16th Century Historical Personalities

Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Historical Personalities, including Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I of England, Mary I of England, James VI and I and Anne Boleyn.

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 1 
Mary, Queen of Scots
(Queen of Scotland (1542 - 1567))

Mary, Queen of Scots
39
Birthdate: December 8, 1542
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Linlithgow Palace, Linlithgow, Scotland
Died: February 8, 1587

Mary, Queen of Scots was the ruler of Scotland till 24 July 1567. After an uprising against her, Mary sought protection from her first cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. However, the Queen perceived her as a threat and kept Mary in confinement for eighteen and a half years. Ultimately Mary was beheaded for plotting to assassinate the Queen.

 2 
Anne Boleyn
(Queen of England (1533 – 1536))

Anne Boleyn
34
Birthdate: 1507 AD
Birthplace: Hever Castle, Kent, England
Died: May 19, 1536

The queen of England from 1533 to 1536, Anne Boleyn played an important role in the political and religious upheaval that led to the beginning of the English Reformation. She is widely regarded as the most important and influential queen consort of England. She was charged with adultery, incest, and treason and was executed by beheading in 1536.

 3 
Elizabeth I of England
(Queen of England)

Elizabeth I of England
22
Birthdate: September 7, 1533
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Palace of Placentia
Died: March 24, 1603
Elizabeth I, daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, ruled as the Queen of England and Ireland from 1558 to 1603. She had been declared illegitimate after her mother’s execution. Nicknamed The Virgin Queen for her unmarried status, she established an English Protestant church and served as its governor.
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 4 
Suleiman The Magnificent
(Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (1520-1566))

Suleiman The Magnificent
34
Birthdate: November 6, 1494
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Trabzon, Turkey
Died: September 6, 1566
Suleiman The Magnificent ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566 and was instrumental in the empire’s expansion, leading the conquests of Belgrade, Rhodes, and Hungary. He was a patron of art and culture, and a talented poet and goldsmith himself. He married Roxelana, a Christian-turned-Muslim from his harem.
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 5 
Catherine de' Medici
(Queen of France (1547-1559))

Catherine de' Medici
21
Birthdate: April 13, 1519
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: January 5, 1589

Catherine de' Medici was an Italian noblewoman who played a key role in the political affairs of France during the rule of her sons, a period which came to be known as the age of Catherine de' Medici. Catherine is credited with saving the monarchy from deposition during the French Wars of Religion

 6 
Ivan the Terrible
(Grand Prince of Moscow (1533-1547))

Ivan the Terrible
24
Birthdate: August 25, 1530
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kolomenskoye, Moscow, Russia
Died: March 28, 1584
Ivan the Terrible, son of Vasili III, served as the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 to 1547. The “Chosen Council” declared him the tsar at 16 and established the Tsardom of Russia. Ivan’s reign was known for wars such as the Livonian War, which damaged Russia’s economy. 

 7 
Henry IV of France
(King of France (1589-1610))

Henry IV of France
12
Birthdate: December 13, 1553
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pau, France
Died: May 14, 1610

Henry IV of France reigned as the King of France from 2 August 1589 until his death on 14 May 1610. Remembered for his concern about the welfare of the people of France, Henry worked to eliminate corruption, promote agriculture, encourage education, and regularize state finance. The character of Ferdinand in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost was loosely based on Henry.

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 8 
Isabella I of Castile
(Queen of Castile (1474-1504))

Isabella I of Castile
9
Birthdate: April 22, 1451
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain
Died: November 26, 1504
Isabella I, the 15th-century queen of Castile and Leon and the wife of Ferdinand II, was the first Queen of Spain de facto. She was named a Servant of God by the Catholic Church and reformed the government, thus reducing crimes. She also funded Christopher Columbus's voyages to the Americas.

 9 
Henry VIII of England
(King of England)

Henry VIII of England
25
Birthdate: June 28, 1491
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kent, England
Died: January 28, 1547

Henry VIII, the second monarch of the Tudor dynasty, ruled England from 1509 to 1547. He married six times, leading to differences with the Roman Catholic Church, which prohibited divorce, thus forming the Anglican Church. The "father of the Royal Navy," he was known for his tyranny and extravagance.

 10 
Henry VII of England
(Monarch of England (1485-1509))

Henry VII of England
29
Birthdate: January 28, 1457
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pembroke Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Died: April 21, 1509

Henry VII of England played an important role in popularizing the House of Tudor by becoming the first monarch of the house; he ruled as the king of England from 1485 until his death in 1509. He is credited with several economic, diplomatic, and administrative initiatives.

 11 
King James I
(King of Scotland)

King James I
11
Birthdate: June 19, 1566
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Died: March 27, 1625

King James I of England and Ireland was also the king of Scotland as James VI. Son of Mary, Queen of Scots, he believed in royal absolutism. He had major conflicts with the Parliament and its ever-growing powers, which eventually led to revolts against his successor, Charles I.

 12 
Mary I of England
(Queen of England & Ireland)

Mary I of England
25
Birthdate: February 18, 1516
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Palace of Placentia, England
Died: November 17, 1558

Mary I, the queen of England from 1553-1558, is remembered as the ruler who sought to return England to the Catholic Church. She persecuted many Protestants and got nearly 300 of them burned at the stake. Most of them were common citizens. Many also died in prison and hundreds fled the country. This earned her the ignominious nickname ‘Bloody Mary’.

 13 
Elizabeth of York
(Queen of England (1486-1503))

Elizabeth of York
22
Birthdate: February 11, 1466
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 11, 1503
Elizabeth of York, daughter of King Edward IV and wife of Henry VII of the Tudor Dynasty, was the queen consort of England from 1486 until 1503. She and Henry got married after Henry won at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1486, thus ending the Wars of the Roses

 14 
Philip II of Spain
(King of Spain (1556-1598))

Philip II of Spain
15
Birthdate: May 21, 1527
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Valladolid, Spain
Died: September 13, 1598
Philip II, son of Charles V, was a 16-th century king of Spain and Portugal. Also known as Philip the Prudent, he became the king of Ireland and England through his marriage to Mary I. Following Mary’s death, he attempted to overthrow Elizabeth I with his armada invasions, but failed.

 15 
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
(Former Holy Roman Emperor)

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
11
Birthdate: February 24, 1500
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ghent
Died: September 21, 1558

Charles V served as the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Italy, and King of Germany from 1519 to 1556. From 1516 to 1556, he ruled as the King of Spain. His personal union of the American and European territories was the first collection of kingdoms that were described the empire on which the Sun never sets.

 16 
Lady Jane Grey
(Queen of England (10 July 1553 - 19 July 1553))

Lady Jane Grey
11
Birthdate: October 1, 1537
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Leicestershire, England
Died: February 12, 1554
Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days' Queen, was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 10 to 19, 1553. Jane, a Protestant, was nominated to the Crown, owing to Roman Catholic Mary’s opposition to the Reformed Church of England. However, Jane was deposed, convicted of high treason, and executed.

 17 
Catherine Howard
(Queen of England (1540-1541))

Catherine Howard
12
Birthdate: 1521 AD
Birthplace: Lambeth, London, England
Died: February 13, 1542
Catherine Howard, England’s queen consort from 1540 until 1541, was Henry VIII’s fifth wife. She was a cousin of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. In November 1541, Catherine was stripped of the queen’s title and imprisoned. She was later beheaded on charges of adultery with her cousin Thomas Culpeper.

 18 
Anne of Cleves
(Queen of England (1540))

Anne of Cleves
7
Birthdate: September 22, 1515
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Germany
Died: July 16, 1557

Anne of Cleves was the Queen of England for 6 months in 1540, as the fourth wife of King Henry VIII. Their unconsummated marriage deprived led to the annulment of the marriage, following which she received a settlement and came to be known as the King's Beloved Sister.

 19 
Catherine Parr
(Queen of England & Ireland)

Catherine Parr
7
Birthdate: September 22, 1515, 1512
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London
Died: September 7, 1548
Catherine Parr, the most-married English queen, was the queen of England and Ireland from 1543 to 1547, as the last wife of King Henry VIII. She influenced the passing of the 1543 Third Succession Act. She was also the first English queen to publish a book using her own name.

 20 
Francis II of France
(King of France (1559-1560))

Francis II of France
12
Birthdate: January 19, 1544
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Fontainebleau, France
Died: December 5, 1560
Francis II, son of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici, reigned as the king of France from 1559 to 1560. He took over the throne at age 15, after his father’s death. His reign witnessed conflicts between the Protestants and the Catholics, including coups such as the Amboise Conspiracy.

 21 
Oda Nobunaga
(16th Century Japanese Feudal Lord)

Oda Nobunaga
15
Birthdate: June 23, 1534
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nagoya Castle, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Died: June 21, 1582
Oda Nobunaga was a 16th-century Japanese leader of the Sengoku period. Known as the “Great Unifier" of Japan, he overthrew Ashikaga Yoshiaki and dissolved the Ashikaga Shogunate. He also crushed the Ikkō-ikki rebels and conquered Honshu. He was later ambushed and forced to commit “seppuku,” a form of ritual suicide.

 22 
Margaret Tudor
(Queen Consort of Scotland)

Margaret Tudor
9
Birthdate: November 28, 1489
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Westminster Palace, London, Middlesex, Kingdom of England
Died: October 18, 1541
Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII of England, served as the Queen consort of Scotland, as wife of James IV, from 1503 to 1513. Following her husband’s death, she served as the regent till 1515. She was the great-grandmother of Scottish king James VI, or James I of England.

Mary Tudor, Queen of France
7
Birthdate: March 18, 1496
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sheen Palace, London, England
Died: June 25, 1533

 24 
Edward VI of England
(King of England (1547-1553))

Edward VI of England
23
Birthdate: October 12, 1537
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 6, 1553

Edward VI of England served as the King of England and Ireland from 1547 until his death at the age of 15 in 1553. Edward VI, who took interest in religious matters, allowed Protestantism to be established in England during his reign. His reign also witnessed the introduction of written works that formed the basis for practices of the English Church.

 25 
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
(King Consort of Scotland (1565-1567))

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
7
Birthdate: December 7, 1545
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Temple Newsam, Yorkshire, England
Died: February 10, 1567
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was the great-grandson of King Henry VII of England. As the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, he reigned as the king of Scotland from 1565 till his murder in 1567. His son ruled as King James VI of Scotland and I of England.

 26 
Henry II of France
(King of France (1547-1559))

Henry II of France
11
Birthdate: March 31, 1519
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died: July 10, 1559
Henry II, son of Francis I, reigned as the king of France from 1547 to 1559. Though he achieved the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, which ended the Italian Wars, he died as a result of a would inflicted by Gabriel de Montgomery during a jousting event to celebrate the same.

 27 
Kösem Sultan
(Ottoman sultana)

Kösem Sultan
7
Birthdate: 1589 AD
Birthplace: Tinos, Republic of Venice (currently the territory of Greece)
Died: September 2, 1651

 28 
Cesare Borgia
(Cardinal)

Cesare Borgia
5
Birthdate: September 13, 1475
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rome, Papal States
Died: March 12, 1507
Italian politician and condottiero Cesare Borgia was an illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI. He is said to have inspired The Prince by Machiavelli. He was also the first to resign a cardinalate, after his brother died in 1498. He was also the Duke of Valentinois from 1498 to 1507.

 29 
Charles IX of France
(King of France (1560-1574))

Charles IX of France
9
Birthdate: June 27, 1550
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died: May 30, 1574

Becoming the King of France at the age 10, Charles IX presided over a kingdom which was torn apart by the Wars of Religion between Protestants and Catholics. The infamous massacre of Huguenot leaders in Paris, instigated by his mother Catherine, left a traumatic effect on the mind of the ruler who succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 23.

 30 
Joanna of Castile
(Queen of Aragon)

Joanna of Castile
7
Birthdate: November 6, 1479
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Toledo, Spain
Died: April 12, 1555
Joanna, the 16th-century queen of Castile and Aragon, also known as "Joanna the Mad," was declared insane and locked up at the Royal Convent of Santa Clara by her father. Following her father’s death, she nominally co-ruled the kingdom with her son, Charles I, but remained imprisoned till her death.

 31 
Henry III of France
(King of France (1574-1589))

Henry III of France
8
Birthdate: September 19, 1551
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Château de Fontainebleau, France
Died: August 2, 1589

Henry III of France was the King of France from 1574 to 1589. He also served as the Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland from 1573 to 1575. Henry was known for his alleged sexual relationships with men. Although certain reports have claimed that the allegations were false, he is sometimes depicted in popular culture as being effeminate.

 32 
Ferdinand II of Aragon
(King of Aragon (1479-1516))

Ferdinand II of Aragon
6
Birthdate: March 10, 1452
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sos del Rey Católico, Spain
Died: January 23, 1516

Ferdinand II of Aragon reigned as the King of Aragon from 1479 until his death in 1516. He sponsored Christopher Columbus' first voyage and therefore is credited with playing a key role in the discovery of the New World. He has been depicted in several films, including Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and Assassin's Creed.

 33 
Mary Boleyn
(Mistress of Henry VIII)

Mary Boleyn
10
Birthdate: 1499 AD
Birthplace: Blickling, Norfolk, England
Died: July 19, 1543

Mary Boleyn was the sister of Anne Boleyn. As a sibling of the English queen consort, Boleyn enjoyed considerable influence during King Henry VIII's reign. Also known for her affairs with Henry VIII and King Francis I of France, Boleyn has been the subject of films, such as The Other Boleyn Girl in which she was portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.

 34 
Hausa Queen Amina
(Queen of Nigeria)

Hausa Queen Amina
6
Birthdate: 1533 AD
Birthplace: Zaria, Nigeria
Died: 1610 AD

Nigerian warrior queen Amina ruled the 16th-century city-state Zazzau at a time when women leaders were hard to come by. Her 34-year-old reign saw her expanding her kingdom and developing trade routes. Some believe she was merely a mythical figure, but remnants of the walls she had built prove otherwise.

 35 
Mary of Guise
(Queen consort of Scotland (1538-42))

Mary of Guise
5
Birthdate: November 22, 1515
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bar-le-Duc, France
Died: June 11, 1560
Mary of Guise, or Mary of Lorraine, was the regent of Scotland from 1554 until her death in 1542. She was the wife of King James V of Scotland and the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots. Her main objective was to maintain healthy ties between France and Scotland.

 36 
Catherine of Aragon
( First Wife of King Henry VIII)

Catherine of Aragon
12
Birthdate: December 16, 1485
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Archbishop's Palace of Alcalá de Henares, Alcala de Henares, Spain
Died: January 7, 1536

Catherine of Aragon was one of the most popular English royal consorts of all time. A patron of Renaissance humanism, she gained widespread admiration for starting a program for the relief of the poor. A woman who was ahead of her time, Catherine commissioned The Education of a Christian Woman, a controversial book promoting women's right to education.

 37 
Lady Margaret Beaufort
(Mother of King Henry VII, Noblewoman)

Lady Margaret Beaufort
5
Birthdate: May 31, 1443
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bletsoe Castle, Bedfordshire, England
Died: June 29, 1509
Lady Margaret Beaufort, descendant of King Edward III, was a significant figure during the Wars of the Roses. She laid the foundation of the Tudor Dynasty by helping her son, Henry Tudor, acquire the English throne. She also established the Cambridge institutes Christ's College and St. John's College

 38 
Moctezuma II
(Emperor of Aztec Empire (1502-1520))

Moctezuma II
5
Birthdate: 1466 AD
Birthplace: Tenochtitlan, Mexico
Died: June 29, 1520

 39 
Maharana Pratap
(13th Rana of Mewar (1572-1597))

Maharana Pratap
21
Birthdate: May 9, 1540
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rajsamand District, Rajasthan, India
Died: January 19, 1597
Maharana Pratap, son of Maharana Udai Singh, ruled the Indian region of Mewar, in modern-day Rajasthan, from 1572 to 1597. Also known as “Mewari Rana,” he is best remembered for his exploits at the Battle of Haldighati, against the Mughal army of Akbar, led by Man Singh I of Amer.

 40 
Selim I
(ottoman Sultan)

Selim I
6
Birthdate: October 10, 1470
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Amasya, Ottoman Empire, Turkey
Died: September 22, 1520

Selim I reigned as the ninth Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Although his reign lasted only eight years, Selim I is credited for the vast expansion of the Ottoman Empire; his conquest of the entire Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt is widely regarded as his best achievement. A hardworking ruler, Selim was one of the most respected emperors of the Empire.

 41 
James V of Scotland
(Former King of Scotland)

James V of Scotland
10
Birthdate: April 10, 1512
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Linlithgow Palace, Linlithgow, United Kingdom
Died: December 14, 1542
James V was the son of Scottish King James IV and Margaret Tudor, Henry VII's daughter. He ruled Scotland from 1513 till his death following his loss at the Battle of Solway Moss. His daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, succeeded him, supported by regents, when she was 6 days old.

 42 
Selim II
(Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)

Selim II
6
Birthdate: May 28, 1524
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Topkapi Palace Museum, İstanbul, Turkey
Died: December 15, 1574

Known as a generous Ottoman monarch, Selim II was the successor of the empire’s longest-reigning sultan, Suleiman I. His reign saw his navy decisively defeated by the Holy League in the Battle of Lepanto before the Ottomans regained control of Tunis from Spain. Selim, who was married to Nurbanu Sultan, was noted for helping his subjects during a severe famine.

 43 

Hurrem Sultan
4
Birthdate: 1502 AD
Birthplace: Rohatyn, Ukraine
Died: April 15, 1558

 44 
Francis I of France
(King of France)

Francis I of France
11
Birthdate: September 12, 1494
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Royal Castle of Cognac, Cognac, France
Died: March 31, 1547

Francis I, son of Charles, Count of Angoulême, was the king of France from 1515 to 1547. He was an art connoisseur and invited Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci to his court. His contribution to the promotion of French language earned him the title Father and Restorer of Letters.

 45 
James IV of Scotland
(King of Scotland (1488-1513))

James IV of Scotland
5
Birthdate: March 17, 1473
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stirling, Scotland
Died: September 9, 1513

James IV of Scotland reigned as the king of Scotland from 1488 until his death in 1513. Although his reign ended at the Battle of Flodden, where he was defeated, James is widely considered the most successful monarch of Scotland from the House of Stewart

 46 
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
(Holy Roman Emperor (1508-1519))

Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
5
Birthdate: March 22, 1459
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wiener Neustadt, Austria
Died: January 12, 1519

Maximilian I  was Holy Roman Emperor from 1508 until his death in 1519. The son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and Eleanor of Portugal, he ruled jointly with his father for the last years of the latter’s reign. During his reign, he expanded the influence of the House of Habsburg and established the Habsburg dynasty in Spain. 

 47 
Murad III
(Ottoman Sultan)

Murad III
6
Birthdate: July 4, 1546
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Manisa, Turkey
Died: December 31, 1595
Murad III, son of Şehzade Selim and Nurbanu Sultan, was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1574 to 1595. He was dominated by his mother and his harem, particularly by his favorite wife, Safiye Sultan. He also fought wars with the Safavid Empire and was an art connoisseur.

 48 
Marie de' Medici
(Queen of France and Navarre (1600-10))

Marie de' Medici
4
Birthdate: April 26, 1575
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: July 3, 1642
Queen Marie de Médicis, the second wife of Henry IV of France, acted as the regent for her son till he came of age. An art connoisseur, she built the Luxembourg Palace in Paris. Known for her affinity for Concino Concini, she was eventually exiled for her excesses. 

 49 
Philip III of Spain
(King of Spain (1598-1621))

Philip III of Spain
6
Birthdate: April 14, 1578
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
Died: March 31, 1621

Philip III of Spain was the king of Spain from 1598 to 1621. He also reigned over Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia as Philip II. He was the son of Philip II of Spain and Anna of Austria. He was believed to be a weak man, who relied too much on his corrupt chief minister, the Duke of Lerma.

 50 
Margaret of Valois
(Queen consort of Navarre (1572-1599), Queen consort of France (1589-1599))

Margaret of Valois
4
Birthdate: May 14, 1553
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died: March 27, 1615
Margaret of Valois, queen of Navarre and France, is remembered for her historically significant Memoirs, which throws light on major events such as the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. She did not allow her husband, Henry III, to annul their childless marriage till the death of Henry’s mistress.