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This article is about the year 1542.
|Centuries:||15th century – 16th century – 17th century|
|Decades:||1510s 1520s 1530s – 1540s – 1550s 1560s 1570s|
|Years:||1539 1540 1541 – 1542 – 1543 1544 1545|
|1542 by topic|
|Arts and science|
|Lists of leaders|
|Birth and death categories|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Ab urbe condita||2295|
|Bahá'í calendar||−302 – −301|
|English Regnal year||33 Hen. 8 – 34 Hen. 8|
|Chinese calendar||辛丑年 (Metal Ox)
4238 or 4178
— to —
壬寅年 (Water Tiger)
4239 or 4179
|- Vikram Samvat||1598–1599|
|- Shaka Samvat||1464–1465|
|- Kali Yuga||4643–4644|
|Japanese calendar||Tenbun 11
|Minguo calendar||370 before ROC
|Thai solar calendar||2085|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 1542.|
- February 2 – Battle of Baçente: The Portuguese under Cristóvão da Gama capture a Moslem-occupied hillfort in northern Ethiopia.
- February 13 – Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII of England, is executed for adultery.
- February 14 – Guadalajara, Mexico, is founded by the Spaniards after 3 previous attempts failed, due to aggressive opposition from local tribes.
- March 8 – Antoine Escalin des Eymars, the French ambassador, returns from Constantinople with promises of Ottoman aid in a war against Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
- April 4–16 – Battle of Jarte in Ethiopia: The Portuguese under Cristóvão da Gama encounter the army of Imam Ahmad Gragn and inflict upon him two successive defeats.
- May 19 – The Prome Kingdom, in modern-day central Burma, is conquered by the Taungoo Dynasty.
- June 27 – Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo discovers California and claims it for Spain.
- July 12 – Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor declares war on King Francis I of France. This time King Henry VIII of England is allied to the Emperor, while James V of Scotland and Sultan Suleiman I are allied to the French.
- August – Battle of the Hill of the Jews: During the rainy season, Cristóvão da Gama captures a strategic position and many badly-needed horses.
- August 24 – Battle of Haddon Rig: Scotland defeats England.
- August 27 – Citizens of Hildesheim in the Holy Roman Empire profess themselves to the Lutheran teachings. As a pledge owner, the city provides for the carrying out of the Protestant Reformation in the city and Peine. Priests from the localities of Clauen, Hohenhameln, Soßmar, Schmedenstedt, Lengede and Rosenthal resume their offices in the interest of the Reformation.
- August 28 – Battle of Wofla in Ethiopia: Reinforced with at least 600 arquebusiers and cavalry, Imam Ahmad Gragn attacks the Portuguese camp. The Portuguese are scattered; Cristóvão da Gama is captured and executed.
- September 4 – Earliest recorded Preston Guild Court in Lancashire, England, in the modern sequence, which lasts unbroken until 1922.
- September 28 – Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo lands in what is now San Diego Bay and names it "San Miguel"; it will later become the city of San Diego.
- November 24 – Battle of Solway Moss: An English army invades Scotland and defeats a Scottish army.
- December 14 – Mary, Queen of Scots, becomes queen regnant at the age of only one week on the death of her father, James V of Scotland.
- The first contact of Japan with the West occurs when a Portuguese ship, blown off its course to China, lands Fernão Mendes Pinto, Diogo Zeimoto and Cristovão Borralho in Japan.
- Pope Paul III establishes the Holy Office with jurisdiction over the Roman Inquisition.
- Bartolomé de las Casas completes A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, which would be published in 1552.
- March 19 – Jan Zamoyski, Polish nobleman (died 1605)
- June 6 – Richard Grenville, Elizabethan soldier and explorer (died 1591)
- October 4 – Robert Bellarmine, Italian saint (died 1621)
- October 15 – Akbar, Mughal Emperor (died 1605)
- December 8 – Mary, Queen of Scots (died 1587)
- date unknown
- February – Nikolaus Federmann, German adventurer in Venezuela and Colombia (born 1501)
- February 1 – Girolamo Aleandro, Italian cardinal (born 1480)
- February 13 – Catherine Howard, Fifth Queen of Henry VIII of England (executed) (born c. 1522)
- March 3 – Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, illegitimate son of King Edward IV of England
- May 21 – Hernando de Soto, Spanish explorer, navigator and conquistador (born c. 1500)
- June 19 – Leo Jud, Swiss reformer (born 1482)
- July 15 – Lisa del Giocondo, believed to be the subject of the Mona Lisa
- August 24 – Gasparo Contarini, Italian diplomat and cardinal (born 1483)
- August 29 – Cristóvão da Gama, Portuguese soldier (born c. 1516)
- September 21 – Juan Boscán Almogáver, Spanish poet (born c. 1490)
- October 11 – Thomas Wyatt, English poet and diplomat (born 1503)
- December 14 – King James V of Scotland (born 1512)
- date unknown