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

The Dangerous and Clever Romans


Handout: Word Document | PDF Version

Dear 7X,

It is lovely to be back in your company and to observe your insight, industry and courtesy at close hand. Whatever possessed me to leave you for five whole weeks?

Today we continue our exploration of the wily, brutal and inventive ancient Romans. I suppose we could use those adjectives for the whole human race to some degree, but the history of Rome, more than most, sometimes strikes me as a kind of violent soap opera with several crime stories as subplots. The story is captivating and horrifying at the same time. Perhaps you can identify some modern equivalents? 

We begin our study, after that outlandish and sensational introduction based on the Ben Hur chariot race, with a more serious exploration of the vocabulary you will need in order to speak knowledgeably and accurately about ancient Rome. After briefly encountering these words, with the help of this handout, you will be ready to hear the fascinating summary by the witty and fast-talking John Green, embedded for your edification below. This will permit you to discourse knowledgeably on even more topics at your parents’ dinner table.

Kind regards from Ms Green (no relation)

PS You can open and read the transcript if you watch this video on YouTube. This is not a bad idea, should some of the presenter’s words fly past too quickly even for your quick ears and agile minds.

Embedded Handout:

Visit to our class by our librarian, Mrs McQueen:

A relatively reliable source for biographical research

Back from Camp and All Roads Lead to Rome

Welcome back, 7F! Hope you had a brilliant time on camp.

Before we move on to ancient Rome, those of you who haven’t yet done the exercise titled “Legacies of Ancient Egypt” need to page down to it and complete it, including the comment on your legacy! After that, work on the tasks below:

Ancient Rome


Clipart kindly provided by


When I think of ancient Rome, the first things that come to mind are gruesome. I think of the chariot race from Ben Hur, Julius Caesar being stabbed thirty-five times in the Senate (according to one source), the crucifixions of the slave rebels on the Appian Way, gladiatorial contests with the crowds drooling in their blood-lust…But surely it’s not all blood and gore! After all, the Romans ruled a massive swathe of territory and established, for the long period of their control, a time of lasting peace, sometimes referred to as “Pax Romana”. So there were great and unbloody accomplishments as well as the blood sports, corruption, poisonings and cruelty. See what you can find out about this ancient civilisation by doing the exercises below:


Clipart kindly provided by

Create a Word document titled: The Roman Empire

1. Find a map showing the greatest extent of the Roman Empire (around 117AD) and paste it into your document. You can use the one below if you like:

2. List six modern-day countries which were under the control of the Roman Empire, with their ancient names. For instance, France was called Gaul.

3. The BBC website describes the Romans as “ingenious but brutal”. I think this is a succinct description. Six emperors are listed on this website as “pivotal”. Read about one of these and explain why this term is used to describe him in your own words.

4. Check out these beautiful mosaics of ancient Roman Britain before trying one of your own:

MosaicThis is my attempt at a mosaic. Well, I’m no artist…

A photo of a mosaic by John Bayley, a family friend who visited Jordan this year:

JB mosaic Jordan 2009 IMG_0632a

Now create a mosaic of your own at; then press Control/PrintScreen and copy your mosaic into Paint. From there you can copy it onto your Word document for posterity.