Glossary of history

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This glossary of history is a list of topics relating to history.


A[edit]

  • Absolute Monarchy – A system of government headed by a monarch as the only source of power controlling all functions of the state
  • Abstract – A summary of a textual source
  • Access Rights – Information about who can access the resource or an indication of its security status
  • Accrual Method – The method by which items are added to a collection
  • Accrual Periodicity – The frequency with which items are added to a collection
  • Accrual Policy – The policy governing the addition of items to a collection
  • Anachronism – a chronological inconsistency, in particular the introduction of an object, linguistic term, technology, idea, or anything else into a period in time to which it does not belong
  • Annales School – a style of historiography linked to the French scholarly journal Annales d'histoire économique et sociale, and broadly associated with the social history of cultural practices
  • Annals – Historical accounts of facts and events ranged in chronological order, year by year
  • Anthropology – The study of humanity, culturally and physically, in all times and places. Forensic anthropology is the application of anthropological knowledge and techniques in a legal context, to detect crime and identify criminals. This involves detailed knowledge of osteology
  • Antiquarianism – Historical study focusing on the empirical evidence of the past, including manuscripts and archives, and archaeological and historic sites and artifacts. The term is now often used in a pejorative sense, to refer to an excessively narrow interest in historical trivia, to the exclusion of a sense of historical context or process.
  • Archaeology – The study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of physical remains
  • Architectural history – The study of buildings in their historical and stylistic contexts
  • Archive – An accumulation of historical documents and records, or the physical repository in which they are located
  • Art history – The study of objects of art in their historical and stylistic contexts
  • Artifact – A material object of a culture such as a tool, an article of clothing or a prepared food
  • Audience – A class of entity for whom the resource is intended or useful
  • Autobiography – An individual's account of his or her life
  • Auxiliary sciences of history – A set of specialist scholarly disciplines which help evaluate and use historical sources, and which may be used to support historical research
  • Avalonia – A separate plate in the Early Paleozoic consisting of much of Northern Europe, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and some coastal parts of New England

B[edit]

  • Baltica – A separate continental plate of the Early Paleozoic composed of the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, European Russia and Central Europe; named for the Baltic Sea
  • Barbarian – A Greek word adopted by the Romans to refer to any people who did not adopt the Roman way of life. It is said to have come originally from the sound bar-bar, which, according to the Greeks, was supposed to be the noise that people made when speaking foreign languages
  • Bering Land Bridge – The vast tundra plain that was exposed between Asia and North America during the Last Glacial Maximum, about 21,000 years ago; it served as a migration route for people, animals, and plants. Also known as Beringia
  • Bibliography – A list of works, including books, journals and essays, on a particular subject
  • Biography – An account of an individual's life, written by another person
  • Blitzkrieg – German for 'lightning war'. A military strategy used by the Germans at the beginning of World War II to achieve victory through a series of quick offensives, especially in Belgium, Holland and France. After an initial bombardment, armour and motorised infantry were mobilised rapidly to break the weakest parts of the enemy line
  • Bolsheviks – Having split from the Russian Socialist movement in 1903, the Bolsheviks ('Majority') developed into a small, tightly organised, revolutionary Marxist group led by Lenin, for whom violence was a legitimate instrument of power. In November 1917, they took control of a chaotic Russia, becoming the de facto rulers after the subsequent civil war. They then renamed themselves the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU)
  • Book review – A critical examination of a text, usually including a summary of the work and opposing views
  • Bourgeoisie – The capitalist class (see capitalism below) that came to be known as the middle class, between the aristocracy and the working class. A new middle class of merchants and businessmen prospered throughout Europe from the 16th century, and especially in Britain, which Napoleon described as a 'nation of shopkeepers'. The term 'bourgeois' is used derogatorily to describe anything considered humdrum, unimaginative and/or selfishly materialistic
  • Bronze Age – In Britain, this was the period – from about 2300 to 700 BC – when metal first began to be widely used, possibly as a result of the increase in contact with Europe. However, various types of stone, particularly flint, remained very important for long after metal became available. The Bronze Age saw the introduction of cremation of the dead and burials in round barrows. The later (and best known) phases of construction at Stonehenge also date from this period

C[edit]

  • Caesar – Contrary to popular opinion, the term 'Caesar' did not originally mean 'emperor', although in modern times, it has come to be defined as a synonym for autocrat. When the Roman leader Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, his nephew and successor Augustus had himself formally adopted by the dead man and so also adopted the family name Caesar. Tiberius and Caligula inherited it by adoption as well. Later Roman emperors acquired the name upon their succession or when they were formally adopted as heirs
  • Calendar – A descriptive list of archival documents, sometimes compiled in sufficient detail that it can be used as a substitute for the originals
  • Cathaysian Terranes – A set of small landmasses that developed in tropical to subtropical latitudes on the eastern side of Pangea during the Permian and Triassic, includes modern North China (Sino-Korea), South China (Yangtze), Eastern Qiangtang, Tarim, and Indochina.
  • Charter – A legal grant of authority or rights
  • Chorography – The geographical description of regions, often with reference to their history and antiquities
  • Chronicle – A historical account of facts and events ranged in chronological order
  • Chronology – The study of the sequence of past events
  • Cimmerian Terranes – An archipelago of small landmasses that developed in tropical and subtropical latitudes on the eastern side of Pangea during the Triassic, blocks that comprised it include modern Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Tibet, and Malaysia; also called Cimmeria
  • Citation – A reference to the published or unpublished source for a assertion or argument
  • Cliometrics – Quantitative economic history: the systematic application of economic theory, econometric techniques, and other formal or mathematical methods to the study of history
  • Codicology – The study of books as physical objects
  • Coherence theory of truth – A theory that regards statements as true if they are coherent within some specified set of sentences, propositions or beliefs
  • Congo Craton – A separate continental plate that rifted from the supercontinent Rodinia in the Late Precambrian; contained a large part of north-central Africa
  • Context – In archaeology, a discrete physical location, distinguishable from other contexts, which forms one of the units making up an overall archaeological site. The context in which an artifact is found provides important evidence for its interpretation.
  • Correspondence theory of truth – A theory that regards statements as true if they correspond to the world that we know by perception
  • Counterfactual history – A form of historiography that seeks to explore history by extrapolating a timeline in which key events happened otherwise than the way in which they did in fact occur
  • Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway – The epicontinental sea that formed as marine waters from the north spread over North America from around 130 to 70 million years ago (Ma), at its peak in the Middle Cretaceous (~ 90 Ma) it extended from present-day Utah to the Appalachians and from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico; also referred to as the Western Interior Seaway

D[edit]

  • Date – A point or period of time
  • Diplomatics – The textual analysis of historical documents
  • Discipline – The study, or practice, of a subject using a specific set of methods, terms and approaches. History is a discipline, as is Archaeology, Chemistry or Biology

E[edit]

  • Economic history – The study of economies or economic phenomena in the past
  • The Enlightenment – A cultural and intellectual movement of the late 17th to late 18th centuries that emphasized reason and individualism rather than tradition
  • Epigraphy – The study of ancient inscriptions
  • Euramerica – A supercontinent that existed in the Late Silurian through Devonian, formed by the collision of Baltica, Laurentia, and Avalonia; included modern North America, Greenland, Scandinavia, and Europe; also called the “Old Red Continent” for the red color of its oxidized deposits

F[edit]

  • Faleristics – The study of military orders, decorations and medals

G[edit]

  • Genealogy – The study of family relationships
  • Gondwana – A supercontinent that existed from Cambrian to Jurassic time, mainly composed of South America, Africa, Madagascar, India, Antarctica, and Australia

H[edit]

  • Hagiography – the biography of saints, or more broadly biography in which the author is uncritical or reverential towards the subject
  • Heraldry – The study of armorial devices
  • History – Although commonly used to refer to events which happened earlier in time, "history" in academic study is either the study of the past or the product of our attempts to understand the past, rather than the past itself
  • Historian – An individual who studies the past
  • Historicism – A mode of historical enquiry that insists that the past must be understood on its own terms
  • Historiography – Either the study of the methodology and development of history as a discipline; or a body of historical work on a particular topic
  • Humanism – an intellectual movement of the Renaissance, associated with the rediscovery of classical ideas

I[edit]

  • Iapetus Ocean – A relatively small ocean that existed between the continents of Laurentia, Baltica, and Avalonia from the Late Precambrian to the Devonian
  • Illuminated manuscript – a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration
  • Interdisciplinary – The study, or practice, of a subject which applies the methods and approaches of several disciplines. For instance, while History, Literature and Archaeology are separate disciplines, they can be combined

J[edit]

  • Journal – A scholarly periodical, often focusing on a particular historical theme

L[edit]

  • Lacuna – A gap in a manuscript, inscription or text
  • Laurasia – A supercontinent that existed from the Jurassic to Early Tertiary after splitting from Pangea; composed of Laurentia, Baltica, Avalonia, (modern North America, Scandinavia, Greenland, Western and Central Europe); eventually fragmented into Eurasia and North America in the Tertiary with the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean
  • Laurentia – A separate continental plate that existed from the Late Precambrian to Silurian, consisting of the major part of North America, northwest Ireland, Scotland, Greenland, and pieces of Norway and Russia
  • Local history – The study of the history of a small geographical area, of a local community, or of the local incidence of broader national or international trends

M[edit]

  • Manuscript – A document written by hand, as opposed to being printed or reproduced in some other way
  • Military history – The study of the history of armed conflict and its impact on society: it may range from the study of specific military actions and engagements to the much broader examination of warfare as a political tool

N[edit]

O[edit]

P[edit]

  • Paleography – The study of old handwriting
  • Paleo-Tethys Ocean – A large ocean that originated between eastern Gondwana, Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Baltica in the Ordovician and finally closed in the Jurassic; replaced by the Tethys Ocean as eastern Pangea was assembled
  • Pangea – A supercontinent that existed from the end of the Permian to the Jurassic, assembled from large continents like Euramerica, Gondwana, and Siberia, as well as smaller landmasses like the Cathaysian and Cimmerian terranes; Greek for “all lands.”
  • Pannotia – A supercontinent that existed in the Late Precambrian and gave rise to the continents of Gondwana, Laurentia, Siberia, and Baltica in the Cambrian
  • Panthalassic Ocean – A vast ocean that existed from the Late Precambrian to the Jurassic, circling the globe and connecting to smaller oceans that developed throughout the Phanerozoic; also known as the Panthalassa
  • Past – Events which happened previously in time
  • Philately – The study of postage stamps
  • Political history – The study of political events, ideas, movements, and leaders
  • Presentism – the application of present-day ideas and perspectives to depictions or interpretations of the past
  • Primary source – Material from, or directly related to, the past. The term usually refers to records and documents created during the period that is being studied, such as diaries, letters, legal documents, accounts, photographs, news reports, and artefacts
  • Prosopography – The investigation of a historical group of individuals through a collective study of their lives
  • Provenance – The chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object, document or group of records

R[edit]

  • Respect des fonds – An archival principle that collections of archival records should be ordered and preserved according to the administration, organization, individual, or entity by which they were created or from which they were received
  • Rodinia – A supercontinent that existed during the Late Precambrian before the supercontinent Pannotia; the oldest supercontinent for which we have a good record; Russian for "homeland"
  • Romanticism – A cultural and intellectual movement of the late 18th to mid-19th centuries that emphasized emotion and sentiment rather than reason
  • Reference Work – A text, usually in the form of a dictionary or encyclopedia which contains facts and information, but not normally discussions

S[edit]

  • Secondary source – Material created by somebody removed from the event being studied - who was either not at the event, or was working later. All historical textbooks are secondary sources
  • Seal – A device for making an impression, usually in wax, or the impression so formed, historically used to authenticate documents
  • Siberia – A separate continental plate that existed from the Latest Precambrian to the Carboniferous, composed of a large part of central Russia, namely Siberia
  • Sigillography – The study of seals
  • Social history – A branch of history that studies the experiences of ordinary people in the past
  • Statistics – The study of the collection, organization, and interpretation of (historical) data
  • Stratigraphy – In archaeology, a key concept in interpreting a site through establishing the relative chronology of its separate physical contexts

T[edit]

  • Teleology – A mode of historical interpretation that holds that events move towards a definite end state or goal
  • Tethys Ocean – A small ocean that existed from the Triassic to the Jurassic; as Pangea was split into Gondwana and Laurasia in the Jurassic, an arm developed westward called the Tethys Seaway or Tethys Sea
  • Toponymy – The study of place-names
  • Transhistoricity (adjective: transhistorical) – The quality of a concept or entity that persists throughout human history, and is not governed or defined by the frame of reference of a particular time and place
  • Typology – In archaeology, the classification of artifacts, buildings and field monuments according to their physical characteristics: an important tool for managing large quantities of archaeological data

U[edit]

W[edit]

  • Whig history – A mode of historical interpretation which presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment; or, more broadly, any teleological or goal-directed narrative that assumes the inevitability of progress

References[edit]

General information