16th Century Leaders

Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Leaders, including Oliver Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Walter Raleigh and John Calvin.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Philip II of Spain

Philip II of Spain
12
Famous As: King of Spain (1556-1598)
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.

 2 Tokugawa Ieyasu

Tokugawa Ieyasu
11
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: January 31, 1543
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Okazaki Castle, Mikawa (now Okazaki, Japan)
Died: June 1, 1616

Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. He is considered one of the three "Great Unifiers" of Japan. He was the son of Matsudaira Hirotada, a minor local warlord. He grew up to be an ambitious young man with exemplary leadership qualities and eventually founded the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. 

 3 Yi Sun-sin

Yi Sun-sin
6
Famous As: Naval Commander
Birthdate: April 28, 1545
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hansung
Died: December 16, 1598

Yi Sun-sin was a Korean military general and admiral best remembered for his famous victories during the Imjin war, where his troops were victorious against the Japanese navy. Since the Imjin war, Yi Sun-sin has been revered in Korea as a national hero. Most of his victories were achieved despite being outnumbered by the enemies.

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 4 Hayreddin Barbarossa

Hayreddin Barbarossa
6
Famous As: Ottoman admiral
Birthdate: 1478 AD
Birthplace: Paleokipos, Greece
Died: July 4, 1546
Remembered as the Pirate of Algiers and Redbeard, legendary Hayreddin Barbarossa from Lesbos, along with his brother Oruç, plundered ships and ports, terrorizing the Mediterranean coast. His exploits led him to become the admiral of the Ottoman Navy. His victory at Preveza remains his most celebrated one.
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 5 Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots
10
Famous As: Queen of Scotland
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.

 6 King James I

King James I
8
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.

 7 Suleiman The Magnificent

Suleiman The Magnificent
6
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.
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 8 Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell
23
Famous As: English Statesman
Birthdate: April 25, 1599
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire, Kingdom of England
Died: September 3, 1658
The Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Oliver Cromwell was a military leader and a devoted Puritan who belonged to an affluent landowning family. During the English Civil War, Cromwell fought against King Charles I and caused the deaths of at least 3,000 soldiers and civilians.

 9 Walter Raleigh

Walter Raleigh
7
Famous As: Politician, Writer, Explorer, Aristocrat
Birthdate: January 22, 1554
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: East Budleigh
Died: October 29, 1618
English explorer Walter Raleigh is best remembered for his involvement in the Siege of Smerwick and for colonizing North America. He made smoking tobacco popular in England. His accounts of his first voyage to South America led to the legend of El Dorado. He was executed to please the Spanish.

 10 Francis Drake

Francis Drake
7
Famous As: Navigator
Birthdate: 1540 AD
Birthplace: Tavistock, Devon, England
Died: January 27, 1596

Francis Drake was an English explorer and naval officer. He is remembered for his Raiding Expedition, a prominent historical maritime event which unfolded between 1577 and 1580. Although Drake is considered a hero in the United Kingdom, his privateering led the Spanish to refer to him as a pirate. His expedition has also had a major cultural impact in Britain.

 11 Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Toyotomi Hideyoshi
8
Famous As: Japanese Samurai
Birthdate: March 17, 1537
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Died: September 18, 1598

Japanese samurai and daimyō Toyotomi Hideyoshi of the Sengoku period, also known as the second Great Unifier of Japan, became the Chancellor of the Realm (Daijō-daijin) and Imperial Regent (kampaku). He constructed the Osaka Castle, banned slavery, and established the Tokugawa class system and the Council of Five Elders.

 12 Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier
5
Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: April 7, 1506
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Javier, Spain
Died: December 3, 1552
Navarrese Catholic missionary and saint Francis Xavier co-founded the Society of Jesus. His mission focused on the Portuguese Empire in Asia. He is remembered for his efforts to spread Christianity in Goa. He extended his mission to Japan and Borneo but died before he could preach in China.

 13 James IV of Scotland

James IV of Scotland
7
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

 14 Cardinal Richelieu

Cardinal Richelieu
9
Famous As: Clergyman, Statesman
Birthdate: September 9, 1585
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 4, 1642

Cardinal Richelieu was a French clergyman and statesman who was active in the early 17th century. He held powerful positions in both the Catholic Church and French government and served as the chief minister to Louis XIII of France in 1624. He helped the French maintain their dominance in the Thirty Years' War that engulfed Europe. 

 15 Lapu-Lapu

Lapu-Lapu
6
Famous As: Chieftain of Mactan, Philippines
Birthdate: 1491 AD
Birthplace: Mactan, Philippines
Died: 1542 AD
Lapu-Lapu, also known as Çilapulapu or Cilapulapu, was a datu of Mactan. He is remembered for his revolt against the Spanish colonizers of the Philippines and is regarded as the first Filipino hero. He defeated Ferdinand Magellan and his allies at the Battle of Mactan in 1521.

 16 Robert Catesby

Robert Catesby
4
Famous As: Conspirator
Birthdate: March 3, 1572
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lapworth, England
Died: November 8, 1605

 17 Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: March 10, 1473
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: August 25, 1554

 18 Piero the Unfortunate

Piero the Unfortunate
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: February 15, 1472
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: December 28, 1503

 19 Francis Walsingham

Francis Walsingham
4
Famous As: Spymaster
Birthdate: 1532 AD
Birthplace: probably Chislehurst, Kent, England
Died: April 6, 1590

 20 Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour

Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: 1508 AD
Birthplace: Wulfhall, United Kingdom
Died: March 20, 1549

 21 Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 1, 1563
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England
Died: May 24, 1612

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury was a British statesman best remembered for his contribution during the Union of the Crowns. One of the main discoverers of the infamous Gunpowder Plot, Robert Cecil served as the Lord High Treasurer from 1608 to 1612. From 1596 to 1612, he served as the Secretary of State of England.

 22 Grace O'Malley

Grace O'Malley
5
Famous As: Pirate
Birthdate: 1530 AD
Birthplace: Umhaill, Ireland
Died: June 18, 1603

 23 Kösem Sultan

Kösem Sultan
6
Famous As: Ottoman sultana
Birthdate: 1589 AD
Birthplace: Tinos, Republic of Venice (currently the territory of Greece)
Died: September 2, 1651

 24 Pope Paul III

Pope Paul III
3
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: February 29, 1468
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Canino, Italy
Died: November 10, 1549

 25 Akechi Mitsuhide

Akechi Mitsuhide
3
Famous As: Samurai
Birthdate: March 10, 1528
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gife Prefecture
Died: July 2, 1582

 26 Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor

Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 18, 1552
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: January 20, 1612

Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor reigned as the King of the Romans and as the King in Germany between 1576 and 1612. Best remembered as an intellectual aficionado of occult arts, Rudolf is often seen as the founding father of the Scientific Revolution. He devoted his time to astrology and alchemy in an attempt to find the Philosopher's Stone.

 27 Bairam Khan

Bairam Khan
3
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: January 18, 1501
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Badakhshan
Died: January 31, 1561

 28 Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester

Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 24, 1532
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: September 4, 1588

 29 Akbar

Akbar
2
Famous As: Mughal Emperor
Birthdate: October 14, 1542
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Umarkot, Pakistan
Died: October 27, 1605

Akbar, the third Mughal emperor, played an important role in inculcating Persian culture into the Indian subcontinent. Akbar is considered one of the most important rulers of the Mughal Empire, an empire that seeped foreign ideas and culture into medieval India, the effects of which are still visible in modern-day India, especially in the northern parts of the country.

 30 Cesare Beccaria

Cesare Beccaria
3
Famous As: Jurist
Birthdate: March 15, 1738
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Milan
Died: November 28, 1794

Cesare Beccaria was an 18th-century Italian criminologist, philosopher, jurist, and politician. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment. He is still remembered for his treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764), a pioneering work in the field of penology. He is considered the father of modern criminal law. 

 31 Hiawatha

Hiawatha
3
Famous As: Orator
Birthdate: 1525 AD
Birthplace: United States
Died: 1595 AD

 32 Boris Godunov

Boris Godunov
3
Famous As: Tsar of Russia
Birthdate: 1551 AD
Died: April 23, 1605

 33 Birbal

Birbal
6
Famous As: Advisor
Birthdate: 1528 AD
Birthplace: Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: 1586 AD

 34 Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt
3
Famous As: Poet & Politician
Birthdate: 1503 AD
Birthplace: Allington, England
Died: October 11, 1542

 35 William the Silent

William the Silent
6
Famous As: Dutch prince
Birthdate: April 24, 1533
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dillenburg, Germany
Died: July 10, 1584

William the Silent played an important role in the Dutch Revolt where he led a group of fighters against the Spanish Habsburgs. The revolt resulted in the Eighty Years' War, which in turn paved the way for the independence of the United Provinces. Thanks to his efforts during the Dutch Revolt, William is referred to as Father of the Fatherland.    

 36 Francis, Duke of Anjou

Francis, Duke of Anjou
5
Famous As: Duke
Birthdate: March 18, 1555
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fontainebleau, France
Died: June 10, 1584

 37 Francis de Sales

Francis de Sales
3
Famous As: Bishop
Birthdate: August 21, 1567
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Château de Sales, Thorens-Glières, France
Died: December 28, 1622

Called the Gentleman Saint for his tenderness and patience, Francis de Sales was a Catholic priest and Bishop of Geneva (1602-1622). Canonized in 1665, he was later proclaimed Doctor of the Church for his contribution to theology and patron of writers and journalists for his extensive use of broadsheets and books. He also invented sign languages for teaching the deaf.

 38 John Hawkins

John Hawkins
4
Famous As: Privateer
Birthdate: November 30, 1532
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Plymouth, Devon, England
Died: November 12, 1595

 39 Pier Gerlofs Donia

Pier Gerlofs Donia
3
Famous As: Pirate
Birthdate: 1480 AD
Birthplace: Kimswerd, Frisia, Netherlands
Died: October 28, 1520

Pier Gerlofs Donia was a Frisian rebel leader and pirate, whose life is shrouded in mystery. He was said to be a big, strong man with a dark complexion. He led an armed band, known as the Arumer Zwarte Hoop, against the Hollanders and Burgundians at sea and targeted ships that traveled the Zuiderzee. He died in 1520. 

 40 Hasekura Tsunenaga

Hasekura Tsunenaga
3
Famous As: diplomat
Birthdate: 1571 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: August 7, 1622

 41 Uesugi Kenshin

Uesugi Kenshin
3
Famous As: Samurai
Birthdate: February 18, 1530
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Echigo Province
Died: April 19, 1578

Uesugi Kenshin was one of the most influential 16th-century Japanese military figures and a daimyō of the Sengoku period. His military prowess earned him the nickname Dragon of Echigo. Born Nagao Torachiyo, he changed his name after defeated leader Uesugi Norimasa took refuge in his home and adopted him.

 42 Michael I of Russia

Michael I of Russia
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1596
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: July 12, 1645

 43 Christian IV of Denmark

Christian IV of Denmark
3
Famous As: King
Birthdate: April 12, 1577
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerød, Denmark
Died: February 28, 1648

 44 Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé

Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé
4
Famous As: General
Birthdate: May 7, 1530
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vendôme, France
Died: March 13, 1569

 45 Louis, Prince of Conde

Louis, Prince of Conde
4
Famous As: Prince
Birthdate: May 7, 1530
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vendôme, France
Died: March 13, 1569

 46 Miguel López de Legazpi

Miguel López de Legazpi
3
Famous As: explorer, military personnel
Birthdate: 1502 AD
Birthplace: Zumárraga
Died: August 20, 1572

 47 Hong Taiji

Hong Taiji
3
Famous As: Emperor
Birthdate: November 28, 1592
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Manchuria, China
Died: September 21, 1643

Hong Taiji reigned as the khan of the Later Jin from 1626 to 1636. He is credited with establishing the Qing dynasty and reigned as its emperor from 1636 to 1643. He also played a major role in consolidating the empire founded by his father Nurhaci. Over the years, Hong Taiji has been portrayed in many TV series and films.

 48 John Winthrop

John Winthrop
3
Famous As: Politician, Theologian
Birthdate: January 12, 1588
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Edwardstone, Suffolk, England
Died: March 26, 1649

John Winthrop was a British Puritan lawyer who played a major role in the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The colony was the second major settlement after Plymouth Colony in New England. A respected political figure, Winthrop has been cited by many modern-day politicians like Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Sarah Palin.

 49 Daniel Morgan

Daniel Morgan
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 6, 1736
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hunterdon County, New Jersey, United States
Died: July 6, 1802

 50 John Dudley, duke of Northumberland

John Dudley, duke of Northumberland
3
Famous As: General
Birthdate: 1504 AD
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: August 22, 1553