History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.

Alexis de Tocqueville


Here are your second set of mini-projects. My aim with these selections is to provide several of the topics which we were either unable to discuss in our class, or touched on too briefly. Complete the assignment accompanying each of your five chosen topics. Present these assignments at your interview to receive feedback and a grade. These selections are currently a work in progress.

Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth nearly 70 metres (230 ft) long and 50 centimetres (20 in) tall that depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. It is thought to date to the 11th century, within a few years after the battle. It tells the story from the point of view of the conquering Normans but is now agreed to have been made in England.

Video: The Animated Bayeux Tapestry

Bayeux Tapestry Assignment

In your own words answer the following questions, ensure that you reach a total word count of 250 (1 page typed, double spaced):

Tell the story of the Bayeux Tapestry:

  • What events does it depict?
  • Why was it made?
  • If the Norman Conquest were turned into a film, which events from the tapestry would be featured? Which would be ignored?
  • How do modern textiles continue to tell stories?


Chivalry and Tournaments

Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is an informal and varying code of conduct developed between 1170 and 1220. It was associated with the medieval Christian institution of knighthood; knights’ and gentlemen’s behaviours were governed by chivalrous social codes.

Video: Chivalry in the Middle Ages

Chivalry Assignment

Create your own Code of Conduct:

– What beliefs are important to you?

– What words, phrases, pictures, or symbols represent you and what you believe in?

– What rules should people follow in the world?

– What do you value?

Write a 1-paragraph essay describing how your code of conduct compares to the Code of Chivalry. How would you put someone to the test in order to determine how closely they follow your code (similar to the pageantry and spectacle of the medieval tournament)?


Heraldry began as badges of recognition.  The symbols, which are called charges, were first painted on the shields of knights during the twelfth century.  The custom spread during the Crusades and became popular in tournaments where knights, unrecognizable in full armor, gathered to fight.  In time, combinations of symbols came to be known as a family’s coat of arms.  Coats of arms to this day are handed down from father to son.

Lions were a favorite charge (symbol) in English heraldry, while fleur-de-lis was popular in France.  Other popular charges were eagles, unicorns, and dragons, along with a variety of birds, fish, seashells, leaves, trees, and flowers.  Inanimate objects such as castles, towers, tools, keys and musical instruments were also used.

Heraldry had a practical side, also.  Popular during a period of history when leaders in battle could not be identified because of their armor, the symbols on their shields made them recognizable.  Coats of arms displayed on flags or banners from a nobleman’s castle were used to indicate that he was in residence, and in death his coat of arms often marked his tomb.  Coats of arms were also carved into rings.  This symbol when pressed into soft wax was used almost as a signature for identification purposes and as a seal for documents.  The French did much in organizing the science of heraldry, and the standard colors used in heraldry are known by their Old French names.  The names of seven colors, called tinctures, used in heraldry are:  white or silver, gold (yellow), blue, red, black, green, and purple. 

Video: What is Heraldry?

Heraldry Assignment

Part 1 – You will be creating your own coat of arms.

  • Select a pattern you want to use.
  • Think of a design for your coat of arms: you will draw a symbol to represent you. It could be an animal (real or mythical), a hobby (like playing a musical instrument, reading); it could one of the birth order symbols, initials
  • You must use only the original colors used in the Middle Ages: red, blue, green, purple, black, white, gold, silver. NO OTHER COLORS ALLOWED.

Part 2 – Write a 1-paragraph essay describing the symbols, pattern, and colors you used in creating your coat of Arms.  How does this coat of arms represent who you are?  What do the symbols and colors mean to you?

  • You must have a title


Medieval Siege Engines

A siege engine is a device that is designed to break or circumvent heavy castle doors, thick city walls and other fortifications in siege warfare. Some are immobile, constructed in place to attack enemy fortifications from a distance, while others have wheels to enable advancing up to the enemy fortification.

Video: Chivalry in the Middle Ages

Siege Engine Project

Part 1 – Create a school-appropriate kraft-stick model siege engine such as those described here. Warning: materials not provided!

Part 2 – Write a 1-paragraph essay describing how the siege engine you have modeled was used in medieval warfare.

  • You must have a title
Medieval Folk & Fairytales

Medieval folklore is a body of work, originally transmitted orally, which was composed between the 5th and 15th centuries CE in Europe. Although folktales are a common attribute of every civilization, and such stories were being told by cultures around the world during the medieval period, the phrase “medieval folklore” in the west almost always refers to European tales.

One feature of Medieval folklore was that there was usually a hidden meaning or allegory, typically a moral or political one. To this day we might ask, “What’s the moral of the story?”

Book 1: Aesop’s Fables were popular in Medieval Europe

Book 2: Gesta Romanorum contains stories, fables, fairytales etc. and was compiled during medieval times

Book 3: Grimms Fairytales was compiled long after medieval times, but 1/4 of the stories date back to this time.

Book 4: Arabian Nights, The Thousand Nights (Alf Layla), 1001 Nights began its compilation in the 8th century, setting down tales told in India and Persia. Its first English translation came in the early 18th century.


These stories must be read in the context of the period in which they are compiled.

Book 1: Aesop's Fables
Book 2: Gesta Romanorum

The most famous of all medieval collections of folk and fairytales is the Gesta Romanorum – of which the earliest dated manuscript comes from 1342. The Gesta has survived in numerous manuscripts and early printed books in both Latin and western European languages. Certain features suggest that both German and English scholars had a hand in compiling it. It uses both European and Asian sources… it is truly a mishmash of tales from many sources. The different story collections are fluid in content and the number of items which each manuscript or printed text contains. In comparison with the well over 100 Latin manuscripts the English versions of the Gesta are small in number and narrower in scope. There are three separate manuscripts, each with a different number of tales, ranging from thirty-two to ninety-six in number. Two date from c.1440, the third from the late fifteenth century. The tales and anecdotes that comprise the Gesta are both religious and secular. All are provided with allegorizations according to the usual medieval pattern. The collection is noteworthy also for containing versions of such otherwise popular material as Apollonius of Tyre (the source of Shakespeare’s Pericles), and Guy of Warwick (which had a long life in English chapbooks up to the nineteenth century). The many manuscripts of the Gesta combine to produce nearly 300 items, and from these there are about 20 folktales (and four fairytales).

Book 3: Grimms Fairytale

Grimms’ Fairy Tales, originally known as the Children’s and Household Tales, is a collection of fairy tales by the Grimm brothers or “Brothers Grimm”, Jacob and Wilhelm, first published on 20 December 1812. The first edition contained 86 stories, and by the seventh edition in 1857, had 210 unique fairy tales.

Book 4: Arabian Nights

One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English-language edition (c. 1706–1721), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights’ Entertainment.

Folktale Assignment

Write your own short story/folktale.

Length:             2-4 pages                (500-1000 words)

Format: Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, double spaced

You’ve read multiple folk tales from the books above; now you are going to write your own.  Your story must include an ‘allegory’.  Other than that. the story is up to you.  A folk tale? Narrative poem? A fairy tale or children’s story? A myth?  The characters, setting, conflict, etc. are all up to you.

When your story is done, read it through and figure out at least two instances where your story is influenced or inspired from classic folktales.

(Alternative Option, you can do either or both)

Create a comic strip which illustrates one of Aesop’s Fables.

  • Minimum of 6 panels (on 1 page)

Note: if you do both activities, they count as two projects.


Chess is a two-player strategy board game played on a checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an 8×8 square grid. Played by millions of people worldwide, chess is believed to be derived from the Indian game chaturanga sometime before the 7th century. Chaturanga is also the likely ancestor of the East Asian strategy games xiangqi (Chinese chess), janggi (Korean chess), and shogi (Japanese chess). Chess reached Europe via Persia and Arabia by the 9th century, due to the Umayyad (Moor) conquest of Hispania (Spain). The queen and bishop assumed their current powers in Spain in the late 15th century, and the modern rules were standardized in the 19th century.

Video: A brief history of chess

History of Chess Project

Part 1 – Write a 1-paragraph essay describing why chess is a metaphor for feudal society.

Part 2 – Create a list of the pieces in chess & important moves (such as checkmate and castling) and explain how each piece is part of a metaphor for feudal society.

(Alternative Option, you can do either or both)

Learn the game of shoji (Japanese Chess) and compare it to western chess, both in terms of gameplay & in terms of its metaphor for feudalism (if present)

Note: if you complete these two activities they count as two projects.

Life in Medieval Times

In this project you invent a medieval character and arrange a historically-inspired biography of the life of your character. Things that are to be mentioned are basic things about the person’s life such as family situation, food habits, living quarters, clothing, health, entertainments, work, and so forth; but also the persons life story in a broader perspective.

Research Links: Medieval Society

Learner.org – What Was it Really Like to Live in the Middle Ages? – Feudal Life
britainexpress.com – Feudalism and Medieval life
History on the Net – Medieval Life – Feudalism
hkcarms.tripod.com – Medieval Occupations
Sir Dragontamer – People of the Middle Ages

Gode Cookery Presents: Tales of the Middle Ages – Food and Drink
The Bonnefont Cloister Herb Garden
The Arts in the Kingsom of Acre – Food and Beverage in the Middle Ages
History For Kids – Medieval food
Medieval-Life.net – Medieval Food
Medielval Spell – Medieval Food
Medieval Spell – Medieval-Feast
medievalcockery.com – Medieval Recipies

History on the Net.com – Medieval Life Housing
Learner.org – What Was it Really Like to Live in the Middle Ages? – Homes
Learner.org – What Was it Really Like to Live in the Middle Ages?- Homes of the Wealthy

Learner.org – What Was it Really Like to Live in the Middle Ages? – Clothing
History on the Net.com – Medieval Life Clothing
Medieval-life.net – Medieval Clothing
History For Kids – Medieval Clothing

Learner.org – What Was it Really Like to Live in the Middle Ages? – Health
historylearningsite.co.uk – Health and Medicine in Medieval England
Medieval Spell – Medieval Medicine

Learner.org – What Was it Really Like to Live in the Middle Ages? – Religion
britainexpress.com – Life in a Medieval Monasterry
britainexpress.com – Map of Medieval Monastery
The Nun’s Realm
newyorkcarver.com – The Virtual Abbey: A Medieval Tour
History Learning Site – Medieval Monasteries
History Learning Site – Positions of responsibility in a monastery
History Learning Site – A day in the life of a nun

The Peasants Realm
History Learning Site – Medieval Farming
History Learning Site – The Lifestyle of Medieval Peasants
History Learning Site – The Poor Peasant
History Learning Site – Medieval Farming Calendar

Chivalry Kidzone – Medieval Nobles
Medieval-life.net – Medieval Chivalry
Humanities Interactive – The Art of Chivalry
Castles of Britain.com – Medieval Knights
About.com – Medieval History – Knight Life
Knights and Armour
The Steps of Knighthood
Wikipedia – Knight
Medieval Spell – Medieval Armour
Chivalry Kids Zone – Medieval Nobles
The Knight’s Realm
The Medieval Knight

boldoutlaw.com – A Beginner’s Guide
The Robin Hood Legend
Wikipedia – Robin Hood
Robin Hood – Fact or fiction

National Geographic – Ghost in the Castle
Sir Dragontamer – Life in a
Medieval Castle

castlewales.com – Castle Terminology
History Learning Site- Castle Features
History Learning Site – Defending a Castle
Life in a Medieval Castle

History for Kids – Medieval Architecture
Medieval architecture in France

metmuseum.org – Works of Art – Medieval Art
hastings1066.com – The Baueyx Tapestry
History For Kids – Medieval Art
Wikipedia – Medieval Art
A Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments

Medieval Technology Pages
Wikipedia – Medieval Technology

Medieval Spell – Medieval Entertainment
castles.me.uk – Medieval Entertainment
middle-ages.org.uk – Entertainment in the Middle Ages
olivet.edu – Medieval Entertainment

Medieval Spell
Medieval Life and Times
All About Medieval Times

Medieval Biography Assignment

First Page of Biography

Complete the Medieval Biography handout including the portrait:

  • Use full sentences where applicable
  • Continue to describe the family situation, food habits, living quarters, clothing, health, entertainments, and work of your character on a separate sheet of paper.
Linear Perspective

Leonardo’s Perspective

“The most praiseworthy form of painting is the one that most resembles what it imitates” – Leonardo da Vinci

Look around you! People and objects look larger when they are nearby and smaller when they are far away. But how can we realistically capture this on a canvas?

During the Renaissance in Italy, architects and artists investigated the question of how to draw three dimensional objects on flat surfaces. They began to think of a painting as an “open window” through which the viewer sees the painted world.

Painter and architect Leon Battista Alberti wrote an influential book in 1435 that included a system of mathematical rules known as linear perspective to help painters achieve their goal of realism. Leonardo da Vinci probably learned Alberti’s system while serving as an apprentice to the artist Verrocchio in Florence.

What is linear perspective?

Linear perspective is a mathematical system for creating the illusion of space and distance on a flat surface. To use linear perspective an artist must first imagine the picture surface as an “open window” through which to see the painted world. Straight lines are then drawn on the canvas to represent the horizon and “visual rays” connecting the viewer’s eye to a point in the distance.

The horizon line runs across the canvas at the eye level of the viewer. The horizon line is where the sky appears to meet the ground.

The vanishing point should be located near the center of the horizon line. The vanishing point is where all parallel lines (orthogonals) that run towards the horizon line appear to come together like train tracks in the distance.

Orthogonal lines are “visual rays” helping the viewer’s eye to connect points around the edges of the canvas to the vanishing point. An artist uses them to align the edges of walls and paving stones.

Linear Perspective Assignment

Main Idea: Use a simple set up to measure the change in the apparent size of an object as it moves away from you.

Objective: Observe how the height of an object appears to decrease as it moves away. Measure the apparent height of an object at several distances as it moves away. Graph the relationship observed. Describe and communicate a mathematical rule for the size-distance relationship.

Materials: You will need: scissors, a 3 x 5 card, a pencil, a strip of stiff cardboard at least 1 foot long, a table at least 4 feet across, a simple object such as a bottle or box 10-12 inches tall, a tape measure, an easy to read ruler with quarter inch divisions.

Required Skills:  Accurate measuring (to the nearest 1/4 inch), converting common fractions to decimals, and graphing.


  1. Measure and cut out a square with 1/2 inch sides from near the middle of one end of a 3 x 5 index card.
  2. Fold the index card lengthwise along the bottom of the square hole, then open the fold to a right angle.
  3. Tape the folded card to the end of the cardboard strip aligning the hole with the right edge of the strip. Make sure the tape does not block the hole.
  4. Measure the actual height of the object to the nearest 1/4 inch and record it in decimal form.
  5. Stretch out a tape measure across a table so that 0 inches is even with the near edge of the table. Use tape to secure the tape measure in place.
  6. Place the viewer at right angles to the table edge and aligned with the tape measure. Make the index card stick out exactly 10 inches. Secure the viewer with tape.
  7. Sit or kneel on the floor and put one eye next to the hole in the viewer.
  8. Hold or prop the ruler vertically, 0 end down, at the edge of the table so you can read it through the viewer.
  9. Have a partner move the object 10 inches away along the tape measure. Look through the viewer and note where the top edge of the object now appears to be on the ruler. Using the Data Sheet, record this as the apparent height in decimal form.
  10. Move the object away to 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 inches. View and record the apparent height at each location.
  11. Consider switching roles with a partner to collect a second set of data.


Make a graph of distance away versus apparent height. Use your graph to make a prediction about the object’s apparent height at a distance you did not test. Then check your prediction by actually making a measurement at that distance. Make a prediction from your graph about how far away your object would need to be to look one inch tall. If your table is long enough, test this prediction as well.

Divide the actual height by the apparent height for each distance. The result is a ratio you can use for comparison with other teams who used different sized objects.


From your graph and/or ratios, describe the rule or relationship you found between the apparent height of the object and its distance away from you.


Why learn about the middle ages anyway?