Europe in 16th Century

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 3, 2012

Time Line


1469 Crowns of Aragon and Castile are politically united
1478 Establishment of Spanish Inquisition
1492 Expulsion of Jews from Spain
1497 Juana marries Philip the Handsome of Ghent
1499 Expulsion of Muslims from Spain
1500 Birth of Charles of Ghent; will become Charles I of Spain in 1516 and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1519
1509 Catherine of Aragon marries Henry VIII of England
1553 Mary Tudor becomes Queen of England
1558 Elizabeth Tudor becomes Queen of England
1588 Defeat of the Spanish Armada
1603 Death of Elizabeth I


Europe in the 16th Century

The sixteenth century was a chaotic time in Europe. At the beginning of the century, monarchies were largely hereditary estates with monarchs who had to be constantly on the alert for assassination or invasion—either from within, by local rivals, or from without, by hostile neighboring countries. By the end of the era, most nations had taken important steps toward achieving modern centralized governments. Some nations succeeded much better than others.

The landowner of a hereditary estate could run his property as he pleased, with no interference from others. In the same way, the early monarchs believed that they had the absolute right to rule over their much larger properties— their kingdoms. However, monarchs had to maintain the loyalty of their subjects if they wanted to remain on their thrones. The nobility wanted privileges and power, the advisers and court officials wanted influence over policy, the courts wanted control over the justice system, the military wanted to fight, and the people wanted the monarch’s protection and a healthy economy in which they could support their families. Balancing all these elements called for skills in diplomacy and realism; if the monarch did not possess such skills, the kingdom could not be a dominant power.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

Europe in 16th Century Practice Test

Add your own comment