Scripta VI


quis custodiet ipso custodes?: " who will guard the guardians themselves?"

qui tacet consentit : "he who is silent consents"

St. Valentine:"Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270." St-Valentine-Kneeling-In-Supplication.jpg

Lupercalia:Febuary 15th;"Spring was thought to begin on February 5, which was the time for the seed to be sown. It was a time, too, for purification and the expiation of any unintentional offense that might have been given to the gods. The month of February takes its name, in fact, from the instruments of purification (februa) used in such rites, the best known of which is the Lupercalia.

On February 15, the Luperci, young men who were naked except for the skins of goats that had been sacrificed this day, ran from the Lupercal around the bounds of the Palatine, both to purify that ancient site in a ceremony of lustration (lustratio) and, striking the women they met with strips of goat skin, to promote fertility. "Neither potent herbs, nor prayers, nor magic spells shall make of thee a mother," writes Ovid, "submit with patience to the blows dealt by a fruitful hand."

The Sabine women seized by Romulus were barren, as well, says the poet, until struck by the februa. At the foot of the Palatine hill, the Lupercal traditionally was thought to be the cave where Romulus and Remus had been suckled by the she wolf. The twins, born of Mars and the Vestal daughter of the king, eventually restored their grandfather to the throne and, at the site where they had been left to die, founded Rome."

lupercalia.jpgIt's getting weird.

consensus( con +sentire): general agreement; an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group [singular]. The general consensus of the committee was to proceed with the budget cuts.

martyr: a person who is killed or who suffers greatly for a religion, cause, etc.


quod erat demonstrandum (q.e.d.)" that which must be proven"; used in mathematics when a problem has been solved, you have proven what you are required to prove.

quod vide (q.v.):"which see"; a reference directing the reader to other related entries in the same book

The Middle Ages it is.

When: 500-1500 AD, give or take. How did the era come to be?

The Barbarian Invasions

Over a century before the final end of the Western Roman Empire Barbarian tribes were already both attacking and, as

Roman soldiers, defending the Roman Empire. Many Germanic tribal Chiefs rose to high position in the Roman Army –

eg. Vandal general Stilicho defeated a Visigoth army under Alaric ( Alaric the Visigoth )advancing through Greece in 406 CE.

The process of “integration” of the Germanic tribes was speeded by the invasion of the Huns,(Atila the Hun) a nomadic

Mongolian people from Eastern Asia, on the borders of the Empire just before 400 AD.


Migrations of the Germanic Tribes 5th century

demonstrative: freely and openly showing emotion or feelings; She is more demonstrative (about her feelings) than I am.

Gothic: of or relating to a style of writing that describes strange or frightening events that take place in mysterious places Gothic novels

of or relating to a style of architecture that was popular in Europe between the 12th and 16th centuries and that uses pointed arches, thin and tall walls, and large windows a Gothic cathedral


rara avis: " a rare bird"; a unique person

res ipsa loquitur:"the thing speaks for itself" the situation is obvious

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Empire: map530.gif

Justinian: Eastern Roman emperor(Byzantine Empire), tried to reunite ROme and to fight back the barbarians, and he did have some modest success in that regard, taking back Spain, Italy and North Africa, at least for a little while, but it did not last and was a really expensive endeavor. He is also known for" his project of collecting and codifying the scattered laws, imperial edicts, decisions of the early Roman Senate(the 12 Tables), and opinions of learned jurists and organizing them into a written law code. Centuries later, this code, The Corpus Iurus Civilis was "rediscovered" in the West and sparked the growth of a legal profession that established the bases for many of the modern world's systems of justice and law."

the franks

The big winners in this struggle were the Franks. The Franks, as they are known today, were a Germanic tribe who eventually became the French. They came to inhabit the former wealthy Roman provinces of Gaul and became the most powerful of the Germanic tribes. It was the Franks who created the strongest and most stable barbarian kingdom in the days after the Western Roman Empire had collapsed.

"Justinian had asked the Franks for help in Europe to defeat other barbarian tribes. In the process, the Franks pushed their on borders all the way to the Alps, and nearly all the way to Britain. They pushed many of their rival barbarians tribes out of existence. By the time Justinian realized he had to focus his attention at home, the Eastern Empire had lost a great deal of its strength, while the Frankish Empire had gained great strength.It is possible that the Frankish king might have tried to conquer Constantinople. It was a piece of luck for the Eastern Empire that the Frankish king died. As was the custom of the Franks, his kingdom was divided into pieces - one piece for each son. His sons had no interest in working together to defeat the Eastern Empire. The Eastern Empire, in relief, turned its back on Europe.

Life in Western Europe became dismal. There was no sanitation, no advances in medicine, and no towns. There was only war, constant perpetual war, as one kingdom fought another. In Western Europe, the dark ages had begun in earnest."

aviator: one who flies , like a bird.

soliloquy (solus+loqui): a long, usually serious speech that a character in a play makes to an audience and that reveals the character's thoughts


sanctum sanctorum : "holy of holies", a very private place. When your mother is taking a bath, the bathroom is her sanctum sanctorum, and you ought not disturb her unless you are bleeding from the head profusely or on fire.

SPQR=Senatus Populusque Romanus: the Senate and People of Rome


spqr-shoulder-tattoo-21486426.gifAnd then there are those who are really proud of their heritage.

Clovis I : son of Childeric; Frankish king who united the Franks, increased their territory and influence, and converted to Catholic Christianity( as opposed to Arianism) at the behest of his wife, the Burgundian princess, Clotilde( St. Clotilde). He is considered the founder of the Merovingian Dynasty( that's King Charlemagne's familia).

His conversion to Christianity, and particularly to Catholicism, has had tremendous, as in unimaginably large, consequences for the West to this very day.

rule of clovis
For the record, this is from where the name "Louis" comes, like Louis the XVI. Did you know that ? I did not, and now we all do.

Role of the Roman Catholic church during the Middle Ages:During the chaotic times of the Middle Ages, the Church was the only universal institution. "Often, in the Middle Ages, the churches and governments ruled together. Bishops and Abbots would read and write for kings and often became vassals. Local priests were appointed by local lords, and so were expected to uphold their wishes. Thus, the role of the church and rulers was interconnected."

The Church

sanctimonius : hypocritically pious or devout, pretending to be morally better than other people, a sanctimonius politician

sanctify: to make (something) holy. The priest sanctified their marriage.

to give official acceptance or approval to (something) . The constitution sanctified the rights of the people.


sine die: "without a day"; without setting a date to reassemble

sic transit gloria mundi: "thus passes the glory of the world"

St. Benedict , the Venerable Bede, and Medieval Monasticism:

"The term "monasticism" (monachos, a solitary person) describes a way of life chosen by religious men or women who retreat from society for the pursuit of spiritual salvation." St. Benedict is largely considered to be the founder of Medieval monasticism. He established the Benedictine order and instituted the" Rule of Saint Benedict, compiled in the first half of the sixth century, which laid the foundation for the form of monastic life most commonly practiced there. The rule—with its stress on moderation, obedience to the monastery's leader (the abbot), and a prescribed program of prayer, work, and study—synthesized many of the teachings of the desert hermits and early Christian writers."

"The early Middle Ages have been called "the Benedictine centuries."In April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI discussed the influence St Benedict had on Western Europe. The pope said that “with his life and work St Benedict exercised a fundamental influence on the development of European civilization and culture” and helped Europe to emerge from the "dark night of history" that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.

To this day, The Rule of St. Benedict is the most common and influential Rule used by monasteries and monks, more than 1,400 years after its writing.

The influence of St Benedict produced "a true spiritual ferment" in Europe, and over the coming decades his followers spread across the continent to establish a new cultural unity based on Christian faith."


The Venerable Bede Translating the Gospel of John; JD Penhouse

The Venerable Bede Translating the Gospel Of John, JD PEnhouse
medieval_manuscripts.jpg a Medieval Manuscript

Venerable Bede:(673-735 AD) He is considered by many to be the most educated man of his day. The scholarship and culture of Italy had been brought to Britain where it was transported to Jarrow, the location in England of Bede's monastary. Here it was combined with the simpler traditions, devotions and evangelism of the Celtic church. In this setting Bede learned the love of scholarship, personal devotion and discipline . He mastered Latin, Greek and Hebrew and had a good knowledge of the classical scholars and early church fathers.

The Venerable Bede Translating the Gospel of JohnJD Penrose

Bede's writings cover a broad spectrum including natural history, poetry, Biblical translation and exposition of the Scriptures. His earliest Biblical commentary was probably that on the book of the Revelation. He is credited with writing three known Latin hymns.

He is remembered chiefly for his "Ecclesiastical History of the English People." This five volume work records events in Britain from the raids by Julius Caesar in 55-54 BC to the arrival of the first missionary from Rome, Saint Augustine in 597. Bede's writings are considered the best summary of this period of history ever prepared. Some have called it "the finest historical work of the early Middle Ages."

So, why did monks play such a large role in the Middles Ages? They were an essential part of society because of the status of the Medieval monastry in Medieval culture.

Uses of the Medieval monastery :

A Medieval monastery was a farm, an inn, a hospital, a school and a library. The uses of a Medieval monastery included the following:

  • A Medieval monastery received pilgrims and travellers, at a period whenwestern Europe was almost destitute of inns

  • A Medieval monastery performed many works of charity, feeding the hungry, healing the sick who were brought to their doors, and distributing their medicines

  • A Medieval monastery provided education for boys who wished to become priests and those who intended to lead active lives in the world

  • A Medieval monastery copied the manuscripts of classical authors preserving valuable books that would otherwise have been lost

  • A Medieval monastery kept records of the most striking events of their time and acted as chroniclers of the medieval history of the Middle Ages.

  • ,

So, you can see how very essential to society monastaries were. In addition to their religious and spiritual purposes, they provided structure and stability to Medieval communities. They are responsible for preserving the works of Classical authors for posterity and for being the beacon of literacy and education in an otherwise dark and illiterate world.

medieval monasticism

venerable (veneri=to fear) :1.used as a title for an Anglican archdeacon or for a Roman Catholic who has been accorded the lowest of three degrees of recognition for sanctity

2.old and respected : valued and respected because of old age, long use, etc. a venerable tradition

monasticism: 1. the rule or system of life in a monastery. 2. the life or condition of a monk. — monastic, n., adj. — monastical, adj.

2/29 Happy Leap Year

sine qua non:'without which not"; a necessity

stare decisis:" the decision stands"; an appeals court reaffirms the decision of a lower court

Charles Martel:"The Hammer" Frankish Mayor of the Palace (major domus;majordomo); interregnum after the death of Pipen; Carolingian ruler.

fought the Moors at the Battle of Tours(aka Battle of Poitiers).

There is scholarly debate about the importance of this battle. There are those who say it was decisive for Europe and Christendom. Others say it was certainly helpful, but not decisive.

"Modern military historian Victor Davis Hansen acknowledges the debate on this battle, citing historians both for and against its macrohistorical placement:

  • Recent scholars have suggested Poitiers, so poorly recorded in contemporary sources, was a mere raid and thus a construct of western myth-making or that a Muslim victory might have been preferable to continued Frankish dominance. What is clear is that Poitiers marked a general continuance of the successful defense of Europe, (from the Muslims). Flush from the victory at Tours, Charles Martel went on to clear southern France from Islamic attackers for decades, unify the warring kingdoms into the foundations of the Carolingian Empire, and ensure ready and reliable troops from local estates."


  • Moors:

"Spain and Portugal comprise the Iberian Peninsula in the southwestern corner of Europe. The peninsula is separated from France and the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees Mountains, but at the narrow strait of Gibraltar, only nine miles separate Spain from the north coast of Africa. It was through that narrow strait that, in AD711, a group of Arab, Berber and other Muslim peoples from North Africa invaded Spain and ruled part or most of the Iberian Peninsula for almost 800 years. The local people called the invaders Moors."

  • This is a really good site! If you ever need a place that gives lots of info really clearly, check this one out!
  • Alors, c'est un video de Charles et les Maures:
  • Charles martel and the MOORS

  • majordomo : a head steward of a large household (as a palace);a person who speaks, makes arrangements, or takes charge for another; broadly: the person who runs an enterprise <the majordomo of the fair>

macrohistorical: an analysis of history that "seeks out large, long-term trends in world history, searching for ultimate patterns through a comparison of proximate details. For example, a macro-historical study might examine Japanese feudalism and European feudalism in order to decide whether feudal structures are an inevitable outcome given certain conditions. Macrohistorical studies often "assume that macro-historical processes repeat themselves in explainable and understandable ways"."


statim (STAT!!!!): "immediately"

status quo ( ante): "that which stood before" The city council decided to accept the status quo rather than change the traffic pattern at the busy intersection.

Charlemagne/Carolus Magnus/Charles the Great ( eum amo!!!!!): King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor; founder of Holy Roman Empire

"In 768, when Charlemagne was 26, he and his younger brother Carloman inherited the kingdom of the Franks. In 771 Carloman died, and Charlemagne became sole ruler of the kingdom. At that time the Franks were falling back into barbarian ways, neglecting their education and religion. The Saxons of northern Europe were still pagans. In the south, the Roamn Catholic church was asserting its power to recover land confiscated by the Lombard kingdom of Italy. Europe was in turmoil.

Charlemagne was determined to strengthen his realm and to bring order to Europe. In 772 he launched a 30-year military campaign to accomplish this objective. By 800 Charlemagne was the undisputed ruler of Western Europe. His vast realm encompassed what are now France, Switzerland, Belgium, and The Netherlands. It included half of present-day Italy and Germany, and parts of Austria and Spain. By establishing a central government over Western Europe, Charlemagne restored much of the unity of the old Roman Empire and paved the way for the development of modern Europe.

On Christmas Day in 800, while Charlemagne knelt in prayer in Saint Peter’s in Rome, Pope Leo III placed a golden crown on the bowed head of the king. Charlemagne is said to have been surprised by the coronation, declaring that he would not have come into the church had he known the pope’s plan. However, some historians say the pope would not have dared to act without Charlemagne's knowledge.

Charlemagne learned to read Latin and some Greek but apparently did not master writing. At meals, instead of having jesters perform, he listened to visiting scholars read from learned works. Charlemagne believed that government should be for the benefit of the governed. He was a reformer who tried to improve his subject’s lives. He set up money standards to encourage commerce and urged better farming methods.coronation_of_Charlemagne.jpg

‘By the sword and the cross,’ Charlemagne became master of Western Europe.

As is often the case, people considered great by historians are great killers as well. Throughout his conquests, Charlemagne was responsible for the death of masses of people who refused to accept Christianity, or their new king. Choosing to keep faith with their old gods and leaders, many thousands were slaughtered." ( Nobody's perfect!)

charlemagnemap.gifThe light green is where he started, the dark green is what he acquired.

CharlemagneCrown.jpg Charlemagne's crown...I want one.

“He was six feet four inches tall, and built to scale. He had beautiful white hair, animated eyes, a powerful nose...a presence ‘always stately and dignified.’ He was temperate in eating and drinking, abominated drunkenness, and kept in good health despite every exposure and hardship.”

- Einhard (the King's secretary) describing Charlemagne in Vita Karoli Magni

Here is an exceprt:

Filiorum ac filiarum tantam in educando curam habuit, ut numquam domi positus sine ipsis caenaret, numquam iter sine illis faceret. Adequitabant ei filii, filiae vero poene sequebantur, quarum agmen extremum ex satellitum numero ad hoc ordinati tuebantur. Quae cum pulcherrimae essent et ab eo plurimum diligerentur, mirum dictu, quod nullam earum cuiquam aut suorum aut exterorum nuptum dare voluit, sed omnes secum usque ad obitum suum in domo sua retinuit, dicens se earum contubernio carere non posse.

  • He was so careful of the training of his sons and daughters that he never took his meals without them when he was at home, and never made a journey without them; his sons would ride at his side, and his daughters follow him, while a number of his body-guard, detailed for their protection, brought up the rear. Strange to say, although they were very handsome women, and he loved them very dearly, he was never willing to marry any of them to a man of their own nation or to a foreigner, but kept them all at home until his death, saying that he could not dispense with their society.


Aix La Chappelle (Aachen) : Charlemagne's favored residence; it was the focus of his court and the poltical center of his empire. It is here that he encouraged scholarship as well. aix_la_chapelle.jpgAachener_dom_oktagon.jpgNow, that's a church.

dark ages Charlemagne

magnate (magnus):a person who has great wealth and power in a particular business or industry a railroad magnate

magniloquent (magnus+loqui): speaking in or characterized by a high-flown often bombastic style or manner


sub rosa: "under the rose"; secretly; a sub rosa meeting (oohlala)

sui generis: "of its own kind"; unique

Vikings: viking_raiding_party_landing.jpgWhat's in your wallet?

The Vikings came from three countries of Scandinavia: Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The name 'Viking' comes from a language called 'Old Norse' and means 'a pirate raid'. People who went off raiding in ships were said to be 'going Viking'.

The Viking age in European history was about AD 700 to 1100. During this period many Vikings left Scandinavia and travelled to other countries, England, Scotland and Ireland were easy targets. Some went to fight and steal treasure. Others settled in new lands as farmers, craftsmen or traders.

Monastaries were particularly hard hit as that is where a lot of treasure was. We can also thank the Vikings for helping the people of the Middle Ages develope cities( there is a reason animals travel in packs!).

"Viking invasions were a major factor in the development of cities during the early Middle Ages. These invaders often plundered more than they could carry, sold surplus goods to surrounding villages and created base camps to be used for trading. Dublin, Ireland's roots began as a Viking base camp. To protect themselves, villages began erecting walls and fortifying their positions. This lead to the great medieval walled cities that can still be seen in modern Europe.

These walled cities became known as "bourgs," "burghs," and later, bouroughs. Inhabitants were known as bourgeois. By the mid-900s, these fortified towns dotted the European landscape from the Mediterranean as far north as Hamburg, Germany."

Why so ruthless? Can't we all just get along? Apparently not. It was very important to the Viking way of thinking to acquire plunder and therefore glory. Dying in combat was also a way to get to Valhalla, the banquet of the Norse gods. Furthermore, the Valkyries decided who would live and who would die in battle, so, since this was already determined...why not roll the dice?
Wagner Ride of the Valkyries

horrible histories viking

dark ages vikings

generic (gens, generis):of or relating to a whole group or class;Flu is sometimes used as a generic term/name for any illness caused by a virus.

degenerate (de+gens, generis): a)having declined or become less specialized (as in nature, character, structure, or function) from an ancestral or former state ; A degenerate building

b): having sunk to a condition below that which is normal to a type; especially: having sunk to a lower and usually corrupt and vicious state; A degenerate gambler


tabula rasa; "a blank slate"; Some people believe that a newborne's mind is a tabula rasa while others believe that some qualities are inborne. Johne Locke, the 18th century philosopher, used this phrase to explain his notion that intelligence and character are not inborn. He espoused that a child's mind is a tabula rasa, and that a child's personality is shaped by his life experiences. Locke believed that character is a product of nurture, not nature. This debate is still in full swing to this very day.

summa cum laude : " with highest honor"


"Feudalism was the system of loyalties and protections during the Middle Ages. As the Roman Empire crumbled, emperors granted land to nobles in exchange for their loyalty. These lands eventually developed into manors. A manor is the land owned by a noble and everything on it. A typical manor consisted of a castle, a small village, and farmland. "

During the Middle Ages, peasants could no longer count on the Roman army to protect them. German, Viking and Magyar tribes overran homes and farms throughout Europe. The peasants turned to the landowners, often called lords, to protect them. Some peasants remained free, but many became serfs. A serf was bound to the land. He could not leave without buying his freedom, an unlikely occurrence in the Middle Ages. Life for a serf was not much better than the life of a slave. The only difference was that a serf could not be sold to another manor.

Serfs would often have to work three or four days a week for the lord as rent. They would spend the rest of their week growing crops to feed their families. Other serfs worked as sharecroppers. A sharecropper would be required to turn over most of what he grew in order to be able to live on the land."

Here is a link to a chart to make it clearer: feudalism

Here is a map of a manor:medieval_manor.gifHere is the Stokesay manor house in England:stokesay_medieval_manor.jpgWhat was life on the manor like? Well, that depended upon who you were: life on a manor

And, of course we love our friends at horrible histories medieval come dine with me

Why did people live on manors? Because they were safer than living anywhere else ( we all recall the bloody eagle...ouch!!!)

castle defenses( or defences as our British friends spell it)

laudatory: for the purpose of praising; a laudatory speech

serf ( servus): see definition above


tempus fugit: "time flees" It is later than you think, and the race has already begun.tempus-fugit.jpg

tempus_shoes.jpgIt's kind of a memento mori, which makes this a double whammy.

TEMPUSfugit.jpgI like this ad, although I do believe that if one were to drink absinthe, tempus would fugit in all kinds of weird ways.

terra firma: " firm ground" I hate to fly, and I don"t really like to be on a boat. I much prefer terra firma.

Everyone's favorite: The BUBONIC PLAGUE (aka the BLACK DEATH)

The plague begins

"In the early 1330s an outbreak of deadly bubonic plague occurred in China. The bubonic plague mainly affects rodents, but fleas can transmit the disease to people. Once people are infected, they infect others very rapidly. Plague causes fever and a painful swelling of the lymph glands called buboes, which is how it gets its name. The disease also causes spots on the skin that are red at first and then turn black. This is how it affected people and how it spread: the spread of the plague

Since China was one of the busiest of the world's trading nations, it was only a matter of time before the outbreak of plague in China spread to western Asia and Europe. In October of 1347, several Italian merchant ships returned from a trip to the Black Sea, one of the key links in trade with China. When the ships docked in Sicily, many of those on board were already dying of plague. Within days the disease spread to the city and the surrounding countryside. An eyewitness tells what happened:The-Triumph-of-Death-1629-1637_Bruegel.jpgThe Tiumph of Death/ Bruegel

"Realizing what a deadly disaster had come to them, the people quickly drove the Italians from their city. But the disease remained, and soon death was everywhere. Fathers abandoned their sick sons. Lawyers refused to come and make out wills for the dying. Friars and nuns were left to care for the sick, and monasteries and convents were soon deserted, as they were stricken, too. Bodies were left in empty houses, and there was no one to give them a Christian burial."

The disease struck and killed people with terrible speed. The Italian writer Boccaccio said its victims often

  • "ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise."

By the following August, the plague had spread as far north as England, where people called it "The Black Death" because of the black spots it produced on the skin. A terrible killer was loose across Europe, and Medieval medicine had nothing to combat it.

In winter the disease seemed to disappear, but only because fleas--which were now helping to carry it from person to person--are dormant then. Each spring, the plague attacked again, killing new victims. After five years 25 million people were dead--one-third of Europe's people.

Even when the worst was over, smaller outbreaks continued, not just for years, but for centuries. The survivors lived in constant fear of the plague's return, and the disease did not disappear until the 1600s.

Medieval society never recovered from the results of the plague. So many people had died that there were serious labor shortages all over Europe. This led workers to demand higher wages, but landlords refused those demands. By the end of the 1300s peasant revolts broke out in England, France, Belgium and Italy.

The disease took its toll on the church as well. People throughout Christendom had prayed devoutly for deliverance from the plague. Why hadn't those prayers been answered? A new period of political turmoil and philosophical questioning lay ahead.

Black Death - Disaster Strikes

25 million people died in just under five years between 1347 and 1352. Estimated population of Europe from 1000 to 1352.

  • 1000 38 million

  • 1100 48 million

  • 1200 59 million

  • 1300 70 million

  • 1347 75 million

  • 1352 50 million"

Can you imagine? God forbid.
history teachers the plague

plague_doctor.jpgThe Plague Doctor. It's very very creepy. How would you like to be lying there, bleeding from your poor, or drowning in your own fluid and see this guy coming at you?

Christianity During the Plague

Desperate times call for desperate measures!

The bubonic plague created a new trend among Christians, who were convinced that the outbreak was a direct reflection of God’s anger. They started to physically punish themselves publicly, often in groups, and became known as the flagellants.They were denounced by the pope and arrested when possible.

"Each had in his right hand a scourge with three tails."

Although prevalent on the European continent, the Flagellants did not achieve popularity in England. However, a large contingent of the sect crossed the English Channel in 1349 and converged on London. The following description of the Flagellants comes to us from Sir Robert of Avesbury who witnessed their ritual:

"In that same year of 1349, about Michaelmas (September, 29) over six hundred men came to London from Flanders, mostly of Zeeland and Holland origin. Sometimes at St Paul's and sometimes at other points in the city they made two daily public appearances wearing cloths from the thighs to the ankles, but otherwise stripped bare. Each wore a cap marked with a red cross in front and behind.


A Contemporary View of the Flagellants, ca 1350

Each had in his right hand a scourge with three tails. Each tail had a knot and through the middle of it there were sometimes sharp nails fixed. They marched naked in a file one behind the other and whipped themselves with these scourges on their naked and bleeding bodies.

Four of them would chant in their native tongue and, another four would chant in response like a litany. Thrice they would all cast themselves on the ground in this sort of procession, stretching out their hands like the arms of a cross. The singing would go on and, the one who was in the rear of those thus prostrate acting first, each of them in turn would step over the others and give one stroke with his scourge to the man lying under him.

This went on from the first to the last until each of them had observed the ritual to the full tale of those on the ground. Then each put on his customary garments and always wearing their caps and carrying their whips in their hands they retired to their lodgings. It is said that every night they performed the same penance."
Believe it or not, the practice of flagellation is still with us today, but I am not showing it, becaue it is gruesome and completely kooky.

flagellate: to hit (yourself or another person) with a whip as punishment or as part of a religious ritual — sometimes used figuratively He flagellated [=severely criticized] himself for years for allowing the business to fail

contemporary( con+tempus): 1.happening or beginning now or in recent times ; contemporary musci2. existing or happening in the same time period : from the same time period a contemporary account of the Civil War


terra incognita: "unknown land"; unexplored territory

ultima Thule:" outermost Thule"; the farthest point one can go

Crusades: crusades_final.jpg

The objectives of the Crusades was at first to release the Holy Land, in particular Jerusalem, from the Saracens, the name given to Muslims in the Middle Ages, but in time was extended to seizing Spain from the Moors, the Slavs and Pagans from eastern Europe, and the islands of the Mediterranean. There were 9 total, but 4 that are significant.

The reason for the crusades was a war between Christians and Moslems which centered around the city of Jerusalem. The City of Jerusalem held a Holy significance to the Christian religion. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem commemorated the hill of crucifixion and the tomb of Christ's burial and was visited by Pilgrims. In 1065 Jerusalem was taken by the Turks and 3000 Christians were massacred starting a chain of events which contributed to the cause of the crusades. CrusadersBishops.jpg

Three major religious groups all claimed Jerusalem in the land of Palestine as their holy city.

  • To Christians, it was the place where Jesus was crucified and ascended to heaven

  • To Muslims, it was the place where Muhammad ascended to heaven

  • To Jews, it was the site of the ancient temple built by Solomon

In 600 CE, Arabs entered the city and took control.

The Arabs allowed Christian and Jewish pilgrims to visit Jerusalem. In fact, Jews and Christians could live in Palestine as long as they paid their taxes like everyone else.

The First Crusade:

The Problem: Around 1095, a new group of Arabs took control of Jerusalem. They closed the city to Jewish and Christian pilgrims.

The Solution: The Pope( Urban II) acted. He called for a crusade - a volunteer army whose goal was to retake Jerusalem. Many people volunteered. About 30,000 men left Western Europe to fight in Jerusalem.

  • For knights, this was a chance to use their fighting skills, something they enjoyed and did well. They were delighted to have such a worthy battle to fight.

  • For peasants, this was a chance to escape from their dreary life in the feudal system. The pope promised that if they died while fighting a holy crusade, they would automatically be welcomed into heaven.

  • For others, it was a chance to have an adventure, and perhaps even to get rich.


Sign of the Crusade - The Red Cross: Each crusader had a huge red cross, made out of fabric, stitched onto their shirts or armor. It made all crusaders, irrespective of rank or background, appear to be a unified army. It reminded the crusaders that they were fighting a holy cause. The red cross was added to flags and banners

The Results: After about two years of harsh traveling, hunger, disease, freezing weather, and quarrels amongst themselves, the crusaders finally arrived in Jerusalem. After a two-month siege of the city, the city fell. The crusaders had won back Jerusalem. Some men stayed. Some headed home. Those who returned brought back new foods and new forms of culture.

More Crusades: It was a short victory. Less than 50 years later, Muslims once again conquered Jerusalem. Again the pope called for a crusade to take back the city.

  • The Second Crusade lasted from 1147-1149. It was not successful.

  • The Third Crusade lasted from 1189-1192. It was not successful.

  • The Fourth Crusade lasted from 1202-1204. Instead of attacking Jerusalem, the crusaders attacked Constantinople. They stole statues, money, paintings and jewelry. They burned libraries. They destroyed churches. Their ridiculous excuse was that they needed money to defend Constantinople from the same fate as Jerusalem, as well as to fund the rescue of Jerusalem. The people of Constantinople did not find this excuse acceptable, and they were filled with hatred for the west.

  • The Children's Crusade in 1212 was a terrible tragedy. Many thousands of French and German children died trying to reach Jerusalem. They believed God would help them because they were children. Many died of hunger. Other froze to death. When the survivors reached the Mediterranean Sea, they expected the waters to part and let them pass. When this did not happen, those who were left returned dismally home.

  • Over the next 70 years, there were several other crusade attempts, but they were motivated more by personal gain than by religious purpose. None succeeded. By 1291, 200 years after the first crusade, European leaders lost interest. Western Europe never admitted defeat. They simply stopped asking for new crusaders.

Here is a good link about the crusades: Crusades

And here is a video:

And our friends at Horrible Histories

subterranean ( sub +terra): under ground

ultimatum(ultimus):a final threat : a promise that force or punishment will be used if someone does not do what is wanted She was given an ultimatum—work harder or lose her job.