European History/Glossary

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European History

00. Background01. Middle Ages02. Renaissance03. Exploration04. Reformation
05. Religious War06. Absolutism07. Enlightenment08. French Revolution09. Napoleon
10. Age of Revolutions11. Imperialism12. World War I13. 1918 - 194514. 1945+

European History: 00 · 01 · 02 · 03 · 04 · 05 · 06 · 07 · 08 · 09 · 10 · 11 · 12 · 13 · 14

  A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z  


  • Absolutism - Political theory that one person should hold all power; in some cases justified by "Divine Right of Kings."
  • Act of Supremacy (1534) - Act of Parliament under King Henry VIII of England declaring the king as the head of the Church of England, making official the English Reformation; (1559) reinstatement of the original act by Queen Elizabeth I.
  • Adam Smith (1723-1790) - Scottish economist and philosopher, author of The Wealth of Nations, thought of as the father of capitalist economics.
  • Age of Enlightenment - An intellectual movement in 18th century Europe marked by rational thinking, in contrast with the superstition of the Dark Ages.
  • Albert Einstein (1879–1955) - Physicist who proposed the theory of relativity and made advances in quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and cosmology.
  • Alexander Kerensky (1881-1970) - The second prime minister of the Russian Provisional Government, immediately before the Bolsheviks and Lenin came to power.
  • Algeciras Conference - Took place in 1906 in Algeciras, Spain. The purpose of the conference was to mediate the Moroccan dispute between France and Germany, and to assure the repayment of a large loan made to the Sultan in 1904. The Entente Cordiale between France and the United Kingdom gave the British a free hand in Egypt in exchange for a French free hand in Morocco. France tried to achieve a protectorate over Morocco, but was opposed by Germany.
  • Allied Powers (World War I) - Russia, France, British Empire, Italy, and United States.
  • Anschluss (1938) - The inclusion of Austria in a "Greater Germany"; in contast with the Ausschluss, the exclusion of Austria from Imperial Germany in 1871.
  • Ancien Régime ("Old Order") - the social and political system established in France under the absolute monarchy; removed by the French Revolution.
  • Appeasement - Neville Chamberlain's policy of accepting conditions imposed by Nazi Germany.
  • April Theses (1917) - Lenin's writings on how Russia should be governed and the future of the Bolsheviks.
  • Aristotelian (Ptolemaic) Cosmology - The belief that Earth is at the center of the universe
  • Arms Race - A competition between two or more countries for military supremacy. This was perhaps most prominent during the Cold War, pitting the USA against the Soviet Union.
  • Aryans - In Nazism and neo-Nazism, a non-Jewish Caucasian, especially one of Nordic type, supposed to be part of a master race.
  • Autarky - An economy that does no trade with the outside world.
  • Avant-garde - People or actions that are novel or experimental, particularly with respect to the arts and culture.
  • Avignon Papacy (1305-1378) - Period during which the Papacy was moved from Rome to Avignon, France.


  • Babylonian Captivity - A term referring to the Avignon Papacy which implies that the Popes were captives under the French kings.
  • Banalities - Fees imposed by a feudal lord on serfs for the use of his facilities.
  • Baroque - A cultural movement in art originating around 1600 in Rome; art designed for the illiterate rather than the well-informed (Protestant Reformation).
  • Bastille ("Stronghold") - Generally refers to Bastille Saint-Antoine, demolished in the Storming of the Bastille at the start of the French Revolution.
  • Battle of Gallipoli (1915) - Failed attempt by the Allies to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople. (World War I)
  • Battle of Jutland (1916) - Largest naval battle of World War I; fought in the North Sea between British and German fleets.
  • Battle of the Argonne (1918) - Biggest operation and victory of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in World War I; in the Verdun Sector.
  • Battle of the Somme (1916) - Attempt by British and French forces to break through the German lines, to draw German forces away from Verdun.
  • Battle of Verdun (Feb-Dec 1916) - Longest and possibly largest battle in history; resulted in over 1 million deaths and 450,000 wounded or missing.
  • Battle of Lepanto (1571) - The first major victory of any European power over the Ottoman Empire; destruction of most of the Ottoman Empire's ships resulted in its loss of control over the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Beer Hall Putsch (1923) - An unsuccessful coup by Adolf Hitler and other leaders in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
  • Belgian Congo - An area of central Africa, which was under formal control of the Belgian parliament from 1908 to 1960. The Belgian administration was one of paternalistic colonialism in which the educational and political system was dominated by the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches.
  • Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) - British author and Prime Minister, best known for his defense of the Corn Laws.
  • Berlin Crisis (1948-1949) - The Soviet blockade of West Berlin during the Cold War; abated after the Soviet Union did not act to stop American, British and French airlifts of food and other provisions to the Western-held sectors of Berlin
  • Bill of Rights 1689 - One of the fundamental documents of English law; agreed to by William and Mary in return for their being affirmed as co-rulers by the English Parliament after the Glorious Revolution.
  • Black Death - The plague which killed one third of Europe's population in the 14th century.
  • Bloodless Revolution - A term used to refer to the Glorious Revolution; the description is largely accurate of William's succession to the English throne, although his struggle to gain the Scottish and Irish thrones was far from bloodless.
  • Boer War - Two wars, one in 1880-81 and the second from October 11, 1899 – 1902 both between the British and the settlers of Dutch origin (called Boere, Afrikaners or Voortrekkers) in South Africa that put an end to the two independent republics that they had founded.
  • Bolsheviks - A faction of the Russian revolutionary movement formed 1903 by followers of Vladimir Lenin, who believed in a small party of revolutionaries with a large fringe group of supporters.
  • Book of Common Prayer - The prayer book of the Church of England; was first published in 1544 and has been through many revisions.
  • Boxer-Rebellion - Uprising against Western influence in China.
  • Burschenschaften - Liberal German associations of university students; helped initiate the Revolution of 1848 in Germany.


  • Cahier des doléances ("Statement of Grievances") - documents drawn up by electors of the French States-General, since 1484, listing complaints with the state.
  • Calvinism - Protestant religion founded by John Calvin, centered upon "the sovereignty of God" (Protestant Reformation).
  • Carbonari ("coal-burners") - groups of secret revolutionary societies founded in early 19th century Italy, and instrumental in organizing revolution in Italy in 1820 and 1848.
  • Carlsbad Decrees (1819) - A set of restrictions placed on Germans, under influence of Metternich of Austria; dissolved the Burschenschaften, provided for university inspectors and press censors.
  • Catholic monarchs - The Spanish rulers Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdidand II of Aragon whose marriage marked the start of Christian dominance in Spain.
  • Cavaliers - Supporters of Charles I of England in the English Civil War; also known as Royalists.
  • Cecil Rhodes - (1853–1902) British imperialist and the effective founder of the state of Rhodesia (since 1980 known as Zimbabwe), named after himself. He profited greatly from southern Africa's natural resources, generally at the expense of the natives; severely racist.
  • Central Powers (World War I) - Dual Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria.
  • Cesare Beccaria (1735-1794) - Italian philosopher and mathematician, author of On Crimes and Punishments resulting in penal code reforms.
  • Charles Fourier (1772-1837) - French utopian socialist thinker; supported man's right to a minimum standard of life.
  • Charles I (of England, Scotland) (1600-1649) - Struggled against Parliament, favoring absolutism, hostile to religious reform efforts; executed at the end of the English Civil War.
  • Chartism - A movement for social and political reform in England, named from the People's Charter of 1838.
  • Cheka (1917-1922) - The first of many Soviet secret police organizations.
  • Chivalry - Church-endorsed warrior code of ethics for knights, valuing bravery, loyalty, and self-sacrifice.
  • Cobden–Chevalier Treaty (1860) - Treaty substantially lowering duties between the Britain and France, marking increasing cooperation between the two nations.
  • Classical - Pertaining to the culture of ancient Greece and Rome.
  • Classical liberalism - A political and economic philosophy, originally founded on the Enlightenment tradition that tries to circumscribe the limits of political power and to define and support individual rights.
  • Claude Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) - The founder of French socialism.
  • Comintern (Communist International) - International Communist organization founded in March 1919 by Lenin, intended to fight for complete abolition of the State.
  • Committee of Public Safety - the executive government of France during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, established on April 6, 1793.
  • Common Market - A customs union with common policies on product regulation, and freedom of movement of all the four factors of production (goods, services, capital and labour). It is established across most modern European nations.
  • Code Napoléon - (see Napoleonic code).
  • Collectivisation - An agriculture system in which peasants are not paid wages, but instead receive a share of the farm's net output.
  • Committee of Public Safety - The executive government of France during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution.
  • Communist Manifesto - Document laying out the purposes of the Communist League, first published on February 21, 1848, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
  • Concordat of 1801 - Agreement between Napoléon and Pope Pius VII after Napoléon's coup d'état of France.
  • Congress of Berlin - Prompted in 1878 by Otto von Bismarck to revise the Treaty of San Stefano. Proposed and ratified the Treaty of Berlin.
  • Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) - a conference held in Vienna, Austria, to redraw Europe's political map after the defeat of Napoleonic France.
  • Consubstantiation - Lutheran belief that in the Eucharist sacrament, the spirit of Christ is present in the bread and wine, but they are not actually the body and blood of Christ (Protestant Reformation).
  • Continental System - Foreign economic warfare policy of Napoléon, consisting of an embargo against Great Britain, which failed.
  • Corn Laws (1815-1846) - British import tariffs designed to protect farmers and landowners against foreign competition.
  • Corporative state - A political system in which legislative power is given to corporations that represent economic, industrial, and professional groups.
  • Corvée - In feudal societies, an annual tax on a serf that is payable by labor; used to complete royal projects, to maintain roads, and for other purposes.
  • Council of Constance (1414-1418) - Called for the abdication of all three popes of the Western Schism; successfully elected Martin V as the single pope, ending the Schism.
  • Council of Trent (1545-1563) - Council of the Catholic Church to condemn Protestantism and to initiate some internal reform of Church corruption (Protestant Reformation).
  • Count Cavour (1810-1861) - Leader in the movement for Italian unification; first Prime Minister of Kingdom of Italy.
  • Coup d'état - Sudden overthrow of a government, typically done by a small group that only replaces the top power figures.
  • Crédit Mobilier (1872) - Involved the Union Pacific Railroad and the Crédit Mobilier of America construction company. $47 million contracts had given Crédit Mobilier a profit of $21 million and left Union Pacific and other investors near bankruptcy. A Congressional investigation of thirteen members led to the censure of the board members and many political figures had their careers damaged.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) - Started on October 16, 1962, when U.S. reconnaissance was shown to U.S. President John F. Kennedy which revealed evidence for Soviet nuclear missile installations on the island, and lasted for 13 days until October 28, 1962, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced that the installations would be dismantled.


  • Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) - Author of The Divine Comedy, a highly sarcastic work criticizing the Church; one of the first authors to write in vernacular.
  • David Hume (1711-1776) - Philosopher and historian of the Scottish Enlightenment.
  • Decembrists - Officers of the Russian Army that led 3,000 soldiers in the Decembrist Revolt, an attempted uprising at Senate Square in December, 1825.
  • Declaration of Pillnitz (1791) - A statement issued by Emperor Leopold II and Frederick William II of Prussia, warning French revolutionaries to allow restoration to power of Louis XVI.
  • Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) - French Revolution document defining a set of individual rights, adopted by the National Constituent Assembly as a first step toward writing a constitution.
  • Defenestration of Prague (Second) (1618) - Act of revolt of the Bohemian aristocracy against the election of Ferdinand II, a Catholic zealot, as ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • Deism - Belief in a God as the creator, based on reason instead of faith (Enlightenment).
  • Denis Diderot (1713-1784) - French writer and philosopher dealing with free will, editor-in-chief of the early encyclopedia, Encyclopédie (Enlightenment).
  • Destalinization - Actions taken by Khruschev in the Soviet Union to allow greater dissent and to speak out against the actions of former USSR President Stalin.
  • Détente - The relaxation of tensions between the Soviets and Americans.
  • Dialectical materialism - The philosophical basis of Marxism as defined by later Communists; uses the concepts of thesis, antithesis and synthesis to explain the growth and development of human history.
  • Diggers - A group begun by Gerrard Winstanley in 1649 during Oliver Cromwell's England; called for a social revolution toward a communistic and agrarian lifestyle based on Christian Nationalism.
  • Directory - A group of five men who held the executive power in France, according to the French Revolution constitution of 1795.
  • Duke of Alva - Commonly refers to Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, the third Duke of Alva (or Alba).
  • Dutch East India Company (1602-1798) - The first joint-stock company; granted a trade monopoly with Asia by the government of the Netherlands.
  • Dutch Revolt - Term referring to the Eighty Years' War.


  • Edict of Nantes (1598) - Declaration by Henry IV of France granting Huguenots substantial rights in a Catholic nation; introduction of religious tolerance (Protestant Reformation).
  • Edict of Worms (1521) - Declaration by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the end of the Diet of Worms that Martin Luther was an outlaw and a heretic (Protestant Reformation).
  • Edmund Burke (1729-1797) - Irish philosopher, Whig politician, and founder of modern conservatism; criticized the French Revolution.
  • Eighty Years' War (1568-1648) - A war of secession in which the Netherlands first gained independence as the Dutch Republic.
  • Emigration - The action and the phenomenon of leaving one's native country to settle abroad. In particular, a large amount of emigration took place during the late 1800s in Europe.
  • Ems Telegram (1870) - Document edited by Otto von Bismarck to provoke the Franco-Prussian War.
  • Enclosure - The post-feudal process of enclosing open fields into individually owned fields; took off rapidly in 15th and 16th centuries as sheep farming became increasingly profitable.
  • Enlightenment - (see Age of Enlightenment).
  • English Civil War (1642-1649) - A civil war fought between supporters of Charles I, (king of England, Scotland, and Ireland) and the Long Parliament led by Oliver Cromwell.
  • Erich Ludendorff (1865-1937) - German general responsible for capturing the forts of Liège, critical to the Schlieffen Plan.
  • Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970) - German soldier on the front lines of World War I, wrote All Quiet on the Western Front (1929).
  • Escorial - Large palace, monastery, museum, and library near Madrid, Spain; commanded by King Philip II, promoting study in aid of the Counter-Reformation.
  • Estates-General - An assembly of the three classes, or Estates, of France before the French Revolution.
  • Excommunication - Suspension of one's membership in the religious community; banning from the Church.


  • Factory Act (1833) - An attempt to establish normal working hours for workers in the textile industry.
  • Fall of Eagles - Refers to the collapse of tsarist Russia.
  • Fascism - Right-wing authoritarian political movement.
  • Fashoda Incident - The climax of colonial disputes between imperial Britain and France in Eastern Africa; brought Britain and France to the verge of war but ended in a diplomatic victory for Britain.
  • February Revolution (1917) - The first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917, consisting of riots in Petrograd which resulted in the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II.
  • Ferdinand Foch, General (1851-1929) - French soldier critical in stopping German advance during Spring 1918 and the Second Battle of Marne (July 1918); began the counter-attack leading to German defeat.
  • Ferdinand Lassalle (1825-1864) - German politician whose actions led to the formation of the Social Democratic Party, which was strongly opposed by Karl Marx.
  • Fernando Álvarez de Toledo (1508-1583) - A Spanish general and governor of the Spanish Netherlands, nicknamed "the Iron Duke" for his cruelty; fought against Protestants in the Netherlands (Eighty Years' War).
  • Feudalism - Medieval system of holding land as a fief, provided by a lord to a vassal.
  • Fief - Revenue-producing property granted by a lord to a vassal (feudalism).
  • First Five-Year Plan - Outline the goals of the Soviet bureaucracy, focusing on heavy industry.
  • Flora Tristan (1803-1844) - One of the founders of modern feminism, author of several feminism works; grandmother of Paul Gauguin.
  • Fourteen Points - United States President Woodrow Wilson's outline for reconstructing Europe after World War I.
  • Francesco Sforza (1401-1466) - Founder of the Sforza dynasty in Milan, Italy; successfully modernized the city, which became a center of Renaissance learning and culture.
  • Francis Bacon (1561-1626) - English philosopher, advocate of absolute duty to the sovereign, and defender of the Scientific Revolution.
  • Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) - War fought between France and Prussia over a possible German claim to the Spanish throne.
  • French Academy of Sciences (1666) - Learned society founded by Louis XIV to encourage French scientific research.
  • Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) - German Socialist philosopher who co-published The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx.


  • Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) - First to use the telescope in astronomy; proved Copernicus' heliocentric theory (Scientific Revolution).
  • Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) - Author of The Canterbury Tales, a collection of stories exposing the materialism of a variety of English people.
  • Gestapo - The official secret police force of Nazi Germany, Geheime Staatspolizei (secret state police).
  • Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) - Brief ruler of Florence known for religious anti-Renaissance preaching, book burning, and destruction of art.
  • Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1885) - Italy's most famous soldier of the Risorgimento.
  • Giuseppe Mazzini (1805–1872) - Italian writer and politician who helped to bring about the modern, unified Italian state.
  • Glorious Revolution (1688-1689) - The removal of Stuart king James II from the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland; replaced by William and Mary; sometimes referred to as the Bloodless Revolution.
  • Great Fear (1789) - Event at the start of the French Revolution; upon rumors that nobles planned to destroy the peasants' harvest, the peasants sacked nobles' castles and burned records of feudal obligations.
  • Great Purges - Campaigns of repression against social groups, often seen as a desire to consolidate the authority of Joseph Stalin.
  • Great Schism - Term used to refer to either the Western or Eastern Schism within the Catholic Church.
  • Gulag - The branch of the Soviet police that operated forced labor camps and prisons.


  • Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945) - The commander of the German Schutzstaffel and one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany; one of the key figures in the organization of the Holocaust.
  • Henry Palmerston (1784-1865) - British Prime Minister and Liberal politician.
  • Henri-Phillippe Petain, General (1856-1951) - A French soldier and Head of State of Vichy France. He became a French hero because of his military leadership in World War I. (ed: specifically...?)
  • Henry V (1387-1422) - King of England (1413-1422); accepted by the English as heir to Charles VI and the French throne, thus adding conflict to the Hundred Years' War.
  • Hermann Goering (1893–1946) - A prominent and early member of the Nazi party, founder of the Gestapo, and one of the main architects of Nazi Germany.
  • Heresy - Holding of beliefs which are contrary to those of organized religion.
  • Huguenot - Member of the Protestant Reformed Church of France (Protestant Reformation).
  • Humanism - A secular ideology centered on human interests, stressing the value of the individual (Renaissance).
  • Humanitarianism - The belief that the sole moral obligation of humankind is the improvement of human welfare.
  • Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) - 116-year conflict between England and France.


  • Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) - Founder of the Society of Jesus, to strengthen the Church against Protestantism (Protestant Reformation).
  • Il duce (The Leader) - Name adopted by Italian prime minister Benito Mussolini in 1923 to position himself as the nation's supreme leader.
  • Impressionism - Art movement focused on creating an immediate visual impression, using primary colors and small strokes to simulate reflected light. (19th century)
  • Imperialism - The policy of extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations.
  • Individualism - Emphasis of the individual as opposed to a group; humanism (Renaissance).
  • Innocent III - Pope who organized the Fifth Crusade (1217); began the Papacy's interference in European affairs.
  • Irish Easter Rebellion (Easter Monday, 1916) - An unsuccessful rebellion against British rule in Ireland.
  • Iron Curtain - Boundary which separated Western and Eastern Europe during the Cold War.
  • Isaac Newton (1643-1727) - English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher; credited for universal gravitation, laws of motion, and calculus (Scientific Revolution).


  • James Hargreaves (1720-1778) - English inventor of the spinning jenny in 1764.
  • James Watt (1736-1819) - Scottish engineer who improved the steam engine, a catalyst of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Jan Hus (1369-1415) - Founder of the Hussites, with reform goals similar to those of John Wyclif; author of On the Church, criticizing the Church; was burned at the stake.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) - Swiss-French philosopher and political theorist; "noble savage" idea that man is good by nature but corrupted by society.
  • Jesuits - see Society of Jesus
  • Joan of Arc (1412-1431) - Peasant girl who defended an English siege on Orléans during the Hundred Years' War; was captured and burned as a heretic.
  • Johann Tetzel (1465-1519) - Dominican priest known for selling indulgences (Protestant Reformation).
  • John Calvin (1509-1564) - Founder of Calvinism in Geneva, Switzerland (Protestant Reformation).
  • John Kay (1704-1780) - British inventor of the flying shuttle for weaving, a catalyst of the Industrial Revolution.
  • John Knox (1505-1572) - A Protestant reformer who founded Presbyterianism in Scotland (Protestant Reformation).
  • John Locke (1632-1704) - An English philosopher of the Enlightenment who wrote about "government with the consent of the governed" and man's natural rights; provided justification for the Glorious Revolution.
  • John Wyclif (1328-1384) - Initiator of the first English translation of the Bible, an important step toward the Protestant Reformation.
  • Joseph Joffre, General (1852-1931) - Catalan French general; helped counter the Schlieffen Plan through retreat and counterattack at the First Battle of the Marne.


  • Karl Marx (1818-1883) - An influential German political theorist, whose writing on class conflict formed the basis of the communist and socialist movements.
  • Khruschev - See Nikita Khrushchev
  • Kristallnacht (1938) - A massive nationwide pogrom in Germany, directed at Jewish citizens throughout the country.
  • Kulturkampf (Cultural Fight) - Attempt by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck to reduce Catholic influence in the early years of the 1871 German Empire.


  • Laissez-Faire - Libertarian philosophy of pure capitalism, without regulation of trade (Enlightenment).
  • Law of Maximum Général - A comprehensive program of wage and price controls in Revolutionary France.
  • Lay - in Catholicism, all non-clergy persons.
  • Lay investiture - The induction of clerics by a king (a layman).
  • Lenin, Vladimir (1870-1924) - The leader of the Bolshevik party and the first Premier of the Soviet Union; enacted the New Economic Policy.
  • Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) - Italian Renaissance architect, inventor, engineer, sculptor, and painter; most known for The Last Supper and Mona Lisa; the archetype of the "Renaissance man."
  • Leopold III (1835–1909) - King of Belgium; founder of the Congo Free State, a private project to extract rubber and ivory.
  • Levée en masse - French term for mass conscription, used to mobilize armies during the French Revolutionary Wars.
  • Lord - The owner of land who grants a fief to a vassal (feudal system).
  • Lorenzo de' Medici (1449-1492) - Ruler of the Florentine Republic during the Renaissance; Christian supporter of Platonism and humanism.
  • Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (1808-1873) - The nephew of the Emperor Napoleon I of France; member of the Carbonari in his youth; elected President of the Second Republic of France in 1848; reigned as Emperor Napoleon III of the Second French Empire from 1852 to 1870.


  • Machiavellian - Having the qualities seen by Niccolò Machiavelli as ideal for a ruler; using ruthless authoritarian tactics to maintain power.
  • Manchurian Incident (1931) - Japan's military accused Chinese dissidents of blowing up a sectin of a Japanese railroad in Manchuria, thus providing an excuse for the Japanese annexation of Manchuria.
  • Mannerism - Art after the High Renaissance in reaction to it, using exaggeration or distortion instead of balance and proportion.
  • Manor - The local jurisdiction of a lord over which he has legal and economic power (feudalism).
  • Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794) - French philosopher and mathematician, inventor of the Condorcet method, a voting system.
  • Marshall Plan - The primary plan of the United States for rebuilding the allied countries of Europe and repelling communism after World War II.
  • Martin Luther (1483-1546) - German theologian and Augustinian monk who began Lutheranism and initiated the Protestant Reformation.
  • Meiji Restoration (1866-1869) - Revolution in Japan; replaced the Tokugawa shogunate with imperial rule, and modernized the feudal country; provoked by the opening of Japan's ports to the West.
  • Mein Kampf (My Struggle) - A book written by Adolf Hitler, combining elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology of nazism.
  • Mensheviks - A faction of the Russian revolutionary movement formed 1903 by followers of Julius Martov, who believed in a large party of activists.
  • Mercantilism - The economic theory that a country's economic prosperity depends on its supply of gold and silver, and that a country should export more than it imports.
  • Metternich (1773-1858) - Austrian foreign minister during and after the Era of Napoleon.
  • Michaelangelo (1475-1564) - Renaissance painter, sculptor, poet and architect; most known for the fresco ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
  • Mir - In Russian, "peace," Connotes "community." (ed: relate this to the subject????)
  • Monasticism - Complete devotion to spiritual work.
  • Munich Agreement (1938) - An agreement regarding the Munich Crisis; discussed the future of Czechoslovakia and ended up surrendering much of that state to Nazi Germany, standing as a major example of appeasement.


  • Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821) - General and politician of France who ruled as First Consul (1779–1804) and then as Emperor (1804–1814).
  • Napoleonic code - French code of civil law, established by Napoléon on March 21, 1804, to reform the French legal system in accordance with the principles of the French Revolution.
  • National Socialist German Workers' Party - The Nazi party which was led to power in Germany by Adolf Hitler in 1933.
  • Nationalism - Ideology which sustains the nation as a concept of common identity among groups of people.
  • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) (1769-1821) - An international organization for collective security established in 1949, in support of the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington, DC, on 4 April 1949.
  • Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (1939) - A non-aggression treaty between foreign ministers Ribbentrop of Germany (Third Reich) and Molotov of Russia (Soviet Union).
  • Neo-platonism - Philosophy based on the teachings of Plato, which resurfaced during the Renaissance.
  • Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940) - British Prime Minister who maintained a policy of appeasement toward Nazi Germany.
  • New Economic Policy (NEP) (1921) - Lenin's system of economic reforms which restored private ownership to some parts of the economy.
  • New Model Army - An army of professional soldiers led by trained generals; formed by Roundheads upon passage of the Self-denying Ordinance in 1645; became famous for their Puritan religious zeal (English Civil War).
  • New Monarchies - The states whose rulers in the 15th century began authoritarian rule using Machiavellian tactics (Northern Renaissance).
  • Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) - Florentine political philosopher; author of The Prince (Renaissance).
  • Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) - Astronomer and mathematician who developed the heliocentric theory of the solar system (Scientific Revolution).
  • Nietzsche's Superman (Übermensch) - Concept that the strong and gifted should dominate over the weak.
  • Night of the Long Knives (1934) - A purge ordered by Adolf Hitler of potential political rivals in the Sturmabteilung.
  • Nihilism - Philosophy viewing the world and human existence as without meaning or purpose.
  • Nikita Khrushchev - Leader of the Soviet Union after Stalin's death, from 1953 until 1964.
  • NKVD - An agency best known for its function as secret police of the Soviet Union; also handled other matters such as transport, fire guards, border troops, etc.
  • No man's land (World War I) - In trench warfare, land between two opposing trenches which provides no cover.


  • October Revolution (1917) - The second stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917, led by Leon Trotsky; the first officially communist revolution, also known as the Bolshevik Revolution.
  • Old Regime - see Ancien Régime.
  • Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) - Military leader and politician who led an overthrow of the British monarchy in the English Civil War; established the Commonwealth of England over which he ruled as Lord Protector.
  • Open-Door Policy - Maintenance of equal commercial and industrial rights for all nations in China after the Opium War.
  • Opium War (1834-1860) - Two wars between Britain and China over a Chinese attempt to eliminate the opium trade and reduce foreign influence within its borders.
  • Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) - Prime Minister of Prussia who unified Germany and became the Chancellor of the German Empire.


  • Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) - Founder, along with Georges Braque, of Cubism.
  • Pagan - Of or relating to classical, non-Christian religions.
  • Paris Commune (1871) - Socialist government briefly ruling Paris, formed by a civil uprising of post-Franco-Prussian War revolutionaries.
  • Parlements - Law courts of the ancien régime in France.
  • Parliamentarians - Anything associated with a parliament; sometimes refers to Roundheads (English Civil War).
  • Paris Peace Conference (1919) - A six-month international conference between the Allied and Associated Powers and their former enemies; proposed Treaty of Versailles.
  • Paul von Hindenburg, General (1847-1934) - German war general; Reich President of Germany (1925–1934).
  • Peace of Westphalia (1648) - A series of treaties ending the Thirty Years' War.
  • Peasants' War (1524-1526) - A mass of economic and religious revolts in Germany (Protestant Reformation).
  • Peninsular War (1808-1814) - A major conflict during the Napoleonic Wars, fought in the Iberian Peninsula; Spain, Portugal, and Britain vs. France.
  • Perspective - Artistic technique used to give a painting the appearance of having three dimensions by depicting foreground objects larger than those of the background (Renaissance).
  • Philosophes - A group of French philosophers of the Enlightenment, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire.
  • Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) - French anarchist, most famously asserting "Property is theft."
  • Politburo (Political Bureau) - The executive organization for Communist Parties.
  • Politique - A term used in the 16th century to describe a head of state who put politics and the nation's well being before religion.
  • Popolo - The poor, working class of Italy (Renaissance).
  • Predestination - The religious idea that God's decisions determine destiny; particularly prevalent in Calvinism (Protestant Reformation).
  • Presbyterianism - A Protestant church based on the teachings of John Calvin and established in Scotland by John Knox (Protestant Reformation).
  • Proletariat - A lower social class; term used by Karl Marx to identify the working class.
  • Protectorate - A relationship of protection and partial control assumed by a superior power over a dependent country or region; the protected country or region.
  • Protestant Wind - Term used to refer to one of two incidents in which weather favored Protestants in battle: 1) the storm which wrecked the Spanish Armada, preventing an invasion of England (1588); 2) the favorable winds that enabled William III to land in England and depose the Catholic King James II (1688).


  • Queen Victoria (1819–1901) - Queen of the United Kingdom, reigning from 1837 until her death, longer than any other British monarch. As well as being queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, she was also the first monarch to use the title Empress of India. The reign of Victoria was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. The Victorian Era was at the height of the Industrial Revolution, a period of great social, economic, and technological change in the United Kingdom.


  • Raphael (1483-1520) - Florentine painter and architect of the Italian High Renaissance.
  • Rasputin, Father Grigori (1872-1916) - Russian mystic having great influence over the wife of Tsar Nicholas II's wife Alexandra, ultimately leading to the downfall of the Romanov dynasty and the Bolshevik Revolution.
  • Rationalism - The philosophical idea that truth is derived from reason and analysis, instead of from faith and religious dogma (Renaissance).
  • Realism (Renaissance) - Depiction of images which is realistic instead of idealistic.
  • Realism (19th century) - Artistic movement originating in France as a reaction to Romanticism; depiction of commonplace instead of idealized themes.
  • Realpolitick (Politics of reality) - A term coined by Otto von Bismarck which refers to foreign politics based on practical concerns rather than theory or ethics.
  • Reconquista - The Spanish "reconquering" resulting in the removal of Jews and Muslims from the state, and a unification of Spain under Catholicism.
  • Red Guards (Russia) - The main strike force of the Bolsheviks, created in March 1917.
  • Reichstag (Imperial Diet) - Between 1871 and 1945, the German parliament.
  • Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) - A baroque painter and engraver of the Netherlands during the Dutch Golden Age.
  • Renaissance - A cultural movement started in Italy in the 14th century marked by a rebirth of classic art and scientific learning of ancient Greece and Rome.
  • René Descartes (1596-1650) - Mathematician (inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system) and rationalist philosopher ("I think, therefore I am").
  • Risorgimento (resurrection) - The gradual unification of Italy, culminating in the declaration of the Kingdom of Italy (1861) and the conquest of Rome (1870).
  • Rite of Spring - A ballet composed by Russian Igor Stravinsky; controversy due to its subject, pagan sacrifice.
  • Robert Owen (1771-1858) - Welsh social reformer, father of the cooperative movement.
  • Robespierre (1758-1794) - One of the best known leaders of the French Revolutions; known as "the Incorruptible"; leader of the Committee of Public Safety.
  • Romanticism (18th century) - Artistic and intellectual movement, after the Enlightenment period, stressing strong emotion, imagination, freedom from classical correctness in art forms, and rebellion against social conventions.
  • Rotten borough - A small British parliamentary constituency which could be 'controlled' by a patron and used to exercise undue and unrepresentative influence within parliament.
  • Roundheads - Puritans under Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War; named after the round helmets they wore; also known as Parliamentarians.
  • Royal Society of London (1660) - An institution of learning committed to open content, the free availability and flow of information.
  • Royalists - An adherent of a monarch or royal family; sometimes refers to Cavaliers (English Civil War).
  • Russian Civil War (1918-1920) - Conflict between communists and monarchists, after the Russian Revolution of 1917.


  • Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1572) - A wave of Catholic mob violence against the Huguenots, lasting for several months.
  • Sans-culottes (without knee-breeches) - Term referring to the ill-clad and ill-equipped volunteers of the French Revolutionary army.
  • Schleswig-Holstein - A region of northern Germany which Denmark surrendered to Otto von Bismarck in 1865.
  • Schutzstaffel (SS) (Protective Squadron) - A large paramilitary organization that belonged to the Nazi party.
  • Secularism - Concern with worldly ideas, as science and rationalism, instead of religion and superstition (Renaissance).
  • Self-denying Ordinance (1645) - A Bill passed by English Parliament, depriving members of Parliament from holding command in the army or navy, to promote professionalism in the armed forces; aided creation of the New Model Army (English Civil War).
  • Sepoy mutiny (1857–1858) - Rebellions against British colonial rule in India; caused the end of the British East India Company's rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain.
  • Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) - Austrian neurologist credited for psychoanalysis and the theory of unconscious motives.
  • Simony - The ecclesiastical crime of paying for offices or positions in the hierarchy of a church (Protestant Reformation).
  • Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-1792) - English inventor of the Water Frame, a water-powered cotton mill.
  • Sir Thomas More - Author of Utopia, a novel which extols the hypothetical ideal society, by the Northern Renaissance ideals of humanism and Christianity.
  • Social Darwinism - The application of Darwinism to the study of human society, specifically a theory in sociology that individuals or groups achieve advantage over others as the result of genetic or biological superiority.
  • Society of Jesus - A Roman Catholic Order founded in 1534 by Ignatius of Loyola (Protestant Reformation).
  • Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) - The result of the complex political and even cultural rift in Spain.
  • Sphere of Influence - A territorial area over which political or economic influence is wielded by one nation.
  • Stalin, Joseph (1879-1953) - Bolshevik revolutionary who ruled the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin; responsible for the Great Purge and five year plans.
  • States-General - (see Estates-General).
  • Subsistence - Production of food only in quantities needed for survival, without the creation of surpluses.
  • Sudetenland - The region inhabited mostly by Sudeten Germans in various places of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia; became part of Czechoslovakia in 1945.
  • Suez Canal (constructed 1854-1869) - A canal in Egypt between the Mediterranean and Red Seas, allowing access between Europe and Asia.


  • Tabula rasa (Blank slate) - John Locke's idea that humans are born with no innate ideas, and that identity is defined by events after birth.
  • Taille - A direct land tax on the French peasantry in ancien régime France.
  • T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935) - also known as Lawrence of Arabia; a British liaison officer during the Arab Revolt of 1916–1918.
  • Tennis Court Oath (1789) - A pledge by France's Third Estate to continue to meet until a constitution had been written; may be considered the birth of the French Revolution.
  • Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) - Conflict principally taking place in the Holy Roman Empire involving a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics, fought for the self-preservation of the Hapsburg dynasty.
  • Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) - English political philosopher advocating an authoritarian version of the social contract (absolutism).
  • Thomas Malthus (1766–1834) - English economist who, in An Essay on the Principle of Population, predicted that increasing population growth would cause a massive food shortage.
  • Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729) - English inventor of the Newcomen engine, a steam engine for pumping water out of mines.
  • Tory - A member of the British Conservative party.
  • Totalitarianism - A form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life.
  • Treaties of Tilsit (1807) - Treaties ending war between Russia and France; began a powerful secret alliance between the two countries.
  • Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918) - Peace treaty which marked Russia's exit from World War I.
  • Treaty of Versailles (1919) - Peace treaty created by the Paris Peace Conference; which officially ended World War I.
  • Trotsky, Leon (1879-1940) - Bolshevik revolutionary, early Soviet Union politician, and founding member of the Politburo; expelled from the Communist Party after a power struggle with Stalin.
  • Truman Doctrine (1947) - Harry S. Truman's statement initiating the U.S. policy of containment toward Russia.


  • Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) - Founder of Zwinglianism in the Zürich, Switzerland; leader of the Swiss Reformation (Protestant Reformation).
  • Usury - Charging a fee generally in the form of interest on loans; forbidden by most religious doctrines (Protestant Reformation). Usury was forbidden in the Catholic Church, so Jews became wealthy, successful merchants
  • Utopian Socialism - The socialist ideals of creating a perfect communist society. Writers such as Charles Fourier, Henri de Saint-Simon and Robert Owen were prominent Utopian Socialists.


  • Vassal - The tenant of land who receives a fief in exchange for knightly service (feudalism).
  • Vernacular - The standard, native language of a region (generally as opposed to Latin).
  • Virtu - Humanist value of the Renaissance emphasizing a nobility of spirit and action, stressing an individual's dignity and worth; replaced the chivalrous Medieval value of humility.
  • Voltaire (1694-1778) - French deist philosopher, author of Candide, which sarcastically attacks religious and philosophical optimism (Enlightenment).


  • War of the Three Henrys (1584-1598) - A series of three civil wars in France, also known as the Huguenot Wars; fought between the Catholic League and the Huguenots.
  • Wars of the Roses (1455-1487) - Intermittent civil war fought over the throne of England between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.
  • Warsaw Pact (1455-1487) - An organization of Central and Eastern European Communist states. It was established in 1955 to counter the threat from the NATO alliance.
  • Weimar Republic (1919-1933) - The first attempt at liberal democracy in Germany; named after the city of Weimar, where the new constitution was written.
  • Western Schism (1378) - Split within the Catholic Church at the end of the Avignon Papacy.
  • Whig - A member of the British Liberal Democrat party.
  • White-collar - Class of labor performing less "laborious" tasks and are more highly paid than blue-collar manual workers.
  • White Man’s Burden - The concept of the white race's obligation to govern and impart it beliefs upon nonwhite people; often used to justify European colonialism.
  • William and Mary - King William III and Queen Mary II; jointly ruled England and Scotland after the Glorious Revolution of 1688; they replaced the absolutist King James II and ruled as constitutional monarchs.
  • William Gladstone (1809-1898) - A British Liberal politician and Prime Minister (1868–1874, 1880–1885, 1886 and 1892–1894), a notable political reformer, known for his populist speeches, and was for many years the main political rival of Benjamin Disraeli.


  • X-ray - first systematically studied by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1895.


  • Yekaterinburg - The location at which the family of Czar Nicholas II was murdered by Bolsheviks


  • Zimmermann Telegram (1917) - Message sent by German Arthur Zimmermann, proposing that Mexico ally with Germany against the United States; hastened U.S. entry into World War I.

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