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Middle Ages in Western Europe, 400 A.D./C.E. – 1500s


Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, social, and religious structures of the civilizations.


Nuremberg Chronicles
Nuremberg Chronicles

Wood cut from the Nuremberg Chronicle (Latin copy in Sao Paulo), 1493, City Map.

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Medieval Commerce [Asia]
Medieval Commerce [Asia]

This map shows approximate land and sea routes to Asia. In addition, it displays the routes of John of Pian de Carpine (from 1245-1247), William of Rubruck (1253-1255), and Marco Polo (1271-1295). Source: Sheperd, William R. Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911. 102-3.

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Carta Marina
Carta Marina

An old sea map. A wallmap of Scandinavia, by Olaus Magnus. The caption reads : A Marine map and Description of the Northern Lands and of their Marvels, most carefully drawn up at Venice in the year 1539 through the generous assistance of the Most Honourable Lord Hieronymo Quirino.

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Nuremberg Chronicles
Nuremberg Chronicles

Wood cut from the Nuremberg Chronicle (Latin copy in Sao Paulo), 1493, City Map.

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  • How do different rulers gain and keep their power?

  • What kind of impacts do invasions bring?

  • Why do churches become so important and powerful?

  • How do ideas spread through countries and then internationally?

  • What are the positive and negative effects of growth and trade?

  • What factors led to the rise and fall of feudalism in Europe? 

  • How did the Crusades affect the Middle Ages? 



"...the whole world was gathered up before his eyes in what appeared to be a single ray of light. As he gazed at all this dazzling display, he saw the soul of Germanus, the bishop of Capua, being carried by angels up to heaven in a ball of fire."
- Gregory the Great, Dialogues
Source: Readings in Medieval History. ed. Patrick J. Geary, Ontario: Broadview Press, 1998. 205.


"Among all others, the rational creature is subject to divine providence in a more excellent way, in so far as it itself partakes of a share of providence, by being provident both for itself and others. Therefore it has a share of the eternal reason, whereby it has a natural inclination to its proper act and end; and this participation of the eternal law in the rational creature is called the Natural Law"  ~ Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologiae, II/I, 91, 2).



  • Summarize how European kingdoms developed in the early Middle Ages and realize the importance of a nation's close relationship with the pope.

  • Describe the power of the Roman Catholic Church throughout society as well as its constuction of grand Gothic-style cathedrals.

  • Tell how Jewish people endured medieval anti-Semitism.

  • Identify the Cusades and how they effected medieval Europe.

  • Describe the social and economic consequences of the growth of towns and the Black Death.

  • Discuss the development of nation-states in Europe.

  • Explain the Great Schism and idenitfy further troubles of the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Medieval European society was shaped by disease, warfare, and class structure. 

Geography of Europe...

7.32 Identify the physical location and features of Europe including the Alps, the Ural Mountains, the North European Plain, and the Mediterranean Sea and the influence of the North Atlantic Drift.


This video describes the entire continent of Europe with regards to its physical features.This is a product of Mexus Education Pvt. Ltd., an education innovations company based in Mumbai, India.

The Middle Ages in 3 1/2 Minutes...

Armour: Fun Facts/ Mocomi Kids...

My Life as a Knight...

Daily Life in the Middle Ages
Daily life in the Middle ages was dictated by wealth, power and status and the feudal system. The Feudal System was sustained by the rights and privileges given to the Upper Classes and in most cases enacted by laws. Everything was a source of privilege for the nobles. The high ranking nobles lived in castles with their knights, ladies and retinues. Others enjoyed their daily life on their manors. The peasants, including serfs, freeman and villeins spent their daily life on a manor or village.

Medieval Popes vs. Kings...

7.34 Demonstrate understanding of the conflict and cooperation between the Papacy and European monarchs, including Charlemagne, Gregory VII, and Emperor Henry IV.


Pope Gregory VII goes up against the Holy Roman Emperors, who normally appointed their own bishops, and takes back control.

Magna Carta...

How did medieval kings share power with their barons? The story of King John reveals the answer.

7.36 Conduct a short research project explaining the significance of developments in medieval English legal and constitutional practices and their importance in the rise of modern democratic thought and representative institutions including trial by jury, the common law, Magna Carta, parliament, habeas corpus, and an independent judiciary in England.



The 1297 version of Magna Carta, one of four originals of the document. This copy was formerly owned by the Brudenell family and the Earls of Cardigan, and later the Perot Foundation. David Mark Rubenstein, co-founder and Managing Director of The Carlyle Group, acquired the document in 2007 and loaned it to the National Archives and Records Administration. It is now on public display in the West Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., USA. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons


  • medieval

  • revival

  • manor

  • vassal

  • liege

  • lord

  • chivalry

  • serf

  • tithe

  • monastery

  • convent

  • Gothic style

  • anti-Semitism

  • papacy

  • schism

  • crusader state

  • burgher

  • guild

  • epidemic

  • common law

  • Parliament

  • Estates General

  • nationalism

  • Inquisition

  • Great Schism

  • antipope

  • indulgence






Manorialism and Feudalism...

What was life like for serfs and peasants in the years that followed the Norman Conquest? The module visits Stokesay in Shropshire, a manor house mentioned in the Domesday Book. It explores a life of hard graft in the manor fields, and the role of the manor courts.

7.33 Describe the development of feudalism and manorialism, its role in the medieval European economy, and the way in which it was influenced by physical geography (the role of the manor and the growth of towns).


Norman Conquest...

The module explores the Norman Conquest of 1066, the Battle of Hastings, and the imposition of Norman power on Saxon England, focusing on castle building and the 'Harrying of the North'. It shows how the Norman kings consolidated their powerbase through control of the land, and how the Domesday Book was an instrument of this oppression.

7.35 Examine the Norman Invasion, Battle of Hastings, and the impact of the reign of William the Conqueror on England and Northern France.




Medieval Spread of Christianity...

7.37 Examine the spread of Christianity north of the Alps and the roles played by the early church and by monasteries in its diffusion after the fall of the western half of the Roman Empire.



Medieval Monks:  The Monk...

Making History - Medieval Monastic Clergy...Life in the monasteries in Medieval Europe was much more difficult than modern film depicts it to have been.

Importance of the Medieval Catholic Church...

Medieval Realms - The Power of the Church

7.39 Explain the importance of the Catholic church as a political, intellectual, and aesthetic institution, including founding of universities, political and spiritual roles of the clergy, creation of monastic and mendicant religious orders, preservation of the Latin language and religious texts, Thomas Aquinas’s synthesis of classical philosophy with Christian theology and the concept of “natural law.”








DScriptorium is devoted to collecting, storing and distributing digital images of Medieval manuscripts (D is for Digital).



Online Assistance
for Teachers and Students 
of Chaucer and the Later Middle Ages



Read of an eyewitness account of a medieval murder by a chronicler who provides insight into crime and punishment in the 14th century in London.

The Crusades - Pilgrimage or Holy War?:  Crash Course




Find out how medieval masons built cathedral arches - without the benefits of modern technology.




The lesson "Feudal M & M's" on Feudalism. Every student was assigned one of the roles in a Feudalism simulation game: King, Noble, Vassal or Peasant.

7.38 Analyze the causes, course, and consequences of the European Crusades and their effects on the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish populations in Europe, with emphasis on the increasing contact by Europeans with cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean world.
Read the following Articles:
In your group, you must answer the following questions about your document: (Be sure to give SPECIFIC examples from your assigned article)
1. What were the causes of the Crusades according to this article?
2. Does this article seem to portray the idea that the Crusades were just? Why or why not?
3. What are the lasting effects of the Crusades on the world today? Why?
4. Do any ideas in the article challenge your previous ideas about the causes/effects of the Crusades?
Be prepared to share your answers to these questions with the class! You must take notes as you listen to your classmates because you will have an open-note quiz at the end of class!
1. What was the MOST significant reason the Crusades were launched according to the articles you read?(religious, economic or political)
2. To what extent was the Catholic Church justified in launching the Crusades?
3. What are the lasting effects of the Crusades on the world today? Why?




"The Crusades Report"


Horrible Histories - A quick summary of The Crusades 

"Black Death"

An exploration of the Black Death, and its devastating impact on Medieval England.

7.40 Describe the economic and social effects of the spread of the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) from Central Asia to China, the Middle East, and Europe, and its impact on the global population.





7.42 Outline the decline of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula that culminated in the Reconquista, Inquisition, and the rise of Spanish and Portuguese kingdoms.



Historians distinguish between four different manifestations of the Inquisition:

  • the Medieval Inquisition (1184- )

  • the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834)

  • the Portuguese Inquisition (1536-1821)

  • the Roman Inquisition (1542- ~1860 )





Glassmaking dates back at least as far as the 16th century B.C. In this early epoch, the ancient Assyrians recorded the basic recipe for glass on clay tablets. But craftsmen of the Middle Ages raised the practice to a high art in the era of Gothic cathedral building (A.D. 1150-1500) and developed techniques still used by glassmakers today. In this slide show, see stunning examples of stained glass artistry, and learn about the chemistry behind it.

"Christina:  A Medieval Life"

Historian Michael Wood delves through medieval court records to follow the fortunes of a village in Hertfordshire and, more particularly, the family of peasant Christina Cok. The 14th century was a perilous time in British history, shot through with famine, plague and war. It was a time of climate change, virulent cattle diseases and, above all, the Black Death. But it was also the time when modern mentalities were shaped, not just by the rulers but increasingly by the common people. It was the beginning of the end of serfdom, the growth of individual freedom and the start of a capitalist market economy. Michael chooses an everyday story of a medieval country family through which to illustrate the bigger picture of how the character and destiny of ordinary British people was being shaped. It is history told not from the top of society but from the bottom - and especially through the eyes of the forgotten Michael brings to life the story of a 14th-century extended family: peasant Christina Cok, her father Hugh, estranged husband William, and her children John and Alice. Michael shows us that though their lives might at first seem quite alien, you only have to scratch below the surface to find uncanny connections with modern-day Britons. In them, you can see our beginnings as a nation of shopkeepers and the roots of the British love affair with beer and football. Perhaps more importantly is the triumph of that sturdy and cussed streak of individualism that has been a characteristic of 'Britishness' down the centuries.

7.41 Trace the emergence of a modern economy, including the growth of banking, technological and agricultural improvements, commerce, towns, and a merchant class.





Horrible Histories - The Black Death, The Plague


Horrible Histories - Dodgy Religious Relics


Horrible Histories -  "indulgences"


Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Read: excerpts from The Life of Charlemagne: The Emperor Himself, Einhard; selected accounts of the Black Death; excerpts from Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas
Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Consider: excerpts from "Frank-land": An Islamic View of the West, Al-Qazwini; excerpts from Walter of Henley’s Husbandry (describes manor life)
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