|Covid-19|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.
January 1 – Jacob Dircksz de Graeff, Dutch mayor (d. 1638)
January 4 – Willem Teellinck, Dutch pastor (d. 1629)
January 7 – Juan Manuel Pérez de Guzmán, 8th Duke of Medina Sidonia, Spanish nobleman, Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece (d. 1636)
January 23 – Marie of Prussia, Margravine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (d. 1649)
January 27 – Antonio Tornielli, Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Novara (1636–1650) (d. 1650)
February 9 – Johannes Meursius, Dutch classical scholar and antiquary (d. 1639)
February 24 – Johann Jacob Grasser, Poet, historian and theologian (d. 1627)
March 23 – Francis Mansell, English academic (d. 1665)
April 10 – Augustus the Younger, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (d. 1666)
April 12 – François de Bassompierre, French courtier (d. 1646)
April 25 – García de Toledo Osorio, 6th Marquis of Villafranca, Spanish noble and politician (d. 1649)
May 1 – Wolphert Gerretse, Founder of the New Netherland colony (d. 1662)
May 2 – Tokugawa Hidetada, Japanese shogun (d. 1632)
June 17 – Louis I, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, German prince (d. 1650)
June 18 – Afonso Mendes, Patriarch of Ethiopia (d. 1659)
July 2 – Janusz Radziwiłł, Lithuanian and Polish nobleman (d. 1620)
Bernardino de Almansa Carrión, Roman Catholic prelate, Archbishop of Santafé en Nueva Granada (1631–1633) and Archbishop of Santo Domingo (1629–1631) (d. 1633)
Francis Norris, 1st Earl of Berkshire, English noble (d. 1622)
July 13 – Arthur Dee, English physician and alchemist (d. 1651)
August 1 – Luis Vélez de Guevara, Spanish dramatist and novelist (d. 1644)
August 18 – Countess Charlotte Flandrina of Nassau (d. 1640)
August 21 – Henri, Duke of Rohan (d. 1638)
August 23 – Thomas Dempster, Scottish scholar and historian (d. 1625)
September 1 – John Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince-Bishop, Roman Catholic archbishop (d. 1634)
September 3 – Louis I, Count of Erbach-Erbach (1606–1643) (d. 1643)
September 16 – Samuel Coster, Dutch writer (d. 1665)
September 17 – Charles Howard, 2nd Earl of Nottingham, English noble (d. 1642)
October 4 – Guido Bentivoglio, Italian cardinal (d. 1644)
October 18 – Anthony Abdy, Merchant (d. 1640)
November 7 – Juan de Peñalosa, Spanish painter (d. 1633)
November 11 – Frans Snyders, Flemish painter (d. 1657)
November 12 – Albrecht of Hanau-Münzenberg, German nobleman (d. 1635)
November 16 – Federico Baldissera Bartolomeo Cornaro, Catholic cardinal (d. 1653)
December 9 – Martin de Porres, Peruvian monk, Roman Catholic saint (d. 1639)
December 20 (bapt.) – John Fletcher, English dramatist (d. 1625)
Jacob Astley, 1st Baron Astley of Reading, royalist commander in the English Civil War (d. 1652)
Arthur Johnston, Scottish physician and poet (d. 1641)
John Ogilvie, Scottish Jesuit, Roman Catholic saint (martyred 1615)
February 16 – Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, Spanish explorer (b. 1509)
February 20 – Nicholas Bacon, English politician (b. 1509)
April 25 – John Stuart, 4th Earl of Atholl
May 6 – François de Montmorency, French nobleman (b. 1530)
June 25 – Hatano Hideharu, Japanese samurai (b. 1541)
June 30 – Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic, Turkish Janissary (b. 1505)
August 3 – Katarzyna Ostrogska, Polish noblewoman (b. 1560)
August 5 – Stanislaus Hosius, Polish cardinal (b. 1504)
October 12 – Mehmed Sokollu, Grand Vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent and Selim II (b. 1505)
November 15 – Francis David, Hungarian religious reformer (b. 1510)
November 21 – Thomas Gresham, English merchant and financier (b. 1519)
December 21 – Vicente Masip, Spanish painter (b. 1506)
Giovanni Battista Adriani, Italian historian (b. c. 1512)
Diego de Landa, Bishop of the Yucatán (b. 1524)
Hieronim Jarosz Sieniawski, Polish nobleman (b. 1516)
William Whittingham, English Biblical scholar and religious reformer (b. 1524)
probable - Hans Staden, German adventurer (b. 1525)
Year 1579 (MDLXXIX) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar, and a common year starting on Monday of the Proleptic Gregorian calendar.