Better Living through Good Plumbing
The modern flush toilet (or 'John') stutters into existence this year. Sir John Harington invents the flush toilet and has one installed in his home. He writes about it in, A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, Called the Metamorphosis of Ajax. Ajax is the name of his new invention... a play on the current word for pit toilets... 'jakes'. Sir John has a sharp wit but like a sword, it is a weapon that can cut both ways. They call the toilets "Johns". Queen Elizabeth will have a toilet installed for the benefit of the royal backside but the production version of a flush toilet will wait for the invention of the S-trap to keep out the pipe smells and Thomas Crapper who will set up a plumbing showroom, thus making the flush toilet a proper subject for discussion in the 1880s.     
'Necessity Has No Law'... The Food Riots of Great Britain *
This is the second year of bad weather and bad harvests in England. The local town councils have been calling for Christian charity for the poor but it is not enough. The peasants say that 'necessity has no law.' They need food and they are going to take it. Along the way they strip away everything that isn't nailed down. They even behead farmers, manor managers and behead the wives and daughters of these men. The food riots are bad but a harvest yields what it can and no more. Queen Elizabeth the 1st writes an open letter to the Lord Mayor of London saying that there are too many Africans in London and suggests strongly that the Lord Mayor deport them back to Africa. A Queen's suggestion is not exactly an order to a Lord Mayor but it's close. And (as if I had to say it) this wild weather is due to the Little Ice Age. If they had believed that burning carbon-based fuels would bring about warmer weather, they would have done it. Global Cooling is killing millions right now.  
The Second Plague Pandemic: A Major Outbreak in Spain
From the current century and well into the next, a series of outbreaks of the Black Death will constitute the Second Plague Pandemic. This year begins a major outbreak in Spain that will last until 1599. Half a million people will die. Other than efficient quarantine, there is nothing else they can do. 
This Year on Wikipedia
Year 1596, Wikipedia.
- * The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
- Flush toilet - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “In 1596, Sir John Harington (1561-1612) published A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, Called the Metamorphosis of Ajax, describing a forerunner to the modern flush toilet installed at his house at Kelston.”
- A New Discourse of a Stale Subject; Called the Metamorphosis of Ajax. Sewer History (2010). Retrieved on 22 June 2015. “Next make a vessel of an oval form, as broad at the bottom as at the top; two feet deep, one foot broad, sixteen inches long; place this very close to your seat, like the pot of a close-stool, let the oval incline to the right hand. This vessel may be of brick, stone or lead; but whatsoever it is, it should have a current of three inches to the back part of it (where a sluice of brass must stand); the bottom and sides all smooth, and dressed with pitch, rosin and wax: which will keep it from tainting with the urine.”
- John Harington (writer) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 June 2015. “Sir John Harington (also spelled Harrington) (4 August 1561 - 20 November 1612), of Kelston, was an English courtier, author and master of art, popularly known as the inventor of the flush toilet. He became a prominent member of Queen Elizabeth I's court, and was known as her 'saucy Godson'. But because of his poetry and other writings, he fell in and out of favour with the Queen.”
- Why the Toilet is Sometimes Called a 'John'. Today I Found Out (August 9, 2010). Retrieved on 22 June 2015. “There are a few references of the toilet being called 'Cousin John', as well as many references to it being called 'Jake' and other such generic names, before Harrington was born; but it is generally agreed that why we now call it 'John' is because of Harrington and not from the old 'Cousin John'.”
- Why is a Toilet Called a John?. Why Guides (2015). Retrieved on 22 June 2015. “The book was about his invention simply called Ajax taken from the word 'jakes’ or 'a jakes’ which is another word they have for a toilet.”
- John Walter (May 1985). A "Rising of the People"? The Oxfordshire Rising of 1596. Past & Present. Oxford University Press on behalf of The Past and Present Society. pp. 90-143. http://www.jstor.org/stable/650707. "At Norwich in 1595 the magistrates were the recipients of an anonymous letter which warned that 'some barbarous and unmerciful soldier shall lay open your hedges, reap your fields, rifle your coffers and level your houses to the ground'. The letter began by toasting the queen, but ended with that ominous observation, 'Necessity hath no law'.".
- Emily C. Bartels (April 2006). Too Many Blackamoors: Deportation, Discrimination, and Elizabeth I. Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900. 46. Rice University. pp. 305-322. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3844644. "In 1596, Queen Elizabeth issued an 'open letter' to the Lord Mayor of London, announcing that 'there are of late divers black-moores brought into this realme, of which kinde of people there aire allready here to manie,' and ordering that they be deported from the country.".
- Bray, R. S. (2004-04-29). Armies of Pestilence: The Impact of Disease on History. James Clarke & Co.. ISBN 978-0-227-17240-7.