16th Century Writers

Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Writers, including William Shakespeare, James VI and I, Niccolò Machiavelli, Walter Raleigh and Nostradamus.

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 William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare.
Famous As: Bard of Avon
Birthdate: April 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon
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.

 2 Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccolò Machiavelli.
Famous As: Political Philosopher
Birthdate: May 3, 1469
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: June 21, 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. 
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 3 Walter Raleigh

Walter Raleigh.
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.

 4 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.

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 5 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.  

 6 John Donne

John Donne.
Famous As: Poet, lawyer, satirist
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. 

 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 Martin Luther

Martin Luther.
Famous As: Father of Protestantism and Church Reformer
Birthdate: November 10, 1483
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Eisleben, Germany
Died: February 18, 1546

German monk Martin Luther challenged the dogmas of Roman Catholicism and the authority of the pope, in his Ninety-five Theses, and was thus excommunicated. His German translation of the Bible enriched the German culture, and his marriage set an example for clerical marriage. His teachings are now known as Lutherans.

 9 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.

 10 Edmund Spenser

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

 11 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.

 12 Thomas Wyatt

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

 13 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.

 14 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.

 15 Ravidas

Famous As: Poet
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.

 16 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.

 17 Reginald Pole

Reginald Pole
Famous As: Archbishop of Canterbury
Birthdate: March 3, 1500
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stourton Castle, England
Died: November 17, 1558

Roman Catholic cardinal Reginald Pole had been the archbishop of Canterbury. Half of his education expenses was covered by fellowships from King Henry VII. A prominent member of the government under Mary Tudor, he re-established many monasteries and also let the burnings of Protestants continue.

 18 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.

 19 George Herbert

George Herbert.
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 3, 1593
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montgomery
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.

 20 Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

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

 21 Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: September 14, 1486
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: February 18, 1535

Sixteenth-century German scholar Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa was known for his expertise in philosophy and the occult. He also taught at the universities of Pavia and Dôle. His De occulta philosophia suggested magic as a way to reach God. He was eventually branded a heretic and imprisoned.

 22 Anne Askew

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

 23 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.

 24 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.

 25 Robert Bellarmine

Robert Bellarmine
Famous As: Theologian, Writer, Librarian, University teacher, Catholic priest
Birthdate: October 4, 1542
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montepulciano
Died: September 17, 1621

Robert Bellarmine was an Italian Jesuit and cardinal of the Catholic Church. One of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation, he has been named a Doctor of the Church. He has also been canonized as a saint. He was a  professor of theology at the Roman College and later became its rector. He became Archbishop of Capua in 1602. 

 26 Baldassare Castiglione

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

 27 Purandara Dasa

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

 28 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. 

 29 Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak

Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: January 14, 1556
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Agra, India
Died: August 12, 1602

 30 Giambattista Basile

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

 31 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.  

 32 John Foxe

John Foxe
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: 1516 AD
Birthplace: Boston, Lincolnshire, England
Died: April 30, 1587

 33 Wu Cheng'en

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

 34 John Lyly

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

 35 Thomas Middleton

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

 36 John Fletcher

John Fletcher
Famous As: playwright, poet, writer
Birthdate: November 30, 1579
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rye
Died: July 31, 1625

 37 Vittoria Colonna

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

 38 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.

 39 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

 40 Inca Garcilaso de la Vega

Inca Garcilaso de la Vega
Famous As: Chronicler
Birthdate: April 12, 1539
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cusco, New Castile (current Peru)
Died: April 23, 1616

 41 Ferdinand Columbus

Ferdinand Columbus
Famous As: Bibliographer
Birthdate: August 24, 1488
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cordoba, Spain
Died: July 12, 1539

The second-born son of Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Columbus introduced technologies such as the printing press to Seville. He gathered a huge collection of books from all over Europe and established a personal library. The accomplished bibliographer also penned a biography of his father, which became a valuable source of information.

 42 Anne Of France

Anne Of France
Famous As: Regent of France
Birthdate: April 3, 1461
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Duchy of Brabant
Died: November 14, 1522

 43 Thomas Kyd

Thomas Kyd
Famous As: playwright, writer
Birthdate: November 6, 1558
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London
Died: July 16, 1594

 44 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

 45 Dadu Dayal

Dadu Dayal
Famous As: Hindu saint
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.

 46 Garcilaso de la Vega

Garcilaso de la Vega
Famous As: poet, soldier
Birthdate: February 6, 1501
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toledo
Died: October 14, 1536

Born into a noble Spanish family, Garcilaso de la Vega grew up to be one of the greatest poets of the Golden Age of Spanish literature. Most of his mature writings were inspired by the Italian Renaissance and carried themes such as failed love. His notable works include Dialoghi di amore.

 47 Thomas Dekker

Thomas Dekker
Famous As: playwright, poet, writer
Birthdate: 1572 AD
Birthplace: London
Died: August 25, 1632

 48 Michael Drayton

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

 49 John Skelton

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

 50 Hans Staden

Hans Staden
Famous As: explorer, writer, autobiographer
Birthdate: 1525 AD
Birthplace: Homberg
Died: July 30, 1579