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

Mary, Queen of Scots.
Famous As: Queen of Scotland
Birthdate: December 8, 1542
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Linlithgow Palace, 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

Anne Boleyn.
Famous As: Marquess of Pembroke
Birthdate: June 30, 1501
Sun Sign: Cancer
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.

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 3 Suleiman The Magnificent

Suleiman The Magnificent.
Famous As: 10th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Birthdate: November 6, 1494
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Trabzon, Ottoman Empire
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.

 4 Catherine de' Medici

Catherine de' Medici.
Famous As: Queen of France
Birthdate: April 13, 1519
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Florence
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

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 5 Elizabeth I of England

Elizabeth I of England.
Famous As: Queen of England
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.

 6 Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible.
Famous As: First Russian Tsar
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

Henry IV of France.
Famous As: King of France, King of Navarre
Birthdate: December 13, 1553
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques
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 Henry VII of England

Henry VII of England.
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: January 28, 1457
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pembroke Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom
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.

 9 King James I

King James I.
Famous As: King of Scotland
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.

 10 Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon.
Famous As: Ambassador
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.

 11 Mary I of England

Mary I of England.
Famous As: Queen of England and Ireland
Birthdate: February 18, 1516
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Palace of Placentia
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’.

 12 Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey.
Famous As: Monarch
Birthdate: 1537 AD
Birthplace: Leicestershire
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.

 13 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
Famous As: Former Holy Roman Emperor
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.

 14 Philip II of Spain

Philip II of Spain.
Famous As: King of Spain
Birthdate: May 21, 1527
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pimentel Palace, 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 Francis II of France

Francis II of France.
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: January 19, 1544
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Fontainebleau
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.

 16 Maharana Pratap

Maharana Pratap.
Famous As: Ruler of Mewar
Birthdate: May 9, 1540
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kumbhalgarh
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.

 17 Catherine Howard

Catherine Howard.
Famous As: Queen of England from (1540-1541)
Birthdate: 1523 AD
Birthplace: Lambeth, London
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

Anne of Cleves.
Famous As: Former Queen of England
Birthdate: September 22, 1515
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Duchy of Berg, Holy Roman Empire
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

Catherine Parr.
Famous As: Queen of England & Ireland
Birthdate: July 31, 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 Oda Nobunaga

Oda Nobunaga.
Famous As: 16th Century Japanese Feudal Lord
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.

 21 Henry II of France

Henry II of France.
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: March 31, 1519
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris
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.

 22 Edward VI of England

Edward VI of England.
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: October 12, 1537
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hampton Court Palace, Molesey, United Kingdom
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.

 23 Mary Tudor, Queen of France

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

 24 Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.
Famous As: King Consort of Scotland (1565-1567)
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.

 25 Henry III of France

Henry III of France.
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: September 19, 1551
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Palace of Fontainebleau, Fontainebleau
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.

 26 Joanna of Castile

Joanna of Castile.
Famous As: Queen
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.

 27 Charles IX of France

Charles IX of France.
Famous As: King of France
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.

 28 Mary Boleyn

Mary Boleyn.
Famous As: Mistress of Henry VIII
Birthdate: 1499 AD
Birthplace: Blickling Hall, Blickling, United Kingdom
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.

 29 Mary of Guise

Mary of Guise.
Famous As: Regent of Scotland
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.

 30 Lady Margaret Beaufort

Lady Margaret Beaufort.
Famous As: Mother of King Henry VII
Birthdate: May 31, 1443
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bletsoe Castle, Bedfordshire, England, United Kingdom
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

 31 James IV of Scotland

James IV of Scotland.
Famous As: King
Birthdate: March 17, 1473
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stirling Castle, Stirling,Scotland, United Kingdom
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

 32 James V of Scotland

James V of Scotland.
Famous As: Former King of Scotland
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.

 33 Selim I

Selim I.
Famous As: ottoman Sultan
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.

 34 Francis I of France

Francis I of France.
Famous As: King of France
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.

 35 Jahangir

Famous As: Mughal Emperor
Birthdate: August 31, 1569
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fatehpur Sikri
Died: November 8, 1627
Prince Salim, son of Mughal emperor Akbar, ruled as Emperor Jahangir from 1605 to 1627. Jahangir was a patron of the arts and architecture, and focused on expansion through war. Fictional accounts of his relationship with a courtesan named Anarkali were later portrayed in literature and movies. 

 36 Murad III

Murad III.
Famous As: Ottoman Sultan
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.

 37 Marie de' Medici

Marie de' Medici.
Famous As: Queen consort of France and Navarre
Birthdate: April 26, 1576
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Tuscany
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. 

 38 Margaret of Valois

Margaret of Valois.
Famous As: Queen consort of France
Birthdate: May 14, 1553
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
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.

 39 Shah Jahan

Shah Jahan.
Famous As: Mughal Emperor
Birthdate: January 5, 1592
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lahore
Died: February 1, 1666

Shah Jahan, emperor Jahangir’s son, ruled as the fifth Mughal emperor, from 1628 to 1658. He is known for commissioning the Taj Mahal for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, among other contributions to Mughal architecture. He was put under house arrest by his son, Aurangzeb, during his final years.

 40 Margaret Tudor

Margaret Tudor.
Famous As: Queen Consort of Scotland
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.

 41 Mariam-uz-Zamani

Famous As: Akbar's Third Wife
Birthdate: 1542 AD
Died: May 19, 1623

Mariam-uz-Zamani, or Jodha Bai, was the wife of Mughal emperor Akbar. She was a Hindu Rajput princess and the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber. Mariam’s marriage to Akbar signified her father’s submission to the Mughal emperor. She was symbolic of the gradual rise of multiculturalism in the Mughal era.

 42 Elisabeth of Valois

Elisabeth of Valois
Famous As: Queen of Spain
Birthdate: April 2, 1545
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Fontainebleau, France
Died: October 3, 1568

 43 Humayun

Famous As: Mughal Emperor
Birthdate: March 17, 1508
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kabul
Died: January 27, 1556

Humayun was the second emperor of the Mughal Empire, which ruled over South Asia for nearly two centuries. At the time of his demise, the empire spanned nearly one million square kilometers. The expansion of the empire under Humayun’s reign helped his son Akbar establish a substantial legacy of his own.

 44 Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor

Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor.
Famous As: King
Birthdate: March 10, 1503
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Alcala de Henares, Spain
Died: July 25, 1564
“Let justice be done, though the world perish” was the motto that Roman Emperor Ferdinand I abided by. His reign was known for his clashes with the Ottomans. His Peace of Augsburg ended religious issues in Germany. An art connoisseur, he invited many architects and humanists to his kingdom.

 45 Atahualpa

Famous As: Last Inca Emperor
Birthdate: 1502 AD
Birthplace: Inca Empire
Died: July 26, 1533

Atahualpa was the last Inca Emperor. He reigned for a short time between 1532 and 1533 before the Spanish conquest ended his reign. The Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro captured Atahualpa and killed him after a while. Even though many brave warriors led the Inca resistance against the invading Spaniards, they could not stop the empire from disintegrating.

 46 Selim II

Selim II.
Famous As: Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
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.

 47 Claude of France

Claude of France
Famous As: French Princess
Birthdate: November 12, 1547
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Fontainebleau, France
Died: February 21, 1575

 48 Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor

Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 18, 1552
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: January 20, 1612

 49 Hurrem Sultan

Hurrem Sultan
Famous As: Queen
Birthdate: 1502 AD
Birthplace: Rohatyn, Ukraine
Died: April 15, 1558

 50 Nurbanu Sultan

Nurbanu Sultan
Famous As: Sultan Selim II
Birthdate: 1525 AD
Died: December 7, 1583