|Covid-19|February 14 – Archbishop John Whitgift begins building his hospital at Croydon.
April 9 – Siege of Calais : Spanish troops capture Calais.
May 18 – Willem Barents leaves Vlie on his third and final Arctic voyage.
June – Sir John Norreys and Sir Geoffrey Fenton travel to Connaught to parley with the local Irish lords.
June 10 – Willem Barents and Jacob van Heemskerk discover Bear Island.
June 17 – Willem Barents discovers Spitsbergen.
June 24 – Cornelis de Houtman arrives in Banten, the first Dutch sailor to reach Indonesia.
July 5 – An English fleet, commanded by Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and Lord Howard of Effingham, sacks Cádiz.
July 14 – King Dominicus Corea (Edirille Bandara) is beheaded by the Portuguese in Colombo, Ceylon.
August - David Fabricius discovers the star Mira.
September 17 – The Spanish capture Amiens.
September 20 – Diego de Montemayor founds the city of Monterrey, Mexico.
October 8–October 10 – The Union of Brest: The Ukrainian Church west of the Dnipro becomes known as the Ukrainian rite of Catholicism, whereas the East officially renounces the authority of the Pope.
October 18 the "Second Armada", a Spanish fleet sent to attack England in revenge to the raid on Cadiz, is wrecked in storms between Corcubion and Cape Finisterre. 2,000 men are lost.
October 24–October 26 – Battle of Keresztes: The Turks defeat a combined Habsburg–Transylvanian army.
Elizabeth I of England decrees that all Africans should be removed from the British realm in reaction to the food crisis.
The first water closet, by Sir John Harington, is installed in a manor near Kelston in England.
King Sigismund III Vasa moves the capital of Poland from Kraków to Warsaw.
Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, is founded.
The Black Death hits parts of Europe.
Dutch ships, commanded by Frederick de Houtman, reach Sumatra and Java for the first time.
The 4th of a 5 year run of poor harvests, largely caused by the weather, a pattern typical of the last third of the century. This causes famine throughout Europe, which leads to food riots in Britain.
Serb Uprising of 1596–97
January 1 – Elizabeth Ribbing, Swedish noble (d. 1662)
January 13 – Jan van Goyen, Dutch painter (d. 1656)
Jacob van Campen, Dutch artist and architect of the Golden Age (d. 1657)
Carew Mildmay, Member of the Parliament of England (d. 1676)
February 3 – Brás Garcia de Mascarenhas, soldier, poet and writer (d. 1656)
February 8 – Louis Giry, French lawyer, classical scholar (d. 1665)
February 27 – Johan Stiernhöök, Swedish lawyer (d. 1675)
March 1 – Duke Frederick of Saxe-Weimar, German prince and colonel (d. 1622)
March 10 – Princess Maria Elizabeth of Sweden (d. 1618)
March 11 – Isaac Elzevir, Dutch printer and publisher (d. 1651)
March 16 – Ebba Brahe, Swedish countess (d. 1674)
March 24 – Elizabeth of Hesse-Kassel, Duchess of Mecklenburg-Gütsrow (d. 1625)
March 26 – Catherine Henriette de Bourbon, French noble (d. 1663)
March 31 – René Descartes, French philosopher and Mathematician (d. 1650)
April 8 – Juan van der Hamen, Spanish artist (d. 1631)
April 11 – Moritz Gudenus, German Catholic Preacher (d. 1680)
May 9 – Abraham van Diepenbeeck, painter (d. 1675)
May 21 – John Louis II, Count of Nassau-Wiesbaden-Idstein (d. 1605)
June 5 – Peter Wtewael, Dutch painter (d. 1660)
June 6 – Michel Particelli d'Emery, French politician (d. 1650)
June 23 – Johan Banér, Swedish Field Marshal in the Thirty Years' War (d. 1641)
June 27 – Maximilian, Prince of Dietrichstein, German prince (d. 1655)
June 29 – Emperor Go-Mizunoo of Japan (d. 1680)
July 1 – Bertuccio Valiero, Doge of Venice (d. 1658)
July 12 – Michael I of Russia, Russian Tsar (d. 1645)
August 10 – Lorentz Eichstadt, German mathematician and astronomer (d. 1660)
August 16 – Frederick V, Elector Palatine (d. 1632)
August 18 – Jean Bolland, Belgian Jesuit, Founder of the Bollandist (d. 1665)
August 19 – Elizabeth Stuart, later Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia (d. 1662)
James Shirley, English dramatist (d. 1666)
Moses Amyraut, French Protestant theologian (d. 1664)
September 4 – Constantijn Huygens, Dutch Golden Age poet and composer (d. 1687)
September 7 – John Casimir, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (d. 1660)
September 11 – Francis Eaton, Mayflower passenger and New World colonist (d. 1633)
September 23 – Joan Blaeu, Dutch cartographer (d. 1673)
October 1 – Cesare Dandini, Italian painter (d. 1657)
October 5 – Pieter van Mierevelt, Dutch painter (d. 1623)
October 18 – Edward Winslow, American Pilgrim leader (d. 1655)
October 23 – Daniel Hay du Chastelet de Chambon, French mathematician (d. 1671)
October 26 – Robert Coe, American colonial (d. 1689)
Albert, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg, joint ruler of Nassau-Dillenburg 1623–1626 (d. 1626)
Pietro da Cortona, Italian painter (d. 1669)
November 5 – Charles II, Duke of Elbeuf, French noble (d. 1657)
November 6 – Jeanne Chezard de Matel, French mystic (d. 1670)
November 21 – René de Voyer de Paulmy d'Argenson, French politician (d. 1651)
December 3 – Nicola Amati, Italian luthier from Cremona (d. 1684)
December 12 – Sir Edward Osborne, 1st Baronet, English politician (d. 1647)
Thomas Francis, Prince of Carignano (d. 1656)
Peter Mogila, Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia (d. 1646)
December 24 – Leonaert Bramer, Dutch painter (d. 1674)
John Dury, English minister (d. 1680)
Bevil Grenville, English royalist soldier (d. 1643)
Franz von Hatzfeld, Prince-Bishop of Würzburg (d. 1642)
Lucas Holstenius, German humanist (d. 1661)
Georg Jenatsch, Swiss political leader (d. 1639)
Richard Mather, American clergyman (d. 1669)
Horio Tadaharu, Japanese warlord (d. 1633)
January 27 – Sir Francis Drake, English explorer, English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, pirate and politician (b. 1540)
February 17 – Friedrich Sylburg, German classical scholar (b. 1536)
March 23 – Henry Unton, English diplomat (b. 1557)
May 6 – Giaches de Wert, Flemish composer (b. 1535)
July 23 – Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon (b. 1526)
August 11 – Hamnet Shakespeare (b. 1585), son of William Shakespeare
September 15 – Leonhard Rauwolf, German physician and botanist (b. 1535)
October 3 – Florent Chrestien, French writer (b. 1541)
November 1 – Pierre Pithou, French lawyer and scholar (b. 1539)
November 10 – Peter Wentworth, English Puritan politician (b. 1530)
William Gibson (martyr), English Catholic martyr
Hattori Hanzo, Ninja under Tokugawa Ieyasu (b. 1541)
Venerable William Knight, English Catholic martyr (b. 1572)
Jean Bodin, French jurist (born 1530)
Blaise de Vigenère, French cryptographer, diplomat, scientist, and author (b. 1523)
Anna Wecker, German writer
probable – Henry Willobie, English poet (b. 1575)
1596 (MDXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (dominical letter GF) of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Thursday (dominical letter DC) of the Julian calendar, the 1596th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 596th year of the 2nd millennium, the 96th year of the 16th century, and the 7th year of the 1590s decade. As of the start of 1596, the Gregorian calendar was 10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.