16th Century

As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century lasted from January 1, 1501 to December 31, 1600. It is regarded by historians as the century in which the rise of the West occurred.

During the 16th century, Spain and Portugal explored the world's seas and opened world-wide oceanic trade routes. 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 Asia.

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 extended the power of the Mughal Empire to cover most of the Indian sub continent. His rule significantly influenced arts, and culture in the region.

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 Super Nova. 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.

Read more about 16th Century:  Significant People, Inventions, Discoveries, Introductions

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