Are you a student on European history or do you consider yourself well-versed on your definitions of important aspects of Western history? Why not quiz yourself? Can you provide a definition of the following terms from this period in history without reading the full answer?

History Definition #1 : Justinian Code

Definition of the Justinian Code – The Emperor Justinian was renowned for many things during the Byzantium period. He was responsible for rebuilding the capital, Constantinople and also attempted to recapture the old Roman Empire. The Justinian Code was one such attempt to show the power of the new Roman Empire. The Code combined all of the pre-existing laws into one central book. The laws included legislation on various topics such as religion and previously enforced laws. The Justinian Code was significant because it began a new era of Roman law, affected other Religious law, and made for a more just legal process, as all laws were now in a well-written and organized format.

History Definition #2 : Iconoclasm

Definition of Iconoclasm – Iconoclasm is the destruction of religious figures, statues and other symbols as a method of protest or as a symbol of religious discontent. Iconoclasm usually occurs within the confines of one religion, usually signifying the beginning of a sectarian break and alludes to a desire to return to purer forms of religion. Leo III started the Iconoclasm conflict when he ordered a statue of Jesus to be removed from a public space, and then declared that religious symbols of any sort were not to be displayed. This decree was in effect until the late seventh century, and the declaration began a religious tension that lasted for far longer than the ban itself.

History Definition #3 : Great Schism

Definition of the Great Schism – The Great Schism divided Latin and Greek Christianity into branches. These branches later formed the Roman Catholic Church and The Eastern Orthodox Church. The Schism was a direct result over the legitimacy of Papal authority. The church split over many things, and it’s still in debate over some of these issues hundreds of years later. Issues that were fought over included iconoclasm, the Nicene Creed, the jurisdiction of Eastern and Western churches, some liturgical practices, especially Eucharistic ones, as well as and the authority of the Pope. The Great Schism was important because it had lasting effects on the Catholic Church, which is still suffering from this situation in modern times.

History Definition #4 : Charlemagne

Definition / Importance of Charlemagne – Charlemagne was the Frankish emperor during the mid-eighth century through the early ninth century. He used his militaristic power to gain control of territory through northeastern Spain, Italy and Bavaria. He was crowned by Pope Leo III, which caused problems with other Byzantine emperors; Charlemagne was acknowledging the power of the Pope over the power of the Emperor. Charlemagne is often known as the first Christian Emperor. He attempted to spread Christianity through force in the pagan lands as his military conquered kingdoms, which led to Christianity spreading more quickly throughout his empire. The power of the papacy also helped to keep Roman traditions alive.

History Definition #5 : Manor System

Definition of the Manor System – The Manor system was the primary method of agricultural organization during the period of early medieval society. The manor employed serfs and peasants to take on the physical labor needed for the day-to-day running of the manor. Serfs were tied to their land, and hence they were employed by the same manor until the time of their contractual obligation was fulfilled. Free peasants also often turned over their lands and offered their labor to the lord of the manor for protection. Manors were very self-sufficient communities and it was successful because it offered the manors more land and employable workers, and also offered workers a place of safety in times when danger was easy to come by.

History Definition #6 : Gregory the Great

Definition / Importance of Gregory the Great – Gregory the Great was the first monastic pope, and is considered a Doctor of the Church. He had a huge influence on the early medieval church, and he eventually became an ambassador to the imperial court in Constantinople. He had a large controversy with Patriarch Eutychius. Gregory was proven correct by his peers, and returned home to a papal nomination. He assured the public that he had no designs on the throne of Peter and in fact, he exalted the simplicity of monastic life. While Gregory’s writings and religious teachings had a large impact on the Church, Gregory himself asserted that the Bishop of Rome had the most power in the Catholic Church, a teaching that has lasted until today.

History Definition #7 : Bubonic Plague

Definition of the Bubonic Plague – The Bubonic plague began in Chine in the fourteenth century and had an effect on virtually every aspect of everyday life, from climate to fertility and famine. Over 2/3 of the Chinese population was killed, dropping ten million in only one hundred years. The plague had horrifying symptoms, such as black boils and open sores, and it was highly contagious. The plague traveled west towards Western Europe, and over 25% of the European population was killed, as well as many from Islamic societies. The economic effect was terrifying; there were unprecedented scales of labor shortages and rebellions erupted throughout Europe.

History Definition #8 : Holy Roman Empire

Definition of the Holy Roman Empire – The Holy Roman Empire began in 962 with the crowning of Otto of Saxony by Pope John XII. Also in breaking with tradition, Pope GregoryVIIdemanded the imperial authorities stop appointing church officials and leave the process to the church itself. The Empire was a union of medieval states in Europe and was controlled by the Roman Catholic Church, which gave the Empire power and the ability to influence everything even outside of it’s realm, such as members of the Eastern Hemisphere, due to trade routes and other such means of transportation. Europe had lost its isolation and become a member of the rest of the known world, especially intent on conquering others.

History Definition #9 : Chivalry

Definition of Chivalry – Chivalry was also one of the biggest catalysts for social change in the medieval ages. Chivalry can be described as an ethical and behavioral code, especially targeted towards feudal nobles. The three main tenants of chivalry include knightly virtue, courtly love and honor. However, the clergy took chivalry to be sign of one’s devotion to God and piety. Troubadours were a large part of the chivalric code and they’re poetic ways charmed women quite easily. Chivalry also embodied Christian values, and so with the continuation of chivalry, the Christian doctrine grew ever stronger, and vice versa.

History Definition #10 : Crusades

Definition of The Crusades – Pope Urban II started the crusades in the late eleventh century in Western Europe. The Pope desired the seizure of the Holy Lands, but the crusades were nothing short of disastrous. In he first crusade, the French and Normans helped to play the expedition, and eventually the Crusaders captured Jerusalem. Another Crusade helped to capture Constantinople, however the Crusaders could never take Palestine The Crusades spawned thousands of Arthurian legends, however the reality behind the Crusades was not always so wonderful and included the slaughter of many non-Christians. The Crusades left a lasting influence in the countries that they visited, and they also carried with them the ideas of culture that were gleaned from their travels.

History Definition #11 : Marco Polo

Definition / Importance of Marco Polo – Marco Polo was a traveler from Venice who traveled to Mongolia and spent seventeen years in China at the court of Khubilai Khan. He wrote a best selling travel book on the subject, II Milione that inspired European merchants to travel to Mongolia and discover its treasure for themselves. Polo’s journey was also quite important because of its documentation. This journey was well outlined and may have possibly led to developmental impact in European cartography and future European exploration voyages. Marco Polo also gave Western Europe a legitimate relationship with Mongolia, and a future, tentative ally, and it also introduced the West to produce and various types of food that could only be found or cultivated in the East.


History Definition #12 : Little Ice Age

Definition of the Little Ice Age – The Little Ice Age began circa 1650 when the world reached its first climactic minimum. The Little Ice Age occurred mostly throughout Europe and North America. The Thames and Venetian canals froze over the winter and the Thames even held a frost fair. However, the impact on humanity was astronomic. Besides death caused by starvation, new food gathering and production methods were developed in order for the survival of the human race. The Little Ice Age even left its mark on art and literature from the time period and it is even said that the tone of Stradivari’s violins can be contributed to the Little Ice Age.

History Definition #13 : Hundred Years War

Definition of the Hundred Years War – Occurred between France and England and actually lasted nearly one hundred and twenty years. The war began in a tussle over control of certain French lands. Taxes were forced upon the people to help balance out the cost of the war, and the battle also cemented the power of the central government of the feudal nobility when they were made to fight or donate their serfs to fight for them. However, unfortunately for England, they did not keep a standing army and they had to start from scratch. The Hundred Years War was significantly important due to the militaristic advancements that occurred throughout as both France and England struggled to outdo one another.

So, how did you do? Did a few of these surprise you? Did you find that you had only a very basic idea of what these Western history definitions were but couldn’t quite remember the full significance?