List of famous people of the 16th century who changed the world with their great deeds. Check out their biographies that include trivia, interesting facts, timeline and life history.

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.
William ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare
(Writer)

23 April 1564

23 April 1616

Stratford-upon-Avon

British

Taurus

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

15 February 1564

08 January 1642

Pisa

Italian

Aquarius

Mary, Queen of ScotsMary, Queen of Scots
(Queen of Scotland)

08 December 1542

08 February 1587

Linlithgow Palace

Scottish

Sagittarius

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

07 September 1533

24 March 1603

Palace of Placentia

British

Virgo

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

18 February 1516

17 November 1558

Palace of Placentia

British

Aquarius

NostradamusNostradamus
(Physician)

14 December 1503

02 July 1566

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France

French

Sagittarius

Oliver CromwellOliver Cromwell
(Military & Political Leader)

25 April 1599

03 September 1658

Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire

British

Taurus

AkbarAkbar
(Mughal Emperor)

14 October 1542

27 October 1605

Umerkot

Indian

Libra

René DéscartesRené Déscartes
(Mathematician, Philosopher and Writer)

31 March 1596

11 February 1650

La Haye en Touraine, Touraine, France

French

Aries

PocahontasPocahontas
(Native American)

1595 AD

29 February 1617

Werowocomoco

American

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

21 May 1527

13 September 1598

Pimentel Palace, Valladolid, Spain

Spanish

Taurus

Anne BoleynAnne Boleyn
(Marquess of Pembroke)

1501 AD

19 May 1536

Hever

British

Niccolò MachiavelliNiccolò Machiavelli
(Political Philosopher)

03 May 1469

21 June 1527

Florence

Italian

Taurus

Nicolaus CopernicusNicolaus Copernicus

19 February 1473

24 May 1543

Toruń

German,Polish

Aquarius

Francis BaconFrancis Bacon
(Philosopher)

22 January 1561

09 April 1626

Strand, London, England

British

Aquarius

Thomas HobbesThomas Hobbes
(Philosopher)

05 April 1588

04 December 1679

Wiltshire

British

Aries

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

24 February 1500

21 September 1558

Ghent

Italian

Pisces

Maharana PratapMaharana Pratap
(Ruler of Mewar)

09 May 1540

19 January 1597

Kumbhalgarh

Indian

Taurus

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

22 January 1554

29 October 1618

East Budleigh

British

Aquarius

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

1542 AD

19 May 1623

Indian

Oda NobunagaOda Nobunaga
(16th Century Japanese Feudal Lord)

23 June 1534

21 June 1582

Nagoya Castle, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan

Japanese

Cancer

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

12 October 1537

06 July 1553

Hampton Court Palace

British

Libra

Francis DrakeFrancis Drake
(Navigator)

1540 AD

27 January 1596

Tavistock, Devon

British

Shah JahanShah Jahan
(Mughal Emperor)

05 January 1592

01 February 1666

Lahore

Indian

Capricorn

Hieronymus BoschHieronymus Bosch
(Painter)

1450 AD

09 August 1516

Burgundian Netherlands

Dutch

John CalvinJohn Calvin
(Protestant Reformer, Theologian, Pastor)

10 July 1509

27 May 1564

Noyon

French

Cancer

Johannes KeplerJohannes Kepler
(Astronomer, Mathematician & Astrologer)

27 December 1571

15 November 1630

Weil der Stadt

German

Capricorn

Catherine of AragonCatherine of Aragon
(Ambassador)

16 December 1485

07 January 1536

Alcalá de Henares

British

Sagittarius

Amerigo VespucciAmerigo Vespucci
(Discoverer of South America)

09 March 1454

22 February 1512

Florence

Italian

Pisces

Cardinal RichelieuCardinal Richelieu
(French Clergyman, Noble and Statesman)

09 September 1585

04 December 1642

Paris

French

Virgo

Tycho BraheTycho Brahe
(Astronomer)

14 December 1546

24 October 1601

Knutstorp Castle, Sweden

Danish

Sagittarius

Mary BoleynMary Boleyn
(Mistress of Henry VIII)

1499 AD

19 July 1543

Blickling Hall, Blickling, United Kingdom

British

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

10 April 1512

14 December 1542

Linlithgow Palace, Linlithgow, United Kingdom

Scottish

Aries

CaravaggioCaravaggio
(Painter)

29 September 1571

18 July 1610

Milan

Italian

Libra

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

13 December 1553

14 May 1610

Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques

French

Sagittarius

JahangirJahangir
(Mughal Emperor)

31 August 1569

08 November 1627

Fatehpur Sikri

Indian

Virgo

Lady Jane GreyLady Jane Grey
(Monarch)

1537 AD

12 February 1554

Leicestershire

British

Juan Ponce de LeónJuan Ponce de León
(Explorer)

1474 AD

30 June 1521

Santervás de Campos

Spanish

Samuel de ChamplainSamuel de Champlain
(Explorer)

31 July 1574

25 December 1635

Hiers-Brouage

French

Leo

Miyamoto MusashiMiyamoto Musashi
(Swordsman & Warrior)

1584 AD

13 June 1645

Japan

Japanese

John KnoxJohn Knox
(Protestant Leader)

1514 AD

24 November 1572

Near Haddington, East Lothian,, Kingdom of Scotland

Scottish

Peter Paul RubensPeter Paul Rubens
(Painter & Printmaker)

28 June 1577

30 May 1640

Siegen, Nassau-Dillenburg (now North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany)

Belgian

Cancer

Sandro BotticelliSandro Botticelli
(Painter)

1445 AD

17 May 1510

Florence, Republic of Florence

Italian

HumayunHumayun
(Mughal Emperor)

17 March 1508

27 January 1556

Kabul

Indian

Pisces

John DonneJohn Donne
(Poet, lawyer, satirist)

22 January 1572

31 March 1631

London, England

British

Aquarius

Miguel de CervantesMiguel de Cervantes
(Novelist)

29 September 1547

22 April 1616

Alcalá de Henares

Spanish

Libra

Diego VelazquezDiego Velázquez (Painter)
(Painter)

06 June 1599

06 August 1660

Seville

Spanish

Gemini

Francis XavierFrancis Xavier
(Missionary)

07 April 1506

03 December 1552

Javier

Spanish

Aries

Anne HutchinsonAnne Hutchinson
(Puritan spiritual adviser)

20 July 1591

20 August 1643

Alford, Lincolnshire, England

American

Cancer

MirabaiMirabai
(Bhakti Saint)

1498 AD

1557 AD

Kudki

Indian

Hernando de SotoHernando de Soto
(Explorer)

1500 AD

21 May 1542

Province of Badajoz, Spain

Spanish

ParacelsusParacelsus
(Physician, Botanist, Astrologer)

17 December 1493

24 September 1541

Einsiedeln, Switzerland

Swiss

Sagittarius

BalboaVasco Núñez de Balboa
(Spanish Explorer)

1475 AD

15 January 1519

Jerez de los Caballeros, Spain

Spanish

William HarveyWilliam Harvey
(Physician)

01 April 1578

03 June 1657

Folkestone

British

Aries

George HerbertGeorge Herbert
(Poet)

03 April 1593

01 March 1633

Montgomery

British,Welsh

Aries

Michel de MontaigneMichel de Montaigne
(Philosopher)

28 February 1533

13 September 1592

Château de Montaigne

French

Pisces

John NapierJohn Napier
(Inventor of Logarithms)

01 February 1550

04 April 1617

Merchiston Tower, Edinburgh

Scottish

Aquarius

Claudio MonteverdiClaudio Monteverdi
(Composer)

15 May 1567

29 November 1643

Cremona

Italian

Taurus

Giuseppe ArcimboldoGiuseppe Arcimboldo
(Painter)

1527 AD

11 July 1593

Milan, Italy

Italian

Ben JonsonBen Jonson
(Dramatist, Poet & Actor)

11 June 1572

06 August 1637

Westminster, London, England

British

Gemini

Andreas VesaliusAndreas Vesalius
(Founding Father of the Modern Human Anatomy)

31 December 1514

15 October 1564

Brussels

Belgian

Capricorn

Artemisia GentileschiArtemisia Gentileschi
(Painter)

08 July 1593

1656 AD

Rome

Italian

Cancer

Giovanni Pierluigi da PalestrinaGiovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
(Composer)

03 February 1525

02 February 1594

Palestrina

Italian

Aquarius

John of the CrossJohn of the Cross
(Roman Catholic Saint)

24 June 1542

14 December 1591

Fontiveros

Spanish

Cancer

Anthony van DyckAnthony van Dyck
(Painter)

22 March 1599

09 December 1641

Antwerp

Belgian

Aries

Giorgio VasariGiorgio Vasari
(Painter, Architect)

30 July 1511

27 June 1574

Arezzo, Tuscany

Italian

Leo

Thomas TallisThomas Tallis
(Composer, Organist)

30 January 1505

23 November 1585

Kent

British

Aquarius

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

14 May 1553

27 March 1615

Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

French

Taurus

Giovanni BelliniGiovanni Bellini
(Renaissance Painter)

1430 AD

29 November 1516

Venice

Italian

Nicolas PoussinNicolas Poussin
(French Painter)

15 June 1594

19 November 1665

Near Les Andelys, Normandy, Kingdom of France (now France)

French

Gemini

tintoretto Tintoretto
(Renaissance Painter)

29 September 1518

31 May 1594

Venice, Italy

Italian

Libra

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

10 November 1565

25 February 1601

England

British

Scorpio

Piri ReisPiri Reis
(Ottoman Admiral, Geographer, Cartographer.)

1465 AD

1553 AD

Gelibolu, Turkey

Turkish

John DowlandJohn Dowland
(Singer, Lutenist and Composer)

1563 AD

20 February 1626

London

British

Maximilian II, Holy Roman EmperorMaximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
(Holy Roman Emperor)

31 July 1527

12 October 1576

Vienna

Hungarian

Leo

Gerardus Mercator Gerardus Mercator
(Cartographer)

05 March 1512

02 December 1594

Rupelmonde, County of Flanders (in modern-day Belgium)

Belgian

Pisces

Pedro de AlvaradoPedro de Alvarado
(Explorers)

1485 AD

04 July 1541

Badajoz

Spanish

Guru Ram DasGuru Ram Das
(Fourth Sikh Guru)

09 October 1534

01 September 1581

Lahore

Indian

Libra

Guru HargobindGuru Hargobind
(Sixth Sikh Guru)

05 July 1595

19 March 1644

Amritsar

Indian

Cancer

Guru ArjanGuru Arjan
(Fifth Sikh Guru)

15 April 1563

30 May 1606

Goindval

Indian

Aries

Annibale CarracciAnnibale Carracci
(Painter)

03 November 1560

15 July 1609

Bologna

Italian

Scorpio

Francisco Vásquez de CoronadoFrancisco Vásquez de Coronado
(Explorers)

1510 AD

22 September 1554

Salamanca

Spanish

Heinrich SchützHeinrich Schütz
(Composer, Organist)

08 October 1585

06 November 1672

Bad Köstritz

German

Libra

Guru AngadGuru Angad
(Second Sikh Guru)

31 March 1504

28 March 1552

Sri Muktsar Sahib

Aries

Albrecht AltdorferAlbrecht Altdorfer
(Artist)

1480 AD

12 February 1538

Regensburg

German

William GilbertWilliam Gilbert
(Astronomer, Physicist and Physician)

24 May 1544

30 November 1603

Colchester

British

Gemini

Cornelis DrebbelCornelis Drebbel
(Inventor of world’s first navigable submarine)

1572 AD

08 November 1633

Alkmaar

Dutch

Charles IXCharles IX
(King of France)

27 June 1550

30 May 1574

Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France

French

Cancer

William AdamsWilliam Adams
(First ever Western Samurai)

24 September 1564

16 May 1620

Gillingham

British

Libra

Jacques ArcadeltJacques Arcadelt
(Composer)

1507 AD

14 October 1568

Belgium

French

King James IKing James I

19 June 1566

27 March 1625

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

British

Gemini

Francesca CacciniFrancesca Caccini
(Composer & Singer)

18 September 1587

1641 AD

Florence,

Italian

Virgo

Saint Teresa of AvilaSaint Teresa of Avila
(Saint)

28 March 1515

04 October 1582

Gotarrendura

Spanish

Aries

Albrecht DurerAlbrecht Durer

21 May 1471

06 April 1528

Nuremberg

German

Taurus

Luca MarenzioLuca Marenzio
(Composer & Singer)

18 October 1553

22 August 1599

Coccaglio

Italian

Libra

Willebrord SnellWillebrord Snell
(Astronomer & Mathematician)

13 June 1580

30 October 1626

Leiden, Dutch Republic

Dutch

Gemini

Suleiman the MagnificentSuleiman The Magnificent
(10th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)

06 November 1494

06 September 1566

Trabzon, Ottoman Empire

Turkish

Scorpio

John FarmerJohn Farmer
(Composer)

1570 AD

1601 AD

England

British

John CottonJohn Cotton
(Theologian & Preacher)

04 December 1585

23 December 1652

Derbyshire, England

Sagittarius

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