The century of Goethe, Blake, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Bach, Händel, Haydn, Mozart, Von Humboldt, Condorcet, Adam Smith, Jefferson, Franklin.
Emergence of humanism and enlightenment, church starting to lose its grip on society, huge discoveries and scientific/technical/military progresses, the beginning of an increasingly moving world, culminating with the American and French revolutions.
Also, it’s the century during which seafaring reached it’s peak. Every sailing ship was a piece of art in itself, a huge technical and cultural effort. I’m a big fan of them.
So, what’s not to like about that ruthlessly cruel, destructive and yet highly creative century?
Also, I find the 15th century interesting, for the same reasons. It’s a time of renewal, change and discoveries, with the pictural arts starting to shine like a big star in the sky.
Then again, parts of the middle ages are fascinating too, for instance the 12th century, rejuvenating Christianity in a spectacular way (Cistercians, construction of big cathedrals all across Europe, first appearance of universities). Also here, a huge leap in discoveries and inventions, especially in construction techniques.