In the year AD 1586...
- The Babington Plot to overthrow English queen Elizabeth I and replace her with her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots is uncovered thanks to a counter-intelligence codebreaking operation run by Sir Francis Walsingham. Babington and six co-conspirators are captured, tortured, and executed. Mary is sentenced to death, and executed the following year.
- Incensed by Queen Elizabeth's support for the Dutch Revolt and English privateers, Sanish king Philip II orders his advisors to plan an invasion of England and begins construction on the Spanish Armada.
- Mughal emperor Akbar conquers Kashmir.
- Japanese warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi invades the island of Kyushu.
- Thai king Naresuan invades Lannathai, a buffer state between Thailand and Burma.
- Russian Tsar Fyodor I dispatches an army to occupy Siberia, consolidating Russian control of the conquests made by Yermak Timofeyevich.
- English Privateer Francis Drake voyages to the Caribbean to attack Spanish holdings and resupply the colony at Roanoke, successfully sacking Santo Domingo in Hispaniola and St. Augustine in Florida. Finding the Roanoke colony threatened by natives and extremely low on supplies, Drake offers to return the whole colony to England, and is accepted. Drake's ships bring the potato to England for the first time, having picked some up during a stopover in Colombia.
- English privateer Thomas Cavendish embarks on a voyage to attack Spanish holdings that will eventually lead him to become the second Englishman to circumnavigate the globe.
- In order to improve his chances of succeeding to the throne of England, King James VI of Scotland signs a treaty of alliance with Queen Elizabeth I and turns a blind eye to the death sentence placed upon his mother's head.
- Belgian mathematician Simon Stevin is the first to demonstrate that two objects of different weight fall with the same speed, three years before Galileo.
- Spanish painter El Greco paints one of his most famous works, The Burial of Count Orgaz, which hangs on the wall in the vestibule of the Church of Santo Tomé in Toledo.
- The famous Chaturmukha Basadi Jain temple in Karkala in the Udupi region of Karnataka is completed.
- Italian cardinal and future saint Robert Bellarmine begins writing his three-volume response to the Protestant Reformation, Disputationes de Controversiis Christianae Fidei, still one of the most important expositions of Catholic doctrine to this day.
- English historian William Camden publishes his magnum opus Britannia, a topographical and historical survey of all of Britain.
- Hindu priest Melputhoor Narayana Bhattapathar composes the Narayaneeyam, a 1034-verse poetic hymn summarizing the much longer Bhagavata Purana.
- The world's first fashion magazine is published in Frankfurt, Germany.
- The massive Tsar Cannon, which sits in front of the Kremlin and is one of the largest cannons ever made, is cast.
- Pope Sixtus V issues a papal edict condemning astrology.
These people were born in 1586:
- Saint Rose of Lima, first saint from the western hemisphere and patron saint of Latin America.
- German theologian Johannes Valentinus Andreae, founder of the secretive Rosicrucian Order.
- English colonizer John Mason, founder of New Hampshire.
- English Puritan clergyman Thomas Hooker, founder of Connecticut.
- Persian general, architect, and scholar Hakim Nizam Al-Din Ahmad Gilani.
- Italian adventurer to India Pietro della Valle.
- English poetess Lady Mary Wroth.
- German composer Johann Schein.
- English dramatist John Ford.
- German Protestant theologian Gorgius Calixtus.
- Paris Graf von Lodron, prince-archbishop of Salzburg.
- Italian astronomer Niccolo Zucchi.
- Pau Claris i Casademunt, 94th president of Catalonia.
- Chokyi Gyaltsen Palzang, 5th reincarnation of the Tai Situpa, an important lama in Tibetan Buddhism.
These people died in 1586:
1585 - 1586 - 1587