- The drought in Central Europe in 1540 was a climate catastrophe in which it had barely rained in large areas of Europe for 11 months. The temperatures are said to have been five to seven degrees above the mean of the 20th century . The drought is described as the worst of the second millennium.
- Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and Hernando de Soto carry out extensive expeditions through North America .
- 1540 to 1542 : Gonzalo Pizarro expedition led by Gonzalo Pizarro , first crossing of South America from Peru to the Amazon delta by the whites.
- 1543 : Establishment of the heliocentric worldview through the printing of the book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium , the main astronomical and mathematical work by Nicolaus Copernicus .