A glossary of terms related to the study of the seventeenth century.
Abbey: A self-sufficient religious community of monks or nuns or both, run by an abbot or abbess and sometimes subject to a higher secular authority through feudal obligation. Abbots and abbesses occupied posts that were socially, politically, and spiritually important and powerful. See also Monastery, Monk, Nun, Nunnery.
ՙAbd: Arabic for “slave,” often seen in proper names combined with other words referring to Allah (“slave of God”), one of Allah’s attributes (“servant of the Merciful”), or royalty (“servant of the king”).
Alaafin: A king of the Oyo in Nigeria, Africa.
Alchemy: A science and speculative philosophy first practiced during the Middle Ages and promoted in the seventeenth century by scientists such as Jakob Böhme. Alchemists attempted, among other things, to transform common substances, such as base metals, into less common ones, such as gold.
Allegory: A story, literary work, or play in which characters in the narrative personify abstract ideas or qualities and so give a second level of meaning to the work.
Amir: See Emir.
Apostate: One who renounces religious orders or other duties, considered a serious breach of faith.
Asantehene: A head of the Asante state in West Africa.
Auto-da-fé: The public pronouncement of a sentence by a religious court of the Inquisition, followed by the public execution, usually by burning, of that sentence by secular authorities. Auto-da-fé means not only “act of faith” but also “judicial sentence.” See also Heresy, Heretic, Inquisition.
Baconian method: A method proposed by Francis Bacon in which knowledge is gained by making inferences from observations of particular, concrete facts, and then by making generalizations and hypotheses based on those observations. Also, the Baconian method calls for testing hypotheses through more observations and experiments.
Baroque: A style of art, architecture, literature, and music that flourished in seventeenth and early eighteenth century Europe. Baroque is defined especially by its monumental, dynamic, exuberant, grandiose, and theatrical style; its complex and ornate forms; its illusionism; and its tension. See also Classicism, Genre painting, Gongorism, Gothic, Mannerism, Still life.
Bey: The governor of a province of the Ottoman Empire. Also called “beg.” See also Sultan, Vizier.
Beylerbey: The governor-general of a province of the Ottoman Empire. See also Bey, Sultan, Vizier.
Bishop: The highest-ranking priest within a diocese, responsible for its administration and the guidance of its clergy.
Boyar: A Russian noble—of the landed military aristocracy—ranking just below a ruling prince.
Boyle’s Law: The inverse relationship between a gas’s pressure and volume; a “law” developed by Irish chemist and physicist Robert Boyle, whose theoretical ideas were published as The Sceptical Chymist in 1661. See also Corpuscular philosophy.
Bull: A formal papal letter or document issuing an authoritative statement or policy. Named after the pope’s lead seal, or bulla.
Bunn: Coffee beans, which were crushed then eaten, especially before coffee beans were brewed and consumed starting around the early fifteenth century along the Arabian Peninsula. See also Kiraathane, Marqaḥa, Qahwa.
Burgher: In Germanic regions, a townsperson.
Bushido: The code of conduct of the Japanese warrior class, stressing martial prowess, honor and fearlessness in battle, and unwavering loyalty to one’s lord. See also Ronin, Samurai, Shogun.
Calculus: A central branch of mathematics first developed during ancient times in Greece and theorized by seventeenth century mathematicians such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, René Descartes, and Sir Isaac Newton. Calculus is concerned, in part, with determining volumes and areas of curved surfaces, with determining the lengths of curved lines, with problems of slopes and areas, and so forth.
Caliph: Islamic ruler claiming both spiritual and secular authority as the successor of the Prophet Muḥammad. See also Islam.
Calvinism: The theology based on the teachings of John Calvin in the sixteenth century, which places supreme faith in God and believes in human fallibility and predestination. See also Catholicism, Presbyterian, Protestantism.
Canon law: The system of governing the Roman Catholic Church, its bishops, clerics, and laypersons.
Cardinal: A high official in the Roman Catholic Church, second only to the pope in authority. Cardinals are appointed by the pope, and the college of cardinals is the body that elects a new pope.
Castle: A fortification with a variety of architectural features designed for safety and defense.
Cathedral or cathedral church: The central church in a diocese, the seat of a bishop’s cathedra, or throne.
Catholicism: From the Greek catholicos, meaning “universal,” Catholicism is a branch of Christianity organized in a strict hierarchy and subscribing to a complex body of religious dogma, including belief in transubstantiation, in papal infallibility, and in justification by faith in combination with good works. The two Catholic Churches are the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. See also Calvinism, Eastern Orthodox Church, Islam, Judaism, Presbyterian, Protestantism.
Chamber: The personal quarters or sleeping rooms of a noble or king, overseen by a chamberlain.
Chamberlain: The officer in a royal household responsible for overseeing the king’s chamber and private household.
Chancellor: The head of the Chancery, an officer in a royal household, often a bishop familiar with law, who served as the king’s secretary and was responsible for domestic and foreign affairs.
Charter: A document issued by a lord or king, addressed to the public, in which title to property was recorded or, in a charter of franchise, freedom from servitude of a serf or a town.
Chattel: An item, such as furniture and other personal effects, that could be moved with its owner. Excluded real estate and, for example, buildings part of real property. Also, chattel could be a person considered property, as slaves and, in some cultures, women and girls.
Chivalry: The culture and ethic of the noble knight, whose life was devoted to his lord, the defense of the weak, and the honor of his lady.
Christianity: The religion derived from the teachings of Jesus Christ and from the words of the Bible, which is considered sacred scripture. Christianity is practiced by Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox bodies. See also Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox Church, Islam, Judaism, Presbyterian, Protestantism.
Church: When used alone in the context of the seventeenth century, “Church” is generally capitalized in reference to the universal Catholic Church. The term is not capitalized when it refers to the building or complex that hosts services. See also Cathedral.
Classicism: A style of art based on the classical period of the Greeks and Romans. Classicism is marked by its simplicity, proportion and harmony, and restraint. The composition of a work of art or the design of a building is meant to be balanced and harmonious, and the representation of a given “object,” especially the human body, is meant to strike a balance between the conflicting demands of realism (the body should look like a “real” body) and idealism (the body should be represented in an ideal, or beautiful, form). See also Baroque, Mannerism, Naturalism, Realism.
Clerics or clergy: A general term for all members of the Church, including abbots, monks, priests, friars, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and others.
Colonialism: The control and subjugation by one power, such as a country or empire, over an area made up of those who become dependent upon that power. See also Chattel, Colony.
Colony: A territory taken, usually by force, and occupied by peoples of a different, usually distant nation (mostly countries of Western Europe).
Commerce: The exchange, buying, and selling of commodities, usually on a large scale and between multiple locations. The seventeenth century witnessed increased commerce because of an unprecedented rise in trade between countries and regions of the world, mostly by sea. See also Colonialism, Commodity, Consumption, Mercantilism.
Commodity: Any good that circulates as an article of exchange in a money economy. See also Commerce, Consumption, Mercantilism.
Commoner: One who is not a member of the clergy or of a noble or royal family. See also Peasant, Serf.
Commonwealth: The English state from King Charles I’s execution in 1649 to the beginning of the Restoration in 1660. The Commonwealth, planned as a representative democracy and a country without a monarch, was the first modern republic to be founded upon the trial and execution of a king. See also Protector, Protectorate, Restoration, Royalist, Tory, Whig.
Congregational: Of, or relating to, the Protestant churches that developed in seventeenth century England that affirmed the critical importance and autonomy of local congregations. Final authority in church matters rested with each congregation. “Congregationalism” is the practice of those who believe in Congregational administration and worship. See also Episcopacy, Presbyterian, Protestantism.
Consort: A spouse; when used in conjunction with a royal title, consort becomes the title of a royal spouse, such as queen consort, prince consort, and so forth.
Consumption: Satisfying wants and desires through purchasing and using goods and services. The use of these goods results in their transformation, deterioration, or destruction, which ensures that individuals will continue to purchase new goods, thereby maintaining an economy.
Convent: See Nunnery.
Corpuscular philosophy: An atomic theory of matter devised by Irish chemist and physicist Robert Boyle.
Cossack: The term “cossack” comes from the Turkic for “free warriors.” The Cossacks, frontier warriors in southern Russia, lived as free persons. Slaves and peasants fleeing serfdom often would join them. See also Hetman, Peasant, Serf.
Count: From the Latin comes (companion) and the Middle French comte, the French or Continental equivalent of an earl. The office became a noble title, ranked below duke.
Counter-Reformation: A movement within the Catholic Church in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, designed both to defeat the external threat of the Protestant Reformation and to institute reforms to respond to internal issues that gave rise to Protestantism. See also Protestantism, Reformation.
Court: The group of officials, councillors, and hangers-on assembled at the official residence of a monarch or other ruler. European courts contained a mixture of those who wielded real power, those who served the ruler or the ministers, an entourage of people who merely desired to be near power, and practitioners of the arts who enjoyed the patronage of their ruler.
Courtier: A member of a ruler’s entourage at court.
Covenanter: One who adhered to the Scottish National Covenant of 1638, which denounced and rebelled against English king Charles I’s institution in Scotland of the Scottish Prayer Book, similar to the Book of Common Prayer used by the Anglicans in England. Also, a signer of the covenant.
Creed: A formal statement of belief, often religious or theological.
Crown: A term meaning “regal” or “imperial power,” as in the French crown, or monarchy.
Czar: A Russian or other Slavic emperor. The word “czar” is derived from the Roman title “caesar” and suggests a ruler of equal stature to the emperors of imperial Rome.
Deacon: A member of the clergy ranking just below priest in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox Churches. In Roman Catholicism, the deacon is the middle rank of the three major orders, falling between priest and subdeacon in the hierarchy.
Deccan: Region of India between the Narmada and Krishna Rivers. After the fourteenth century, the Deccan was populated by Muslims and was largely conquered by the Mughal Empire in the seventeenth century.
Defenestration: To throw something or someone out of a window. In 1618, Protestant nobles, expressing their opposition to the Holy Roman Emperor’s attempt to re-Catholicize Bohemia, threw two imperial commissioners (who were Catholics) from a window of Prague Castle. The defenestration marked the start of revolts leading to the Thirty Years’ War between Protestants and Catholics in Europe. See also Catholicism, Protestantism.
Devshirme: A levy of Christian boys, enslaved for training and recruitment to serve in various parts of the administration of the Ottoman Empire. The recruits formed the Janissary corps and also served in the sultan’s household. See also Janissaries.
Diocese: The basic administrative and territorial unit of the Catholic Church. Each diocese is governed by a bishop. See also Bishop, Cathedral.
Divine right: The concept that God bestowed the right to rule upon kings.
Dogma: The body of beliefs and doctrines formally held and sanctioned by a church.
Dualism: In philosophy, at minimum, two definitions: One, the perspective of René Descartes in the seventeenth century that held that humans are made of two separable and distinct substances: body (physical and mechanical) and soul (sensing, thinking, emoting). Two, the belief that bodies and minds (compare with the Cartesian “soul”) are distinct, mainly because bodies are not simply material entities. Also, dualism is a world view that has typified several religions, holding that the world is divided and controlled by good and evil and by the material and the spiritual.
Duke, duchess: From Roman dux, a governor, especially of a military jurisdiction; later, a member of nobility who was lord over several counties (headed by “counts”), who could pass the title duke or duchess to offspring. See also Count.
Dynasty: A line of rulers who succeed one another based on their familial relationships. See also Colonialism, Colony, Empire.
Eastern Orthodox Church: A group of self-governing Catholic churches, such as the Russian Orthodox Church, that split from the Roman Catholic Church in 1054. While the patriarch, or leader, of each branch of Orthodoxy is ranked hierarchically in relation to the others, each branch is essentially self-governing, and the relationship among the various branches is that of a loose federation. See also Catholicism, Christianity, Old Believers.
Ecclesiastical: Of, or relating to, a church.
Edict: An order, command, or proclamation with legal authority.
Emir: A general title given to Islamic military commanders, rulers, and governors.
Empire: A large realm, ruled by an emperor or empress, which consists of previously distinct political units joined together under a ruler’s central authority. See also Colonialism, Colony, Dynasty.
Episcopacy: A system of church governance in which the bishops hold all authority. See also Congregational, Presbyterian, Protestantism.
Estates-General: The governing body, or national assembly, of the Netherlands. Also called “States-General.”
Fairy tale: A narrative form of folk literature and oral tradition, which tells the story of a hero or heroine and his or her fortunate and unfortunate adventures. Fairy tales are often fantastical and magical, and they usually end with the protagonist living “happily ever after.” French writer Charles Perrault’s seventeenth century fairy tale collection, Tales of Mother Goose, is considered by many the first work in the fairy tale genre.
Fatwa: A legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic legal scholar, or mufti. See also Mufti.
Flank: The side of a military formation.
Genre painting: Painting that represents scenes from everyday life, such as a domestic interior or a village or outdoor market. Dutch painters Jan Vermeer and Rembrandt, Flemish painter Frans Hals, and others of the seventeenth century perfected genre painting. See also Mannerism, Naturalism, Realism, Still life.
Gold Coast: Coastal area of West Africa, corresponding roughly with the coast of modern-day Ghana. See also Ivory Coast, Slave Coast, Transatlantic slave trade.
Gongorism: A highly stylized form of writing influenced by Spanish writer Luis de Góngora y Argote and marked as baroque, intricate, mythological, Latinized, ornamental, artful, affective, and ostentatious. See also Baroque, Classicism.
Gothic: A style of European architecture between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries, especially, characterized by ornateness, strong vertical lines, and pointed arches. The Gothic style greatly influenced seventeenth century Baroque style. See also Baroque, Classicism.
Governor: The proxy representative of an emperor or central government who rules over a colony or an imperial territory.
Grand duke: The ruler of a sovereign territory called a grand duchy.
Grand prince: The ruler of a Russian city-state.
Haiku: A Japanese verse form developed in the sixteenth century but perfected by Matsuo Bashō in the seventeenth century. Haiku expresses profound simplicity—a seeming contradiction—of thought, imagination, or feeling in three lines of seventeen syllables total.
Heresy: Making a statement or holding a belief that contradicts established church dogma. Heresy against the Roman Catholic Church constituted a serious crime subject to severe punishment and even death. See also Auto-da-fé, Heretic, Inquisition.
Heretic: Someone judged to have committed heresy. See also Auto-da-fé, Heresy, Inquisition.
Hetman: A Cossack leader. See also Cossack.
Homophony: Music characterized by melodies that are “in step,” having sounds or voices in rhythm, to form a harmonious compositional whole. See also Baroque, Madrigal, Polyphony.
House: A royal or noble family.
Huguenots: Originally, one who adhered to a Swiss political movement of the mid-sixteenth century. The term is most commonly associated with the French Protestants of the late sixteenth century and the seventeenth century.
Humanism: Born in fourteenth century Italy and embraced by subsequent centuries, a world view that centralizes humankind, human values, and human achievements. In contrast, supernatural or religious world views often consider humanity to be inferior or intrinsically depraved. Humanism led to individualism, secularism, rational critical thought, and the notion that humankind could triumph over nature. As Humanism blossomed, so did science, revealing physical laws that explained natural phenomena and seemed at odds with biblical and theological explanations of the universe. Humanism also was characterized by a return to classic Greek and Latin (pre-Christian) literature. See also Classicism, Humanistic, Renaissance.
Humanistic: Relating to a broad concern with the values or tenets associated with Humanism; “humanistic” applies to more general and less systematic beliefs and practices than does “Humanist.” See also Humanism, Renaissance.
Humors: In medicine prior to the seventeenth century, the humors were the four bodily fluids—blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile—any excess of which created a distortion or imbalance of personality; by extension, the term came to mean “mood” or “disposition.” Advances in medicine and medical knowledge in the seventeenth century led to the eventual demise of the term’s usage and authority.
Imam: An Islamic religious and political leader. Also, an Islamic ruler in East Africa. See also Sultan.
Indigenous: Someone or something native to a particular region. “Indigenous” has replaced the terms “Indian” or “American Indian” in many contexts that refer to the early peoples of North America and Central America.
Infidel: One who does not believe in a particular religion.
Inquisition: A Roman Catholic court of religious inquiry charged with discovering and punishing heresy. See also Auto-da-fé, Heresy, Heretic.
Islam: The religion founded by the Prophet Muḥammad, which, after his death in 632, began to spread throughout the world. The resulting clash of Islamic and, especially, Christian cultures—spurred by the movement of Muslims into traditionally Christian lands and of Christians into the Holy Land—contributed to military conflict, starting with the Crusades of the eleventh and twelfth centuries and continuing into the twenty-first century, most notably with the Iraq War. The spread of Islam, however, has also contributed to intellectual advancement and the blending of the arts. A person who practices Islam is a Muslim. See also Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, Protestantism.
Ivory Coast: Coastal area of West Africa, corresponding roughly with the coast of the modern-day Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. See also Gold Coast, Slave Coast, Transatlantic slave trade.
Janissaries: From the Turkish for “new corps,” an elite corps of non-Muslim children, usually Christians from the Balkans, recruited as slaves of the sultan. The Janissaries played a key role in the rise of the Ottoman Empire, with some holding high governmental positions. See also Devshirme.
Jesuits: Members of the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus, founded in the mid-sixteenth century, who devote their lives to educational and missionary work. See also Abbey, Catholicism, Mission, Missionary, Monastery, Monk.
Jihad: A holy “war” waged by Muslims against those who do not follow Islam, considered by many Muslims a duty imposed by holy law.
Judaism: The religion characterized by belief in one transcendent God who has revealed himself to Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrew prophets. Judaism is practiced in accordance with Scriptures and rabbinic traditions. See also Catholicism, Christianity, Eastern Orthodox Church, Islam, Protestantism.
Kabaka: A king of Buganda in Uganda, Africa.
Kabuki: A popular Japanese drama developed in the seventeenth century by Izumo no Okuni, which combines song, dance, and other varieties of performance. Elaborate, detailed, and ornately costumed and designed, Kabuki plays are based on not only legends and myths but also historical subjects.
Khamr: Wine, prohibited by the Qur՚ān. How it is defined varies among the schools of Islam. See also Qahwa.
Khan: Beginning in the tenth century and extending into the 1600’s, the title of a Turkish, Central Asian, or Mongol ruler who reigned over a group of tribes or territories.
King: A male monarch who ruled a large region and under whom ruled subordinate lords. A king’s title was usually hereditary and most often for life. See also Queen, Sultan.
Kiraathane: Literally, “reading room,” a neighborhood coffee or tea house, most common in Turkey. See also Bunn, Marqaḥa, Qahwa.
Latitude: The distance between a given point on Earth and the Earth’s equator, expressed in angular degrees.
Levellers: A group of Protestant radicals that rose to prominence during the English Civil War, demanding legal equality and religious toleration. Many Levellers later adopted Quakerism. See also Huguenots, Old Believers, Protestantism, Quakerism.
Longitude: The distance between a given point on Earth and a line (called the prime meridian) that extends from the North Pole to the South Pole, expressed in angular degrees.
Madrigal: A short lyric set to music and sung by more than one person. Themes include love, satire, and the pastoral. See also Baroque, Homophony, Polyphony.
Manikongo: A king of Kongo in Angola, Africa.
Mannerism: A style of art preceding that of the Baroque, in which painters expressed often highly emotional subjects through distorted and exaggerated forms and with vivid colors. See also Baroque, Classicism, Naturalism, Realism.
Marqaḥa: Literally, “coffee euphoria.” Beginning in the sixteenth century, the term was used by Arabic speakers but is probably of Ethiopian origin. The term is used to describe coffee’s mental and physical effects. See also Bunn, Khamr, Kiraathane, Qahwa.
Masque: An elaborate combination of poetic drama, song, dance, music, and sumptuous costuming presented as entertainment at court. English playwright Ben Jonson, along with English architect Inigo Jones, created the best forms of the genre in the seventeenth century, with Jones producing elaborate sets that would influence the work of William Shakespeare and many other playwrights.
Mercantilism: An economic theory first known as “Colbertisme” (after its early proponent Jean-Baptiste Colbert of France) that emerged during the seventeenth century. Mercantilism at the time advocated governmental leadership in guiding a nation’s economy toward prosperity. See also Colonialism, Commodity, Consumption.
Metaphysical poetry: A form of poetry marked by wit, originality, directness, shock, argument, and paradox, all in a style resembling, most often, actual speech. The Metaphysical poets, especially Englishman John Donne, used forms of knowledge from countless, seemingly antithetical, traditions to show parallels and similarities between things that seemed dissimilar.
Mission: A colonial ministry whose task is to convert indigenous peoples to Christianity. See also Catholicism, Christianity, Colonialism, Missionary.
Missionary: An agent of the Catholic Church commissioned to travel to a colony or other “distant” location to gain converts. See also Catholicism, Christianity, Colonialism, Mission.
Monastery: A place where monks or nuns lived a religious life, frequently including a chapter house for meetings as well as sleeping quarters and various other facilities depending on the work of the monastery. See also Abbey, Monk, Nun, Nunnery.
Monk: A man who has taken religious vows of self-privation, and who lives in seclusion or semiseclusion from the material world in a monastery or abbey. See also Jesuits, Monastery, Nun, Trappists.
Mufti: A specialist in Islamic law who is not a public official but a private scholar who functions as a consultant. See also Fatwa, Imam.
Muscovy: Moscow; former name for Russia, first used in the early sixteenth century.
Muslim: One who practices the religion of Islam. See also Islam.
Mwami: A king of Rwanda, Africa.
Mysticism: The practice of many religious faiths, including Christianity and Islam, which emphasize the nonrational, spiritual, and felt rather than intellectual aspects of religious truth as an emotional or transcendent experience. See also Sufism.
Naturalism: An artistic style emphasizing the realistic portrayal of an object as it appears in nature. “Realism” is often used as a synonym for naturalism. See also Baroque, Genre painting, Mannerism, Realism.
Noble: A member of the landed aristocracy.
Nun: A woman who has taken religious vows of self-privation, and who lives in seclusion or semiseclusion from the material world. See also Abbey, Monastery, Monk, Nunnery.
Nunnery: A home for nuns or other persons living in accordance with religious vows. See also Abbey, Monastery, Nun.
Oba: A ruler of Benin in West Africa.
Old Believers: Conservative members of the Russian Orthodox Church who were labeled dissidents for opposing church reforms. See also Eastern Orthodox Church, Heresy, Heretic, Huguenots, Inquisition, Levellers, Patriarch.
Ottomans: Turkish rulers of the Islamic world who ruled as sultans from roughly 1281 to 1922. Their conquest in 1453 of the seat of the Byzantine Empire and Eastern Christian Orthodoxy, Constantinople, marked their ascendant power. See also Ṣafavids, Sultan.
Palatinate: A county or principality ruled by a lord whose rights included those of a king, such as the right to coin money or appoint judges. Also, in Germany, the proper name of a principality. See also Palatine.
Palatine: The term “palatine” referred to the lord of a palatinate or a resident of the (German) Palatinate. See also Palatinate.
Papal States: A sovereign Italian city-state, which was based in Rome and ruled by the pope and served as the spiritual seat of his papacy. See also Catholicism, Pope.
Parliament: An assembly of representatives, usually a mix of nobles, clergy, and commoners, which functions as a legislative body serving under the sovereignty of a monarch.
Paşa: The highest title of rank or honor in the Ottoman Empire. The title evolved to include governors of foreign territories and to viziers of a domestic government.
Pasha: A man of high rank in northern Africa. See also Imam, Paşa.
Pashalik: A state formed in Mali, northwest Africa, by the Arma, a military caste descended from Moroccan soldiers.
Patriarch: The head of one of the self-governing branches of the Eastern Orthodox Church. See also Eastern Orthodox Church.
Patron: One who financially or materially supports an artist, composer, poet, or other creative individual.
Peasant: The lowest rank of commoner, who works the land in order to subsist. See also Commoner, Serf.
Persia: A term used by Westerners until the early twentieth century to describe the region always known as Iran to Iranians.
Plague: A contagious disease caused by a bacterium, which becomes epidemic and causes a high rate of mortality. Called the Black Death during the Middle Ages, it took more than seventy thousand lives in London in the mid-seventeenth century. See also Humors.
Polyphony: Music characterized by the juxtaposition of independent melodies—many sounds or many voices—to form a harmonious compositional whole. See also Baroque, Homophony, Madrigal.
Pope: The spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church and temporal ruler of the Papal States. See also Catholicism, Christianity.
Presbyterian: A Protestant Christian church that is mostly Calvinistic in doctrine. “Presbyterianism” is a system of church governance favored as more democratic than Episcopalianism because it is characterized by a graded system of representative ecclesiastical bodies. See also Calvinism, Catholicism, Christianity, Congregational, Ecclesiastical, Episcopacy, Presbytery, Protestantism.
Presbytery: The ruling body in Presbyterian churches. Also, the part of a church reserved for clergy who officiate. See also Presbyterian.
Pretender: Someone who falsely claims to be a rightful ruler. Since the “right” of a ruler was often asserted and defended by force, a pretender who succeeded in overthrowing a sitting monarch was no longer a pretender.
Privateer: A pirate or pirate ship commissioned or licensed by a government to raid the ships of other nations. Privateers also participated in the slave trade of the seventeenth century.
Protector: Title sometimes given to a regent, signifying that he is both the protector of a young monarch and the protector of the realm during a monarch’s youth. A “Protector” or “Lord Protector” also was the title of the executive head of the Commonwealth of England in the mid-seventeenth century. See also Commonwealth, Protectorate, Regent.
Protectorate: In the mid-seventeenth century, the English government—the Commonwealth of England—under the Cromwells. See also Commonwealth, Protector.
Protestantism: A branch of Christianity, incorporating many different churches, which “protests” and rejects Catholic tradition, especially its doctrine of papal infallibility, and believes instead in a religion of all believers who read the Bible for themselves rather than having it interpreted to them by clergy. See also Calvinism, Catholicism, Christianity, Ecclesiastical, Episcopacy, Presbyterian, Quakerism.
Puritan: In sixteenth and seventeenth century Protestant England and New England, one who opposed the ceremonial worship and prelacy of the Church of England. “Puritanism” is the belief and practice of Puritans. See also Calvinism, Catholicism, Christianity, Presbyterian, Protestantism, Quakerism.
Qahwa: Coffee; a term believed to be of Iranian origin. Also spelled qahva. See also Bunn, Khamr, Kiraathane, Marqaḥa.
Quakerism: A Protestant group that began in seventeenth century England, which rejected ritualized forms of worship. Traditional Quaker worship services are not led by ordained ministers and do not involve the recitation of a religious creed. Women play a major role in Quakerism, since Quakers believe that men and women are equally suited to preach the word of God. Quaker religious beliefs are egalitarian and humanitarian. See also Levellers, Protestantism, Puritan.
Queen: A female monarch who ruled a large region. A queen’s title, unlike that of the king’s—which was usually hereditary—was often gained upon marriage to a king. Some wives of kings were called “consorts,” or “queen consorts,” instead of “queens.” Also, queens would become “regents” if they lived after the death of their husband-kings and were pronounced virtual rulers during the minority of monarchs to be. See also Consort, King, Queen-Mother, Regent.
Queen-Mother: A former queen who is the mother of a current ruler. See also Queen, Regent.
Quietism: In religion, quietism refers to a mysticism that teaches, among other things, suppression of the will to obtain spiritual peace and perfection. Politically, quietism is the withdrawn or passive attitude or policy toward world affairs.
Realism: In art, the attempt to depict objects, human figures, or scenes as they appear in real life; that is, without distortion or stylization. “Naturalism” is often used as a synonym for realism. See also Genre painting, Mannerism, Naturalism.
Rector: A religious leader. In some Protestant churches, the leader of a parish; in the Roman Catholic Church, the head of a church that has no pastor or a cleric who shares duties with a pastor. See also Catholicism.
Recusant: An English Roman Catholic, especially of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, who refused to obey the teachings of and participate in the services of the Church of England, thereby committing a statutory offense. See also Catholicism, Protestantism, Remonstrant.
Reformation: The Protestant movements that swept through Europe during the Renaissance and into the seventeenth century, ending Catholicism’s claim as the sole form of Christianity. See also Catholicism, Christianity, Protestantism.
Regent: One who temporarily governs in place of a monarch or other ruler who is too young or infirm to govern for him- or herself. Oftentimes, a regent is the monarch’s mother. See also Queen, Queen-Mother.
Remonstrant: One who vigorously opposes some form of incorporated change. During the seventeenth century, remonstrants could be those who refused to accept a monarch’s call for his or her subjects to practice one particular religion over another. See also Recusant.
Renaissance: A general term for the resurgence of cultural production in a given area. Renaissance also refers to the specific flourishing of art and culture during the transition from medieval to modern political, economic, and social structures in Western Europe in the two centuries immediately preceding the seventeenth century. See also Humanism, Humanistic.
Republic: A political unit not ruled by a monarch, especially one governed by a group of representatives chosen by and responsible to its citizens. See also Parliament.
Restoration: The restoration of the Stuart monarchy in England in 1659-1660, a time in which King Charles II gained power and the Royalist tradition was revived. The Restoration also marked the end of the failed experiment of the Commonwealth, which began in 1648. See also Commonwealth, Protector, Protectorate, Royalist.
Ronin: A masterless samurai. Because serving one’s master well was the central value of the samurai code of bushido, ronin were usually considered dishonorable, either because they had failed their lord or because they had willfully rejected the code. See also Bushido, Samurai, Shogun.
Royalist: One who favors monarchical government and the power of a ruler. See also Commonwealth, Restoration, Tory, Whig.
Rump Parliament: A parliament that conducts the business of government after the expulsion or departure of a large number of its original members. See also Parliament.
Ṣafavids: An Islamic empire in Iran (Persia), founded in 1501 and ended in 1722. The Ṣafavid Empire was, along with the Ottoman Empire, one of the most powerful of the seventeenth century. Shīՙite Islam, developed by the early Ṣafavids, continues to be the dominant religion of Iran into the twenty-first century.
Salon: An informal social gathering of artists, writers, and other intellectuals who met at a private home. Salons were popular in the seventeenth century, namely in France. Famous salons of Paris included those of the marquise de Rambouillet and madame de Scudéry. See also Humanism, Humanistic.
Samurai: A member of the Japanese warrior caste, especially a warrior who serves a daimyo and who subscribes to a strict code of conduct called bushido. See also Bushido, Ronin, Shogun.
Satire: A literary style that uses wit, sarcasm, humor, and such to point out human vices, follies, and immoralities. Notable satirists of the seventeenth century include Ben Jonson, John Dryden, John Donne, Molière, and Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux. See also Humanism, Humanistic, Salon.
Schism: A split or division within a formerly unified entity, especially a formal split within a church or other religious institution. One major schism in the seventeenth century was that between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Old Believers. See also Eastern Orthodox Church, Old Believers.
Secular: Nonreligious, either in content or in context. Thus, secular can be a simple antonym of “religious,” but it can also refer to members of the clergy who live and act in the public sphere rather than spending their lives in religious seclusion in a monastery or abbey.
Serf: A peasant bound to the land through contract. Serfs were given a parcel of land on which to live and work, but any surplus they produced was owed to their landlord as rent, tax, or tribute. In Russia, serfdom was codified into law in 1649. See also Commoner, Peasant.
Shabbetism: A messianic movement led by Jewish mystic Shabbetai Tzevi, who emphasized inner union with the divine, a symbolic approach to Jewish law, and women’s equality. See also Judaism.
Sharia: Islamic holy law. See also Islam.
Sharif: A Muslim who claims descent from the Prophet Muḥammad. See also Islam.
Shia: The Muslims of the Shīՙite branch of Islam. See also Imam, Shīՙite, Sunni.
Shīՙite: The branch of Islam that believes that Ali and the imams are the only rightful successors of Muḥammad and that the last imam will someday return. See also Imam, Shia, Sunni.
Shogun: A Japanese military ruler. See also Bushido, Ronin, Samurai.
Siege: A military operation in which a city or other territory is cut off from the outside world in order to compel its surrender when food and other supplies are exhausted.
Slave Coast: Coastal region of West Africa along the Bight of Benin and along the coasts of modern-day Nigeria, Benin, and Togo. The area was a major center for the slave trade among African rulers and European nations, from about 1500 to the late eighteenth century. The seventeenth century saw an increase in the trade of slaves, thus the region’s moniker. See also Gold Coast, Ivory Coast, Transatlantic slave trade.
Spice Islands: The group of islands that make up the easternmost part of Indonesia. The Spice Islands are so named because the area was the center of the European spice trade. See also Mercantilism.
Stadtholder: A provincial governor of the Netherlands. The stadtholders were initially viceroys of Burgundy and of the Habsburgs, but after the Dutch Revolt that ended in the early seventeenth century, the offices became elective. See also Estates-General, State.
State: An autonomous, self-governing, sovereign political unit. See also Estates-General, Parliament.
Still life: An arrangement of inanimate objects, such as fruit in a bowl or a vase with flowers, depicted in a setting not “natural” but indoors. Objects are isolated on a table, for example, and not part of a larger composition, as they were in earlier forms of the painting of objects. Still life painting began with the Dutch and Flemish artists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. See also Baroque, Genre painting, Naturalism, Realism.
Succession: The passing of sovereign authority from one person or group to another person or group, or the rules governing that process.
Sufism: Islamic mysticism. A Sufi is one who practices Sufism. See also Islam, Mysticism.
Sultan: Beginning in the eleventh century, any political and military ruler of an Islamic state or emirate (as opposed to the caliph, the religious authority of the Islamic state). Applied mostly to Ottoman rulers. See also Caliph.
Sunni: Muslims who adhere to the orthodox tradition of Islam, which acknowledges the first four caliphs, the religious authorities of Islam, as rightful successors of the Prophet Muḥammad. See also Imam, Shia, Shīՙite.
Tory: In England, the Royalist party that was opposed to the Whigs. See also Commonwealth, Royalist, Whig.
Tragicomedy: A drama that combines elements of tragedy and of comedy, brings together characters from tragedies (usually the upper classes) and those from comedies (the middle and lower classes), and presents a plot with a seemingly tragic end but ends with a reversal of fortune for the protagonist, leading to a happy ending. John Fletcher, Francis Beaumont, William Shakespeare, Pierre Corneille, and Molière wrote tragicomedy in the seventeenth century.
Transatlantic slave trade: The trade in slaves, mostly from Africa, that crossed the Atlantic Ocean from and between East Africa, Europe, North America, and South America. See also Slave Coast.
Trappists: Members of a branch of the Catholic Church seeking monastic reform. The Trappist Order was founded in 1664 at the monastery of La Trappe, France. See also Jesuits, Monastery, Monks.
Treaty: An agreement or arrangement between, especially, two nations and made by negotiation.
Tsar: See Czar.
Vernacular: That which characterizes a people, period, or place. Often applied to things—and people—considered common and ordinary. Also used to define “common language,” as opposed to learned or foreign language, and local architecture.
Vizier: Title given to high officials of Islamic nations. In the Ottoman Empire beginning around 1453, the viziers were specifically ministers to the sultan. The chief minister was known as the grand vizier, and members of the council that assisted and filled in for the grand vizier were called dome viziers. Use of the title was later expanded to include other important domestic officials, as well as provincial governors. See also Bey, Beylerbey, Islam, Sultan.
Whig: In seventeenth century England, a political party opposed to absolute royal authority and favoring increased parliamentary power. See also Commonwealth, Parliament, Royalist, Tory.