Nicholas Sanders (also spelled Sander; c. 1530 – 1581) was an English Catholic priest and polemicist.
Sanders was born at Sander Place near Charlwood, Surrey, one of twelve children of William Sanders, once sheriff of Surrey, who was descended from the Sanders of Sanderstead. At the age of ten, Nicholas became a student at Hyde Abbey. Sanders was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford,  where he was elected fellow in 1548 and graduated B.C.L. in 1551. The family had strong Roman Catholic leanings, and two of his elder sisters became nuns of Sion convent before its dissolution. Sanders was selected to deliver the oration at the reception of Cardinal Pole's visitors by the university in 1557. With the accession of Elizabeth I, Sanders went abroad around May 1559, with the guidance and financial support of Francis Englefield. 
Sanders was ordained a priest in Rome, and afterwards received the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Even before the end of 1550 had been mentioned as a likely cardinal. In 1560 he wrote a "Report on the State of England" for Cardinal Morone. He attended the Council of Trent as a theologian of Cardinal Hosius and afterwards accompanied him and Cardinal Commendone in legations to Poland, Prussia, and Lithuania. 
In 1565, Fr. Sanders made his headquarters at Louvain, where his mother and his siblings joined him as refugees from anti-Catholic recusancy laws. His sister, Elizabeth Sanders, became a nun of Syon at Rouen.  After a visit to the Imperial Diet at Augsburg in 1566 (in attendance upon Commendone, who had been largely instrumental in arranging the reconciliation of England with the Holy See during the reign of Queen Mary I), he threw himself into the literary controversy between Bishops John Jewel and Thomas Harding.
Fr. Sanders' De visibili Monarchia Ecclesiae, provided the first narrative of the sufferings of the English Catholics. It was published in 1571, in the aftermath of both Regnans in Excelsis and the Northern Rebellion.
In 1573 he went to Spain to urge Philip II to subsidise the exiles. He passed the following years at Madrid, where he was granted a pension of 300 ducats.
By 1575 James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald had formed an alliance with Sir Thomas Stukley to launch a projected 1578 Irish expedition, which Sanders was to have accompanied. The plan was supported by papal nuncio Filippo Sega with the covert encouragement of King Philip. Fitzgerald and Stukley were to rendezvous at Lisbon, where King Sebastian of Portugal convinced Stukley to participate in a campaign in Morocco instead. Stukley abandoned the Irish invasion and sailed his troops to Morocco, where he was killed at the Battle of Alcácer Quibir in August 1578. 
Sanders and Fitzmaurice landed a force of some 600 Spanish and Italian freelance troops with arms for 4,000 rebels and covert Papal support at Smerwick harbour in Ireland, launching the Second Desmond Rebellion. Sanders paraded the papal banner at Dingle before trying to arm local Irish clans and Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond and others seeking their backing, but they never linked up. The invasion fleet was immediately captured by Sir William Winter, and in November 1580 the troops already at Smerwick were massacred by the Irish Royal Army under Arthur Grey, 14th Baron Grey de Wilton, after the 3-day Siege of Smerwick. As Spain and the Papacy were not formally at war with England, Fr. Sanders and his men were declared outlaws. Fr. Sanders himself escaped into the hills.
Grey's report from Smerwick mentioned Sanders' involvement: Execution of the Englishman who served Dr. Sanders, and two others, whose arms and legs were broken for torture. 
After spending months as a fugitive in the south-west of Ireland, Sanders is believed to have died of cold and starvation in the spring of 1581.
The writings of Sanders formed the basis of later Catholic histories of the English Reformation, and its martyrology. His major work in this direction was his unfinished De origine ac progressu schismatis Anglicani (Of the Origin and Progression of the English Schism). This had many editions, and was used as a basis for other works, starting with its continuation after 1558 by Edward Rishton, supposedly printed at Cologne in 1585, actually by Jean Foigny at Reims. 
The sources and production of De origine are complex. The "Jodochus Skarnhert" of Cologne involved in it has been tentatively identified with Robert Persons, who worked on the second edition of 1586. William Allen is now assumed to have had a large editorial role from the start. Rishton acted as an editor, and moved De origine towards martyrology.  The materials for the second edition included the prison journal of the Jesuit John Hart, which has been attributed incorrectly to Rishton; from the third edition it was not used, and the suggestion is that Persons by then knew that Hart had become an agent of Queen Elizabeth I's spymaster Francis Walsingham.  Other sources included: the writings of Reginald Pole on the English Reformation; a life of John Fisher; Cochlaeus writing against Richard Morison; and Richard Hilliard. 
Catholic writers who took up the content of De origine included Girolamo Pollini, Andrea Sciacca, Bernardo Davanzati, Pedro de Ribadeneira, and François Maucroix. British Protestant reactions included that of Peter Heylin, who called Sanders "Dr Slanders", and Gilbert Burnet who was prompted into his History of the Reformation at the end of the 17th century. 
Pope Gregory XIII, born Ugo Boncompagni, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 13 May 1572 to his death in April 1585. He is best known for commissioning and being the namesake for the Gregorian calendar, which remains the internationally accepted civil calendar to this day.
Pope John XXII, born Jacques Duèze, was head of the Catholic Church from 7 August 1316 to his death in December 1334.
Year 1530 (MDXXX) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1530th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 530th year of the 2nd millennium, the 30th year of the 16th century, and the 1st year of the 1530s decade.
Robert Persons, later known as Robert Parsons, was an English Jesuit priest. He was a major figure in establishing the 16th-century "English Mission" of the Society of Jesus.
Regnans in Excelsis is a papal bull that Pope Pius V issued on 25 February 1570. It excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I of England, referring to her as "the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime", declared her a heretic, and released her subjects from allegiance to her, even those who had "sworn oaths to her", and excommunicated any who obeyed her orders: "We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others afore said that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication."
The Desmond Rebellions occurred in 1569–1573 and 1579–1583 in the Irish province of Munster.
Pedro de Ribadeneira S.J. was a Spanish hagiographer, Jesuit priest, companion of Ignatius of Loyola, and a Spanish Golden Age ascetic writer.
James fitz Maurice FitzGerald, called "fitz Maurice", was a native Irish and Anglo Norman captain-general of Desmond while Gerald FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Desmond, was detained in England by Queen Elizabeth after the Battle of Affane in 1565. He led the first Desmond Rebellion in 1569 and was sometimes called the "Archtraitor" by the English. He surrendered in 1573, prostrating himself in Kilmallock church before John Perrot, president of Munster.
James Archer (1550–1620) was an Irish Roman Catholic priest of the Society of Jesus who played a controversial role in the Nine Years War during the House of Tudor religious persecution of the Catholic Church in Ireland and the Elizabethan wars against the Irish clans. During the final decade of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Fr. Archer he became a leading hate figure in English government propaganda, but his lasting achievement was in the establishment of Irish seminaries in Catholic Europe as part of the counter reformation.
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The Second Desmond Rebellion (1579–1583) was the more widespread and bloody of the two Desmond Rebellions in Ireland launched by the FitzGerald Dynasty of Desmond in Munster against English rule. The second rebellion began in July 1579 when James FitzMaurice FitzGerald landed in Ireland with a force of Papal troops, triggering an insurrection across the south of Ireland on the part of the Desmond dynasty, their allies, and others who were dissatisfied for various reasons with English government of the country. The rebellion ended with the 1583 death of Gerald FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Desmond, and the defeat of the rebels.
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Events from the year 1581 in Ireland.
The siege of Smerwick took place at Ard na Caithne in November 1580, during the Second Desmond Rebellion in Ireland. A force of between 400 and 700 Papal freelance soldiers, mostly of Spanish and Italian origin, landed at Smerwick to support the Catholic rebels. They were forced to retreat to the nearby promontory fort of Dún an Óir, where they were besieged by the English. The Papal commander parleyed and was bribed, and the defenders surrendered within a few days. The officers were spared, but the other ranks were then summarily executed on the orders of the English commander, Arthur Grey, the Lord Deputy of Ireland.
Edward Rishton was an English Roman Catholic priest.
Rudolf Hospinian, real name Rudolf Wirth, was a Swiss Reformed theologian and controversialist.
Events from the year 1580 in Ireland.
John Hart was an English Jesuit, known for his equivocal behaviour on the English mission in the early 1580s.