In the year 1585...
- England goes to war with Spain in the Netherlands when Queen Elizabeth I sends 5,000 footmen and 1,000 horsemen to help the Dutch protestant forces defend themselves from a Spanish incursion she fears will bring the region under Catholicism. The war would last until 1604.
- France becomes embroiled in the "War of the Three Henrys" when ultra-Catholic Henri, duc de Guise and the Catholic League force French king Henry III to sign the Treaty of Nemours, revoking all previous concessions to the Huguenots and excluding the protestant Henry of Navarre, the rightful heir to the French throne, from being named Henry III's successor. Henry of Navarre immediate takes up arms to defend his claim to the French throne, drawing the eager duc de Guise and the reluctant Henry III into a three-way war for control of France.
- In Japan Toyotomi Hideyoshi consolidates his power, making peace with his rival Tokugawa Ieyasu, conquering Shikoku, and naming himself "Kampaku" (regent ruling in place of the adult emperor).
- Banished Protestant lords invade Scotland, forcing King James IV (the future King James I of England) to exile his tyrannical advisor Arran.
- Backed by Sir Walter Raleigh, over 100 colonists leave England for the New World in a fleet of seven ships led by Sir Richard Grenville. The colonists land at Roanoke Island in the Carolinas where they build the "Citie of Ralegh," the first English settlement in the New World, but the ill-planned colony falters and the surviving colonists return to England the next year.
- Sir Francis Drake leaves on another adventuresome expedition, commissioned as an English privateer against the Spanish. Over the next two years he terrorizes the Atlantic, sacking Vigo in Spain, torching São Tiago in the Cape Verde Islands, capturing the ports of Santo Domingo and Cartagena (which were subsequently ransomed), and pillaging the Florida coast, (including the presidio of St. Augustine), and also rescues Sir Walter Raleigh’s Roanoke colony in the Carolinas.
- Anti-Catholic sentiment reaches a feverish pitch in England where the Penal Laws are extended to expell Jesuits and other priests under penalty of treason and make harboring or aiding priests a capital offense.
- Mughal emperor Akbar and his court abandon his recently constructed capital of Fatehpur Sikri, apparently due to a lack of potable water.
- In Persia, construction commences on the great imperial mosque at Isfahan.
- Miguel de Cervantes publishes La Galatea, a pastoral romance in prose and verse.
- Italian physicist Giovanni Battista Benedetti publishes his most important work, the Diversarum speculationum.
- Italian writer Alberico Gentili publishes his De legationibus, a treatise on international law which has greatly influenced modern diplomatic practice.
- In one of his first acts as pope, Sixtus V issues a bull condemning the practice of astrology.
These people were born in 1585:
- Armand Jean du Plessis, better known to history as Cardinal Richelieu. The de facto ruler of France from 1624 until his death in 1642, he wielded power with an iron hand.
- John George, future ruler of Saxony during the Thirty Years War.
- Dutch Roman Catholic theologian Cornelis Jansen, whose posthumous Augustinus (1642), advocating a return to the teachings of Saint Augustine, inspired the Catholic Jansenism movement.
- Heinrich Schütz, composer the first German opera (Dafne, 1627).
- Dutch playwright and poet Gerbrand Adriaenszoon Bredero.
- Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, a great English patron of the Arts.
- Italian philosopher, Lucilio Vanini, who fought to break free from the twin medieval dogmas of scholasticism and the supremeacy of Aristotle, and was burned at the stake as a witch for his trouble.
- Portuguese-born Jewish rationalist Uriel Acosta.
- Scottish poet William Drummond.
These people died in 1585:
1584 - 1585 - 1586