(15th century - 16th century - 17th century - more centuries)
As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century was that century which lasted from 1501 to 1600.
See also: 16th century in literature
- Beginning of the "Little Ice Age", a cooling period that resulted in lower crop yields across the world, and harsher climates especially in northern latitudes.
- The modern square root symbol is first used.
Portugal conquers the Sultanate of Malacca. Start of Portuguese colonisation in South-East Asia. (1511)
Castile invades the kingdom of Navarre (1512).
Niccolò Machiavelli writes The Prince.
- The Ottoman Empire reaches its peak during the reign of sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (reigned 1520-1566). Kingdom of Hungary in shambles after numerous attacks, troops of the Ottoman Empire directly attack the Habsburg Empire and lay siege upon Vienna, but fail to conquer the city in 1529.
- European explorers explore the New World. Castile conquers the Aztec Empire in Mexico (1521) and the Inca Empire in South America (1533), resulting in the destruction of the native civilizations of Mesoamerica and the Andes. Vast increase in amount of gold in circulation in Europe. The horse introduced to the Americas.
- First circumnavigation of the globe by a ship of Ferdinand Magellan's expedition. Only one ship survived the journey, under the command of the Basque captain Juan Sebastián Elcano (1522).
Protestant reform of the Christian church in several countries in Northern Europe.
Copernicus publishes his theory that the Earth and the other planets revolve around the Sun (1543)
- The Council of Trent (1545 - 1563), one of the ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church, defined a large number of new dogmas in response to the Protestant Reformation.
- In the Dutch revolt of 1568-1648, a small nation gained independence from the superpower of the day (Spain).
Poland and Lithuania form the Commonwealth (1569 - 1795)
Gregorian Calendar adopted by Catholic countries (1582)
- After the Fall of Antwerp (1585), many of its merchants fled to Amsterdam
Michelangelo Buonarroti, Italian painter and sculptor (1475 - 1564).
Thomas More, English politician and author (1478 - 1535).
Martin Luther, German religious reformer (1483 - 1546).
Hernán Cortés, Spanish Conquistador (1485 - 1547).
- King Henry VIII of England, founder of Anglicanism (1491 - 1547).
- King Francis I of France, considered the first Renaissance monarch of his Kingdom (1494 - 1547).
Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Conqueror and legal reformer (1494 - 1566).
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and the first to reign as King of Spain. Involved in almost constant conflict with France and the Ottoman Empire while promoting the Spanish colonization of the Americas (1500 - 1558).
- King Philip II of Spain, self-proclaimed leader of Counter-Reformation (1527 - 1598).
- Queen Elizabeth I of England, central figure of the Elizabethan era (1533 - 1603).
Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish author (1547 - 1616).
- King Henry IV of France and Navarre, ended the French Wars of Religion and reunited the kingdom under his command (1553 - 1610).
William Shakespeare, English author (1564 - 1616).
Inventions, discoveries, introductions
Decades and years