Notes to the Teacher
You are a member of a wealthy family in twelfth century England. The Roman Empire has long since fallen and feudalism is now prevalent in England. Your family seeks to become the vassals to Lord Whinesalot. As vassals you'll get land, protection, knights, power and wealth. In return you must provide the lord with loyalty, taxes, and soldiers when he is at war.
For Lord Whinesalot to choose your family as vassals you must first provide him with your family's portfolio which will include the following:
- a story about a heroic event from your family's history
- family coat of arms
- a design for your proposed castle
- a map of your fief (which you hope he'll grant you)
- a code of chivalry
- an oath of fealty
- As a group, draft a family history on which future decisions can be based. Because religion played such a vital role in medieval life, be sure to address this in your family's history. Also include heroic events to depict family character. Read histories of medieval figures to get ideas.
- Identify group member's roles. Use the links below to find out specific information for your role:
- Herald - create the coat of arms (family crest) and documentary of historical events supporting the components of the coat of arms
- Architect - design a model and floorplan of the castle, with supporting explanation for design decisions
- Cartographer - draw a map of your proposed fief and explain how your family will rule its subjects
- Knight - develop the oath of fealty and code of chivalry your family will swear to
- Meet regularly with your group to compare information, check for consistency, and get feedback from group members.
- Once individual tasks are complete, plan a family visit to the lord's court (your class) to persuade him to choose you as his vassals.
Use the following resources to develop a family history and to better understand the feudal system of medieval time.
(Resources for other project components are listed under the role description links above.)
Britannia Online: History has timelines, history, castles, religion, and much more!
Timeline of Anglo-Saxon England
covers from 55 B.C., the beginning of the Roman Invasion, to 1066 A.D., the Battle of Hastings.
provides links to articles on medieval culture, people, and villages. Or take a virtual tour of the fictional medieval estate of
and see maps, interview villagers, and discover medieval culture.
Clisto's Battle Statistics & Background includes an autobiography of the imaginary character, Sir Clisto Seversword (provided by John Brunette, a medieval enthusiast).
Peace of God - Synod of Charroux laws decreed by the archbishop.
Identifying resources (fictional vs. nonfictional)
The resources provided throughout this project include fictional and nonfictional sites. Look for information on the web page indicating who created the page, what their background is, and what their purpose for creating the page was. Verify historical facts by using more than one source and determining the credibility of the author (ie: is he/she a professor, historian, sociologist, etc).
Group presentation to Lord Whinesalot and his court
Remember to be persuasive. To do this consider the following:
- Capture your audience's attention with visuals, enthusiastic attitude, and unique style. Consider using pictures, models, costumes, etc.
- Be well prepared. Have all components complete, memorize your part, and know background information about your part so you can respond to questions.
- Be unique! Look for unusual details to add to your part. Consider unique ways of presenting your information.
Your final product will be evaluated on the following:
- Was there consistency between all components of your family's portfolio?
- Was your presentation convincing, unique, and interesting?
- Did your group work effectively as a team, supporting each other to complete all components of the portfolio?
- Are all components based on medieval facts and yet unique and creative (not copied)?
Discuss one or more of the following:
- What impact did Chrisitianity have on the feudal system?
- What values and beliefs guided decisions in medieval society?
- Compare the feudal system to the governmental system of another country you have studied or your own country. Create a table showing the advantages and disadvantages of each system. How did these systems effect the development of these societies?
In this project you had an independent responsibility in the role you played, but success depended on working as a group to pull the pieces together. How did your group manage this? How will you improve this process the next time?
You accessed a variety of sources to complete this project, both fictional and nonfictional. How were fictional sources helpful to you? How were nonfictional sources helpful to you?
Assume the role of a serf living in the fief you designed. Write a journal entry about a day in your life including how the feudal form of government affects you directly.
Medieval/Renaissance Food Homepage provides links to recipes and information about medieval feasts.
Medieval and Anglo Saxon Recipes is another great site for actual recipes for medieval food.
Angelcynn - Clothing and Appearance of the Pagan Anglo-Saxons has great descriptions of various clothing (400-700A.D.). Footwear of the Middle Ages offers complete details about shoes and how they were made.
Notes to the Teacher
Lesson Title: Sworn to Serve
Curricular Area: History-Social Science
Grade Level: 7th
Goal/Purpose: Students will explore the political structure of feudal society and the impact Chrisitianity had on medieval life. History-Social Science strands addressed include:
- Historical Literacy: understand the importance of religion and other ideological commitments in history
- Cultural Literacy: learn about the values and beliefs of a people
- Sociopolitical Literacy: understand the close relationship between social and political systems, understand the close relationship between society and the law, understand comparative political systems
- Skills Attainment:
- develop group interaction skills
- define and clarify problems
- judge information related to a problem
- solve problems and draw conclusions
- locate select, organize, and apply information
- organize and express ideas clearly in writing and speaking
(from the History-Social Science Framework published by the California State Department of Education, 1988)
Length of Lesson: approximately 2 weeks
art supplies, medieval literature, books, laserdiscs, etc.
Interdisciplinary Connections: Art, Geography
- California State History-Social Science Framework, 1988
- California H/SS Standards Grade 7
Standard 7.6: Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the civilizations of Medieval Europe.
- SCA Arts and Sciences Homepage has many links to online resources including academic resources, publications, links to slavic, mongolian, middle eastern resources, and much more.
- Labyrinth Home Page contains links to information on archaeology, various cultures, and more.
- Pre 1700 Works provides links to Medieval books in electronic format.
- Medieval Art and Architecture provides an extensive list of medieval sites including art, architecture, culture, drama, history, law, and more!
- Bayeux Tapestry is a famous tapestry depicting events prior to the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066.
- The Official Medieval Movies Page has a list of movies set in the medieval time period.
- basic knowledge of feudalism
- medieval history
- medieval vocabulary
- Be prepared to support students in the following areas:
- identifying fact and fiction
- identifying and validating sources of information
- writing fictional stories in a medieval setting
- Consider how your students will present information and how you will set the stage for their presentations. You might have them swear their oath of fealty to the class as part of a medieval ceremony.
- Remind students to use other resources as well. Provide books, enclyclopedias, laserdiscs, videos, and CD-ROMs that are available at your school site.
Written by Colin Kenney, Grace Yokley School, Mountain View School District
Edited by Noelle Kreider, ITDC Teacher on Assignment, Rialto Unified School District
Questions, comments, and suggestions may be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org