16th Century Poets

Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Poets, including William Shakespeare, James VI and I, Christopher Marlowe, John Donne and George Herbert.

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 John Donne

John Donne
Famous As: Poet
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

William Shakespeare
Famous As: Playwright
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 Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt
Famous As: Poet & Politician
Birthdate: 1503 AD
Birthplace: Allington, 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.

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 4 Michelangelo

Famous As: Sculptor, Painter
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.

 5 Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes
Famous As: Novelist
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 Philip Sidney

Philip Sidney
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 30, 1554
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Penshurst, Kent, England 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.

 7 Ben Jonson

Ben Jonson
Famous As: Dramatist, Poet & Actor
Birthdate: June 11, 1572
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England
Died: August 6, 1637
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 8 Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1548 AD
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.

 9 Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe
Famous As: Playwright, Poet
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.  

 10 François Rabelais

François Rabelais
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 0000 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.

 11 George Herbert

George Herbert
Famous As: Poet recognized as one of the foremost British devotional lyricists
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.

 12 Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1552 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 13, 1599

 13 Mirabai

Famous As: Bhakti Saint
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.

 14 Kabir

Famous As: Saint and Mystic Poet
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.

 15 Veronica Franco

Veronica Franco
Famous As: Courtesan, Poet
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.

 16 Thomas Nashe

Thomas Nashe
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: October 31, 1567
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lowestoft, United Kingdom
Died: 1601 AD

 17 Anne Askew

Anne Askew
Famous As: poet
Birthdate: 1521 AD
Birthplace: Stallingborough
Died: July 26, 1546

 18 Lope de Vega

Lope de Vega
Famous As: Writer
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.

 19 Baldassare Castiglione

Baldassare Castiglione
Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: December 6, 1478
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Casatico, Italy
Died: February 2, 1529

 20 Luís de Camões

Luís de Camões
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1524 AD
Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal
Died: June 10, 1580

 21 Emilia Lanier

Emilia Lanier
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 31, 1569
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bishopsgate, London, England
Died: March 31, 1645

 22 Tahmasp I

Tahmasp I
Famous As: Second Shah of Safavid Iran from 1524 to 1576
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.

 23 Götz von Berlichingen

Götz von Berlichingen
Famous As: Imperial Knight, Mercenary, Poet
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.

 24 Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana

Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana
Famous As: Poet
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 Torquato Tasso

Torquato Tasso
Famous As: Poet
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. 

 26 Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: 1517 AD
Birthplace: Hunsdon, England
Died: January 19, 1547

 27 Francisco de Quevedo

Francisco de Quevedo
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 14, 1580
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
Died: September 8, 1645

Spanish nobleman, politician and writer Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas, KOS of the Baroque era is counted among the most prominent writers of Spain's Golden Age. Quevedo adhered to the conceptismo style compared to his lifelong rival, Luis de Góngora’s culteranismo style. His notable works include the picaresque novel El Buscón and the satirical prose Los Sueños.

 28 Giambattista Basile

Giambattista Basile
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: January 31, 1566
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Giugliano in Campania, Italy
Died: January 31, 1632

 29 Ludovico Ariosto

Ludovico Ariosto
Famous As: Poet
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.

 30 Purandara Dasa

Purandara Dasa
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1484 AD
Birthplace: Shimoga, Karnataka, India
Died: January 2, 1564

 31 Pietro Aretino

Pietro Aretino
Famous As: Poet, Writer, Playwright, Journalist
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.

 32 John Lyly

John Lyly
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 1553 AD
Birthplace: Kent, England
Died: October 31, 1606

 33 Wu Cheng'en

Wu Cheng'en
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: 1500 AD
Birthplace: Huai’an, China
Died: 1582 AD

 34 Vittoria Colonna

Vittoria Colonna
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 31, 1492
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Marino, Italy
Died: February 25, 1547

 35 Thomas Middleton

Thomas Middleton
Famous As: Playwright, Poet, Writer
Birthdate: April 18, 1580
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London
Died: July 4, 1627

 36 Margaret of Valois-Angouleme

Margaret of Valois-Angouleme
Famous As: Author
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.

 37 Tommaso Campanella

Tommaso Campanella
Famous As: Philosopher
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. 

 38 Pierre de Ronsard

Pierre de Ronsard
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 11, 1524
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vallée-de-Ronsard, France
Died: December 27, 1585

 39 Mary Sidney

Mary Sidney
Famous As: Countess
Birthdate: October 27, 1561
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tickenhill Palace, Bewdley, Worcs, England
Died: September 25, 1621

 40 Girolamo Fracastoro

Girolamo Fracastoro
Famous As: Physician, Poet
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. 

 41 Étienne de La Boétie

Étienne de La Boétie
Famous As: Magistrate
Birthdate: November 1, 1530
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sarlat-la-Canéda, Périgord, France
Died: August 18, 1563

 42 Surdas

Famous As: Former devotional poet and singer, who was known for his works written in praise of Krishna, the supreme lord
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.

 43 Michael Drayton

Michael Drayton
Famous As: Poet, Writer
Birthdate: 1563 AD
Birthplace: Hartshill, United Kingdom
Died: December 23, 1631

 44 Eknath

Famous As: Saint
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.  

 45 John Skelton

John Skelton
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1463 AD
Birthplace: England
Died: June 21, 1529

 46 Jan Kochanowski

Jan Kochanowski
Famous As: Renaissance Poet Who Established poetic patterns that would become integral to the Polish literary language
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.

 47 Pietro Bembo

Pietro Bembo
Famous As: Former Renaissance cardinal who wrote one of the earliest Italian grammars and assisted in establishing the Italian literary language
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 Tirso de Molina

Tirso de Molina
Famous As: Known for writing The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest, the play from which the popular character of Don Juan originates
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.

 49 Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke

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

 50 Robert Southwell

Robert Southwell
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1561 AD
Birthplace: Norfolk, England
Died: February 21, 1595