Annus mirabilis

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Annus mirabilis (pl. anni mirabiles) is a Latin phrase that means "wonderful year", "miraculous year" or "amazing year". This term was originally used to refer to the year 1666, and today is used to refer to several years during which events of major importance are remembered. Prior to this, however, Thomas Dekker used the phrase mirabilis annus in his 1603 pamphlet The Wonderful Year.[1]

1543 – The year of science[edit]

The beginning of the Scientific Revolution[2] when:

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".[3][4]

1666 – The year of wonders[edit]

In 1666 Isaac Newton, aged 23, made revolutionary inventions and discoveries in calculus, motion, optics and gravitation. As such, it was later called Isaac Newton's Annus Mirabilis. It was in this year that Isaac 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.[5][6]

1759 – William Pitt[edit]

A series of victories by the British military in 1759 in North America, Europe, India, and in various naval engagements, is occasionally referred to as William Pitt's annus mirabilis, and was the decisive year of the Seven Years' War.[7][8]

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.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ed. Hibbard, G.R. (1951). Three Elizabethan Pamphlets (1951 ed.). London: George G. Harrap & Co. LTD. p. 173. ISBN 0836950348.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 5, 2008. Retrieved 2010-11-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Western New England College
  3. ^ Royle, Trevor (2004). The British Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, 1638-1660. Macmillan. p. 337. ISBN 9780312292935.
  4. ^ Barratt, John (2004). Cavalier Generals. Pen and Sword. p. 191. ISBN 9781473813038.
  5. ^ "Universal Gravitation – The Physics Hypertextbook". 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.
  6. ^ "Newton's Birth Date and The Anni Mirabiles". 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.
  7. ^ Blanning p.299
  8. ^ Monod p.167
  9. ^ Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore Archived December 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Greene, Brian. "How Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity Changed Our Universe". The Forward. Retrieved November 23, 2015.


  • Blanning, T.C.W.The Culture of Power the Power of Culture: Old Regime Europe 1660–1789. Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Monod, Paul Kléber. Imperial Island: A History of Britain and Its Empire, 1660–1837. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.