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Black Death – The Black Death was a series of plagues that swept through
Europe in the mid-14th century. It is estimated that that up to 38 million people
died from the plague. The Black Death caused major social and economic
upheaval. Social relations began to break down and the economy started to fall.
There were many labor shortages and wages went up in order to gain labor. These
upheavals caused numerous revolts around Europe.
2. Flagellants – The flagellants were a group who believed the plague was sent by
God as a punishment. They would beat themselves with whips thinking this
would stop God from punishing them. The flagellants created mass hysteria
wherever they went and some groups became alarmed when they began killing
people; blaming them for the plague.
3. The Jacquerie – The Jacquerie was a peasant revolt in 1358 in France. Due to the
economic and social upheavals from the Black Death, laws were put into place to
try and correct these upheavals. These new rules angered the peasants who
revolted against the nobles and other high authority figures. The nobles eventually
massacred the peasants and put an end to the revolt.
4. Wat Tyler and John Ball – Wat Tyler and John Ball were a peasant and a
preacher who led a peasant’s revolt against the nobles. Due to the Black Death,
peasants now had improved life. They had more freedom and higher wages. The
monarchy did not like this, thus they tried to tax the adult peasants. Eastern
England did not pay and drove the tax collectors from the town thus leading to the
revolt led by Wat Tyler and John Ball.
5. Gunpowder – Gunpowder was used by the French in the Hundred Years War to
defeat the English and achieve a victory. Gunpowder was invented in China and
made its way to Europe through the Mongols, who greatly improved the
gunpowder cannon design allowing it to fire more accurately.
6. Unam Sanctum – The Unam Sanctum was a letter written by Pope Boniface VIII
on the subject of papal supremacy. It stated that the Pope had supreme authority
over all secular monarchies.
7. Avignon – Avignon was a city with resided in the Holy Roman Empire, near the
border of France. Many of the popes lived in Avignon for most of the fourteenth
century rather than Rome. Many people questioned this because Rome was
always the home of the pope as they are the bishop of Rome. This led to a decline
is papal prestige and was worsened when a palace in Avignon was started to be
constructed. Although controversial, Avignon helped the church to adapt to
modern political, economic, and social conditions in Europe.
8. Catherine of Sienna – Catherine of Sienna was a woman who was sent by the
city of Florence to the pope. She claimed to have visions sent by God, therefore
making her a perfect choice for a mission to Avignon. She told the pope that God
has given him power and he should use it properly. If not, he should resign as it
would honor God and his health.
9. Great Schism – The Great Schism occurred when the cardinals started to elect a
new pope. Since the cardinals were a majority of Frenchman, and the Italians
feared another French pope, the Italians threatened the cardinals with death until
an Italian pope was elected. They appointed the archbishop of Bari, crowned Pope
Urban VI. After the cardinals returned to France, they declared the pope a fake
because he was not elected properly. The French cardinals appointed their own
pope at Avignon therefore splitting the church. Countries chose sides among the
popes. This caused great social and religious upheavals.
10. Conciliarism – Conciliarism was a belief that stated that only a general council
could bring and end to the schism and reform for the church. The only problem
was that the pope usually determines the council but since there were two popes,
this would prove difficult. Eventually, a group of cardinals from both sides met
and formed a council named the Council of Pisa. They disposed the two popes
and elected a new, single pope; Alexander V. The only problem was that the
previous two popes refused to give up power. After this, a new council met at
Constance and elected Martin V as pope. The other three either stepped down or
were disposed.
11. Council of Constance – The Council of Constance was a council that elected the
new and definite pope. The council stated that the three existing popes either
stepped down from power or were disposed of. Eventually, Martin V was
appointed pope in 1417, thus ending the Great Schism.
12. Purgatory – Purgatory was a spiritual place in Christian belief. The souls of the
dead would go to Purgatory to be cleansed of their sins on Earth. This had to be
done before the soul could enter Heaven. It was also thought that prayers and
Mass for the dead would help them get to Heaven faster and spend less time in
13. The vernacular – Vernacular refers to the native language of an area. The three
writers Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio began to use vernacular languages to write
their books. Using dialects of languages surrounding Florence, they made the
basis for the modern Italian language as we know it today. Many of the writers
wrote poems in vernacular literature.
14. The “four humors” – The “four humors” was a medical theory in which the
body must require balance of the humors in order to maintain health. The four
humors were blood (heart), phlegm (brain), black bile (spleen), and yellow bile
(liver). When an individual was healthy, it meant that his humors were in balance.
When out of balance, the humors cause sickness. Doctors prescribed “treatments”
such as diet or herbal medicines to balance out the humors.
15. House of Medici – The House of Medici was the largest bank in Europe in part of
the 15th century. The House of Medici had many controlling interests in European
industries. The House also served as the bankers for the papacy. Though near the
end of the 15th century, the bank suddenly collapsed due to bad leadership and
loans. Eventually, the French expelled the Medici from Florence when they
finally collapsed financially.
16. Humanism – Humanism was an intellectual movement that took place during the
Renaissance. It was based on the study of classical literary works. They also
studied the liberal arts such as ethics, poetry, history, and other humanities.
Petrarch has been called one of the founders of the Italian humanism movement.
17. Petrarch – Petrarch was a writer who has been called one of the fathers of the
Italian humanism movement. He did the most to spread and develop the
humanism movement. He was the first to see the Middle Ages as a period of
intellectual darkness. He also helped revive the use of Latin. He searched for
forgotten Latin manuscripts to help better understand the language.
18. “Liberal studies” – Humanism caused a movement that resulted in a better
understanding of education. The core of this new education system was the
“liberal studies”. According to a treatise by Pietro Paolo Vergerio, the liberal
studies were the key to true freedom. Some of the liberal studies taught were
music, grammar, logic, and mathematics.
19. Gutenberg – Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz wrote the book Gutenberg’s Bible.
This book is considered to be the first true book made from a movable type press
in the West. This allowed movable type printing to start becoming more
widespread in Europe.
20. Lorenzo the Magnificent – Lorenzo the Magnificent was a high status citizen in
the city of Florence. His court mainly consisted of scholars and artists. One of the
members of his court was the Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci.
21. Leonardo da Vinci – Leonardo was one the biggest figures in the Renaissance.
He was what one would call a “Renaissance Man” though he was probably most
famous for his paintings. Leonardo’s paintings were examples of Renaissance
painting techniques. He included such techniques as perspective and strategies
like studying nature to better his paintings. He was also known for his excellent
job of putting three dimensional subjects onto a two dimensional canvas. He also
included deep psychological meanings in his paintings.
22. Raphael and Michelangelo – Raphael was a young artist who was most famous
for his Vatican Palace frescoes. He tended to follow the art principles of classical
Greece and Rome. Michelangelo was a talented sculptor, artist, and architect who
painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. He was commissioned by Pope
Julius II in 1508 to paint the ceiling of the chapel. He painted a nine scene story of
The Fall of Man from the book of Genesis. He was also famous for his statue
David which he carved for the Florentine government.
23. Northern Renaissance – The Northern Renaissance is said to have had different
artistic qualities in their paintings. Southern painters focused mainly on
perspective and proportion to obtain a perfect painting. Northern artists focused
on extreme and accurate detailing. They also included intense emotions into their
24. “New monarchies” – “New monarchies” was a term to describe the newly
strengthened governments in the second half of the 15th century. During the first
half, governments were weak and decentralized. In the second half, governments
came back together to form centralized, stronger governments, mostly
concentrated in Western Europe.
25. Spanish Inquisition – The Spanish Inquisition was a movement started by
Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille. It attempted to keep all Jewish
converts loyal to the church. Eventually, it ended up expelling all Jews and
Muslims from Spain. It is thought that as many as 200,000 Jews fled Spain.
26. Renaissance popes – The Renaissance papacy refers to any popes that held the
position after the Great Schism. Many thought the Renaissance popes were
violent in the ways they maintained church authority. The Renaissance popes
were also great patrons of the Renaissance. They helped make Rome one of the
largest Renaissance centers by rebuilding St. Peter’s Basilica.