Sail to new places…
THE LATE MIDDLE AGES
THE FEUDAL SYSTEM
THE AGE OF CASTLES AND KINGS
THE ROMANESQUE PERIOD
The late Middle Ages were the time of castles and kings. Romanesque refers to the art and architecture of this time period. It means “descended from Roman.” Romanesque architecture combines features of ancient Roman and Byzantine styles. These buildings have thick walls, rounded arches, and large towers.
It was during this time that fierce raiders, like the Vikings would sail to distant lands to raid and pillage. I grew up in the Midwest, so learning about the Vikings was a mandatory part of the curriculum. Every year in elementary school we heard stories about Erik the Red and his son Leif Erikson, the sleek and fast Viking longboats, and the colorful designs on their round shields. I don’t remember thinking about them as bad guys or thieves. I thought they were cool, like rock stars. Now I realize, it would be terrifying to see those “rock stars” come into town.
Another thing that really comes to mind from my elementary school days is a stack of National Geographic magazines that someone’s parents donated to our classroom. One of the magazines featured a story about Lady Godiva. The article included a painting of LG, naked on her horse, protesting unfair taxes. It was the most viewed of all the magazines in the stack. No one cared that she was bold and brave, they just wanted to see her exposed butt cheek and the little bit of her bare chest peeking through her long hair.
TOP 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE ROMANESQUE PERIOD
#10 Vikings – In the Old Norse language, the word Viking means “pirate raid.” The Vikings were raiders, but they were also traders. They were excellent boat builders and sailors. Their sea voyages weren’t always about raiding, oftentimes, they sailed to explore new lands.
#9 Crusades – The crusades were a series of holy wars. European Christians tried to take back control of Jerusalem, the Holy Land, from the Muslims.
#8 Fief – A plot of land
#7 Peasants – This group of people included farmers, low level workers, and slaves. 90% of the population was in this group.
#6 Nobles – The nobles were the wealthy citizens: barons, lords, and ladies. They were landowners who served the king.
#5 Knights – The knights were the soldiers of the Middle Ages. Most knights were wealthy nobles. It cost a lot of money for weapons, armor, and a good horse. Each knight was identified by a coat of arms. The coat of arms pattern was painted on the knight’s belongings. All knights followed a Code of Chivalry.
#4 Armor & Weapons – There were many innovations to protect bodies from injuries. In the beginning, knights wore suits of chain mail to cover their bodies. The chain mail was made of chain links looped together to form a cloak that would cover the torso. It weighed about 30 pounds. Unfortunately, a sword could stab through the chain mail, so knights started covering their chests with sheets of metal. Eventually, they began wearing suits of metal. The plate armor was better protection, but it weighed over 60 pounds and made mobility difficult. The weapons of the knights included the lance, sword, mace, and longbow.
#3 Kings and Queens – They ruled the land and the people who lived on it.
#2 Castles were the homes of the kings and nobles. They were built at the center of the fief. A large water-filled ditch (moat) surrounded the castle. The wall around the castle was known as the curtain wall. Guards could stand on the curtain wall and shoot arrows at trespassers. The gatehouse was the large gated entrance on the front of the wall. The large tower was called the keep. It was the last line of defense.
#1 The Feudal System – This was the basic system of government in the Middle Ages. The king couldn’t oversee all the land he owned, so he divided it (and the peasants who lived on it) among wealthy barons who promised to serve the king. The barons divided their fiefs among the lords. The lords were knights with large armies. When called upon, they would serve and protect their king.
Click this link to get the template and instructions for the VIKING LONGBOAT CRAFT.
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