16th Century Leaders

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Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Leaders, including Oliver Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Walter Raleigh and John Calvin.
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 1 
Philip II of Spain
(King of Spain (1556 - 1598), King of Portugal (1580 - 1598))
Philip II of Spain
20
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
(Military Leader)
Tokugawa Ieyasu
16
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
(Naval Commander)
Yi Sun-sin
6
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
(Ottoman Navy Admiral )
Hayreddin Barbarossa
8
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 
King James I
(King of Scotland)
King James I
8
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.

 6 
Francis Drake
(Best Known for His Circumnavigation of the World in a Single Expedition)
Francis Drake
4
Birthdate: 1540 AD
Birthplace: Tavistock, Devon, England
Died: January 28, 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.

 7 
Oliver Cromwell
(English Statesman)
Oliver Cromwell
26
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.
 8 
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
(Japanese Samurai)
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
8
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.

 9 
Francis Xavier
(Missionary)
Francis Xavier
6
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.
 10 
Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk
(English Military Leader and Courtier)
Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk
4
Birthdate: 1484 AD
Birthplace: Guildford, England, United kingdom
Died: August 22, 1545
Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk was the brother-in-law of King Henry VIII of England, through his third wife, Mary Tudor. He was sent by Henry to fix Mary’s marriage to King Francis I of France, but married her himself instead. He received viscountcy for the 1513 campaign against France.
 11 
William the Silent
(Main Leader of the Dutch Revolt Against the Spanish Habsburgs that Set off the Eighty Years' War)
William the Silent
6
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.    

 12 
Lapu-Lapu
(Chieftain of Mactan, Philippines)
Lapu-Lapu
6
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.
 13 
Cardinal Richelieu
(French Clergyman and First Minister of State (1624 - 1642))
Cardinal Richelieu
13
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. 

 14 
Akechi Mitsuhide
(Japanese Samurai General of the Sengoku Period Best Known as the Assassin of Oda Nobunaga)
Akechi Mitsuhide
3
Birthdate: March 10, 1528
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gife Prefecture
Died: July 2, 1582
Akechi Mitsuhide was a Japanese samurai general who lived during the Sengoku period. He is best remembered as the assassin of Oda Nobunaga, a Japanese daimyo and leading figure of the Sengoku period. Mitsuhide served as a general under Nobunaga during the latter's war of political unification. He betrayed Mitsuhide, forcing him to perform seppuku in Kyoto. 
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
4
Birthdate: March 10, 1473
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: August 25, 1554
 16 
John Winthrop
(Politician, Theologian)
John Winthrop
3
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.

 17 
Grace O'Malley
6
Birthdate: 1530 AD
Birthplace: Umhaill, Ireland
Died: June 18, 1603

Part of Irish folklore, Grace O'Malley was known as The Pirate Queen. Born into a seafaring family and was known for her unrelenting attitude toward the English. Known for her exploits in the Nine Years' War, she refused to bow down to Queen Elizabeth, as she herself was a queen.

 18 
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
(Former Secretary of State of England (1596 - 1612))
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
3
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.

Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester
5
Birthdate: June 24, 1532
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: September 4, 1588
Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor
3
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.

 21 
Date Masamune
(Regional Ruler of Japan’s Azuchi–Momoyama Period Through Early Edo Period)
Date Masamune
3
Birthdate: September 5, 1567
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Yonezawa, Yamagata, Japan
Died: June 27, 1636
 22 
James IV of Scotland
(King of Scotland from 1488 to 1513)
James IV of Scotland
7
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

 23 
Bairam Khan
(Military personnel)
Bairam Khan
3
Birthdate: January 18, 1501
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Badakhshan
Died: January 31, 1561
 24 
Sher Shah Suri
(1st Sultan of the Suri Empire)
Sher Shah Suri
3
Birthdate: 1486 AD
Birthplace: Sasaram, India
Died: May 22, 1545
Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri, the founder of the Suri Empire, established the rupee as the Indian currency. He was initially part of Babur’s Mughal army and then became the governor of Bihar. He is also remembered for developing Humayun's Dina-panah city, reviving Pataliputra, and extending the Grand Trunk Road.
 25 
Thomas Wyatt
(Politician and Poet Known for Introducing the 'Sonnet' to English Literature)
Thomas Wyatt
3
Birthdate: 1503 AD
Birthplace: Allington Castle, Kent, England
Died: October 11, 1542

Apart from being a lyric poet who is credited with having written the first English sonnets, Thomas Wyatt was also a seasoned politician and an ambassador who was patronized by Thomas Cromwell. He was also said to have had an affair with Anne Boleyn and was later arrested for it.

 26 
Boris Godunov
(Tsar of Russia)
Boris Godunov
3
Birthdate: 1551 AD
Died: April 23, 1605
 27 
Hiawatha
(Orator)
Hiawatha
3
Birthdate: 1525 AD
Birthplace: United States
Died: 1595 AD
Michael I of Russia
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1596
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: July 12, 1645
Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour
4
Birthdate: 1508 AD
Birthplace: Wulfhall, United Kingdom
Died: March 20, 1549
 30 
Hasekura Tsunenaga
(The First Japanese Ambassador to the Spain and to the Americas)
Hasekura Tsunenaga
3
Birthdate: 1571 AD
Birthplace: Japan
Died: August 7, 1622

Hasekura Tsunenaga was a Japanese samurai who served under Date Masamune, the daimyō of Sendai. He is best remembered for heading a diplomatic mission called the Keichō Embassy and is regarded as the first Japanese ambassador in Spain and in the Americas. Hasekura Tsunenaga's life and career have inspired several works of art including a 1980 novel titled The Samurai

 31 
Pier Gerlofs Donia
3
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. 

Francis, Duke of Anjou
7
Birthdate: March 18, 1555
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fontainebleau, France
Died: June 10, 1584
 33 
John Hawkins
(Privateer)
John Hawkins
4
Birthdate: November 30, 1532
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Plymouth, Devon, England
Died: November 12, 1595
 34 
Robert Catesby
(Conspirator)
Robert Catesby
6
Birthdate: March 3, 1572
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lapworth, England
Died: November 8, 1605
 35 
Nurhaci
(Jurchen chieftain who rose to prominence in the late 16th century in Manchuria)
Nurhaci
3
Birthdate: May 14, 1559
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Fushun, China
Died: September 30, 1626

Nurhaci was a Jurchen chieftain who reigned as the Khan of Later Jin for 10 years. He is credited with uniting and reorganizing several Jurchen tribes. His attack and conquest of Ming dynasty laid the foundation for the formation of the Qing dynasty, which was founded by his descendants in 1636. His life inspired the 2005 TV series, Taizu Mishi.

 36 
Uesugi Kenshin
3
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.

John Dudley, duke of Northumberland
3
Birthdate: 1504 AD
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: August 22, 1553
 38 
Miguel López de Legazpi
(Navigator and Governor Who Established the First Spanish Settlement in the East Indies)
Miguel López de Legazpi
3
Birthdate: 1502 AD
Birthplace: Zumarraga, Spain
Died: August 20, 1572
Louis, Prince of Conde
5
Birthdate: May 7, 1530
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vendôme, France
Died: March 13, 1569
Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé
5
Birthdate: May 7, 1530
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vendôme, France
Died: March 13, 1569
 41 
Edward Seymour, 1st duke of Somerset
3
Birthdate: 1500 AD
Birthplace: England
Died: January 22, 1552
 42 
Piri Reis
(Ottoman Admiral, Geographer, Cartographer.)
Piri Reis
4
Birthdate: 1465 AD
Birthplace: Gelibolu, Turkey
Died: 1553 AD

Piri Reis was an Ottoman navigator, admiral, cartographer, and geographer. He is best remembered for his Book of Navigation, which contains maps and charts and information on navigational techniques. He gained international recognition in 1929 when a portion of his first world map was discovered at the Topkapı Palace in Turkey. Piri Reis finds mention in several popular video games.  

 43 
Daniel Morgan
(Politician)
Daniel Morgan
4
Birthdate: July 6, 1736
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hunterdon County, New Jersey, United States
Died: July 6, 1802
Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor
3
Birthdate: February 24, 1557
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: March 20, 1619

Apart from serving as the Holy Roman Emperor, Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor also served as the Archduke of Austria, King of Croatia and Hungary, and King of Bohemia between 1612 and 1619. His reign resulted in the Bohemian Revolt, which was the initial theatre of the famous Thirty Years War.

 45 
Powhatan
(Native American Leader)
Powhatan
3
Birthdate: June 17, 1545
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Virginia, United States
Died: March 31, 1618
 46 
Birbal
(One of the Most Important Courtiers of Mughal Emperor Akbar and Iconic Figure Renowned for his Wit)
Birbal
7
Birthdate: 1528 AD
Birthplace: Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: February 16, 1586

Birbal was an advisor and chief commander of army in Mughal Emperor Akbar's court. He is best remembered for the folk tales that glorify his wit and intelligence. One of Akbar's most important courtiers, Birbal was part of The Navaratnas, a group of nine extraordinary people in the emperor's court. He has been portrayed in many folk tales and films. 

 47 
Diego Columbus
(Spanish Explorer, 2nd Viceroy of the Indies (1511 – 1526) and 4th Governor of the Indies (1509 – 1518))
Diego Columbus
3
Birthdate: April 1, 1479
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Porto Santo Island, Portugal
Died: February 23, 1526

Diego Columbus was an explorer and navigator who served under the Kings of Aragón and Castile. The oldest son of Christopher Columbus, Diego spent most of his time trying to regain the privileges and titles granted to his father and then denied in 1500.

Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk
3
Birthdate: 1443 AD
Birthplace: England
Died: May 21, 1524
 49 
John White
(Governor of the Second Attempt to Found Roanoke Colony on the Same Island in 1587)
John White
3
Birthdate: 1539 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: 1593 AD
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
3
Birthdate: 1517 AD
Birthplace: Hunsdon, England
Died: January 19, 1547