coalitions for counter-revolution.

18th century music includes works characteristic of the Late Baroque period (including Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel) and the classical period (including Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart).

The Ottoman Empire experienced an unprecedented period of peace and economic expansion, taking part in no European wars from 1740 to 1768. As a consequence, the empire was not exposed to Europe's military improvements of the Seven Years' War (1756–1763). The Ottoman empire military may have fallen behind and suffered defeats against Russia in the second half of the century.

The 18th century also marked the end of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as an independent state. The formerly powerful and vast kingdom, which had once conquered Moscow and defeated great Ottoman armies, collapsed under numerous invasions. Its semi-democratic government system was not robust enough to rival the neighboring monarchies of the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire and the Austrian Empire which divided the Commonwealth territories between themselves, changing the landscape of Central Europe and politics for the next hundred years.

European colonization of the Americas and other parts of the world intensified and associated mass migrations of people grew in size as the Age of Sail continued.

Great Britain became a major power worldwide with the French and Indian War in the 1760s and the conquest of large parts of India, especially Bengal. However, Britain lost many of its North American colonies after the American Revolution and Indian wars. In North America, the defeat of the British resulted in the formation of an independent United States.

In Central Asia, Nader Shah led successful military campaigns and major invasions, which led to the founding of the Durrani Empire.

In the Indian subcontinent, the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb marked the end of medieval India. It marked the beginning of modern India and the era of extensive European intervention in the subcontinent. The victory of the British East India Company over the Nawab of Bengal and their French allies in the Battle of Plassey caused the deindustrialization of Bengal and the beginning of the British Industrial Revolution which radically changed human society and the environment. The British invasion expanded to cover much of South Asia.

French-Italian emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, formed one of the Franco-Indian alliances with the major economic power Kingdom of Mysore, governed by Tipu Sultan and his father Hyder Ali, who pioneered the use of Rocket artillery and the world's first iron-cased rockets, the Mysorean rockets, through the compilation of the Fathul Mujahidin. The Anglo-Mysore Wars were fought and the Treaty of Mangalore was initiated in 1784.

Western historians have occasionally defined the 18th century otherwise for the purposes of their work. For example, the "short" 18th century may be defined as 1715–1789, denoting the period of time between the death of Louis XIV of France and the start of the French Revolution, with an emphasis on directly interconnected events. To historians who expand the century to include larger historical movements, the "long" 18th century may run from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 or even later.

18th century Media

94,927 media by topicpage 1 of 950
Ierusalem, cum suburbiis, prout tempore Christi floruit, accurate notatis omnibus insignibus et praecipuè iis locis... /

Ierusalem, cum suburbiis, prout tempore Christi floruit, accurate nota...

Relief shown pictorially. German. Titles in Latin and German. Shows Jerusalem during the time of Christ. Includes descriptive text in German. Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image.

Sublime and beautiful reflections on the French revolution, or the man in the moon at large, British Cartoon Print

Sublime and beautiful reflections on the French revolution, or the man...

Print shows Edmund Burke sitting at a desk on a crescent moon, holding a quill pen, an open "pamphlet" and an inkwell are on the desk, broken chains hang from his wrists; a scene on the front of the desk, label... More

Carnelian oval set in a 17th–18th century gold ring
Bowl or Patera
"Rustam Kills the Commander of the Dehz", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

"Rustam Kills the Commander of the Dehz", Folio from a Shahnama (Book ...

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) Attributed to India, Kashmir

"Manuchihr Kills Salm", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

"Manuchihr Kills Salm", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) Attributed to India, Kashmir

Vase with Flowers and Birds
Birds and Flowers
Byzantine Pendant, Latin Cross
Oval-shaped salt bowl with cover
Rod Finial with Zoomorphic Motif
Two Pieces, 18th century
Franz Anton Bustelli - Captain Spavento, 18th century, Nymphenburg porcelain manufactory
Rank Badge with Design of Mountains, Waves and Bats
Rank Badges with Decoration of Two Cranes among Clouds
Netsuke of Octopus Holding Clam
Jean Antoine Houdon - The Bather, 18th century
Reproduction of the Seal of Grüneberg Stadt, 1250
Pommel Plate for a Saddle in the Style of the Late Middles Ages
Chinese Dog, copper alloy
Triptych with the Nativity and the Annunciation
"Rustam Captures the Citadel of Mount Sipand", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

"Rustam Captures the Citadel of Mount Sipand", Folio from a Shahnama (...

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) Attributed to India, Kashmir

Case (Inrō) with Design of Sparrows among Bamboo
Textile Piece, 18th century, Japan
Severo Calzetta da Ravenna - Dragon, bronze, 18th century

Severo Calzetta da Ravenna - Dragon, bronze, 18th century

After a composition by Severo Calzetta da Ravenna (Italian, active by 1496, died before 1543)

"Kai Khusrau Crosses the River Jayhun with Giv and Farangis", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Set of Ten Seals in a Box
Case (Inrō) with Design of Building beside Winding River in Mountain Landscape and Full Moon
Unidentified Scene from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

Unidentified Scene from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) Attributed to India, Kashmir

Dress, 18th century

Dress, 18th century

Beer (French)

Seal with ink, in case
Pendant, 18th century
Kosode, 18th century
Two Pieces, 18th century
Fragment from the Top of a Pillar
Futon Cover with Turtle, Crane, Pine, Plum, and Bamboo
"Rustam Slays the White Elephant", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

"Rustam Slays the White Elephant", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of King...

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) Attributed to India, Kashmir

Platter (Siye Kon)

Platter (Siye Kon)

Vanuatu, Ambrym Island

"Sam and Zal before Manuchihr", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)
"Zal Returned to Sam", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

"Zal Returned to Sam", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) Attributed to India, Kashmir

Nativity, 18th century
Seal with a Seated Lion, Qing Dynasty
Giambologna - Cock, bronze, 18th century

Giambologna - Cock, bronze, 18th century

Made in the style of Giovanni Bologna, after Bologna's models of birds made in ca. 1567 for the Grotto at the Villa di Castello outside Florence. Style of Giambologna (Netherlandish, Douai 1529–1608 Florence)

Chinese Brush pot, 18th century
Case (Inrō) with Design of Long-Haired Turtles (obverse);  Stork with Pine  Sprigs (reverse)
Chinese Woman's Earring
Case (Inrō) with Design of Courtier on Horseback (obverse); Landscape with Trees (reverse)
Amulet Box of a Noblewoman
Jambhala in White Manifestation (Bai cai bao shen)
Willem Danielsz van Tetrode - Antinous Belvedere, bronze, Europe
Chinese Lengths, 18th century
Chinese Rug, 18th century
Rank Badge with Waves, Rocks and Unfinished Appliqué of Silver Pheasant
Woman's overblouse, India
Rank Badge with Bamboo, Cherry Sprays and Waves
Chinese Woman's Earring
Case (Inrō) with Design of Two Puppies Playing with a Bamboo Branch (obverse); Snow, Pine and Red Sun (reverse)
Diamond-Shaped Pendant, Java, Indonesia
A male and a female figures (study for 'Golgotha')
"Faridun in the Palace of Zahhak", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

"Faridun in the Palace of Zahhak", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of King...

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) Attributed to India, Kashmir

Textile Piece, 18th century, Japan
Obi with Repeating Floral Roundels and Birds
Brooch, 18th century
Chinese Length, 18th century
Netsuke of a Dog and a Fish
Netsuke of Seated Dog (one of a pair)
Skirt, 18th century, Cambodia
Reproduction of the Seal of Heinrich der Erlauchte von Meissen, 1222 (Thüringen, 1247)
Rank Badges with Decoration of Two Cranes among Clouds
"Manuchihr Kills Tur", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

"Manuchihr Kills Tur", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) Attributed to India, Kashmir

Netsuke of Seated Dog (one of a pair)
Child's Kimono with Pine, Bamboo, Plum Blossoms, and Fans
Pendant with Zoomorphic Motif
Sleeveless Work Jacket for Sledge Pulling (Sorihiki Sodenashi)
Rattle in the Form of an Official Seal
Case (Inrō) with Design of Tortoise Swimming above Water Weeds (obverse);  Bamboo stems, Vines (reverse)
Obi with Large Floral Roundels and Stream
The Immortal Magu with a Deer, Qing Dynasty
Unidentified Scene from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

Unidentified Scene from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) Attributed to India, Kashmir

Rank Badge with Waves and Rocks, Qing Dynasty
Chinese Tripod (Ding), 18th century
Case (Inrō) with Design of Two Puppies Playing with a Bamboo Branch (obverse); Snow, Pine and Red Sun (reverse)
Cameo of the Virgin and Child
Syriac Damascus Room, copper alloy, Middle East
Axe (Berdiche), 18th century
Seal Matrix, bronze, Europe, Flanders
Reproduction of the Seal of Heinrich der Erlauchte von Meissen, 1222 (Thüringen, 1247)
Reproduction of the Seal of Grüneberg Stadt, 1250
Reproduction of the Seal of Heinrich Graf von Orlamünde, 1327
Reproduction of the Seal of Heinrich Graf von Orlamünde, 1327
Bowl or Deep Plate
Bowl or Deep Plate
Drinking Horn, 18th century
Eve, bronze, 18th century

Eve, bronze, 18th century

Modeled after a figure made for the Palazzo Ducale, Venice. After a model by Antonio Rizzo (Italian, Verona before 1440–1499 or later)

Medal:  Bartolomeo Colleoni, bronze, Europe
Satyr Riding a Goat, bronze

Satyr Riding a Goat, bronze

Manner of Andrea Briosco, called Riccio (Italian, Trent 1470–1532 Padua)

Medal:  Federigo da Montefeltro, bronze
Pentecost, 18th century, sculpture collection Rijksmuseum

Pentecost, 18th century, sculpture collection Rijksmuseum

Beeldengroep van eikenhout met de twaalf apostelen biddend en omhoogkijkend, in een cirkel gegroepeerd rond Maria; de twee voorste apostelen (links Jacobus, rechts mogelijk Petrus) zitten op gotische krukjes. I... More

Design for a Clasp or Buckle

Design for a Clasp or Buckle

Anonymous, Italian, 17th or 18th century

Jonas, Justus, engraver Johann Friedrich Braun

Jonas, Justus, engraver Johann Friedrich Braun

Verleger: Braun, Johann Friedrich Verlagsort: Leipzig

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