16th Century Poets

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Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Poets, including William Shakespeare, James VI and I, Christopher Marlowe, John Donne and George Herbert.
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 1 
John Donne
(17th Century English Poet Who is Considered the Preeminent Representative of the Metaphysical Poets)
John Donne
7
Birthdate: January 22, 1572
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 31, 1631
English metaphysical poet John Donne is best known for his touch of sensuality and spirituality in his poems. One of his best-known poems is The Canonization. He had also worked on Latin translations, elegies, sermons, and epigrams. He was known for his reckless lifestyle, that affected his financial status. 
 2 
William Shakespeare
(English Playwright & Poet Who is Regarded as the Greatest Writer in the English Language)
William Shakespeare
45
Birthdate: April 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon, England
Died: April 23, 1616

English playwright, poet, and actor William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. He is also often called England's national poet. Many of his works have been translated into other languages and his plays continue to be produced till day. Popular during his lifetime, he acquired an iconic status after his death.

 3 
Michelangelo
(Regarded as the Most Accomplished Artist of His Era (High Renaissance))
Michelangelo
5
Birthdate: March 6, 1475
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Caprese Michelangelo, Italy
Died: February 18, 1564

Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet Michelangelo was a prominent figure of the High Renaissance. He is credited to have influenced the Western art in unprecedented ways. He is widely regarded as the greatest artist of his age and one of the greatest artists of all time. He was equally revered and respected as an architect.

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 4 
Thomas Wyatt
(Politician and Poet Known for Introducing the 'Sonnet' to English Literature)
Thomas Wyatt
4
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.

 5 
Miguel de Cervantes
5
Birthdate: September 29, 1547
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Alcalá de Henares, Spain
Died: April 22, 1616

Miguel de Cervantes was a Spanish writer best known for his work Don Quixote, which is considered one of the high points of world literature. He is regarded as one of the greatest novelists of all time and the greatest writer to ever write in the Spanish language. His works have influenced other works of art like music and paintings.

 6 
Kabir
(Saint and Mystic Poet)
Kabir
8
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 
Philip Sidney
(Poet of the Elizabethan Era Known for a Pastoral Romance Entitled 'The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia')
Philip Sidney
11
Birthdate: November 30, 1554
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Penshurst, Kent, England
Died: October 17, 1586
Legendary Elizabethan poet Philip Sidney is best remembered for his works such as Arcadia and the sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella. Born into an aristocratic family, he became an MP from Shrewsbury at the tender age of 18. He died in a military combat against Spain at age 31.
 8 
Ben Jonson
(Dramatist, Poet & Actor)
Ben Jonson
5
Birthdate: June 11, 1572
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England
Died: August 6, 1637
 9 
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.

 10 
Christopher Marlowe
(Playwright, Poet)
Christopher Marlowe
5
Birthdate: February 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Canterbury, Kent, England
Died: May 30, 1593

English playwright, poet, and translator, Christopher Marlowe, was one of the major literary figures of the Elizabethan era. It is believed that he greatly influenced his contemporary William Shakespeare. He led a troubled life and died young under mysterious circumstances. Despite his early death, he is regarded as one of the foremost dramatists of the 16th century London.  

 11 
François Rabelais
(French Renaissance Writer and Physician Known for His Work ‘Gargantua and Pantagruel’)
François Rabelais
4
Birthdate: 1494 AD
Birthplace: Chinon, France
Died: 1553 AD

François Rabelais was a French writer, Renaissance humanist, physician, monk, and Greek scholar. Regarded as one of the great writers by Western literary critics, Rabelais is also considered one of the creators of modern European writing. He is remembered for Gargantua and Pantagruel, a pentalogy of novels that are regarded as one of the earliest forms of the modern novel.

 12 
George Herbert
(Poet recognized as one of the foremost British devotional lyricists)
George Herbert
4
Birthdate: April 3, 1593
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montgomery, Wales
Died: March 1, 1633

George Herbert was an orator, poet, and priest of the Church of England. Although he is regarded as one of the most important British devotional lyricists, Herbert's poetry is often associated with the works of popular metaphysical poets. He was also a collector of proverbs and his collection was published in 1640.

 13 
Edmund Spenser
5
Birthdate: 1552 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 13, 1599
 14 
Mirabai
(Bhakti Saint)
Mirabai
11
Birthdate: 1498 AD
Birthplace: Kudki
Died: 1557 AD

The 16th-century Hindu mystic poet, Mirabai, was a devotee of Lord Krishna. In the North Indian Hindu tradition, she is a celebrated Bhakti saint. While millions of devotional hymns in praise of Lord Krishna are attributed to Mirabai, only a few hundreds are believed to be actually composed by her. Several temples are dedicated to her memory.

 15 
Lope de Vega
(Writer and One of the Key Figures in the Spanish Golden Age of Baroque Literature)
Lope de Vega
4
Birthdate: November 25, 1562
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
Died: August 27, 1635

Spanish Baroque dramatist Lope de Vega was one of the most significant figures of the Spanish Golden Age. He had initially aspired to be a priest but abandoned his plans after falling in love with a married woman. He is best remembered for works such as The Dog in the Manger.

 16 
Veronica Franco
(16th Century Italian Poet and Courtesan)
Veronica Franco
4
Birthdate: March 25, 1546
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: July 22, 1591

A significant Venetian figure, Veronica Franco wasn’t an ordinary courtesan but was educated and a talented poet, too. She defended herself successfully against charges of witchcraft. Born to a courtesan, she was married to a doctor briefly and later became a sex worker to sustain herself and her children.

 17 
Tahmasp I
(Second Shah of Safavid Iran from 1524 to 1576)
Tahmasp I
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1514
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Shahabad, Iran
Died: May 14, 1576

Tahmasp I ruled as the Shah of Safavid Iran from 23 May 1524 to 25 May 1576. At the age of 14, Tahmasp faced the Uzbeks in the Battle of Jam where he defeated the Uzbeks after surprising them with artillery. Tahmasp I also had a longstanding conflict with the Ottoman Empire over Baghdad, Kurdistan, and Georgia.

 18 
Luís de Camões
3
Birthdate: 1524 AD
Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal
Died: June 10, 1580

Luís de Camões was a Portuguese poet whose mastery of verse often draws comparison to that of Homer, Shakespeare, Milton, and Dante. He is best remembered for his 1572 epic poem Os Lusíadas. Camões had such a great impact that Portuguese is sometimes referred to as the language of Camões. He is considered the Portuguese language's and Portugal's greatest poet.

 19 
Anne Askew
7
Birthdate: 1521 AD
Birthplace: Stallingborough
Died: July 26, 1546
 20 
Baldassare Castiglione
3
Birthdate: December 6, 1478
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Casatico, Italy
Died: February 2, 1529
 21 
Emilia Lanier
6
Birthdate: 1569
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bishopsgate, London, England
Died: March 31, 1645
 22 
Ravidas
(Poet)
Ravidas
4
Birthdate: 1377 AD
Birthplace: Varanasi, India
Died: 1520 AD

Ravidas was an Indian mystic, social reformer, poet-saint, and spiritual figure. An influential personality, Ravidas taught his followers to disregard social divisions of gender and caste that were prevalent in India at that time. The Ravidassia sect, a religious sect of Vaishnavism, is based on Ravidas' teachings. Ravidas is revered even today as a saint by his followers.

 23 
Götz von Berlichingen
(Imperial Knight, Mercenary, Poet)
Götz von Berlichingen
4
Birthdate: 1480 AD
Birthplace: Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Died: July 23, 1562
Also known as Götz of the Iron Hand, German knight Götz von Berlichingen had begun fighting for the Holy Roman Empire even before coming of age. A cannon-fire injury led to his right hand and wrist to be amputated, but he continued fighting with a prosthetic arm.
Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana
5
Birthdate: December 17, 1556
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Delhi, Mughal empire
Died: October 1, 1627

Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khana was an Indian poet who served in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was counted among the Navaratnas, Akbar's nine important ministers. Rahim is best remembered for his couplets and books on astrology.

 25 
Thomas Nashe
(Playwright)
Thomas Nashe
4
Birthdate: 1567
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lowestoft, United Kingdom
Died: 1601 AD
 26 
Torquato Tasso
(16th Century Italian Poet Best Known for His 1591 Poem 'Gerusalemme Liberata')
Torquato Tasso
3
Birthdate: March 11, 1544
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sorrento, Italy
Died: April 25, 1595

Torquato Tasso was a 16th-century Italian poet. He is best remembered for his poem Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered). The son of a prominent poet, Tasso grew up to be a brilliant young man. Even though his father wanted him to become a lawyer, he decided to become a poet and achieved considerable fame. His poems were widely translated. 

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
6
Birthdate: 1517 AD
Birthplace: Hunsdon, England
Died: January 19, 1547
Giambattista Basile
3
Birthdate: 1566
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Giugliano in Campania, Italy
Died: January 31, 1632
 29 
Purandara Dasa
3
Birthdate: 1484 AD
Birthplace: Shimoga, Karnataka, India
Died: January 2, 1564
 30 
Ludovico Ariosto
3
Birthdate: September 8, 1474
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Reggio Emilia, Italy
Died: July 6, 1533

Ludovico Ariosto was an Italian poet best remembered for authoring the epic poem Orlando Furioso, which describes the adventures of Orlando, Charlemagne, and the Franks. Ariosto is also credited with coining the term humanism, which is among the most commonly used words by modern philosophers.

 31 
Thomas Middleton
(Playwright, Poet, Writer)
Thomas Middleton
3
Birthdate: April 18, 1580
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London
Died: July 4, 1627
 32 
John Lyly
(Writer)
John Lyly
3
Birthdate: 1553 AD
Birthplace: Kent, England
Died: October 31, 1606
 33 
Vittoria Colonna
3
Birthdate: 1492
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Marino, Italy
Died: February 25, 1547
 34 
Pierre de Ronsard
3
Birthdate: September 11, 1524
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vallée-de-Ronsard, France
Died: December 27, 1585
 35 
Mary Sidney
(Countess)
Mary Sidney
3
Birthdate: October 27, 1561
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tickenhill Palace, Bewdley, Worcs, England
Died: September 25, 1621
 36 
Girolamo Fracastoro
(Physician, Poet)
Girolamo Fracastoro
3
Birthdate: 1478 AD
Birthplace: Verona, Italy
Died: August 6, 1553

Girolamo Fracastoro was an Italian poet, physician, and scholar in astronomy, geography and mathematics. He is credited with authoring a theory, which is regarded as a precursor to germ theory; his theory was influential for almost three centuries. He is also credited with inventing terms, such as syphilis. 

 37 
Étienne de La Boétie
3
Birthdate: November 1, 1530
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sarlat-la-Canéda, Périgord, France
Died: August 18, 1563
Margaret of Valois-Angouleme
4
Birthdate: April 11, 1492
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Angoulême, France
Died: December 21, 1549

Margaret of Valois-Angouleme, the wife of Henry II of Navarre, was a significant figure of the French Renaissance, and is also regarded as The First Modern Woman. She patronized artists and was herself an author, with several short stories and a religious poem to her credit.

 39 
Surdas
(Former devotional poet and singer, who was known for his works written in praise of Krishna, the supreme lord)
Surdas
4
Birthdate: 1478 AD
Birthplace: Faridabad, Haryana, India
Died: 1584 AD

Surdas was an Indian poet and singer best remembered for his devotion to Lord Krishna. He is credited with writing the popular book, Sur Sagar. He was blind by birth and was neglected by his family. Surdas was inspired by the teachings of Vallabha Acharya, who he met while going on a pilgrimage to Vrindavan.

 40 
Pietro Aretino
(Poet, Writer, Playwright, Journalist)
Pietro Aretino
3
Birthdate: April 19, 1492
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Arezzo
Died: October 21, 1556

Pietro Aretino was an Italian author, poet, satirist, and playwright. He wielded influence on contemporary politics and art. An outspoken critic, Aretino was one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. A self-proclaimed sodomite, Pietro Aretino was involved in romantic relationships with men, which was uncommon at that time.

 41 
Wu Cheng'en
(Chinese Poet, Novelist, and Politician)
Wu Cheng'en
3
Birthdate: 1500 AD
Birthplace: Huai'an, Jiangsu, Ming China
Died: 1582 AD

Wu Cheng'en was a Chinese poet, novelist, and politician who was active during the Ming Dynasty. He is often credited with authoring a Classic Chinese Novel titled Journey to the West. Wu Cheng'en's possible composition of the famous novel is his main claim to fame, although he also wrote numerous stories and poems, most of which have been lost. 

 42 
Eknath
(Indian Hindu Saint, Philosopher and Poet)
Eknath
3
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.  

 43 
Michael Drayton
(First to Write Odes in English in the Manner of Horace)
Michael Drayton
3
Birthdate: 1563 AD
Birthplace: Hartshill, England
Died: December 23, 1631
 44 
Jan Kochanowski
(Renaissance Poet Who Established poetic patterns that would become integral to the Polish literary language)
Jan Kochanowski
3
Birthdate: 1530 AD
Birthplace: Sycyna Północna, Poland
Died: August 22, 1584

Jan Kochanowski was a Polish Renaissance poet whose poetic patterns became a key component of the Polish literary language. Kochanowski is considered the greatest Polish poet before the arrival of Adam Bernard Mickiewicz. Jan Kochanowski is best remembered for his magnum opus Treny, a series of 19 elegies on the demise of his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Urszula.

 45 
Thomas Campion
(Famous for Writing Over a Hundred Lute Songs, Masques for Dancing)
Thomas Campion
3
Birthdate: February 12, 1567
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 1, 1620
 46 
John Skelton
4
Birthdate: 1463 AD
Birthplace: England
Died: June 21, 1529
 47 
Pietro Bembo
(Former Renaissance cardinal who wrote one of the earliest Italian grammars and assisted in establishing the Italian literary language)
Pietro Bembo
3
Birthdate: May 20, 1470
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: January 18, 1547

Pietro Bembo was an Italian scholar, poet, and literary theorist. He was also a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and a member of the Knights Hospitaller, a Catholic military order. He played a key role in the development of the Tuscan dialect as a literary language. As a priest, he promoted the Christian perfection of Renaissance humanism. 

 48 
Robert Southwell
3
Birthdate: 1561 AD
Birthplace: Norfolk, England
Died: February 21, 1595
 49 
Tirso de Molina
(Spanish Poet and Roman Catholic Monk Known for Writing 'The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest')
Tirso de Molina
3
Birthdate: March 24, 1583
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
Died: February 20, 1648

Spanish Baroque dramatist, poet and Roman Catholic monk Tirso de Molina is best known for writing the play The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest which first introduced the legendary fictional character of Don Juan. Other notable works of Molina includes the comedy sitcom Don Gil of the green tights and the trilogy of The Santa Juana.

Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke
3
Birthdate: October 3, 1554
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Beauchamp Court, England
Died: September 30, 1628