1540s decade ran from January 1, 1540, to December 31, 1549.
Events 1540 January–June July–December
July 7 – Coronado captures Hawikuh, at this time known as part of Cíbola, but fails to find the legendary gold.
July 9 – King Henry VIII of England divorces Anne of Cleves, his fourth Queen consort.
July 28 – One of the most important political figures of the reign of Henry VIII of England, Thomas Cromwell, is executed on order from the king, on charges of treason. Henry marries his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, on the same day.
August 15 – In Peru, the Spanish captain Garcí Manuel de Carbajal founded the Villa Hermosa de Arequipa, and one year after, Charles V of Germany and I of Spain gave the valley a status of 'city' by Royal Decree.
September – Gibraltar is sacked by the fleet of Barbary pirate Ali Hamet, a Sardinian renegade in the service of the Ottoman Empire, and many of its leading citizens are taken as captives to Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera in Morocco. This leads to construction of the defensive  Charles V Wall, at this time known as the Muralla de San Benito.
September 3 – Gelawdewos succeeds his father Lebna Dengel, as Emperor of Ethiopia.
September 27 – The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) is approved by Pope Paul III, in his bull . Regimini militantis Ecclesiae
October 1 – Battle of Alborán: An Habsburg Spanish fleet, under the command of Bernardino de Mendoza, destroys an Ottoman fleet, commanded by Ali Hamet, off Alborán Island in the Mediterranean. October 18 – An expedition led by Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto destroys the fortified village of Mabila in modern-day Alabama, killing paramount chief Tuskaloosa. Date unknown 1541 January–June July–December Date unknown 1542 January–June
February 2 – Battle of Baçente: The Portuguese under Cristóvão da Gama capture a Moslem-occupied hillfort in northern Ethiopia.
February 13 – Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII of England, is executed for adultery.
February 14 – Guadalajara, Mexico, is founded by the Spaniards after three previous attempts failed, due to aggressive opposition from local tribes.
March 8 – Antoine Escalin des Eymars, the French ambassador, returns from Constantinople, with promises of Ottoman aid in a war against Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
March – Renyin palace rebellion: A group of Ming dynasty palace women fail to murder the Jiajing Emperor and are executed by slow-slicing.
April 4– 16 – Battle of Jarte in Ethiopia: The Portuguese under Cristóvão da Gama encounter the army of Imam Ahmad Gragn, and inflict upon him two successive defeats. May 19 – The Prome Kingdom, in modern-day central Burma, is conquered by the Taungoo Dynasty. July–December
July 12 – Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor declares war on King Francis I of France. This time King Henry VIII of England is allied to the Emperor, while James V of Scotland and Sultan Suleiman I are allied to the French.
August – Battle of the Hill of the Jews: During the rainy season, Cristóvão da Gama captures a strategic position and many badly-needed horses.
August 24 – Battle of Haddon Rig: Scotland defeats England.
August 27 – Citizens of Hildesheim in the Holy Roman Empire profess themselves to the Lutheran teachings. As a pledge owner, the city provides for the carrying out of the Protestant Reformation in the city and Peine. Priests from the localities of Clauen, Hohenhameln, Soßmar, Schmedenstedt, Lengede and Rosenthal resume their offices in the interest of the Reformation.
August 28 – Battle of Wofla in Ethiopia: Reinforced with at least 600 arquebusiers and cavalry, Imam Ahmad Gragn attacks the Portuguese camp. The Portuguese are scattered; Cristóvão da Gama is captured and executed.
September 4 – The earliest recorded Preston Guild Court is held in Lancashire, England, in the modern sequence, which lasts unbroken until 1922.
September 28 – Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo lands in what is now San Diego Bay, and names it "San Miguel"; it will later become the city of San Diego.
October 7 – Cabrillo becomes the first European to set foot on Santa Catalina Island, California.
November 24 – Battle of Solway Moss: An English army invades Scotland, and defeats a Scottish army. December 14 – Mary, Queen of Scots, becomes queen regnant at the age of only one week on the death of her father, James V of Scotland. Date unknown 1543 January–June
February 11 – King Henry VIII of England allies with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, against France. 
February 21 – Battle of Wayna Daga: A joint Ethiopian-Portuguese force of 8,500, under Emperor Gelawdewos of Ethiopia, defeats Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi's army of over 14,000, ending the Ethiopian–Adal war. March
April – Campaign of Suleiman: Suleiman the Magnificent, Ottoman Sultan, revives the Little War in Hungary.
May – Nicolaus Copernicus publishes ( De revolutionibus orbium coelestium On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) in Nuremberg, offering mathematical arguments for the existence of the heliocentric universe, denying the geocentric model. Copernicus dies on May 24 in Frombork, at the age of 70. June – Andreas Vesalius publishes ( De humani corporis fabrica On the Fabric of the Human Body), revolutionising the science of human anatomy. July–December
July 1 – The Treaty of Greenwich is signed between England and Scotland (repudiated by Scotland December 11). 
July 12 – King Henry VIII of England marries Catherine Parr. It is the sixth and last of Henry's marriages and the third of Catherine's. Princess Elizabeth attends the wedding. This month, the Parliament of England passes the Third Succession Act, restoring the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth, Henry's daughters, to the line of succession to the English throne.
July 25– August 10 – Siege of Esztergom: Suleiman the Magnificent, Ottoman Sultan, besieges and takes Esztergom in Hungary. 
August 6– 22 – Siege of Nice: Ottoman Empire and French forces (under the Franco-Ottoman alliance), led by Admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa, besiege and take Nice.
August 25 – The first Europeans and firearms arrive in Japan including Portuguese traders António Mota, Francisco Zeimoto, and presumably Fernão Mendes Pinto 
September–October – Landrecies in Picardy is besieged by forces under Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, but the siege is withdrawn on the approach of the French army.
September – Campaign of Suleiman: Suleiman the Magnificent captures the Hungarian coronation city of Székesfehérvár. The city will be occupied by the  Ottoman Empire for 145 years. September 9 – Mary Stuart is crowned the Queen of Scots in Stirling at nine months old. Date unknown 1544 January–June
January 13 – At Västerås, the estates of Sweden swear loyalty to King Gustav Vasa and to his heirs, ending the traditional electoral monarchy in Sweden. Gustav subsequently signs an alliance with the Kingdom of France.
February 20 – Fourth Diet of Speyer is convened.
April 11 – Battle of Ceresole: French forces under the Comte d'Enghien defeat forces of the Holy Roman Empire, under the Marques Del Vasto, near Turin.
May – Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, again invades eastern France.
May 3 – Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, with an English army, captures Leith and Edinburgh from the Kingdom of Scotland. June 19– August 18 – Troops of the Holy Roman Empire besiege Saint-Dizier, in eastern France. July–December Date unknown 1545 January–June July–December Undated 1546 January–June July–December Date unknown 1547 January–June July–December Date unknown 1548 January–June July–December Date unknown 1549 January–June July–December Date unknown References
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