What happened in the 16th century characteristics and events

Century 16TH

Period that runs from January 1, 1501 to December 31, 1600 AD. C. In this article we will let you know What happened in the 16th century?

The 16th century is the period from January 1, 1501 to December 31, 1600 AD. C. , according to the Gregorian calendar. According to the traditional periodization of history, it is part of the Modern Age .

This is a century characterized by European expansion , especially that of Spain and Portugal, over America and wide regions of Asia and Africa . The territories that had been explored since the last decades of the 15th century began to be conquered and occupied. Thus, modern colonial empires began to form .

At the same time, the Ottoman Empire advanced on Europe.

The papacy was consolidated as a temporal power with territorial claims as well as spiritual ones. This situation was one of the causes that caused the crisis of the Catholic Church , which culminated in the Protestant Reformation and the division of a good part of Christendom .

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Characteristics of 16th century

The main characteristics of the 16th century were the following:

  • Advances in navigation , territorial ambition, and the adventurous spirit of Europeans consolidated Europe’s preeminence in world exploration. During this century, first the expedition of Fernando de Magallanes and Sebastián Elcano and then that of Francis Drake managed to establish navigation routes around the oceans.
  • In Asia, the Ottoman Empire, which had ended the Byzantine Empire by taking the city of Byzantium, began an aggressive expansion into European territory and North Africa.
  • The Spanish and Portuguese empires consolidated their positions in America and began the effective conquest of the territory with different strategies. While Portugal installed factories on the coast to exploit natural resources, Spain took possession of the territory, started wars of conquest against the American peoples, founded cities and incorporated the territory into its empire.
  • The Spanish Empire became a world power under the reign of the first kings of the Habsburg dynasty: Carlos I and his son, Felipe II. During the reign of the latter, the empire reached its maximum extension by incorporating the kingdom of Portugal with its possessions in America, Asia and Africa, to its territory.
  • The Catholic religion lost its hegemony in Europe after the separation of large territories in the north and the British Isles. However, it spread to the conquered overseas territories thanks to the papacy’s links with the Spanish Crown and the evangelization work of the missionary orders.
  • The African slave trade began , which were captured in Africa and transported to America, where they were sold. This trade would only end in the 19th century .
  • In the arts, the Renaissance reached its greatest achievements. The city of Rome became an artistic center from where the Renaissance influence spread to Spain and France. Those who are considered the greatest exponents of the period worked in Italy, Rafael Sanzio, Leonardo da Vinci, Miguel Ángel Buonarroti and Tiziano Vecellio. Albrecht Dürer stood out in northern Europe. From the 1530s or so, a new artistic style, Mannerism , spread through the European courts.
  • Thanks to the expansion of the printing press , invented in the previous century, written culture reached a wide extension . Throughout the century, new scientific discoveries, treatises from different disciplines and literary texts were published, and reformist and critical religious ideas of the Catholic Church were also disseminated, contributing to the breakdown of Christianity.

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Most important events

The most relevant events of the 16th century were the following:

  • In Rome, the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica began .
  • In 1517 the Protestant Reformation began in Germany.
  • The Society of Jesus was founded , a Catholic order aimed at combating heresy and paganism that had a strong influence on the counter-reformist politics of the Catholic Church and on American evangelization.
  • In England, King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church and created the Anglican Church , a national church headed by the king.
  • Nicolás Copernicus published De revolutionibus , where he proposed his heliocentric theory . In addition to the revolutionary nature of his theory, the fact of replacing the knowledge of the world based on religious postulates, which supported a geocentric theory, with others based on scientific research, gave impetus to the Scientific Revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries .
  • The Catholic Church started the Counter-Reformation from the convocation of the Council of Trent , in 1545.
  • After long wars within the Holy Roman Empire , Emperor Charles V signed the Peace of Augsburg with the forces of the Schmalkalden League. In this treaty he recognized the German princes religious freedom . Thus, within the empire Catholic territories coexisted with Protestants.
  • The 80 Years War between the Netherlands and the Spanish Empire began. This war would end in the seventeenth century with the independence of the United Provinces.
  • In France there was a long conflict that lasted between 1562 and 1598 between Catholics and Protestants (the Huguenots) known as the “wars of religion.” In the midst of these wars, the mass murder of Protestants in Paris in 1572 is remembered as the Massacre of St. Bartholomew .
  • To confront the Turkish advance on Europe, Pope Pius created the Holy League, a military coalition made up of Spain, the Republic of Venice, the Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy, Malta, and the Papal States. That same year, the league defeated the Ottoman forces at the Battle of Lepanto .
  • At the initiative of Pope Gregory XIII, the old Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian calendar , which is in force today in most countries.

16th century in America

The most important events that occurred during the 16th century in America were the following:

  • The Spanish advance on the American territory accelerated. Hernán Cortés, allied with various enemy peoples of the Aztecs , conquered the city of Tenochtitlán and ended the Aztec Empire. Shortly after, in Peru, Francisco Pizarro took advantage of the conflict between the pretenders to the Inca throne to defeat his armies and conquer the Inca Empire .
  • The Spanish Empire established a commercial monopoly system with the American colonies, by which it forced them to trade exclusively with Spain.
  • The exploration of the American territory was oriented to the search for a passage that would unite the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific. During this process, the first explorations of the Río de la Plata area and the Patagonian coast were carried out. Finally, in 1520, Fernando de Magallanes found the way and two years later part of his crew completed the first round the world .
  • With the conquest of America underway, Spain took care of territorial organization. The first viceroyalties, New Spain and Peru, were founded, along with the main Spanish cities in America: Lima, Mexico, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Cartagena de Indias, Santiago de Chile, Córdoba, Salta and Jujuy, among others.
  • The process of evangelization of the American population began. From a series of bulls by popes Alexander VI, Adriano VI and Julius II, the Spanish conquest of America was legitimized under the premise of converting its inhabitants to Catholicism. The first religious orders that came to America for evangelization were the Dominicans, the Franciscans, and the Mercedarians.
  • In Chile began the Arauco War between the Spanish conquerors and indigenous peoples, especially Mapuche, which would last 236 years.

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