The 18th century lasted from January 1, 1701 to December 31, 1800 in the Gregorian calendar. During the 18th century, elements of Enlightenment thinking culminated in the American,French, and Haitian revolutions. This was an age of violent slave trading, and global human trafficking. The reactions against monarchical and aristocratic power helped fuel the revolutionary responses against it throughout the century.
In continental Europe, philosophers dreamed of a brighter age. For some, this dream turned into a reality with the French Revolution of 1789, though later compromised by the excesses of the Reign of Terror (1793–1794) under Maximilien Robespierre. At first, many monarchies of Europe embraced Enlightenment ideals, but with the French Revolution they feared losing their power and formed broad coalitions for the counter-revolution. 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 did not share in Europe's military improvements during the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), causing its military to fall behind and suffer 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 once-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 European politics for the next hundred years.
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.
1755–1763: The Great Upheaval forces transfer of the French Acadian population from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
1755: 13 February, the Treaty of Giyanti is signed, effectively partitioning the Mataram Sultanate; the VOC recognizes Mangkubumi as Sultan Hamengkubuwana I, who rules half of Central Java; Hamengkubuwana I then establishes Yogyakarta Sultanate, moves to Yogya and renames the city Yogyakarta.
1785–1791: Imam Sheikh Mansur, a Chechen warrior and Muslim mystic, leads a coalition of Muslim Caucasian tribes from throughout the Caucasus in a holy war against Russian settlers and military bases in the Caucasus, as well as against local traditionalists, who followed the traditional customs and common law (Adat) rather than the theocratic Sharia.
1794: Jay's Treaty is concluded between Great Britain and the United States, by which the Western outposts in the Great Lakes are returned to the U.S. and commerce between the two countries is regulated.