The 18th century lasted from January 1, 1701 to December 31, 1800. During the 18th century, elements of Enlightenment thinking culminated in the American, French, and Haitian revolutions. The age saw violent slave trading and human trafficking on a global scale. The reactions against monarchical and aristocratic power helped fuel the revolutionary responses against it throughout the century.
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. 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.
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 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 European 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 Central Asia, Nader Shah caused major invasions and led successful military campaigns and the Durrani Empire was founded.
In the Indian subcontinent, the death of the Islamic Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb marks the end of medieval India and 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 since then 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.
The defeat of the British resulted in the formation of the newly independent United States.
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.