29 December1494 – Death of William Selling (Celling), Prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, diplomat and humanist scholar. He was buried at Canterbury Cathedral, in the martyrium of Thomas Becket.
1605 – Burial of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, courtier, naval commander and Elizabeth I's champion, at Holy Trinity Church, Skipton, Yorkshire.
1605 – Death of Arthur Hall, member of Parliament, courtier and translator. He was buried at Grantham in Lincolnshire. Hall is known for his 1581 “Ten Books of Homer's Iliades, translated out of French”, the first English translation of Homer's Iliad. Hall was imprisoned at various times on account of debt and works he published, which were either libellous or offensive. He may even have been in prison for debt at his death.
1606 (29th or 30th) – Death of John Davis (Davys), navigator and explorer, near Bintang, off the coast of Borneo. His ship, The Tiger, was attacked by Japanese pirates who killed Davis in hand-to-hand combat. Davis was one of the main Elizabethan navigators and explorers, and the Davis Strait in the Northwest Passage is named after him. He is also known for being the first Englishman to document a sighting of the Falkland Islands. Davis also wrote the 1594 “The Seaman's Secrets” and “The World's Hydrographical Description” (1595).
30 December1494 – Death of John Russell, Bishop of Lincoln, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Lord Chancellor under Edward IV and Richard III, and Chancellor of Oxford University. He died at his episcopal manor in Nettleham, Lincolnshire, and was buried in Lincoln Cathedral.
1546 – Henry VIII signed his last will and testament, authorising the changes which he had ordered to be made by William Paget on 26th December.
1552 – Death of Francisco de Enzinas (humanist name Francis Dryander), Spanish humanist scholar, translator, author and Protestant apologist, at Strasbourg from the plague. He was buried there the next day. He had been a member of the household of Katherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, for a time, possibly teaching her son Charles, and Archbishop Cranmer paid him as a Greek Reader. While he was at Cambridge, in the late 1540s, Enzinas translated various ancient texts into Spanish before travelling to the Continent in 1549 to set up a publishing house in Strasbourg. There, he published at least nine classical and Biblical translations.
1553 – Death of Roger Barlow, Vice-Admiral of the Pembrokeshire coast and brother of William Barlow, Bishop of Chichester, at Slebech.
1568 - Scholar and royal tutor, Roger Ascham, died after being taken ill on 23rd December. Ascham had suffered from ill health throughout his life, and this was probably down to him contracting malaria. He was buried on 4th January 1569 on the north side of St Sepulchre without Newgate, London, in the St Stephen’s chapel.
1594 – Death of Sir Thomas Scott, member of Parliament and deputy lieutenant of Kent. He was buried at Brabourne Church in Kent, but moved to the chapel of Scot's Hall, the family home in Smeeth, after the Civil War. Scott was also a Justice of the Peace, Commissioner of Piracy, Commissioner of Coastal Defence, Commissioner of Grain and Colonel-General of his county's forces during the Spanish Armada. He was also a keen horse breeder.
1600 – Death of Michael Heneage, member of Parliament, devout Protestant, archivist and antiquary, at Hoxton in Essex. He and his brother Thomas served as Joint Keepers of the Records in the Tower of London from 1576, and he also helped Robert Hare, Compiler of Cambridge University's records. Heneage delivered two papers, “of the Antiquity of Arms in England” and “of Sterling Money”, while he was a member of the Society of Antiquaries, and he also compiled “Collections out of various Charters, &c., relating to the Noble Families in England”.
1535 – Death of Sir William Skeffington, known as “the Gunner”, Lord Deputy of Ireland, at Kilmainham in Dublin. He was buried at St Patrick's Cathedral in the city. His nickname, “the Gunner”, came from his use of heavy artillery while taking Maynooth Castle in County Kildare. He killed, or had executed, the whole garrison there.
1559 – Death of Owen Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle, while under house arrest in London. He was buried at St Dunstan-in-the-West. He had been deprived of his bishopric due to his Catholic faith, and had angered Elizabeth I by elevating the host on Christmas Day 1558.
1564 – Death of Edward North, 1st Baron North, administrator, at the London Charterhouse, which he had acquired in 1545. North served Henry VIII as Treasurer of the Court of Augmentations, Chancellor of the reformed Court of Augmentations and executor of his will. In Edward VI's reign, he was a Privy Councillor but lost this position in Mary I's reign. His Charterhouse was used as lodgings for Elizabeth I and her court for a few days following her accession, and she appointed him Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire. North was buried at Kirtling, in the family vault.
1600 – The East India Company, or “Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies”, was chartered, i.e. given royal approval, by Queen Elizabeth I.
1 January1463 – Probable birthdate of Silvestro Gigli, diplomat and Bishop of Worcester, at Lucca in Italy. Gigli was nominated as Bishop of Worcester in December 1498, and enthroned in April 1499.
1511 - Queen Catherine of Aragon gave birth to a son, Henry, Duke of Cornwall, Henry VIII's first son and heir. His birth was met with celebrations throughout England. Unfortunately, little Henry died on 22nd February 1511, just fifty-two days after his birth.
1514 – Death of Louis XII of France, less than three months after his marriage to Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII. He did not have a son, and so was succeeded by Francis I, his cousin's son and the husband of Louis' daughter, Claude. Louis was buried in Saint Denis Basilica.
1537 – Marriage of James V of Scotland and Madeleine de Valois, daughter of Francis I, at Notre Dame in Paris.
1540 – Henry VIII met his bride-to-be, Anne of Cleves, at Rochester. Following the great chivalric tradition, Henry disguised himself and attempted to kiss her, but a shocked Anne did not recognise him as King. It was a disastrous first meeting, and Henry was sorely disappointed that she could not recognise him as her true love.
1556 – Nicholas Heath, Archbishop of York, became Mary I's Lord Chancellor.
1492 – King Boabdil surrendered Granada to the forces of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile.
1525 – Death of Sir William Uvedale. Uvedale had been created a Knight of the Bath and Knight of the Royal Body by Henry VII, and served Arthur, Prince of Wales, as his counsellor.
1536 – Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial Ambassador, arrived at the dying Catherine of Aragon's bedside in Kimbolton Castle.
1539 - Geoffrey Pole, son of Sir Richard Pole and Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was pardoned after attempting suicide for the third time.
1550 (2nd or 4th) – Death of Sir Christopher Barker, Richmond Herald, Norroy King of Arms and Garter Principal King of Arms, at Paternoster Row in London. He was buried in St Faith's under St Paul's.
1554 – Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger and Sir Peter Carew were summoned to appear before Mary I's privy council. They ignored the summons and continued plotting what was to be Wyatt's Rebellion.
1598 – Death of Maurice Kyffin, soldier and author. He served Elizabeth I as Comptroller of the Musters to the army in Ireland from 1596, and is known for his Deffynniad Ffydd Eglwys Loegr, a Welsh translation of Bishop John Jewel's Apologia.
3 January1521 - Pope Leo X issued the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem excommunicating reformer, German priest and professor of theology Martin Luther from the Catholic Church.
1540 – Official reception of Anne of Cleves at Greenwich Palace.
1541 – Anne of Cleves visited Hampton Court Palace to greet her former husband, Henry VIII, and his new wife, Catherine Howard, and to exchange New Year's gifts.
1541 – Death of John Clerk, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and diplomat to Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey. His final embassy was to the Duke of Cleves in 1540 to try and obtain an annulment of Henry VIII's marriage to Anne of Cleves. He died in Aldgate, London, and was buried at St Botolph's Church.
1590 – Death of Robert Boyd, Scottish nobleman, courtier and Protestant, at Kilmarnock. He was buried there in the Laigh Church. Boyd supported Mary, Queen of Scots, but could not support her marriage to the Catholic Lord Darnley, and so joined the Earl of Moray's faction, involving himself in the Chaseabout Raid of summer 1565. He managed to escape punishment by reconciling with Darnley. Boyd was also a member of the jury who acquitted the Earl of Bothwell for Darnley's murder in 1567, and supported his marriage to Mary.
4 January1493 – Christopher Columbus left the New World on return from his first voyage.
1519 – Martin Luther met with Karl von Miltitz, the Papal Nuncio, at Altenburg in Saxony.
1568 – Burial of Roger Ascham, author, scholar and royal tutor, in St Stephen's Chapel at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London.
1575 – Death of Sir William Pickering, courtier and diplomat, in London. He was buried in the chancel of St Helen's, Bishopsgate. Pickering had escaped execution for his part in Wyatt's Rebellion in 1554 by fleeing to France and then providing the English government with information on other conspirators. He was pardoned in December 1554.
1578 - Death of William Roper, author of “The lyfe of Sir Thomas Moore, knighte”. Although he had expressed his wish to be buried with his wife, Margaret, in the More Chapel of Chelsea parish church, he was buried in the Roper chapel of St Dunstan's, Canterbury, and his wife's body was exhumed and re-interred next to him. Margaret had been buried with her father's head, which she had rescued from Tower Bridge after his execution in 1535.