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The 16th century begins with the Julian year 1501 and ends with either the Julian or the Gregorian year 1600 (depending on the reckoning used; the Gregorian calendar introduced a lapse of 10 days in October 1582). The term is often used to refer to the 1500s, the century between January 1, 1500 and December 31, 1599.

The 16th century is regarded by historians as the century in which the rise of Western civilization and the Age of the Islamic Gunpowders occurred. During the 16th century, Mauritius was introduced on maps, Spain and Portugal explored the Indian Ocean and opened worldwide oceanic trade routes, and Vasco da Gama was given permission by the Indian Sultans to settle in the wealthy Bengal Sultanate. Large parts of the New World became Spanish and Portuguese colonies, and while the Portuguese became the masters of Asia's and Africa's Indian Ocean trade, the Spanish opened trade across the Pacific Ocean, linking the Americas with India.

This era of colonialism established mercantilism as the leading school of economic thought, where the economic system was viewed as a zero-sum game in which any gain by one party required a loss by another. The mercantilist doctrine encouraged the many intra-European wars of the period and arguably fueled European expansion and imperialism throughout the world until the 19th century or early 20th century.

The Protestant Reformation gave a major blow to the authority of the papacy and the 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 Italy, various contributions made by renaissance leading figures led to the foundation of important subjects which include accounting and political science. Galileo Galilei invented the first thermometer and made substantial contributions in the field of Scientific Revolution. In England, the British-Italian Alberico Gentili wrote the first book on public international law and divided secularism from canon law and Catholic theology.

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 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.

In the Indian subcontinent, following the defeat of the Delhi Sultanate, new powers emerged, the Suri Empire founded by Sher Shah Suri and the Mughal Empire by Babur, a direct descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan. His successors Humayun and Akbar, enlarged the empire to include most of South Asia. The empire developed a strong and stable economy in the world, leading to commercial expansion and greater patronage of culture, which significantly influenced the course of Indian history.

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

Copernicus proposed the heliocentric universe, which was met with strong resistance, and Tycho Brahe refuted the theory of celestial spheres through observational measurement of the 1572 appearance of a Milky Way supernova. These events directly challenged the long-held notion of an immutable universe supported by Ptolemy and Aristotle, and led to major revolutions in astronomy and science.

16th century Media

71,328 media by topicpage 1 of 714
Tartariae sive Magni Chami Regni tÿpus.

Tartariae sive Magni Chami Regni tÿpus.

Covers northern Asia. Relief shown pictorially. From Abraham Ortelius's atlas: Theatrvm Orbis Terrarvm, 1603 ed. Hand col. Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image. Includes tex... more

Plate

Plate

This large plate is decorated with a central vine bearing grapes, enclosed by flowering tendrils and a wave pattern around the rim. It is a type of ware intended for the Islamic market. In the 16th century the ... more

The Funeral of Lucretia

The Funeral of Lucretia

Master of Marradi (Italian, Florence, active late 15th/early 16th century)

Rakan

Rakan

Unidentified Artist Japanese, 16th century Muromachi period (1336–1573)

The Rape of Lucretia

The Rape of Lucretia

Master of Marradi (Italian, Florence, active late 15th/early 16th century)

Vine Ornament with Birds

Vine Ornament with Birds

Faithfully depicted plants were a favourite theme in 15th and 16th-century silver- and goldsmith work. In that period silversmiths themselves developed endless variations, such as the oak leaf scroll on the cha... more

Backplate
Brayette
Sallet
Sallet
Armet
Armet
Halberd
Armet
Helmet
Half Armor
Armor
Christ in Gethsemane

Christ in Gethsemane

Anonymous, German, 16th century

Armor
Halberd
Armor
Korseke
Runka
Guisarme
Armet
Armet
Jonas, Justus

Jonas, Justus

Stecher: Bry, Theodor de Stecher: Boissard, Robert Verleger: Boissard, Jean-Jacques Zeichner: Boissard, Jean-Jacques Drucker: Becker, Matthäus (der Ältere) Datierung: 1597 / 1599 Druckort: Frankfurt (Main)

Window

Window

Anonymous, Italian, 16th century (Italian, active Central Italy, ca. 1550–1580)

Descent of Christ into Limbo

Descent of Christ into Limbo

Anonymous, Italian, 16th century (Italian, active Central Italy, ca. 1550–1580)

Neptune Seated Blowing a Conch Shell
The Epirian Sibyl

The Epirian Sibyl

In Mariette Album, folio 62, bottom center Engraved by Master with the Name of Jesus (Italian, 16th century)

Study of a Scene of Martyrdom (recto); Study of Three Figures (verso)

Study of a Scene of Martyrdom (recto); Study of Three Figures (verso)

Anonymous, Italian, 16th century (Italian, active Central Italy, ca. 1550–1580)

St. Sebastian

St. Sebastian

Anonymous, Italian, 16th century (Italian, active Central Italy, ca. 1550–1580)

Design for a Monument with Minerva?

Design for a Monument with Minerva?

Anonymous, Spanish, 16th century ?

The Agony in the Garden

The Agony in the Garden

Anonymous, Italian, 16th century (Italian, active Central Italy, ca. 1550–1580)

Perspective study of an Arched Colonnade

Perspective study of an Arched Colonnade

Anonymous, French, 16th century

Heavily draped male Figure

Heavily draped male Figure

Anonymous, Italian, 16th century

Front cover from BL Harley 3403, front cover

Front cover from BL Harley 3403, front cover

Front cover of 16th century binding. Image taken from front cover of Commissione of the doge Leonardo Loredan to Francesco Barbarigo as ~podestà~ and captain of Feltre (index Commissione dogali). Written in Lat... more