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2. Omar Khayyam


Born in a wealthy province of Seljuk-ruled Persia, Omar Khayyam was educated well as a youth and became fascinated by science, especially astronomy and mathematics. He built an observatory and created the Jalalaean Calender that was far more accurate than the Julian Calender in use by his European ...

3. Hildegard von Bingen

Soundtrack | Breath of God

Vision (2009) is a film about her.

5. Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi

Writer | Rumi: Poet of the Heart

Jalaluddin Rumi, Scholar in Religious Sciences and famed Sufi Mystic Poet, was born on September 29th 1207 A.D. in Balkh (modern day Afghanistan). Escaping Mongol invasions he travelled extensively to Muslim lands, Bagdad, Mecca, Damascus, Malatia (Turkey). Married Gevher Khatun of Samarquand and ...

6. Dante Alighieri

Writer | The Trophy Case: Judgement

Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 into the lower nobility of Florence, to Alighiero di Bellincione d'Alighiero, a moneylender. A precocious student, Dante's education focused on rhetoric and grammar. He also became enamored with a young girl, Beatrice Portinari, whose death in 1290 threw a grieving ...

9. Joan of Arc

Writer | HBO First Look

The campaign to canonize Joan was launched by the then-Bishop of Orléans in 1869. After decades of delay (and an initial rejection by the papal consistory), it was Pope Pius X who pushed Joan's cause through (Leo XIII having signed the Commissio Introductionis Causæ Servæ Dei Joannæ d'Arc in 1894)....

10. Leonardo Da Vinci

Writer | The Year of Living Locked Up

The archetypal "Renaissance Man," Leonardo da Vinci was one of the greatest scientific minds as well as one of the greatest visual artists the human race has ever produced. The illegitimate son of a wealthy Florentine notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant woman named Caterina, Leonardo was born in ...

11. Niccolò Machiavelli

Writer | Monna Vanna

Born into a time of extreme political upheaveal, Niccolò Machiavelli was a member of the old Florentine nobility. He received a proper humanistic Renaissance education, and as a young man began the climb up the perilous political ladder of Italy. In 1502 he was sent to Romagna as an envoy to Cesare...

12. Albrecht Dürer

Art Department | Unser Sandmännchen

Known as a painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and art theorist.

13. Ludovico Ariosto

Writer | Orlando furioso

Alberto Savinio named his two children after two characters in Ariosto's poem "Orlando Furioso" (1516).

14. Michelangelo Buonarotti

Art Department | Yksitoista ihmisen kuvaa

Michelangelo Buonarotti was born on March 6, 1475 in Caprese. He is known for his work on Yksitoista ihmisen kuvaa (2012) and Michelangelo (1963). He died on February 18, 1564 in Rome.

16. Martin Luther

Soundtrack | Gangs of New York

Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483 in Eisleben, Mansfeld, Holy Roman Empire. He was married to Katherine Von Bora. He died on February 18, 1546 in Eisleben.

17. Henry VIII

Soundtrack | L'âge des ténèbres

Established the Church of England on November 3, 1534 after Pope Leo X rejected his petitions to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, and widow of Henry's brother, Arthur. He argued for an annulment by claiming she and Arthur had ...

21. Francois Rabelais

Writer | Kraft Television Theatre

French satirist. Author of "Gargantua and Pantagruel", the famous medieval epic satire about giants. To date, it has never been filmed or dramatized for television.

23. Michel de Nostredame

Writer | Nosutoradamusu no daiyogen

An apothecary before he began to practice the occult, Michel de Nostredame spent the early part of his career battling outbreaks of the bubonic plague in southern France, and northern Italy. Historians attribute his higher-than-average survival rates to his then-radical practice of personal hygiene...

27. Herman Finck

Music Department | BBC Proms

Composer, organist, university professor, he is the great-nephew of composer Heinrich Finck (1445 - 9 June 1527).

28. John Dee

John Dee was born on July 13, 1527 in London, England. He died in December 1608 in Mortlake, Surrey.

33. Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe was born on December 14, 1546 in Knutstorp Castle, Scania, Denmark, Denmark-Norway as Tyge Ottesen Brahe. He died on October 24, 1601 in Prague, Habsburg Bohemia, Holy Roman Empire [now Czech Republic].

34. Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra

Writer | Don Quixote

Miguel de Cervantes' baptism occurred on October 9, 1547, at Alcala de Henares, Spain, so it is reasonable to assume he was born around that time, and Alcala de Henares has long claimed itself as his birthplace. The son of Rodrigo de Cervantes, an itinerant and not-too-successful surgeon, Miguel ...

35. Edward de Vere

Writer | Looking for Desdemona

The 17th Earl of Oxford, hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain of England, scion of the noble house of Vere (his ancestor Aubrey received titles and estates from William the Conqueror in 1066). Poet, playwright, and courtier to Queen Elizabeth I, he received his classical education at Cambridge and ...

36. Félix Lope de Vega

Writer | Qartuli baletis ostatebi

He entered the priesthood during the last decades of his life, and when he died he was given a state funeral that lasted nine full days.

37. Christopher Marlowe

Writer | Doctor Faustus

Born the son of a shoe-maker two months before the birth of another famous playwright, William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe achieved fame as an Elizabethan dramatist as well as an atheist. He was killed in a tavern brawl by a former friend, allegedly over a bill. There is now some evidence that...

38. William Shakespeare

Writer | M the Movie

William Shakespeare's birthdate is assumed from his baptism on April 25. His father John was the son of a farmer who became a successful tradesman; his mother Mary Arden was gentry. He studied Latin works at Stratford Grammar School, leaving at about age 15. About this time his father suffered an ...

43. Michelangelo da Caravaggio

Actor | Five Revolutionary Painters

Michelangelo da Caravaggio was born on September 29, 1571 in Milan, Duchy of Milan, Holy Roman Empire as Michelangelo Merisi. He was an actor, known for Five Revolutionary Painters (1959) and Canvas (1966). He died on July 18, 1610 in Porto Ecole, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Holy Roman Empire.

44. Johannes Kepler

German astronomer who discovered three major laws of planetary motion, conventionally designated as follows: (1) the planets move in elliptical orbits with the Sun at one focus; (2) the time necessary to traverse any arc of a planetary orbit is proportional to the area of the sector between the ...

45. Ben Jonson

Soundtrack | Sense and Sensibility

Benjamin Jonson was born 1571 as the posthumous son of a Protestant minister. His mother then moved him to Westminster, where she married a bricklayer. He attended a free parish school as a boy, and thanks to the sponsorship of the headmaster, was able to attend Westminster Grammar School. ...

46. Guido Reni

Art Department | Sister Wendy at the Norton Simon Museum

Painter. Works include the Paoline Chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Aldobrandini wings of the Vatican.

47. Peter Paul Rubens

Art Department | Sister Wendy at the Norton Simon Museum

Peter Paul Rubens was born on June 28, 1577 in Siegen, Nassau-Dillenburg, Holy Roman Empire. He is known for his work on Sister Wendy at the Norton Simon Museum (2002) and Visnews (1962). He died on May 30, 1640 in Antwerp, Spanish Netherlands [now Belgium].

48. John Fletcher

Writer | Shakespeare's Globe: The Two Noble Kinsmen

Principal dramatist for the King's Men folllowing the death of William Shakespeare.

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