Annus mirabilis

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Annus mirabilis (pl. anni mirabiles) is a Latin phrase that means "marvelous year", "wonderful year", "miraculous year", "year of wonder" or "amazing year". This term has been used to refer to several years during which events of major importance are remembered, notably Isaac Newton's discoveries in 1666.

1345-1346 — Edward III[edit]

Eight years after the start of the Hundred Years' War large-scale fighting had died down. Edward III of England decided to renew the war more vigorously in 1345.[1] He despatched a small force to Gascony in south-west France under Henry, Earl of Derby[2] and personally led the main English army to northern France. Edward delayed the disembarkation of his army and his fleet was scattered by a storm, rendering this offensive ineffective.[3] Derby was spectacularly successful, winning victories at Bergerac and Auberoche.[4] The following spring a large French army, led by the heir to the French throne, John, Duke of Normandy, counter-attacked Derby's forces.[5]

Edward responded by landing an army of 10,000 men in northern Normandy.[6] The English devastated much of Normandy and stormed and sacked Caen, slaughtering the population. They cut a swath along the left bank of the Seine to within 20 miles (32 km) of Paris.[7] The English army then turned north and inflicted a heavy defeat on a French army led by their king, Philip VI, at the Battle of Crécy on 26 August 1346.[8][9] They promptly exploited this by laying siege to Calais.[10] The period from Derby's victory outside Bergerac in late August 1345 to the start of the siege of Calais on 4 September 1346 became known as Edward III's annus mirabilis.[11][12]

1492 — Catholic Monarchs[edit]

The Catholic Monarchs (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon) built in 1492 the most powerful monarchy in the Western World by the conquest of Granada, the final step of the Reconquista, on January 2, and, though this wonder began to manifest only upon the return of Columbus the next year, the discovery of the Americas on October 12. 1492 is also the year of construction of the first grammar of a modern language: Gramática de la lengua castellana; the author, Antonio de Nebrija (a prominent counselor of the Monarchs) said in it, comparing Spanish with Latin: siempre la lengua fue compañera del imperio ("language was always the companion of empire").[13]

1543 — The year of science[edit]

The beginning of the Scientific Revolution[14] when:

1625 — Spanish monarchy[edit]

During the course of [1625] Breda surrendered to the Army of Flanders under the command of the incomparable Spinola; the republic of Genoa, Spain's ally and client, was rescued from the onslaught of the combined forces of France and Savoy; a joint Spanish-Portuguese naval expedition drove the Dutch from Bahia in Brazil; and an English expeditionary force was humiliatingly defeated when it attempted an attack on Cadiz.

-– Geoffrey Parker, The Thirty Years' War[15]

A series of Spanish military victories on a global strategic scale obtained in 1625 during the Thirty Years' War, in important military theaters in Europe and America. These military victories were as follows: Siege of Breda, Relief of Genoa, Recapture of Bahia, Battle of San Juan and Defense of Cádiz.[16] Those military actions were immortalized in a series of paintings in the Hall of Realms of the Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid. Thus, the “reputational” policy promoted by the Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares, favourite of Philip IV of Spain, was apparently confirmed by the initial success,[17] and it was in reference to this annus mirabilis for Spanish arms that Olivares delivered probably his most famous pronouncement: "God is Spanish and fights for Spain."[15]

1644-1645 — Montrose[edit]

The military successes of James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose in Scotland in the War of the Three Kingdoms during 1644–1645 are sometimes called "annus mirabilis".[18][19]

1666 — The year of wonders[edit]

In 1666, Isaac Newton, aged 23, made revolutionary inventions and discoveries in calculus, motion, optics and gravitation. It was in this year that Newton was alleged to have observed an apple falling from a tree, and in which he, in any case, hit upon the law of universal gravitation (Newton's apple). He was afforded the time to work on his theories due to the closure of Cambridge University by an outbreak of plague.[20][21]

1706 — Grand Alliance[edit]

In 1706, the Grand Alliance arrayed against Louis XIV of France won resounding victories (the Battle of Ramillies and Siege of Turin) which, after the previous year's failures, has been termed by James Falkner a "Year of Miracles."[22]

1759 — William Pitt[edit]

A series of victories by the British armed forces in 1759 in North America, Europe, India, and in various naval engagements caused that year to be referred to, on occasion, as William Pitt's annus mirabilis. It was the turning point of the Seven Years' War.[23][24]

1905 — Albert Einstein[edit]

It was in this year that Albert Einstein, aged 26, published important discoveries concerning the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, the special theory of relativity, and the famous E = mc2 equation. His four articles, collectively known as his Annus Mirabilis papers, were published in Annalen der Physik in 1905.[25][26]

1939 — Hollywood's Golden Year[edit]

1939 is considered the Annus Mirabilis of Hollywood due to the surprising number of movies released that year that are considered "classics" or foundational of their genre.[27] Some of the films released in 1939 include: The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Gunga Din, Beau Geste, Union Pacific, The Roaring Twenties, Only Angels Have Wings, At the Circus, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Destry Rides Again, Midnight, Wuthering Heights, Young Mr. Lincoln, among many others.

2016-17 — Portugal[edit]

Portugal is known for being "the country of the 3 Fs" because of Football, Fado, and Fátima, three of the most distinct parts of the Portuguese culture.[28] Portugal managed to clinch a series of historic and unprecedented victories in all of these three aspects in 2016—17. First in football, when the Portugal national team won their first-ever major trophy at the UEFA Euro 2016 on 10 July. Ten months later, on 13 May 2017, Salvador Sobral won the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 for Portugal with the song "Amar pelos dois", and in doing so, he gave Portugal its first-ever win in the contest.[29] On that same day, Pope Francis visited Fátima on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Marian Apparition of 1917.[30][31] The period from Portugal's victory at the Euros in July 2016 to the end of Pope Francis's visit to Portugal in May 2017 became known as Portugal's annus mirabilis.[32]

Annus mirabilis of births[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sumption 1990, p. 453.
  2. ^ Rogers 2004, p. 94.
  3. ^ Prestwich 2007, p. 315.
  4. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 466, 469.
  5. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 485–486.
  6. ^ Burne 1999, p. 138.
  7. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 514–515.
  8. ^ Sumption 1990, p. 532.
  9. ^ DeVries 1998, p. 171.
  10. ^ Burne 1999, p. 207.
  11. ^ Lambert 2011, p. 247.
  12. ^ Sumption 1990, pp. 537–538, 557.
  13. ^ "Bibliographic use of expression related to 1492". Archived from the original on December 16, 2017. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  14. ^ "The Scientific Revolution". Archived from the original on July 5, 2008. Retrieved 2010-11-05. Western New England College
  15. ^ a b Parker 1984, p. 90.
  16. ^ Sanz Camañes, Porfirio (2018). "Inglaterra y la Monarquía hispana. La guerra anglo-española de 1625-1630 y el conflicto europeo". Manuscrits: Revista d'història moderna (in Spanish) (38): 64.
  17. ^ Elliott, John Huxtable (1986). The Count-Duke of Olivares: The Statesman in an Age of Decline. New Haven, Connecticut, USA: Yale University Press. p. 226. ISBN 0300044992.
  18. ^ Royle, Trevor (2004). The British Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, 1638-1660. Macmillan. p. 337. ISBN 9780312292935. Archived from the original on October 30, 2023. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  19. ^ Barratt, John (2004). Cavalier Generals. Pen and Sword. p. 191. ISBN 9781473813038. Archived from the original on October 30, 2023. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  20. ^ "Universal Gravitation – The Physics Hypertextbook". Archived from the original on October 12, 2009. Retrieved December 10, 2012. In the same year [1666] I began to think of gravity extending to the orb of the moon, .... All this was in the two plague years of 1665 and 1666, for in those days I was in the prime of my age for invention, and minded mathematics and philosophy more than at any time since.
  21. ^ "Newton's Birth Date and The Anni Mirabiles". Archived from the original on October 30, 2023. Retrieved December 10, 2012. In the beginning of the year 1665 I found the Method of approximating series & the Rule for reducing any dignity of any Binomial into such a series. The same year in May I found the method of Tangents of Gregory & Slusius, & in November had the direct method of fluxions & the next year in January had the Theory of Colors & in May following I had entrance into the inverse method of fluxions. And the same year I began to think of gravity extending to the orb of the Moon & (having found out how to estimate the force with which a globe revolving within a sphere presses the surface of the sphere) from Keplers rule of the periodical times of the Planets being in sesquialterate proportion of their distances from the centers of their Orbs, I deduced that the forces which keep the Planets in their Orbs must be reciprocally as the squares of their distances from the centers about which they revolve: and thereby compared the force requisite to keep the Moon in her Orb with the force of gravity at the surface of the earth ... All this was in the two plague years of 1665 and 1666. For in those days I was in the prime of my age of invention & minded Mathematics & Philosophy more than at any time since.
  22. ^ Falkner, J., 2006. Ramillies 1706. Havertown: Pen and Sword.
  23. ^ Blanning p.299
  24. ^ Monod p.167
  25. ^ Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore Archived December 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Greene, Brian. "How Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity Changed Our Universe". The Forward. Archived from the original on November 23, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  27. ^ "Most Notable Films of 1939: Hollywood's Golden Year". Archived from the original on September 23, 2023. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  28. ^ "The 3 F's of Portugal: Fado, Futbol, Fatima". June 2, 2014. Archived from the original on August 25, 2023. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  29. ^ Smith-Spark, Laura; Almasy, Steve. "Portugal's Salvador Sobral wins Eurovision Song Contest". CNN. Archived from the original on May 13, 2017. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  30. ^ "2017: Pope Francis to visit Fátima on 100th Anniversary of Marian Apparitions". April 29, 2015. Archived from the original on August 25, 2023. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  31. ^ "Pope Francis arrives in Portugal to canonise children at Fátima shrine". May 12, 2017. Archived from the original on August 25, 2023. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  32. ^ "Do infortúnio à euforia em ano e meio: o que correu bem a Portugal" [From misfortune to euphoria in a year and a half: what went well for Portugal]. (in Portuguese). May 21, 2017. Archived from the original on August 26, 2023. Retrieved August 26, 2023.
  33. ^ "Michael Barone: Our Three Presidents Born In 1946". April 14, 2017. Archived from the original on January 31, 2018. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
  34. ^ a b "1972 – Football's Annus Mirabilis". January 18, 2015. Archived from the original on August 25, 2023. Retrieved August 25, 2023.