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The History Channel - Encyclopedia
Category: History and Culture > History
Date & country: 02/12/2007, UK
Words: 28028


Abipone
Member of a group of South American Indians of Paraguay, who came under Jesuit influence and were later defeated by the Spaniards. They once numbered around 5,000 but are now probably extinct. ...

Abish, Walter
(1931) US writer of Austrian-Jewish origin. His novels, short stories, and poetry experiment with language and sound. He uses an unexpressive, formalist style to...

abjuration of the realm
In medieval England, an alternative to outlawry for convicted criminals or those unwilling to stand trial. The abjuror, in sanctuary, would confess his or her crime to the local coroner who would...

abjuration, oath of
In England and Wales, oath formerly taken by holders of public office and originally imposed in the reign of William III, requiring the taker of the oath (juror) to abjure the claims of the Stuart...

Abkhazia (or Abkhaziya)
Autonomous republic in northwestern Georgia; area 8,600 sq km/3,320 sq mi; population (1993 est) 516,600. The region is located between the main range of the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea,...

ablution
Washing for a religious purpose. For example, Hindus wash before praying, preferably in running water, and washing in certain rivers, especially the Ganges, is believed...

ABM
Abbreviation for anti-ballistic missile; see nuclear warfare. ...

Abner
(lived c. 11th century BC) In the Old Testament, the cousin of Saul and captain of his army. After Saul's death Abner proclaimed Ishbosheth king. To reconcile the rival claims of Ishbosheth and David he visited the latter at...

Abolition of monarchy in England
Following the English Civil War (1642-49), the Rump Parliament set about the process of abolishing the monarchy. On 30 January 1649 the Rump Parliament passed an act prohibiting any person from...

abolitionism
A movement culminating in the late 18th and early 19th centuries that aimed first to end the slave trade, and then to abolish the institution of slavery and emancipate slaves. The movement took...

abominable snowman
Legendary creature, said to resemble a human, with long arms and a thickset body covered with reddish-grey hair. Reports of its existence in the Himalayas have been made since 1832, and they...

Aboriginal art
Art of the Australian Aborigines. Traditionally almost entirely religious and ceremonial, it was directed towards portraying stories of the Dreamtime, a creation mythology reflecting the Aboriginal...

aborigine
Any indigenous inhabitant of a region or country. The word often refers to the original peoples of areas colonized by Europeans, and especially to Australian Aborigines. ...

Aborigine, Australian
See Australian Aborigine. ...

Aboukir Bay, Battle of
Naval battle during the Napoleonic Wars between Great Britain and France, in which Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated Napoleon Bonaparte's fleet at the Egyptian seaport of Aboukir on 1 August 1798. The...

Aboukir, HMS
British armoured cruiser, sunk during World War I by the German submarine U-9 along with its sister ships HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy in September 1914. It is the only known occasion of three...

Abourezk, James (George)
(1931) US representative/senator. A Lebanese-American, Abourez was a spokesperson for the Arab cause and the chairman of the Senate's Select Committee on Indian Affairs. He founded the American-Arab...

About, Edmond François Valentin
(1828-1885) French writer. His novels include Le Roi des montagnes/The King of the Mountains (1856), Le Nez d'un notaire/The Lawyer's Nose (1862), L'Homme à l'oreille cassée/The Man with the Broken Ear...

abracadabra
Magic word first recorded in a Latin poem of the 2nd century AD by the Gnostic poet Serenus Sammonicus. When the letters were written in the form of an inverted pyramid, so that the word could be...

Abraham
(lived c. 2300 BC) In the Old Testament, the founder of the Jewish nation and one of the Jewish patriarchs. In his early life he was called Abram. God promised him heirs and land for his people in Canaan (Israel),...

Abraham a Sancta Clara
(1644-1709) German preacher. His sermons are full of imagination and contain sound Catholic doctrine. Schiller's play Wallensteins Lager was inspired by his sermon `Up, up, ye Christians!`. He joined the...

Abraham-man
Wandering beggar of Elizabethan times, who was either demented or shammed lunacy in order to gain pity. The term is derived from the parable in Luke 16, where Lazarus the beggar is received into...

Abraham, Plains of
Plateau near Québec, Canada, where the British commander Wolfe defeated the French under Montcalm, on 13 September 1759, during the French and Indian War (1756-63). The outcome of the battle...

Abraham, Spencer
(1952) US Republican politician, secretary of energy 2001-04. Although a conservative Republican, he voted in the Senate against tighter limits on legal immigrati ...

Abraham's bosom
Metaphorical name for the abode of righteous souls after death, used by Christ in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The ancients reclined on couches at table for meals, so that the head of...

Abrahamite
Name given to the members of two distinct religious sects in Bohemia and Syria. The Bohemian Abrahamites were deists who claimed the original religion of Abraham. They denied the Trinity, and...

Abrahams, Peter
(1919) South African novelist. He was South Africa's first prolific black writer, whose novels are distinguished by a passionate anti-racism. Best known for the novel Mine Boy (1946), Abrahams wrote all...

Abrams, Creighton W(illiams), Jr
(1914-1974) US soldier. One of the boldest junior armoured commanders of World War II, he heldd a distinguished military record. Abrams was appointed US commander in Vietnam in June 1968, presiding over the...

Abrams, Floyd
(1936) US lawyer. He has argued more First Amendment and media cases before the US Supreme Court than any other lawyer in history. Born in New York City, Abramson was a graduate of Yale Law School, w ...

Abrams, Meyer (Howard)
(1912) American literary critic and educator. A major historical and humanistic critic, his work on the English Romantic poets include The Mirror and the Lamp (1953). He taught English literature at...

abraxas
Charm found engraved on ancient stones. The Greek letters of the word, when interpreted as numbers, total 365. The word was used by Egyptian Gnostics to describe the supreme being. ...

Absalom
In the Old Testament, the third and favourite son of King David. When defeated in a revolt against his father he fled on a mule, but caught his hair in a tree branch and was killed by Joab, one of...

Absalon
(1128-1201) Danish statesman. He became Archbishop of Lund 1178 and minister to Waldemar I and Canute VI of Denmark. He took an active part in helping with the legislation of Waldemar I, and drove the Wendish...

Absaroka
Alternative name for a member of the American Indian Crow people. ...

absconce
Small lantern, of ancient origin, used in the Catholic Church during the performance of the night offices. ...

Abse, Dannie
(1923) Welsh poet, novelist, and dramatist. His first volume of verse was After Every Green Thing (1949), and subsequent volumes include White Coat, Purple Coat: Collected Poems 1948-1988 (1989),...

absenteeism
Absence from work without any legitimate reason. Absenteeism often involves employees sporadically taking a few days off work, citing ill health as the reason. The small number of days means no...

absolute
In philosophy, the opposite of relative, dependent, or conditioned. The underlying view is that any particular thing is incomplete and therefore not fully real: it is only the totality, the universe...

absolute advantage
Advantage of a producer in the production of a good when it can produce that good at a lower absolute cost than other producers. For example, producer A...

absolute dating
The determination of age in calendar years by reference to a fixed timescale. It usually incorporates a measure of uncertainty, expressed as a standard deviation. Methods include radiocarbon dating,...

absolute monarchy
Alternative term for absolutism. ...

Absolutely Fabulous
British sitcom (1992-96) satirizing the fashion industry and middle-aged baby boomers. The alcohol and drugs intake, interest in fads, disposable income, sex drives, and shopping sprees of Edina...

absolution
In Christianity, the authority of the church to pronounce God's forgiveness to a penitent sinner. The church acts as Christ's representative, and in so far as the church is filled with the Spirit of...

absolutism
In philosophy, a term that has been used to convey two quite separate and distinct ideas. The first, which is associated with Hegel, refers to the ideal and evolving nature of ultimate reality which...

absolutism
System of government in which the ruler or rulers have unlimited power and are subject to no constitutional safeguards or checks. The principle of an absolute monarch, given a right to rule by God...

absolutist
Member of a Spanish political party opposed to the constitution of 1812. The absolutists wished to restore to the Crown its former absolute powers. Subsequently they supported the pretensions of Don...

abstinence
The practice of refraining from bodily or sensual pleasures in order to attain a higher spiritual state or a more thorough concentration on the sacred. It is integral to the practice of asceticism...

abstract
Summary, especially of articles, books, or proceedings, as far as possible in the words of the original. Contributors to learned journals are often required to write the abstract of their own...

abstract art
Nonrepresentational art. Ornamental art without figurative representation occurs in most cultures. The modern abstract movement in sculpture and painting emerged in Europe and North America between...

abstract expressionism
Movement in US painting that was the dominant force in the country's art in the late 1940s and 1950s. It was characterized by the sensuous use of paint, often on very large canvases, to convey...

abstract of title
In English law, the summary of the deeds, documents, and events under, or by virtue of which, the owner of an interest in land derives his or her title. ...

abstraction
In philosophy, the process by which universals and...

Absurd, Theatre of the
Avant-garde drama originating with a group of dramatists in the 1950s, including Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, and Harold Pinter. Their work expressed the belief that, in a godless...

Abu Klea, Battle of
Engagement between British forces and Dervishes in the Sudan on 17 January 1885 at Abu Klea, a group of wells on the track from Korti to Metemmeh. A camel corps with about 1,800 troops under General...

Abû Mâdî, Ilyâ
(c. 1890-1957) Lebanese poet. Abû Mâdî published several books, notably Al-Jadowil/The Brooks, in 1925. Largely self-taught, he set up a biweekly, then daily, literary review entitled al-Samir which he...

Abu Nidal
(1934-2002) Palestinian-Arab terrorist. During the late 1950s he joined Yassir Arafat's Fatah guerrilla group, which was linked to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). However, he was critical of...

Abú Nuwás, Hasan ibn Háni
(c.760-c. 815) Arab poet. Considered to be one of the greatest poets of the Abbasid period, he is celebrated for the freedom, eroticism, and ironic lightness of touch he brought to traditional forms. He was...

Abu Simbel
Site of two ancient temples cut into the rock on the banks of the Nile in southern Egypt during the reign of Rameses II, commemorating him and his wife Nefertari. The temples were moved...

Abu Tellul, Battle of
In World War I, battle between British and Turkish forces for the village of Abu Tellul. The Turks lost the village on 14 July 1918. The Turkish army had advanced north and east of Jericho,...

Abubakar, Siddiq
(1903-1988) Nigerian leader and sultan of Sokoto 1938-88. As spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslims he had the title of Sarkin Musulmi (`Commander of the Faithful`). He was a highly influential figure in...

Abul Hasan
(1589-1616) Mogul painter. He worked at the court of the emperor Jahangir, specializing in portraits but also executing several delicate, closely observed animal studies. A fine example...

abutment
In architecture, term denoting that part of a pier or wall which supports the sideways thrust of an arch. ...

abuttals
Boundaries of land or of a parish. The British ceremony of `beating the bounds` which is sometimes performed consists in a priest making a tour of the parish and striking each...

Abwehr
Intelligence and counterespionage service of the German High Command 1933-45. It was commanded by Admiral Canaris 1935-44, when its duties were taken over by the SS under Himmler. ...

Abydos
Ancient town on the Asian shore of the Hellespont or Dardanelles in what is now Turkey. Facing it on the European side was Sestos. It was here that in 480 BC the Persian king Xerxes built his bridge...

Abydos
Ancient city in Upper Egypt, cult centre of Osiris and burial place of the kings of the 1st and 2nd dynasties. There are remains...

Abyssinia
Former name of Ethiopia. ...

Academy
Originally, the Greek school of philosophy founded by Plato in the gardens of Academe, northwest of Athens; it was closed by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, with the other pagan schools, AD 529....

Academy, French
Literary society concerned with maintaining the purity of the French language, founded by Richelieu in 1635. Membership is limited to 40 `Immortals` at a time. ...

Academy, the
British literary and artistic journal, founded in 1869 by the scholar and lecturer C E C B Appleton (1841-1879) and published until 1909. Among its many contributors were Matthew Arnold, William...

Acarie, Barbe Jeanne
(1566-1618) French Carmelite nun. She introduced the Carmelite Order into France in 1604 and in 1615, after the death of her husband, she joined the order as Mary of the Incarnation. She...

Acarnania
Ancient district of northwestern Greece. Its inhabitants were allies of Athens during the Peloponnesian War. The capital was Stratus, a town situated on the River Acheloüs. ...

ACAS
Acronym for Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service, a government-funded body in the UK. ...

Acca Larentia
Italian earth goddess of Etruscan origin. Her festival, the Larentalia, was on 23 December. According to one legend, as wife of Faustulus she was nurse...

Accad
Alternative form of Akkad, ancient city of Mesopotamia. ...

Accademia della Crusca
Italian academy founded in Florence in 1582 by the writer Antonio Francesco Grazzini (1503-1584). It aimed at purifying and cultivating Italian language and literature, and its Vocabolario degli...

acceleration principle
In economics, the theory that changes in the level of investment are related to the rate of change of the demand for consumer goods so that an increase in consumers' incomes (and hence demand for...

accelerator mass spectrometry
Radiocarbon dating method that determines the actual number of carbon-14 atoms in a sample rather than the small numbers of carbon-14 atoms that decay radioactively during the measurement time...

accession
The succession to the throne of a new monarch after the death or abdication of the old king or queen. In the UK, the death of a monarch is proclaimed at an accession council. All members of the...

accession of property
In English and Scottish law, any addition to property either natural (for example, the offspring of livestock) or artificial (for example, a new building), belonging to the owner of the nuclear...

accessory
In law, a criminal accomplice who aids in the commission of a crime committed by someone else. An accomplice may be either `before the fact` ( ...

Acciaiuoli family
Family of Italian bankers prominent in the 14th and 15th centuries. Based in Florence, they also had important branches in Rome and Naples. From the 1430s they strongly supported the ruling Medici...

Acciaiuoli, Donato
(1429-1478) Italian scholar and humanist. He studied under the Byzantine scholar John Argyropoulos in Florence and became renowned for his knowledge of Greek, translating Plutarch's Lives, and Aristotle's...

Acciaiuoli, Niccolò
(1310-1365) Italian banker and statesman. A member of the Acciaiuoli family, he left Florence in 1331 to settle in Naples, where he managed the financial affairs of King Robert. In 1348 he became grand...

accident
Any extraordinary or unforeseen event; an event that causes damage or injury. The term has specific meanings in the contexts of legal and insurance practice. In the English law of torts,...

accolade
Symbolic blow on the shoulders with the flat of the sword, given by the sovereign, or a representative, in conferring a knighthood. Also, high praise or approval. ...

Accolti, Benedetto
(1415-1464) Italian jurist and writer. Born in Arezzo, he taught law at the university of Florence and in 1458 became chancellor of the Florentine republic. He is chiefly remembered for his history of the First...

Accolti, Bernardo
(1458-1535) Italian writer, the son of Benedetto Accolti. He acquired renown at several Italian courts, notably Mantua and Urbino, as a reciter of impromptu verse. His comedy Virginia, based on a story in...

Accolti, Francesco
(1416-c. 1484) Italian jurist and writer, the brother of Benedetto Accolti. He is best know for his verse translation (published in 1528) of De bello italico adversus Gothos/The Italian War Against the Goths by...

Accolti, Pietro
(1455-1532) Italian churchman, the son of Benedetto Accolti ...

accomplice
In law, a person who acts with another in the commission or attempted commission of a crime, either as a principal or as an
accountant
Person responsible for drawing up
accounts, usually for a business organization. Accountants have traditionally concentrated on recording what has happened financially in the past. However, in...

accountant-general
British civil servant, usually the head of an accounts branch in certain government departments. Accountant and comptroller general is the title of the head of the accounts department in the Inland...

accounting
The principles and practice of systematically recording, presenting, and interpreting financial accounts; financial record keeping and management of businesses and other organizations, from balance...

accounting ratio
Any of a number of ratios used by a business organization to monitor its financial performance. The figures used in the ratios come from the company's accounts. ...

accounts
A record of the past financial position of an organization. Companies prepare a number of different accounts, usually including a balance sheet, a trading account, a profit and loss account, and an...

acculturation
Extensive culture change due to contact between societies. The term is most often used to refer to adaptation of subordinate or tribal cultures to Western culture. ...

accumulation
In law, an income from property that increases with the passage of time. English law prohibits provisions in wills and deeds that such income should be accumulated indefin ...

Aceldama (or Akeldama)
Germanic people who from the 2nd century occupied an area bounded by the rivers Rhine, Danube, and Main. They were part of the medieval western German grouping of peoples that also included Franks,...

acephali
Any of several religious bodies who rebelled against their bishops and other heads of the early Christian church. It was particularly applied to the extreme Egyptian Monophysites, who in 482...