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1597 (MDXCVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. As of the start of 1597, the Gregorian calendar was 10 days ahead of the Julian calendar.
Andreas Libavius's Alchemia
, an early chemistry text, is published.
- c. July – Thomas Nashe and Ben Jonson's satirical play The Isle of Dogs is performed at the Swan Theatre in London; it is immediately suppressed by the authorities and no copy survives.
- July 14 – Scottish poet Alexander Montgomerie is declared an outlaw, after the collapse of a Catholic plot.
- August 13 – The Siege of Namwon begins.
- August 14 – First Dutch Expedition to Indonesia: A Dutch expedition commanded by Cornelis de Houtman returns to Amsterdam, after having successfully reached Java. This achievement opens the Spice trade, which had until then been monopolised by the Portuguese, to the Dutch, who in the next years launch several more expeditions to the Indies.
- August 17 – Islands Voyage: Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and Sir Walter Raleigh set sail on an expedition to the Azores.
- August 19 – Rheinberg capitulates to forces led by Maurice of Naussau.
- August 24 – Christian IV of Denmark refuses to let Tycho Brahe return to Denmark.
- August 28 – Imjin War: Battle of Chilcheollyang – The Japanese fleet defeats the Koreans, in their only naval victory of the war.
- September 25 – Amiens is retaken from the Spanish by Anglo-French forces, led by Henry IV of France, after a four-month siege.
- October – John Gerard, a Jesuit priest, escapes from the Tower of London.
- October/November – The 3rd Spanish Armada is dispersed by a storm; a number of Spanish ships are captured off the coasts of Wales, Cornwall and Devon.
- October 26 – Battle of Myeongnyang: The Koreans, commanded by Yi Sunsin, are victorious over a Japanese invasion fleet.
- November 12 – Lingen capitulates to forces led by Maurice of Nassau.
- January 12 – François Duquesnoy, Flemish Baroque sculptor in Rome (d. 1643)
- January 25 – Johann Philipp, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, German Duke (d. 1639)
- January 31 – John Francis Regis, French Jesuit priest (d. 1640)
- February 24 – Vincent Voiture, French poet (d. 1648)
- March 1 – Jean-Charles de la Faille, Belgian mathematician (d. 1652)
- March 10 – Ercole Gennari, Italian drawer and painter (d. 1658)
- March 18 – Jérôme le Royer de la Dauversière, French nobleman, founder of Montreal and an order of nursing Sisters (d. 1659)
- March 21 – Juan Alonso y Ocón, Spanish Catholic prelate, Archbishop of La Plata o Charcas (d. 1656)
- March 27 – William Hyde, President of English College, Douai (d. 1651)
- April 9 – John Davenport, English Puritan clergyman, co-founder of the American colony of New Haven (d. 1670)
- April 13 – Giovanni Battista Hodierna, Italian astronomer (d. 1660)
- April 23 – Alvise Contarini, Italian diplomat, nobleman (d. 1651)
- May 13 – Cornelis Schut, Flemish painter, draughtsman and engraver (d. 1655)
- May 15 – Squire Bence, English politician (d. 1648)
- May 25 – Veit Erbermann, German theologian (d. 1675)
- May 31 – Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, French author (d. 1654)
- June 9 – Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, Dutch painter (d. 1665)
- January 29
- February 2 – James Burbage, English actor
- February 5
- Francisco Blanco, Spanish Franciscan and Roman Catholic priest, missionary, martyr and saint (b. 1570)
- Gonsalo Garcia, Portuguese Franciscan and Roman Catholic priest, missionary, martyr and saint (b. 1557)
- Paulo Miki, Japanese Roman Catholic priest, martyr and saint (b. c.1562)
- Philip of Jesus, Mexican Roman Catholic priest, missionary, martyr and saint (b. 1572)
- 26 Martyrs of Japan
- February 6 – Franciscus Patricius, Italian philosopher and scientist (b. 1529)
- February 16 – Gilbert Génébrard, French Roman Catholic archbishop (b. 1535)
- March 6 – William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham, English noble and politician (b. 1527)
- April 16 – Caspar Cruciger the Younger, German theologian (b. 1525)
- June 6 – William Hunnis, English poet
- June 8 – Barbara of Hesse (b. 1536)
- June 9 – José de Anchieta, Spanish Jesuit missionary (b. 1534)
- June 18 – Markus Fugger, German businessman (b. 1529)
- June 20 – Willem Barents, Dutch navigator and explorer (b. c. 1550)
- July 8 – Luís Fróis, Portuguese Jesuit missionary (b. 1532)
- July 19 – Gunilla Bielke, Queen of Sweden (b. 1568)
- July 20 – Franciscus Raphelengius, Dutch printer (b. 1539)
- July 22 – Gabriele Paleotti, Italian Roman Catholic cardinal (b. 1522)
- August 27
- Won Gyun, Korean general and admiral during the Joseon Dynasty (b. 1540)
- Yi Eokgi, Korean admiral during the Joseon Dynasty (b. 1561)
- September 3 – Jakobea of Baden, Margravine of Baden by birth, Duchess of Jülich-Cleves-Berg (b. 1558)
- September 20 – Archduchess Gregoria Maximiliana of Austria, Austrian archduchess (b. 1581)
- September 30 – William I, Count of Schwarzburg-Frankenhausen (b. 1534)
- October 4 – Sarsa Dengel, Emperor of Ethiopia (b. 1550)
- October 19 – Ashikaga Yoshiaki, Japanese sh?gun (b. 1537)
- October 23 – Cyriakus Schneegass, German hymnwriter (b. 1546)
- October 27 – Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, Italian noble (b. 1533)
- November 1 – Edward Kelley, English spirit medium (b. 1555)
- November 11 – Gustav of Saxe-Lauenburg, German noble (b. 1570)
- November 6 – Infanta Catherine Michelle of Spain (b. 1567)
- December 17 – Frederick, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken-Vohenstrauss-Parkstein (b. 1557)
- December 21 – Petrus Canisius, Dutch Jesuit priest and saint (b. 1521)
- date unknown - Margaretha Coppier, Dutch heroine (b. 1516)