Charles V (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558) was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I of Spain, of the Spanish realms from 1516 until his abdication in 1556.   As the heir of four of Europe’s leading dynasties – the Habsburgs of Austria, the Valois of Burgundy, the Trastamara of Castile and the House of Aragon – he ruled over extensive domains in Central, Western and Southern Europe, as well as the various Castilian (Spanish) colonies in the Americas.

Henry VIII(28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England and  King of Ireland.  Although he brutally suppressed the Protestant reformation of the church, he initiated a major split from the Roman catholic Church – for personal rather than religious reasons.  Either way he demonstrated that it was possible for the State to control the Church.  He creates the Anglo-Catholic (Anglican) Church effectively removing the authority of the Pope.

Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was Queen of England and Queen of Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. The daughter of Henry VIII, she was born a princess, but her mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed three years after her birth, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate.  In 1558 Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister, the Catholic Mary, during whose reign she had been imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.

Mary I (popularly known as Mary, Queen of Scots and, in France, as Marie Stuart) (8 December 1542 – 8 February 1587) was Queen of Scotland from 14 December 1542 to 24 July 1567.  Elizabeth considered Mary’s designs on the English throne to be a serious threat, and so eighteen years of confinement followed. Mary was put on trial for treason by a court of about 40 noblemen, including Catholics, after having allegedly sanctioned an attempted assassination of Elizabeth.   on the 8th of February 1587, Mary was executed. One of the many repercussions of the execution of a Catholic Queen by the Protestant Queen of England was the sailing of the Spanish Armada  to England in order to depose Elizabeth.  It sailed into a North Sea storm, dispersed and then lost 5 ships in the Battle of Gravelines.  It then  retreated sailing around England and Ireland.

Martin Luther (10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German monk, theologian, university professor, Father of Protestantism, and church reformer whose ideas influenced the Protestant Reformation and changed the course of Western civilization.

Luther’s theology challenged the authority of the papacy by holding that the Bible is the only infallible source of religious authority and that all baptized Christians under Jesus are a universal priesthood. According to Luther, salvation is a gift of God, received only by true repentance and faith in Jesus as the Messiah, a faith given by God and unmediated by the church.

Baldassare Castiglione, count of Novilara (December 6, 1478 – February 2, 1529), was an Italian courtier, diplomat, soldier and a prominent Renaissance author. Most noted as the author of his Book of the Courtier.

Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (October 27, 1466– July 12, 1536) Was one Eupore’s first public intellectual thinkers.  He remained loyal to the Roaman Catholic Church during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation – but remained openly critical of several issues which needed (in his opinion) to be addressed.

Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535) was an English lawyer, author, and statesman who in his lifetime gained a reputation as a leading humanist scholar, and occupied many public offices, including Lord Chancellor (1529–1532), in which he had a number of people burned at the stake for heresy. More coined the word “utopia”, a name he gave to an ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in the eponymous book published in 1516. Henry VIII had him beheaded in 1535 when he refused to sign the Act of Supremacy that declared King Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church of England.

Michelangelo (March 6, 1475 – February 18, 1564) was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer.

Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian polymath, being a scientist,mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. He has often been described as the prototype of the renaissance man, a man whose unquenchable curiosity was equaled only by his powers of invention. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.

Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543) was the first astronomer to formulate a scientifically-based heliocentric cosmology that displaced the Earth from the center of the universe. His epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomy and the defining epiphany that began the Scientific Revolution.

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (May 3, 1469 – June 21, 1527) was an Italian diplomat, political philosher, musician, poet and playwright.  He is most famous for one of his shorter works, The Prince, sometimes described as a work of realist political theory.

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