The foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people....The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God's own allowance.
- Early democratic sentiment from Connecticut clergyman Thomas Hooker,
in a famous sermon given before the Connecticut General Court, which
will later earn him the appellation "Father of American Democracy."
In the year AD 1639...
- Following the collapse of two separate peace negotiations the previous year, the Thirty Years War drags on.
- In the east, Swedish superstar general Johan Baner crosses the Elbe hot on the heels of the retreating Austrian forces under Matthias, Graf von Gallas, capturing Halle and Freiburg and severely mauling the Austrians at the Battle of Chemnitz (April 14) while overrunning western Saxony and advancing into Bohemia. In desperation, Ferdinand III sends his brother Archduke Leopold William to take command of Gallas's army and hurls all available reinforcements to Bohemia. Meanwhile, other Swedish troops overrun Brandenburg and foment a revolt in Silesia.
- In France, Cardinal Richelieu keeps up his attacks on Spanish holdings, capturing and the city of Hesdin, but otherwise meeting with little success. French-backed German protestant prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar presses onward into Alsace and Baden, but his advance halts when he dies suddenly following a bout of fever.
- In Italy, French general Louis de Nogaret, Cardinal de La Valette incompetently allows Imperial forces under Prince Thomas of Savoy to overrun northern Italy and then promptly dies. De La Valette is replaced by Henri de Lorraine, comte de Harcourt, a much more capable commander who promptly checks the Imperial advance.
- Meanwhile, Spain tries to send a naval squadron to reinforce her troops in the Netherlands. The flotilla evades the French navy, but is it driven into the hands of the neutral English by the Dutch. England's king Charles I tries to auction the captive fleet to the highest bidder, offering to protect it if Spain would pay him a large bribe, or to turn it over to the French if France would restore the elector palatine, but ultimately gets neither when the Dutch, contemptuous of his neutrality, sail into the English harbor and destroy the fleet at anchor in the Battle of the Downs. The defeat marks the last gasp of Spain as a major sea power.
- Japan becomes a "closed country" (sakoku) with the completion of its series of National Seclusion Edicts. The Portuguese are expelled, the construction of large ocean-going ships is banned, and Japanese are forbidden to leave or return to the country on pain of death. Japan's seclusion will endure for more than two centuries, until the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry's black ships in 1853.
- In response to the pledge by the Scottish Covenanters to abolish episcopacy and restore Presbyterianism to Scotland, English king Charles I raises an army and marches toward the Scottish border in an incident now known as the first of the two "Bishops' Wars." Lacking funds and sufficient troops, however, Charles sues for peace, and the war is ended without fighting by the Pacification of Berwick, in which Charles concedes the Scottish right to a free church assembly and a free parliament.
- Approximately 30,000 Chinese revolt in Manila against Spanish and Tagalog discrimination. The revolt is brutally supressed by the Spaniards, with more than 20,000 Chinese losing their lives.
- Abetted by the local gentry, 20,000 peasants rise in revolt in lower Normandy, especially around the city of Rouen, in response to an increase in the tax on salt. The uprising will be put down in January of the following year.
- Mughal emperor Shah Jahan begins construction on the mighty Red Fort, still one of Delhi's most famous landmarks.
- The Connecticut Colony is established when the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, often considered the first written constitution in Western History, are adopted by representatives from the towns of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor after a rousing speech by clergyman Thomas Hooker.
- Dutch navigator Abel Janszoon Tasman embarks on a four year voyage of discovery in the northwestern Pacific that will take him to the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan as well as several smaller islands previously unknown to Europe.
- English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks is the first to observe the transit of Venus.
- Dutch colonist Jonas Bronck purchases the area of land now known as The Bronx after him from a local Native American tribe.
- Stephen Daye establishes the first printing press in North America, at Cambridge, Massachusetts and begins publishing broadsides.
- Newport, Rhode Island is founded by William Coddington after he is deposed as leader of Portsmouth by Anne Hutchinson and Samuel Gorton.
These people were born in 1639:
These people died in 1639:
1638 - 1639 - 1640