1600s

1660

Following a lecture by Sir Christopher Wren, the Royal Society is founded at Gresham College, London on 28 November. King Charles II becomes patron.

Wren

1661

Marcello Malpighi observes capillary action in frog's lungs and writes to the Royal Society. It is the missing link in William Harvey's theory of blood circulation.

Lungs

1662

The Society receives a Royal Charter from Charles II.

Christopher Merrett communicates to the Society a technique of double fermentation to produce sparkling wine. The champagne method will found a regional industry in France.

Champagne

1663

Charles II, his physician Walter Charleton and John Aubrey view the Neolithic stone circle at Avebury in Wiltshire, submitting plans of the structure to the Royal Society. Modern archaeology begins here.

Stones

1665

The Royal Society publishes Robert Hooke's Micrographia, containing landmark drawings made using a microscope and including the famous flea. The book coins the word cell as a biological term.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society begins publication under the editorial guidance of Henry Oldenburg, Secretary of the Royal Society. This journal is now the oldest scientific journal in continuous publication in the world and established the practice of scientific priority and peer review.

Micrographia

1667

The major component of the Society's original book collection was the Norfolk library which came from Arundel House, the Society's quarters after the Great Fire of London. John Evelyn, who negotiated the donation, said that he was saving the great library 'from embezzlement' as the Duke of Norfolk's guests were stealing the books.

1667

1677

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek sees little animals under the microscope the first sighting of micro-organisms. The Royal Society repeats his observation and the science of microbiology is born.

Van Leeuwenhoek

1687

Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica describing the action of gravity is published by the Royal Society with the help of Edmond Halley. It remains one of the most influential books of all time.

Newton

Highlights from our history

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