600 to 1450 AD
Dictionary of World History
(see other dictionaries)
Archdiocese - The district administered by an archbishop which included several dioceses.
Aztecs - A Native American civilization from Northern Mexico. They are known for they temples to the sun god, whom they worshiped through human sacrifice and ascetic behavior.
Bubonic Plague - (1347 - 1352) An outbreak of the Black Death which devastated the world, killing a quarter of the world's population and a third of Europe's population It actually broke out in China in the late 1320s, but didn't reach Europe until 1347.
Charlemagne - ['shär-l&-"mAn] (742 - 814) A Frankish king who became emperor of the west and founded the Holy Roman Empire. He is known for being crowned as the Holy Roman Emperor by the pope.
Christendom - The part of the world which is dominated by Christianity.
Commune - A self governing body made up mostly of merchants who formed independent fortified cities with their own laws and administration apart from the feudal and manorial systems.
Crusades - A series of military campaigns undertaken by Christians during the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries in order to free the Holy Lands and Jerusalem from the Muslims.
Dante Alighieri - [dän-(")tA a-l&-'gyer-E] (1265 - 1321) Author of the Divine Comedy, the greatest literary work of the middle ages.
Diocese - The jurisdiction of a bishop, who was responsible for, and supervised the parishes within his territory.
Feudalism - A system of political organization in which a wealthy lord gave land to vassals in exchange for their fealty, military service, dues.
Fief - Something of value, usually land, given as a gift to the vassal from the lord to cement their relationship.
Genghis Khan - [jeng-gs-'kän] (c. 1165 - 1227) Mongol conqueror who's dream was world conquest. He united the Mongols, established Mongol supremacy in Asia and created an empire that extended from China to Persia
Gothic style - A style of architecture developed in France and prevalent throughout Western Europe from the mid 12th to early 16th century, characterized by the pointed arch, massive piers, stained glass windows and flying buttresses.
Great Schism- [ski-z&m] (1378 - 1417) The division of the Roman Catholic Church resulting from the pope in Avignon being challenged by the pope in Rome
Great Zimbabwe - The largest ruins in Africa, covering almost 1,800 acre. Once a great complex built by wealthy cattlemen in the 13th and 14th centuries, holding perhaps 40,000 people at its height.
Holy Roman Empire - (962 - 1806) The Empire founded by Charlemagne which covered a large part of Europe and had its center in Germany
Hundred Years War - (1337 - 1453) A long, drawn-out war between the French and the English in which the French finally prevailed as they were inspired by Joan of Arc.
Inca - A Native American Civilization who's empire extended to the Andes, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. They worshiped many gods in complex ceremonies and rituals. Their temples were constructed out of large stones perfectly carved so that there were no cracks in the buildings.
Islam - The religion of the Muslims which includes belief in Allah as the only god and Muhammad as his prophet.
Joan of Arc - (1412 - 1431) The Maid or Orleans, a French national hero who forced the English to withdraw their siege of Orleans. She was later burned at the stake by the English
Kublai Khan - ['kü-"bl&-'kän](1215 - 1294) Grandson of Genghis Khan, conquered all of China and established the Yuan Dynasty.
Lay investiture - The appointment of church leaders by secular rulers.
Magna Carta - The Great Charter signed by King John in 1215. The Magna Carta greatly reduced the power of the king and allowed for the formation of a powerful parliament.
Manorial society - A system of political organization in which the peasants of the manorial estate looked after their own land, as well as that of the lord, took care of the upkeep of the estate and looked after the lord's livestock. The peasants also paid rent and dues for various services and privileges the lord provided, such as use of the village mill.
Marco Polo - (1254 - 1324) Venetian traveler who's journey to China lasted 24 years. He became a confidant of Kublai Khan in China, where he stayed for several years. After his return to Venice he recorded his experiences in a book.
Maya - A Native American civilization located in Guatemala and Mexico. They are known for their pyramid temples, the sites of many ceremonial worship feasts and human sacrifices to the gods.
Middle Ages - (500 - 1500) The period in European history between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance. It was a time marked by the rise of the feudal system which made skill with the sword an important trait and made kings and landowners very powerful.
Monasticism - A separate wing of the church in which monks lived in monasteries and took vows to live by certain rules. The purpose of the monastic life was prayer, but the monks also vowed to remain poor, chaste, and obedient to their abbot. Secondary to prayer were learning, farming, and social service, which greatly influenced the community around them.
Mongols - A nomadic people who under the leadership of Genghis Khan created an empire extending from China to Persia.
Muhammad -[mO-'ha-m&d] (570 - 632) Islamic prophet and founder of Islam. Claimed to have received visions from God, which he recorded in the Koran, the Muslim holy book. He established the Five Pillars of Islam which are to publicly proclaim one's faith in Allah once a day, pray five times a day facing Mecca, give to the needy, fast during Ramadan and make a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Papacy - The highest office in the church, that of the Pope. The Pope had absolute power over the church. The pope claimed authority over the church based on the authority of Peter over the disciples (Matthew 16:18-19 "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven")
Parish - The smallest unit in church hierarchy, which was cared for by a priest.
Renaissance - (1300-1600) A period in Europe characterized by humanistic revival of classical influence in the arts and literature and the beginning of modern science.
Silk Road - An important trade route extending from the Mediterranean Sea to Beijing China.
Sung Dynasty - (960-1279) Chinese dynasty. Famous for porcelain with celadon glaze, the invention of gunpowder and the development of ships with watertight compartments that could carry up to 1,000 passengers.
Tang dynasty - (618-907) Chinese dynasty. Developed a political system in which officials were chosen based on merit and education. Printing was invented during this dynasty, which led to the printing of the Buddhist sutras, Confucian classics and the Taoist canon.
The Byzantine Empire - (330-1453) Once Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire which survived much past the fall of Rome until it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
Vernacular Literature - Literature written in the local or common language, not in Latin.
Yang dynasty - (1279-1368)The Mongol dynasty in China. During this dynasty Marco Polo visited China and Kublai Khan, the first emperor of the Yang dynasty.