glossary of words

History has its own vocabulary, terms and definitions.  I intend to build The History Jar Glossary to include definitions of some of these words and the context within which they are used. The glossaries of linked words that immediately spring to mind are castles, ecclesiastical buildings, weaponry, titles, jobs, political vocabulary.


abbey – A building occupied by a monastic order – abbeys were headed by abbots or abbesses and were the largest monastic house in terms of size and status. They were independent and the abbot or abbess was responsible for the running of the house in terms of spiritual well-being and administration.

aestel -A pointer used to read manuscripts. The Alfred Jewel is the most famous example of an amstel. The idea was that the pointer – the jewel is the bit that the reader would would- could be placed under words so that the reader did not damage the valuable text with their grubby fingers. The Warminster jewel is another example as is the Minster Lovell jewel.

The Alfred Jewel

Anglo-Saxon – The Germanic peoples who settled in Britain after the Romans.

Annals – a historical account that is presented in chronological order.



Carl or ceorl – In Anglo-Saxon England these were freemen of the lowest class, ranked directly below a thane.

Castle architecture vocabulary

Chronological –  sequence of events presented in date order.

Church architecture vocabulary



Earl – Highest rank in Anglo-Saxon society of the Pre-COnquest world -coming from the Danish word jarl. Effectively a chief who ruled an area on behalf of the king.




Hanoverian  The Hanoverians became monarchs of the three kingdoms as a result of the Act of Settlement which saw the Crown settled upon the nearest Protestant claimant. To describe something as Hanoverian links it either to the ruling house (1714-1901), to their supporters or to their reigns.








Oblate – a child offered as a gift to the Church and dedicated to religious life. This practice came to be frowned on by the Church and has evolved a different meaning over time.