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.)
Next, make sure students understand the following terms:
Have students talk about the different types of people or levels of the feudal system. Write the following list on the board:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Definition: Relating to the Middle Ages in Europe
Context: Without the Romans to provide protection, medieval Europe became a violent and dangerous place. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
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:
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