No Bull Economics Lessons

Macroeconomics & Microeconomics Concepts You Must Know

Middle Ages (Part I)

The Middle Ages of Europe or "The Dark Ages" is the period following the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Below are some of the most important terms and concepts concerning feudalism and the manorial system. Scroll for lesson plan ideas and the No Bull Review video lesson.
  • Changes in Western Europe (following the fall of Rome) - Disruption of trade, downfall of cities, population shifts, decline of learning, and loss of a common language.
  • Clovis - Unites the Franks into one kingdom after converting to Christianity.
  • Benedict - Italian monk that writes a book of strict of rules for monasteries in 520.
  • Gregory I -  Becomes Pope in 590; expands papal power by making it a worldly (secular) force in politics.
  • Charles Martel - Defeats Mulsim raiding party at the Battle of Tours in 732; extends Frankish rule.
  • Pepin the Short - Fights off Lombards for the Pope; "King by the grace of God;" Begins Carolingian Dynasty.
  • Charlemagne - Unifies most of Western Europe; Crowned emperor by Pope Leo III; spreads Christianity; encourages learning.
  • Treaty of Verdun - Ended civil war between Charlemagne's grandsons (Lothair, Charles the Bald, Louis the German).
  • Vikings - Caused disruption in Northwestern Europe with raids; terror fades away after they accept Christianity and a warming climate change.
  • Magyars - Turkish nomads that attacked western Europe on horseback.
  • Manor - Self-sufficient lord's estate in feudal Europe; serfs tend the land and knight's protect the land.
  • Lord - Landowner that grants a fief (land) to vassals (lesser lords).
  • Serf - peasant; couldn't lawfully leave their place of birth.
  • Knight - Received land in exchange for their protective services; fought bravely for their eartly feudal lord, heavenly Lord, and his lady.
  • Chivalry - Code of the knight.
  • Tithe - Tax paid to the church; 1/10 of income.
  • Troubadors - Poet-musicians that often sang about romance.
  • Clergy - religious officials; Pope - Bishops - Priests.
  • Sacraments - To achieve salvation a good Roman Catholic will take part in these; ex. baptism and confirmation.
  • Holy Roman Empire - By 1100 consisted of present day Germany; named by Frederick I "Barbarosa."
  • Canon Law - Law of the church.
  • Excommunication - When the clergy banishes one from the church; wields power over political rulers such as Henry IV.
  • Interdict - When sacraments or religious services are banned from a King's land by the clergy; dooms King's subjects to hell.
  • Lay Investiture - Ceremony in which the king and nobles appoint church officials.
  • Concordat of Worms - Church appoints bishops but king holds veto power.

Middle Ages Lesson Plans

Here are some tips and ideas for generating that perfect lesson plan for teaching the Middle Ages.
  • Vikings: A great motivational tool for teaching the Viking invasions that occur during the Middle Ages is a free online game by the BBC called "Viking Quest." In this game, the goal is to raid a monastery in AD 793 and bring back as much loot, survivors, artifacts, and prisoners as possible. The students make decisions regarding the type of settlement to build the boat, the type of boat to build, the crew, the best route, and more. I prefer to play this game with the class as a whole so we can discuss each option. For added fun, I tell the class that they are competing against other classes so they take the game seriously. You will need a classroom with a large screen projector and Internet access. You can also bring the class to the school's computer lab and have them play in pairs. After the game, discuss how Viking raids like this disrupted and impacted Europe during the Middle Ages and what ultimately causes the Viking terror to end. It is a great way to transition into a lesson on feudalism. Here is the link to "Viking Quest."

Middle Ages - No Bull Review Lesson