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Ancient W. Civ.
Final '09
Undergraduate 2

Additional History Flashcards




"Age of Discovery"

Who/What: Was as a period in history starting in the 15th century and continuing into the 17th century, during which Europeans and their descendants intensively explored and mapped the world. Historians often refer to the Age of discovery as the period of Portuguese and Spanish pioneer oceanic explorations, between the 15th and 16th centuries, that established links with Africa, Asia and the Americas in search for an alternative trade route to Asia, moved by the trade of gold, silver and spices. These explorations in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans were soon followed by France, England and the Netherlands, who explored the Portuguese and Spanish trade routes into the Pacific Ocean, reaching Australia in 1606 and New Zealand in 1642. European exploration spanned until accomplishing the global mapping of the world, resulting in a new worldview and distant civilizations acknowledging each other, reaching the most remote boundaries much later

When/Where: 15th Century; Europe

Significance: The Age of Discovery marks the passage from the feudal Middle Ages of the 15th century to the Early Modern Period with the rise of European nation-states in the 16th century. Along with the Renaissance and the rise of humanism, it was an important motor for the start of Modern era, ushering in a new age of scientific and intellectual inquiry. European overseas expansion led to the rise of colonial empires, with the contact between the Old and New Worlds producing the Columbian Exchange, involving the 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.


Magna Carta

Who/What: It was a “great charter” signed by King John of England and forced by the Barons. It limited the king’s fiscal powers and is seen as a landmark in the political evolution of the West. It established that taxation could not be raised by the crown without the consent of the kingdom and that no free man could be punished except by the judgement of his equals and by the law of the land. It was most importantly an expression of the principle that the king is bound by the law.

When/Where: 1215; England

Significance: The Magna Carta was so significant at this time because it was the first time in Enland’s history that the King was “bound by the law,” and subjected to follow it. It also began the progress of centralized government, which eventually led to the establishment of the parliament and thus more check and balances and separation of power. The Magna Carta acted as a landmark in the political evolution of the West, and thus sparked other countries to follow suit.



Who/What: Medival program of study and renaissance intelluectual ideas built around the seven liberal arts: grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmatic, music, geometry, and astronomy. Humanists were convinced that their own educational program (focused on Latin and then Greek and reviving the classics) was the best way to produce virtuous citizens and able public officials. Their elitism was to this extent intensely practical, and directly connected to the political life of the city-states. The Humanists never lost their conviction that the study of the humanities was the best way to produce leaders for European society.

When/Where: 13th & 14th century (Renaissance); Italy and N. Europe

Significance: The humanists helped the European Renaissance emerge and paved the way for the modern, secular world. Also, the ideas of the humanistic perspective helped lead W. Europe into a new way of thinking which catalyzed the reformation.


Who/What: Term meaning “re-birth” that historians use to refer to the expanded cultural production of European nations. Most Renaissance personalities loved the classics, none saw ther classicism as superseding their Christianity. Renaissance artists and thinkers were very diverse in their attitudes, achievements, and approaches. The renaissace included ideas of classicism and humanism. The first major reniassance occurred in Italy due to their wealth, as a wide artistic and intellectual movement. Talented Italian writers (Petrarch) and artists (DaVinci & Michelangelo) developed. The next renaissance occurred in the North; was delayed because they focused study on philosophical logic and Christian theology with little room for the classics. They adopted Chrisitian humanism and looked for ethical guidence from the Bible. Leaders such as Erasmus & More, literature, painting and the arts had emerged.

When/Where: 1300 – 1600; Italy (14-15c.) & N. Europe

Significance: The “Renaissance spirit” transformed all aspects of European life— cultural, political, economic, and religious, as well as intellectual and artistic. The High Renaissance intellectual life has a kind of naïve optimism the contrasts sharply with the darker, more psychologically complex world of the Middle Ages and with the Reformation era that was about to begin. However, although the Renaissance was different than the Middle Ages, they were able to coexist at the same time and the Church still played an important role within society. It helped society create a new way of thinking and move into the Reformation in later years. 

Black Death

Who/What: The epidemic of bubonic plague that ravaged Europe, East Asia, and North Africa. It killed 1/3 of the European population. It traveled rapidly throughout W. Europe alone the trade routes, both seaports and inland. Most of it’s vicitims died within days of contracting the plague. Until recently the Black Death was thought to be the result of a pandemic outbreak of Yersinia pestis; however now doubts have arisen and researchers are looking for a new explanation.

When/Where: 14th Century; Europe, E. Asia, N. Africa

Significance: At least a 1/3 of Europe died in the intial outbreak and thereafter, it surpassed ½ with the combined effects of the plague, famine, and war. The plague also created the “Flagellant Movement,” which consisted of penitents who whipped themselves to appease God. Also after the plague, economic and social consequenes were profound. Still production halted to a stop and there were less mouths to feed, the price of grain fell and workers pay increased. Therefore, a healthier ecological balance between arable land, pasture, and woodland was reestablished. However, the great Lords were slower to adjust and forced some peasants into serfdom. In the cities the new economy stimulated the development of new business and banking techniques. Lastly, the plague and it’s effects put pressures on social order, causing peasant revolts all over Europe. Since so many people died, society lossed faith in the Church, because even the religious people were dying.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Who/What: Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages. As well as being Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she was queen consort of France 1137-1152. She along with the King of France led the unsuccessful Second Crusade to the hold lands. Then after the crusade failed her and Louis VII dissolved their marriage due to her own desire and the fact that she only bore two daughters. Later Eleanor remarried Henry II, ultimately becaming Queen consort of England 1154-1189. She bore King Henry II eight children. However, Henry and Eleanor eventually became estranged. She was imprisoned between 1173 and 1189 for supporting her son Henry's revolt against King Henry II. However, once she was widowed, her son Richard took over and relased her. She then reclaimed the throne while her son went off on the Third Crusade. Eleanor survived her son Richard and lived well into the reign of her youngest son King John. By the time of her death she had outlived most of her children.

When/Where: 12th Century; England/France

Significance: By the time of her death, Eleanor of Acqutiane was easily one of the most respected and powerful woman in Europe during this time. She was such an important figure to women because she was in power in her of right and thus did not just receive it for her mother or through marriage. Because of this it showed that women were capable of ruling and being powerful and not just through unjustified means, but by their own right. Eleanor also aided in the chiverly process and was a parton of arts. Her tomb consits of her above her husband and son would are lower on the sides. This just goes to show how much power women can really have.

Hundred Years War

Who/What: Long conflict, fought mostly on French soil, between England and France, centering on English claims to the throne of France. It had several causes. First, the kings of England held the duchy of Gascony as vassals of the French king. England also had close commercial links with the French king’s rebellious subjects in Flanders. Lastly, the French were allied with the Scots, who Enlgand had been trying to conquer since the 1290’s. However, what greatly complicated all this, was a succession dispute over the French crown itself. In 1337, war erupted between England and France over Scotland. Athough France was richer and more populous, England’s political system was more effective in mobilizing the entire population. It was the largest, longest, and most wide-ranging military conflict of the later Middle Ages. England, until the 1430’s, won most of the pitched battles. As they began to plunder the French country-side, the French kingdom began to dissolve into its constituent parts. The most dramatic instance was the breaking away of Burgundy, whos dukes allied with England agaisnt the Valois monarchy, thus calling into question the very exisitance of an independent French crown. Then Joan of Arc, a illiterate peasant girl, inspired the French force until she was captured and killed for witchcraft and hersey. Once the duke of Burgundy withdrew his alliance with England, and King Henry became insane, a series of French victories brought the war to an end with the capture of Bordeaux in 1453.

When/Where: 1337-1453; England/France

Significance: After 1453, English control ver French territory would be limited to the port of Calais, which would finally fall in 1558. The war was the most dangerous challenge to its existence that the French kingdom ever faced. The dissintergration of the kingdom under the pressure of war revealed the fragility of the bonds that tied the crown to its nobility and Paris to the outlying regions. Nonetheless the monarchy demonstrated remarkable resilience, and in the end the war strengthened the crown’s capacity to rule France. When the war turned against England, many of it’s kings were murdered by their subjects, this was a consequence of their political system. 


Who/What: Frankish ruler (767-813) who consolidated much of western Europe by adding Lombardy and Saxony to the Frankish kingdoms through a series of military campaigns. These conquers  provided the plunder, booty, and new lands that enabed Charlemagne to promote his Franksih followers to dizzying heights of weath and granduer. To rule his vast empire, he appointed aristocrats called counts to supervise courts, collect tolls, etc. He als set up a new coinage system. His governmental system was far from perfect. Local officals abused their positions, free serfs became unfree, and justice was often denied. However, it was the best government Europe had ever seen since the Romans, and it became a model on which Wetern rulers would base their own for the next 300 years. As he expanded his empire, he came to see himself as a ruler of a unifed Christian society. He reformed rules of worship, declared changes in basic statements of Chrisitan belief, and prohibited pagan observances.  With a strong sense of divine purpose, he forced the Christian conversion of pagan peoples and sponsored arts and learning at court. The climax of Charlemagne’s careers was when he was crowned the Roman emperor in 800. He sought to revive the cultural, religious, and political life of the Roman Empire; however, with his renewal of the Roman Empire, he acknowledge that his motto was to fix a fallen empire. This awareness of a break with the Roman past developed during the 7th century. It marks the beginning of a new era in the history of W. European civilization.

When/Where: 742-814; Western Europe

Significance: He consolidated much of western Europe. He also forced the Christian conversion of pagan peoples and sponsored arts and learning at court. In 800 he became the first Roman Emperor in the west since the 5th century. Charlemagne’s revival of the Western Roman Empire thus proved to be a major step in the developing self-consciousness of Western European civilzation.



Who/What: Protestant daughter of Henry the 8th . Queen of England 1558-1603. She was predisposed to Protestantism due to her parents’ marriage and her upbringing. She presided over the “Elizabethan Settlement” and repealed Mary’s Catholic legislation. Thus, tried to fudge with differences of Protestant and Catholic religions. However, after 1588, when English forces won an improbable victory over the Spanish Armada, Protesantism and Englisheness became nearly indistinuishable to most of her subjects.

When/Where: 1533 – 1603; England

Significance: Queen Elizabeth was one of the most capable and popular monarchs ever to sit on the English throne. Under her reign, Protestantism and Engish nationalism gradually fused together into a potent conviction that God himself had chosen England for greatness. During her long reign, the doctrines and services of the Church of England were defined and the Spanish Armada was defeated. Also, she was a great example of a powerful woman. She inspired a cult of virginity and was often called the virgin Queen. Although she compared herself to a virgin, she also represented herself to the public as a masculine ruler, similar to how Hatshepsut did during her reign as Egyptian pharaoh. 

Christine de Pisan

Who/What: She was one of the first professional authors who made a living with a pen. When her husband, a member of the king’s household, died, she turned to writing to support herself and her children. She wrote a wide variety of literary genres, including treatises on chivalry and warfare that she dedicated to her patron, King Charles VI of France. But she also wrote for a larger and more popular audience. Her imaginative tract “The City of Ladies” is an extended defense of the character, nature, and capacities of women agaisnt their male detractors, written in the form of an allegory. She also took part in a pamphlet campaign that debated sexist claims against women.

When/Where: 1364-1431 (Later Middle Ages); Spent life in France

Significance: The sexist debate continued for several hundred years and became so famous tht it was given a name: the querrelle des femmes, “the debate over women.” De Pisen was by no means the first female writer of the Middle Ages, but she was the first lay woman to earn a living by her writing. Her ideas about female virtue and women’s roles in relation to men were very progressive feminist thoughts for her time.

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