My sense of history is based on wigs, it moves from codpieces to doublets to full bottomed wigs, shorter wigs to no wigs. I fit people into the timeline by what they wear in their portraits, it helps to associate one group of people with another. It is a bit more difficult with the Church where there is a marked absence of codpieces, doublets or wigs.
To help others who are similarly historically illiterate, I have put a wiki timeline of the Church in the 16th century, it is far from complete but it is helpful to see people like St Charles Borromeo, whose feast day it is today, not as a lone Saint but in his time 1538–1584, as part of an historical movement.
The sixteenth began and the Church was in turmoil, it reflected the state of Europe at the time. Wicked Alexander VI is followed after the brief reign of the poisoned (?) Pius III by Papa Terribilis, the bellicous Julius II, the Papacy was more concerned with secular power politics than religion.
In Germany Luther was preaching against Papal vices and much of Northern Europe would be lost to the Church. In Florence Savonorola 1452–1498 had condemned the vices and licentiousness of the Renaissance; with Greek learning came the Greek vices. Sodomy was one of the main vices he had in his cross-hairs. The gay lobby were not entirely guiltless of his burning.
Savonorola's reform movement was something that was carried to Rome, despite his own Greek vices, Michaelangelo had a great devotion to him, as did Philip Neri 1515 – 1595, often called the Second Apostle to Rome. Savonorola the preacher failed, whereas Philip retreated to the catacombs to pray, emerging to gather around him a youth movement, of young aristocrats, seeking holiness. At the same time Camillus de Lellis 1452–1498 was founding his hospital and order of praying nursing brothers.
There was a new spirit in decadent Rome, St Ignatius and Francis Xavier and the early Jesuits had arrived and were given churches, Young Catholic intellectuals were coming from all over Europe. Like St Edmund Campion 1540 -1581, they were praying and studying in Rome. Campion was amongst that great procession of young men who trudged from Rome through Milan to meet St Charles Borromeo, then often going through Geneva to be encouraged by Francis de Sales 1567 – 1622, they were going to their death in England and Northern Europe.
At no time had there been such a flowering of holy men in the city that was until recently known for its sin and corruption. In the young the Communion of Saints was made visible on the very streets and in the Churches of the Eternal City and through them in the rest of Italy and Europe.
What I am trying to say is that from the traincrash of all that led up to the Reformation of the 16th century, of the misery that faithful Catholics endured at the hands of sinful and wicked Popes and Prelates God brought about the sublime holiness of the Glorious Counter-Reformation.
- 1492: Christopher Columbus reaches the Americas.
- 1493: With the Inter caetera, Pope Alexander VI awards sole colonial rights over most of the New World to Spain.
- January 22, 1506: Kaspar von Silenen and first contingent of Swiss mercenaries enter the Vatican during the reign of Pope Julius II. Traditional date of founding of the Swiss Guards.
- April 18, 1506: Pope Julius II lays cornerstone of New Basilica of St. Peter.
- 1508: Michelangelo starts painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
- October 31, 1517: Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses, protesting the sale of indulgences.
- 1516: Saint Sir Thomas More publishes Utopia in Latin.
- 1519: Spanish conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés.
- January 3, 1521: Martin Luther finally excommunicated by Pope Leo X in the bull Decet Romanum Pontificem.
- 1521: Baptism of the first Catholics in the Philippines, the first Christian nation in Southeast Asia. This event is commemorated with the feast of the Sto. Niño.
- October 17, 1521: Pope Leo X confers the title Fidei Defensor to Tudor King Henry VIII of England for his defense of the seven sacraments and the supremacy of the pope in Assertio Septem Sacramentorum against Protestantism.
- May 6, 1527: Sack of Rome.
- 1531: Our Lady of Guadalupe appears to Juan Diego in Mexico.
- November 16, 1532: Francisco Pizarro captures Atahualpa. Conquest of Incan Empire.
- August 15, 1534: Saint Ignatius of Loyola and six others, including Francis Xavier met in Montmartre, then just outside Paris, to found the missionary Jesuit Order.
- October 30, 1534: English Parliament passes Act of Supremacy making the King of England Supreme Head of the Church of England. Anglican schism with Rome.
- 1535: Michelangelo starts painting the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.
- 1536 To 1540: Dissolution of the Monasteries in England, Wales and Ireland.
- December 17, 1538: Pope Paul III excommunicates King Henry VIII of England.
- 1540: Pope Paul III confirmed the order of the Society of Jesus.
- July 21, 1542: Pope Paul III, with the Constitution Licet ab initio, established the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition.
- 1543: A full account of the heliocentric Copernican theory titled, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium) is published. Considered as the start of the Scientific Revolution.
- December 13, 1545: Ecumenical Council of Trent convened during the pontificate of Paul III, to prepare the Catholic response to the Protestant Reformation. Its rulings set the tone of Catholic society for at least three centuries.
- December 4, 1563: Ecumenical Council of Trent closed. The decrees were confirmed on January 26, 1564, by Pius IV in the Bull "Benedictus Deus".
- 1568: St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzus, St. Athanasius and St. Thomas Aquinas are made Doctors of the Church.
- July 14, 1570: Pope St. Pius V issues the Apostolic Constitution on the Tridentine Mass, Quo Primum.
- October 7, 1571: Christian fleet of the Holy League defeats the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Lepanto.
- 1577: Teresa of Ávila writes The Interior Castle, one of the classic works of Catholic mysticism.
- February 24, 1582: Pope Gregory XIII issues the Bull Inter gravissimas reforming the Julian calendar.
- October 4, 1582: The Gregorian calendar is first adopted by Italy, Spain, and Portugal. October 4 is followed by October 15 – ten days are removed.
- September 28, 1586: Domenico Fontana successfully finished re-erecting the Vatican Obelisk at its present site in St. Peter's Square. Hailed as a great technical achievement of its time.
- 1593: Robert Bellarmine finishes his Disputationes de controversiis christianae fidei.
- 1598: Papal role in Peace of Vervins.