Centuries: 15th century - 16th century - 17th century
- January 16 - The Duke of Norfolk is tried for treason for his part in the Ridolfi plot to restore Catholicism in England.
- April 1 - The Sea Beggars, Netherlandish Calvinist rebels, capture the port city of Brielle. This leads to a wave of uprisings in Holland and Zealand, leaving most of those provinces (with the exception of Amsterdam, under rebel control.
- August 18 - Wedding in Paris of the Huguenot King Henry III of Navarre with Marguerite de France, sister of King Charles, in a supposed attempt to reconcile Protestants and Catholics.
- August 24 - St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in Paris. Catholics in Paris murder thousands of Protestants, including Gaspard de Coligny, at the order of King Charles IX. Henry of Navarre and the Prince of Condé barely escape the same fate. This brings about the Fourth War of Religion in France.
- December - The Duke of Alva, Spanish commander in the Netherlands, lays siege to Haarlem.
- Ending of the Muromachi period in Japan
- Tycho Brahe observes supernova in Cassiopeia
- Vilcapampa, last independent remnant of the Inca Empire, conquered by Spanish
- June 11 - Ben Jonson, English dramatist.
- Emperor Go-Yozei of Japan
- Johann Bayer, German astronomer.
- John Donne, English poet
- Michael Praetorius,german composer between the music styles renaissance and baroque (perhaps born in 1571; died in 1621)