Did you know? - Fascinating facts and useful trivia factoids about people, products and places

Sixteenth Century History

1500 – 1549

1500 World population 400 million.

1501 First flush toilets.

1502 Coiled springs invented.

1503 Leonardo da Vinci begins painting the Mona Lisa. Michelangelo sculpts the David (finished in 1504). First handkerchief used in Europe.

1506 The building of St Peter’s Basilica started in Rome under Pope Julius II. The idea of a church for the popes was conceived by Nicholas V during his reign (1447-1455.) Walls were erected, but construction stopped when Nicholas died. Building would be completed in 1626.

1509 Michelangelo paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

1510 Leonardo da Vinci designs horizontal water wheel, an early version of the modern water turbine. Pocket watch invented by Peter Henlein, who also invents the spring-powered clock.

1512 English build double-decker warships.

1513 Balboa becomes the first European to encounter the Pacific ocean.

1514 Polish astronomer Nicolas Copernicus suggests that the earth moves around the sun.

1515 Coffee from Arabia appears in Europe.

1516 Music printed for the first time, in Italy. Erasmus produces a Greek/Latin parallel New Testament.

1517 Martin Luther begins the Reformation by posting 95 theses denouncing church abuses on church doors in Wittenberg.

1518 Anthony Blatner built the first fire engine in Germany.

1519 Ferdinand Magellan sets sail from Spain to sail around the world. Ulrich Zwingli begins Reformation in Switzerland. Charles I of Spain becomes Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

1520 Martin Luther excommunicated by Pope Leo X. Magellan reaches the Pacific, is killed by Philippine natives in 1521.

1521 First Running of the Bulls held in Pamplona, Spain.

1522 Martin Luther translates New Testament into German.

1524 David Reuveni, a Jew, appears in Venice, claiming that his brother was the king of the lost tribe of Reuven and that he had come to make a pact with the Christians against the Moslems. His appearance caused great excitement among Jew and non-Jew. One of his followers, Shlomo Molcho, reverted to Judaism and announced himself as the Messiah. Both were sent to the stake, Molcho in 1532, Reuveni in 1535.

1525 William Tyndale prints the first English edition of the New Testament.

1527 Castiglione publishes The Courtier.

1529 The hymn Away in a Manger published.

1530 Carpenters use a vice to hold wood steady.

1534 On 15 August, in Paris, France, Ignatius Loyola and 6 of his fellow university students, including Francis Xavier, made vows of chastity, obedience, poverty and pledged to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, thus founding the Society of Jesus, an all-male Roman Catholic religious order commonly known as the Jesuits.

1535 Reformation in England as Henry VIII makes himself head of English Church after being excommunicated by Pope. Myles Coverdale prints first complete English Bible, the 80 books of the Old Testament, New Testament and the Apocrypha.

1536 Paracelsus publishes The Great Surgery Book. Michelangleo completes Last Judgement. Henry VIII executes Anne Boleyn, his second wife. John Calvin establishes Presbyterian form of Protestantism in Switzerland, writes Institutes of the Christian Relgion.

1537 John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers prints the second complete Bible in English, the Matthews Bible.

1539 The “Great Bible” printed, the first English Bible to authorized for public use.

1540 Potato brought to Europe from South America. Ether, an early anaesthetic, was made from alcohol and sulphuric acid.

1541 Henry VIII proclaimed King of Ireland.

1543 Copernicus publishes De Revolutionibus Orbium Caoelestium (The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), the theory that earth revolves around the sun, and dies shortly thereafter. First Protestant burned at the stake in Spain.

1545 First botanical garden established, in Italy.

1547 Ivan the Terrible (Ivan IV) crowned Czar of Russia.

1548 First theatre with a roof opens in Paris.