16th century (1500 – 1600 AD)

16th century

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Millennium: 2nd millennium
Decades: 1500s 1510s 1520s 1530s 1540s
1550s 1560s 1570s 1580s 1590s
Categories: Births – Deaths
Establishments – Disestablishments

This world map by Gerardus Mercator (1587) besides the classical continents EuropeAfrica andAsia shows the Americas as America sive India Nova,New Guinea and other islands of Southeast Asia as well as an Antarctic continent and a yet undeterminedTerra Australis.

Sculpture of a male nude
The Statue of David, completed byMichelangelo in 1504, is one of the most renowned works of the Renaissance
Portrait of a young woman, with a subtle smile, well-groomed and calm.
Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1503–1506, one of the world’s most well-known paintings.
Millennium: 2nd millennium
Decades: 1500s 1510s 1520s 1530s 1540s
1550s 1560s 1570s 1580s 1590s
Categories: Births – Deaths
Establishments – Disestablishments

The 16th century begins with the Julian year 1501 and ends with either the Julian or the Gregorian year 1600 (depending on the reckoning used; the Gregorian calendar introduced a lapse of 10 days in October 1582).[1]

It is regarded by historians as the century in which the rise of the West occurred. During the 16th century, Spain and Portugalexplored the world’s seas and opened world-wide oceanic trade routes. Large parts of the New World became Spanish and Portuguese colonies, and while the Portuguese became the masters of Asia’s and Africa’s Indian Ocean trade, the Spanish opened trade across the Pacific Ocean, linking the Americas with Asia.

In Europe, the Protestant Reformation gave a major blow to the authority of the papacy and the Roman Catholic Church. European politics became dominated by religious conflicts, with the groundwork for the epochal Thirty Years’ War being laid towards the end of the century.

In the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire continued to expand, with the Sultan taking the title of Caliph, while dealing with a resurgent Persia. Iran and Iraq were caught by major popularity of the once-obscure Shiite sect of Islam under the rule of theSafavid dynasty of warrior-mystics, providing grounds for a Persia independent of the majority-Sunni Muslim world.

China evacuated the coastal areas, because of Japanese piracy. Japan was suffering under a severe civil war at the time.

Mughal Emperor Akbar extended the power of the Mughal Empire to cover most of the Indian sub continent. His rule significantly influenced arts, and culture in the region.

Copernicus proposed the heliocentric universe, which was met with strong resistance, and Tycho Brahe refuted the theory ofcelestial spheres through observational measurement of the 1572 appearance of a Milky Way supernova. These events directly challenged the long-held notion of an immutable universe supported by Ptolemy and Aristotle, and led to major revolutions inastronomy and science.




For timelines of earlier events, see 15th century and Timeline of the Middle Ages.


Portrait of a Woman byBartolomeo Veneto, traditionally assumed to beLucrezia Borgia. She was the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI.

Ferdinand Magellan led the first expedition thatcircumnavigated the globe in 1519–1522.


Gun-wielding OttomanJanissaries and defendingKnights of Saint John at theSiege of Rhodes in 1522, from an Ottoman manuscript.

Spanish conquistadors with their Tlaxcallan allies fighting against the Otomies of Metztitlan in present day Mexico, a 16th-century codex


Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain.





Hans EworthQueen Mary, c. 1555-1558


School of François Clouet, c. 1560–1561, Mary, Queen of Scots.

Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, the Iron Duke of Alba. Governor of the Netherlands from 1567 to 1573



Portrait of Ivan the Terrible

George Gower, c. 1588,Queen Elizabeth I of England


Significant people[edit]


See also: Exploration

Visual artists[edit]

Musicians and Composers[edit]


Science and Philosophy[edit]

Inventions, discoveries, introductions[edit]

Related article: List of 16th century inventions.

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ Modern reference works on the period tend to follow the introduction of the Gregorian calendar for the sake of clarity; thus NASA’s lunar eclipse cataloguestates “The Gregorian calendar is used for all dates from 1582 Oct 15 onwards. Before that date, the Julian calendar is used.” For dates after 15 October 1582, care must be taken to avoid confusion of the two styles.
  2. Jump up^ Polybius: “The Rise Of The Roman Empire”, Page 36, Penguin, 1979.
  3. Jump up^ “16th Century Timeline (1501 to 1600)”. fsmitha.com. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009.
  4. Jump up^ “History of Smallpox – Smallpox Through the Ages”Texas Department of State Health Services.
  5. Jump up^ Ricklefs (1991), p.23
  6. Jump up^ “A LIST OF NATIONAL EPIDEMICS OF PLAGUE IN ENGLAND 1348-1665”.Archived from the original on 2009-05-03. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  7. Jump up to:a b Ricklefs (1991), page 24
  8. Jump up^ The Sweating SicknessStory of London.. Accessed 2009-04-25. Archived2009-05-03.
  9. Jump up^ Sandra Arlinghaus. “Life Span of Suleiman the Magnificent 1494-1566”. Personal.umich.edu. Retrieved 2013-05-05.
  10. Jump up to:a b c d e Ricklefs (1991), page 25
  11. Jump up^ “La Terra De Hochelaga – Jaques Cartier a Hochelaga”. jacquescarter.org. Archived from the original on December 23, 2008.
  12. Jump up^ “The Lusiads”World Digital Library. 1800–1882. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
  13. Jump up^ Miller, George (ed.) (1996). To The Spice Islands and Beyond: Travels in Eastern Indonesia. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. page xv. ISBN 967-65-3099-9.
  14. Jump up^ Luc-Normand Tellier (2009). “Urban world history: an economic and geographical perspective“. PUQ. p.308. ISBN 2-7605-1588-5
  15. Jump up to:a b c d e f Ricklefs (1991), page 27
  16. Jump up to:a b Ricklefs (1991), page 28
  17. Jump up^ Stoica, Vasile (1919). The Roumanian Question: The Roumanians and their Lands. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Printing Company. p. 18.
  18. Jump up^ Drake (1978, p.1). The date of Galileo’s birth is given according to the Julian calendar, which was then in force throughout the whole of Christendom. In 1582 it was replaced in Italy and several other Catholic countries with the Gregorian calendar. Unless otherwise indicated, dates in this article are given according to the Gregorian calendar.

Decades and years[edit]

External links[edit]

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