16th Century Philosophers

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Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Philosophers, including Galileo Galilei, René Déscartes, Niccolò Machiavelli, Nicolaus Copernicus and Thomas Hobbes.
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 1 
Niccolò Machiavelli
(Diplomat & Philosopher Best Known for His Political Treatise 'The Prince')
Niccolò Machiavelli
19
Birthdate: May 3, 1469
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: June 22, 1527
Italian Renaissance philosopher, diplomat, and author Niccolò Machiavelli is remembered for his work The Prince. He believed that the end or the intention behind any action justifies the action. He gave rise to the term Machiavellianism, which signifies the use of deceit and treachery to achieve one’s goals. 
 2 
Francis Bacon
(Philosopher, Statesman and Lord High Chancellor of England)
Francis Bacon
10
Birthdate: January 22, 1561
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Strand, London, England
Died: April 9, 1626

Francis Bacon was a Renaissance philosopher and author who was known as the Father of Empiricism, because of his belief in the scientific method and theory that scientific knowledge can only be created through inductive reasoning and experience. He was later knighted and served as the first Queen's counsel.

 3 
Thomas Hobbes
(English Philosopher and One of the Founders of Modern Political Philosophy)
Thomas Hobbes
11
Birthdate: April 5, 1588
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Westport, Wiltshire, England
Died: December 4, 1679

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher. Widely regarded as the co-founder of modern political philosophy, Hobbes is best known for his influential book Leviathan. Apart from political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes also contributed immensely to various other fields, such as ethics, theology, geometry, history, and jurisprudence.

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 4 
Desiderius Erasmus
(Philosopher)
Desiderius Erasmus
5
Birthdate: October 28, 1466
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: July 12, 1536

Born as an illegitimate child of a priest from Rotterdam, Desiderius Erasmus later grew up to be a significant figure of the northern Renaissance. He is remembered for his research on free will and for being the first to edit the New Testament, replacing traditional elements with new-age humanism.

 5 
Miyamoto Musashi
(Japanese Swordsman and Philosopher Who Became Popular Through His Unique Double-Bladed Swordsmanship)
Miyamoto Musashi
5
Birthdate: 1584 AD
Birthplace: Harima Province, Japan
Died: June 13, 1645

Miyamoto Musashi was a Japanese swordsman, writer, strategist, and philosopher. Widely regarded as a Kensei, Musashi became famous through his stories of bravery, which involves his undefeated streak of 61 duels. He is also credited with founding the Niten Ichi-ryū school of swordsmanship. His life has inspired several films, TV series, stage plays, and video games.

 6 
Kabir
(Saint and Mystic Poet)
Kabir
9
Birthdate: 1440 AD
Birthplace: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: 1518 AD

Kabir was an Indian saint and mystic poet whose works influenced Hinduism's Bhakti movement, which in turn played a key role in the formation of Sikhism, the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. Kabir is an important figure in both Hinduism and Islam and his legacy continues to live through a religious community known as the Kabir panth.

 7 
Giordano Bruno
(Philosopher & Mathematician Known For His Cosmological Theories)
Giordano Bruno
4
Birthdate: 1548
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nola, Italy
Died: February 17, 1600

Giordano Bruno was an Italian philosopher, friar, mathematician, cosmological theorist, poet, and Hermetic occultist. Best remembered for his cosmological theories, Bruno insisted that the universe could have no center as it is infinite. In 2004, Herbert Steffen founded the Giordano Bruno Foundation in Bruno's honor.

 8 
John Dee
(Mathematician, Philosopher)
John Dee
5
Birthdate: July 13, 1527
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tower Ward, London
Died: February 29, 1609

Anglo-Welsh mathematician, occultist, astronomer, teacher, astrologer and alchemist John Dee is best-remembered as advisor to Queen of England, Elizabeth I. Dee coined the term British Empire and advocated its formation by founding of English colonies in the New World. He had one of the largest libraries in England at the time and wrote on astrology, geography, trigonometry, navigation and calendar reform.

 9 
Michel de Montaigne
(One of the Most Significant Philosophers of the French Renaissance)
Michel de Montaigne
4
Birthdate: February 8, 1533
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Château de Montaigne, France
Died: September 3, 1592

French philosopher Michel de Montaigne was a significant figure of the French Renaissance in the 16th century. He is credited for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His massive collection of essays was published in the volume Essais. His work had a direct influence on Western writers, including René Descartes, Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, and Voltaire.

Saint Teresa of Avila
3
Birthdate: March 28, 1515
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Gotarrendura
Died: October 4, 1582

Teresa of Ávila, also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus, was a Spanish noblewoman who later turned into a Carmelite nun. She was posthumously named a Doctor of the Church. She co-established the Discalced Carmelite Order. Her written works include The Interior Castle and her own autobiography.

 11 
Jean Bodin
(Philosopher)
Jean Bodin
4
Birthdate: 1530 AD
Birthplace: Angers, France
Died: 1596 AD
 12 
Mulla Sadra
(philosopher, writer)
Mulla Sadra
3
Birthdate: 1571 AD
Birthplace: Shiraz
Died: 1636 AD

Mulla Sadra was a Persian Twelver Shi'i Islamic mystic and philosopher. He was also an Alim who led the Iranian cultural renaissance in the 17th century. He is considered one of the most influential philosophers in the Muslim world in the last four hundred years. He tried to prove the idea of Unity of Existence through his works.

 13 
Jakob Böhme
(German Philosopher and Theologian)
Jakob Böhme
3
Birthdate: April 24, 1575
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stary Zawidów, Poland
Died: November 17, 1624

German mystic and philosopher Jakob Böhme is best remembered for his works such as On the Election of Grace and Mysterium Magnum. While he was initially a shoemaker’s apprentice, he later focused on studies on mysticism and free will. He inspired both German idealism and romanticism greatly.

 14 
Purandara Dasa
3
Birthdate: 1484 AD
Birthplace: Shimoga, Karnataka, India
Died: January 2, 1564
 15 
Jacobus Arminius
(Theologian, University teacher)
Jacobus Arminius
3
Birthdate: October 10, 1560
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oudewater
Died: October 19, 1609

Dutch theologian and professor Jacobus Arminius opposed the orthodox Calvinism of his time and introduced a new system, known as Arminianism, in response. He is remembered for his Opera theologica, published posthumously, and for paving the path for the growth of Methodism in the West.

 16 
Wang Yangming
(Calligrapher)
Wang Yangming
3
Birthdate: October 26, 1472
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Yuyao, Zhejiang Province
Died: January 9, 1529
 17 
Francisco de Vitoria
(Spanish Philosopher, Theologian, and Jurist of Renaissance Spain)
Francisco de Vitoria
2
Birthdate: 1483 AD
Birthplace: Burgos, Spain
Died: August 12, 1546

Francisco de Vitoria was a Spanish Roman Catholic theologian, philosopher, and jurist of Renaissance Spain. He founded the School of Salamanca, a tradition in philosophy. He made tremendous contributions to the theory of just war and international law. His works have been interpreted by various scholars to support contrary policies. He taught at the universities of Valladolid and of Salamanca. 

 18 
Marin Mersenne
(Mathematician)
Marin Mersenne
2
Birthdate: September 8, 1588
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oizé, France
Died: September 1, 1648
 19 
Francisco Suárez
(Leading Theological and Philosophical Light of Spain’s Golden Age)
Francisco Suárez
2
Birthdate: January 5, 1548
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Granada, Spain
Died: September 25, 1617

Spanish Jesuit priest, philosopher, and theologian Francisco Suárez was born to an affluent lawyer and had initially studied law. However, he joined the Jesuits later, following which he taught philosophy and theology. Known for writing Disputationes Metaphysicae, he was a prime figure of the School of Salamanca movement.

 20 
Pierre Gassendi
(Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor, Astrologer)
Pierre Gassendi
2
Birthdate: January 22, 1592
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Champtercier
Died: October 24, 1655

French Catholic priest and astronomer Pierre Gassendi is remembered for his efforts to reconcile atomism with Christian ideals and for his anti-Aristotelianism. His studies included research on Epicurean philosophy. Apart from observing the transit of Mercury, he also studied the speed of sound and horizontal momentum.

 21 
Tommaso Campanella
(Philosopher Known for His Work 'la Città Del Sole' an Important Early Utopian Work)
Tommaso Campanella
2
Birthdate: September 5, 1568
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Stilo, Italy
Died: May 21, 1639

Tommaso Campanella was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, astrologer, and poet. His heterodox views often brought him into conflict with the authorities, and he was imprisoned for several years. In prison, he wrote The City of the Sun, a utopia describing an egalitarian theocratic society. He also defended astronomer Galileo Galilei in his first trial. 

 22 
Ahmad Sirhindi
(Indian Scholar, Jurist and Philosopher)
Ahmad Sirhindi
7
Birthdate: May 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sirhind, Punjab, India
Died: December 10, 1624

Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was an Indian Islamic scholar. A member of the famous Naqshbandī Sufi order, Sirhindi was widely known as a reviver for his work in resurrecting Islam during Mughal Emperor Akbar's reign. He is also remembered for his contributions to Sufi practices and epistemology. There is a shrine named Rauza Sharif dedicated to Sirhindi in Sirhind, Punjab, India.

 23 
Eknath
(Indian Hindu Saint, Philosopher and Poet)
Eknath
2
Birthdate: 1533 AD
Birthplace: Paithan, India
Died: 1599 AD

Sant Eknath was an Indian Hindu saint, philosopher, and poet who lived in the 16th-century. A devotee of the Hindu deity Krishna, he is considered a major figure of the Warkari tradition. Hindu scholars often view him as a spiritual successor to the prominent Marathi saints Dnyaneshwar and Namdev. He wrote a variation of the Hindu religious text Bhagavata Purana.  

 24 
Justus Lipsius
(Belgian Scholar Who Mostly Wrote on the Revival of 'Stoicism')
Justus Lipsius
2
Birthdate: October 18, 1547
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Overijse, Belgium
Died: March 23, 1606

Belgian scholar Justus Lipsius chaired history and philosophy at the University of Jena and was later associated with the universities of Leiden and Leuven. His works mostly revolved around the revival of Stoicism, which led to the Neostoicism movement. His best-known works include De constantia and Politicorum libri sex.

 25 
Thomas Cajetan
(Leading Theologian and Spokesman for Catholic Opposition to the Teachings of Martin Luther and the 'Protestant Reformation')
Thomas Cajetan
2
Birthdate: February 20, 1469
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gaeta, Italy
Died: August 9, 1534

Thomist school theologian and philosopher Thomas Cajetan began his spiritual career with the Dominican order. Initially a professor of metaphysics, he criticized Scotism. He is best remembered for his commentary on St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica. He also penned critical works and commentaries on Aristotle and others.

 26 
Petrus Ramus
(Philosopher)
Petrus Ramus
2
Birthdate: 1515 AD
Birthplace: Picardy, France
Died: August 26, 1572
 27 
Vallabhacharya
(Philosopher)
Vallabhacharya
4
Birthdate: April 27, 1479
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Champaran, India
Died: June 26, 1531
 28 
Luis de Molina
(Theologian)
Luis de Molina
2
Birthdate: September 29, 1535
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cuenca, Spain
Died: October 12, 1600
 29 
Gemma Frisius
(Physician)
Gemma Frisius
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1508
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dokkum, Netherlands
Died: May 25, 1555

Gemma Frisius introduced the triangulation method for map-making, that is still an integral part of surveys these days. He also created detailed globes and mathematical instruments and was a co-founder of the Netherlandish school of cartography. He also released the first published drawing of a pinhole camera obscura.

 30 
Dadu Dayal
(Hindu saint)
Dadu Dayal
2
Birthdate: 1544 AD
Birthplace: Ahmadabad, India
Died: 1603 AD

Legend has it that Dadu Dayal was found floating in the Sabarmati river by a rich businessman named Lodhi Ram. Dadu initially worked as a cotton carder but later became a religious preacher who rejected Vedic superiority and caste barriers. He founded Dadu Panth and wrote countless devotional hymns.

 31 
Giovanni Botero
1
Birthdate: 1544 AD
Birthplace: Piedmont, Italy
Died: June 23, 1617
 32 
Baha' al-din al-'Amili
(Iranian Mathematician, Theologian, Philosopher and Astronomers)
Baha' al-din al-'Amili
1
Birthdate: February 18, 1547
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Baalbek, Lebanon
Died: September 1, 1621

Baha' al-din al-'Amili was an Arab Iranian Shia philosopher, Islamic scholar, architect, astronomer, mathematician, and poet who flourished in Safavid Iran during the late 16th and early 17th century. Baha' al-din al-'Amili was one of the first astronomers in the Islamic world to advocate the possibility of the Earth's movement before the outspread of the Copernican theory.

 33 
Andrea Cesalpino
(Physician)
Andrea Cesalpino
1
Birthdate: June 6, 1519
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Arezzo, Italy
Died: February 23, 1603
 34 
Hector Boece
(Scottish Philosopher and Historian)
Hector Boece
1
Birthdate: 1465 AD
Birthplace: Dundee, Scotland
Died: 1536 AD

Hector Boece was a Scottish historian and philosopher best remembered for his role as the first principal of King's College, a precursor of the University of Aberdeen, where he often delivered lectures on divinity and on medicine. He is also remembered for his books, History of the Scottish People and Lives of the Bishops of Murthlack and Aberdeen. 

 35 
Mīr Dāmād
(Islamic philosopher)
Mīr Dāmād
1
Birthdate: 1561 AD
Birthplace: Gorgan, Iran
Died: 1631 AD
 36 
Matthias Flacius
(Noted Lutheran Theologian of His Time and Chief of the Centuriators Who Compiled ‘Magdeburg Centuries’ )
Matthias Flacius
2
Birthdate: March 3, 1520
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Labin, Croatia
Died: March 11, 1575
 37 
William Ames
(Theologian)
William Ames
1
Birthdate: 1576 AD
Birthplace: Ipswich, England
Died: November 14, 1633
 38 
Hayashi Razan
(Philosopher)
Hayashi Razan
1
Birthdate: 1583 AD
Birthplace: Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
Died: March 7, 1657
 39 
Rupa Goswami
(Teacher)
Rupa Goswami
1
Birthdate: 1493 AD
Birthplace: Jessore District, Bangladesh
Died: 1564 AD

Along with his brother Sanatana Goswami, Rupa Goswami had arrived in Vrindavan as a servant of spiritual leader Lord Chaitanya, who is considered an incarnation of Lord Krishna. A Gaudiya Vaishnava philosopher, he wrote on the science of rasa-tattva. His followers are known as Rupanugas.

 40 
Damião de Góis
(Philosopher)
Damião de Góis
1
Birthdate: February 2, 1502
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Alenquer, Portugal
Died: January 30, 1574
 41 
Bernardino Telesio
(Philosopher)
Bernardino Telesio
1
Birthdate: November 7, 1509
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cosenza, Italy
Died: October 2, 1588
 42 
Johannes Althusius
1
Birthdate: 1557 AD
Birthplace: Diedenshausen, Bad Berleburg, Germany
Died: August 12, 1638
 43 
Pierre Charron
(Theologian)
Pierre Charron
1
Birthdate: 1541 AD
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 16, 1603
 44 
Francisco Sanches
(Philosopher)
Francisco Sanches
1
Birthdate: 1550 AD
Birthplace: Tui, Spain
Died: November 16, 1623

Francisco Sanches was a skeptic, philosopher and physician, best known for his 1581 skeptical work, Quod nihil scitur (That Nothing Is Known). Born in Spain and educated in France and Italy, he served as a professor of philosophy and medicine at the University of Toulouse, publishing several other works, which are believed to have influenced eminent philosophers like René Descartes.

 45 
Pietro Pomponazzi
(Philosopher)
Pietro Pomponazzi
1
Birthdate: September 16, 1462
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mantua, Italy
Died: May 18, 1525
 46 
John of St. Thomas
(Philosopher)
John of St. Thomas
1
Birthdate: June 9, 1589
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal
Died: June 17, 1644
 47 
Alessandro Achillini
1
Birthdate: October 20, 1463
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bologna, Italy
Died: August 2, 1512
 48 
Dirck Coornhert
(Dutch Writer, Philosopher, Poet, Playwright and Theologian)
Dirck Coornhert
0
Birthdate: June 1, 1522
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: October 29, 1590

Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert, or Theodore Cornhert, was the man who introduced Humanism in Dutch literature. Known for works such as Liedekens, De wellevenskunste, and Comedie van Israël, he was an engraver in Haarlem and also worked for the city’s government. He also created the manifesto of William the Silent, Prince of Orange.

François de La Mothe Le Vayer
0
Birthdate: August 1, 1588
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 9, 1672
 50 
Melchor Cano
(Theologian)
Melchor Cano
0
Birthdate: January 6, 1509
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Spain
Died: September 30, 1560