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1601 (MDCI) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar. As of the start of 1601, the Gregorian calendar was 10 days ahead of the Julian calendar. This epoch is the beginning of the 400-year Gregorian leap-year cycle within which digital files first existed; the last year of any such cycle is the only leap year whose year number is divisible by 400 as "Century leap years" (2000, 2400, 2800...).
While years are evenly divisible by 100 but not by 400 are treated as "Exceptional common years" (1700, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300, 2500...).
January 1 of this year (1601-01-01) is used as the base of file dates and of Active Directory Logon dates by Microsoft Windows. It is also the date from which ANSI dates are counted and were adopted by the American National Standards Institute for use with COBOL and other computer languages. All versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system from Windows 95 onward count units of one hundred nanoseconds from this epoch.
- January 11 – Valladolid is briefly the capital of Habsburg Spain under Philip III, before returning indefinitely to Madrid in 1606.
- January 17 – Treaty of Lyon: France gains Bresse, Bugey and Gex from Savoy, ceding Saluzzo in exchange.
- February 8 – Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, longtime favourite of Queen Elizabeth I of England, rebels against the queen; his revolt is quickly crushed.
- April 22 – The first expedition of the East India Company sets sail from England for the Spice Islands with John Davis as pilot-major.
- Spring – Possible first performance of William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet.
- December 24 (Julian calendar; January 3, 1602, according to the Gregorian calendar used by the Irish and Spanish forces in the battle) – The Battle of Kinsale ends the siege of Kinsale, Ireland (begun in autumn 1601).
- Dutch troops attack the Portuguese in Malacca.
- Jesuit Matteo Ricci becomes the first European to enter the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, being invited by the Ming Dynasty Emperor.
- A rainy summer in the Tsardom of Russia causes a bad harvest, leading to the Russian famine of 1601–03 which kills about two million people.
- Martin Möller is accused of Crypto-Calvinism.
- January 8 – Baltasar Gracián y Morales, Spanish prose writer (d. 1658)
- January 19 – Guido Cagnacci, Italian painter (d. 1663)
- February 4 – Shi Kefa, Chinese Ming Dynasty official (d. 1645)
- February 21 – Carolus Mulerius, Dutch Hispanist (d. 1638)
- February 22 – Pierre Chanut, French diplomat (d. 1662)
- March 7 – Johann Michael Moscherosch, German statesman, satirist (d. 1669)
- March 19 – Alonzo Cano, Spanish painter (d. 1667)
- March 20 – Henri, Count of Harcourt (d. 1666)
- March 22 – John Scudamore, 1st Viscount Scudamore, English politician and Viscount (d. 1671)
- March 31 – Jakov Mikalja, Italian linguist and lexicographer (d. 1654)
- May – Spencer Compton, 2nd Earl of Northampton (d. 1643)
- May 3 – Nathaniel Dickinson, American settler (d. 1676)
- May 27 – Antoine Daniel, Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons (d. 1648)
- June 5 – John Trapp, English theologian (d. 1669)
- June 6 – Hendrick Bloemaert, Dutch painter (d. 1672)
- June 21 – Godfrey Henschen, Jesuit hagiographer (d. 1681)
- June 23 – Anna Maria of Ostfriesland, German noblewoman (d. 1634)
- June 26 – Dorothea of Saxe-Altenburg, Duchess consort of Saxe-Eisenach (d. 1675)
- July 17 – Emmanuel Maignan, French physicist and theologian (d. 1676)
- July 18 – Philip I, Count of Schaumburg-Lippe (1640–1681) (d. 1681)
- July 20 – Robert Wallop, English politician (d. 1667)
- July 23 – János Szalárdi, Hungarian historian (d. 1666)
- July 30
- August 9 – Matthias Sention, Sr., Connecticut settler (d. 1669)
- August 11 – John Evelyn, English politician (d. 1685)
- August 15 – John Campanius, Swedish Lutheran minister in New Sweden (d. 1683)
- August 22 – Georges de Scudéry, French novelist, dramatist and poet (d. 1667)
- September 13
- September 22 – Anne of Austria, queen of Louis XIII of France and regent of France (d. 1666)
- September 27 – King Louis XIII of France (d. 1643)
- October 7 – Florimond de Beaune, French mathematician and jurist (d. 1652)
- October 9 – Fra Bonaventura Bisi, Italian painter (d. 1659)
- October 24 – Alvise Contarini, Doge of Venice (d. 1684)
- October 25 – John Frederick, Lord Mayor of London (d. 1685)
- October 26 – Jan Reynst, Dutch art collector (d. 1646)
- November 3 – Henri, Duke of Verneuil, French bishop (d. 1682)
- November 14 – John Eudes, French missionary (d. 1680)
- November 15 – Cecco Bravo, Italian painter (d. 1661)
- December 25 – Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha (1640–1675) and Saxe-Altenburg (1672–1675) (d. 1675)
- William Coddington, first governor of Rhode Island (d. 1678)
- Catherine Lepère, French midwife and abortionist (k. 1679)
- Jacques Gaffarel, French librarian and astrologer (d. 1681)
- Cornelis Coning, Dutch engraver and mayor of Haarlem (d. 1671)
- William Brooke, 12th Baron Cobham, English politician (d. 1643)
- Adrian Scrope, English regicide (d. 1660)
- Rose of Turaida, famous Latvian murder victim (d. 1620)
- François Tristan l'Hermite, French dramatist (d. 1655)
- Edward Somerset, 2nd Marquess of Worcester (d. 1667)
- January 11 – Scipione Ammirato, Italian historian (b. 1531)
- January 17 – Christoffer Valkendorff, Danish politician (b. 1525)
- January 19 – Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, English statesman (b. 1538)
- January 29 – Louise of Lorraine, French queen consort (b. 1553)
- February 7 – Martin Garzez, Aragonese-born 53rd Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitaller (b. 1526)
- February 25 – Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, English politician (b. 1566)
- February 27 – Anne Line, English Catholic martyr (b. c. 1563)
- March 2 – Antonio del Rincón, Mexican academic (b. 1566)
- March 13 – Henry Cuffe, English politician (b. 1563)
- April 5 – Wolfgang von Dalberg, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Mainz, Germany (b. 1538)
- April 10 – Mark Alexander Boyd, Scottish poet and soldier of fortune (b. 1562)
- May 10 – Hans van Steenwinckel the Elder, Flemish/Danish architect, sculptor (b. 1550)
- May 12 – Anna III, Abbess of Quedlinburg, Princess-Abbess of Quedlinburg (b. 1565)
- May 19 – Costanzo Porta, Italian composer (b. 1528)
- May 21 – Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg, Archbishop-Elector of Cologne (b. 1547)
- June 11 – Françoise d'Orléans-Longueville, French princess (b. 1549)
- June 16 – Lewis Mordaunt, 3rd Baron Mordaunt, Member of Parliament and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire (b. 1538)
- June 17 – Gabriel Goodman, English priest (b. 1528)
- June 24 – Henriette of Cleves, Duchess of Nevers, Countess of Rethel (b. 1542)
- June 25 – Peregrine Bertie, 13th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, English baron (b. 1555)
- June 27 – Henry Norris, 1st Baron Norreys (b. 1525)
- August 9 – Prince Michael the Brave of Wallachia (b. 1558)
- August 11 – Johannes Heurnius, Dutch physician (b. 1543)
- August 19 – William Lambarde, English antiquarian and politician (b. 1536)
- September 7 – John Shakespeare, English glover, father of William Shakespeare (b. 1529)
- September 12 – Meletius I Pegas, Greek Patriarch of Alexandria (b. 1549)
- September 20 – Fernando Ruiz de Castro Andrade y Portugal, Grandee of Spain (b. 1548)
- October 12 – Nicholas Brend, English landowner (b. 1560)
- October 21 – Hoshina Masanao, Japanese daimyō of the Takeda clan (b. 1542)
- October 24
- November 16 – Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland, exiled English nobleman (b. 1542)
- December 3 – Peter Thyraeus, German theologian (b. 1546)
- December 17 – Bernardino de Cárdenas y Portugal, Duque de Maqueda, Spanish noble (b. 1553)
- Girolamo Dalla Casa, Italian composer
- Ogawa Suketada, Japanese daimyō (b. 1549)
- Onodera Shigemichi, Japanese samurai
- Microsoft Windows technical note on file dates, referencing year 1601
- Microsoft Windows technical note on file dates, referencing year 1601 Archived March 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "Decimal Time.net".
- P. W. Hasler (1981). The House of Commons, 1558-1603: Members, D-L. History of Parliament Trust. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-11-887501-1.
- "First Voyage of the English East India Company, in 1601, under the Command of Captain James Lancaster". Retrieved February 8, 2021.
- Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 166–168. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2.
Edwards, Phillip, ed. (1985). Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. New Cambridge Shakespeare. Cambridge University Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-521-29366-9.
Any dating of Hamlet must be tentative.Scholars date its writing as between 1599 and 1601.
- "Anne of Austria | queen of France". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
- "Louis XIII | king of France". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
- Arthur F. Kinney (1973). Titled Elizabethans: A Directory of Elizabethan State and Church Officers and Knights, with Peers of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 1558-1603. Archon Books. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-208-01334-7.
- Biographical Register of Christ's College, 1505-1905, and of the Earlier Foundation, God's House, 1448-1505. CUP Archive. 1910. p. 41.
- John Robert Christianson (2003). On Tycho's Island: Tycho Brahe, Science, and Culture in the Sixteenth Century. Cambridge University Press. p. 277. ISBN 978-0-521-00884-6.
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