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|Centuries:||15th century – 16th century – 17th century|
|Decades:||1510s 1520s 1530s – 1540s – 1550s 1560s 1570s|
|Years:||1540 1541 1542 – 1543 – 1544 1545 1546|
- February 21 – Battle of Wayna Daga – A combined army of Ethiopian and Portuguese troops defeat the armies of Adal led by Ahmed Gragn.
- May – Nicolaus Copernicus publishes De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium
- July 12 – King Henry VIII of England marries Catherine Parr. It is the sixth of Henry's marriages and the third of Catherine's. Princess Elizabeth attends the wedding
- August 5 – Turkish and French troops under Khair ed-Din Barbarossa occupy Nice
- September-October – Landrecies in Picardy is besieged by forces under Emperor Charles V, but withdraw on the approach of the French army.
- Japanese receive first firearms from shipwrecked Portuguese
- Native Americans in Spanish colonies are announced free against the wish of local settlers
- Martin Luther publishes On the Jews and Their Lies.
- January 18 – (baptized) – Alfonso Ferrabosco, Italian composer
- January 31 – Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japanese shogun
- February 15 – Charles III, Duke of Lorraine
- February 16 – Kano Eitoku, Japanese painter
- April 1 – François de Bonne, duc de Lesdiguières, Constable of France
- September 14 – Claudio Aquaviva, Italian Jesuit
- January 2 – Francesco Canova da Milano, Italian composer
- January 3 – Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, Portuguese explorer
- January 9 – Guillaume du Bellay, French diplomat and general
- February 21 – Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi, Imam of Adal (killed in battle)
- May 24 – Nicolaus Copernicus, mathematician and astronomer
- July 19 – Lady Mary Boleyn, mistress of Kings Francis I of France and Henry VIII of England
- September 20 – Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland
- November 29 – Hans Holbein the Younger, German artist, active in England