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|Centuries:||15th century – 16th century – 17th century|
|Decades:||1530s 1540s 1550s – 1560s – 1570s 1580s 1590s|
|Years:||1558 1559 1560 – 1561 – 1562 1563 1564|
|1561 by topic|
|Arts and science|
|Lists of leaders|
|Birth and death categories|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Ab urbe condita||2314|
|Bahá'í calendar||−283 – −282|
|English Regnal year||3 Eliz. 1 – 4 Eliz. 1|
|Chinese calendar||庚申年 (Metal Monkey)
4257 or 4197
— to —
辛酉年 (Metal Rooster)
4258 or 4198
|- Vikram Samvat||1617–1618|
|- Shaka Samvat||1483–1484|
|- Kali Yuga||4662–4663|
|Japanese calendar||Eiroku 4
|Minguo calendar||351 before ROC
|Thai solar calendar||2104|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 1561.|
- January 31 – The Edict of Orleans suspends the persecution of the Huguenots in France.
- March 1 – Kingston Grammar School is founded in England.
- April 14 – The citizens of Nuremberg see what appears to be an aerial battle followed by the appearance of a large black triangular object and a large crash (with smoke) outside the city. A news notice (an early form of newspaper) is printed on (April 14) describing the event.
- May 8 – Madrid is declared the capital of Spain by Philip II.
- June 4 – Old St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London is badly damaged by fire and the spire is destroyed after being struck by lightning. The spire is not rebuilt.
- June 6 – Sweden conquers Livonia (modern Estonia).
- June 25 – Francis Coxe, an English astrologer, is pilloried at Cheapside in London and makes a public confession of his involvement in "sinistral and divelysh artes".
- June 29 – Erik XIV is crowned King of Sweden.
- July – Killing of the hated encomendero Pedro de Avendaño and two other Spaniards triggered the Second Great Rebellion of the Mapuche in the Arauco War.
- July 12 – Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow (started in 1534) is finished.
- August 19 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is denied passage through England after returning from France. She arrives at Leith, Scotland on August 19.
- September – The Protestant reformer John Knox has a three-day debate in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland with Quintin Kennedy, commendator of Crossraguel Abbey, on transubstantiation. The result is inconclusive but Kennedy is fighting a losing battle against the Reformation, which had been confirmed by the Scottish government in 1560.
- October 18 – Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima: Takeda Shingen defeats Uesugi Kenshin in the climax of their ongoing conflicts.
- The first Calvinists settle in England after fleeing Flanders.
- Publication of the Anglo-Genevan metrical psalter including the "Old 100th", the version of the hymn "All People That on Earth Do Dwell" made from Psalm 100, attributed to the probably-Scottish clergyman and biblical translator William Kethe, exiled in Geneva.
- Ruy López de Segura develops modern techniques of chess playing in Spain.
- First publication (anonymously in London) of William Baldwin's Beware the Cat (written early 1553), an early example of extended fiction (and specifically of horror fiction) in English. This edition appears to have been suppressed and no copies survive.
- Between 1561 and 1670 3,229 witches are executed in southwestern Germany, most by burning.
- January 6 – Thomas Fincke, Danish mathematician and physicist (d. 1656)
- January 22 – Sir Francis Bacon, English philosopher, scientist, and statesman (d. 1626)
- June – Samuel Harsnett, Archbishop of York (d. 1631)
- July 11 – Luís de Góngora y Argote, Spanish poet (d. 1627)
- July 17 – Jacopo Corsi, Italian composer (d. 1602)
- August 4 – John Harington, courtier, inventor and writer (d. 1612)
- August 20 – Jacopo Peri, Italian composer (d. 1633)
- August 24 – Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk (d. 1626)
- August 25 – Philippe van Lansberge, Dutch astronomer (d. 1632)
- September 10 – Hernando Arias de Saavedra, Spanish colonial governor (d. 1634)
- September 29 – Adriaan van Roomen, Belgian mathematician (d. 1615)
- October 27 – Mary Sidney, English writer, patroness and translator (d. 1621)
- December 7 – Kikkawa Hiroie, Japanese politician (d. 1625)
- December 9 – Edwin Sandys, English founder of the colony of Virginia (d. 1629)
- date unknown – Stephen Bachiler, non-conformist minister and pioneer settler of New England (d. 1656)
- January 31
- February 26 – Jorge de Montemayor, Spanish writer (b. 1520)
- March 25 – Conrad Lycosthenes, humanist and encyclopedist (b. 1518)
- May 16 – Jan Tarnowski, Polish nobleman (b. 1488)
- June 6 – Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, painter (b. 1483)
- July 19 – Henry Lauder, Lord St Germains, Lord Advocate of Scotland
- September 1 – Edward Waldegrave, English policitian and recusant
- October 27 – Lope de Aguirre, Basque rebel and conquistador (b. 1510)
- November 11 – Hans Tausen, Danish reformer (b. 1494)
- December 10 – Caspar Schwenckfeld, German theologian
- date unknown
- probable – Luis de Milán, Spanish composer (b. 1500)
- "Himmelserscheinung über Nürnberg". NEBIS. Zurich Library. 1561-04-14. (2 pages).
- BBC History Magazine vol 12 no 6 (June 2011), p13
- "All People That on Earth Do Dwell". The Cyber Hymnal. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- Ringler, William A.; Flachmann, Michael, ed. (1988). "Preface". Beware the Cat. San Marino, CA: Huntington Library.