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
(Queen of Scotland)

08 December 1542

Scottish

Elizabeth I of EnglandElizabeth I of England
(Queen of England)

07 September 1533

British

William ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare
(Writer)

23 April 1564

British

Anne BoleynAnne Boleyn
(Marquess of Pembroke)

1501 AD

British

Mary I of EnglandMary I of England
(Queen of England and Ireland)

18 February 1516

British

Galileo GalileiGalileo Galilei
(Astronomer, Mathematician, Philosopher, Rebel Scientist, Physicist)

15 February 1564

Italian

AkbarAkbar
(Mughal Emperor)

14 October 1542

Indian

Edward VI of EnglandEdward VI of England
(King of England)

12 October 1537

British

Catherine of AragonCatherine of Aragon
(Ambassador)

16 December 1485

British

Oliver CromwellOliver Cromwell
(Military & Political Leader)

25 April 1599

British

PocahontasPocahontas
(Native American)

1595 AD

American

Francis II of FranceFrancis II of France
(King of France)

19 January 1544

French

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Lady Jane GreyLady Jane Grey
(Monarch)

1537 AD

British

Catherine de' MediciCatherine de' Medici
(Queen of France)

13 April 1519

Italian

Niccolò MachiavelliNiccolò Machiavelli
(Political Philosopher)

03 May 1469

Italian

Philip II of SpainPhilip II of Spain
(King of Spain)

21 May 1527

Spanish

Mary BoleynMary Boleyn
(Mistress of Henry VIII)

1499 AD

British

Shah JahanShah Jahan
(Mughal Emperor)

05 January 1592

Indian

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Nicolaus CopernicusNicolaus Copernicus

19 February 1473

Polish

Guy FawkesGuy Fawkes
(Soldier)

13 April 1570

British

JahangirJahangir
(Mughal Emperor)

31 August 1569

Indian

NostradamusNostradamus
(Physician)

14 December 1503

French

Elizabeth BáthoryElizabeth Báthory
(Countess, Serial Killer)

07 August 1560

Hungarian

Charles V, Holy Roman EmperorCharles V, Holy Roman Emperor
(Former Holy Roman Emperor)

24 February 1500

Italian

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Francis BaconFrancis Bacon
(Philosopher)

22 January 1561

British

Anne of ClevesAnne of Cleves
(Former Queen of England)

22 September 1515

German,British

Catherine ParrCatherine Parr
(Queen of England & Ireland)

31 July 1512

British

Margaret TudorMargaret Tudor
(Queen Consort of Scotland)

28 November 1489

Scottish

Ivan the TerribleIvan the Terrible
(First Russian Tsar)

25 August 1530

Russian

Francis DrakeFrancis Drake
(Navigator)

1540 AD

British

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James V of ScotlandJames V of Scotland
(Former King of Scotland)

10 April 1512

Scottish

Henry II of FranceHenry II of France
(King of France)

31 March 1519

French

Thomas HobbesThomas Hobbes
(Philosopher)

05 April 1588

British

Maharana PratapMaharana Pratap
(Ruler of Mewar)

09 May 1540

Indian

Amerigo VespucciAmerigo Vespucci
(Discoverer of South America)

09 March 1454

Italian

Sandro BotticelliSandro Botticelli
(Painter)

1445 AD

Italian

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Henry IV of FranceHenry IV of France
(King of France, King of Navarre)

13 December 1553

French

Charles IX of FranceCharles IX of France
(King of France)

27 June 1550

French

Henry III of FranceHenry III of France
(King of France)

19 September 1551

French

Walter RaleighWalter Raleigh
(Politician, Writer, Explorer, Aristocrat)

22 January 1554

British

Mariam-uz-ZamaniMariam-uz-Zamani
(Akbar's Third Wife)

1542 AD

Indian

Johannes KeplerJohannes Kepler
(Astronomer, Mathematician & Astrologer)

27 December 1571

German

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John CalvinJohn Calvin
(Protestant Reformer, Theologian, Pastor)

10 July 1509

French

CaravaggioCaravaggio
(Painter)

29 September 1571

Italian

Oda NobunagaOda Nobunaga
(16th Century Japanese Feudal Lord)

23 June 1534

Japanese

Miyamoto MusashiMiyamoto Musashi
(Swordsman & Warrior)

1584 AD

Japanese

Hieronymus BoschHieronymus Bosch
(Painter)

1450 AD

Dutch

HumayunHumayun
(Mughal Emperor)

17 March 1508

Indian

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John KnoxJohn Knox
(Protestant Leader)

1514 AD

Scottish

Marcus Licinius CrassusMarcus Licinius Crassus
(Roman General)

0115 BC

Ancient Roman

Jonathan SwiftJonathan Swift
(Author and Satirist)

30 November 1667

Irish

Francis XavierFrancis Xavier
(Missionary)

07 April 1506

Spanish

Tycho BraheTycho Brahe
(Astronomer)

14 December 1546

Danish

Juan Ponce de LeónJuan Ponce de León
(Explorer)

1474 AD

Spanish

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Peter Paul RubensPeter Paul Rubens
(Painter & Printmaker)

28 June 1577

Belgian

Miguel de CervantesMiguel de Cervantes
(Novelist)

29 September 1547

Spanish

John DonneJohn Donne
(Poet, lawyer, satirist)

22 January 1572

British

Cardinal RichelieuCardinal Richelieu
(French Clergyman, Noble and Statesman)

09 September 1585

French

Ferdinand II of AragonFerdinand II of Aragon
(King of Aragon)

10 March 1452

Spanish

Samuel de ChamplainSamuel de Champlain
(Explorer)

31 July 1574

French

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Artemisia GentileschiArtemisia Gentileschi
(Painter)

08 July 1593

Italian

ParacelsusParacelsus
(Physician, Botanist, Astrologer)

17 December 1493

Swiss

Sawney BeanSawney Bean
(Criminal)

Scottish

El GrecoEl Greco
(Painter)

01 October 1541

Spanish,Greek

William HarveyWilliam Harvey
(Physician)

01 April 1578

British

Michel de MontaigneMichel de Montaigne
(Philosopher)

28 February 1533

French

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Ben JonsonBen Jonson
(Dramatist, Poet & Actor)

11 June 1572

British

Hernando de SotoHernando de Soto
(Explorer)

1500 AD

Spanish

La MalincheLa Malinche
(Mexican Interpreter)

1496 AD

Mexican

Marie de' Medici Marie de' Medici
(Queen consort of France and Navarre)

26 April 1576

French

Bartolomé de las CasasBartolomé de las Casas
(Historian)

11 November 1484

Spanish

Margaret of France Margaret of Valois
(Queen consort of France)

14 May 1553

French

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Anne HutchinsonAnne Hutchinson
(Puritan spiritual adviser)

20 July 1591

American

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of EssexRobert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
(Political figure)

10 November 1565

British

BalboaVasco Núñez de Balboa
(Spanish Explorer)

1475 AD

Spanish