Teacher's Guide for the Middle Ages

Middle Ages Guide

House of the Abbots of Cluny (Paris)

The most basic fact of the Middle Ages in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia is that this is the time when the area which had been united under Roman and Sassanian rule changed into an area broken up into many smaller kingdoms. By the end of the Middle Ages, we can see the beginning of modern states in most parts of this area. So that's one interesting thing to bring out - how do we get from a couple of big empires, to more than twenty small states, during this period of about a thousand years?

Of course you will also want to talk about the things everyone knows about the European Middle Ages - knights, castles, cathedrals, and maybe the Crusades. You could easily tie this to the first suggestion - how does the breakup of the empires into small countries make warfare more common, and encourage the strength of the Catholic Church (in Europe) and Islam (in Africa and West Asia)?

Some activities for the whole class might include

- a bicycle tournament

- roleplaying different situations in skits such as:

* a young knight who wants to go on Crusade (or a young woman who wants to become a nun) discussing it with his or her parents, bishop, and lord

* a dispute between two peasants over land rights, being judged by the lord, or between a peasant accused of witchcraft and her lord, being judged by the priest or the bishop

* Crusaders who have been taken prisoner by Islamic soldiers discussing the war with them

- building model cathedrals and castles (you could use David Macaulay's books Cathedral and Castle to help).

To find out more about the Middle Ages, check out these books from Amazon or from your local library:

Medieval Europe page
List of teachers' guides

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