Teacher Resources Medieval Village

Teacher Resources Medieval Village

I have been advocating the following history curriculum for four years of high school, and here I would like to recommend resources for Medieval History.

Medieval History

Medieval history is almost completely neglected in modern education. Its very title “Middle Ages” suggests it was a time between the more important ancient and modern worlds (medieval is a combination of the Latin for "Middle Ages,” medium aevum). But this was a pejorative label given by those of the Renaissance era. The period (and more specifically 300 to 1000 A.D.) is often mischaracterized as “the Dark Ages,” though this could not be further from the truth. Much of significance happened during the medieval period, including the rise of the university and the formation of distinct European nations.

My assessment is that medieval history is neglected today because it is actually a period of church history. It was the age of European Christendom, and it is no surprise that secularists want to ignore such a period of history. But this period cannot be ignored by any student of history. And it cannot be ignored by anyone who wants to truly understand the political, social, and religious context of our modern world.

In spite of the labels, there is no exact day or year where a civilization drastically changes from “ancient” to “medieval.” These are markers that historians use to divide historical periods for the sake of convenience. There is therefore disagreement over the exact dates of medieval history. Some medieval historians begin the period around 300 A.D. because of the conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity in 312 A.D. Others mark the beginning of the medievial period around 500 A.D because of the “official” date of the fall of Rome in 476 A.D. This latter date is problematic in that the eastern half of the Roman Empire (Byzantium) survived for almost another 1,000 years. Either 300 or 500 A.D. can work, and it is best to simply start your study of medieval history where you finished your study of ancient history.

Marking where medieval history ends is more difficult, as a case can be made that the medieval worldview lasted up until the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s. But for convenience sake, medieval history usually ends around 1500, right before the start of the Protestant Reformation. This breaks medieval history into the following periods:

Early Middle Ages (300/500–1000 A.D.)
High Middle Ages (1000–1300 A.D.)
Late Middle Ages (1300–1500 A.D.)

Medieval history should be an exciting study for students. It was an influential period for Western civilization, as it gave rise to both the modern church and European nation-states. The early middle ages witnessed the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the rise of new powers, such as the Franks under the rule of Charlemagne. Europe was further Christianized over the years, and most of the barbarians converted to Christianity. But Europe soon had to deal with Islam, which rapidly grew in power in the 7th and 8th centuries. The high middle ages witnessed the split of the Catholic and Orthodox churches (1054), the Crusades (1095–1204), and the rise of the university (1200s). The late middle ages included the Renaissance and other events that set the stage for the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.

Medieval History for Children

One of the best resources for teaching children history is Susan Wise Bauer’s series for grades 1–6 called The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child. Volume 2 is titled The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance. There is also an activity book and a test and answer key. Bauer also covers ancient history (volume 1) and modern Europe and America (volume 3 and volume 4).

Medieval History for High School (and Beyond)

Hopefully students will already have some familiarity with medieval history by the time they get to high school. Regardless, high school is a time for in-depth study of the medieval period. If ancient history is studied around 9th grade, medieval history can be studied around 10th grade.

As mentioned before, there are video resources covering Western civilization from Roman Roads Media and Ron Paul Homeschool. Ron Paul offers two Western civilization courses, which can both be purchased individually from Tom Woods Homeschool. To the right is a sample video lesson.

I also strongly recommend Tom Wood's Liberty Classroom, which has two excellent courses on Western civilization. The first course (see above) covers both ancient history and medieval history. These courses are taught for adults but can also be used by intelligent high schoolers. Liberty Classroom offers many other great courses on history and economics, which can be downloaded and listened to in the car. You can subscribe to all their courses for only $89 per year.

Books work well as a supplement to video lessons. There are many older books on medieval history. Unfortunately, many of them are hard to find and are therefore quite expensive. The books listed here should at least serve as a good start for surveying this time period:

Western Civilization by Jackson Spielvogel. This college-level history textbook can be used at the high school level. It systematically covers all of Western civilization, including medieval history. As a hardcover book that covers most of history, it is a worthwhile purchase. They also sell a two-volume softcover set. Volume 2 is expensive, so it is only a better price if you do plan on covering modern Europe. Volume 1 is cheaper but does not go past 1715.

The aim of the Celtic Digital Initiative (CDI) is to make scarce resources available in an electronic format to students and scholars, both within UCC and beyond. This initiative has been jointly funded by the Department of Early and Medieval Irish and by the Quality Promotion Unit (from its Quality Improvement Fund) and is an ongoing project material is continually added to the site as time and finances allow.

There are four major sections: Images (digitised pictures of interest to Celticists), Text Archive (links to PDF files of rare material), Celtic Noticeboard(an area devoted to announcements of forthcoming conferences, events, vacancies, publications etc.) and Celtic journals (tables of contents of Celtic Studies journals).

* National History Day Selected Resource *

Teacher Resources Medieval Village - History

Medieval Europe was a major time in the world's history and is therefore important to understand in order to gain context for many other periods of history that are studied further on in the Australian Curriculum. Through focussing on the social structure and the way of life it is then possible to grow to examine specific events within this time with the knowledge of how society worked. This specific unit plan focuses on research and presentation of knowledge, both of which are important skills in the subject of history and that will be of benefit to students in their future studies.

The way of life in Medieval Europe (social, cultural, economic and political features) and the roles and relationships of different groups in society. (ACDSEH008)

Cross Curriculum Priorities and SOSE values:

Sustainability, social justice, ecological sustainability.

· Using historical terms and concepts

· Identify and locate relevant sources

· Use a range of communication forms

The assessment part of this unit lies with the group presentations. They are peer and teacher assessed as it is important for presentations to be engaging for their audience as well as informative and well organised. The rubric for this assessment is attached at the end of this page.

There are hundreds of resources around the internet for teaching Medieval history but these are the ones I found most useful:

Linguistic, Literary, and Manuscript History with The Digital Grave, by Leah Pope Parker

Discussion Questions

  • What perception of death and dead bodies is suggested by this poem?
  • What kind of reading practices are suggested by the addition of the final three lines of the poem? Why would a reader add these lines?
  • Why would a poem like this be added to a manuscript that otherwise contains no poetry, and is primarily a collection of homilies?

Further Reading

Kitson, Peter R. “Old English Dialects and the Stages of the Transition to Middle English.” Folia Linguistica Historica: Acta Societatis Linguisticae Europaeae, vol. 11, no. 1–2, 1992, pp. 27–87.

Siebert, Eve. “A Possible Source for the Addition to The Grave.” ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews, vol. 19, no. 4, Sept. 2006, pp. 8–16.

Thompson, Victoria. Dying and Death in Late Anglo-Saxon England. The Boydell Press, 2004.

Treharne, Elaine M. Living through Conquest: The Politics of Early English, 1020–1220. Oxford University Press, 2012.

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Now Available on Thinking History

New in June Helping KS3 pupils begin to see the Middle Ages and its people as historians see them

This article explains the ideas underpinning the KS3 classroom resources you&rsquoll find in the Teaching Medieval History section

Download this core article HERE &hellip

Helping History Students Communicate Effectively:
Developing a ‘Can Do’ Mentality

A three-part series on helping history students communicate effectively, based on Dale Banham's extensive CPD for SHP and others, with a few contributions from me.

Part 1 on &lsquoHelping students with how to remember&rsquo is exemplified by examples from Dale's teaching and textbooks.

Part 2 on 'Helping students with how to identify and construct arguments'

This is now available in the Raising Attainment section HERE &hellip

An introduction to &lsquoTakeaways&rsquo and their central role
in planning KS3 courses

I&rsquove been talking, writing and using &lsquotakeaways&rsquo since c2005 but haven&rsquot written up the idea at any length so this article brings together my ideas so far, enhanced recently by online CPD sessions with teachers and trainees.

Four Activities for A level on Richard III

These resources were created by Andrew Wallace to help his students at Robert Barclay Academy in Hertfordshire deepen their understanding and knowledge of the events of 1483 HERE &hellip

Teaching Resources

Medieval environmental history can be taught within many contexts, including as part of a medieval survey course, as part of a global environmental history course, or as a stand-alone course. This network can serve as a portal to share teaching ideas for environmental history of the Middle Ages. This can include syllabi, suggested readings, suggested multimedia, etc.


Richard Hoffmann, York Univ, “Environmental History in Medieval and Early Modern Europe.” Download the syllabus.

Richard Hoffmann, York Univ, “Europeans and Natural World to 1800.” Download the syllabus.

Michael Kucher, Univ of Washington, “Europe and the Environment in the Middle Ages.” Go to the website.

Ellen Arnold, Macalester College, “Introduction to Global Environmental History” (with a medieval component). Download the syllabus.

Kairn Klieman, Univ of Houston, “Global Environmental History to 1800” (with a medieval component). Download the syllabus.

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Medieval History 101: The Unauthorized Version

Once upon a time, only those with access to certain institutions would have been able to read the great works of scholarship, only those with great wealth would have been able to afford having beautiful images for their devotion, only those with great staffs of clerks would have been able to manage large accounts of data, only those with the right social contacts would have even heard of most books.

And then, someone invented a marvelous engine for multiplying books and images and disseminating them inexpensively—and a new world of scholarship, art, commerce, and social networking was born.

No, I am not talking about the printing press.

Printing presses at the Plantin-Moretus House, Antwerp
I was in college when Apple released the Apple Macintosh personal computer in 1984. My first desktop was a Macintosh 512k purchased that same year through a special offer Apple made to students at my university. I remember one of my professors carrying a 3 1/2 floppy disk around in her backpack and marveling how it could hold all of her current writing projects. It seemed magic at the time. Little did we know!

Personal computers were a step up from typewriters, but in those early days, that was about all they could do. We still had to go to the library if we wanted to get a book. Our professors would have to make photocopies of anything they wanted to place on reserve, which we could only consult in the reserve reading room. If we wanted a copy of a text, we would have to photocopy it ourselves. And if we wanted to find a book, we would have to consult the card catalog.

A decade later, by the time I was finishing graduate school, everything had changed.

Libraries made databases of their catalogs, which you could consult simply by going to one of the computer terminals in the card catalog room. Reference works were available on CD-ROMs, likewise available in the card catalog room. No more running around pulling out drawer after drawer from the catalog cabinets, fingering through the cards till you found the one you needed, trying to balance your notebook on your knee while making a note of the call number. You could just sit at a desktop and find every call number that you needed at the stroke of key. Of course, at that time, you still had to get up from the desk and go find the book in the stacks. And only those with library privileges could get into the stacks, never mind borrow the books.

A decade later, by the time I was tenured at the University of Chicago, everything had changed.

Libraries began making digital copies of their books, starting with their most precious possessions. Whole reference series were scanned and made available online. Scholars began working on databases of sources, interactive maps, dictionaries, sourcebooks for teaching—all tools made possible by the introduction of the internet. No longer did you have to go to the library to read Migne’s Patrologia Latina. You just needed an internet connection and access to a university library’s subscription. Searches for information that had previously taken days now took seconds. With a research assistant to make photocopies for me, I never had to leave my desk.

A decade later, by the time I was working on my second big book, everything had changed.

Apple introduced the iPad in April 2010. I had one by June. By December 2010, Google Books launched Google eBooks for reading the scans that it had been making of books published since the beginning of publishing. That same year (or thereabouts), my university library introduced a Scan and Deliver service for making pdfs from the books in our collection. Whereas researching my dissertation involved running up and down the stairs in library after library to fetch things from the stacks, by the time I was working on my second big book, all I needed was an internet connection and my iPad, and I would have access to the libraries of the entire world—not to mention access to scans of the manuscripts of the books that the printing press supplanted.

My Google eBooks

Medievalists regularly report at our annual professional conferences on the ways in which digital media are transforming our work as scholars. With the internet came not only new scholarly tools, but new platforms for sharing our scholarship—including blogs like Fencing Bear at Prayer (although Fencing Bear is my public, not professional avatar)—not to mention the possibility of putting not just text and images, but videos online. We are living through a revolution in communications technology on a scale that has happened only twice before in human history, first with the invention of writing, second with the invention of the printing press.

No wonder it sometimes feels as if we have sailed off the edge of the world!

Here be a few navigation tips for where to find the best dragons.

Helping KS3 pupils begin to see the Middle Ages and its peopleas historians see them

This section explains the ideas which underpin Medieval Lives - in the planning and through the classroom resources. These key ideas are:

&bull Pupils misconceptions and historians' portrayal of the Middle Ages

&bull The need to plan around takeaway statements about what we want students to learn

&bull The need for 3 different types of enquiries to deliver a more balanced curriculum

You can read this core article HERE &hellip

Medieval Women

Developed by Elizabeth Biggs (University of York) and Jessica Knowles (University of York)

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss students’ ideas about women and women’s roles in the Middle Ages
  • Explore the lives of three classes of medieval women using primary sources
  • Recognise the varied lives of medieval women (rather than seeing them as part of the ‘dark ages’).


The Middle Ages covers the years c.500-1500. This period has traditionally been seen as backward and superstitious, with women having a particularly bad time. It conjures up images of chastity belts, witch-burnings and repression. However this was not the case. Instead there are many examples of women wielding a considerable amount of political power, participating in burgeoning cultures of literacy and getting on with things during difficult periods such as the Viking Invasions or the Black Death.

This session looks at the later Middle Ages from c. 1400 to c. 1510. This period was chosen because there are better sources for this part of the Middle Ages. It was one when women were expected either to marry or to become nuns. Some women, particularly widows, could exert considerable influence and run their own households, as well as own personal property. Many of the women we’ve featured in this session can also be seen acting for themselves within marriages or choosing who to marry. Education beyond basic literacy and the professions such as law or medicine were not open to women in this period, although there are always exceptions to any rule. Women could not be directly part of the political process, but as we shall see, could influence politics indirectly.

(Blog posts written by Elizabeth and Jessica on their experiences of teaching this workshop can be found here and here)

Watch the video: Life in a Medieval Village