The 16th century is regarded by several historians as the century in which the rise of the West occurred. European nations were widely exploring the hitherto unexplored corners of the Earth and opened newer trade routes. Sir Francis Drake, Francisco de Orellana, Fernão Mendes Pinto, and Luis Váez de Torres were among the prominent navigators and explorers who were born in the century. The era also saw the birth of several famous rulers and emperors including Akbar the Great-third Mughal emperor, Charles V-Holy Roman Emperor, Edward VI of England, and Henry IV of France and Navarre. Fine arts also thrived during this period which saw the emergence of artists like Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Giorgio Vasari, and Juan de Herrera. Musicians and composers including Felice Anerio, Adriano Banchieri, Sebastian Aguilera de Heredia, and Claudio Merulo lived during this period. Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler made important mathematical discoveries while the likes of Michael Servetus and Francisco Suarez enriched the field of philosophy. The people of the 16th century played very significant role in shaping the world as it is today. Read on to learn more about the life and works of famous people of the 16th century.
Mary, Queen of ScotsMary, Queen of Scots
08 December 1542, Scottish
Queen of Scotland
William ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare
26 April 1564, British
Writer

Elizabeth I of EnglandElizabeth I of England
07 September 1533, British
Queen of England

Henry VIIHenry VII of England
28 January 1457, British
King of England

Leonardo da VinciLeonardo da Vinci
15 April 1452, Italian
Polymath

Guy FawkesGuy Fawkes
13 April 1570, British
Soldier
Mary I of EnglandMary I of England
18 February 1516, British
Queen of England and Ireland

Anne BoleynAnne Boleyn
1501 AD, British
Marquess of Pembroke

Galileo GalileiGalileo Galilei
15 February 1564, Italian
Astronomer, Mathematician, Philosopher, Rebel

Catherine of AragonCatherine of Aragon
16 December 1485, British
Ambassador
PocahontasPocahontas
1595 AD, American
Native American

AkbarAkbar
14 October 1542, Indian
Mughal Emperor
Ivan the TerribleIvan the Terrible
25 August 1530, Russian
First Russian Tsar

Oliver CromwellOliver Cromwell
25 April 1599, British
Military & Political Leader

Lady Jane GreyLady Jane Grey
1537 AD, British
Monarch
Edward VI of EnglandEdward VI of England
12 October 1537, British
King of England

Margaret TudorMargaret Tudor
28 November 1489, Scottish
Queen Consort of Scotland
Niccolò MachiavelliNiccolò Machiavelli
03 May 1469, Italian
Political Philosopher

Philip II of SpainPhilip II of Spain
21 May 1527, Spanish
King of Spain

Lady Margaret BeaufortLady Margaret Beaufort
31 May 1443, British
Mother of King Henry VII
Shah JahanShah Jahan
05 January 1592, Indian
Mughal Emperor

Catherine HowardCatherine Howard
1523 AD, British
Queen of England from (1540-1541)
Francis II of FranceFrancis II of France
19 January 1544, French
King of France

Charles V, Holy Roman EmperorCharles V, Holy Roman Emperor
24 February 1500, Italian
Former Holy Roman Emperor

Joanna of CastileJoanna of Castile
06 November 1479, Spanish
Queen

NostradamusNostradamus
14 December 1503, French
Physician
Nicolaus CopernicusNicolaus Copernicus
19 February 1473, Polish
 
Anne of ClevesAnne of Cleves
22 September 1515, German, British
Former Queen of England

Catherine ParrCatherine Parr
31 July 1512, British
Queen of England & Ireland

Francis BaconFrancis Bacon
22 January 1561, British
Philosopher

Henry Stuart, Lord DarnleyHenry Stuart, Lord Darnley
07 December 1545, British
King Consort of Scotland (1565-1567)
Elizabeth BáthoryElizabeth Báthory
07 August 1560, Hungarian
Countess, Serial Killer

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JahangirJahangir
31 August 1569, Indian
Mughal Emperor

Maharana PratapMaharana Pratap
09 May 1540, Indian
Ruler of Mewar

Catherine de' MediciCatherine de' Medici
13 April 1519, Italian
Queen of France

Francis DrakeFrancis Drake
1540 AD, British
Navigator
Mary BoleynMary Boleyn
1499 AD, British
Mistress of Henry VIII

Amerigo VespucciAmerigo Vespucci
09 March 1454, Italian
Discoverer of South America
Thomas HobbesThomas Hobbes
05 April 1588, British
Philosopher

Henry IV of FranceHenry IV of France
13 December 1553, French
King of France, King of Navarre

HumayunHumayun
17 March 1508, Indian
Mughal Emperor
Henry II of FranceHenry II of France
31 March 1519, French
King of France

James V of ScotlandJames V of Scotland
10 April 1512, Scottish
Former King of Scotland
Walter RaleighWalter Raleigh
22 January 1554, British
Politician, Writer, Explorer, Aristocrat

CaravaggioCaravaggio
29 September 1571, Italian
Painter

John CalvinJohn Calvin
10 July 1509, French
Protestant Reformer, Theologian, Pastor

KabirKabir
1440 AD, Indian
Saint and Mystic Poet

Johannes KeplerJohannes Kepler
27 December 1571, German
Astronomer, Mathematician & Astrologer
Miyamoto MusashiMiyamoto Musashi
1584 AD, Japanese
Swordsman & Warrior

Henry III of FranceHenry III of France
19 September 1551, French
King of France

Oda NobunagaOda Nobunaga
23 June 1534, Japanese
16th Century Japanese Feudal Lord

Charles IX of FranceCharles IX of France
27 June 1550, French
King of France
Hieronymus BoschHieronymus Bosch
1450 AD, Dutch
Painter

Christopher MarloweChristopher Marlowe
26 February 1564, British
Playwright, Poet
Francis XavierFrancis Xavier
07 April 1506, Spanish
Missionary

Marcus Licinius CrassusMarcus Licinius Crassus
0115 BC, Ancient Roman
Roman General

Juan Ponce de LeónJuan Ponce de León
1474 AD, Spanish
Explorer
Mariam-uz-ZamaniMariam-uz-Zamani
1542 AD, Indian
Akbar's Third Wife

Jonathan SwiftJonathan Swift
30 November 1667, Irish
Author and Satirist
Peter Paul RubensPeter Paul Rubens
28 June 1577, Belgian
Painter & Printmaker

Mary of GuiseMary of Guise
22 November 1515, French
Regent of Scotland

James IV of ScotlandJames IV of Scotland
17 March 1473, Scottish
King
Tycho BraheTycho Brahe
14 December 1546, Danish
Astronomer

Miguel de CervantesMiguel de Cervantes
29 September 1547, Spanish
Novelist
Sandro BotticelliSandro Botticelli
1445 AD, Italian
Painter

John DonneJohn Donne
22 January 1572, British
Poet, lawyer, satirist

Ferdinand II of AragonFerdinand II of Aragon
10 March 1452, Spanish
King of Aragon

Cardinal RichelieuCardinal Richelieu
09 September 1585, French
French Clergyman, Noble and Statesman
Giordano BrunoGiordano Bruno
1548 AD, Italian
Philosopher
Artemisia GentileschiArtemisia Gentileschi
08 July 1593, Italian
Painter

Toyotomi HideyoshiToyotomi Hideyoshi
17 March 1537, Japanese
Japanese Samurai

John KnoxJohn Knox
1514 AD, Scottish
Protestant Leader

El GrecoEl Greco
01 October 1541, Spanish, Greek
Painter
ParacelsusParacelsus
17 December 1493, Swiss
Physician, Botanist, Astrologer

Pieter Bruegel the ElderPieter Bruegel the Elder
1525 AD, Dutch
Artist

Hernando de SotoHernando de Soto
1500 AD, Spanish
Explorer

Samuel de ChamplainSamuel de Champlain
13 August 1574, French
Explorer

La MalincheLa Malinche
1496 AD, Mexican
Mexican Interpreter
Michel de MontaigneMichel de Montaigne
28 February 1533, French
Philosopher

Ben JonsonBen Jonson
11 June 1572, British
Dramatist, Poet & Actor
Bartolomé de las CasasBartolomé de las Casas
11 November 1484, Spanish
Historian

Götz von BerlichingenGötz von Berlichingen
1480 AD, German
Imperial Knight, Mercenary, Poet

Sawney BeanSawney Bean
 , Scottish
Criminal
Louis XII of FranceLouis XII of France
27 June 1462, French
King

Philip III of SpainPhilip III of Spain
14 April 1578, Spanish
King
Guru Ram DasGuru Ram Das
09 October 1534, Indian
Fourth Sikh Guru

Lapu-LapuLapu-Lapu
1491 AD, Filipino
Chieftain of Mactan, Philippines

John DeeJohn Dee
13 July 1527, British
Mathematician, Philosopher

William HarveyWilliam Harvey
01 April 1578, British
Physician
Guru ArjanGuru Arjan
15 April 1563, Indian
Fifth Sikh Guru

William the SilentWilliam the Silent
24 April 1533, German, Dutch
Military Leader
Hans Holbein the YoungerHans Holbein the Younger
1497 AD, German
Artist

Pope Julius IIPope Julius II
05 December 1443, Italian
Pope
Guru HargobindGuru Hargobind
05 July 1595, Indian
Sixth Sikh Guru

Yi Sun-sinYi Sun-sin
28 April 1545, South Korean
Naval Commander
Anne HutchinsonAnne Hutchinson
20 July 1591, American
Puritan spiritual adviser