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|1523 by topic|
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- April 4 – Martin Luther helps Katharina von Bora, his eventual wife, escape from the Nimbschen convent by placing her and 12 other nuns in herring barrels.
- May – The Ningbo Incident: Two rival trade delegations from Japan feud in the Chinese city of Ningbo, resulting in the pillage and plunder of the city.
- June 6 – Gustav Vasa is elected king of Sweden, finally establishing its full independence of Sweden from Denmark, marking the end of the Kalmar Union.
- July 1 – Johann Esch and Heinrich Voes became the first Flemish Lutheran martyrs, burned at the stake by Roman Catholic authorities in Brussels.
- November 19 – Pope Clement VII succeeds Pope Adrian VI as the 219th pope.
- The Ming Dynasty Chinese navy captures two Western ships with Portuguese breech–loading culverins aboard, which the Chinese call a fo–lang–ji (Frankish culverin). According to the Ming Shi, these cannons are soon presented to the Jiajing Emperor by Wang Hong, and their design is copied in 1529. 
- Martin Luther's translation of the Pentateuch into German (Das allte Testament Deutsch) is published.
- Wijerd Jelckama, a Frisian warlord and military commander is executed in Leeuwarden. His death ends the successful Frisian rebellion fought by the Arumer Black Heap.
- The Swabian League destroyed 23 robber baron castles in the Franconian War.
- January 29 – Enea Vico, Italian engraver (d. 1567)
- February 1 – Francesco Abbondio Castiglioni, Roman Catholic cardinal (d. 1568)
- February 13 – Valentin Naboth, German astronomer and mathematician (d. 1593)
- February 20 – Jan Blahoslav, Czech writer (d. 1571)
- March 17 – Giovanni Francesco Commendone, Catholic cardinal (d. 1584)
- March 21 – Kaspar Eberhard, German theologian (d. 1575)
- April 5 – Blaise de Vigenère, French diplomat and cryptographer (d. 1596)
- April 21 – Marco Antonio Bragadin, Venetian lawyer and military officer (d. 1571)
- June 5 – Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry (d. 1574)
- July 4 – Pier Francesco Orsini, Italian condottiero and art patron (d. 1583)
- July 18 – George II of Brieg, Duke of Brieg (1547–1586) (d. 1586)
- September 21 – Sancho d'Avila, Spanish General (d. 1583)
- September 22 – Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon, French church leader and pretender to the throne (d. 1590)
- October 10 – Ludwig Rabus, German martyrologist (d. 1592)
- October 11 – Eleonore of Fürstenberg, Wife of Philip IV, Count of Hanau-Lichtenberg (d. 1544)
- October 18 – Anna Jagiellon, daughter of Sigismund I of Poland (d. 1596)
- date unknown
- Sancho d'Avila, Spanish military leader (d. 1583)
- Gabriele Falloppio, Italian anatomist and physician (d. 1562)
- Martín Cortés, Spanish conquistador (d. 1589)
- Henry Brandon, Earl of Lincoln, nephew of King Henry VIII, son of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
- Francisco Foreiro, Portuguese Dominican theologian and biblist (d. 1581)
- Gaspara Stampa, Italian poet (d. 1554)
- probable – Crispin van den Broeck, Flemish painter (d. 1591)
- possible – Catherine Howard, Fifth Queen of Henry VIII of England, (born in between 1518 and 1524; d. 1542)
- February 4 – Thomas Ruthall, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
- April 6 – Henry Stafford, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, English nobleman (b. 1479)
- May 7 – Franz von Sickingen, German knight (b. 1481)
- May 23 – Ashikaga Yoshitane, Japanese shogun (b. 1466)
- May 24 – Henry Marney, 1st Baron Marney, English politician (b. 1447)
- July 1 – Johann Esch and Heinrich Voes, Flemish Lutheran martyrs
- August 13 – Gerard David, Flemish artist (b. c. 1455)
- August 29 – Ulrich von Hutten, Lutheran reformer (b. 1488)
- September 14 – Pope Adrian VI (b. 1459)
- October – William Cornysh, English composer (b. 1465)
- date unknown
- Wijerd Jelckama, Frisian rebel and warlord (b. 1490)
- Cecilia Månsdotter, Swedish noble (b. c. 1476)
- Alessandro Alessandri, Italian jurist (b. 1461)
- Bartolomeo Montagna, Italian painter (b. 1450)
- Abi Ahmet Celebi, chief physician of the Ottoman Empire, (b. 1436)
- Pietro Perugino, Italian painter (b. 1446)