History Encyclopedia

History Encyclopedia

If you would like to prepare for school subjects or simply increase your general knowledge, then enjoy our history encyclopedia. We tried to focus only on very important terms and definitions. We also kept our terminology very brief so that you absorb the concept more quickly and easily.

History Glossary (Page 1)


95 THESES: Document written by Martin Luther detailing his perception of the problems in the medieval Church.
ABBASSID DYNASTY: (750-1258) Ruling family of the Islamic Empire during its golden age. Many achievements.
ABRAHAM: The first patriarch in the Bible. Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and was rewarded for being prepared to do so. He is considered by Jewish people to be the father of the Israelites through his son Isaac, and by Muslims as the father of Arab peoples through his son Ishmael.
ABSOLUTE MONARCHY: A system of government headed by a monarch as the only source of power controlling all functions of the state.
ABSOLUTISM: Political theory that one person should hold all power; in some cases justified by "Divine Right of Kings.".
ABSTRACT: A summary of the resource.
ACCESS RIGHTS: Information about who can access the resource or an indication of its security status.
ACCRUAL METHOD: The method by which items are added to a collection.
ACCRUAL PERIODICITY: The frequency with which items are added to a collection.
ACCRUAL POLICY: The policy governing the addition of items to a collection.
ACID RAIN: Rain that contains pollutants due to the burning of fossil fuels. It is damaging to the environment.
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.
ACUPUNCTURE: Chinese method of treating disorders by inserting needles into the skin. This is to help with the flow of energy that is thought to be blocked.
ADAM SMITH (1723-1790): Scottish economist and philosopher, author of The Wealth of Nations, thought of as the father of capitalist economics.
ADAMS, JOHN: As the nation's second president, Adams had to deal with deteriorating relations between the United States and France. Conflicts between the two countries were evident in the XYZ Affair and the "Quasi-War" of 1798 to 1800.
ADAPTATION: A change made to survive an environment or to overcome a disadvantage.
AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS: A group formed in protest of the policy of apartheid in South Africa and helped to end it. It was outlawed due to its violent tactics. Nelson Mandela, one of its leaders, was imprisoned for nearly 30 years.
AFRICAN TRADING KINGDOMS: Three African kingdoms, Ghana, Mali, and Songhai that were important in the trans-Sahara trade of gold form the west coast of Africa to North Africa and the Middle East. Their trade provided enough wealth to create the conditions necessary for cultural and intellectual achievement.
AFRIKANERS: Dutch descended colonist living in South Africa. Also called Boers.
AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT: An intellectual movement in 18th century Europe marked by rational thinking, in contrast with the superstition of the Dark Ages.
AGE OF EXPLORATION: Time period during the 15th and 16th centuries when Europeans searched for new sources of wealth and for easier trade routes to China and India. Resulted in the discovery of North and South America by the Europeans.
AGE OF REASON: Term given to describe the Enlightenment.
AGE OF TRANSITION: Term given to describe the Renaissance.
AGRARIAN REVOLUTION: A change in farming methods that allowed for a greater production of food. This revolution was fueled by the use of new farming technology such as the seed drill and improved fertilizers. The result of this revolution was a population explosion. It was one of the causes of the Industrial Revolution.
AGRICULTURE: The cultivating of land, producing of crops, and raising of livestock for human consumption.
AHIMSA: In Hinduism, it is the practice of non-violence toward all living things.
AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. A disease of the human immune system caused by the HIV retrovirus.
AKBAR THE GREAT: (1542-1605) Emperor of the Mughal Empire in India. He is considered to be their greatest ruler. He is responsible for the expansion of his empire, its stability, and an increase in trade and cultural diffusion.
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.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT: (356 BCE-323 BCE) He conquered most of the ancient world from Asia Minor to Egypt and India, which began the Hellenistic culture which was a blending of Greek, Persian, Indian, and Egyptian influences.
ALGEBRA: A branch of mathematics pioneered by Islamic mathematician al-Khwarizimi in which letters are used to represent unknown numbers to generalize arithmetic.
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.
ALIEN AND SEDITION ACTS: Four acts passed in 1798 designed to curb criticism of the federal government. Adopted during a period of conflict with France, the acts lengthened the period before an immigrant could obtain citizenship, gave the president power to deport dangerous aliens, and provided for the prosecution of those who wrote "false, scandalous and malicious" writings against the U.S. government.
AL-KHWARIZMI: Islamic mathematician who pioneered the study of algebra. His textbook on the subject became a standard in European universities for centuries.
ALLIED POWERS: Alliance of Great Britain, Soviet Union, United States, and France during World War II.
ALLIED POWERS (WORLD WAR I): Russia, France, British Empire, Italy, and United States.
ALLIES: In World War I, the United States, Great Britain, France, and Russia, the alliance that opposed and defeated the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary and their allies; in World War II, primarily the United States, Great Britain, (free) France, and the Soviet Union that opposed and defeated the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan.
AL-QAEDA: Islamic terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden. They are responsible for numerous terrorist attacks, including the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center buildings in New York City.
AL-SADAT, ANWAR: (1918-1981) President of Egypt between 1970 and 1981. He was assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists for making peace with Israel.
ALTERNATIVE TITLE: An alternative name for the resource.
AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM: Notion that America houses biologically superior people and can spread democracy to the rest of the world. An intellectual foundation of expansion and racism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR: A confederation of labor unions founded in 1886, it was composed mainly of skilled craft unions and was the first national labor organization to survive and experience a degree of success, largely because of its conservative leadership that accepted industrial capitalism.
AMERICAN REVOLUTION: Political revolution in the British North American Colonies starting in 1776 that removed the colonies from Great Britainメs control, and established an independent nation know as the United States of America.
AMERICAN SYSTEM (OF HENRY CLAY): Henry Clay's program for the national economy, which included a protective tariff to stimulate industry, a national bank to provide credit, and federally funded internal improvements to expand the market for farm products.
AMERICAN SYSTEM OF PRODUCTION: The high cost of labor led to the establishment of a system of mass production through the manufacture of interchangeable parts.
AMIN, IDI: (1925?-2003) President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. His brutal regime resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people, as well as the near total ruin of Uganda. He was overthrown and exiled to Saudi Arabia in 1979.
AMRITSAR MASSACRE: April 3rd of 1919. British soldiers killed close to 400 unarmed Indian men, women, and children, and wounded 1,100 more. People had gathered in the center of town to protest British occupation of their country, and to demand equality. This was a turning point in British domination of India. Independence movements became very popular and eventually forced India's independence.
ANACONDA PLAN: General Winfield Scott designed this strategic plan in the early days of the Civil War. To give direction to the Union war effort against the South. The plan advocated a full naval blockade of the South's coastline, a military campaign to gain control of the Mississippi River, and the placement of armies at key points in the South to squeeze- like the Anaconda snake-the life out of the Confederacy. In various-ways, this plan helped inform overall Union strategy in militarily defeating the South.
ANALECTS, THE: Collection of moral and social teachings of Confucius, including the concept of the Five Relationships.
ANATOMY: The branch of science that studies the physical structure of living organisms.
ANCESTOR WORSHIP: Worship given to deceased relatives who are believed to be closer to the Gods, and therefore able to grant favors.
ANCIEN RÉGIME ("OLD ORDER"): The social and political system established in France under the absolute monarchy; removed by the French Revolution.
ANIMISM: The oldest known type of belief system in the world. It is still practiced in a variety of forms in many traditional societies. Animists practice nature worship. They believe that everything in the universe has a spirit. This is exemplified by the practices of the Plains Indians in North America who would praise the spirit of the buffalo that they killed for giving its life to them so that they might survive. Animists also believed that ancestors watch over the living from the spirit world. This belief resulted in ancestor worship as a means of communicating with and showing respect to ancestors.
ANSCHLUSS (1938): The inclusion of Austria in a "Greater Germany"; in contast with the Ausschluss, the exclusion of Austria from Imperial Germany in 1871.
ANTHROPOLOGY: The study of humanity, culturally and physically, in all times and places. Forensic anthropology is the application of anthropological knowledge and techniques in a legal context, to detect crime and identify criminals. This involves detailed knowledge of osteology.
ANTIBIOTICS: A substance that kills bacteria in the human body. It is used to prevent or treat various illnesses.
ANTIFEDERALISTS: These were opponents of the Constitution of 1787 who sought to continue the confederation of sovereign states and to keep power as close as possible to the people. In actuality, the Antifederalists were true federalists in seeking to balance powers among the states and the national government. Their confused identity may have cost them support in attempting to prevent ratification of the Constitution. See Federalists.
ANTINOMIAN: Literally meaning against the laws of human governance. Antinomians believed that once they had earned saving grace, God would offer them direct revelation by which to order the steps of their lives. As such, human institutions, such as churches and government, were no longer necessary. Mainline Puritans believed Antinomianism would produce only social chaos and destroy the Bay Colony's mission, so they repudiated and even exiled prominent persons like Anne Hutchinson, who advocated such doctrines.
ANTI-SEMITISM: The hatred of people of Jewish ancestry.
ANTISEPTIC: An agent that helps prevent or reduce infection in wounds.
APARTHEID: A policy of legal segregation in South Africa where black South Africans could only live in certain areas, were required to use separate trains, restaurants, and schools, and could not enter into an interracial marriage.
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.
AQUEDUCTS: Above ground structures used to carry water long distances. Built by the ancient Romans.
ARABIC: The official language of several countries of North Africa and the Middle East, as well as Islam.
ARABIC NUMERALS: A written number system created during the Gupta golden age in India, then adopted by the Islamic Empire before spreading further. Used throughout western civilization today.
ARABLE: Land that is able to support the growing of crops.
ARAFAT , YASIR: (1929-2004) President of the Palestine National Authority and Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Considered by many to be a terrorist, he has in recent years been accepted as the legitimate authority to speak for the Palestinians. His goals is to create a homeland for the displaced Palestinians.
ARCH: A curved structure that shapes the edge of an open space, such as, a doorway, a window.
ARCHAEOLOGY: The study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of physical remains.
ARCHIMEDES: (287-212 BCE) Greek mathematician and inventor. He wrote works on plane and solid geometry, arithmetic, and mechanics. He is best known for the lever and pulley.
ARCHIPELAGO: A group or chain of islands.
ARCHITECT: A person who designs buildings.
ARCHIVE: A collection of documents and records.
ARISTARCHUS: (310?-250? BCE) Greek scientist who first stated that the Earth revolved around the Sun, and rotated on its axis.
ARISTOTELIAN (PTOLEMAIC) COSMOLOGY: The belief that Earth is at the center of the universe.
ARMISTICE: A truce during wartime.
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.
ARTIFACT: A material object of a culture such as a tool, an article of clothing or a prepared food.
ARTISAN: A person who is skilled at a craft, such as weaving, or woodcarving.
ARYANS: In Nazism and neo-Nazism, a non-Jewish Caucasian, especially one of Nordic type, supposed to be part of a master race.
ASIAN TIGERS: Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea. These nations have experienced rapid economic growth and prosperity due to industrialization, and were aligned both politically, and economically with the West throughout the Cold War.
ASOKA: (304 BCE - 232 BCE) King of the Maurya dynasty. He ruled nearly the entire subcontinent of India. He also was instrumental in the spread of Buddhism after his conversion.
ASSASSINATION: The killing of a political leader or other public figure.
ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS: Multinational organization that cooperates economically by lowering trade barriers, such as, tariffs, to encourage commerce between member nations.
ASTROLABE: A device used to determine latitude by observing the altitude and position of the sun or other start or planet.
ASTRONOMER: A person who specializes in the study of astronomical bodies.
ASWAN HIGH DAM: Dam across the Nile River in Egypt. Created Lake Nassar and helps to create more farmland. Built between 1960 and 1970.
ATATURK, MUSTAFA KEMAL: (1881-1938) Nationalist leader of Turkey who modernized and westernized his country after World War I. This enabled Turkey to resist imperialist attempts at takeover by various European powers.
ATMAN: In Hinduism, the "god within" or "the infinite center of life.".
AUDIENCE: A class of entity for whom the resource is intended or useful.
AUGUSTUS: (63 BCE - 14 CE) First emperor of Rome (27 BCE - 14 CE) He restored order and prosperity to the Empire after nearly a century of turmoil. Grandnephew to Julius Caesar.
AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE: Also known as Austria-Hungary, or the Hapsburg Empire, as it was ruled by the Habsburg monarchy from 1867 to 1918. Austria-Hungary extended over most of central Europe. It was composed the modern day countries of Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, as well as parts of present-day Poland, Romania, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
AUTARKY: An economy that does no trade with the outside world.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY: An individual's account of their life.
AVAILABLE: Date (often a range) that the resource became or will become available.
AVALONIA: A separate plate in the Early Paleozoic consisting of much of Northern Europe, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and some coastal parts of New England.
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.

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