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Old 10-01-2009, 16:12   #6
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Medieval Societies: Europe and Japan

In this unit students will encounter Europe during the High Middle Ages. This study will focus on the economic and political structure of feudal society; daily life and the role of women in medieval times; the growth of towns, trade, and technology; and the development of universities. Special attention should be paid to Christianity in the Middle Ages because the Church, more powerful than any feudal state, influenced every aspect of medieval life in Europe. The story of St. Francis of Assisi should be told, both for his embodiment of the Christian ideal and for the accessibility to students of his gentle beliefs. Attention also should be given to the Crusades, with these European undertakings viewed from both the Christian and Muslim vantage points. What were the Crusades? Why did they begin? What were their results?

To understand what was distinctive about European culture during this period, students should compare Western Europe with Japan during the High Middle Ages. They will see that the two cultures had aspects in common: a feudal, lord-vassal system, with military leaders (shogun), great lords (daimyo), and knights (samurai). Both feudal societies emphasized personal loyalty to the lord, military skills, a strict code of honor, self-discipline, and fearlessness in battle. Students will also see striking differences in cultural values, religious beliefs, and social customs, including differences in women’s roles. Japanese Haiku poetry and European epic poetry, such as Beowulf, provide an interesting contrast. By seeing that some cultural traditions have survived since the Middle Ages, including the importance that Japanese place on family loyalty and ceremonial rituals, students should better understand the meaning of historical continuity. They also should appreciate the significance of change by seeing how much both cultures have been transformed by forces of modernization while retaining aspects of their cultural heritage.

Another aspect of medieval societies that students should understand was the continuing persecution of the Jewish minority; the massacre of Jews by the Crusaders; and the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290, from France in 1306 and 1394, and from many German cities during the time of the Black Death. Students should learn of the conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Spain, beginning in 1085, and the plight of the Jews caught between the warring faiths. Examination of the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions, during which people were tortured and burned at the stake, should demonstrate the lengths to which religious authorities went to force conversions and to destroy as heretics those who continued in their Judaic faith. The expulsion of the Jews and Muslims from Spain in 1492 should be noted.

Europe During the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Scientific Revolution
This unit focuses on an unusually rich and important period whose effects continue to influence politics, religion, culture, and the arts of the present day.
A remarkable burst of creativity that began in the fourteenth century in northern Italy and spread through Europe produced the artistic and literary advances of the Renaissance. Classical literature was rediscovered, and human*istic studies flourished. Particular attention should be paid to Florence, Italy, as a major center of commerce, creativity, and artistic genius. Students should be introduced to the writings of Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Machiavelli and to the art of Michelangelo, da Vinci, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Van Eyck, and Dürer. Examination of masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Moses and Dürer’s The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will demonstrate the powerful vision of these artists as well as the power of art to communicate ideas. Students should analyze how Renaissance painting differed from that of the Middle Ages, even though both reflected many of the same religious themes and symbolisms. They should observe how Renaissance art reflected the advances of that age in science, mathematics, engineering techniques, and understanding of human anatomy.

Students should closely examine the Protestant Reformation and become familiar with the religious beliefs of Martin Luther and John Calvin as well as the history of the English Bible. To understand why Luther’s 95 theses, nailed to the Wittenberg church door, had such historic results, students should consider the growing religious, political, and economic resistance to the supremacy of the Renaissance popes. Through vivid narrative, attention shouldbe given to the dramatic series of events leading to Luther’s excommunication, the peasants’ revolt, the spread of the Reformation throughout northern Europe and England, the Catholic response in the Counter-Reformation, the revival of the Inquisition, and the bloody religious conflicts that followed. Most of Germanic Europe became Protestant, while most of Latin Europe remained loyal to Rome. Throughout Europe, the secular power of kings and local rulers grew at the expense of church authority and led to the age of kings. Students should learn the meaning of the divine right of kings, particularly in relation to the French monarchy.

The beginnings of modern science can be found in these same tumultuous years of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Students should draw on their science courses to examine the significance of the methods of scientific observation, mathematical proof, and experimental science developed by such giants of this age as Galileo, Johannes Kepler, Francis Bacon, and Sir Isaac Newton. Students should consider the significance of the inventions of this age—the telescope, microscope, thermometer, barometer, and printing press— and observe how all these developments spurred European leadership in commerce and helped to usher in the age of exploration and the Enlightenment.

pp. 90 -92
“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)… There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.” - To Kill A Mockingbird (Atticus Finch)

“Almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.” - Robert Heinlein
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