The Norman Conquest

Hello, Year 8!

This short unit will give you an insight into how people in eleventh-century Europe thought, dealt with disputes and fought for power. The class presentation can be downloaded HERE (high-quality version) or HERE (smaller version). You can also view it directly below.

Our topic is the victorious Normans who, after a short, bloody battle and a long campaign of ruthless oppression, wrested England from its Anglo-Saxon rulers and established a Norman monarchy and aristocracy. Of course, the Anglo-Saxon peasants continued to work the land and speak an early form of English to their own children and to the children of the Norman nobility. Consequently, somewhat against expectation, it was the English language that eventually won the day — but only after a significant influx of Norman French words. It is no coincidence that many of the English words for power, law and government are derived from Old French. 

The Normans were to have a significant impact on the history of medieval Europe. Their name gives us a hint as to their identity: originally “Northmen” from Scandinavia, they settled in what is now France, where they were granted a duchy, married Frankish women, learned to speak medieval French and continued their quest for the acquisition of new land. They were warlike, feisty and ambitious people. Their duchy was called “Normandy”. This is also the part of France where the Allies landed on June 6, 1944, in order to liberate continental Europe from Nazi control.

The story of the Norman conquest of England illustrates just how common wars and battles were in the Middle Ages. One reason for this was that resolving a dispute through discussion and diplomacy was a foreign concept for the ruling classes. Since many of them belonged to an elite warrior class who had spent their childhood and their teenage years learning how to fight, they expected to go to war. After all, this was what they had been trained to do. Battles represented an opportunity for them to show their valour, further their reputation and, most importantly, gain land, the supreme symbol of medieval wealth.

In this period of history, land ownership was a sign of prestige and a proof of the king’s favour. Whoever possessed and dominated the land, often by building intimidating and impregnable castles, controlled the people. Kings gave out land to show their favour; lords and knights, in turn, doled out land to the peasants in return for their labour.

The presentation below will reveal many other aspects of the Norman Conquest and medieval life. You can also try some other activities that will allow you to learn and revise the details and discover more about how a ruthless conqueror operated in the Middle Ages.

Kind regards from Ms Green

Quick Knowledge Check (based on the text above)

Vocabulary Handout: Vocabulary Exercises based on Presentation

Other Online Activities

1 Quick flashcards –> Play the matching game. Then play BINGO

2 Primary Sources on the Norman Conquest

3 Crossword on the Norman Conquest 

4 Quick Quiz: The Battle of Hastings

5 Edupuzzle: The Animated Bayeux Tapestry

6 Kahoot on the Norman Conquest: Class Mode | Preview Mode

7 Recommended Links

8 Recommended Videos

The Plague Strikes

Dear Year 8,

During my absence on Long-Service Leave, you will be learning about the Black Death, a horrifying disease that struck the hapless and defenceless people of Asia and Europe in the 14th century.

It is thought that the bacteria that caused the plague, having originated in China, were carried by the fleas on black rats. These rats hitched a ride westwards along the Silk Road trading route, reaching Europe in 1348. Estimations vary, but most historians agree that at least one-third of the European population perished. The plague was terrifying, painful and deadly.

The links and activities below, along with your text and the handouts provided in class by Ms Giesbrecht, will give you a detailed overview of this horrifying event in human history.

Kind regards from Ms Green


Handout: Medicine at the Time of the Black Death

Handout: Social and Economic Effects of the Plague (caution: difficult!)

My Simple Concept Map (which will help you develop your own more detailed version – see the embedded version at the bottom of this post)

Assignment handout – Concept Map – PDF | Word Document (with active links)

Quizzes and Activities

Tiny Cards: An Introduction to Essential Details and Vocabulary Relating to the Black Death

Quiz: The Black Death in 1348

Quiz: The History of the Black Death (very challenging vocabulary)

Video: Crash Course History: Disease! (difficult words → watch with the subtitles turned on!)


My Concept Map

This simplified outline is meant as a starting point to direct your research for your own concept map. Find out more about each point and add detailed explanations, symbols and pictures, so that your concept map is thorough and detailed. You can also add points of your own. 

An Empire Falls

Greetings from an old History teacher…

Dear Year 8,

Welcome to a new semester of History.

My plan is to plunge into the Middle Ages in Europe and later to indulge in a visit to Japan under the Shoguns. If we can only manage it, we might even get to the Renaissance.

In each of these periods and places, the behaviour of the human race reveals a familiar and fascinating mixture of power struggles, conquests, oppression, attempts at resistance by the common people, creativity, innovation and cultural achievements. That’s history for you.

I love the stories that one encounters in the study of our history. In particular, I am intrigued by how certain patterns of behaviour repeat themselves over time.

You will surely find that the medieval period provides all sorts of examples that will allow you to explore and appreciate the human adventure all over again.

Kind regards and best wishes for a happy semester from Ms Green


To go further:

♦ John Green of Crash Course History: The Fall of Rome (and how the Eastern Empire didn’t actually fall until 1453)

John Green’s video as an Edpuzzle (built-in questions) – see also below

♦ Another, more challenging quiz


♦ Kahoot: Introduction to the Middle Ages – Class Mode | Preview Mode

♦ More Links on the Fall of Rome

Mr Giotto’s site: Barbarian Invasions

Ancient Rome for Kids

E-how: Causes and Effects of the Fall of Rome

BBC Website: The Fall of Rome (challenging but recommended for keen readers)

The Telegraph: The Fall of Rome

History Learning Site: The Decline and Fall of Rome

Ancienthistory.about: The Fall of Rome