16th century

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15th century - 16th century - 17th century
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1550s 1560s 1570s 1580s 1590s

As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century lasted from 1501 to 1600.

During the 16th century, Spain and Portugal explored and conquered the world seas. Latin America became a Spanish colony, while Portugal became the master of the Indian Ocean.

In Europe, the Protestant Reformation gave a major blow to the authority of the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church. European politics became dominated by religious conflicts, with the groundwork for the epochal Thirty Years' War being laid towards the end of the century.

In the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire continued to expand, with the Sultan taking the title of Caliph, while dealing with a resurgent Persia. Iran and Iraq were caught by major popularity of the once-obscure Shiite sect of Islam under the rule of the Safavid dynasty of warrior-mystics, providing grounds for a Persia independent of the majority-Sunni Muslim world.

China evacuated the coastal areas, because of Japanese piracy. Japan was suffering under a severe civil war at the time.

Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great tried to reconcile the major religions by founding a new religion, Din-i-Ilahi. Akbar was convinced that no religion has the absolute truth.














Significant people


See also: Exploration

Visual artists

Mona Lisa
Italian: La Gioconda, French: La Joconde
Artist Leonardo da Vinci
Year c. 1503–1506
Type Oil on poplar
Dimensions 77 cm × 53 cm (30 in × 21 in)
Location Musée du Louvre, Paris

Musicians and Composers


Science and Philosophy

Inventions, discoveries, introductions


  1. Polybius: "The Rise Of The Roman Empire", Page 36, Penguin, 1979.
  2. 16th Century Timeline (1501 t0 1600)
  3. "History of Smallpox – Smallpox Through the Ages". Texas Department of State Health Services.
  4. A LIST OF NATIONAL EPIDEMICS OF PLAGUE IN ENGLAND 1348-1665. Archived from the original on 2009-05-03. Retrieved on 2009-04-25.
  5. The Sweating Sickness. Story of London.. Accessed 2009-04-25. Archived 2009-05-03.
  6. Life Span of Suleiman the Magnificent 1494-1566
  7. Drake (1978, p.1). The date of Galileo's birth is given according to the Julian calendar, which was then in force throughout the whole of Christendom. In 1582 it was replaced in Italy and several other Catholic countries with the Gregorian calendar. Unless otherwise indicated, dates in this article are given according to the Gregorian calendar.
Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.
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