Glossary and Terms
Middle Ages for Kids
Apprentice - A boy who worked for a guild master in order to learn a trade or craft.
Baron - A ruler below the king in the feudal system, the baron ruled an area of land called a fief. He would pledge his loyalty to the king in return for the land.
Bishop - A leader in the church, the bishop was often the top church leader in a kingdom.
Byzantine Empire - The eastern half of the Roman Empire that was one of the strongest European empires during the Middle Ages. The capital city was Constantinople.
Black Death - A deadly disease that spread through much of Europe during the Middle Ages. It is estimated that it killed at least one third of all the people in Europe.
Castle - A defensive fortification where a lord or king would live. The local people would flee to the castle if they were attacked.
Charlemagne - King of the Franks and the first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne united much of western Europe during his reign.
Chivalry - The code by which knights pledged to live. It involved honor, being courageous, and protecting the weak.
Coat of arms - A symbol used by knights on their shield, banner, and armor. It helped to distinguish one knight from another.
Crusades - Religious wars between the Christians and Muslims for control of the Holy Land, especially Jerusalem.
Feudal System - A system of government where the king allotted land to his lords and barons. The lords and barons would then pledge their loyalty to the king and promise to protect his rule.
Fief - An area of land given to a lord or baron by a king to rule.
Franks - Germanic tribes who settled in the land that is today France.
Guild - An association of craftsmen that focused on a specific trade or craft such as making shoes or weaving cloth.
Journeyman - A position in a guild above the apprentice, a journeyman worked for a master craftsman and earned a wage.
Keep - A large tower within a castle that was considered the last line of defense.
Kievan Rus - An empire founded by Vikings in the city of Kiev. It was the forerunner of Russia.
King - The top ruler in a monarchy.
Knight - A warrior who rode a horse and wore heavy metal armor. Knights were rewarded with land and were required to protect the king when needed.
Magna Carta - A document forced upon King John of England by his barons. It said that the king was not above the law and that the people had the right to a fair trial.
Manor - The center of life during the Middle Ages, the manor was the local lord's house or castle.
Moat - A ditch around a castle filled with water.
Monastery - A religious area or group of buildings where monks lived. Monasteries were isolated from the rest of the world so the monks could focus on worshiping God. Also called an Abby.
Master - The highest position in a guild, a master could own a shop and hire journeymen and apprentices.
Page - A young boy that acts as a servant for a knight while training to become a knight someday.
Reconquista - The wars where the Christian nations took back control of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) from the Muslim Moors.
Serf - A peasant who worked the land for the local lord. The serf had few rights and was little better than a slave.
Squire - A knight in training, the squire would take care of the knight's armor and weapons. He would also accompany the knight into battle.
Vassal - Someone who pledges their allegiance to a lord.
Vikings - People who came from Scandinavia in Northern Europe. The Vikings raided many countries in Northern Europe during the Viking Age (800 to 1066).
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