Interesting Happenings
From Around the World
1550-1599 AD

Linda Haas Davenport
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1500: World population estimated at 400 million. Thanks to Johannes Gutenberg's invention of movable type it is estimated there are now a half a million printed books in circulation. Portuguese Admiral Pedro Alvares Cabral discovers Brazil. Portuguese explorer Gaspar Corte-Real sees Greenland and explores the coast of Newfoundland. His men bring back tales of "men of the forest and white bears". Governor Francisco de Bobadilla of Santo Domingo captures Christopher Columbus and returns him in shackles to Spain. Jakob Nufer, a pig gelder, of Siegershausen, Switzerland, performs (on his wife) the first recorded incidence of a woman surviving a cesarean section.

1501: First Black slave brought to Spanish Colony of Santo Domingo. Michelangelo sculpts the David (finished in 1504).

1502: Coiled springs invented.

1503: Leonardo da Vinci begins painting the Mona Lisa. (He will finish it in 1519 just before his death.) The pocket handkerchief comes into general use in polite European society.

1504: The first portable (but not very accurate) timepiece was invented in Nuremberg, Germany by Peter Henlein. English guilds go under state control.

1506: Columbus dies believing he had reached Asia by sailing west.

1508: Leonardo da Vinci sketches and describes several forms of contact lenses. Juan Ponce de Leon explores and colonizes the island of Puerto Rico.

1509: Michelangelo paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

1510: Leonardo da Vinci designs a horizontal water wheel. Spain begins shipping gold from the New World, estimated at about 3,000 pounds per year. This will continue until 1550.

1512: English build double-decker warships.

1513: Vasco Nunez de Balboa crosses the Isthmus of Panama and becomes the first European to see the Pacific Ocean. Juan Ponce de Leon explores Florida in search of gold and a fabled fountain of youth. He finds neither, but claims Florida for Spain. Urs Graf invents etching.

1515: Coffee from Arabia appears in Europe.

1516: Music printed for the first time, in Italy.

1517: Martin Luther nails his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany thus setting off the Reformation.

1518: Anthony Blatner builds the first fire engine in Germany.

1519: Hernando (Hernam) Cortes leads a dramatic expedition against the Aztecs of Mexico. Smallpox introduced by the Spanish devastates the Indians of Santo Domingo, killing more than a third of the native population.

1520: Plague breaks out in Dublin. Magellan Strait is named after Portuguese navigator and explorer Ferdinand Magellan who sailed through the strait at the southern tip of South America. Juan Ponce de Leon is fatally wounded by an Indian arrow while trying to colonize Florida.

1521: Martin Luther appears before the Diet of Worms and is excommunicated and condemned. Ferdinand Magellan Portuguese explorer (first to successful to circumnavigate the Earth) is killed by natives in present day Philippines. First Running of the Bulls held in Pamplona, Spain.

1522: The remainder of Megallan's crew returns to Spain thus completing the first trip around the world. Slaves rebel on Hispaniola. Martin Luther translates New Testament into German.

1523: Two Augustine monks (followers of Luther) are burned at the stake in Brussels. The first marine insurance policies are issued in Florence.

1524: German peasants demand end of serfdom. Martin Luther abandons life in the monastery and renounces his vows.

1525: Martin Luther, under the protection of Frederick the Wise, works on the translation of the Bible into German. Hops are introduced into England from Artois. William Tyndale with assistance from Observant friar William Roy completes the first English edition of the New Testament. Tyndale's was the first English translation to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, and the first to take advantage of the new medium of print, which allowed for its wide distribution.

1526: A full edition of the New Testament was produced by the printer <Peter Schoeffer in Worms, Copies of William Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament reach England. Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon dies attempting to colonize Cape Fear, North Carolina.

1527: Hernan Cortes Spanish explorer brings cocoa home to the Spanish court. The Spanish kept it secret for over a century - taxing it so highly that, like the ancient Mexicans, only the rich could afford it.

1528: Italian explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano, is killed and eaten by natives in the Caribbean. English weavers riot over Wolsey's plan to move wool sources. Paris becomes the capital of France. Panfilo de Narvaez begins his fruitless search for gold in Tampa Bay. Baldassare Castiglione, Italian courtier, publishes The Book of the Courtier (a "manners" book embodying the ideals of the Italian Renaissance, translated in many languages),

1529: The second Diet of Speyer is held. Those who protest against Rome are given the name of Protestants. The hymn Away in a Manger published.

1530: Carpenters use a vice to hold wood steady.

1532: Francisco Pizarro and his brothers begin their conquest of the Inca in Peru.

1534: Roman Catholic religious order commonly known as the Jesuits founded in Paris, France by Ignatius Loyola and six of his fellow university students, including Francis Xavier. Reformation begins as Henry VIII makes himself head of English Church after being excommunicated by the Pope.

1535: Sir Thomas Moore executed as a traitor for refusal to acknowledge the King's religious authority. French explorer Jacaques Cartier discovers tobacco being used by the Iroquoian Indians along the St. Lawrence River and brings the tobacco plant back to Europe. The most first known dictionary published in England - Latin Dictionary "wordbook" by Sir Thomas Elyot.

1536: John Calvin establishes Presbyterian form of Protestantism in Switzerland writes Institutes of the Christian Religion. William Tyndale is executed for translating the New Testament into English. Paracelsus publishes The Great Surgery Book.

1537: Spanish explorer Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada discovers the potato and brings it back to Spain. Pope Paul III tries to outlaw Indian slavery, to no avail.

1538: Myles Coverdale prints first complete English Bible, (The Great Bible) the 80 books of the Old Testament, New Testament and the Apocrypha.

1539: Giovanni de Verrazano, sailing under the French flag, explores the New England coast from the Carolinas to Nova Scotia. Discovers New York Bay. Hernando de Soto starts his expedition (1539-1541) to explore the interior of North America (what is now the southeastern US) penetrating as far west as Oklahoma and discovering the Mississippi River he claims the area for Spain. Coronardo and de Soto's expeditions increase Europe's interest and knowledge of the interior of North America. Degree requiring parish baptisms, marriages and burials registers issued in England.

1540: Valerius Cordus discovers ether, an early anaesthetic, was made from alcohol and sulfuric acid. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado leads another expedition (1540-1542) from Mexico, north across the Rio Grande through New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. The first to see the Grand Canyon. Neither de Soto or de Coronardo discovered the fabled "7 Cities of Gold" they were seeking. First evidence that California was not an island comes from Francisco de Ulloa, who sailed up the Gulf of California, then around the flanking peninsula and its west coast.

1541: John Knox leads Reformation in Scotland, goes on to establishes Presbyterian Church there in 1560. Michelangelo completes Last Judgement.

1543: Andreas Vesalius of Brussels publishes a seven-volume work called On the Structure of the Human Body. The first work published that accurately described the human body. Compiled from notes made during dissections of human bodies it dispels the myths of earlier times and causes a major furor in Europe. Nicolaus Copernicus of Poland publishes his On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres just before his death. This publication ventures the idea that the sun is the center of the solar system. Hernando de Soto is secretly buried in the Mississippi River, so the Indians will not learn of his death. First Protestant burned at the stake in Spain.

1544: Europe is introduced to chocolate when Dominican Friars, bearing beaten chocolate as gifts, take a delegation of Maya to visit Prince Philip in Spain.

1545: Silver is discovered in the Andes Mountains and starts a "silver rush" in Spain. First botanical garden (Orto botanico di Pisa) established, in Italy.

1546: Maya revolt in New Spain crushed by Spanish troops.

1548: First theatre with a roof opens in Paris.

1549: Angered by visits of Spanish slavers, Florida Indians kill Spanish missionary Dominica Luis Cancer of Babastro when he landed at Tampa Bay.

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