Are you planning a Medieval Fair -- or just covering a unit on the Middle Ages in your history text? Add fun and learning to your lessons with these resources -- some of the best on the Web for teaching and learning about the Middle Ages.
The Battles of Hastings
This extensive, well-organized Web site offers a fascinating view of how the confluence of cultures shaped a nation. More than 300 graphic images, combined with nearly 100,000 words of text, provide a visually dramatic, in-depth look at Angles, Saxons, and Jutes and their roles in the history of England. The intricate explanation of Harold of Wessex's refusal to recognize William of Normandy's claim to the throne is typical of the detail found at the site.
A Boke of Gode Cookery
This fabulous collection of medieval recipes will have them begging for more at the next Renaissance Faire! Each historically accurate recipe is written in both Middle English and contemporary English, and each includes modifications for the modern kitchen. The only hard part will be deciding between Dragontail and Lardy Jacks & Johnny Boys. Delicious learning.
Castle Learning Center
Examine the design and history of the ancient fortresses of England, Scotland, and Wales -- and discover the answer to such questions as, Were there alligators in the moat? Visitors to this student-friendly site can immerse themselves in a study of castle architecture and get an inside look at the everyday lives of the inhabitants of those imposing structures.
A Compendium of Common Knowledge
In her preface, the author refers to this look at everyday life in Elizabethan England as "the short attention span history." With good reason! No tedious historical recitations mar this compendium of remarkable information. Each section -- on such topics as paying the servants, naming the baby, filling time, snack foods, and virtue and vice (or vice versa) -- is a simple listing of fascinating facts. Students from elementary through high school will love it.
Elizabethan Costuming Page
From Elizabethan makeup 101 to 16th-century cauls, hairnets, and snoods, this site provides a fascinating overview of fashion in Elizabethan England. Students can learn to mix dyes, use a smock pattern generator, and explore links to additional research on the era and its dress. This is a wonderful resource for teachers looking for authentic medieval costumes -- or an unusual class project.
Medieval & Renaissance Europe -- Primary Historical Documents
This centralized site contains links to many valuable -- and trivial -- documents of the Middle Ages. The materials include facsimiles and English translations of religious texts, political agreements, and social commentary -- from the Crusades to the Holy Roman Empire. Whether you're looking for the Treaty of Aix or Bad Manners of a Crusading Prince, you'll find it here.
Internet Medieval Sourcebook
Did you know that at the end of their mournful journeys, Viking burial ships were dragged out of the river and buried in a pit? You'll discover that fact -- and much more -- at this definitive source for all things medieval. The site provides information on life in the Middle Ages, including discussions of politics, legislation, warfare, religion, and geography.
The Middle Byzantine Period: The "Second Golden Age" of Byzantium
As Western Europe sank into the Dark Ages, the Eastern Empire rose in prominence and splendor. This site, based on an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, takes visitors on a virtual tour of the art and history of this important center of power. The teacher resources -- which provide background information, activities, discussion topics, and more -- are especially valuable.
The Medieval Technology Timeline
This interactive timeline, detailing more than 1,000 years of technological development, traces the advance of technology, from the plow and horseshoe in the epoch between A.D. 500 and 700 through the development of the blast furnace between 1300 and 1500. Numerous hyperlinks provide additional information about each technological advance.
In the Middle Ages, the local barber performed surgery without anesthesia. The medieval site maintained by the Annenberg/CPB Project, on the other hand, is completely painless. This well-designed look at the Middle Ages includes sections on feudalism, religion, homes, clothing, health, arts and entertainment, and town life that are sure to inspire further online adventures.
Sir Clisto Seversword's Tome of Adventure & Knowledge
Join Sir Clisto Seversword on a virtual book tour of the late Middle Ages. The more than 50 chapters in this imposing tome provide hundreds of links to such topics as falconry, alchemy, calligraphy, cartography, and much more. This nitty-gritty, up-close-and-personal look at medieval life is sure to captivate and fascinate students of all ages.
The splash page at the site might look a little offbeat, but on this virtual Renaissance tour conducted by Giovanni Renaissanci, the "eyes" definitely have it! Visitors can stop at a medieval village of shops and homes, meet a number of interesting characters, and search the site with Ye Olde Virtual Transporter.
Article by Walter McKenzie
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