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countries as formally defined political entities, in the modern sense of the word

cultural units

countries defined by shared traditions, religion, ethnicity, government by a larger imperial or regional authority, and sometimes language

Middle Ages/medieval era

time of political decentralization and overall backwardness In Europe after the fall of the Western half of the Roman Empire from 500 to 1500 CE


famous cultural and intellectual rebirth of Western Europe from the early 1300s through approximately 1600 near the end and following the end of the medieval era

Early Middle Ages

Part of the Medieval era, from 500-1000 CE, time of political decentralization and backwardness

High Middle Ages

Part of the Medieval Era, from 1000-1300 CE, time of a general revival where nations become more defined, the economy grew healthier, and the level of technology and cultural heritage improved.

Late Middle Ages

Part of the Medieval Era, from 1300-1500 CE, time of crisis and advancement; Europe was struck by social unrest, constant warfare, and the Black Death bubonic plague epidemic; The Renaissance began, so it was also a period of artistic and intellectual achievement


system in which lords and monarchs (lieges) awarded (infeudated) land to loyal followers (vassals). In exchange, the vassals guaranteed that the parcels of land (fiefs) would be governed, that law and justice would be dispensed, that crops would be grown, and that the land would be protected. Sometimes vassals subdivided (subinfeudated)

aristocratic/noble class

an upper class whose wealth is based on land and whose power is passed on from one generation to another


elite force of armored cavalry, often formed by the nobles themselves

code of chivalry

a code of behavior governing a knight's behavior; revolved around the necessity to be a virtuous, Christian warrior who was loyal to his lord, who treated the lower classes justly, and who acted gentlemanly toward women.


basic unit of feudal landholding, typically including a lord's estate or castle, the peasants' village, in addition it had the farming fields, and woodlands for gathering and hunting


In medieval Europe, an agricultural laborer legally bound to a lord's property and obligated to perform set services for the lord. In Russia some serfs worked as artisans and in factories; serfdom was not abolished there until 1861.

Roman Catholicism

church dominant in central and western Europe

Eastern Orthodoxy

church dominant in the Middle East, and the Greek and Slavic parts of Eastern Europe


leader of the Catholic Church, the bishop of Rome


lowest level of church organization, served the needs of an individual community (only male)


church authority, above the priest, presided over a large territory and supervised many priests


powerful church officials who advised the pope

Innocent III (1198-1216)

Pope of the Catholic Church who aimed for papl power over kings and emperors

pope's authority

had moral authority and right to determine what was heresy, exclude worshippers from the Catholic Church, and issue calls for holy wars


belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious doctrine


the banning of someone from the Catholic Church permanently


A series of holy wars from 1096-1270 AD undertaken by European Christians to free the Holy Land from Muslim rule.


single Christian community, to be governed by the pope, with kings and emperors to his rule. An ideal of the Catholic Church

Holy Inquisition

in 1231, a set of special courts with wide-ranging powers, established to hunt out and punish heresy and religious nonconformity.


formation of religious communities whose members (monks and nuns) were not ordained as priests, stressing contemplation and seclusion (the Benedictine model); remained dominant from the 500s through the late 1100s.

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