November 15

Renaissance, Rinascimento, Rebirth

roslyn-as-mona-lisa_0001-with-no-writing

Ms Green as a version of the Mona Lisa…

During the Renaissance, artists were fascinated by people, beauty, anatomy and nature. They created art with quite a new focus: portraits of wealthy people (often clutching books to show their intelligence and education), detailed prints and paintings of plants, animals and landscapes; paintings of buildings with careful attention to the rules of perspective; and even pictures of children playing games. Later, some artists began to show an interest in peasants’ lives, not just the lives of the wealthy. 

It was a time when creativity flourished. In any historical period, however, alongside those who embrace change are those who fear its effects on their belief systems and way of life. The Catholic Church, for example, was deeply suspicious of many Renaissance ideas, did not allow dissection and accused scientists of heresy. For this reason, Copernicus did not publish his theory about a sun-centred universe until late in his life. Galileo was accused of heresy and placed under house arrest for the last few years of his life.

All in all, it was an interesting and dangerous time. Like now!

1 Quizlet

Play the Match game | Play the Gravity game

2 Alternative Monas

A Pinterest board that might inspire you 

My former students’ Mona Lisas 

Live Science website on the Mona Lisa

3 Some Great Minds of the Renaissance:

Film on the Medici family and the birth of the Renaissance in Florence

Print Friendly
November 10

An Infographic on the Samurai

infographic Japan

Clipart provided by www.clipartlord.com

Dear 82Y,

Have you ever heard the expression: “Words can’t describe how I feel”? That phrase always strikes me as lazy, because I can’t help thinking: “Describing is exactly what words are for. Don’t just give up, reach into your lexicon and find the words you need!”

I cannot imagine that you would not be so easily defeated by a concept that is difficult to explain. You can dream up strings of synonyms in a few moments and turn them into precise and memorable prose (or even a poem, as Harry showed us last week).

All the same, with the advent of the internet and all the tools and resources that it provides, it is actually relatively easy to describe ideas and experiences, not just with words, but also with a range of graphics, pictures, symbols and numbers. Of course, that was always possible, but now this kind of description has become a kind of digital art form. It is called an infographic.

Designing an infographic requires research, planning and creativity. You need some interesting fonts or lettering, a clear heading and several subheadings, clever and evocative symbols or pictures, information in words and figures, and a dash of flair.

Your task, after some internet roaming, is ultimately to create an infographic to summarise the life, customs, skills and idiosyncrasies of the Samurai. The links I have provided below are fairly straightforward and, I hope, informative and interesting. 

Before you begin with your historical reading, contemplate how you can best design your infographic by admiring the clever examples that I have found over the past few months. You will find links to them below.

In this way you can further develop your skills in summarising material as well as extend your knowledge. You may work in twos or threes for this task.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

Historical Information:

Examples of Infographics:

Print Friendly
August 17

Evaluating a historical figure: Charlemagne

Roslyn square avatarDear S2Y,

As a historian and discerning writer, you need to choose precise words.

Here are some imprecise words that one hears every day: “awesome”, “amazing”, “extraordinary”, “wonderful”, “good”, “marvellous”, “terrible”, “bad” – and so on. In speech, such words are easy to use, even though they sometimes fail to convey exact meanings. I’m not saying that you should never use them. Just be sparing with them.

In writing, some of the words below might allow you to express finer shades of meaning and capture the nuances of human experience. That’s what words are for. Choosing an exact word or phrase is a deliberate mental act that will allow you to express yourself with conviction and even formulate ideas in a more rigorous way. Weigh your words as you choose them. In this way you will become a memorable writer, not a pedestrian one.

Positive words for describing the life and legacy of people in history – for describing admirable actions and characteristics  Negative words for describing the life and legacy of people in history – for describing people or actions that you deplore or condemn
influential, determined, resolute, purposeful, tenacious, brave, courageous, astute, quick-witted, insightful, discerning, far-sighted, ingenious, unconventional, visionary, forward-thinking, enlightened, inventive, innovative, industrious unwise, thoughtless, inhumane, ruthless, callous, cowardly, hasty, immoral, misguided, ill-judged, senseless, cruel, ill-considered, foolish, mistaken, dangerous, imprudent, irresponsible

 

Charlemagne by the German artist, Dürer. This image is in the public domain and has been uploaded from Wikimedia Commons.

For those of you who were present to watch the BBC documentary, “Blood of the Vikings”, you may recall hearing Charlemagne’s name. The commentators mentioned that his military campaigns and slaughters of so-called pagans were possible factors in the Vikings’ increasingly violent raids, which began in the late eighth century. At just that time, Charlemagne was establishing what came to be known as the “Holy Roman Empire”. “Establishing” is such a clean, neat word, but in reality Charlemagne conducted many military campaigns that were far from gentle, orderly and merciful; his “establishment” of his empire entailed a great deal of force and bloodshed. In a sense, the word “establishment” here is rather euphemistic, just like the phrase “surgical bombing” as it was employed during the Iraq War.

While many accounts of Charlemagne present him in a glowing light as the father and founder of European culture, some historians view him as a brutal warlord. Which of these extremes is most clearly supported by the evidence? Can one argue that he somehow combined some elements of both extremes? Which view would you support more?

In reality, of course, all historical characters are likely to have positive and negative sides, although the preponderance of violent, murderous dictators in the twentieth century sometimes makes it difficult to maintain one’s faith in human character…

Your task is to decide what kind of man Charlemagne was and describe him in all his complexity and contradictions. 

Charlemagne set up a significant and powerful empire and was influential in the development of Europe.

Even though Charlemagne is remembered for his contributions to law, justice and education, he sometimes took harsh measures against those who resisted his power. For instance, he forced people to be baptised as Christians and executed thousands of Saxon prisoners in one day.

So on the one hand, Charlemagne encouraged learning and admired scholars. On the other, he was prepared to act viciously to strengthen and consolidate his power.

[wmd-divider style=”knot” spacing=”40″ color=”#002426″ size=”2″ ls-id=”55dec35d93d68″/]

Find out more by reading the websites below. 

♦Then create a word document in which you write a careful, considered paragraph (or two) on the life, character and legacy of Charlemagne. Ensure that you include answers to these questions:

  • What do you admire about him?
  • Which actions, if any, would you criticise? Use the words in the table provided above.
  • Show me your paragraph during our next class, before adding it as a comment to this blog post.
  • You may choose to select, instead of Charlemagne, one of the other people listed on pages 256-8 of your text: Leif Ericson, Suleiman the Magnificent or Galileo Galilei.

I chose Charlemagne for this task because of the complexity of his moral character, but I am willing to concede that each of these other characters is worthy of your mature contemplation.

Here are some recommended websites:

[wmd-toggle tab_background=”#066196″ tab_color=”#fff” content_background=”#2196d1″ content_color=”#fff” border_radius=”4″ ls-id=”55dec48bf250d”][wmd-toggle-tab title=”A particularly critical description and a reconstructed portrait of Charlemagne”]%3Cp%3E%3Cspan%20style%3D%22font-size%3A%2012pt%3B%20color%3A%20%2399ccff%3B%22%3EA%20particularly%20critical%20description%20and%20a%20reconstructed%20portrait%20of%20Charlemagne%3C%2Fspan%3E%3C%2Fp%3E[/wmd-toggle-tab][/wmd-toggle]

http://www.reportret.info/gallery/charlemagne1.html

An overview of the history underlying Charlemagne’s rise to power, from the Khan Academy:

A brief account of the Carolingian Renaissance, with references to the darker side of Charlemagne’s character (from 8 minutes onwards):

[wmd-buttons style=”stiched” button_color=”#1279b5″ font_color=”#ffffff” size=”2″ border_radius=”4″ position=”center” target=”_self” ls-id=”55de99fdc7f3f”][wmd-buttons-button label=”Kahoot” link=”https://create.kahoot.it/?_ga=1.135484466.2077747923.1437027700#/preview/cd32a504-9e1d-4ec3-835d-020022c68445″/][/wmd-buttons]

The Vikings

Play alone in Preview Mode | Play with others in Class Mode

To play alone, make an account here

To play with others, teachers can click on Class Mode, while students can enter the game by inputting the game pin at kahoot.it.

Viking_ship

 

 

Print Friendly
July 26

The Fall of Western Rome

colosseum-in-rome

Dear S2Y,

As you may recall from our last few classes, teasing out the interwoven causes, variables and factors that contributed to an important historical event is a tricky business. There is rarely a single cause that leads inexorably to a single effect. The fall of the western part of the ancient Roman Empire is a case in point. Many factors contributed to the Roman Empire’s gradual decline and final collapse; indeed, the event was so complex that Edward Gibbon, the famous historian, wrote six long volumes on the topic.  Rome’s collapse, furthermore, was to have a profound impact on the development of medieval Europe.

I do not expect anything as exhaustive as Gibbon’s masterpiece from you, but a detailed page of notes on the possible factors involved in Rome’s decline and the effects of its fall would be more than acceptable to me.

Use the links below to create a concept map of the factors that contributed to this crucial event and its effects on the world of medieval Europe. You may choose to employ my graphic as a starting point or instead use your own note-taking style.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

fall of rome

Questions to ask yourselves as you read:

a Gibbon thought we should ask why the Roman Empire lasted as long as it did, rather than why it fell. This is a whole new way of considering the issue. What do you think?

b What were the possible benefits of Rome’s fall? Is it accurate to assert that its fall ushered in the so-called “Dark Ages”?

c To what extent did the splitting of the Empire into western and eastern parts weaken the west and contribute to its gradual decline?


“The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness…” – Edward Gibbon, writer of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Links on the Fall of Rome

Words for describing cause and effect in history:

Cause and effect in History

Print Friendly
July 19

The Medieval Mind and the Black Death

Summary of Useful Links on this Topic:

Dear S2Y,

The Black Death would take a heavy toll on any society that lacked modern medicines, hygienic living conditions and well-stocked hospitals. For instance, only 22 years ago, there was an outbreak of pneumonic plague in India, which led to widespread panic, attempts by the government to stop mass evacuations from slum areas and ultimately hundreds of deaths. Journalists entering the area took their own antibiotics with them – a wise move! You can read a New York Times report about this outbreak here

In 1900, 303 people in Sydney caught the bubonic plague and 103 died. Although modern antibiotics were not available in 1900, scientists knew by then how the disease was spread. This allowed the authorities to take appropriate measures to combat the disaster, such as appointing rat-catchers and fumigating the slum dwellings in the Rocks. A bounty was placed on rats – sixpence per rat according to one Melbourne report. Poor and unemployed men became professional rat catchers. You can see pictures of the crisis in Sydney below.

The situation in medieval Europe when the plague struck was exacerbated by ignorance, superstition, atrocious living conditions and poor medical practice. At the time, no one knew the cause of the disease or suspected the existence of bacteria. Many falsely assumed that the disease was caused by the movements of heavenly bodies or infected air. There was also a pervasive belief that the plague was God’s punishment for sin. The reactions of most people were characterised by superstition and panic, as well as a lack of systematic observation and evidence-based medical practice. Finally, the unhygienic living conditions provided the ideal environment for rats, fleas and indeed infections of all kinds.

I hope you find this topic as gruesome, heart-rending and captivating as I have always found it.

– Ms Green

The Black Death in Sydney and Melbourne, 1900

Here is a picture of the rat-catchers at work:

Professional rat catchers, Sydney 1900 © State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW'

Copyright:State of NSW. Kindly provided by the State Records Authority of NSW.  That pile in the middle is dead rats. 

♦Go to this link to view other fascinating and gruesome pictures, including closeups of rat heaps, quarantine areas being demolished, etc:
LINK: http://gallery.records.nsw.gov.au/index.php/galleries/purging-pestilence-plague/

♦Marvellous Melbourne (or Smellbourne as one wag of the period called it) also suffered from a case of the disease; read about a case in Camberwell at the link below:
LINK: Plague in Camberwell

The Black Death in Medieval Europe

One-third of the people of Europe died from this disease – and that is only counting the first time it struck. In 1348 the population had no immunity at all. In the same way, the native populations of South America and Australia had no immunity to smallpox, which helps to explain why smallpox wiped out a substantial percentage of these populations. The plague returned at regular intervals over the next 350 years in Europe. It was always devastating, but it did not kill as many people as in 1348 and 1349.

The situation in medieval Europe made people particularly vulnerable to such a disease:

Sanitation: General hygiene was very poor. People didn’t know about bacteria and as they walked along streets they had to step over faeces. The cities stank. Rats had plenty to feed on thanks to the butchers working in public and leaving piles of offal on the streets. Fleas were also commonplace. Peasants expected to have fleas.

 Widespread Poverty: There was a great deal of poverty, malnutrition and poor health in a large percentage of the population. The Black Death therefore struck an already weakened population.The rate of mortality in untreated cases is reportedly around 40–60%. Presumably a healthy, well-fed person would have a better chance of surviving than a poor, malnourished peasant – and Europe’s population was largely made up of poor, malnourished peasants.

The medieval life expectancy

According to a book from our school library, “The Death” by Amanda Braxton-Smith, some historians believe, based on evidence from digs in Ireland, that the average lifespan in the Middle Ages could have been about 25 years. This evidence suggests that over half the women were dead by the age of 35 and one-third of the population had died before the age of 14. Of course, this may not be true of Europe as a whole but it gives an insight into medieval life (and death).

♦To read about the mortality rate of the plague, go to the link below. You should be aware that just to complicate matters there were three kinds of plague, and the prognosis (likely medical outcome) for each was different.

LINK: Details of the plague’s mortality rate (with extra information about rats, fleas and so forth)

Medical Knowledge in Christian Europe: Medical knowledge, at least amongst Christians, was almost non-existent. While Islamic physicians were quite scientific in their methods, Christian doctors were ignorant of anatomy and did not use a scientific method in their treatments. The Roman Church was partly to blame. It controlled what doctors learned and it prohibited the dissection of bodies. This meant that in one French medical school, for instance, there was only one practical anatomy lesson in two years. An abdomen was opened and inspected; that was all. The prescriptions of doctors at the time of the plague were dangerous rather than therapeutic.

The Church: Another problem was that the Church viewed disease as a punishment for sin. Some people believed that leprosy could be brought on by too much lust. In such an environment, careful scientific examination and rigorous observation of symptoms would be uncommon.

Ignorance and Superstition: If doctors were ignorant, then the rest of the population, mostly illiterate, was even more so. Wild rumours and prejudices rapidly took hold. This meant that instead of doing useful things like quarantining people, cleaning up filthy areas and burning plague-infested areas – all measures taken by the Sydney administration in 1900 – medieval people often reacted by blaming the innocent.

800px-FrenchJews1 Wikimedia Commons from 1901-6 Jewish Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia Commons, originally from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901–1906, and now in the Public Domain; picture titled, “French Jews of the Middle Ages”

Persecution of Jewish People: The Jews were one group who were accused of poisoning wells and infecting people with plague.

Historians have suggested this might have been connected with the fact that fewer Jews died from the plague. The Jewish holy book (Torah) gives advice on basic hygiene to stop the spread of diseases. This meant many Jews refused to use the unhygienic wells (located near the town sewage pit), choosing instead to drink from fresh water sources.

This may have caused superstitious and ignorant people to blame the Jews for the plague. Consequently Jews were massacred, tortured and even burned alive. It was horrific. Some writers believe it was the worst persecution of the Jews before the 20th century, when the Nazis, with all the technology of the modern world behind them, committed atrocities against the Jewish population of Europe.

A massacre of a specific minority is sometimes called a pogrom.

Black_Death pd pic from wikimedia commons

Picture in Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons. Check the buboes. The man in the background may be holding a bunch of herbs, which were erroneously believed to help ward off disease by filling the air or at least the person’s breathing space with healthy odours.

“Woe is me of the shilling in the arm-pit; it is seething, terrible, wherever it may come, a head that gives pain and causes a loud cry, a burden carried under the arms, a painful angry knob…” – Jeuan Gethin (died 1349) – quoted in “The Death” by Amanda Braxton-Smith.

Medieval Recommendations for the Plague

Durer's Praying Hands by an unknown studentPeople should seclude themselves from others and stay away from the infected air.

Durer's Praying Hands by an unknown studentPeople should burn scented woods to purify the bad air and fill their homes with pleasant-smelling plants and flowers. 

Durer's Praying Hands by an unknown studentTry to remain tranquil.

Durer's Praying Hands by an unknown studentOpen and cauterize the buboes (burn them with a hot iron or caustic agent) and apply some substance to draw out the poison. One recipe for such a substance was a plaster made from gum resin, roots of white lilies and dried human excrement.

Durer's Praying Hands by an unknown studentTake soothing potions. One recipe for a potion was: take an ounce (28 grams) of gold, 11 ounces of quicksilver, dissolve and let the quicksilver escape; add 47 ounces of water and drink. Fortunately few people would have had the wealth or resources to make such a potion.

Durer's Praying Hands by an unknown studentSome doctors suggested people should bathe in urine. Others warned against bathing as it would open the pores to let in the disease.

Durer's Praying Hands by an unknown studentSome people thought the plague could be avoided by sniffing bad smells such as latrines (a hole in the ground used as a toilet). Following the theory that the two bad smells worked against each another, some people put dead animals in their houses.

 
Print Friendly
June 13

About the Samurai – Creating an Infographic

infographic Japan

Clipart provided by www.clipartlord.com

Dear 82Z,

Have you ever heard the expression: “Words can’t describe how I feel”? That phrase always strikes me as lazy, because I can’t help thinking: “Describing is exactly what words are for. Don’t just give up, reach into your lexicon and find the words you need!”

I cannot imagine that you would not be so easily defeated by a concept that is difficult to explain. You can dream up strings of synonyms in a few moments and turn them into precise and memorable prose (or even a poem, as Harry showed us last week).

All the same, with the advent of the internet and all the tools and resources that it provides, it is actually relatively easy to describe ideas and experiences, not just with words, but also with a range of graphics, pictures, symbols and numbers. Of course, that was always possible, but now this kind of description has become a kind of digital art form. It is called an infographic.

Designing an infographic requires research, planning and creativity. You need some interesting fonts or lettering, a clear heading and several subheadings, clever and evocative symbols or pictures, information in words and figures, and a dash of flair.

Your task, after some internet roaming, is ultimately to create an infographic to summarise the life, customs, skills and idiosyncrasies of the Samurai. The links I have provided below are fairly straightforward and, I hope, informative and interesting. 

Before you begin with your historical reading, contemplate how you can best design your infographic by admiring the clever examples that I have found over the past few months. You will find links to them below.

In this way you can further develop your skills in summarising material as well as extend your knowledge. You may work in twos or threes for this task and, since we must work without computers in the next few days, at least initially with quill, parchment and ink – or with fancier stationery, if you still have some after a long semester.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

Historical Information:

Examples of Infographics:

Print Friendly
June 8

Three Synonyms, One Antonym

call-outs
Dear 82Z,

Have you always wanted to be a walking thesaurus whose range of vocabulary, ease of self-expression and apt word choice are admired by all? Would you like to be envied by less eloquent types who hang on your words and dream of being as articulate and expressive as you are? Do you secretly hope to be referred to (if you aren’t already) as “That Wordsmith in Year 8”, “Old Silver-Tongue” or “That Golden-Voiced God/Goddess”?

The method to which I hope to introduce you today may facilitate your long-awaited rise to such dreamy heights.

Here it is:

Step 1: Whenever you wish to express an idea, try to think of at least three synonyms and one antonym before you begin. For instance, when describing a person’s skills in self-expression, you might make a list like this:

silver-tongued articulate unintelligible lucid  eloquent tongue-tied

As you can see above, I have employed some of these words in my introductory hyperbole.

Step 2: Once you have made your list (with the help of a kindly thesaurus, if you require some support), the aim is to use some of the words in a purposeful and convincing way within the same paragraph. You will not be repeating yourself, but rather explaining and developing an idea in a way that allows your reader to gain a clear and comprehensive insight into your point of view. In this way, you will be able to go beyond a simple one-sentence answer; indeed, your writing will take on a new dimension. This will work for you in all humanities subjects.

Today I want you to try out this idea by describing one of the topics below. For the first one, I have provided three sets of sample adjectives and nouns to show exactly what I mean. They need not all be used, but each word or phrase will allow you to describe another facet of the concept and enrich your description.

One last point: You may wonder why I suggest identifying an antonym or two as well as some synonyms. The reason is that sometimes you need to describe what something is NOT in order to reveal its attributes more precisely. For instance, the feudal system was not egalitarian, it was not founded on modern concepts of social justice and it did not allow all members of society to develop and demonstrate their talents. These remarks permit your reader to gain a deeper understanding of this social order, although by no means a complete one.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

  • (Adjectives: pushy ♦ bossy ♦ dictatorial ♦ easy-going ♦ strict ♦ lenient)
  • (Nouns: martinet ♦ pushover ♦ slave-driver ♦ disciplinarian)

PS The famous line by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who described our lives as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, is an indication of the poetic, descriptive and rhetorical power of synonyms.

(a) the concept of feudalism and its practice in Medieval Europe or Japan

  • Adjectives: hierarchical | egalitarian | class-based | hereditary
  • More Adjectives: rigid | fixed | strict | flexible | socially mobile
  • Nouns: social order | pecking order | class system | class mobility

(b) the life of peasants in the Middle Ages

(c) the nature of medieval warfare

(d) William I’s treatment of the conquered English people

Print Friendly
June 1

Europe and Japan in the Medieval Periods

Quiz: The Story So Far – A Knowledge Quiz on Medieval Europe

Crossword on Medieval Europe and Japan
Photo in background of crossword from Flickr via Madmrmox

478px-Samurai_with_sword

Samurai with sword, picture in the public domain

A comparison of medieval Europe and Japan

Comparisons: similar | compared to | comparable | resemble | In both societies, … | Another common element is… | In comparison,… 

Contrasts: One distinction is… | Knights and samurai warriors differed in their attitudes to…| Another difference is…| While …, … | Whereas …, … | In contrast to this, … | Attitudes towards …. were different from…

Words that could be included in your paragraphs for Question 3: feudalism, knights, samurai, warriors, emperor, social mobility, code of ethics, castles, hereditary classes, peasants, religious beliefs

1. Read through the link provided above and make a dot point list of the similarities between medieval Europe and Japan.

2. Then create a similar list to summarise the contrasts

3. Use these two lists and the phrasing provided above to write a paragraph of comparison and a paragraph of contrast. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence and provide 2-3 examples, followed by a closing sentence.

4. Write a brief explanation of each of these concepts:

Bushido

Daimyo

Seppuku

Print Friendly
May 15

Siege: Castles at War

Dear S2Z,

Use the digital flashcards below to revise the details of siege warfare and the Hundred Years War. Then try the “matching quiz” provided as a link. If you’d like to challenge yourself to a game, you could also try the “Gravity” link.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

Sieges: Castles at War – Fill-the-gap quiz

The Third Crusade – Fill-the-gap quiz (requires log-in)

Matching quiz

Gravity game (click on “Start with definition”)

Print Friendly
May 1

Gruesome Punishments in the Middle Ages

Froissart_Chronicles,_execution

 

Froissart Chronicles,

Execution by Unknown Artist

Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons 

Dear Year 8,

Even a civilised, progressive group of students like you is likely to find the foul and grisly punishments of the medieval period intriguing. I expect you to be torn between revulsion and a certain macabre fascination. Today’s task is merely an in-class exploration task, not an assignment.

My Summary:

During the Middle Ages, punishments were harsh, humiliation common and mercy rare.

In this period, people invented gruesome instruments of torture. The methods for establishing guilt were often warped by superstition and prejudice; the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” had not yet become an accepted pillar of the legal system. Once accused, the onus was often placed on a person to “prove” his or her innocence, sometimes by undergoing painful or life-threatening ordeals.

Even for mild crimes, cruel public humiliations were quite common. This was the time when people could be placed in the stocks or the pillory or forced to walk around the town with the evidence of their crimes displayed graphically on their person.

The punishments for women in particular reveal their inequality of status in a male-dominated, violent society.

The links below will introduce you to some of the spine-chilling punishments of the era.

Crime and punishment in the Middle Ages – overview

Medieval Crime and Justice Museum in Rothenburg – Use the pictures to search for details about each device, primary source or piece of evidence

Ten medieval torture devices from How Stuff Works

Distressing instruments of medieval torture

The treatment of women accused of witchcraft in the Middle Ages

Your Task:

Set out your research as shown below. You may need two A4 pages or two slides to fit the information. Your explanation and analysis should employ phrases like these:

  • This punishment indicates that…
  • This evidence from the medieval period demonstrates that…
  • The use of this punishment was intended as…
  • This barbarous implement of torture provides evidence that…

Medieval Punishment

Print Friendly
April 23

The Norman Conquest: A Revision Wheel, a Crossword and a Kahoot

1 Worth watching

2 Revision Wheel 

3 A crossword testing your knowledge of history and your memory for historical vocabulary

4 Play this Kahoot to revise your knowledge of the Norman Conquest:
Preview version (alone) | Class version (with a screen and friends) | Create a Kahoot account here

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 8.56.29 am

5 Reading

Aftermath of the Battle of Hastings – Castles and Crackdowns

Richmond Castle

Richmond Castle, one of the castles built in order to quell, intimidate and subdue the rebellious people in the north of England 

After his defeat of the Saxon army at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror had to overcome the rest of the population. He was by all accounts ruthless in doing so. His main methods were:

Medieval face from http retrokat.com medievalBuilding castles at high points and in strategic parts of the country and giving his Norman nobles parts of the country to control, with these castles as their strongholds;

Medieval face from http retrokat.com medievalViciously killing any members of the native population who rebelled or tried to resist him;

Medieval face from http retrokat.com medievalEventually sending around investigators to write down who lived where, what they owned and what they should pay in tax. You see, William used the pen as well as the sword to subjugate the people he had conquered.

800px-Clough_castle_motte_and_bailey_County_Down  pd wikimedia commons

Kindly provided by a photographer who uploaded this picture to Wikimedia Commons, this photo shows a ruin of a motte and bailey castle from Norman times, with a stone keep added later. “Motte” is a word from Old French meaning mound; originally a wooden keep was built on the mound while a bailey, a fenced area for animals, was built nearby. Other simple sheds and huts would also be built within the bailey. This kind of castle could be built quickly, but was also much more easily breached than later stone castles and keeps. 

Create a Word file titled: Castles and Crackdowns

a Read the account of Norman castle building at the Britannia site below. You will need to scroll down to the heading: “The Norman Conquest and the First Castles”.

http://www.britannia.com/history/david1.html

(i) Explain what each part of these early castles was, ie. the motte, the bailey, the wooden tower or keep, etc.

(ii) What was the advantage of this type of castle?

b Find a picture of a motte and bailey castle and place it in your document. Label the keep, the motte and the bailey, using autoshapes for arrows. Here’s one to show you what I mean:

http://www.castlewales.com/motte.html

Stone castles were of course much harder to attack and sieges were more likely to fail than to succeed. These pictures will show you why.

Bunratty-castle pd Castle photo Photo courtesy PDPhoto.org

Photo courtesy of PDPhoto.org – Bunratty Castle on the far left – photo in the public domain

c What was the “Harrying of the North” and what does it show about the character of William the Conqueror?

William the Conqueror according to the BBC Website – this site includes the words of his last confession

d Becoming a knight. Summarise the steps required.

Step by step: becoming a knight

e Life of peasants after the Norman Conquest

A short video

 

Print Friendly
March 14

A Difficult Life in an Unequal World

Research Options and Links

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Life of Peasants

Primary Sources:

Dialogue between Master and Disciple, c.1000 | The Crede of Piers the Ploughman | Luttrell Psalter, British Library | Digital version of the Luttrell Psalter | Sample picture with description from the Luttrell Psalter

The Norman Conquest

Primary Sources:

William of Poitiers 1 | William of Poitiers 2 | Orderic Vitalis 1Orderic Vitalis 2 | Anglo-Saxon Chronicle | Several varied primary sources | William I’s final confession

Hundred Years War

Primary Sources:

Online Froissart | Froissart on the Battle of Crécy | Froissart on the Battle of Poitiers | The Trials of Joan of Arc | Chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet, Battle of Agincourt, 1415

Today’s class: 

7.5 minutes: Read through each assignment option and determine which one interests you most

12.5 minutes: Read through the section about the lives of peasants with all the gruesome details

20 minutes: Write the start of a historical novel in which a peasant character describes some aspects of his/her life, refers to a distant/oppressive/unpleasant lord or lady and ponders upon his/her rights (or lack of them). Your story may be haunting, funny, deeply philosophical or downright distressing – but it must be moderately authentic. Include dialogue and details of foul and repulsive jobs. 

Last 5 minutes: Upload your opus in a comment.

No wonder I felt so cold when I woke up. There was a small hole in the mud wall and the wind was whistling through it. I know exactly what my wife will say. “Didn’t I tell you to repair it last week?”

Dear S2Z,

During our last class, one of the deep-thinking philosophers in the class (I think it was Harry) asked me about why there is so much inequality in the world, why hierarchies thrive and prevail, even in the most democratic societies, and why, even when everyone has a right to an education, as in Western countries, the differences between rich and poor, powerful and relatively powerless, still abound. Indeed, the gulf between rich and poor appears, if anything, to be becoming more and more pronounced.

Like many questions in history, there is no simple answer, but it struck me as a probing, fundamental question. In fact, it reminded me of the question that Yali asked Jared Diamond many years ago: “How come you white men have so much cargo?” Struck by this question, Diamond began to trace the roots of the inequalities that exist between the Western powers and other parts of the world and developed a fascinating theory.

But what about the inequalities that exist within each society? What causes them? Why is it that, once we stopped hunting and gathering, our societies took on that hierarchical tendency, usually with a large, subjugated class and a small privileged one? Why is it that revolutions and rebellions seem to replace one hierarchy with another? 

Medieval peasants, who spent their lives in grinding toil, are a prime example of this hierarchical tendency. As we study their lives, I hope we will be able to contemplate possible answers to Harry’s profound question. You may like to begin this discussion by reading the links below and formulating your own preliminary ideas on this intriguing question.

Kind regards, Ms Green

Some reading about equality and status hierarchies:

One sack of grain might yield, after taxes and setting aside grain for the following year, about 2.2 sacks. All that work, so little gain.

One sack of grain might yield, after taxes and setting aside grain for the following year, about 2.2 sacks. All that work, so little gain.

BBC Website: A Summary of Peasants’ Lives (and a Test)

Luttrell Psalter

A Scene from the Beautiful Luttrell Psalter

 

Seedman copyright free from retrokat.com medieval clipart

Image kindly provided by http://retrokat.com/medieval

Even in such a lowly group as the peasants, who made up the bottom 90 per cent of the population, there were variations in status. Some were free and some were serfs. A serf was like a slave but not quite a slave.

According to the Shorter Oxford, a serf was “a person in a condition of servitude or modified slavery”. Even though the powers of the master were “more or less limited by law or custom”, in reality the master had great power, if he chose to wield it.

Servitude meant that the serfs were subject to the will of the lord of the manor; they could not leave the manor without his permission. They were subjugated, they were poor, they were often hungry; to get through each year would have required unimaginable struggle, grinding toil and a fair bit of luck.

Medieval face from http retrokat.com medievalHunger was a constant danger, starvation a real possibility. According to Lacey and Danziger, the writers of The Year 1000: What Life was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, July in England was the toughest month. The spring crops had not yet matured; the midsummer harvest produced hay for the animals and nothing for the humans. This time was referred to as “the hungry gap”.

Yet some aspects of the peasants’ lifestyle were healthy. They had a very healthy diet, if only they could get enough of it. They lived on a pottage (like a porridge) of grain and vegetables, into which they dipped the hard, coarse and often stale flat bread that they baked. No soft, fluffy bread for them: their bread was a little like a pita bread or nan, but tougher and coarser. The pottage served to soften the hard, stale bread and make it edible. The bread was also used as an edible plate, called a “trencher”.

DETAIL october tilling and sowing pd about.com calendar page of Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de BerryA detail from the beautiful 15th century Book of Hours (in the public domain) called Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. This shows October – tilling and sowing.

One of the healthiest aspects of their diet was that they had no sugar. Until the 17th century, when sugar was brought back from the Caribbean, no one in England had sugar. Honey was so precious that it was sometimes used as a currency. The positive aspect of a life without sugar is that the people at that time experienced almost no dental or jaw decay. The skeletal remains of the Anglo-Saxons in the year 1000 show that they were surprisingly tall, with excellent teeth.

Below are some extra details about their lives, with some websites for you to explore. Glance through them, then work through the summary of peasant life at the BBC Website at the top of this post and complete the little test. Try to work like bonded labourers, even though you live in the modern world and have far more rights than the serfs of the Middle Ages.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

Did you know…?

  • Medieval peasants worked long hours, produced most of the food and paid most of the taxes. If you want justice, don’t expect to find it in the medieval world.
  • Peasants’ cottages had dirt floors and walls made of mud, cow dung and straw. There was no glass in their windows and their animals often lived with them.
  • Fleas were common. People expected to have them.
  • Many peasants died in the winter from hypothermia.
  • Outer clothes were rarely washed but wood smoke acted as a kind of deodorant.
  • It has been estimated that 20% of women died in childbirth. Infant mortality was also high.

CLICK ON THESE SITES TO DISCOVER MORE…

Peasant life and housing with pictures of cruckhouses: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_peasants.htm

A famous and beautiful illuminated manuscript:

The Luttrell Psalter and its depiction of peasant life

Worst Jobs in History: Building a wattle and daub cottage

Print Friendly
March 6

Evaluating a historical person using words other than “awesome” and “bad guy”

Roslyn square avatarFirst, a little rant from an old history teacher:

As a historian and discerning writer, you must choose precise words.

Here are some imprecise words that one hears every day: “awesome”, “amazing”, “extraordinary”, “wonderful”, “good”, “marvellous”, “terrible”, “bad” – and so on. In speech, such words are easy to use, even though they sometimes fail to convey exact meanings. I’m not saying that you should never use them. Just be sparing with them.

In writing, some of the words below might allow you to express finer shades of meaning and capture the nuances of human experience. That’s what words are for. Choosing an exact word or phrase is a powerful mental act that will allow you to express yourself with conviction and even formulate ideas in a more rigorous way. Weigh your words as you choose them. In this way you will become a memorable writer, not a pedestrian one.

Positive words for describing the life and legacy of people in history – for describing admirable actions and characteristics  Negative words for describing the life and legacy of people in history – for describing people or actions that you deplore or condemn
influential, determined, resolute, purposeful, tenacious, brave, courageous, astute, quick-witted, insightful, discerning, far-sighted, ingenious, unconventional, visionary, forward-thinking, enlightened, inventive, innovative, industrious unwise, thoughtless, inhumane, ruthless, callous, cowardly, hasty, immoral, misguided, ill-judged, senseless, cruel, ill-considered, foolish, mistaken, dangerous, imprudent, irresponsible

 

Charlemagne by the German artist, Dürer. This image is in the public domain and has been uploaded from Wikimedia Commons.

Dear S2Z,

During that short clip from “Blood of the Vikings”, you may recall hearing Charlemagne’s name. The commentators mentioned that his military campaigns and slaughters of so-called pagans were possible factors in the Vikings’ increasingly violent raids, which began in the late eighth century. At just that time, Charlemagne was establishing what came to be known as the “Holy Roman Empire”. “Establishing” is such a clean, neat word, but in reality Charlemagne conducted many military campaigns that were far from gentle, orderly and merciful; his “establishment” of his empire entailed a great deal of force and bloodshed. In a sense, the word “establishment” here is rather euphemistic, just like the phrase “surgical bombing” as it was employed during the Iraq War.

While many accounts of Charlemagne present him in a glowing light as the father and founder of European culture, some historians view him as a brutal warlord. Which of these extremes is most clearly supported by the evidence? Can one argue that he somehow combined some elements of both extremes? Which view would you support more?

In reality, of course, all historical characters are likely to have positive and negative sides, although the preponderance of violent, murderous dictators in the twentieth century makes it difficult to maintain one’s faith in human character.

Your task is to decide what kind of man Charlemagne was and describe him in all his complexity and contradictions. 

Charlemagne set up a significant and powerful empire and was influential in the development of Europe.

Even though Charlemagne is remembered for his contributions to law, justice and education, he sometimes took harsh measures against those who resisted his power. For instance, he forced people to be baptised as Christians and executed thousands of Saxon prisoners in one day.

So on the one hand, Charlemagne encouraged learning and admired scholars. On the other, he was prepared to act viciously to strengthen and consolidate his power.

[wmd-divider style=”knot” spacing=”40″ color=”#002426″ size=”2″ ls-id=”55dec35d93d68″/]

Find out more by reading the websites below. 

♦Then create a word document in which you write a careful, considered paragraph (or two) on the life, character and legacy of Charlemagne. Ensure that you include answers to these questions:

  • What do you admire about him?
  • Which actions, if any, would you criticise? Use the words in the table provided above.
  • Show me your paragraph during our next class, before adding it as a comment to this blog post.
  • You may choose to select, instead of Charlemagne, one of the other people listed on pages 256-8 of your text: Leif Ericson, Suleiman the Magnificent or Galileo Galilei.

I chose Charlemagne for this task because of the complexity of his moral character, but I am willing to concede that each of these other characters is worthy of your mature contemplation.

Here are some recommended websites:

[wmd-toggle tab_background=”#066196″ tab_color=”#fff” content_background=”#2196d1″ content_color=”#fff” border_radius=”4″ ls-id=”55dec48bf250d”][wmd-toggle-tab title=”A particularly critical description and a reconstructed portrait of Charlemagne”]%3Cp%3E%3Cspan%20style%3D%22font-size%3A%2012pt%3B%20color%3A%20%2399ccff%3B%22%3EA%20particularly%20critical%20description%20and%20a%20reconstructed%20portrait%20of%20Charlemagne%3C%2Fspan%3E%3C%2Fp%3E[/wmd-toggle-tab][/wmd-toggle]

http://www.reportret.info/gallery/charlemagne1.html

[wmd-buttons style=”stiched” button_color=”#1279b5″ font_color=”#ffffff” size=”2″ border_radius=”4″ position=”center” target=”_self” ls-id=”55de99fdc7f3f”][wmd-buttons-button label=”Kahoot” link=”https://create.kahoot.it/?_ga=1.135484466.2077747923.1437027700#/preview/cd32a504-9e1d-4ec3-835d-020022c68445″/][/wmd-buttons]

The Vikings

Play alone in Preview Mode | Play with others in Class Mode

To play alone, make an account here

To play with others, teachers can click on Class Mode, while students can enter the game by inputting the game pin at kahoot.it.

Viking_ship

 

 

Print Friendly
February 22

The Life of Vikings

Dear S2Z,

Since many of you will have finished your concept map on cause and effect (or perhaps not?), I am providing some reading on the Vikings, so that you can complete the notes based on this handout.

The links below are intended to provide you with extra information that will complement the information in your textbook on pages 268-71 and 280-2. You may wish to print out some extra pictures as well as those provided on the handout. Ultimately you will have a lovely double spread of notes and pictures in your workbook, but this is class work and will only be assessed with unstinting praise from me.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

Longhouses 

Clothing 

Food and diet 

Runes 

Weapons 

Secrets of Viking ships 

Write your name in runes 

Here is my name in runes: 

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 2.32.12 pm

Print Friendly