January 9 – Ivan the Terrible starts the Massacre of Novgorod.
January 23 – The assassination of Scottish regent James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, by James Hamilton (the first recorded assassination using a firearm) throws Scotland into civil war.
February 8 – A magnitude 8.3 earthquake occurs in Concepción, Chile.
February 15 – Venus occults Jupiter; this will next happen in 1818.
February 25 – Pope Pius V excommunicates Queen Elizabeth I of England with the bull Regnans in Excelsis.
May 20 – Abraham Ortelius publishes the first modern atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, in Antwerp.
June 10 – The Kingdom of Livonia is established.
July 3 – Ottoman conquest of Cyprus begins.
July 14 – Pope Pius V issues Quo primum, promulgating the 1570 edition of the Roman Missal.
July 30 – The Sengoku period nihongo Battle of Anegawa 姉川の戦い Ane-gawa no Tatakai occurred near Lake Biwa in Ōmi Province, Japan, between the allied forces of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu, against the combined forces of the Azai and Asakura clans.
August 8 – The Peace of Saint-Germain ends the Third War of Religion in France. Again, the Huguenots are promised religious freedom and political autonomy.
Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo in the service of Miguel López de Legazpi begins conquest of the Kingdom of Maynila.
Construction of the original Catedral Nuestra Señora de La Asunción, the oldest church in Venezuela, begins.
Whitechapel Bell Foundry known to be in existence in London. By the early 21st century it will be the oldest manufacturing company in Great Britain.
Andrea Palladio publishes I quattro libri dell'architettura in Venice.
The Andean population of the Viceroyalty of Peru reaches 1.3 million.
January 11 – The Austrian nobility are granted freedom of religion.
January 23 – The Royal Exchange opens in London, England.
March 18 – The Order of the Knights of Saint John transfer the capital of Malta from Birgu to Valletta.
May 24 – Moscow is burnt by the Crimean army under Devlet I Giray.
June 3 – Following conquest of the Kingdom of Maynila, Spanish Conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi makes Manila a city and the capital of the Philippines.
June 25 – Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Horncastle, is founded in Lincolnshire, England.
June 27 – Establishment of Jesus College "within the City and University of Oxford of Queen Elizabeth's foundation" in England by Welsh cleric and lawyer Hugh Price.
July 25 – St Olave's Grammar School is founded in Tooley Street, London.
August 1 – Ottoman conquest of Cyprus is concluded by the surrender of Famagusta. Cyprus is established as an eyalet of the Ottoman Empire and the first Turkish colony moves into the island.
August 29 – Foundation of Liliw, Laguna, Philippines, by Gat Tayaw, followers and residents as a municipality of Laguna.
September 28 – The House of Commons of England introduces the first pro forma bill, symbolizing its authority over its own affairs.
October 7 – Battle of Lepanto: Spanish, Venetian, and Papal naval forces under Don John of Austria defeat the Turkish fleet of Ali Monizindade Pasha.
Using mercury in the silver extraction process dramatically increases the output of the Potosí mine; thus begins the great silver flow that links the New and Old Worlds.
January 16 – Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, is tried for treason for his part in the Ridolfi plot to restore Catholicism in England. He is executed on June 2.
February – Harrow School is founded, with a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I of England.
February 13 – Elizabeth I of England issues a proclamation which revokes all commissions on account of the frauds which they had fostered.
April 1 – Capture of Brielle: The Sea Beggars, Netherlandish Calvinist rebels, capture the port city of Brielle. This leads to a wave of uprisings in Holland and Zealand against Spanish Habsburg rule, leaving most of those provinces (with the exception of Amsterdam), under rebel control.
May 13 – Pope Gregory XIII succeeds Pope Pius V as the 226th pope.
June 25 – The Sea Beggars capture the city of Gorkum. Several Roman Catholic priests are imprisoned.
July 9 – The Sea Beggars hang nineteen previously imprisoned Roman Catholic priests, the 'Martyrs of Gorkum' at Brielle.
July 11 – Humphrey Gilbert leads 1500 volunteers from England on an expedition to assist the Sea Beggars.
July 19 – Wanli Emperor of China ascends the throne at the age of nine; he will rule for 48 years.
July 29 – August 2 – A large Crimean Tatar–Ottoman army which invaded Russia is routed in the Battle of Molodi.
August 18 – Huguenot King Henry III of Navarre marries Margaret of Valois, sister of King Charles and daughter of Catherine de' Medici, in a supposed attempt to reconcile Protestants and Catholics in France.
August 24 – St. Bartholomew's Day massacre: Catholics in Paris murder thousands of Protestants, including Gaspard de Coligny and Petrus Ramus, at the order of King Charles IX with Catherine de Medici's connivance. Henry of Navarre and the Prince of Condé barely escape the same fate. This brings about the Fourth War of Religion in France.
October 20 – Relief of Goes (Eighty Years' War): Soldiers of the Spanish Tercios wade across the estuary of the Scheldt to relieve the siege of Goes in the Spanish Netherlands.
Siege of Sancerre: Catholic forces of the king lay siege to Sancerre, a Huguenot stronghold in central France. The fortified city holds out for nearly eight months without bombard artillery. This is one of the last times that slings are used in European warfare.
Supernova SN 1572 is first observed in the constellation Cassiopeia by Cornelius Gemma. Tycho Brahe, who notes it two days later, will use it to challenge the prevailing view that stars do not change. The supernova remnant remains visible through 1574.
December – Siege of Haarlem is begun by the Duke of Alva, Spanish commander in the Netherlands.
Neo-Inca State in Vilcabamba, Peru, the last independent remnant of the Inca Empire, is conquered by Spain.
Girolamo Mercuriale from Forlì (Italy) writes the work De morbis cutaneis ("On the diseases of the skin"), the first scientific tract on dermatology.
Imaginary numbers defined by Rafael Bombelli.
Portugal's national epic Os Lusíadas by Luís de Camões is first published.
Georg Braun begins publication of his urban atlas Civitates orbis terrarum in Cologne.
January – Articles of the Warsaw Confederation are signed, sanctioning religious freedom in Poland.
January 25 – Japan – Battle of Mikatagahara: Takeda Shingen defeats Tokugawa Ieyasu.
January 28 – The Croatian–Slovene peasant revolt breaks out against the oppressive nobility; the revolt is quelled violently by February 15; Matija Gubec, leader of the rebellion, is publicly executed in Zagreb.
February–March – The Siege of Noda Castle takes place in Japan.
May 11–16 – The Duke of Anjou is elected to the throne of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by the Polish nobility.
May 26 – Battle of Haarlemmermeer: Geuzen ships, attempting to break the Siege of Haarlem, are defeated by a combined Spanish and Amsterdam fleet.
July 6 – Córdoba in the Viceroyalty of Peru, is founded by Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera.
July 12 – Siege of Haarlem: Spanish forces under the Duke of Alva capture Haarlem after a seven-month siege.
July – Edict of Boulogne signed by Charles IX of France, granting limited rights to Huguenots and ending the Fourth War of Religion in France.
August – Alva begins to besiege Alkmaar in North Holland.
August 27 – Oda Nobunaga drives the 15th Ashikaga shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki out of Kyoto, effectively destroying the Ashikaga shogunate and historically ending the Muromachi and Sengoku periods. The Azuchi–Momoyama period of Japan begins.
September 8–September 16 – Siege of Hikida Castle, Siege of Ichijōdani Castle in Japan: The Asakura clan is eliminated by Oda Nobunaga.
September 22–September 26 – Siege of Odani Castle in Japan: The Azai clan is eliminated by Oda Nobunaga.
October 8 – The Spanish abandon the siege of the city of Alkmaar.
November 15 – Santa Fe, Argentina, is founded by Juan de Garay.
November – Alva resigns as Spanish Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in the Netherlands, and is succeeded by Luis de Requesens, who attempts to pursue a more conciliatory policy.
Sarsa Dengel, emperor of Ethiopia, defeats the Oromo in a battle near Lake Zway.
The first Spanish galleon, laden with silver for the porcelain and silk trade with the Ming dynasty of China, lands at Manila in the Philippines. This occasion marks the beginning of the Spanish silver trade to China that will trump that of the Portuguese, the latter of whom acted as an intermediary between the silver mines of Japan and the luxury items in China to be purchased with that silver. Most of the silver entering China comes from what is now Mexico, Bolivia, and Peru in the New World.
The Portuguese are expelled from the Maldives.
Turkish New Hammam (Török Fürdö) built in Çorum Province.
Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School for Boys, Barnet, England, is formed.
February 23 – The fifth War of Religion against the Huguenots begins in France.
April 14 – Battle of Mookerheyde: Spanish forces under Sancho de Avila defeat the rebel forces of Louis of Nassau, who is killed.
May 30 – On the death of King Charles IX of France, he is succeeded by his brother King Henry of Poland, who becomes King Henry III of France. His mother, Catherine de' Medici, acts as Regent until Henry arrives from Poland.
June 10 – Manila gains cityhood.
August 30 – Guru Ram Das becomes the fourth of the Sikh gurus.
October 3 – The city of Leiden, besieged by the Spanish, is relieved by a Sea Beggars fleet under Louis Boisot.
November 22 – The Juan Fernández Islands in the South Pacific Ocean are discovered by Spanish sailor Juan Fernández.
November 29 – Limahong and Juan de Salcedo quarrel during the Battle of Manila.
December – Murad III succeeds Selim II as Ottoman Emperor.
Prince El-Mirza of Kakheti is defeated in his bid for the throne by his half-brother, Alexander II.
La Alameda, Seville, is laid out in Spain as Europe's first public garden.
January 21 – Queen Elizabeth I of England grants a monopoly on producing printed sheet music to Thomas Tallis and William Byrd.
February 8 – William I of Orange founds Leiden University.
February 13 – Henry III of France is crowned at Reims.
February 14 – Henry III of France marries Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont.
June 24 – William I of Orange marries Charlotte of Bourbon.
June 28 – Battle of Nagashino: Oda Nobunaga defeats Takeda Katsuyori in Japan's first 'modern' battle.
July 7 – Raid of the Redeswire: Sir John Carmichael defeats Sir John Forster. Last battle between England and Scotland.
July 26 – Edmund Grindal succeeds Matthew Parker as Archbishop of Canterbury.
August 5 – Henry Sidney is appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
October 10 – Battle of Dormans: Catholic forces under Henry I, Duke of Guise defeat the Protestants, capturing Philippe de Mornay among others.
October 22 – City of "Villa de la Asunsion" (today Aguascalientes (Aguascalientes) is founded in New Spain by permission from Philip II of Spain.
December 15 – Stephen Báthory becomes king of Poland.
December 16 – An Valdivia earthquake hits Valdivia.
Russians occupy Pernau in Western Estonia and the fortress of Weissenstein.
Portugal founds the city of Luanda, Angola.
Seat of the Audiencia Real in Chile moves from Concepción to Santiago.
Abraham Ortelius becomes geographer to Philip II of Spain.
The bubonic plague decimates Venice.
Gaspar da Cruz, a Portuguese Dominican friar, writes about his travels to the Ming Dynasty of China, including the Chinese civil service handbook The Bureaucratic System of the Ming Dynasty, and how the Chinese draw lots to determine which days of the year are most auspicious or most ill-fated to travel upon.
Captains of vessels flying the Spanish flag are legally required to maintain a logbook.
January 20 – Viceroy Martín Enríquez de Almanza founds the settlement of León, Guanajuato in New Spain (modern-day Mexico).
January 25 – Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais founds the settlement of São Paulo da Assumpção de Loanda on the western coast of Africa, which becomes Luanda.
May 5 – The Edict of Beaulieu or Peace of Monsieur (after "Monsieur", the Duke of Anjou, brother of the King, Henry III of France, who negotiated it) ends the Fifth War of Religion in France. Protestants are again granted freedom of worship.
July 11 – English navigator Martin Frobisher sights Greenland.
August 11 – English navigator Martin Frobisher, on his search for the Northwest Passage, enters the bay now named after him.
October – the Siege of Takabaru occurred in Japan, when the forces of Shimazu Takahisa besieged and took the fortress of Takabaru, which belonged to the Itō clan.
November 2 – Rudolf II becomes Holy Roman Emperor.
November 4 – Eighty Years' War – Sack of Antwerp: In the Low Countries, mutinous Spanish soldiers sack Antwerp; after three days the city is nearly destroyed.
November 8 – Eighty Years' War – Pacification of Ghent: The States General of the Netherlands meet and unite to oppose pillaging Spanish mutineers.
The States-General of Blois declares itself against the Edict of Beaulieu, beginning the Sixth War of Religion in France.
James Burbage opens London's first permanent public playhouse, The Theatre.
December 14 – Hungarian Transylvanian Prince Stephen Báthory elected king of Poland.
The 1576 Cocoliztli epidemic causes millions of deaths in the territory of New Spain in modern-day Mexico.
An early example of autobiography is written in English by Thomas Whythorne.
The Loci Communes of Peter Martyr Vermigli (d. 1562), edited by Robert le Maçon, are published in London.
The following schools are founded in England:
Dartford Grammar School, by William d'Aeth, Edward Gwyn and William Vaughn.
Sutton Valence School, by William Lambe.
Konstanty Wasyl Ostrogski founds Ostroh Academy, the first university-level school in Eastern Europe.
January 9 – The second Union of Brussels is formed, first without the Protestant counties of Holland and Zeeland (which is accepted by king Philip II of Spain), later with the Protestants, which means open rebellion of the whole of the Netherlands.
March 17 – The Cathay Company is formed to send Martin Frobisher back to the New World for more gold.
May 28 – The Bergen Book, better known as the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, one of the Lutheran confessional writings, is published. The earlier version, known as the Torgau Book (1576), had been condensed into an Epitome; both documents are part of the 1580 Book of Concord.
September 17 – The Treaty of Bergerac is signed between Henry III of France and the Huguenots.
November – The Great Comet of 1577 is observed from Earth.
December 13 – Francis Drake leaves Plymouth, England, aboard the Pelican with four other ships and 164 men on an expedition against the Spanish along the Pacific coast of the Americas which will become a circumnavigation.
Supposed massacre of the MacDonald inhabitants of the Scottish island of Eigg by the Clan MacLeod.
The church in San Pedro de Atacama is built in the Atacama Desert in Chile .
January 31 – Battle of Gembloux: Spanish forces under Don John of Austria and Alexander Farnese defeat the Dutch. Alexander Farnese begins to recover control of the French-speaking Southern Netherlands.
April 27 – The Duel of the Mignons claims the lives of two favorites of Henry III of France and two favourites of Henry I, Duke of Guise.
May 26 – "The Alteration" in Amsterdam ends Catholic rule and open Catholic worship here.
May 31 – Martin Frobisher sails from Harwich, England to Frobisher Bay, Canada, on his third expedition.
July – Martin Frobisher holds the first celebration of Thanksgiving by Europeans in North America on Newfoundland. He ships ore which proves to be valueless fool's gold which can only be used as road metal in London.
August 4 – Battle of Alcácer Quibir in North Africa: The Moors defeat King Sebastian of Portugal who is killed, leaving his elderly uncle, Cardinal Henry, as his heir, initiating a succession crisis in Portugal.
August 20–September 6 – Francis Drake, during his circumnavigation of the globe, passes through the Strait of Magellan in his ship, the newly renamed Golden Hind.
October 1 – Alessandro Farnese succeeds Don John as Governor of the Spanish Netherlands.
October 21 - Battle of Wenden: The Russians are defeated by the Swedes, who proceed to take Polotsk.
Battle of the Spoiling Dyke at Trumpan in northwest Scotland: the Clan MacLeod are victorious over the MacDonalds of Uist.
The Ottoman Empire conquers Abkhazia.
Sarsa Dengel, Emperor of Ethiopia, kills Bahr negus Yeshaq, finally ending his rebellion.
Sonam Gyrso receives from prince Atlan Khan the title of Talaï, and becomes the third Dalai Lama of Tibet.
Last outbreak of the sweating sickness occurs in England.
January 6 – The Union of Atrecht unites the southern Netherlands under the Duke of Parma, governor in the name of king Philip II of Spain.
January 23 – The Union of Utrecht unites the northern Netherlands in a confederation called the United Provinces. William I of Orange becomes Stadtholder, and the Duc d'Anjou, younger brother of Henry III of France, is invited to become hereditary sovereign.
March – Maastricht is captured by the Spanish under Parma.
May 25 – Japan – Battle of Mimaomote: Doi Kiyonaga defeats the forces of Kumu Yorinobu.
June 17 – Francis Drake, during his circumnavigation of the world, lands in what is now California, which he claims for Queen Elizabeth I. With an English claim here and in Newfoundland, it becomes the basis for English colonial charters which will claim all land from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from "sea to sea." Drake's claim is called "Nova Albion" (New England), and subsequent maps will show all lands north of New Spain and New Mexico under this name.
July 16 – James FitzMaurice FitzGerald lands with a small force of Irish, Spanish, and Italian troops at Smerwick on the Dingle peninsula in south-western Ireland and commences the Second Desmond Rebellion against the rule in Ireland of Elizabeth I of England.
July 13 – Karlovac in Croatia is founded.
Akbar abolishes jizya.
The municipality of Boac in Marinduque, Philippines is founded.
Bible of Kralice begins publication. The first complete translation of the Bible into the Czech language (with notes), it is prepared by the Unity of the Brethren and published at Kralice nad Oslavou in Bohemia.
Abbas I, the strongest king of Safavid dynasty (1571-1629)
Thomas Wintour, conspirator of the failed Gunpowder Plot (1571 or 1572-1606)
Mateo Romero, Baroque composer (1575-1647)