World History

Glossary and Terms of Middle Ages

An apprentice
A young man who apprenticed under a guild master to learn a skill.

Baron –
The baron oversaw a territory known as a fief as a subordinate monarch to the king under the feudal system. For the land, he would swear allegiance to the king.

Bishop –
The bishop, a leader in the church, was frequently the most important church figure in a kingdom.

Byzantine Empire –
One of the most powerful European empires during the Middle Ages was the eastern portion of the Roman Empire. Istanbul’s capital was Constantinople.

The Black Death
A terrible illness that ravaged much of Europe in the Middle Ages. According to estimates, it killed at least one-third of all Europeans.

Castle
A residence for a lord or monarch that served as a defensive stronghold. If they were attacked, the locals would run to the castle.

Charlemagne –
During his reign, Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor and king of the Franks, brought most of western Europe together.

Chivalry –
The principles that knights vowed to uphold. It required honour, bravery, and guarding the helpless.

Coat of arms –
A design that knights wear on their armour, banner, and shield. It made it easier to tell one knight from another.

The Crusades
Wars of religion between Christians and Muslims over possession of the Holy Land, particularly Jerusalem.

The feudal system
A form of administration where the king gave his lords and barons land grants. The lords and barons would then swear allegiance to the king and make a commitment to uphold his reign.

Fief –
A piece of land that a king grants a lord or baron authority over.

Franks –
Tribes of Germanic people who migrated to what is now France.

Guild –
An organisation of artisans dedicated to a particular skill or craft, like producing shoes or weaving fabric.

Journeyman –
A journeyman was a position in a guild above the apprentice and received pay while working under a master artisan.

Keep –
A huge tower inside a castle that served as the final line of defence.

The Kievan Rus
A Viking-founded empire that was based in Kiev. It served as the prototype for Russia.

King –
The head of a monarchy.

Knight
A warrior who wore thick metal armour and rode a horse. Knights were to defend the king when necessary in exchange for land rewards.

The Magna Carta
A paper that King John of England was made to sign by his barons. It said that the people had a right to a fair trial and that the king was not above the law.

Manor –
The manor, which was the local lord’s home or castle, served as the hub of life during the Middle Ages.

Moat –
A water-filled trench enclosing a castle.

Monastery –
A place of worship or a collection of structures where monks lived. To allow monks to concentrate on their devotion of God, monasteries were segregated from the outside world. also known as an Abby.

Master –
A master, the highest rank in a guild, might own a business and employ journeymen and apprentices.

Page –
A young child who serves a knight while undergoing training to become a knight in the future.

Reconquista –
The conflicts in which the Christian nations reclaimed sovereignty of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslim Moors (Spain and Portugal).

Serf –
A commoner who performed landwork for the local lord. The serf was not much better than a slave and had limited privileges.

A squire
The squire, a future knight, would look after the knight’s armour and weaponry. He would go into combat with the knight.

Vassal
A person who swears loyalty to a lord.

Vikings –
Scandinavian immigrants to Northern Europe. Throughout the Viking Age (800 to 1066), many nations in Northern Europe were the target of Viking raids.