History of Political Thought – Timeline

Timelines help us to develop a relational view of events, authors, and ideas. It’s especially helpful for political thought. here are some of the important markers.

The Ancient World

  • 551 BCE Confucius (551-479 BCE) – Chinese philosopher and educator, ( See the Analects of Confucius)
  • 495 BCE Pericles (495-429) – Athenian statesman and advocate of democracy
  • 469 Socrates (469-384) – Athenian philosopher who is credited with laying the foundations of western philosophy; sentenced to death in Athens for heresy.
  • 450 The Twelve Tables – the first recorded statement of Roman Law
  • 431 The Peloponnesian War (431-404) between Athens and Sparta
  • 428 Plato (428-347) Athenian philosopher, recorder of Socratic dialogue and critic of democracy
  • 427 The Mytilene Debate – that led to the Athenian decision to execute all the men on the rebellious island of Mytilene
  • 384 Aristotle (384-322) pupil of Plato, author of The Politics
  • 341 Epicurus (341-271) founder of Hedonism
  • 331 Zeno of Citium (331-261) founder of Stoicism
  • 106 BCE Cicero (106-43 BCE) statesman of the Roman republic, Stoic and opponent of dictatorship
  • 49 BCE Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon prompting the Roman Civil War of 49-46 BCE, which led to a transition from republic to empire.
  • 7–2 BCE to 30–33 CE), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, founder of Christianity.
  • 204 CE Plotinus (204-270 CE) – founder of Neoplatonism and originator of the Great Chain of Being
  • 313 Edict of Milan – established religious freedom in the Roman Empire.
  • 325 First Council of Nicea – the first of the ecumenical councils
  • 354 CE Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Neoplatonist African Bishop and leading philosopher of the Roman Catholic Church; advocate of papal supremacy.
  • 381 Council of Constantinople – that approved the Nicene Creed – the official statement of Christian belief.

The Middle Ages

  • 533 Corpus Jurus Civilis: a compendium of Roman Law promulgated by the emperor Justinian
  • 570 Muhammad (570-632) Arab prophet and founder of Islam
  • 800 Charlemagne (742-814) is crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III
  • 800s Written collections of Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) are compiled.
  • 1126 Averroës (Abu’l-Walid Ibn Rushd)[18] (1126-1198) interpretor of Aristotle, leading Islamic philosopher
  • 1215 Magna Carta – statement of civil rights and fundamental document of the English constitution.
  • 1225 Thomas Aquinas (1224-74) Catholic theologian and philosopher, author of Summa Theologica, defender of the doctrine of papal supremacy.
  • 1453 The fall of Constantinople, conquered by Ottoman Turks.
  • 1469 Machiavelli (1469-1527) Pragmatic Florentine political advisor, famous for his amoral approach to the exercise of authority.
  • 1517 Martin Luther (1483-1546) 95 Theses – Start of the Protestant Movement.
  • 1588 Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher, conditional defender of monarchy as the source of civic order.

The Enlightenment

  • 1632 John Locke (1632-1704) English political philosopher of The Enlightenment. Proponent of the concept of universal human rights and of the concept of a social contract.
  • 1642 Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Central figure of The Enlightenment. Founder of differential calculus and classical mechanics.
  • 1641 The Grand Remonstrance A list of grievances presented to Charles I of England by the Long Parliament.
  • 1643 English Civil War (1643-6) Armed conflict between supporters of the parliament and the monarchy, ending in the execution of King Charles I.
  • 1645 The Levellers. English popular movement that agitated for religious toleration, reform of the law, free trade, an extended franchise, rights guaranteed under a written constitution and a government answerable to the people rather than to King or Parliament.
  • 1648 Treaty of Westphalia. The peace treaty that ended the Thirty Years War and included an agreement to respect the sovereignty of nation states.
  • 1660 The Restoration. The ending of the despotism of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration of the English Monarchy’.
  • 1688 Glorious Revolution The largely bloodless events in England which led to the deposition of King James II.
  • 1689 The Bill of Rights English legislation that restricted the powers of the monarchy and established the rights of a free Parliament.
  • 1689 Montesquieu (1689-1755) French Enlightenment philosopher. Advocate of the separation of powers of legislature, executive and judiciary.
  • 1694 Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) (1694-1778). French writer and philosopher. One of the leading figures of The Enlightenment. Influential populariser of the works of Newton and Locke
  • 1711 David Hume (1711-1776) Scottish philosopher, and historian. early economist. Opponent of merchantilism and of government intervention in commerce.
  • 1712 Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) French Enlightenment thinker. Author of The Social Contract.
  • 1723 Adam Smith (1723-1790) “Father of Economics”, and early thinker about government expenditure and taxation.
  • 1724 Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Prussian Enlightenment philosopher. Advocate of human rights and opponent of state paternalism.
  • 1729 Edmund Burke (1720-1797) English opponent of the French Revolution and founder of English conservatism.
  • 1737 Thomas Paine (1737-1809) English political pamphleteer. Advocate of American independence and participant in the French revolution.
  • 1748 Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) founder of utilitarianism.
  • 1750 The Risorgimento The movement for the liberation and unification of Italy that lasted until 1870.
  • 1751 James Madison (1751-1836) American politician, political theorist and fourth President of the United States, Known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights.” Advocate of “checks and balances to limit the powers of special interests.
  • 1760 Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) founder of French Socialism.
  • 1770 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) Philosopher who argued that the individual exists for the state.
  • 1774 American Revolution The armed struggle that gave the United States independence from Britain.
  • 1776 Declaration of Independence by the United States of America
  • 1789 Storming of the Bastille and start of the French Revolution
  • 1789 The Declaration of the Rights of Man is approved by the French National Assembly.
  • 1791 The United States Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the constitution, the first of which guarantees freedom of religion, speech, press, and peaceable assembly.

The 19th Century

  • 1806 John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and politician. Advocate of utilitarianism and representative government. Proponent of the principle that society may restrict the liberty of individuals only to prevent harm to others.
  • 1809 Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865)
  • 1818 Karl Marx (1818-1883)
  • 1844 Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) originator of the concept of “superman”
  • 1848 Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) “The Karl Marx of Fascism”.
  • 1848 The Communist Manifesto
  • 1864 The First International – A meeting of European Socialists
  • 1871 Paris Commune A short-lived Socialist city administration
  • 1875 Giovanni Gentile (1875-1944) Hegelian philosopher and Mussolini’s collaborator

The 20th and 21st Centuries

  • 1914 First World War (1914-1918)
  • 1917 Russian Revolution
  • 1919 League of Nations Covenant . The first attempt at collective security.
  • 1922 The Permanent Court of International Justice (1922-1946) Provided arbitration of disputes between member countries of the League of Nations
  • 1922 ‘March on Rome. The coup that brought Mussolini to power.
  • 1933 Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany.
  • 1939 Second World War (1939-45)
  • 1944 The Bretton Woods international conference set up a system of fixed exchange rates and created the International Monetary Fund.
  • 1945 San Francisco Conference’ adopted the United Nations Charter
  • 1946 The Court of International Justice is set up to resolve legal disputes between member country and advise on legal questions referred to it.
  • 1998 The Rome Statute sets up the International Criminal Court to prosecute genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity.
  • 2000 United Nations resolution adopts specific Millennium Development Goals by 2015.