1581Centuries: 15th century - 16th century - 17th century
- January 16 - English Parliament outlaws Roman Catholicism
- April 4 - Francis Drake completes a circumnavigation of the world and is knighted by Elizabeth I.
- The Northern Netherlands proclaim their independence from Spain in the Oath of Abjuration. They abjure loyalty to Philip II of Spain as their sovereign and become a Republic.
- Russia Beginning of the conquest of Siberia