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 Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccolò Machiavelli
Famous As: Diplomat
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 Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes
Famous As: Philosopher
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.

 3 Walter Raleigh

Walter Raleigh
Famous As: Politician, Writer, Explorer
Birthdate: 1552 AD
Birthplace: Hayes Barton, England
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.
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 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 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. 

 6 Ben Jonson

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

 7 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.

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 8 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.  

 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 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.

 11 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.

 12 Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno
Famous As: Philosopher & Mathematician Known For His Cosmological Theories
Birthdate: January 31, 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.

 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 Edmund Spenser

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

 15 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.

 16 Ismail I

Ismail I
Famous As: sovereign, poet, writer
Birthdate: July 17, 1487
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ardabil
Died: May 23, 1524

Ismail I was the originator of the Safavid dynasty and ruled as the Shahanshah of Iran from 1501 to 1524. His reign is considered one of the most vital in Iranian history and his empire is regarded as one of the greatest in the history of Iran and one of the most powerful empires of the world during its peak. 

 17 Giorgio Vasari

Giorgio Vasari
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: July 30, 1511
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Arezzo, Italy
Died: June 27, 1574

Giorgio Vasari was an Italian architect, painter, writer, engineer, and historian. He is best remembered for his work The Lives, a series of artist biographies, which is regarded as the art-historical writing's ideological foundation. Vasari is also credited with the formulation of the term Renaissance as it was first suggested by Jules Michelet based on Giorgio Vasari's text.

 18 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.

 19 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.

 20 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.

 21 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.

 22 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.

 23 Thomas Nashe

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

 24 Anne Askew

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

 25 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.

 26 John Harington

John Harington
Famous As: English author
Birthdate: August 4, 1561
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kelston, United Kingdom
Died: November 20, 1612

Though a witty author, John Harington is better remembered as the inventor of the flush toilet. He was banished from the royal court for the cockiness of his language in his written works. He also earned a knighthood and later came to be known as Queen Elizabeth’s “saucy godson.”

 27 Emilia Lanier

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

 28 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.

 29 Baldassare Castiglione

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

 30 Luís de Camões

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

 31 Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

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

 32 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.

 33 Izaak Walton

Izaak Walton
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 9, 1593
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Stafford, England
Died: December 15, 1683

One of the greatest biographers of the 17th century, Izaak Walton was also a lover of fishing and had penned one of the most detailed treatises on fishing, The Compleat Angler. His notable works also include his biographies on John Donne and Henry Wotton. He was also a staunch Royalist.

 34 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.

 35 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.

 36 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. 

 37 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.

 38 Giambattista Basile

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

 39 Purandara Dasa

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

 40 Edward Winslow

Edward Winslow
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: October 18, 1595
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Droitwich Spa, England
Died: May 8, 1655

 41 Richard Hakluyt

Richard Hakluyt
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 1553 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: November 23, 1616

English geographer Richard Hakluyt is remembered for his marked political influence and his continuous support of the British colonization of North America. A priest, he was associated with the Westminster Abbey. He also penned reports such as Discourse of Western Planting, which was appreciated by Queen Elizabeth I.

 42 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.

 43 Giambattista della Porta

Giambattista della Porta
Famous As: Scholar, Polymath
Birthdate: November 1, 1535
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vico Equense, Italy
Died: February 4, 1615

Giambattista della Porta was an Italian scholar, polymath, and playwright. He was active in Naples at the time of the Scientific Revolution and Reformation in the 16th century. He was knowledgeable in different fields, including occult philosophy, astrology, meteorology, alchemy, mathematics, and natural philosophy. In his later years, he collected rare specimens and grew exotic plants. 

 44 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.

 45 John Lyly

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

 46 Wu Cheng'en

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

 47 John Foxe

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

 48 Robert Burton

Robert Burton
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: February 8, 1577
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Leicestershire,
Died: January 25, 1640

 49 Thomas Middleton

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

 50 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