Middle Ages in Europe and Islamic Civilization

By , December 3, 2011 12:25 pm

Alert. The worst year in history has been identified as 536 CE – during the early middle ages!

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. Begun 1160. Completed in stages up until 1345.


Fire at Notre Dame, April 2019.

Mon. Dec. 2 after the quiz and Tues. Dec.3: Introduction to the Age of Faith in Europe in the Middle Ages – Feudalism



Rheims Cathedral – How does Gothic architecture reflect continuity of religious tradition AND the change brought by architectural innovation?


Comparison of Lord and Vassal Obligations in handout package

  • from this you should be able explain why the lord-serf relationship was or was not mutually beneficial
    • keep in mind the context of the times (age of conflict)

Khan Academy: Feudal System During the Middle Ages (video)

Middle_Ages_Dec_2018 (PPT – includes the 4 themes for the Middle Ages and a lot of key words)


Mon. HW: Read and take notes on pages 548-549 in the textbook, “The Apprenticeship of a Knight”.

Tues. HW: Read 536-541 and take notes on crusades, including overview, effects (military, trade, unintended).


If you have time: What is Gothic Architecture? (video)



Thurs. Dec. 5: Islamic Civs in the Middle Ages and the Crusades

Background on Islam:Islamic_Civs_Dec_2015



Yesterday (Tues.) we learned about Islamic advances (medicine). Today we will learn about the religion of Islam itself. Both topics will help us to contextualize the crusades.

contextualize = study what was going on at the time of writing of a primary source


Read Urban II’s Speech from Clermont PSD (in handouts page 103). Note his biases in favour of Christians and against Muslims (annotate in 2 colours).

Also note the date of the PSD – 1095. In actual fact, the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem occurred in 1076. So why the delay? Was there something else going on? See the fill-in-the-blanks below.


Fill in the blanks – Further Context for Crusades:


In 1095 Byzantine Emperor Alexius asked _________ to help him _______________ the Turks.

The Pope (Urban II) was gaining ___________ in western Europe and hoped to take over ________________. It’s really about a power struggle between the the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church over who had more power and who spoke for Christians.

How would crusaders kill in the name of God when Jesus said “turn the other cheek?” Urban II said:

It is only a _________ to kill Christians. It is OK to kill _________. It is your ______________ to kill for God.

What incentives (encouragements) were offered to Christian Crusaders?

They would be freed from penalties for ______ they had committed. They could take their enemy’s ___________________. If they died while fighting, their sins would be _________________.

All of the above points to just how _____________ a world the pilgrim Crusaders lived in. Concepts about sin and heaven and penalties were very real to them.




For Monday: pick your top 3 choices for Middle Ages character.  Come to class with their top 3 choices (not everyone will get their first choice) on Monday. Link is here.

For Tuesday: do this homework. It’s long, so get started this long weekend.

Read about Black Death, take notes on pages 563-568 under these headings. You won’t be allowed in next class without homework done on Tuesday – in-role activity depends on it:

  • Why Europe is vulnerable to the plague
  • Timing and spread of the plague
  • Symptoms and death
  • Effects (general, social, economic)




Mon. Dec. 9: Crusades, con’t

Reliquary Cross, 1180, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tomb of a knight from the D’Aluye family of France who fought in the crusades, mid-1200s, Metropolitan Museum of Art


Useful sources:

Khan Academy: Crusades (part 1)

BBC Bite Size: Crusades

Primary source activity: First_Crusade_SHEG


Activity: identify evidence that shows Doc A is from a Christian perspective, Doc B is from a Muslim perspective. From whose perspective is Doc C? How can you tell? (see handouts).

Why did the Crusade begin? You may use any of the following as evidence:

Excerpt 1

Then, in the latter part of the 11th century, the Turks swarmed westward out of Central Asia overrunning all that lay in their path. Jerusalem fell to them in 1076. The atmosphere of tolerance practiced by the followers of Omar was replaced by vicious attacks on the Christian pilgrims and on their sacred shrines in the Holy City. Reports of robberies, beatings, killings, degradation of holy sites and the kidnapping for ransom of the city’s patriarch made their way back to Europe. To the Europeans the Holy Land was now in the smothering grip of the Infidel and something must be done.

Eyewitness to History, The Crusaders Capture Jerusalem, 1099, 2000, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/crusades.htm (Dec. 8, 2015)

Excerpt 2

On the day of Urban’s speech, the assembled crowd was so large that they could not fit everyone into the cathedral, so the papal throne was set up in an empty field outside the eastern gate of the town. Those in attendance included many commoners in addition to local nobility. The great nobles of Europe, however, the kings and dukes and so on, were not there. Urban’s invitation had only gone out locally. …

Deus lo volt! (God wills it) became the battle cry of the Crusaders.

EL Skip Knox, The Crusades, Boise State University, N.d.,  http://europeanhistory.boisestate.edu/crusades/1st/03.shtml (Dec. 8, 2015)


Excerpt 3

Timeline of Context for the First Crusade

638 Muslim Arabs took over Jerusalem (a city holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims) but still allowed Christian pilgrims to visit holy sites (they charged a toll)

673 and 717 Muslim Turks tried to enter the Greek Christian (Byzantine) city of Constantinople but failed

1009 Many Christian churches were destroyed in Jerusalem

1076 Muslim Seljuk Turks captured Jerusalem and stories of bad treatment of Christians and destruction of Christian holy sites got back to Europe

1099 Crusaders first arrived in Jerusalem and laid siege to the city for five weeks


Monday homework if not previously done: see below.

HW: Read about Black Death, take notes on pages 563-568 under headings. You won’t be allowed in next class without homework done – in-role activity depends on it:

  • Why Europe is vulnerable to plague
  • Timing and spread of plague
  • Symptoms and death
  • Effects (general, social, economic)


Tues. Dec. 10: Black Death Simulation

Reveal of Pistoia PSD.


Thurs. Dec. 12 to Mon. Dec. 16: Middle Ages Characters research in the library. 




Library Research for Ms. or Mr. Change / Continuity Speech-Paragraph/ Poster Pageant (see tips on attached page)


Tues. Dec. 17: speeches

Ms. or Mr. Change/ Continuity Pageant posters –  be prepared to discuss in-role and to share with others.



Wed. Dec. 18 – . Jan. ??: CCA Final Product 

See CCA blog post.



CCA final product due Monday Jan. 13! No lates accepted.



Mon. Jan. 13 – Tues. Jan. ??: LOOSE ENDS  + Exam preparation

go back to China page



Worst Jobs in History – Knights (8:59)

Worst Jobs in History – Medicine (9:04)

Islamic History of Europe (BBC) (part 1 of many)

When the Moors Ruled in Europe – Bettany Hughes (1hr 42)

1001 Inventions and the Library of Secrets (13:33)

Hospital Zone  (4:36) (1001 Inventions)

The Plague (History Channel) (part 1)



Middle Ages Websites

Map of Europe

Article on Byzantine origins of First Crusade

1001 Inventions: The House of Wisdom

Worst Jobs in History – Knights (8:59)


Links on Islamic Science:


How to use an astrolabe 

How to use an astrolabe

Cairo under the Fatimids

The House of Wisdom

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