In the year 1578...
- King Sebastian of Portugal invades Morocco with a force of foreign mercenaries in support of a pretender to the Moroccan throne, but is crushed at the Battle of Ksar el Kebir, aka the "Battle of the Three Kings."
- Protestant forces in the Netherlands are in rebellion against Spanish rule. Spanish king Philip II names Alessandro Farnese governor-general of the Netherlands to replace Don John of Austria. Farnese embarks on a brutal supression of the revolt. Meanwhile, Amsterdam expells its pro-Spanish magistrates and joins the rebellion.
- Spanish politician Juan de Escobedo, secretary to Don John of Austria, is assassinated. Suspicion falls upon Antonio Pérez, secretary to Philip II. Perez blames Philip himself and seeks protection in his native land of Aragón, setting off an incident that would ultimately lead to a revolt in Aragón in 1591.
- The Ottoman Turks conquer Abkhazia.
- Saint John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz) escapes from prison in Toledo, and act that will later be deemed a holy miracle.
- While on what would ultimately become a voyage around the world, English privateer Sir Francis Drake sacks the South American ports of Valparaiso and Callao, and captures a rich Spanish treasure ship.
- English navigator Sir Martin Frobisher makes the third of his three voyages to the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage.
- Chinese physician Li Shih-Chen completes his "Great Pharmacopoeia," a 26-year endeavor to describe nearly 2000 animal, mineral, and herbal drugs used in Chinese pharmacology.
- English author John Lyly publishes The Anatomy of Wit, the first of his two part Euphues - an early example of the novel of manners. The work soon becomes one of the most influential works of literature of its day, initiating a craze for the elaborate and artificial style of English prose writing that came to be called "euphuism."
- Spanish poet Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga publishes the second part of his three-part epic poem, La Araucana, one of the finest poems in the Spanish language and still an important source of historical knowledge about Chile.
- French poet Pierre de Ronsard publishes his Sonnets pour Hélène.
- Polish poet Jan Kochanowski publishes his tradgedy The Dismissal of the Greek Envoys.
- English dramatist George Whetstone publishes his play Promos and Cassandra, one of the sources for Shakespeare's Measure for Measure.
- St. Patrick’s Parish Church, the first Protestant church ever built in Ireland, is constructed at Newry.
These people were born in 1578:
These people died in 1578:
- Japanese warlord Uesugi Kenshin, the "Tiger of Echigo."
- King Sebastian of Portugal, at the Battle of Ksar el Kebir.
- Moroccan king Abd al-Malik, at the Battle of Ksar el Kebir.
- Muhammad, pretender to the throne of Morocco, at the Battle of Ksar el Kebir.
- English adventurer Thomas Stucley, fighting for the Portuguese at the Battle of Ksar el Kebir.
- Don John of Austria, Spanish general and illegitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
- Italian illuminator Giorgio Giulio Clovio.
- French architect Pierre Lescot.
- Portuguese mathematician Pedro Nunes.
- Italian portraitist Giovanni Battista Moroni.
- James Hepburn, Fourth Earl of Bothwell, Scottish nobleman and third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots.
1577 - 1578 - 1579