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Middle Ages

The period in western European history between the fall of the Roman Empire and the 15th century


An architectural style developed during the Middle Ages in western Europe; featured pointed arches and flying buttresses as external report on main walls


Seagoing Scandinavian raiders who disrupted coastal areas of Europe from the 8th to 11th centuries; pushed across the Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland, and North America


System of economic and political relations between landlords and their peasant laborers during the Middle Ages; involved hierarchy of reciprocal obligations that exchanged labor for access to land


Peasant agricultural laborers within the manorial system


Heavy plow introduced in western Europe during the Middle Ages; permitted deeper cultivation of heavier soils

Three-field system

One-third of the land left not planted each year to increase fertility


King of the Franks; converted to Christianity circa 496


Royal House of Franks; converted to Christianity 496

Charles Martel

Carolingian monarch of the Franks; defeated the Muslims at Tours in 732


Carolingian monarch who established a large empire in France and Germany circa 800

Holy Roman emperors

Rulers in northern Italy and Germany following the breakup of Charlemagne's empire; claimed the title of emperor but failed to develop a centralized monarchy


Relationships among the military elite during the Middle Ages; greater lords provided greater protection to lesser lords in return for military service


Members of the military elite who received land or a benefice from a lord in return for military service and loyalty.


Association of workers in the same occupation in a single city; stressed security and mutual control; limited membership, regulated apprenticeship, guaranteed good workmanship, discouraged innovations; often established franchises within cities

Black Death

Plague that struck Europe in the 14th century; significantly reduced Europe's population; affected social structure

Roman Catholic Church

Church established in western Europe during the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages with its head being the bishop of Rome or pope.


Meaning papa or father; bishop of Rome and the head of the Catholic church


One of the principal tribes of the Germanic peoples; settles in the area of France during the folk migrations of the 4th and 5th centuries

Benedict of Nursia

(480-550) Italian abbot who founded the monastery and Monte Cassino and the Benedictine order based on his teachings

Three estates

The three social groups considered the most powerful in the Western countries; church, nobles, and urban leaders

Ferdinand and Isabella

King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile married in 1469 to bring the kingdoms of Spain together to complete the reconquest of Spain from the Muslims.

First Crusade

(1096-1099) Crusade called by Pope Urban II which capture Jerusalem

Third Crusade

(1189-1192) Crusade lead by King Richard the Lionhearted to recapture the city of Jerusalem from Islamic forces led by Saladin; failed in attempt

Fourth Crusade

(1202-1204) Crusade by which strange series of events attacked and ransacked Constantinople

Francis of Assisi

(1181-1226) Son of a wealthy merchant; he renounced his wealth and chose a harsh life of poverty; later founded the Holy Order of St. Francis


A formal conferring of power to clergy usually with robes or other Christian symbols

Augustine of Hippo

(354-430) Bishop of Hippo who wrote CONFESSIONS and CITY OF GOD which formed the basis for the doctrine of a man's salvation by divine grace for the church

Roger Bacon

(1214-1292) English philosopher and scientist who withdrew from medieval scholasticism and focused on experimental science; influenced later thinkers of the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution

Geoffrey Chaucer

English author who wrote THE CANTERBURY TALES, a literary masterpiece written in the vernacular in which pilgrims were going to worship at the shrine of Thomas Beckett at Canterbury.


French dynasty ruling from the 10th century; developed a strong feudal monarchy

William the Conqueror

Invaded England from Normandy in 1066; established tight feudal system and centralized monarchy in England

Magna Carta

Great Charter issued by King John of England in 1215; confirmed feudal rights against monarchical claims; represented principle of mutual limits and obligations between rulers are feudal aristocracy


Bodies representing privileged groups; institutionalized the feudal principal that rulers should consult their vassals

Hundred Years War

Conflict between England and France

Pop Urban II

Called the First Crusade in 1095; appealed to Christians to free the Holy Land from Muslim control

St. Clare of Assisi

13th-century founder of a woman's monastery order; represented a new spirit purity and dedication in the church

Gregory VII

11th-century pop who attempted to free the Catholic church of feudal lords; quarreled with Holy Emperor Henry IV over the practice of lay investiture of bishops

Peter Abelard

Author of YES AND NO; university scholar who applied logic to problems of theology; demonstrated logical contradictions within practiced doctrine

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Emphasized role of faith in preference to logic; stressed importance of mystical union with God; successfully challenged Abelard and had him driven from the universities

Thomas Aquinas

Creator of one of the great syntheses of medieval learning; taught at the University Paris, author of SUMMAS; believed through reason it was possible to know much about natural order, moral law, and the nature of God


Dominant medieval philosophical approach, so called because of its base in the schools of universities; based on the use of logic to resolve theological problems


Poets in 14th-century France; gave a new value to the emotion of love in the Western tradition

Hanseatic league

An organization of north German and Scandinavian cities for the purpose of establishing a commercial alliance

Jacques Coeur

15-century French merchant; his career demonstrates new course of medieval commerce


Architectural style which was an adaptation of the Roman basilica and barrel arch form


Anglo-Saxon epic poem dated to the 8th century which details Anglo-Saxon society through the adventures of the hero Beowulf


Poem written by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meung during the 13th century, ideas of courtly love


Medieval code used by knights which included the ideas of courage, honor, and the protection of the weak.

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