us history 1 terms

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"re-birth", Italian: Rinascimento, from rinascere "to be reborn")[1] was a cultural movement that spanned the period roughly from the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. Though availability of paper and the invention of metal movable type sped the dissemination of ideas from the later 15th century, the changes of the Renaissance were not uniformly experienced across Europe.
As a cultural movement, it encompassed innovative flowering of Latin and vernacular literatures, beginning with the 14th-century resurgence of learning based on classical sources, which contemporaries credited to Petrarch, the development of linear perspective and other techniques of rendering a more natural reality in painting, and gradual but widespread educational reform.
In politics, the Renaissance contributed the development of the conventions of diplomacy, and in science an increased reliance on observation. Historians often argue this intellectual transformation was a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term "Renaissance man".[2][3]
There is a consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy, in the 14th century.[4] Various theories have been proposed to account for its origins and characteristics, focusing on a variety of factors including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time; its political structure; the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici;[5][6] and the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Conquest of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.[7][8][9]
The Renaissance has a long and complex historiography, and in line with general scepticism of discrete periodizations, there has been much debate among historians reacting to the 19th-century glorification of the "Renaissance" and individual culture heroes as "Renaissance men", questioning the usefulness of Renaissance as a term and as a historical delineation.[10] The art historian Erwin Panofsky observed of this resistance to the concept of Renaissance
It is perhaps no accident that the factuality of the Italian Renaissance has been most vigorously questioned by those who are not obliged to take a professional interest in the aesthetic aspects of civilization— historians of economic and social developments, political and religious situations, and, most particularly, natural science— but only exceptionally by students of literature and hardly ever by historians of Art.[11]
Some have called into question whether the Renaissance was a cultural "advance" from the Middle Ages, instead seeing it as a period of pessimism and nostalgia for the classical age,[12] while social and economic historians of the longue durée especially have instead focused on the continuity between the two eras,[13] linked, as Panofsky himself observed, "by a thousand ties".[14]
The word Renaissance, whose literal translation from French into English is "Rebirth", was first used and defined[15] by French historian Jules Michelet (1798-1874), in his 1855 work, Histoire de France. The word Renaissance has also been extended to other historical and cultural movements, such as the Carolingian Renaissance and the Renaissance of the 12th century.

Protestant Reformation

was the schism within Western Christianity initiated by John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other early Protestants. It was sparked by the 1517 posting of Luther's Ninety-Five Theses. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to ("protested") the doctrines, rituals, leadership, and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led to the creation of new national Protestant churches. The Reformation was precipitated by earlier events within Europe, such as the Black Death and the Western Schism, which eroded people's faith in the Catholic Church and the Papacy that governed it. This, as well as many other factors, such as spread of Renaissance ideas and inventions, such as the invention of the printing press, and the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, contributed to the creation of Protestantism.[1][page needed][2][page needed]
The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent and spearheaded by the new order of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) specifically organised to counter the Protestant movement. In general, Northern Europe, with the exception of most of Ireland, turned Protestant. Southern Europe remained Roman Catholic, while fierce battles which turned into warfare took place in central Europe.[1]
The first of the new churches was the Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren), Moravian Church (Bohemian Brethren) dating their origins to Jan Hus in the early 15th century. The largest of the new churches were the Lutherans (mostly in Germany, the Baltics and Scandinavia) and the Reformed churches (mostly in Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Scotland). There were many smaller bodies as well.
Although there had been a reformation movement significantly predating Luther, the most common dating of the Protestant Reformation begins in 1517, when Luther published The Ninety-Five Theses, and concludes in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia that ended years of European religious wars.[1] Actually, the Reformation ended in ca. 1750, when the movement known as the Age of Enlightenment gained the upper hand, thus marking the end of the so-called Age of Confessionalism.[citation needed]

Roman Empire

in 376 CE, large numbers of Goths crossed the Danube. They sought admission to the territory of the Roman Empire, a political institution which, despite both new and longstanding systematic weaknesses, wielded effective power across the lands surrounding the Mediterranean and beyond. The Empire had large numbers of trained, supplied, and disciplined soldiers, it had a comprehensive civil administration based in thriving cities with effective control over public finances, and it maintained extreme differences of wealth and status including slavery on a large scale.[1] It had wide-ranging trade networks that allowed even modest households to use goods made by professionals a long way away.[2] Among its literate elite it had ideological legitimacy as the only worthwhile form of civilization, and a unity based on comprehensive familiarity with Greek and Roman literature and rhetoric. By 476, when Odoacer deposed the Emperor Romulus, the Western Roman Empire wielded negligible military, political, or financial power and had no effective control over the scattered Western domains that still described themselves as Roman. While its legitimacy lasted for centuries and its cultural influence remains today, the Western Empire never had the strength to rise again.
The events of the decline were the subject of debate at the time, often with a strongly religious flavor. Like the events surrounding the fall of the Roman Republic, much of this period is unusually well-documented, though there are very few figures which directly describe the strength of the economy, of the army, of the civil administration, or of the barbarians. Modern historians nevertheless debate the relative importance of these and other factors, in particular, whether the state was significantly weaker by 376 than it had been in previous centuries, and why the West collapsed while the East did not. The collapse, and the repeated attempts to reverse it, are major subjects of the historiography of the ancient world and they inform much modern discourse on state failure.[3][4]

Dark Ages

is a historical periodization used for the Middle Ages, which emphasizes the cultural and economic deterioration that supposedly occurred in Western Europe following the decline of the Roman Empire.[1][2] The label employs traditional light-versus-darkness imagery to contrast the "darkness" of the period with earlier and later periods of "light".[3] The period is characterized by a relative scarcity of historical and other written records at least for some areas of Europe, rendering it obscure to historians. The term "Dark Age" itself derives from the Latin saeculum obscurum, originally applied by Caesar Baronius in 1602 to a tumultuous period in the 10th and 11th centuries.[4]
Originally the term characterized the bulk of the Middle Ages, or roughly the 6th to 13th centuries, as a period of intellectual darkness between extinguishing the "light of Rome" after the end of Late Antiquity, and the rise of the Italian Renaissance in the 14th century.[5] [3] This definition is still found in popular usage,[1][2][6] but increased recognition of the accomplishments of the Middle Ages has led to the label being restricted in application. Since the 20th century, it is frequently applied to the earlier part of the era, the Early Middle Ages (c. 5th-10th century).[7][8] However, many modern scholars who study the era tend to avoid the term altogether for its negative connotations, finding it misleading and inaccurate for any part of the Middle Ages.[9][10][11]
The concept of a Dark Age originated with the Italian scholar Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca) in the 1330s, and was originally intended as a sweeping criticism of the character of Late Latin literature.[3][12] Petrarch regarded the post-Roman centuries as "dark" compared to the light of classical antiquity. Later historians expanded the term to refer to the transitional period between Roman times and the High Middle Ages (c. 11th-13th century), including the lack of Latin literature, and a lack of contemporary written history, general demographic decline, limited building activity and material cultural achievements in general. Later historians and writers picked up the concept, and popular culture has further expanded on it as a vehicle to depict the Middle Ages as a time of backwardness, extending its pejorative use and expanding its scope.[13]

Catholic Church

...teaches that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ. It interprets the Confession of Peter as acknowledging Christ's designation of Apostle Peter and his successors to be the temporal head of his Church. Thus, it asserts that the Bishop of Rome has the sole legitimate claim to Petrine authority and the primacy due to the Roman Pontiff.[1] The Catholic Church claims legitimacy for its bishops and priests via the doctrine of apostolic succession and authority of the Pope via the unbroken line of popes, claimed as successors to Simon Peter.[2][3][4][5]
In 313, the struggles of the Early Church were lessened by the legalisation of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine I. In 380, under Emperor Theodosius I, Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire by the decree of the Emperor, which would persist until the fall of the Western Empire, and later, with the Eastern Roman Empire, until the Fall of Constantinople. During this time (the period of the Seven Ecumenical Councils) there were considered five primary sees according to Eusebius: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria, known as the Pentarchy.
After the destruction of the western Roman Empire, the church in the West was a major factor in the preservation of classical civilization, establishing monasteries, and sending missionaries to convert the peoples of northern Europe, as far as Ireland in the north. In the East, the Byzantine Empire preserved Orthodoxy, well after the massive invasions of Islam in the mid-7th century. The invasions of Islam devastated three of the five Patriarchal sees, capturing Jerusalem first, then Alexandria, and then finally in the mid-8th century, Antioch.
The whole period of the next five centuries was dominated by the struggle between Christianity and Islam throughout the Mediterranean Basin. The battles of Poitiers, and Toulouse preserved the Catholic west, even though Rome itself was ravaged in 850, and Constantinople besieged. In the 11th century, already strained relations between the primarily Greek church in the East, and the Latin church in the West, developed into the East-West Schism, partially due to conflicts over Papal Authority. The fourth crusade, and the sacking of Constantinople by renegade crusaders proved the final breach.
In the 16th century, in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Church engaged in a process of substantial reform and renewal known as the Counter-Reformation.[6] In subsequent centuries, Catholicism spread widely across the world despite experiencing a reduction in its hold on European populations due to the growth of Protestantism and also because of religious scepticism during and after the Enlightenment. The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s introduced the most significant changes to Catholic practices since the Council of Trent three centuries before.

Classical world

is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilisations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world. It is the period in which Greek and Roman society flourished and wielded great influence throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
It is conventionally taken to begin with the earliest-recorded Greek poetry of Homer (8th-7th century BC), and continues through the emergence of Christianity and the decline of the Roman Empire (5th century AD). It ends with the dissolution of classical culture at the close of Late Antiquity (AD 300-600), blending into the Early Middle Ages (AD 600-1000). Such a wide sampling of history and territory covers many disparate cultures and periods. "Classical antiquity" may refer also to an idealised vision among later people of what was, in Edgar Allan Poe's words, "the glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome!"[1]
The culture of the ancient Greeks, together with some influences from the ancient Orient, prevailed throughout classical antiquity as the basis of art,[2] philosophy, society, and educational ideals.[3] These ideals were preserved and imitated by the Romans.[4] This Greco-Roman cultural foundation has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, art, and architecture of the modern world: From the surviving fragments of classical antiquity, a revival movement was gradually formed from the 14th century onwards which came to be known later in Europe as the Renaissance, and again resurgent during various neo-classical revivals in the 18th and 19th centuries.


is a term developed by Jean-François Lyotard to mean a theory that tries to give a totalizing, comprehensive account to various historical events, experiences, and social, cultural phenomena based upon the appeal to universal truth or universal values.
In this context, the narrative is a story that functions to legitimize power, authority, and social customs. A grand narrative or metanarrative is one that claims to explain various events in history, gives meaning by connecting disperse events and phenomena by appealing to some kind of universal knowledge or schema. The term grand narratives can be applied to a wide range of thoughts which includes Marxism, religious doctrines, belief in progress, universal reason, and others.
The concept was criticized by Jean-François Lyotard in his work, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (1979). In this text, Lyotard refers to what he describes as the postmodern condition, which he characterized as increasing skepticism toward the totalizing nature of "metanarratives" or "grand narratives."
According to John Stephens it "is a global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge and experience." The prefix meta means "beyond" and is here used to mean "about," and a narrative is a story. Therefore, a metanarrative is a story about a story, encompassing and explaining other 'little stories' within totalizing a schema.

Leonardo da Vinci

was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. His genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of "unquenchable curiosity" and "feverishly inventive imagination".[1] He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.[2] According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and "his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote".[1] Marco Rosci states that while there is much speculation about Leonardo, his vision of the world is essentially logical rather than mysterious, and that the empirical methods he employed were unusual for his time.[3]
Born out of wedlock to a notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant woman, Caterina, at Vinci in the region of Florence, Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Florentine painter, Verrocchio. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan. He later worked in Rome, Bologna and Venice, and he spent his last years in France at the home awarded him by Francis I.
Leonardo was, and is, renowned[2] primarily as a painter. Among his works, the Mona Lisa is the most famous and most parodied portrait[4] and The Last Supper the most reproduced religious painting of all time, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam.[1] Leonardo's drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also regarded as a cultural icon,[5] being reproduced on items as varied as the euro, textbooks, and T-shirts. Perhaps fifteen of his paintings survive, the small number because of his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination.[nb 2] Nevertheless, these few works, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, compose a contribution to later generations of artists rivalled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.
Leonardo is revered[2] for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator,[6] and the double hull, and he outlined a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime,[nb 3] but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded.[nb 4] He made important discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had no direct influence on later science.[7]

Nicolaus Copernicus

was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a heliocentric model of the universe which placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the center.[a]
The publication of Copernicus' book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), just before his death in 1543, is considered a major event in the history of science. It began the Copernican Revolution and contributed importantly to the scientific revolution.
Copernicus was born and died in Royal Prussia, a region of the Kingdom of Poland since 1466. Copernicus had a doctorate in canon law and, though without degrees, was a physician, polyglot, classics scholar, translator, governor, diplomat, and economist who in 1517 set down a quantity theory of money, a principal concept in economics to the present day, and formulated a version of Gresham's law in the year 1519, before Gresham.[1]

Giordano Bruno

was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, astrologer and astronomer. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model: he proposed the Sun was essentially a star, and that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings.[2] The Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy and he was burned at the stake.[3] After his death he gained considerable fame, particularly among 19th- and early 20th-century commentators who, focusing on his astronomical beliefs, regarded him as a martyr for free thought and modern scientific ideas.
Some assessments suggest that Bruno's ideas about the universe played a smaller role in his trial than his pantheist beliefs, which differed from the interpretations and scope of God held by the Catholic Church.[4][5] In addition to his cosmological writings, Bruno also wrote extensively on the art of memory, a loosely organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles. The historian Frances Yates argues that Bruno was deeply influenced by Arab astrology, Neoplatonism and Renaissance Hermeticism.[6] Other studies of Bruno have focused on his qualitative approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial paradigms of geometry to language.[7]

Galileo Galilei

was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism. Galileo has been called the "father of modern observational astronomy",[6] the "father of modern physics",[7] the "father of science",[7] and "the Father of Modern Science".[8]
His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honour), and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, inventing an improved military compass and other instruments.
Galileo's championing of heliocentrism was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism or the Tychonic system.[9] He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism due to the absence of an observed stellar parallax.[9] The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, and they concluded that it could be supported as only a possibility, not an established fact.[9][10] Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII and thus alienated him and the Jesuits, who had both supported Galileo up until this point.[9] He was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.[11][12] It was while Galileo was under house arrest that he wrote one of his finest works, Two New Sciences, in which he summarised the work he had done some forty years earlier, on the two sciences now called kinematics and strength of materials.[13][14]


was the ancient Greek city on the site that later became Constantinople (modern Istanbul). It was founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 657 BC. The city was rebuilt and reinaugurated as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine I in 330 AD and subsequently renamed Constantinople. The city remained the capital of the Byzantine Empire until 1453, when it was conquered and became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Since the establishment of modern Turkey in 1923, the Turkish name of the city, Istanbul, has replaced the name Constantinople in the West.


is a peninsula of Western Asia situated north-east of Africa. The area is an important part of the Asian continent and plays a critical geopolitical role of the Middle East and Arab World due to its vast reserves of oil and natural gas. The peninsula formed as a result of the rifting of the Red Sea between 56 and 23 million years ago, and is bordered by the Red Sea to the west, the Persian Gulf to the northeast, and the Indian Ocean to the southeast.refers to the Arabic civilization which existed in the Arabian Peninsula before the rise of Islam in the 630s. The study of Pre-Islamic Arabia is important to Islamic studies as it provides the context for the development of Islam.


Muslims invaded Iran in the time of Umar (637) and conquered it after several great battles. The last Sassanid ruler, Yazdegerd III, fled from one district to another until a local miller killed him for his purse at Merv in 651.[40] By 674, Muslims had conquered Greater Khorasan (which included modern Iranian Khorasan province and modern Afghanistan and parts of Transoxania).
The Islamic conquest of Persia ended the Sassanid Empire and led to the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia. Over time, the majority of Iranians converted to Islam. Most of the aspects of the previous Persian civilizations were not discarded, but were absorbed by the new Islamic polity.
As Bernard Lewis has commented:[41]


is a municipality located in central Spain, 70 km south of Madrid. It is the capital of the province of Toledo. It is also the capital of autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage and place of coexistence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures.
Toledo is known as the "Imperial City" for having been the main venue of the court of Charles I, and as the "City of the Three Cultures", having been inhabited for centuries by Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Many famous people and artists were born or have lived in Toledo, including Al-Zarqali, Garcilaso de la Vega, Eleanor of Toledo, Alfonso X and El Greco. It was also the place of important historic events such as the Visigothic Councils of Toledo. As of 2012, the city has a population of 84,019 and an area of 232.1 km2 (89.6 sq mi).Having been populated since the Bronze Age, Toledo (Toletum in Latin) grew in importance during Roman times, being a main commercial and administrative centre in the Roman province of Carthaginensis. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Toledo served as the capital city of Visigothic Spain, beginning with Liuvigild (Leovigild), till the Moors conquered the Iberian peninsula in the early years of 8th century (711-719).
Under the Caliphate of Cordoba, Toledo was the center of numerous insurrections dating from 761 to 857.[1] The Banu Qasi gained nominal control of the city until 920 and in 932 Abd-ar-Rahman III captured the city following an extensive siege.[2] Toledo experienced a period known as La Convivencia, i.e. the co-existence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Under Arab rule, Toledo was called Tulaytulah. After the fall of the Caliphate, Toledo was the capital city of one of the richest Taifas of Al-Andalus. Its population was overwhelmingly Muladi, and, because of its central location in the Iberian Peninsula, Toledo took a central position in the struggles between the Muslim and Christian rulers of northern Spain. The conquest of Toledo by Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085 marked the first time a major city in Al-Andalus had fallen to Christian forces; it served to sharpen the religious aspect of the Christian reconquest.

Remains of Roman circus at Toledo.
On May 25, 1085, Alfonso VI of Castile took Toledo and established direct personal control over the Moorish city from which he had been exacting tribute, ending the medieval Taifa's Kingdom of Toledo. This was the first concrete step taken by the combined kingdom of Leon-Castile in the Reconquista by Christian forces. After Castilian conquest, Toledo continued to be a major cultural centre; its Arab libraries were not pillaged, and a tag-team translation centre was established in which books in Arabic or Hebrew would be translated into Spanish by Muslim and Jewish scholars, and from Spanish into Latin by Castilian scholars, thus letting long-lost knowledge spread through Christian Europe again. For some time during the 16th century, Toledo served as the capital city of Castile, and the city flourished. However, soon enough the Spanish court was moved, first to Valladolid and then to Madrid, thus letting the city's importance dwindle until the late 20th century, when it became the capital of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. Nevertheless, the economic decline of the city helped to preserve its cultural and architectural heritage. Today, because of this rich heritage, Toledo is one of Spain's foremost cities, receiving thousands of visitors yearly.
Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1991 59,000 —
1996 66,006 +11.9%
2001 68,382 +3.6%
2004 73,485 +7.5%
2006 77,601 +5.6%
Toledo's Alcázar (Arabicized Latin word for palace-castle) became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.

Frederick II

was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous; however, his enemies, especially the popes, prevailed, and his dynasty collapsed soon after his death. Historians have searched for superlatives to describe him, as in the case of Professor Donald Detwiler, who wrote:
A man of extraordinary culture, energy, and ability - called by a contemporary chronicler stupor mundi (the wonder of the world), by Nietzsche the first European, and by many historians the first modern ruler - Frederick established in Sicily and southern Italy something very much like a modern, centrally governed kingdom with an efficient bureaucracy.[1]
Viewing himself as a direct successor to the Roman Emperors of Antiquity,[2] he was Emperor of the Romans from his papal coronation in 1220 until his death; he was also a claimant to the title of King of the Romans from 1212 and unopposed holder of that monarchy from 1215. As such, he was King of Germany, of Italy, and of Burgundy. At the age of three, he was crowned King of Sicily as a co-ruler with his mother, Constance of Hauteville, the daughter of Roger II of Sicily. His other royal title was King of Jerusalem by virtue of marriage and his connection with the Sixth Crusade.
He was frequently at war with the Papacy, hemmed in between Frederick's lands in northern Italy and his Kingdom of Sicily (the Regno) to the south, and thus he was excommunicated four times and often vilified in pro-papal chronicles of the time and since. Pope Gregory IX went so far as to call him the Antichrist.
Speaking six languages (Latin, Sicilian, German, French, Greek and Arabic[3]), Frederick was an avid patron of science and the arts. He played a major role in promoting literature through the Sicilian School of poetry. His Sicilian royal court in Palermo, from around 1220 to his death, saw the first use of a literary form of an Italo-Romance language, Sicilian. The poetry that emanated from the school had a significant influence on literature and on what was to become the modern Italian language. The school and its poetry were saluted by Dante and his peers and predate by at least a century the use of the Tuscan idiom as the elite literary language of Italy.[4]
After his death, his line quickly died out and the House of Hohenstaufen came to an end.


were religious conflicts in the High Middle Ages through to the end of the Late Middle Ages conducted by Catholic Europe against Muslims, pagans, heretics, and peoples under the ban of excommunication. The geographic spread included the Near East, Al-Andalus, Ifriqiya, Egypt and Eastern Europe. They are most popularly associated with campaigns in the Holy Land to establish control of religious sites but also cover other campaigns for different religious, economic, and political reasons such as the Albigensian Crusade, the Aragonese Crusade, the Reconquista and the Northern Crusades
The adopted emblem was the cross with the term "crusade" being derived from the French term for taking up the cross. Pope Urban II proclaimed the first crusade in 1095 with the stated goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem which led to an intermittent 200-year struggle to reclaim the Holy Land that ended in failure. The Crusades in the near east formed part of long running conflicts at the frontiers of Europe including the Arab-Byzantine Wars, the Byzantine-Seljuq Wars and loss of Anatolia by the Byzantine's after defeat by Seljuk Turks at Manzikert in 1071. Emperor Alexios I sought military support from Christian nations against a common enemy and Urban II looked to take advantage of the opportunity to reunite the Christian church under his leadership, enlisting western leaders in the cause.[1] Several hundred thousand soldiers became Crusaders by taking vows;[2] for which the papacy granted them plenary indulgences. The crusaders were Christians from all over Western Europe under feudal rather than unified command. There were seven major Crusades against Muslim territories in the east and numerous minor ones. Politics were often complicated and intra-faith competition also led to alliances between faiths against their coreligionist opponents, such as the Christian alliance with the Islamic Sultanate of Rûm during the Fifth Crusade.
The Crusades had major political, economic, and social impacts on western Europe. It resulted in a substantial weakening of the Byzantine Empire, which fell several centuries later to the Ottoman Empire. The Reconquista, a long period of wars in Spain and Portugal (Iberia), where Christian forces reconquered the peninsula from Muslims, is closely tied to the Crusades. However, when the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land fell at Acre in 1291 there was no coherent response in the east.

Age of Exploration

was a period starting in the early 15th century and continuing to the 17th century. During this period Europeans explored Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 severed European trade links by land with Asia leading many to begin seeking routes east by sea and spurred the age of exploration.[1][2] Historians often refer to the 'Age of Discovery'[3][4] as the pioneer Portuguese and Spanish long-distance maritime travels in search of alternative trade routes to "the East Indies", moved by the trade of gold, silver and spices.[5]
The Age of Discovery can be seen as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era, along with its contemporary Renaissance movement, triggering the early modern period and the rise of European nation states. European overseas expansion led to the rise of colonial empires, with the contact between the Old and New Worlds producing the Columbian Exchange: a wide transfer of plants, animals, foods, human populations (including slaves), communicable diseases, and culture between the Eastern and Western hemispheres, in one of the most significant global events concerning ecology, agriculture, and culture in history. European exploration allowed the global mapping of the world, resulting in a new world-view and distant civilizations acknowledging each other, reaching the most remote boundaries much later.


was a Greek mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist.
He was the first person to use the word "geography" in Greek and he invented the discipline of geography as we understand it.[3] He invented a system of latitude and longitude.
He was the first person to calculate the circumference of the earth by using a measuring system using stades, or the length of stadiums during that time period (with remarkable accuracy). He was the first to calculate the tilt of the Earth's axis (also with remarkable accuracy). He may also have accurately calculated the distance from the earth to the sun and invented the leap day.[4] He also created the first map of the world incorporating parallels and meridians within his cartographic depictions based on the available geographical knowledge of the era. In addition, Eratosthenes was the founder of scientific chronology; he endeavoured to fix the dates of the chief literary and political events from the conquest of Troy.
According to an entry[5] in the Suda (a 10th-century reference), his contemporaries nicknamed him beta, from the second letter of the Greek alphabet, because he supposedly proved himself to be the second best in the world in almost every field.[6]

Zheng He

Zheng He, originally named Ma He, was born into a Muslim family just beyond the borders of China (later Yunnan Province in the southwestern part of China) in 1371. His ancestors were the Arabian immigrated into China during the Tang and Song dynasties (618-1279). When he was still young the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) conquered his province in 1378, and he was taken to the imperial Chinese capital to serve as a court eunuch.

Treasure Fleet

was a type of large wooden ship in the fleet of admiral Zheng He, who led seven voyages during the early 15th-century Ming Dynasty. Scholars disagree about the factual accuracy and correct interpretation of accounts of the treasure ships.[1][2]
The purported dimensions of these ships at 137 m (450 ft) long and 55 m (180 ft wide)[3] and a capacity of 2800 tons are at least twice as long as the largest European ships at the end of the sixteenth century. In terms of wooden ships of all time this is second in length only to the Greek Tessarakonteres of 2nd century AD which were reported to be as long as 128 m (425 ft). Treasure ship's dimensions are disputed on practical engineering grounds, with some suggesting they were as short as 61-76 m (200-250 feet) or that they could only have been used on special occasions in the relative safety of the lower Yangtze River.


is an ancient Chinese sailing vessel/ship design still in use today. Junks may have developed from very early bamboo rafts which had a high stern. Cromagnon cave paintings on the Indo China coast show junk shaped doublehull vessels[citation needed]. Junks were developed during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) and were used as seagoing vessels as early as the 2nd century AD. They evolved in the later dynasties, and were used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages. They were found, and in lesser numbers are still found, throughout South-East Asia and India, but primarily in China, perhaps most famously in Hong Kong. Found more broadly today is a growing number of modern recreational junk-rigged sailboats.
The term junk may be used to cover many kinds of boat—ocean-going, cargo-carrying, pleasure boats, live-aboards. They vary greatly in size and there are significant regional variations in the type of rig. To Western eyes, however, they all appear to resemble one another due to their most significant shared feature, their fully battened sails.[1]

Grand Canal

is the longest canal or artificial river in the world, and also a very famous place of tourist interest. [1] Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou linking the Yellow River and Yangtze River. The oldest parts of the canal date back to the 5th century BC, although the various sections were finally combined during the Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD).
The total length of the Grand Canal is 1,776 km (1,104 mi). Its greatest height is reached in the mountains of Shandong, at a summit of 42 m (138 ft).[2] Ships in Chinese canals did not have trouble reaching higher elevations after the pound lock was invented in the 10th century, during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), by the government official and engineer Qiao Weiyo.[3] The canal's size and grandeur won it the admiration of many throughout history, including the Japanese monk Ennin (794-864), the Persian historian Rashid al-Din (1247-1318), the Korean official Choe Bu (1454-1504) and the Italian missionary Matteo Ricci (1552-1610).[4][5]
Historically, periodic flooding of the adjacent Yellow River threatened the safety and functioning of the canal. During wartime the high dikes of the Yellow River were sometimes deliberately broken in order to flood advancing enemy troops. This caused disaster and prolonged economic hardships. Despite temporary periods of desolation and disuse, the Grand Canal furthered an indigenous and growing economic market in China's urban centers through all the ages since the Sui period. It has allowed faster trading and has improved China's economy.

Ming Dynasty

was the ruling dynasty of China for 276 years (1368-1644) following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, described by some as "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history",[5] was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese. Although the primary capital of Beijing fell in 1644 to a rebellion led by Li Zicheng (who established the Shun Dynasty, soon replaced by the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty), regimes loyal to the Ming throne - collectively called the Southern Ming - survived until 1662.
The Hongwu Emperor (ruled 1368-98) attempted to create a society of self-sufficient rural communities ordered in a rigid, immobile system that would guarantee and support a permanent class of soldiers for his dynasty:[6] the empire's standing army exceeded one million troops and the navy's dockyards in Nanjing were the largest in the world.[7] He also took great care breaking the power of the court eunuchs[8] and unrelated magnates, enfeoffing his many sons throughout China and attempting to guide these princes through published dynastic instructions. This failed spectacularly when his teen-aged successor attempted to curtail his uncles' power, prompting the uprising that placed the Prince of Yan upon the throne as the Yongle Emperor in 1402. The Yongle Emperor established Yan as a secondary capital and renamed it Beijing, constructed the Forbidden City, and restored the Grand Canal and the primacy of the imperial examinations in official appointments. He rewarded his eunuch supporters and employed them as a counterweight against the Confucian scholar-bureaucrats. One, Zheng He, led seven enormous voyages of exploration into the Indian Ocean as far as Arabia and the coast of Africa.
The rise of new emperors and new factions diminished such extravagances; the capture of the Zhengtong Emperor during the 1449 Tumu Crisis ended them completely. The imperial navy was allowed to fall into disrepair while forced labor constructed the Liaodong palisade and connected and fortified the Great Wall of China into its modern form. Wide-ranging censuses of the entire empire were conducted decennially, but the desire to avoid labor and taxes and the difficulty of storing and reviewing the enormous archives at Nanjing hampered accurate figures.[6] Estimates for the late-Ming population vary from 160 to 200 million,[9] but necessary revenues were squeezed out of smaller and smaller numbers of farmers as more disappeared from the official records or "donated" their lands to tax-exempt eunuchs or temples.[6] Haijin laws intended to protect the coasts from "Japanese" pirates instead turned many into smugglers and pirates themselves.
By the 16th century, however, the expansion of European trade - albeit restricted to islands near Guangzhou like Macao - spread the Columbian Exchange of crops, plants, and animals into China, introducing chili peppers to Sichuan cuisine and highly-productive corn and potatoes, which diminished famines and spurred population growth. The growth of Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch trade created new demand for Chinese products and produced a massive influx of Japanese and American silver. This abundance of specie allowed the Ming to finally avoid using paper money, which had sparked hyperinflation during the 1450s. While traditional Confucians opposed such a prominent role for commerce and the newly rich it created, the heterodoxy introduced by Wang Yangming permitted a more accommodating attitude. Zhang Juzheng's initially successful reforms proved devastating when a slowdown in agriculture produced by the Little Ice Age was met with Japanese and Spanish policies that quickly cut off the supply of silver now necessary for farmers to be able to pay their taxes. Combined with crop failure, floods, and epidemic, the dynasty was considered to have lost the Mandate of Heaven and collapsed before the rebel leader Li Zicheng and a Manchurian invasion.

Marco Polo

was an Italian merchant traveler from the Republic of Venice[2][3] whose travels are recorded in Livres des merveilles du monde, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned the mercantile trade from his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, who traveled through Asia, and apparently met Kublai Khan. In 1269, they returned to Venice to meet Marco for the first time. The three of them embarked on an epic journey to Asia, returning after 24 years to find Venice at war with Genoa; Marco was imprisoned, and dictated his stories to a cellmate. He was released in 1299, became a wealthy merchant, married and had three children. He died in 1324, and was buried in San Lorenzo.
His pioneering journey inspired Christopher Columbus[4] and many other travellers. There is a substantial literature based on his writings. Polo influenced European cartography, leading to the introduction of the Fra Mauro map.

Genghis Khan

born Temujin, was the founder and Great Khan (emperor) of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his demise.
He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. After founding the Mongol Empire and being proclaimed "Genghis Khan", he started the Mongol invasions that resulted in the conquest of most of Eurasia. These included raids or invasions of the Kara-Khitan Khanate, Caucasus, Khwarezmid Empire, Western Xia and Jin dynasties. These campaigns were often accompanied by wholesale massacres of the civilian populations - especially in the Khwarezmian controlled lands. By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China.
Before Genghis Khan died, he assigned Ögedei Khan as his successor and split his empire into khanates among his sons and grandsons.[6] He died in 1227 after defeating the Western Xia. He was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia at an unknown location. His descendants went on to stretch the Mongol Empire across most of Eurasia by conquering or creating vassal states out of all of modern-day China, Korea, the Caucasus, Central Asian countries, and substantial portions of modern Eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East. Many of these invasions repeated the earlier large-scale slaughters of local populations. As a result Genghis Khan and his empire have a fearsome reputation in local histories.[7]
Beyond his military accomplishments, Genghis Khan also advanced the Mongol Empire in other ways. He decreed the adoption of the Uyghur script as the Mongol Empire's writing system. He also promoted religious tolerance in the Mongol Empire, and created a unified empire from the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. Present-day Mongolians regard him as the founding father of Mongolia.[8]

Silk Road

is a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa. The Silk Road includes routes through Syria, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and China. [2][3]
Extending 4,000 miles (6,437 kilometres), the Silk Road gets its name from the lucrative Chinese silk trade which was carried out along its length, and began during the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). The central Asian sections of the trade routes were expanded around 114 BC by the Han dynasty,[4][not in citation given] largely through the missions and explorations of Zhang Qian,[5] but earlier trade routes across the continents already existed.
Trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the civilizations of China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe and Arabia. Though silk was certainly the major trade item from China, many other goods were traded, and various technologies, religions and philosophies, as well as the bubonic plague (the "Black Death"), also traveled along the Silk Routes.
The main traders during Antiquity were the Indian and Bactrian traders, then from the 5th to the 8th century the Sogdian traders, then afterward the Arab and Persian traders.

Khyber Pass

is a mountain pass connecting Afghanistan and Pakistan, cutting through the northeastern part of the Spin Ghar mountains. An integral part of the ancient Silk Road, it is one of the oldest known passes in the world. Throughout history it has been an important trade route between Central Asia and South Asia and a strategic military location. The summit of the pass is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) inside Pakistan at Landi Kotal.


was the capture of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of 21-year-old Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos. The siege lasted from Friday, 6 April 1453 until Tuesday, 29 May 1453 (according to the Julian calendar), when the city was conquered by the Ottomans.
The capture of Constantinople (and two other Byzantine splinter territories soon thereafter) marked the end of the last remnant of the Roman Empire, an imperial state which had lasted for nearly 1,500 years.[26] Ottomans saw the conquest as a continuation of the Empire with a transfer of power, since Mehmed II was referred to as the Emperor of Rome.[citation needed] The conquest was also a massive blow to Christendom, and the Ottomans thereafter were free to advance into Europe without an adversary to their rear. After the conquest, Mehmed made Constantinople the Ottoman Empire's new capital. Several Greek and non-Greek intellectuals fled the city before and after the siege, migrating particularly to Italy. It is argued that they helped fuel the Renaissance. Some mark the end of the Middle Ages by the fall of the city and empire.[27]

Eastern Roman Empire

was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. Initially the eastern half of the Roman Empire (often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context), it survived the 5th century fragmentation and collapse of the Western Roman Empire and continued to thrive, existing for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms applied in later centuries; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Ancient Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum),[1] and Romania (Ῥωμανία).[2]
Several events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the transitional period during which the Roman Empire's east and west divided. In 285, the emperor Diocletian (r. 284-305) partitioned the Roman Empire's administration into eastern and western halves.[3] Between 324 and 330, Constantine I (r. 306-337) transferred the main capital from Rome to Byzantium, later known as Constantinople ("City of Constantine") and Nova Roma ("New Rome").[n 1] Under Theodosius I (r. 379-395), Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and others such as Roman polytheism were proscribed. And finally, under the reign of Heraclius (r. 610-641), the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use instead of Latin.[5] In summation, Byzantium is distinguished from ancient Rome proper insofar as it was oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Orthodox Christianity rather than Roman polytheism.[6]
The borders of the Empire evolved a great deal over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I (r. 527-565), the Empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the historically Roman western Mediterranean coast, including north Africa, Italy, and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries. During the reign of Maurice (r. 582-602), the Empire's eastern frontier was expanded and north stabilised. However, his assassination caused a two-decade-long war with Sassanid Persia which exhausted the Empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century. During the 10th-century Macedonian dynasty, the Empire experienced a golden age, which culminated in the reign of Emperor Basil II "the Bulgar-Slayer" (r. 976-1025). However, shortly after Basil's death, a neglect of the vast military built up during the Late Macedonian dynasty caused the Empire to begin to lose territory in Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks. Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes (r. 1068-1071) and several of his predecessors had attempted to rid Eastern Anatolia of the Turkish menace, but this endeavor proved ultimately untenable - especially after the disastrous Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
Despite a prominent period of revival (1081-1180) under the steady leadership of the Komnenos family, who played an instrumental role in the First and Second Crusades, the final centuries of the Empire exhibit a general trend of decline. In 1204, after a period of strife following the downfall of the Komnenos dynasty, the Empire was delivered a mortal blow by the forces of the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked and the Empire dissolved and divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople and re-establishment of the Empire in 1261, Byzantium remained only one of a number of small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence. This volatile period lead to its progressive annexation by the Ottomans over the 15th century and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Prince Henry the Navigator

was an important figure in the early days of the Portuguese Empire and the Age of Discoveries in total. He was responsible for the early development of European exploration and maritime trade with other continents.
Henry was the third child of King John I of Portugal, founder of the Aviz dynasty, and of Philippa of Lancaster, John of Gaunt's daughter. Henry encouraged his father to conquer Ceuta (1415), the Muslim port on the North African coast across the Straits of Gibraltar from the Iberian peninsula. He learnt of the opportunities from the Saharan trade routes that terminated there, and became fascinated with Africa in general; he was most intrigued by the Christian legend of Prester John and the expansion of Portuguese trade. Henry is regarded as the patron of Portuguese exploration.

Bartholomew Diaz

a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household, was a Portuguese explorer. He sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, the first European known to have done so.

Vasco de Gama

1st Count of Vidigueira, was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India.
He is one of the most famous and celebrated explorers from the Discovery Ages, being the first European to reach India by sea. This discovery was very significant and paved the way for the Portuguese to establish a long lasting colonial empire in Asia. The route meant that the Portuguese wouldn't need to cross the highly disputed Mediterranean nor the dangerous Arabia, and that the whole voyage would be made by sea.
After decades of sailors trying to reach India with thousands of lives and dozens of vessels lost in shipwrecks and attacks, Gama landed in Calicut on 20 May 1498. Reaching the legendary Indian spice routes unopposed helped the Portuguese Empire improve its economy that, until Gama, was mainly based on trades along the Northern and coastal West Africa. These spices were mostly pepper and cinnamon at first, but soon included other products, all new to Europe which led to a commercial monopoly for several decades.
Gama headed two of the armadas destined for India, the first and the fourth, the biggest armada, only four years after his arrival from the first one. For his contributions he was named in 1524 as the Governor of India, under the title of Viceroy, and given the newly created County of Vidigueira in 1519.
Numerous homages have been made worldwide in Vasco da Gama's honour for his explorations and accomplishments. He remains as a leading exploration figure to this day. The Portuguese national epic, Os Lusíadas, was written to celebrate Vasco da Gama. His first trip to India is widely considered a pinnacle of world history as it marked the beginning of the first wave of global multiculturalism.[1]

Spice Trade

refers to the trade between historic civilizations in Asia, Northeast Africa and Europe. Spices such as cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger, and turmeric were known, and used for commerce, in the Eastern World well into antiquity.[1] These spices found their way into the Middle East before the beginning of the Christian Era, where the true sources of these spices was withheld by the traders, and associated with fantastic tales.[2] In the middle of the first millennium, the sea routes to India and Sri Lanka (the Roman - Taprobane) were controlled by the Indians and Ethiopians that became the maritime trading power of the Red Sea. The Kingdom of Axum (ca 5th-century BC-AD 11th century) had pioneered the Red Sea route before the 1st century AD. By mid-7th century AD the rise of Islam closed off the overland caravan routes through Egypt and the Suez, and sundered the European trade community from Axum and India.
Arab traders eventually took over conveying goods via the Levant and Venetian merchants to Europe until the rise of the Ottoman Turks cut the route again by 1453. Overland routes helped the spice trade initially, but maritime trade routes led to tremendous growth in commercial activities.[1] During the high and late medieval periods Muslim traders dominated maritime spice trading routes throughout the Indian Ocean, tapping source regions in the Far East and shipping spices from trading emporiums in India westward to the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, from which overland routes led to Europe.
The trade was transformed by the European Age of Discovery,[3] during which the spice trade, particularly in black pepper, became an influential activity for European traders.[4] The route from Europe to the Indian Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope was pioneered by the Portuguese explorer navigator Vasco da Gama in 1498, resulting in new maritime routes for trade.[5]
This trade — driving the world economy from the end of the Middle Ages well into the modern times —[4] ushered in an age of European domination in the East.[5] Channels, such as the Bay of Bengal, served as bridges for cultural and commercial exchanges between diverse cultures[3] as nations struggled to gain control of the trade along the many spice routes.[1] European dominance was slow to develop. The Portuguese trade routes were mainly restricted and limited by the use of ancient routes, ports, and nations that were difficult to dominate. The Dutch were later able to bypass many of these problems by pioneering a direct ocean route from the Cape of Good Hope to the Sunda Strait in Indonesia.

Ferdinand Magellan

was a Portuguese explorer. He was born in a still disputed location in northern Portugal, and served King Charles I of Spain in search of a westward route to the "Spice Islands" (modern Maluku Islands in Indonesia).
Magellan's expedition of 1519-1522 became the first expedition to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean (then named "peaceful sea" by Magellan; the passage being made via the Strait of Magellan), and the first to cross the Pacific. His expedition completed the first circumnavigation of the Earth, although Magellan himself did not complete the entire voyage, being killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines. (For background see Exploration of the Pacific.)
Magellan also gives his name to the Magellanic Penguin, which he was the first European to note;[1] the Magellanic clouds, now known to be nearby dwarf galaxies; the twin lunar craters of Magelhaens and Magelhaens A; and the Martian crater of Magelhaens.[2]

Amerigo Vespucci

was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer who first demonstrated that Brazil and the West Indies did not represent Asia's eastern outskirts as initially conjectured from Columbus' voyages, but instead constituted an entirely separate landmass hitherto unknown to Afro-Eurasians. Colloquially referred to as the New World, this second super continent came to be termed "America", probably deriving its name from the feminized Latin version of Vespucci's first name.[1][2]

Martin Waldseemüller

Wolfenweiler, Baden - Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, Lorraine 1520, March 16) was a German cartographer. He and Matthias Ringmann are credited with the first recorded usage of the word America, on the 1507 map Universalis Cosmographia in honour of the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci.

"America's Birth Certificate."

In late May 2003 the Library of Congress completed the purchase of the only surviving copy of the first image of the outline of the continents of the world as we know them today— Martin Waldseemüller's monumental 1507 world map.
The map has been referred to in various circles as America's birth certificate and for good reason; it is the first document on which the name "America" appears. It is also the first map to depict a separate and full Western Hemisphere and the first map to represent the Pacific Ocean as a separate body of water. The purchase of the map concluded a nearly century-long effort to secure for the Library

Matthias Ringmann

..was a German cartographer and humanist poet. He is credited with naming America on the map of his friend Martin Waldseemüller in Cosmographiae Introductio.

Johannes Gutenberg

was a German blacksmith, goldsmith, printer, and publisher who introduced printing to Europe. His invention of mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important event of the modern period.[1] It played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.[2]
Gutenberg was the first European to use movable type printing, in around 1439. Among his many contributions to printing are: the invention of a process for mass-producing movable type; the use of oil-based ink; and the use of a wooden printing press similar to the agricultural screw presses of the period. His truly epochal invention was the combination of these elements into a practical system which allowed the mass production of printed books and was economically viable for printers and readers alike. Gutenberg's method for making type is traditionally considered to have included a type metal alloy and a hand mould for casting type.
In Renaissance Europe, the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass communication which permanently altered the structure of society. The relatively unrestricted circulation of information and (revolutionary) ideas transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities; the sharp increase in literacy broke the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning and bolstered the emerging middle class. Across Europe, the increasing cultural self-awareness of its people led to the rise of proto-nationalism, accelerated by the flowering of the European vernacular languages to the detriment of Latin's status as lingua franca. In the 19th century, the replacement of the hand-operated Gutenberg-style press by steam-powered rotary presses allowed printing on an industrial scale, while Western-style printing was adopted all over the world, becoming practically the sole medium for modern bulk printing.(Source - [3]) [Edit by CynicalPatriot]
The use of movable type was a marked improvement on the handwritten manuscript, which was the existing method of book production in Europe, and upon woodblock printing, and revolutionized European book-making. Gutenberg's printing technology spread rapidly throughout Europe and later the world.
His major work, the Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible), has been acclaimed for its high aesthetic and technical quality.


was invented by the ancient Chinese in the 2nd century BC during the Han Dynasty and spread slowly to the west via the Silk Road. Papermaking and manufacturing in Europe started in the Iberian Peninsula, today's Portugal and Spain and Sicily in the 10th century by the Muslims living there at the time, and slowly spread to Italy and South France reaching Germany by 1400. Earlier, other paper-like materials were in use like papyrus, parchment and vellum.
In medieval Europe, the hitherto handcraft of papermaking was mechanized by the use of waterpower, the first water papermill in the Iberian Peninsula having been built in the Portuguese city of Leiria in 1411, and other processes.[1][2] The rapid expansion of European paper production was truly enhanced by the invention of the printing press and the beginning of the Printing Revolution in the 15th century.[3]
The word "paper" is etymologically derived from papyros, Ancient Greek for the Cyperus papyrus plant. Papyrus is a thick, paper-like material produced from the pith of the Cyperus papyrus plant which was used in ancient Egypt and other Mediterranean cultures for writing long before the making of paper in China.[4] Papyrus however is a "lamination of natural plants, while paper is manufactured from fibres whose properties have been changed by maceration or disintegration.[5]



Arabic numbers

are the ten digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). They are descended from the Hindu-Arabic numeral system developed by Indian mathematicians,[5] in which a sequence of digits such as "975" is read as a single number. The Indian numerals are traditionally thought to have been adopted by the Persian and Arab mathematicians in India, and passed on to the Arabs further west. This has been disputed by some, who have presented certain manuscripts as evidence that the numerals in their current form developed from Arabic letters in the western regions of the Arab World.[6] The current form of the numerals developed in North Africa, distinct in form from the Indian and eastern Arabic numerals. It was in the North African city of Bejaia that the Italian scholar Fibonacci first encountered the numerals; his work was crucial in making them known throughout Europe. The use of Arabic numerals spread around the world through European trade, books and colonialism. Today they are the most common symbolic representation of numbers in the world.
The reason the digits are more commonly known as "Arabic numerals" in Europe and the Americas is that they were introduced to Europe in the 10th century by Arabic-speakers of North Africa, who were then using the digits from Libya to Morocco. Europeans did not know about the numerals' origins in ancient India, so they named them "Arabic numerals".[7] Arabs, on the other hand, call the system "Hindu numerals",[8][9] referring to their origin in India. This is not to be confused with what the Arabs call the "Hindi numerals", namely the Eastern Arabic numerals (٠‎ - ١‎ - ٢‎ - ٣‎ - ٤‎ - ٥‎ - ٦‎ - ٧‎ - ٨‎ - ٩‎) used in the Middle East, or any of the numerals currently used in Indian languages (e.g. Devanagari: ०.१.२.३.४.५.६.७.८.९).[10]
In English, the term Arabic numerals can be ambiguous. It most commonly refers to the numeral system widely used in Europe and the Americas. Arabic numerals is the conventional name for the entire family of related systems of Arabic and Indian numerals. It may also be intended to mean the numerals used by Arabs, in which case it generally refers to the Eastern Arabic numerals.
The decimal Hindu-Arabic numeral system was invented in India around 500 CE.[10][11] The system was revolutionary by including a zero and positional notation. It is considered an important milestone in the development of mathematics. One may distinguish between this positional system, which is identical throughout the family, and the precise glyphs used to write the numerals, which vary regionally. The glyphs most commonly used in conjunction with the Latin script since early modern times are 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9.
Although the phrase "Arabic numeral" is frequently capitalized, it is sometimes written in lower case: for instance, in its entry in the Oxford English dictionary.[12] This helps distinguish it from "Arabic numerals" as the East Arabic numerals specific to the Arabs.

Roman numerals

he numeric system in ancient Rome, uses combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet to signify values. The numbers 1 to 10 can be expressed in Roman numerals as follows:
The Roman numeral system is a cousin of Etruscan numerals. Use of Roman numerals continued after the decline of the Roman Empire. From the 14th century on, Roman numerals began to be replaced in most contexts by more convenient Hindu-Arabic numerals; however this process was gradual, and the use of Roman numerals in some minor applications continues to this day.

double-entry accounting

is a set of rules for recording financial information in a financial accounting system in which every transaction or event changes at least two different nominal ledger accounts.
The name derives from the fact that financial information used to be recorded using pen and ink in paper books - hence "bookkeeping" (whereas now it is recorded mainly in computer systems) and that these books were called journals and ledgers (hence nominal ledger, etc.) - and that each transaction was entered twice (hence "double-entry"), with one side of the transaction being called a debit and the other a credit.
It was first codified in the 15th century by the Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli. In deciding which account has to be debited and which account has to be credited, the golden rules of accounting are used. This is also accomplished using the accounting equation: Equity = Assets − Liabilities. The accounting equation serves as an error detection tool. If at any point the sum of debits for all accounts does not equal the corresponding sum of credits for all accounts, an error has occurred. It follows that the sum of debits and the sum of the credits must be equal in value.
Double-entry bookkeeping is not a guarantee that no errors have been made - for example, the wrong ledger account may have been debited or credited, or the entries completely reversed.


is a fee paid by a borrower of assets to the owner as a form of compensation for the use of the assets. It is most commonly the price paid for the use of borrowed money,[1] or money earned by deposited funds.[2]
When money is borrowed, interest is typically paid to the lender as a percentage of the principal, the amount owed to the lender. The percentage of the principal that is paid as a fee over a certain period of time (typically one month or year) is called the interest rate. A bank deposit will earn interest because the bank is paying for the use of the deposited funds. Assets that are sometimes lent with interest include money, shares, consumer goods through hire purchase, major assets such as aircraft, and even entire factories in finance lease arrangements. The interest is calculated upon the value of the assets in the same manner as upon money.
Interest is compensation to the lender, for a) risk of principal loss, called credit risk; and b) forgoing other investments that could have been made with the loaned asset. These forgone investments are known as the opportunity cost. Instead of the lender using the assets directly, they are advanced to the borrower. The borrower then enjoys the benefit of using the assets ahead of the effort required to pay for them, while the lender enjoys the benefit of the fee paid by the borrower for the privilege. In economics, interest is considered the price of credit.
Interest is often compounded, which means that interest is earned on prior interest in addition to the principal. The total amount of debt grows exponentially, most notably when compounded at infinitesimally small intervals, and its mathematical study led to the discovery of the number e.[3] However, in practice, interest is most often calculated on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis, and its impact is influenced greatly by its compounding rate.


is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics, and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer, and fasting. Though interpretations of sharia vary between cultures, in its strictest definition it is considered the infallible law of God—as opposed to the human interpretation of the laws (fiqh).
There are two primary sources of sharia law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Where it has official status, sharia is interpreted by Islamic judges (qadis) with varying responsibilities for the religious leaders (imams). For questions not directly addressed in the primary sources, the application of sharia is extended through consensus of the religious scholars (ulama) thought to embody the consensus of the Muslim Community (ijma). Islamic jurisprudence will also sometimes incorporate analogies from the Quran and Sunnah through qiyas, though Shia jurists prefer reasoning ('aql) to analogy.
The introduction of sharia is a longstanding goal for Islamist movements globally, including in Western countries, but attempts to impose sharia have been accompanied by controversy,[2][3][4] violence,[5][6][7][8][9][10] and even warfare such as the Second Sudanese Civil War.[11][12][13][14] Some in Israel and other countries in Asia have maintained institutional recognition of sharia, and use it to adjudicate their personal and community affairs. In Britain, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal makes use of sharia family law to settle disputes.
The concept of justice embodied in sharia is different from that of secular law.[15] In Islam, the laws that govern human affairs are just one facet of a universal set of laws governing nature itself. Violations of Islamic law are offenses against God and nature, including one's own human nature. Whatever crime is committed, whatever punishment is prescribed for that crime in this world, one must ultimately answer to God on the Day of Judgement.[15]
In secular jurisprudence, sharia is classified as religious law, which is one of the three major categories that individual legal systems generally fall under, alongside civil law and common law.


is the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans. Depending on the local laws or social mores, a loan may be considered usurious because of excessive or abusive interest rates. According to some jurisdictions and customs, simply charging any interest at all can be considered usury.[3][4][5] Other terms used for usury or usurers include loan shark, as well as Shylock which is sometimes used with an antisemitic connotation[citation needed].
The term may be used in a moral sense — condemning taking advantage of others' misfortunes — or in a legal sense where interest rates may be regulated by law. Historically, some cultures (e.g., Christianity in much of Medieval Europe, and Islam in many parts of the world today) have regarded charging any interest for loans as sinful.
Some of the earliest known condemnations of usury come from the Vedic texts of India.[6] Similar condemnations are found in religious texts from Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (the term is riba in Arabic and ribbit in Hebrew).[7] At times, many nations from ancient China to ancient Greece to ancient Rome have outlawed loans with any interest. Though the Roman Empire eventually allowed loans with carefully restricted interest rates, the Christian church in medieval Europe banned the charging of interest at any rate (as well as charging a fee for the use of money, such as at a bureau de change).
The pivotal change in the English-speaking world seems to have come with the permission to charge interest on lent money,[8] particularly the 1545 act, "An Act Against Usurie" (37 H.viii 9) of King Henry VIII of England (see book references).

Leviticus 25:36-37

take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.

37 Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.

Deuteronomy 23:19-20

Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

20 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

Koran (3:130)

YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but fear Allah; that ye may (really) prosper.
PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubling and quadrupling (the sum lent). Observe your duty to Allah, that ye may be successful.
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not devour usury, making it double and redouble, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful.

Divine Comedy

describes Dante's journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso), guided first by the Roman poet Virgil and then by Beatrice, the subject of his love and of another of his works, La Vita Nuova. While the vision of Hell, the Inferno, is vivid for modern readers, the theological niceties presented in the other books require a certain amount of patience and knowledge to appreciate. Purgatorio, the most lyrical and human of the three, also has the most poets in it; Paradiso, the most heavily theological, has the most beautiful and ecstatic mystic passages in which Dante tries to describe what he confesses he is unable to convey (e.g., when Dante looks into the face of God: "all'alta fantasia qui mancò possa" — "at this high moment, ability failed my capacity to describe," Paradiso, XXXIII, 142).

Seventh Circle

The seventh circle houses the violent. Its entry is guarded by the Minotaur, and it is divided into three rings:
Outer ring: This ring houses the violent against people and property. Sinners are immersed in Phlegethon, a river of boiling blood and fire, to a level commensurate with their sins: Alexander the Great is immersed up to his eyebrows, although Dante praises Alexander at other points in the poem, meaning he might be referring to a different Alexander. Dionysius I of Syracuse, Azzolino da Romano, Guy de Montfort, Obizzo d'Este, Ezzelino III da Romano, Rinier da Corneto, and Rinier Pazzo are also seen in the Phlegethon as well as references to Atilla the Hun. The Centaurs, commanded by Chiron and Pholus, patrol the ring, shooting arrows into any sinners who emerge higher out of the river than each is allowed. The centaur Nessus guides the poets along Phlegethon and across a ford in the widest, shallowest stretch of the river (Canto XII). This passage may have been influenced by the early medieval Visio Karoli Grossi.[27]

The Gianfigliazzi family was identified by a heraldic device of a lion (blue on yellow background).
Middle ring: In this ring are suicides and profligates. The suicides - the violent against self - are transformed into gnarled thorny bushes and trees and then fed upon by Harpies. Dante breaks a twig off one of the bushes and from the broken, bleeding branch hears the tale of Pietro della Vigne, who committed suicide after falling out of favour with Emperor Frederick II (his presence here, rather than in the ninth circle, indicates that Dante believes that the accusations made against him were false).[28] Also here are Lano da Siena and Jacopo da Sant' Andrea. The trees are a metaphor for the state of mind in which suicide is committed.[29] Dante learns that these suicides, unique among the dead, will not be corporally resurrected after the final judgement since they gave away their bodies through suicide; instead they will maintain their bushy form, with their own corpses hanging from the thorny limbs. The other residents of this ring are the profligates, who destroyed their lives by destroying the means by which life is sustained - i.e., money and property. They are perpetually chased and mauled by ferocious dogs. The destruction wrought upon the wood by the profligates' flight and punishment as they crash through the undergrowth causes further suffering to the suicides, who cannot move out of the way (Canto XIII).
Inner ring: Here are the violent against God (blasphemers) and the violent against nature (sodomites and, as explained in the sixth circle, usurers). All reside in a desert of flaming sand with fiery flakes raining from the sky, a fate similar to Sodom and Gomorrah. The blasphemers lie on the sand, the usurers sit, and the sodomites wander about in groups. Dante sees the classical warrior Capaneus there, who for blasphemy against Zeus was struck down with a thunderbolt during the Siege of Thebes. Dante converses with two Florentine sodomites from different groups. One of them is Dante's mentor, Brunetto Latini; Dante is very surprised and touched by this encounter and shows Brunetto great respect for what he has taught him ("you taught me how man makes himself eternal; / and while I live, my gratitude for that / must always be apparent in my words"),[30] thus refuting suggestions that Dante only placed his enemies in Hell.[31] The other sodomite is Iacopo Rusticucci, a politician, who blames his wife for his fate. Those punished here for usury include the Florentines Catello di Rosso Gianfigliazzi, Guido Guerra, Iacopo Rusticucci, Ciappo Ubriachi, and Giovanni di Buiamonte; and the Paduans Reginaldo degli Scrovegni and Vitaliano di Iacopo Vitaliani. They are identified not primarily by name but by heraldic devices emblazoned on the purses around their necks, purses which "their eyes seemed to feast upon"[32] (Cantos XIV through XVII).

progressive theologians

is the Renaissance of thought in diverse intellectual areas by Spanish and Portuguese theologians, rooted in the intellectual and pedagogical work of Francisco de Vitoria. From the beginning of the 16th century the traditional Catholic conception of man and of his relation to God and to the world had been assaulted by the rise of humanism, by the Protestant Reformation and by the new geographical discoveries and their consequences. These new problems were addressed by the School of Salamanca. The name refers to the University of Salamanca, where de Vitoria and others of the school were based.
Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto, Martín de Azpilcueta (or Azpilicueta), Tomás de Mercado, and Francisco Suárez, all scholars of natural law and of morality, founded a school of theologians and jurists who undertook the reconciliation of the teachings of Thomas Aquinas with the new political-economic order. The themes of study centered on man and his practical problems (morality, economics, jurisprudence, etc.), but almost equally on a particular body of work accepted by all of them, as the ground against which to test their disagreements, including at times bitter polemics within the School.
The School of Salamanca in the broad sense may be considered more narrowly as two schools of thought coming in succession, that of the Salmanticenses and that of the Conimbricenses from the University of Coimbra. The first began with Francisco de Vitoria (1483-1546), and reached its high point with Domingo de Soto (1494-1560). The Conimbricenses were Jesuits who, from the end of 16th century took over the intellectual leadership of the Catholic world from the Dominicans. Among those Jesuits were Luis de Molina (1535-1600), the aforementioned Francisco Suárez (1548-1617), and Giovanni Botero (1544-1617), who would continue the tradition in Italy.
The juridical doctrine of the School of Salamanca represented the end of medieval concepts of law, with a revindication of liberty not habitual in Europe of that time. The natural rights of man came to be, in one form or another, the center of attention, including rights as a corporeal being (right to life, economic rights such as the right to own property) and spiritual rights (the right to freedom of thought and to human dignity).
The School of Salamanca reformulated the concept of natural law: law originating in nature itself, with all that exists in the natural order sharing in this law. Their conclusion was, given that all humans share the same nature, they also share the same rights to life and liberty. Such views constituted a novelty in European thought and went counter to those then predominant in Spain and Europe that people indigenous to the Americas had no such rights.

opportunity cost

of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone, in a situation in which a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources. Assuming the best choice is made, it is the "cost" incurred by not enjoying the benefit that would be had by taking the second best choice available.[1] The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as "the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen". Opportunity cost is a key concept in economics, and has been described as expressing "the basic relationship between scarcity and choice".[2] The notion of opportunity cost plays a crucial part in ensuring that scarce resources are used efficiently.[3] Thus, opportunity costs are not restricted to monetary or financial costs: the real cost of output forgone, lost time, pleasure or any other benefit that provides utility should also be considered opportunity costs.

loan shark

One who lends money at exorbitant interest rates, especially one financed and supported by an organized crime network.


was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside, gradually rising until they were able to found the Medici Bank. The bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century, seeing the Medici gain political power in Florence — though officially they remained simply citizens rather than monarchs.
The Medici produced four Popes of the Catholic Church—Pope Leo X (1513-1521), Pope Clement VII (1523-1534), Pope Pius IV (1559-1565), and Pope Leo XI (1605);[1] two regent queens of France—Catherine de' Medici (1547-1559) and Marie de' Medici (1600-1610); and, in 1531, the family became hereditary Dukes of Florence. In 1569, the duchy was elevated to a grand duchy after territorial expansion. They ruled the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from its inception until 1737, with the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici. The grand duchy witnessed degrees of economic growth under the earlier grand dukes, but by the time of Cosimo III de' Medici, Tuscany was fiscally bankrupt.
Their wealth and influence initially derived from the textile trade guided by the guild of the Arte della Lana. Like other signore families they dominated their city's government, they were able to bring Florence under their family's power, allowing for an environment where art and humanism could flourish. They fostered and inspired the birth of the Italian Renaissance along with other families of Italy, such as the Visconti and Sforza of Milan, the Este of Ferrara, and the Gonzaga of Mantua.
The Medici Bank was one of the most prosperous and most respected institutions in Europe. There are some estimates that the Medici family were the wealthiest family in Europe for a period of time. From this base, they acquired political power initially in Florence and later in wider Italy and Europe. A notable contribution to the profession of accounting was the improvement of the general ledger system through the development of the double-entry bookkeeping system for tracking credits and debits. The Medici family were among the earliest businesses to use the system.

Lorenzo the Magnificent

was an Italian statesman and de facto[1] ruler of the Florentine Republic during the Italian Renaissance. Known as Lorenzo the Magnificent (Lorenzo il Magnifico) by contemporary Florentines, he was a diplomat, politician and patron of scholars, artists, and poets. Perhaps what he is most known for is his contribution to the art world, giving large amounts of money to artists so they could create master works of art. His life coincided with the high point of the mature phase Italian Renaissance and his death coincided with the end of the Golden Age of Florence.[2] The fragile peace he helped maintain between the various Italian states collapsed with his death. Lorenzo de' Medici is buried in the Medici Chapel in Florence.


is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time, in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem, and may be a product or a process.[1]:17 Patents are a form of intellectual property.
The procedure for granting patents, requirements placed on the patentee, and the extent of the exclusive rights vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements. Typically, however, a patent application must include one or more claims that define the invention. These claims must meet relevant patentability requirements, such as novelty and non-obviousness. The exclusive right granted to a patentee in most countries is the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or distributing the patented invention without permission.[2]
Under the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, patents should be available in WTO member states for any invention, in all fields of technology,[3] and the term of protection available should be a minimum of twenty years.[4] Nevertheless, there are variations on what is patentable subject matter from country to country.

joint stock companies

is a business entity which is owned by shareholders. Each shareholder owns the portion of the company in proportion to his or her ownership of the company's shares (certificates of ownership).[1] This allows for the unequal ownership of a business with some shareholders owning a larger proportion of a company than others. Shareholders are able to transfer their shares to others without any effects to the continued existence of the company.[2]
In modern corporate law, the existence of a joint-stock company is often synonymous with incorporation (i.e. possession of legal personality separate from shareholders) and limited liability (meaning that the shareholders are only liable for the company's debts to the value of the money they invested in the company). And as a consequence joint-stock companies are commonly known as corporations or limited companies.
Some jurisdictions still provide the possibility of registering joint-stock companies without limited liability. In the United Kingdom and other countries which have adopted their model of company law, these are known as unlimited companies. In the United States, they are known simply as joint-stock companies.


is the economic doctrine that government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the military security of the country. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade. Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from the 16th to late-18th centuries.[1] Mercantilism was a cause of frequent European wars in that time and motivated colonial expansion. Mercantilist theory varied in sophistication from one writer to another and evolved over time. Favours for powerful interests were often defended with mercantilist reasoning.
High tariffs, especially on manufactured goods, are an almost universal feature of mercantilist policy. Other policies have included:
Building a network of overseas colonies;
Forbidding colonies to trade with other nations;
Monopolizing markets with staple ports;
Banning the export of gold and silver, even for payments;
Forbidding trade to be carried in foreign ships;
Export subsidies;
Promoting manufacturing with research or direct subsidies;
Limiting wages;
Maximizing the use of domestic resources;
Restricting domestic consumption with non-tariff barriers to trade.
Mercantilism in its simplest form was bullionism, but mercantilist writers emphasized the circulation of money and rejected hoarding. Their emphasis on monetary metals accords with current ideas regarding the money supply, such as the stimulative effect of a growing money supply. Specie concerns have since been rendered moot by fiat money and floating exchange rates. In time, the heavy emphasis on money was supplanted by industrial policy, accompanied by a shift in focus from the capacity to carry on wars to promoting general prosperity. Mature neomercantilist theory recommends selective high tariffs for "infant" industries or to promote the mutual growth of countries through national industrial specialization. Currently, advocacy of mercantilist methods for maintaining high wages in advanced economies are popular among workers in those economies, but such ideas are rejected by most policymakers and economists.[citation needed]


is a word from the French language, used in the fields of political economy, political philosophy, sociology, and history, which originally denoted the wealthy stratum of the middle class that originated during the latter part of the Middle Ages (AD 500-1500).[1][2] The utilization and specific application of the word is from the realm of the social sciences. In sociology and in political science, the noun bourgeoisie and the adjective bourgeois are terms that describe a historical range of socio-economic classes. As such, in the Western world, since the late 18th century, the bourgeoisie describes a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital, and their related culture"; hence, the personal terms bourgeois (masculine) and bourgeoise (feminine) culturally identify the man or woman who is a member of the wealthiest social class of a given society, and their materialistic worldview (Weltanschauung). In Marxist philosophy, the term bourgeoisie denotes the social class who owns the means of production and whose societal concerns are the value of property and the preservation of capital, in order to ensure the perdurance of their economic supremacy in society.[3] Joseph Schumpeter instead saw the creation of new bourgeoisie as the driving force behind the Capitalist engine, particularly entrepreneurs who took risks in order to bring innovation to industries and the economy through the process of Creative Destruction.[4]

Dutch East India Co.

was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia. It is often considered to have been the first multinational corporation in the world [2] and it was the first company to issue stock.[3] It was also arguably the first megacorporation, possessing quasi-governmental powers, including the ability to wage war, imprison and execute convicts,[4] negotiate treaties, coin money, and establish colonies.[5]
Statistically, the VOC eclipsed all of its rivals in the Asia trade. Between 1602 and 1796 the VOC sent almost a million Europeans to work in the Asia trade on 4,785 ships, and netted for their efforts more than 2.5 million tons of Asian trade goods. By contrast, the rest of Europe combined sent only 882,412 people from 1500 to 1795, and the fleet of the English (later British) East India Company, the VOC's nearest competitor, was a distant second to its total traffic with 2,690 ships and a mere one-fifth the tonnage of goods carried by the VOC. The VOC enjoyed huge profits from its spice monopoly through most of the 17th century.[6]
Having been set up in 1602, to profit from the Malukan spice trade, in 1619 the VOC established a capital in the port city of Batavia (now Jakarta). Over the next two centuries the Company acquired additional ports as trading bases and safeguarded their interests by taking over surrounding territory.[7] It remained an important trading concern and paid an 18% annual dividend for almost 200 years.[8]
Weighed down by corruption in the late 18th century, the Company went bankrupt and was formally dissolved in 1800,[8] its possessions and the debt being taken over by the government of the Dutch Batavian Republic. The VOC's territories became the Dutch East Indies and were expanded over the course of the 19th century to include the whole of the Indonesian archipelago, and in the 20th century would form the Republic of Indonesia.

Royal African Co.

was a mercantile company set up by the Stuart family and London merchants to trade along the west coast of Africa. It was led by James, Duke of York, Charles II's brother. Its original purpose was to exploit the gold fields up the Gambia River identified by Prince Rupert during the Interregnum, and it was set up once Charles II gained the English throne in the English Restoration of 1660.[1] However, it was soon engaged in the slave trade as well as with other commodities.
Originally known as the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa, it was granted a monopoly over English trade with West Africa, by its charter issued in 1660. With the help of the army and navy it established forts on the West African coast that served as staging and trading stations, and it was responsible for seizing any English ships that attempted to operate in violation of their monopoly. In the prize court the King received half of the proceeds and the company half.[2]
The company fell heavily into debt in 1667 during the war with the Netherlands - the very war it started by having company Admiral Robert Holmes attack the Dutch African trade posts in 1664 - as it had lost most of its forts on the African coast except Cape Corse.[3] For the next several years the company maintained some desultory trade, including licensing single trip private traders, but their biggest effort was the creation in 1668, to start 1 January 1669, of the Gambia Adventurers[4] which was separately subscribed and granted a ten year license for African trade north of the Bight of Benin.[5] In 1672, the company re-emerged, re-structured and with a new Royal Charter, as the new Royal African Company. Its new charter was broader than the old one and included the right to set up forts, factories, maintain troops and to exercise martial law in West Africa, in pursuit of trade in gold, silver and slaves.[6] At the end of 1678, the license to the Gambia Adventurers expired and Gambian trade was merged into the company.[7]
In the 1680s it was transporting about 5,000 slaves per year. Many were branded with the letters 'DY', after its chief, the Duke of York, who succeeded his brother on the throne in 1685, becoming James II. Other slaves were branded with the company's initials, RAC, on their chests.[8]
Between 1672 and 1689 it transported around 90,000-100,000 slaves. Its profits made a major contribution to the increase in the financial power of those who controlled London.
From 1694 until 1700, the company was a major participant in the Komenda Wars in the port city Komenda in the Eguafo Kingdom in modern-day Ghana. The company allied with a merchant prince named John Cabess and various neighboring African kingdoms to depose the king of Eguafo and permanently establish a fort and factory in Komenda.[9]
In 1689, it acknowledged that it had lost its monopoly with the end of royal power in the Glorious Revolution.[10] This was advantageous for merchants in Bristol, even if, like the Bristolian Edward Colston, they had already been involved in the trade. The number of slaves transported on English ships subsequently increased dramatically.
The company continued purchasing and transporting slaves until 1731, when it abandoned slaving in favour of ivory and gold dust. Charles Hayes (1678-1760), mathematician and chronologist was sub-governor of Royal African Company till 1752 when it was dissolved. Its successor was the African Company of Merchants.
The Royal African Company's logo depicted an elephant and castle.
From 1668 to 1722 the Royal African Company provided gold to the English Mint. Coins made with this gold bear an elephant below the bust of the king and/or queen. This gold also gave the coinage its name—the guinea.[11]





Ice ages


Milankovitch Cycles




Kennewick Man


multiple waves


Spirit Cave Mummy


Easter Island


Thor Heyerdahl






Clovis People




radiocarbon dating


Monte Verde


Center for the Study of First Americans


mastodon rib


Page-Ladson Sink


Buttermilk Creek Complex


optically stimulated luminescence (OSL)




Solutrean Hypothesis


pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact


John Dee


Book of Mormon


mysterious tower


Kensington Runestone






Chinese explorations of the Americas


African exploration




L'Anse aux Meadows
















mound-building cultures




Age of Exploration


Columbian Exchange


Potato Famine






Captivity Narratives


Eunice Williams


1704 Deerfield Raid


The Searchers


Texas Rangers


noble savage




Iberian Peninsula




Castilian monarchy








Cristoforo Columbo




Carib Indians


Columbus Day


this passage


Vasco Núñez de Balboa


Francisco Pizzaro


Hernán Cortés












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