1588Centuries: 15th century - 16th century - 17th century
- May 12 - Day of the Barricades in Paris. Duke Henry of Guise seizes the city, forcing King Henry III to flee.
- May 28 - The Spanish Armada, with 130 ships and 30,000 men, begins to set sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel (it will take until May 30 for all ships to leave port).
- July - King Henry III of France capitulates to the Duke of Guise and returns to Paris.
- July 29 - Battle of Gravelines: The Spanish Armada is defeated by an English naval force under command of Lord Charles Howard and Sir Francis Drake off the coast of Gravelines, France.
- July 31 - First engagement between the English and Spanish fleets off Plymouth. The English have the better of it.
- August 4 - The English and Spanish fleets meet again off Dorset. (The English fleet is led by Lord Howard of Effingham and Sir Francis Drake.) The English again have the better of it.
- August 7 - The English and Spanish fleets again engage off the coast of Flanders. The English again are more successful.
- August 8 - August 9 - The Spanish are unable to reach the coast of Flanders to meet up with the army of the Duke of Parma. Medina Sidonia decides to return to Spain.
- August 12 - The Spanish fleet sails past the Firth of Forth, and the English cease their pursuit. Much of the Spanish fleet is destroyed as it sails around Scotland and Ireland.
- December 23 - Henry III of France strikes his ultra-Catholic enemies, having the Duke of Guise and his brother, Cardinal Louis of Guise, killed, and holding the Cardinal de Bourbon a prisoner.
- Russia, regency of Boris Godunov
- William Morgan's Welsh translation of the Bible published.
- April 5 - Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher (+ 1679)
- May 2 - Étienne Pascal, mathematician (+ 1651)
- May 28 - Pierre Seguier, chancellor of France (+ 1672)
- Johann Heinrich Alsted, German theologian