• The Spice Islands—The Moluccas, an island chain in present-day Indonesia, were called the Spice Islands by the Europeans.
  • Prince Henry the Navigator—He sponsored exploration for Portugal and discovered and claimed the Madeira and Azores islands to the west and southwest of Portugal.
  • Vasco Da Gama—He was a Portuguese navigator who led four ships around the Cape of Good Hope and then he made it all the way to the spice port of Calicut on the west coast of India. His voyages confirmed Portugal’s status as a world power.
  • Ferdinand Magellan—a minor Portuguese nobleman who set out from Spain with five ships to find a way to reach the Pacific. He was the person who named the Pacific Ocean the Pacific, from the Latin word meaning peaceful.
  • Christopher Columbus—an Italian navigator from Genoa who wanted to reach the East Indies by sailing west across the Atlantic. Although he was convinced that he had reached the coast of East Asia, he had actually reached the New World.
  • Columbian Exchange—the global exchange of goods, ideas, plants, animals, and disease that began with Columbus’ exploration of the Americas
  • Treaty of Tordesillas—Portugal and Spain signed the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, which said that Spain had trading and exploration rights in any lands west of the Line of Demarcation (which divided the non-European world into two zones) and that Portugal had these same rights east of the line.


  • Conquistadors—a Spanish word for conquerors
  • Hernan Cortes—one of the earliest conquistadors who landed on the coast of Mexico with about 600 men, 16 horses, and a few cannons. He ended up beginning a trek to Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. He eventually compelled Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor, to sign over his land and treasure to the Spanish.
  • Francisco Pizarro—Spaniard who arrived in Peru in 1532. He captured Atahualpa after he refused to become a Spanish vassal or convert to Christianity, and he eventually killed him even though the Inca paid the ransom he asked for. He also slaughtered thousands of Inca. He led his followers to eventually overrunning the Incan heartland, but he was killed by a rival Spanish faction.
  • Genocide—deliberate attempt to destroy an entire religious or ethnic group
  • Encomienda—the right to demand labor or tribute from Native Americans in a particular area
  • Viceroy—representative who ruled one of Spain’s provinces in the Americas in the king’s name
  • Peninsulares— people born in Spain and they are at the top of the social classes.
  • Creoles—American-born descendants of Spanish settlers. They come right after Peninsulares and they owned most of the plantations, ranches, and mines.
  • Mestizos—people of Native American and European descent. They are part of the lower social group.
  • Mulattoes—people of African and European descent that formed the lowest social group.
  • Mercantilism—policy by which a nation sought to export more than it imported in order to build its supply of gold and silver
  • Tariff—tax on imported goods


  • Humanism—an intellectual movement at the heart of the Renaissance that focused on education and the classics
  • Northern Italy—the Renaissance began here because of trade, and because it was close to Rome and people could study Rome’s art and architecture.
  • Patron—financial supporter
  • Lorenzo De Medici—He was a clever politician and scholar, and he was also a patron of the arts and of humanistic learning. He supported Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo, as well as others.


  • Indulgences—a lessening of the time a soul would have to spend in purgatory, a place where souls atoned for their sins before going to heaven
  • Martin Luther—a German monk and professor of theology who wrote the 95 theses and led the Reformation
  • Henry VIII—His want of a divorce with Catherine of Aragon resulted in his break with the Catholic Church, which led to the start of the Reformation
  • John Calvin—A priest and lawyer who preached predestination, the idea that God had already determined who would gain salvation


  • Heliocentric—based on the belief that the sun is the center of the universe
  • Scientific Method—a careful, step-by-step process used to confirm findings and to prove or disprove a hypothesis
  • Gravity—a force that pulls objects in Earth’s sphere to the center of Earth
  • Calculus—a branch of mathematics, that was developed by Isaac Newton, in which calculations are made using special symbolic notations.


  • Triangular Trade—colonial trade routes among Europe and its colonies, the West Indies, and Africa in which goods were exchanged for slaves
  • Middle Passage—the leg of the triangular trade route on which slaves were transported from Africa to the Americas

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