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The Feudal System: Castles At WarThe-Feudal-System-Castles-At-War

  • Subject: World History
  • |
  • Grade(s): 9-12
  • |
  • Duration: Two class periods

Lesson Plan Sections

Objectives


Students will
  • Understand the feudal system of the Middle Ages.
  • Write a fictional first-person account from the point of view of a king, noble, knight, or peasant.

Materials


  • The Feudal System: Castles at War videoand VCR, orDVDand DVD player
  • Resources about the feudal system and life in the Middle Ages
  • Computer with Internet access

Procedures

  1. After watching the video, review with students when the Middle Ages began and how long it lasted.(The Middle Ages began when the Western Roman empire fell in the 5th century and faded as the Renaissance took hold across Europe in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries.) What was medieval Europe like without the Romans to provide protection?(It was violent and dangerous, with numerous wars and foreign invasions.) Ask students to describe how this situation gave rise to feudalism.(The kings were not powerful enough to protect their lands; the wealthy nobles fought each other for greater territory and power. The kings made a deal with the nobles, in which they gave nobles land and promised to protect them. In return, the nobles promised to be loyal to the king and to supply him with armed warriors and other services.)

  2. Next, make sure students understand the following terms:

    • Fief: a grant of land, given in return for an oath of loyalty and armed warriors
    • Lord: a powerful land-owner who rules over an area
    • Vassal: someone who lives on the lord's land, providing loyalty in return for protection
  3. Have students talk about the different types of people or levels of the feudal system. Write the following list on the board:

    • monarch
    • nobles
    • knights
    • peasants
      As a class, discuss the obligations or responsibilities of the different levels within the feudal system.
  4. Have each student write a first-person account from the point of view of a monarch, noble, knight, or peasant. In their account, they should describe their responsibilities to other members of the feudal system and any restrictions they may face. They should also explain whether they are a vassal, a lord, or perhaps both. Finally, they should provide some details about what daily life might have been like for that person. Provide appropriate resources about life in the Middle Ages. The following Web sites may also be helpful:

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Evaluation


Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points: Students were active in class discussions; first-person accounts reflected a strong understanding of the feudal system and the life and responsibilities of different types of people within with the system.
  • Two points: Students participated in class discussions; first-person accounts reflected a satisfactory understanding of the feudal system and the life and responsibilities of different types of people within with the system.
  • One point: Students did not participate in class discussions; first-person accounts reflected a weak or inaccurate understanding of the feudal system and the life and responsibilities of different types of people within with the system.

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Vocabulary


feudalism
Definition: The political and social system of medieval Europe, in which vassals received land from overlords in exchange for armed warriors and other services.
Context: Under feudalism, the overlords, lesser lords, knights and peasants all depended on one another for survival.

fief
Definition: A grant of land given by a lord to a vassal in return for an oath of loyalty and armed warriors.
Context: In a formal ceremony, a monarch would give a noble a fief and promise to protect the noble.

knight
Definition: In medieval Europe, a soldier of high military rank
Context: The most skilled soldiers were knights, who dedicated their lives to combat, a code of behavior called chivalry, and service to their lords.

lord
Definition: Even though they were below the king, local lords controlled most peoples' lives.
Context: Even though they were below the king, local lords controlled most peoples' lives.

medieval
Definition: Relating to the Middle Ages in Europe
Context: Without the Romans to provide protection, medieval Europe became a violent and dangerous place. monarch

monarch
Definition: A king or queen who rules a territory, usually for life and by hereditary right
Context: Feudal society had a strict social order and the monarch was at the top.

noble
Definition: Somebody of aristocracy or a high social rank
Context: Nobles, safe inside their castles, were able to build up their armies and expand their power.

peasant
Definition: A member of the lowest feudal class; poor, uneducated laborers who lived and worked on the land owned by the nobles.
Context: The peasants were the economic backbone of society, growing the crops and producing the other goods that everyone needed.

Renaissance
Definition: The period in European history between the 14th through 16th centuries marked by major cultural and artistic change and scientific advances
Context: As the Middle Ages came to a close, European society slowly began to recover once again and a dramatic cultural rebirth that would become known as the Renaissance took root.

vassal
Definition: Someone who lives on the lord's land, providing loyalty in return for protection.
Context: Through this "feudal contract," the noble became the vassal of a king or queen.

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Standards


Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visithttp://www.mcrel.org/compendium/browse.asp.

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • World History: Era 4 — Understands the political, social, and cultural redefinitions of European society and culture from 500 to 1000 CE; Understands the redefinitions of European society and culture from 1000 to 1300 CE

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
NCSS has developed national guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of NCSS, or to view the standards online, go tohttp://www.socialstudies.org/standards/strands/.

This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards:

  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • Power, Authority, and Governance

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Credits


Joy Brewster, curriculum writer, editor, and consultant

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