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Timeline: 1551 to 1560

1551  In France, the works of Martin Luther, John Calvin and others considered heretics are prohibited. In the cites of Paris, Toulouse, Grenoble, Rouen, Bordeaux and Agners, various heretics and those selling forbidden books have been burned at the stake. Another massacre of Protestants occurs. More than 3,000 Protestants are to be reported as having been killed and 763 houses, 89 stables and 31 warehouses destroyed.

1551  In Geneva, Robert Estienne, also known as Robert Stephanus, is the first to print the Bible divided into standard numbered verses.

1553  Ivan (The Terrible) now of age and no longer under the regency of his mother, takes the title Tsar Ivan IV.

1553  Henry's successor, Queen Mary, re-establishes Roman Catholicism as England's state religion.

1554  Queen Mary marries a fellow Catholic – Spain's Habsburg prince, Philip, eleven years her junior. The marriage gives Spain influence in England's affairs.

1555  Philip's father, the Habsburg monarch, ruler of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, concludes the Peace of Augsburg with a  league of Protestant German princes (the Schmalkaldic League). The Peace of Augsburg recognizes the right of each prince in the Holy Roman Empire to choose between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism and to impose the religion of his choice on his subjects.

1555  Humayun has recaptured that part of India that he had inherited from his father, Babur.

1555  French Protestants (Huguenots), running from persecution, are dropped off from three ships at a place that will eventually be called Rio de Janeiro.

1556  Rushing to prayer, Humayun falls down some stairs and dies. His thirteen-year-old-son, Muhammad Akbar, born by an Iranian woman, succeeds him, becoming the third Moghul emperor. With a multi-cultural background he will end Islam as the state religion and declare himself impartial between Islam and Hinduism. He will encourage religious tolerance, art and culture. And he will also expand his empire by military means. 

1558  Queen Mary dies and is succeeded by her half-sister, Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth re-establishes Anglican Protestantism as the state religion.

1559  An Italian invents ice cream.

1559  Machiavelli's The Prince appears on the Pope's Index of Prohibited Books. Machiavelli advocated responses in foreign affairs be based on empirical realities and with something other than prayer and Christian love.

1559  Prince Philip is now Philip II of Spain. He appoints his half sister, Margaret, as regent of the Netherlands. She pursues Philip's order to wipe out Protestantism there, and she tries, exercising the common belief that it was a king's prerogative to decide how his subjects should worship. Margaret raises taxes in the Netherlands to finance the intervention, and higher taxes add to the hostility among the people of the Netherlands towards Spanish rule.

1560  Europe is still suffering from periodic epidemics and famines. One-half of all infants born alive are dying before twelve months (as in the poorest countries today). The wealthy might live to between 48 and 56, and the poor, who do not eat as well, might live to 40.

1560  The Portuguese drive the French Huguenots from Rio de Janeiro, killing some of them. Portuguese begin building their own settlement there.

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