Key developments of 1549

Here are notable developments in world history of 1549 CE:

  • In March, the Portuguese established the first settler-“capital” in Brazil, Salvador da Baha.
  • In July, something called Kett’s Rebellion broke out out in eastern England. This was an uprising against the policy of enclosures of previously common land, that mobilized 16,000 rioters who seized control of Norwich. The uprising lasted around a month but was put down by an army led by the Earl of Warwick, composed of ~ 12,000 regular troops and ~1,200 German mercenaries. The two brothers Kett who had led it were executed and their bodies hanged for public display. (The image above is part of an 18th century engraving of Robert Kett and his followers taking an oath of solidarity under the Oak of Reformation.)
  • Oh, and England and France declared war. (No further details on this– but last year’s decision by the regents in France to build a dynastic alliance with Mary, Queen of Scots may have played a role?)
  • The Habsburg King/Holy Roman Emperor Charles, fat off the immense piles of loot his conquistadores were plundering from the Americas, decided he would reorganize the 17 portions of land his dynastic ancestors had acquired in the area of today’s Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg into one indivisible territory. This was called the “Pragmatic Sanction”, I don’t know why. I find it significant (Benedict Anderson-wise) that the document with which he did this was written in Middle French.
  • Despite the problems the Ming administration in China had had the previous year with the armed Portuguese adventurers/pirates/smugglers/traders in the East China Sea, the Portuguese started in 1549 to send regular seasonal trade missions to Shangchuan Island near Macau, reportedly, “following an event where the Portuguese helped Ming authorities eliminate coastal pirates.” (Actually, the whole of that page on English-WP, on the life of Portuguese naval adventurer Fernão Pires de Andrade, is pretty interesting…)