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History KS4 Vocab

Cold War

ABM (anti-ballistic missile) system:

A system designed to detect, track, intercept and destroy attacking inter-continental ballistic missiles.

ABM Treaty:

Part of the agreements of SALT I, whereby an ABM system was only allowed at two sites and each site could only contain 100 missiles.


A collection of military equipment and weapons.

Berlin Ultimatum:

Khrushchev’s 1958 accusation that the western Allies had broken the Potsdam Agreement and that they should therefore leave Berlin in six months, suggesting that Berlin should be turned into a neutral free city.


Member of the Russian Bolshevik Party.

Bolshevik Revolution:

This took place in Russia in October/November 1917 when the Bolsheviks seized power and set up a communist state.

Brezhnev Doctrine:

Soviet foreign policy which called for military intervention by Warsaw Pact forces if another member of the Warsaw Pact tried to leave the Soviet sphere of influence or moderate socialism.

Carter Doctrine:

President Carter announced in January 1980 that the USA was prepared to use military force to protect its oil interests in the Persian Gulf region.

CIA (Central Intelligence Agency):

US office which coordinates and conducts espionage and intelligence activities.

Collectivisation of agriculture:

Grouping of farms into one body managed by the State, which then takes most of the production, leaving only a small amount for people to live on.


Association of Soviet-oriented communist countries set up in 1949 to coordinate economic development.


Communist Information Bureau established in 1947 to exchange information among nine eastern European countries and coordinate their activities.


US parliament consisting of the Senate and House of Representatives.


Using US influence and military resources to prevent the expansion of communism into non-communist countries.

Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE):

Agreement signed in November 1990 to reduce numbers of tanks, missiles, aircraft and other non-nuclear military hardware held by those countries that signed the Treaty. It was signed by representatives from both NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

Conventional weapons:

Non-nuclear weapons.

Coup d’état:

Armed rebellion or revolt against the existing government.


A sudden seizure of power from a government.


To permanently leave one’s country in order to join another, opposing country.


Removing all armed forces from an area.


Distribution of military forces within a given area.

Deputy Chief of Mission:

Second in command in an embassy, after the ambassador.


Elimination of the influence of Stalin.


An attempt to reduce the tension between the USA and the Soviet Union.


To withdraw, reduce or abolish military weapons and force.


A person who disagrees with the government. In the Soviet Union, dissidents were often placed in work camps or placed under house arrest.

Draft system:

The US name for conscription. It was compulsory for men who reached the age of 18 to serve in the armed forces.


The name given to Gorbachev’s policy of openness encouraging free expression and an end to censorship.


Someone who fights in a guerrilla war.

Guerrilla tactics:

The use of ambushes, raids, sabotage and hit-and-run by a smaller group of combatants against larger and more traditional military forces.

Guerrilla war:

Fighting in small groups against conventional forces, using such methods as sabotage, sudden ambush.

H-bomb (Hydrogen bomb):

An explosive weapon of enormous destructive power.

Helsinki Agreements:

A series of agreements covering a range of global issues made by 35 nations at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in July/August 1975. It had far-reaching effects on the Cold War and US-Soviet relations.

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF):

An agreement to get rid of nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles by 1 June 1991, signed by the US President Ronald Reagan and the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987.

Interwar years:

The period between the two world wars – 1919-1939.

Islamic fundamentalism:

Opposes secular western society and seeks to set up a state based on Islamic law.

MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction):

The belief that nuclear weapons made each side more secure and less likely to attack. The enemy would not dare to attack first, because if it did, the other would strike back before its bombs had landed and it too would be destroyed.

Marshall Aid:

US programme of financial and economic aid given to Europe after the end of the Second World War.

Marshall Plan:

A special system of loans from the USA to European countries implemented at the end of the Second World War which allowed for reconstruction and economic regeneration. General George Marshall was the senior US army officer who devised the plan.


The political and economic theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which were later developed to form the basis of communism.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation):

Created in 1949 following the Berlin Crisis of 1948-49, its 12 founding members included the USA and Canada, Britain and France. NATO exists to protect the freedom and security of its members using both political and military means. Today NATO has 28 member countries.

Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty:

Agreement that prohibited non-nuclear weapon states from acquiring nuclear weapons by manufacture or transfer of technology.

Nuclear Utilization Target Selection (NUTS):

The idea that in a nuclear war specific targets could be identified, thereby limiting destruction. It gave rise to the idea that there could be a victor in a nuclear war.

Nuclear weapon:

Highly destructive explosive device that gets its power from nuclear reactions.

Outer Space Treaty:

A promise signed in 1968 by the USA, Soviet Union, Britain and several other countries to use outer space for peaceful purposes and to not send nuclear weapons into space.

Limited Test Ban Treaty:

Agreement made in 1963 prohibiting nuclear testing in the atmosphere, outer space and underwater.


The name given to Gorbachev’s policy for economic restructuring.

Polaris submarines:

A Royal Navy submarine armed with up to 16 Polaris A-3 nuclear missiles.

Prague Spring:

Series of reforms introduced in Czechoslovakia in Spring 1968 by Alexander Dubcek, First Secretary of the Communist Party.


Elimination of opponents from a state or political party.

Red Army:

The Soviet army.


Compensation to other countries to be paid by Germany as the defeated country, after the Second World War.


A country in which the head of state is an elected president.

Royalist government:

Government run by a monarchy, such as a king or queen.


A way of enforcing a decision, for example by means of a trade boycott.

Satellite states:

Countries under the domination of a foreign power.

Secret police:

Police agency which operates in secret to protect national security. Generally used to frighten opponents and critics of a government.

Six Day War of 1967:

War between Israel and its Arab neighbours which lasted six days in June 1967.

Sphere of influence:

Region of the world in which one state is dominant.

Soviet bloc:

Countries in eastern Europe controlled by the Soviet Union.

Strategic warheads:

Warheads delivered by rockets and missiles that are linked to their delivery vehicle and ready for launch.


A country or state that has great power and influence globally.

Treaty for the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Arms (START):

Agreement signed in 1991 by President Bush and Gorbachev, stating that both the USA and the Soviet Union would undertake to reduce their strategic nuclear forces over the next seven years.

Truman Doctrine:

US President Truman’s idea that it was the USA’s duty to prevent the spread of communism to eastern Europe and the rest of the world. To do this, he was prepared to engage the USA in military enterprises all over the world.

United Nations:

International body set up in 1945 to promote peace and international cooperation and security.

UN peacekeeping force:

Deployment of unarmed or lightly armed military personnel from a number of countries, who are under UN command, to serve as a neutral party to observe the peace process.

Vietnam War:

Conflict from 1954 to 1975 between the communist government of North Vietnam, known as the Viet Cong and the government of South Vietnam and its main ally, the USA.

Warsaw Pact:

A military treaty and association, formed in 1955, consisting of the Soviet Union and its European satellite states.

Anglo-Saxon and Norman England


The buildings where monks or nuns lived and prayed.


Name given to the period and people in England before the Norman Conquest.


A person sent to discuss important matters with the ruler of another country.


To sprinkle with holy oil during a ceremony such as a coronation.

Bayeux Tapestry:

An embroidery telling the story of the Norman Conquest.

Beacon fire:

A large fire lit to send warnings quickly over long distances.


An area under the control of a bishop, one of the leading men in the Church.


Words that insult or show contempt for God, including swear-words.


Anyone from Brittany, a region in northern France.


Soldiers who fight on horseback.


A priest who holds services for a king or nobleman and his family.


Usually a monk who wrote an account of events he thought were important to remember.

Civil war:

A war between two groups of people in one country.


The ceremony when a king or queen is crowned at the beginning of a reign.


The wars fought by Christian soldiers to gain control of Jerusalem.


The land owned by a king or lord that he kept to grow his own food and keep animals on.

Domesday Book:

Manuscript that records the results of the Domesday Survey.

Domesday Survey:

The process of collecting the information summarised in the Domesday Book.


The area governed by a duke, a powerful ruler in France.


The most powerful noblemen in England in the eleventh century.


A group of people sent to discuss important matters with a foreign ruler.


Sell or exchange abroad.


An area of land held by an individual from his lord or king.


Being forced to hand over land and castles to the king.


Soldiers who lived in and defended a castle.


The deliberate killing of very large groups of people, especially those of one nationality or religion.

Holy Days:

Religious festivals such as Christmas, Easter or saints’ Days when people did not work.

‘Hue and cry’:

The process of chasing someone thought to have committed a crime.


To buy goods such as wine or cloth from foreign countries and bring it to England.


Soldiers who fought on foot.


An entertainer.

Knight service:

The amount of time a knight or soldier was on duty for his lord each year. In return he received land from his lord.

Labour service:

The farming work done by villagers for their lord. In return they received lands on which they grew food for themselves.


A soldier who fought for wages rather than because he owed knight service to his lord.


A singer or musician.

Motte and bailey castle:

An early type of castle built after 1066.


The richest and most powerful landowners in the country.

Papal banner:

A flag given by the Pope to show he supported an individual such as William of Normandy.

Patron saint:

A saint associated with a particular place, church or group of people.


A journey to a holy place to pray and perhaps ask God for forgiveness.


To raid and steal, often with violence.


To raid and steal, often with violence.


An Anglo-Saxon official in a county (shire-reeve) or village.


The deputy for a king while he was abroad.


Part of the body of a saint or other holy person or an object belonging to a saint.


A person whom the Church has said lived a life of great holiness.

Saints’ days:

Days dedicated to celebrating the lives of individual saints e.g. St. Andrew’s Day.

Shield wall:

A defensive tactic in battle when soldiers interlinked shields to form a wall and blunt attacks.


Someone who makes leather or leather goods.


Planning to kill or harm the king or one of his family.


A religious festival held on the seventh Sunday after Easter.


Powerful lords and bishops who were the advisers of Anglo-Saxon kings.

Civil Rights and Vietnam War


When, during a war, a treaty is signed by the different sides to seal the end of combat.


Large field guns, mortars or cannons.

Attorney General:

Chief legal officer of the US government.

Black Panther Party:

An extreme group of black nationalists who believed that black Americans should arm themselves and force the whites to give them equal rights.


A belief in private ownership of the means of creating wealth, such as industry and agriculture.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA):

The US office which coordinates and conducts espionage and intelligence activities.

Civil war:

A war between two different groups in the same country.

Cold War:

The opposite of a hot or actual war. A propaganda war between the USA and the Soviet Union in the years after 1945 which increased tension between the Superpowers.

Colonial empires:

Refers to parts of the world taken over by larger powers.


A system which puts forward a classless society where private ownership has been abolished and the means of production and subsistence belong to the community.


The US equivalent of parliament. Congress is split into two parts – the Senate and the House of Representatives.


Members of Congress.

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE):

Established in 1942 by James Farmer. CORE was the first organisation in the USA to use the tactic of sit-ins.


Where males of a certain age (usually 18-41) have to serve in the armed forces for a period of time.


Using US influence and military resources to prevent the expansion of communism into non-communist countries.

Conventional methods of warfare:

Warfare conducted without nuclear weapons.

Coup d’état:

An armed rebellion or revolt against the existing government.


Chemicals sprayed on plants to remove their leaves.

Democratic republic:

A country ruled by a popularly elected president.


Removal of the policy of segregation.


A reduction in the tension between the USA and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.


Unfair treatment of individuals because of their gender, race or religious beliefs.


Democrat Party senators from the southern states.


The US name for conscription. It was compulsory for men who reached the age of eighteen to serve in the armed forces.


To give an individual the right to vote.

Federal Government:

The central government of the USA, based in Washington, DC.


Obstructing or delaying a piece of legislation by making long speeches or introducing irrelevant issues.

Freedom Schools:

Temporary, alternative free schools for African Americans, mostly in the South. They were part of a nationwide effort during the civil rights movement to organise African Americans to achieve social, political and economic equality.


A densely populated area of a city inhabited by a socially and economically deprived minority.


The US nickname for the people of Vietnam, especially the Vietcong.

‘Great Society’:

A set of domestic programmes enacted in the USA on the initiative of President Johnson. A main focus was to end poverty and racial injustice.


Someone who fights in a guerrilla war.

Guerrilla warfare:

Fighting in small groups against conventional forces, using such methods as sabotage, sudden ambush, etc.

Inauguration speech:

The speech given by a president at his swearing-in ceremony (inauguration).

Ku Klux Klan:

A secret society of white people in the American south who believed in white supremacy and resorted to violence against black people as well as Jews and other minority groups.


When a mob kills someone for a cause they believe in, without the due process of law.

Mobile war:

A war in which the armed forces are on the move usually in armoured vehicles, tanks, helicopters or aeroplanes.


An inflammable sticky jelly used in bombs in order to set fire to people, trees and buildings.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP):

A pressure group founded in 1909 that lobbies to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.

Nation of Islam:

A group founded in 1931, which aimed to provide black Americans with an alternative to Christianity and to keep blacks and whites separate. It did not teach the orthodox Islamic faith.

National Liberation Front (NLF):

A political organisation and army in South Vietnam and Cambodia that fought the US and South Vietnamese governments during the Vietnam War. Also known as the Vietcong.

New Frontier:

A slogan used by John F. Kennedy to describe his aims and policies. He maintained that, like the Americans of the frontier in the nineteenth century, Americans of the twentieth century had to rise to new challenges, such as achieving equality of opportunity for all.

Pitched battles:

Battles fought in the open country between the armies of the two sides.

Red Scare:

Term used in the USA after the communist revolution in Russia in 1917. It was the fear that immigrants from Eastern Europe would bring to the USA ideas about a communist revolution.


A form of government in which the elected representatives, usually a president, have the power.


A supporter of the Republican Party, whose main ideas were to keep taxes low, limit the powers of the federal government, follow policies that favoured business and encourage self-sufficiency.

Republican Party:

One of the two main political parties in the USA. More conservative than their rival, the Democratic Party.


Separating groups due to their race or religion. This could include separate housing, education, health treatment, access to public building.


Those who believed in the policy of separation of races.


The Upper House of the US Congress (parliament).


Member of the Senate. There are two senators per state.


Keeping races apart.

Silent majority:

A phrase used to describe the moderate people in society who are too passive to make their views known.


A form of civil disobedience in which demonstrators occupy a public space and, as a protest, refuse to move.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC):

African American civil rights group founded in 1957, whose first president was Martin Luther King.

Southern Manifesto:

A document written in the US Congress in 1956, opposing racial integration in education.

Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC):

A committee set up by black and white students in the USA to campaign for civil rights.


The name given to the USA and Soviet Union in the years after 1945, as they were clearly more economically and militarily powerful than the rest of the world.

Truman Doctrine:

US President Truman’s idea that it was the USA’s duty to prevent the spread of communism to eastern Europe and the rest of the world. To do this, he was also prepared to engage the USA in military enterprises all over the world.


The communist-led guerrilla army and political movement whose aim was to topple the South Vietnamese government.


The League for the Independence of Vietnam, a nationalist, communist-dominated movement originally formed in 1941 to fight the Vietnamese independence from French rule.


The policy used by President Nixon to enable the USA to withdraw troops from Vietnam by getting the South Vietnamese to take on more responsibility for the war.

White Citizens’ Councils:

Groups of white people who worked to maintain segregation.

White supremacists:

People who believed that white people were superior to black people.

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