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Renaissance
A period of European history, lasting from about 1300 to 1600, during which renewed interest in classical culture led to far-reaching changes in art, learning and views of the world.
Reformation
A 16th-century movement for religious reform, leading to the founding of Christian churches that rejected the pope’s authority.
William Shakespeare
English playwright. Many of his plays examine human flaws. His tragedies include Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caesar. A famous comedy is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He revered the classics, and drew upon them for inspiration and plots.
Leonardo da Vinci
Painter, sculptor, inventor, and scientist. Paintings include the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. He experimented with the inventions of man made flight, parachutes, and a crude form of the tank. He studied human muscle movements, and how veins are arranged in a leaf. He wrote all of his observations backward in “mirror writing.”
Mughal
One of the nomads who invaded the Indian subcontinent in the 16th century and established a powerful empire there.
Taj Mahal
A beautiful tomb in Agra, India, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Christopher Columbus
Italian who sailed for Spain. He tried to establish an all-water route from Europe to India by sailing west.
Ferdinand Magellan
Led a Spanish fleet in the first attempted circumnavigation of the globe. They sailed around Cape Horn at the tip of South America and across the Pacific Ocean. (1519-1521)
Treaty of Tordesillas
A 1494 agreement between Portugal and Spain, declaring that the newly discovered lands to the west of an imaginary line in the Atlantic Ocean would belong to Spain and the newly discovered lands east of the line would belong to Portugal.
Jamestown
The first successful English colony in North America
French and Indian War
A conflict between Britain and France for control of territory in North America, lasting from 1754-1763.
Middle Passage
Voyage that brought captured Africans to the West Indies, and later to North and South America, to be sold as slaves-so called because it was considered the middle leg of the triangular trade.
Divine Right
The idea that monarchs are God’s representatives on earth and are therefore answerable only to God.
King Louis XIV
The most powerful ruler in French history. He weakened the power of the nobles by excluding them from his councils, and increased the power of the intendants. He was devoted to helping France attain economic, political, and cultural brilliance. He was unsuccessful in attempts to conquer the Netherlands.
Peter the Great
He was 24 years old when he became the sole ruler of Russia. He journeyed to Europe to learn about European customs and industrial techniques. He brought the Russian Orthodox Church under state control, abolished the office of patriarch, and modernized his army with European tactics and European weapons. He built a new capital city at St. Petersburg on the Baltic to give Russia a “window to the sea.”
Enlightenment
An 18th century European movement in which thinkers attempted to apply the principles of reason and the scientific method to all aspects of society.
Articles of Confederation
The first written constitution of the United States. It preserved the independence of each state and was written by John Dickinson (1781).
Declaration of Independence
A statement of the reasons for the American colonies’ break from Britain, approved by the second Continental Congress in 1776.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Seized power in France in a coup d etat in 1799, and established himself as French Emperor in 1804. As French leader, he set up a fairer tax code, established a national bank, stabilized the currency, and gave state loans to businesses. He appointed officials by merit, fired corrupt officials, created lycees, and created a comprehensive system of laws. He recognized Catholicism as the “faith of Frenchmen”, signed a concordat with the Pope, but retained seized church lands. He led French armies in an attempt to expand the French Empire in Europe, until he was defeated at Waterloo in 1815.
War of 1812
A conflict between the United States and Great Britain over Indian agitation and freedom of the seas (1812-1815).
Louisiana Territory
Napoleon sold a major parcel of land to the United States in 1803 to raise money to finance his operations in Europe, and to insure Britain would have a rival for power.
Reign of Terror
The period from mid-1793 to mid-1794 when Maximilien Robespierre ruled France nearly as a dictator and thousands of political figures and ordinary citizens were executed.
Nationalism
The belief that people should be loyal to their nation – that is, to the people with whom they share a culture and history – rather than a king or empire.
Nation-state
An independent nation of people having a common culture and identity.
Capitalism
An economic system based on private ownership and on the investment of money in business ventures in order to make a profit.
Communism
An economic system in which all means of production – land, mines, factories, railroads, and businesses – are owned by the people, private property does not exist, and all goods and services are shared equally.
Laissez faire
The idea that government should not interfere with or regulate industries or businesses.
Manifest destiny
The idea, popular among mid-19th century Americans, that it was the right and the duty of the United States to rule North America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
U.S. Civil War
A conflict between Northern and Southern states of the United States over the issue of slavery, from 1861 to 1865.
Wilbur and Orville Wright
U.S. bicycle mechanics that completed the first successful man-made flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.
Louis Pasteur
French chemist who learned heat killed bacteria, leading to a process called pasteurization to kill germs in liquids such as milk.
Imperialism
A policy in which a strong nation seeks to dominate other countries politically, economically, or socially.
Racism
The belief that one race is superior to others.
Monroe Doctrine
U.S. policy of opposition to European interference in Latin America, announced by President James Monroe in 1823.
Spanish-American War
An 1898 conflict between the United States and Spain, in which the United States supported the Cuban’s fight for independence from Spain. In the peace treaty Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines became U.S. territories.
Panama Canal
A manmade waterway connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, built in Panama by the United States and opened in 1914.
The three main causes of World War I
A) Nationalism B) Imperialism C) Militarism.
New weapons of World War I
A) Poison gas B) Machine guns C) Tanks D) Airplanes E) Submarines.
Treaty of Versailles
The peace treaty signed by Germany and the Allied powers after World War I.
Joseph Stalin
Took control of the Communist Party in 1928, forcing Leon Trotsky into exile in 1929. He used police terror, propaganda, censorship, and religious persecution in a campaign of terror called the Great Purge to become the totalitarian leader of Russia.
Mao Zedong
China’s greatest revolutionary leader. He helped to organize the May Fourth Movement in 1919, and the Communist Party in China in 1921. He led the Communist Chinese against the Nationalist Chinese in civil war in China between 1930 and 1937.
Mohandas K. Gandhi
The leader of the freedom movement in India in their struggle for independence from Great Britain. He endorsed civil disobedience and nonviolence as a means to achieve independence. He called on Indians to refuse to buy British goods, attend government schools, pay British taxes, or vote in elections.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Elected U.S. president in 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944. He organized a reform movement called the New Deal to combat the Great Depression in the U.S. He led the U.S. in World War II from December 1941 until his death in April 1945.
Benito Mussolini
He founded the Fascist Party in 1919, and gained control of the Italian government in 1922. He abolished democracy and outlawed all political parties except the Fascists. Secret police jailed his opponents, and government censors forced radio stations and publications to broadcast or publish only Fascist doctrines. He outlawed strikes, and gained control of the economy. He allied Italy with Germany and Japan to form the Axis military alliance in 1936 whose aggressions would lead to World War II.
Adolph Hitler
He helped to form the Nationalist German Worker’s Party (Nazi’s), and became chancellor of Germany in 1933. He used his power to turn Germany into a totalitarian state, and banned other political parties and had opponents arrested. His protection squad (Schutzstaffel-SS) murdered hundreds of his enemies, and the Gestapo (Nazi secret police) shocked most Germans into total obedience. He banned strikes, dissolved labor unions, and gave the government authority over business and labor. He allied Germany with Italy and Japan to form the axis military alliance whose aggressions would lead to World War II.
Holocaust
A mass slaughter of Jews and other civilians, carried out by the Nazi government of Germany before and during World War II.
Winston Churchil
The Prime Minister of Great Britain (1940-1945, 1951-1955). He led Britain as a member of the Allies during World War II, and inspired the British to stand firm against Germany during the Battle of Britain.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Supreme Allied commander of the European theatre of World War II. He coordinated the plan for the Normandy invasion in 1944, and later secured the surrender of the German military in May 1945.
United Nations
An international peacekeeping organization founded in 1945 to provide security to the nations of the world.
Marshall Plan
A U. S. program of economic aid to European countries to help them rebuild after World War II.
Cold War
The state of diplomatic hostility between the United States and the Soviet Union in the decades following World War II.
NATO
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization – a defensive military alliance formed in 1949 by ten Western European nations, the United States, and Canada.
Cuban Missile Crisis
A confrontation in 1962 between the United States and the Soviet Union involving the placement of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, only 90 miles from the United States. The U.S. demanded removal of the missiles, and a naval blockade was set up to stop Soviet ships from bringing additional weapons to Cuba. Soviet ships turned back, and the Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles as long as the U.S. would not invade Cuba.
Fidel Castro
Overthrew the Batiste government in Cuba (1959), and turned Cuba into a Communist political and economic nation. As a dictator, he suspended elections, jailed his opponents, and placed government controls on the press.
John F. Kennedy
The 35th U.S. President (1961-1963). He was the first Catholic and the youngest man to be elected President. He supported the unsuccessful invasion of Cuba (1961), forced the Soviets to remove their missiles in Cuba (1962), and signed a nuclear Test-ban Treaty (1963). He was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963.
Ronald Reagan
The 40th U.S. President (1981-1989). His administration greatly increased military spending, cut taxes, and reduced spending for social programs.
Camp David Accords
1978 peace agreement organized by U.S. President Jimmy Carter to bring peace between Menachem Begin (Israel) and Anwar Sadat (Egypt).
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Egyptian president who seized the Suez Canal in 1956.
Apartheid
A South African policy of complete legal separation of the races, including the banning of all social contacts between blacks and whites.
Boris Yeltsin
He became the Russian Republic’s first elected President in 1991. He opposed Communist hardliners in their attempted overthrow of the Gorbachev government, and adopted a shift to free-market economics, lowering trade barriers, removing price controls, and ending subsidies to state-owned industries. Economic problems led to political crisis in Russia.
Nelson Mandela
Leader of the African National Congress who was jailed for his opposition to apartheid in South Africa. He was later elected President in 1994 when free elections were established, and was instrumental in a new democratic constitution being written in 1996.
Internet
A linkage of computer networks that allow people around the world to exchange information and communicate with each other.
Taliban
A Muslim movement (1997) in Afghanistan to politically gain control of that country after a long civil war.
Gulf War
A 1991 conflict in which U.N. forces defeated Iraqi forces that had invaded Kuwait and threatened to invade Saudi Arabia.
Terrorism
The use of force or threats to frighten people or governments to change their politics.

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