The Renaissance and Early Modern European History - Middle School and High School

Become a Renaissance man — or woman — by studying this list of terms related to early modern history. Learn about the rise of humanism, developments in the arts and sciences, religion and the Reformation, the plague, and much more. You'll also review key figures in the Renaissance, including Elizabeth I, Galileo, Shakespeare, and Michelangelo.
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  1. absolutism
    a form of government in which the ruler is unconstrained
  2. Albrecht Durer
    a leading German painter and engraver of the Renaissance
  3. Amerigo Vespucci
    Florentine navigator who explored the coast of South America
  4. Anglican Church
    the national church of England
  5. Anne Boleyn
    the second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I
  6. annul
    declare invalid
  7. apothecary
    a health professional trained in the art of preparing drugs
  8. armada
    a large fleet
  9. astrolabe
    instrument used to calculate positions of celestial bodies
  10. baroque
    relating to an elaborately ornamented style of art and music
  11. basilica
    an early Christian church designed like a Roman basilica
  12. Black Death
    the epidemic form of bubonic plague experienced during the Middle Ages when it killed nearly half the people of western Europe
  13. blank verse
    unrhymed poetry, usually in iambic pentameter
  14. Boccaccio
    Italian poet (born in France) (1313-1375)
  15. Brueghel
    Flemish painter of landscapes (1525-1569)
  16. Calvinism
    the theological system of John Calvin and his followers emphasizing omnipotence of God and salvation by grace alone
  17. Cardinal Richelieu
    French prelate and statesman
  18. Catherine of Aragon
    first wife of Henry VIII
  19. Cervantes
    Spanish writer best remembered for `Don Quixote' which satirizes chivalry and influenced the development of the novel form (1547-1616)
  20. Charles I
    son of James I who was King of England and Scotland and Ireland; was deposed and executed by Oliver Cromwell (1600-1649)
  21. Charles II
    King of England and Scotland and Ireland during the Restoration (1630-1685)
  22. Christopher Columbus
    Italian navigator who discovered the New World in the service of Spain while looking for a route to China (1451-1506)
  23. Christopher Marlowe
    English poet and playwright who introduced blank verse as a form of dramatic expression; was stabbed to death in a tavern brawl (1564-1593)
  24. city-state
    an independent nation comprised of a single town
  25. classical
    characteristic of the ancient Greek and Roman cultures
  26. colony
    a geographical area controlled by a distant country
  27. comedy
    light and humorous drama with a happy ending
  28. commedia dell'arte
    Italian comedy of the 16th to 18th centuries improvised from standardized situations and stock characters
  29. commonwealth
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
  30. conquistador
    a 16th-century Spanish conqueror of Peru and Mexico
  31. Council of Trent
    a council of the Roman Catholic Church convened in Trento in three sessions between 1545 and 1563 to examine and condemn the teachings of Martin Luther and other Protestant reformers; redefined the Roman Catholic doctrine and abolished various ecclesiastical abuses and strengthened the papacy
  32. Counter Reformation
    the reaction of the Roman Catholic Church to the Reformation reaffirming the veneration of saints and the authority of the Pope (to which Protestants objected); many leaders were Jesuits
  33. counterreformation
    a reformation intended to counter the results of a prior reformation
  34. courtier
    an attendant for a monarch
  35. Desiderius Erasmus
    Dutch humanist and theologian who was the leading Renaissance scholar of northern Europe; although his criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church led to the Reformation, he opposed violence and condemned Martin Luther (1466-1536)
  36. divine right
    the doctrine that kings derive their right to rule directly from God and are not accountable to their subjects; rebellion is the worst of political crimes
  37. Donatello
    Florentine sculptor famous for his lifelike sculptures
  38. Don Quixote
    the hero of a romance by Cervantes
  39. drama
    a work intended for performance by actors on a stage
  40. East India Company
    an English company formed in 1600 to develop trade with the new British colonies in India and southeastern Asia; in the 18th century it assumed administrative control of Bengal and held it until the British army took over in 1858 after the Indian Mutiny
  41. Edward VI
    King of England and Ireland from 1547 to 1553
  42. El Greco
    Spanish painter (born in Greece) remembered for his religious works characterized by elongated human forms and dramatic use of color (1541-1614)
  43. Elizabethan
    of or relating to Elizabeth I of England or to the age in which she ruled as queen
  44. Elizabeth I
    Queen of England from 1558 to 1603
  45. English Civil War
    civil war in England between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists under Charles I; 1644-1648
  46. engraving
    a block or plate or other hard surface that has been engraved
  47. excommunication
    cutting a person off from a religious society
  48. exploration
    travel for the purpose of discovery
  49. Ferdinand Magellan
    Portuguese navigator in the service of Spain
  50. Ferdinand of Aragon
    the king of Castile and Aragon who ruled jointly with his wife Isabella; his marriage to Isabella I in 1469 marked the beginning of the modern state of Spain and their capture of Granada from the Moors in 1492 united Spain as one country; they instituted the Spanish Inquisition in 1478 and supported the expedition of Christopher Columbus in 1492 (1452-1516)
  51. Francis Bacon
    English statesman and philosopher
  52. Francisco Pizarro
    Spanish conquistador who conquered the Incas in what is now Peru and founded the city of Lima (1475-1541)
  53. Francois Rabelais
    author of satirical attacks on medieval scholasticism
  54. fresco
    a mural done with watercolors on wet plaster
  55. Galileo Galilei
    Italian astronomer and mathematician who was the first to use a telescope to study the stars; demonstrated that different weights descend at the same rate; perfected the refracting telescope that enabled him to make many discoveries (1564-1642)
  56. Glorious Revolution
    the revolution against James II
  57. habeas corpus
    a writ ordering a prisoner to be brought before a judge
  58. Hans Holbein
    German painter and engraver noted for his portraits
  59. Henry of Navarre
    king of France from 1589 to 1610
  60. Henry VIII
    son of Henry VII and King of England from 1509 to 1547
  61. Hernando Cortes
    Spanish conquistador who defeated the Aztecs and conquered Mexico (1485-1547)
  62. Huguenot
    a French Calvinist of the 16th or 17th centuries
  63. humanism
    Renaissance movement focused on classical studies
  64. humanist
    a classical scholar or student of the liberal arts
  65. humanities
    studies intended to provide general knowledge and skills
  66. Ignatius of Loyola
    Spaniard and Roman Catholic theologian and founder of the Society of Jesus; a leading opponent of the Reformation (1491-1556)
  67. indulgence
    remission by the pope of temporal punishment in purgatory
  68. Inigo Jones
    one of the first great English architects and a theater designer (1573-1652)
  69. Inquisition
    a former tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church (1232-1820) created to discover and suppress heresy
  70. interregnum
    the time between two reigns or governments
  71. Isabella I
    the queen of Castile whose marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469 marked the beginning of the modern state of Spain; they instituted the Spanish Inquisition in 1478 and sponsored the voyages of Christopher Columbus in 1492 (1451-1504)
  72. Jacobean
    of or relating to James I or his reign or times
  73. James I
    the first Stuart to be king of England and Ireland from 1603 to 1625 and king of Scotland from 1567 to 1625; he was the son of Mary Queen of Scots and he succeeded Elizabeth I; he alienated the British Parliament by claiming the divine right of kings (1566-1625)
  74. James II
    the last Stuart to be king of England and Ireland and Scotland; overthrown in 1688 (1633-1701)
  75. Jane Seymour
    Queen of England as the third wife of Henry VIII and mother of Edward VI (1509-1537)
  76. Jan van Eyck
    Flemish painter who was a founder of the Flemish school of painting and who pioneered modern techniques of oil painting (1390-1441)
  77. Jan Vermeer
    Dutch painter renowned for his use of light (1632-1675)
  78. Jesuit
    a member of the Jesuit order
  79. Johannes Gutenberg
    German printer who was the first in Europe to print using movable type and the first to use a press (1400-1468)
  80. Johannes Kepler
    German astronomer who first stated laws of planetary motion
  81. John Calvin
    Swiss theologian whose tenets defined Presbyterianism
  82. John Donne
    English clergyman and metaphysical poet celebrated as a preacher (1572-1631)
  83. John Knox
    Scottish theologian who founded Presbyterianism in Scotland and wrote a history of the Reformation in Scotland (1514-1572)
  84. John Milton
    English poet
  85. Leonardo da Vinci
    Italian painter and sculptor and engineer and scientist and architect; the most versatile genius of the Italian Renaissance (1452-1519)
  86. Louis XIV
    king of France from 1643 to 1715
  87. Lutheran
    of or pertaining to or characteristic of the branch of the Protestant Church adhering to the views of Luther
  88. Machiavelli
    a statesman of Florence who advocated a strong central government (1469-1527)
  89. madrigal
    an unaccompanied partsong for several voices
  90. manuscript
    handwritten book or document
  91. Martin Luther
    German theologian who led the Reformation
  92. Mary I
    daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon who was Queen of England from 1553 to 1558; she was the wife of Philip II of Spain and when she restored Roman Catholicism to England many Protestants were burned at the stake as heretics (1516-1558)
  93. Mary Queen of Scots
    queen of Scotland from 1542 to 1567
  94. Medici
    aristocratic Italian family of powerful merchants and bankers who ruled Florence in the 15th century
  95. mercantilism
    a system of increasing wealth through colonization and trade
  96. merchant
    a businessperson engaged in retail trade
  97. Michelangelo
    Florentine sculptor and painter and architect
  98. Michel Montaigne
    French writer regarded as the originator of the modern essay
  99. Moliere
    French author of sophisticated comedies (1622-1673)
  100. monarchy
    autocracy governed by a ruler who usually inherits authority
  101. Nicolaus Copernicus
    Polish astronomer who produced a workable model of the solar system with the sun in the center (1473-1543)
  102. Oliver Cromwell
    English general and statesman who led the parliamentary army in the English Civil War (1599-1658)
  103. Palace of Versailles
    a palace built in the 17th century for Louis XIV southwest of Paris near the city of Versailles
  104. pardon
    a warrant granting release from punishment for an offense
  105. Parliamentarian
    an elected member of the British Parliament: a member of the House of Commons
  106. patron
    someone who supports or champions something
  107. Peasant's Revolt
    a widespread rebellion in 1381 against poll taxes and other inequities that oppressed the poorer people of England; suppressed by Richard II
  108. perspective
    appearance as determined by distance from the viewer
  109. Petrarch
    an Italian poet famous for love lyrics (1304-1374)
  110. Philip II
    king of Spain and Portugal and husband of Mary I
  111. plague
    a serious infection of rodents transmitted to humans
  112. predestination
    the doctrine that God has foreordained every event
  113. presbyter
    an elder in the Presbyterian Church
  114. Presbyterian
    a follower of Calvinism as taught in the Presbyterian Church
  115. printing press
    a machine used for printing
  116. protectorate
    a state or territory partly controlled by a stronger state
  117. Protestantism
    the theological system of any of the churches of western Christendom that separated from the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation
  118. Puritan
    a member of a group of English Protestants who in the 16th and 17th centuries thought that the Protestant Reformation under Elizabeth was incomplete and advocated the simplification and regulation of forms of worship
  119. quattrocento
    the 15th century in Italian art and literature
  120. Raphael
    Italian painter whose many paintings exemplify the ideals of the High Renaissance (1483-1520)
  121. Reformation
    a religious movement of the 16th century that began as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church and resulted in the creation of Protestant churches
  122. Rembrandt
    influential Dutch artist (1606-1669)
  123. Renaissance
    period of European history at the close of the Middle Ages
  124. Rene Descartes
    French philosopher and mathematician
  125. Restoration
    the re-establishment of the British monarchy in 1660
  126. rhetoric
    study of the technique for using language effectively
  127. Roundhead
    a supporter of parliament and Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War
  128. Royalist
    a royalist supporter of Charles I during the English Civil War
  129. salvation
    the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil
  130. Sandro Botticelli
    Italian painter of mythological and religious paintings
  131. Savonarola
    Italian religious and political reformer
  132. scholar
    a learned person
  133. secular
    not concerned with or devoted to religion
  134. Shakespeare
    English poet and dramatist considered one of the greatest English writers (1564-1616)
  135. Sir Philip Sidney
    English poet (1554-1586)
  136. skepticism
    the disbelief in any claims of ultimate knowledge
  137. sonnet
    a verse form of 14 lines with a fixed rhyme scheme
  138. telescope
    a magnifier of images of distant objects
  139. theater
    a building where performances can be presented
  140. theocracy
    a political unit governed by a deity
  141. Thomas Hobbes
    English materialist and political philosopher who advocated absolute sovereignty as the only kind of government that could resolve problems caused by the selfishness of human beings (1588-1679)
  142. Thomas More
    English statesman who opposed Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and was imprisoned and beheaded; recalled for his concept of Utopia, the ideal state
  143. tragedy
    drama exciting terror or pity
  144. Tudor
    an English dynasty descended from Henry Tudor
  145. Utopia
    a book written by Sir Thomas More (1516) describing the perfect society on an imaginary island
  146. vanishing point
    the point beyond which something disappears or ceases to exist
  147. Vasco da Gamma
    Portuguese navigator who led an expedition around the Cape of Good Hope in 1497; he sighted and named Natal on Christmas Day before crossing the Indian Ocean (1469-1524)
  148. Velazquez
    Spanish painter (1599-1660)
  149. vernacular
    the everyday speech of the people
  150. Zwingli
    Swiss theologian whose sermons began the Reformation in Switzerland (1484-1531)
Created on February 9, 2017 (updated April 3, 2017)

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