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|Centuries:||15th century – 16th century – 17th century|
|Decades:||1510s 1520s 1530s – 1540s – 1550s 1560s 1570s|
|Years:||1537 1538 1539 – 1540 – 1541 1542 1543|
|1540 by topic|
|Arts and science|
|Lists of leaders|
|Birth and death categories|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Ab urbe condita||2293|
|English Regnal year||31 Hen. 8 – 32 Hen. 8|
— to —庚子年十二月初四日
|- Vikram Samvat||1596–1597|
|- Shaka Samvat||1462–1463|
|- Kali Yuga||4641–4642|
|- Ǹrí Ìgbò||540–541|
|Japanese calendar||Tenbun 9
|Juche calendar||N/A (before 1912)|
|Julian calendar||1540 MDXL|
|Minguo calendar||372 before ROC
|Thai solar calendar||2083|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: 1540|
- January – Dunstable Priory falls prey to Henry VIII of England's Dissolution of the Monasteries.
- January 6 – King Henry VIII of England marries Anne of Cleves, his fourth Queen consort.
- February 14 – Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, enters Ghent without resistance and executes rebels.
- March – Waltham Abbey is the final priory to fall prey to the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
- 17 May - Sher Shah Suri defeats and deposes Mughal Emperor Humayan at the Battle of Kannauj, establishing the Sur Empire.
- 22 May - Pope Paul III summons a general council of the church to meet at the imperial city of Trent.[dubious ] Its purpose is to achieve the reformation of the church, the definition of dogma and the reunion of Christendom.
- July 7 – Coronado captures Hawikuh, at this time known as part of Cíbola, but fails to find the legendary gold.
- July 9 – King Henry VIII of England divorces Anne of Cleves, his fourth Queen consort.
- July 28 – One of the most important political figures of the reign of Henry VIII of England, Thomas Cromwell, is executed on order from the king on charges of treason. Henry marries his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, on the same day.
- Early September – Gibraltar is sacked by the fleet of Barbary pirate Ali Hamet, a Sardinian renegade in the service of the Ottoman Empire, and many of the leading citizens taken as captives to Vélez de la Gomera in Morocco. This leads to construction of the defensive Charles V Wall, at this time known as the Muralla de San Benito.
- September 3 – Gelawdewos succeeds his father Lebna Dengel as Emperor of Ethiopia.
- September 27 – The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) is approved by Pope Paul III, in his bull Regimini militantis Ecclesiae.
- October 1 – Battle of Alborán: A Habsburg Spanish fleet under the command of Bernardino de Mendoza destroys an Ottoman fleet commanded by Ali Hamet off the Isla de Alborán in the Mediterranean Sea.
Date unknown 
- Antwerp is besieged for three days by Maarten van Rossum.
- Europe is hit by a heat wave and drought lasting for about 7 months. Rivers such as the Rhine and Seine dry up and many people die from dysentery and other illnesses caused by lack of safe drinking water. However, this year's vintage from Würzburger Stein and other vineyards is particularly notable.
- Martin Luther expels the theologian Caspar Schwenckfeld from Silesia.
- John Calvin's L'Institution chrétienne is translated from Latin into French.
- Paracelsus visits Villach.
- approximate date – The musket is introduced into Japan from Europe.
- January 24 – Edmund Campion, English Jesuit and Roman Catholic martyr (d. 1581)
- January 28 – Ludolph van Ceulen, German mathematician (d. 1610)
- June 3 – Archduke Charles II of Austria, regent of Inner Austria (d. 1590)
- June 11 – Barnabe Googe, English poet (d. 1594)
- August 5 – Joseph Justus Scaliger, French Protestant scholar (d. 1609)
- August 26 – King Magnus of Livonia (d. 1583)
- October 1 – Johann Jakob Grynaeus, Swiss Protestant clergyman (d. 1617)
- November 16 – Cecilia of Sweden (d. 1627)
- date unknown
- Andrea Andreani, Italian wood engraver (d. 1623)
- Francis Drake, English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, pirate and politician (d. 1596)
- Christopher Hatton, English politician (d. 1591)
- George Hastings, 4th Earl of Huntingdon, English nobleman (d. 1604)
- Pierre Jeannin, French statesman (d. 1622)
- Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton (d. 1614)
- Zofia Odrowaz, Polish noblewoman (d. 1580)
- Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone, Irish rebel (d. 1616)
- François Viète, French mathematician (d. 1603)
- Amago Yoshihisa, Japanese samurai and warlord (d. 1610)
- Bartholomäus Scultetus, mayor of Görlitz (d. 1614).
- January 27 – Angela Merici, Italian religious leader and saint (b. 1474)
- March 30 – Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, German statesman and archbishop of Salzburg (b. 1469)
- May 6 – Juan Luís Vives, Spanish scholar (b. 1492)
- May 22 – Francesco Guicciardini, Italian statesman and historian (b. 1483)
- July 28 – Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, English statesman (executed) (b. c.1485)
- July 30
- August 23 – Guillaume Budé, French scholar (b. 1467)
- August 24 – Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, Italian artist (b. 1503)
- August 28 – Frederick II, Duke of Mantua (b. 1500)
- September 2 – Lebna Dengel, Emperor of Ethiopia (in battle) (b. 1501)
- October 5 – Helius Eobanus Hessus, German Latin poet (b. 1488)
- date unknown – Francisco de Ulloa, Spanish explorer
- Drinkwater, John (1786). A history of the late siege of Gibraltar: With a description and account of that garrison, from the earliest periods. Printed by T. Spilsbury. p. 8. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
- "Weather chronicler relates of medieval disasters". goDutch.com. 2003-10-07. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
- Johnson, Hugh (1989). Vintage: The Story of Wine. Simon and Schuster. pp. 284, 390. ISBN 0-671-68702-6.