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Year 1501 (MDI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.
- July – Ismail I is enthroned as Shah of Azerbaijan, choosing Tabriz as his capital, founding the Safavid Dynasty in northern Iran. He declares Shi'ism the official and compulsory religion, under penalty of death.
- July 21 – Portuguese explorer Pedro Cabral returns to Lisbon, from his expedition to Calicut (Nicolau Coelho having arrived on June 23).
- July 27 – Copernicus is formally installed, as canon of Frauenberg Cathedral.
- August 27 – Battle of the Siritsa River: The Livonian Order, supporting the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the Second Muscovite–Lithuanian War, and commanded by Wolter von Plettenberg, defeats an army of the Grand Duchy of Moscow and Pskov Republic.
- October 13 – Treaty of Trente: Maximilian of Austria and Louis XII of France sign the treaty, with Austria recognizing all French conquests in the northern territories of Italy.
- October 30 – The Banquet of Chestnuts is purportedly held by Cesare Borgia, in the Papal Palace of Rome (this account is not historical fact, and could be attributed to enemies of Alexander VI).
- November 1 (All Saints) – Amerigo Vespucci discovers and names Baía de Todos os Santos, in Brazil.
- November 4
- November 12 – Sten Sture the Elder is elected Regent of Sweden for the second time.
- November 14 – Arthur, Prince of Wales, marries the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon.
- November 24 – A large army of the Grand Duchy of Moscow overruns Livonia during the Second Muscovite–Lithuanian War.
- December 12 – Alexander Jagiellon becomes King of Poland.
- January 16 – Anthony Denny, confidant of Henry VIII of England (d. 1559)
- January 17 – Leonhart Fuchs, German physician and botanist (d. 1566)
- January 24 – Jacob Milich, German astronomer and mathematician (d. 1559)
- February 24 – Sixt Birck, German humanist (d. 1554)
- March 21 – Anne Brooke, Baroness Cobham, English noble (d. 1558)
- March 12 – Pietro Andrea Mattioli, Italian scientist (d. 1577)
- May 6 – Pope Marcellus II (d. 1555)
- May 17 – Stanisław of Masovia, Polish duke (d. 1524)
- July 10 – Cho Shik, Korean Confucian scholar and politician (d. 1572)
- July 18 – Isabella of Burgundy, queen of Christian II of Denmark (d. 1526)
- August 17 – Philipp II, Count of Hanau-Münzenberg (d. 1529)
- September 18 – Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford, English baron (d. 1563)
- September 24 – Gerolamo Cardano, Italian mathematician, physician, astrologer and gambler (d. 1576)
- September 26 – Gian Gabriele I of Saluzzo, Italian abbot, Marquess of Saluzzo (d. 1548)
- November 14 – Anna of Oldenburg, Regent of East Frisia from 1540 to 1561 (d. 1575)
- December 2 – Queen Munjeong, Korean queen (d. 1565)
- date unknown
- January 3 – Ali-Shir Nava'i, Central Asian poet, politician and writer (b. 1441)
- January 5 – John Dynham, 1st Baron Dynham, English baron and Lord High Treasurer (b. 1433)
- January 25 – Margaret of Bavaria, Electress Palatine, Princess of Bavaria-Landshut (b. 1456)
- February 1 – Sigismund, Duke of Bavaria, German noble (b. 1439)
- March 4 – Thihathura II of Ava (b. 1474)
- April – John Doget, English diplomat
- April 7 – Minkhaung II, king of Ava (b. 1446)
- April 23 – Domenico della Rovere, Italian Catholic cardinal (b. 1442)
- May 3 – John Devereux, 8th Baron Ferrers of Chartley, English baron (b. 1463)
- May 7 – Giovanni Battista Zeno, Italian Catholic cardinal
- May 20 – Columba of Rieti, Italian Dominican tertiary Religious Sister (b. 1467)
- June 8 – George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly, Earl of Huntly and Lord Chancellor of Scotland (b. 1440)
- June 17 – John I Albert of Poland (b. 1459)