Ohio 7th Grade World History/Printable version

Ohio 7th Grade World History

The current, editable version of this book is available in Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection, at

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This book represents the beginning of a multi-year project to create a digital textbook based on the Ohio 7th grade social studies content standards. The first two chapters were completed by two different classes and represent information concerning the Middle Ages, Feudalism, the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation. Students chose different topics that correspond to specific concepts outlined in Ohio’s curriculum standards.

Students at Beachwood Middle School are creating this book. Beachwood City Schools are located in Beachwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. Beachwood Middle School incorporates technology in the classroom through a one-to-one laptop program. The information you read in this digital textbook is completely student-generated (excluding this introduction). Students spent several weeks brainstorming, reviewing their notes and previous projects, and collaborating in small groups. It is because of their dedication and achievement as life-long learners that this project is possible. These students also had the courage to take a risk with their teachers and use the last few weeks of school to do something truly unique.

This textbook is the result of over a year of collaboration between several individuals. Garth Holman, the Social Studies department chair and 7th grade world history teacher envisioned this project as a way to engage students through the use of technology and help them see the “big picture” that is often lost, or ignored, in history classes. Beginning in the summer of 2006, Garth began working with a student teacher, Michael Pennington. Another member of this project was Angie White, an intervention specialist at Beachwood Middle School. Angie provided a strong knowledge of curriculum differentiation and techniques to include students of varying abilities. A project of this nature, allows students to disseminate knowledge in a digital format that is congruent to the world in which they live. Our students are digital natives and this new technological paradigm allows for the democratization of knowledge. Wiki technology and the ability to instantaneously communicate across cultures and physical boundaries means that nothing our students create is isolated. We not only want our students to learn, but understand how the puzzle pieces fit to create the world in which we live.

It all started with a basic question, “how do you engage students and allow them to show what they know”. Burgeoning technologies require teachers to rethink assessment and adapt to their students. Teachers prepare students for their future, not our past. Life does not occur in a vacuum, yet too often textbooks and curriculum categorize and isolate historical episodes. Our students connected the historical dots using written summaries, hyper-links, digital imagery, and iMovie. The ultimate goal of this book is not only to explain important moments in history, but also understand the long-term effects of each moment.

Introduction to the Middle Ages

Can you imagine living where disease was common, and fighting was of great significance? This time was called Feudalism, the system of obligations that governed the relationships between lords and vassals in medieval Europe, was a main idea then. The following is about the Renaissance, the period of “rebirth” and creativity that followed Europe’s Middle Ages, and the Middle Ages, which is a period that lasted from about 500-1500 AD in Europe.

Causes of Middle Ages

There were many causes of the Middle Ages, including the Fall of Rome, Viking invaders, Charlemagne, and the spread of Christianity.

Fall of Rome


The fall of Rome was the largest because, as Rome fell, various groups from the north and south began to move into former Roman land. Because the empire was too large, the army had a difficult time traveling to defend land from invaders. As they moved in, powerful warlords created their own states and declared themselves king. By the early 500s, there were many small kingdoms. The small sovereignties kept fighting among themselves. Without Rome’s central government there was no central authority to keep the peace between the small territories. As a result, bandits and invaders became common.

The Vikings

Artwork depicting Vikings

Invaders invaded Rome and stole goods. The three most common invaders were the Vikings, Magyars, and the Franks. The invaders created mass hysteria; people were robbed, killed; there was no law or order. Entire villages were burned to the ground. It was easy for the Vikings because they were great sailors and northern Europe contained a lot of rivers. The rivers allowed the Vikings to show up without notice and destroy a town. The facts that the Vikings could come and go at any time made people’s fear grow exponentially. People were scared and looking for protection. They started feudal societies for protection because they were scared and they clung to anything that gave them hope. Christianity boomed and became the leading religion.

Charlemagne and the Spread of Christianity

Bust of Charlemagne

Charlemagne tried to conquer the Roman Empire but failed. Through his wars of conquest, Charlemagne united many of the tribes of Central and Western Europe into a single empire. While Europe was still reeling from the collapse of Rome, Charlemagne brought people together. He helped Europeans realize that they shared common bonds such as Christianity that linked them. He helped people see themselves as Europeans, not members of tribes.

Social Pyramid

Feudal Hierarchy


There were two social pyramids during the Middle Ages: the social pyramid and the Catholic pyramid. The social pyramid was king at the top, the nobles & clergy, knights, and peasants & serf. The Catholic pyramid was the Pope at the top, then cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and the common clergy. The common clergy were nuns, priests, and monks. The Pope was a spiritual leader and a political leader. The clergy had the most power because they controlled the 1/10 rule. They could also excommunicate people. If the king was excommunicated then so were his subjects. Though the peasants were of the lowest rank, they had the most important jobs: growing and harvesting the crops. The knights fought for their ruler and provided land for the peasants, as did the nobles. The king controlled everything; they had the most luxury out of everyone next to the Pope.

Wealth and Social Class

Wealth and social class were very important in the middle ages. Everyone had a different part to play in the feudal system to help out in their manor. There were two social pyramids: the Catholic Church pyramid and the social pyramid. The Catholic Church pyramid consisted of the pope at the top, then the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and the common clergy (nuns, priests, and monks). Even though the peasants didn’t own land they were extremely important. Without the peasants the whole social system would fall. Did you know that 90 percent of the people during the Middle Ages were peasants? The king and queen were of course at the top. The nobles were the vassals of the kings and queens. Most of them were also a lord or a lower ranking knight. The knights served their nobles or lords in exchange for their land. As mentioned before the peasants were not part of the feudal system because they didn’t own land. Most of the peasants worked on land like a slave, owned by nobles or knights. This feudal system spread all the way from Eastern Europe to France, Spain, Italy, and Germany. It was a ‘divine right' to become a king or queen. The right to rule granted by God and passed on through the family. The pope was at the coronation of the kings and queens. This gave the pope the right to make or break the king or queen. The 1/10 rule applied to everyone. All of the things people gave were given to the Church. Soon the church became extremely rich. Several events lead to the collapse of Feudalism. The Magna Carta took power away from the Monarchs of Europe and the Black Death decimated the population of Europe; leaving a void in the work force and leading to the growth of cities. As cities grew people began trading, learning and gaining wealth. The middle class, a new social class, worked for wages and began to specialize in specific jobs. As secular rulers lost power, the power gained by the Catholic Church also began to fade. The end of the feudal system proved that it only existed to serve the few and not the many.


Creation of Christianity

It is said that Emperor Nero blamed The Great Fire of Rome on Christians to justify their persecution.

Catholicism was the major religion during the Middle Ages. It was a sect based off the teachings of Jesus Christ and spread like rapid fire throughout Europe. Jesus Christ was a man that was said to be performing miracles and healings. Many said the healings that took place could only be performed by the Lord. People from all over came to see if they could receive a miraculous healing for themselves or their loved ones. Christianity and the good news that followed started to grow, and more people were becoming supportive of all that Jesus taught. John 4:4-42, John 4:28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him." The Roman Empire felt threatened by this new influence. They outlawed Christianity throughout their empire. Anybody who was found practicing Christianity was persecuted. Cruel punishments were used to enforce the strict restrictions on religion. Jesus was crucified, nailed to a cross, and died. People continued to follow Jesus. Thinking of him as the messiah, they were confident that he would rise again. Jesus’ followers formed the Christian Church. Catholicism is a branch of Christianity.

Formation of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church


Before there were popes, there were two bishops that lead the Catholic Church. There was the Bishop of Rome and the Bishop of Constantinople. The Bishop of Rome wanted power, and he proclaimed that he would become the leader of the Catholic Church, the Pope. The Bishop of Constantinople didn’t agree with this. He thought that the Church was being run how it should. He wanted to keep the church the same, and keep himself at the top position in the church. The new proclaimed pope excommunicated the bishop. The bishop of Constantinople formed a new church, it was called the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Bishop of Constantinople became the pope of his new church. These were the only two branches of Christianity that existed during the Middle Ages.

The Catholic Church


Catholicism soon became the major religion in all of Rome, which was most of the known world. The ruler of the Catholic Church was called the Pope. The Pope was decided by Catholic Church members and officials. Since almost everyone in Eastern Europe was Catholic, the Pope had a lot of responsibility. The Pope had so much power that he and various kings started to have conflicts over power. At this point in time, everybody’s goal in life was to get into heaven. All empires, kingdoms, and villages focused on religion. The Pope had the power to decide if you were going to go to heaven, or if you were going to Hell. Kingdoms started to have more faith in the Popes word, then in their rulers word. Kings started to worry that they were losing the respect, and the clutch over their kingdoms. As the Popes power grew to the extreme, sometimes he would abuse his abilities. This could be anything from asking for to much money, or excommunicating people for miniscule reasons. To be excommunicated means to be cast out of the Church and sentenced to Hell. There were many rules that went along with being a member of the Catholic Church. You had to give money, crops, and dedication to the Pope and Catholic law. There were also sales that raised money to go to the Catholic Church. People were often pressured into participating in these sales. An example of this is the sale of indulgences. During this “sale,” people would by passes that lessened their time in purgatory. Purgatory is the place where Catholics believe people go to work of their sins before being admitted into heaven.

Tithe and the 1/10 Rule


The 1/10 also known as tithe was a big thing in the middle ages. The 1/10 rule took place in the 1200s. Christians mostly used it. Farmers would have to give 1/10 of their harvest. Average people would give 1/10 of their food and land. Foods like milk, eggs, meats, wood, and wine. These were types of items people gave. All these things were given to the church. They were also given to the class above you. This created inequality. The lowest class never got any of the 1/10 given; they only have to the higher classes keeping them poor. The rich kept getting richer because the poor supplied them. All items were stored in special barns. Priests were the people who collected the goods. All social classed gave to the church except the pope. The practice of tithe is linked to the giving of a tenth of Abraham's possessions to The Prince of Salem and the high priest of god according to the bible. Because of the 1/10 rule, the church gained a lot of power and was very important in the middle ages.

Religious Tensions during the Middle Ages


The Catholic Church had so much power, that you can imagine that they had many conflicts with other religions. The tensions were rising between the Jews, Muslims, and Christians. They all had the same holy land. This place is called Jerusalem. To the Christians, Jerusalem is where Jesus lived and preached. To the Jews, Jerusalem holds a main temple. It is also considered the holy land, the land of milk and honey, by the Jewish faith. To the Muslims, Jerusalem is one of the two holy cities where Muhammad, their prophet, preached. The other city that is considered holy by the Muslims is Mecca. The Muslims had control of Jerusalem at this time, and the Christians were determined to take it. The Pope let out the word that the Catholic Church needed an army to take their holy land. Anybody who joined the army was promised that they would go to heaven. This was the start of one of the biggest series of wars in history. It would be mostly the Muslims verse the Christians in a clash of swords, cultures, and life styles. On the way to war Jews were killed by the Catholics because the Catholics were determined to kill for their religion. These were the crusades.

Weapons and Defense

Weapons and Warfare


Weapons and warfare played a vital role in the Middle Ages. They were used to conquer and defend territories. The strength of your army became the currency of the realm. If you weren’t a soldier or noble, you were a peasant in the feudalistic society. The weapons, such as the sword, pike, and spear, were a way of life. Political problems turned into military problems, starting wars and feuds. The shield also played an important role. Many soldiers forsook the shield for their swords, but the more organized armies had strategy. This led to the growth of kingdoms, and the end of feudalism, sending Europe into the Renaissance era.

During the Middle Ages, fighting and death reached an all-time high. Even though this was happening, military skill and tactics were a joke compared to Greek, Roman, Persian, etc. warfare styles. The weapons and armor had, of sorts, degenerated, and the fortifications had become cheap wooden walls with houses inside. With the Church’s domination over Europe, everyone was pitted against each other to win favor in the eyes of the Christian God. So with the mix of constant war, Catholic followers were eager and willing to kill their neighbor to earn kudos with the Church. It was a very dangerous, primitive time.

Artwork depicting a battle during the Crusades.

Two of the biggest wars that happened during the Middle Ages were the Crusades and the 100 Year War. Each was a massive series of battles, where thousands died on each side. The weapons never changed much, even though the Middle Ages were over 600 years.

The Crusades and 100 Year War weaponry varied from battle to battle, but they all kept the same basic weapon format. Most of the poorer infantry would use simple iron swords and pikes, simple wooden or iron shields, and, if possible, simple leather armor. The "slingers" or archers would generally have simple slings or short bows. And the typical cavalry would generally have a long sword and shield, and leather or iron armor.

As the Middle Ages continued, weapons became more advanced and more powerful. Swords became stronger and sharper, so the killing of the enemy would be much faster and easier. The English started using longbows instead of small bows so that larger, longer arrows could be shot from a farther distance. Knights wore more flexible armor, so extra movement could give them the upper hand in a battle. Siege weapons became bigger and better, especially because of the invention of European gunpowder, so simple catapults became long-range trebuchets and castle walls became obsolete with the first cannon. Because of these advances, battles, and then wars, became faster and a lot more dangerous.

Castles and Defense

A castle surrounded by a moat.

A castle is defined as a fortified stronghold or a fortified residence of a lord or other important person. During the Middle Ages, castles were revolutionary in there architecture, impenetrability, and defense capabilities, they were the heart of defense efforts, and the peak of defensive capability for several decades and throughout many wars, including the crusades. They were designed to be safe against charges from cavalry and knights. They were built to withstand long sieges and extended battles. Because of there importance and there reputation as safe havens, castles often employed many staff and housed large amounts of well equipped defense forces, to operate war equipment and fight off attackers.

A castle is made up of many parts, all vital to its running smoothly. A moat is a ditch dug around a castle, as a fortification, and filled with water to prevent attackers from entering. A drawbridge is a bridge across a deep ditch, often a moat, which may be raised or lowered to restrict or allow entrance into a castle. A portcullis, is a sliding timber or iron gate suspended over a gateway, which can be raised or lowered to allow or prevent access to various areas. They are much like metal doors. Inside a castle are many rooms. There are towers, dungeons, halls, and more.


Art depicting jousting

After the crusades, weapons started to change more. In fact, a sport was created where you fight for fun. Jousting and tilting were sports where you wore special armor and rode on a horse with a long 14-foot-pole called a lance. The point of the game was to run at the other person making them fall of the horse with your lance. You need to protect yourself with a shield. With the lance, you must thrust into a target on their shoulder. This is extremely thick armor for extra protection. It had poor flexibility and did not look good, but it was extremely strong and weighed from 80-100 pounds. This was one of three kinds of steel armor.

The next kind of armor is decorative armor. It had very good flexibility and looked very fancy. It was not used for fighting but just for decoration. It wasn’t very thick and it weighed from 20-70 pounds. This kind of armor was worn at parades and ceremonies. Only wealthy people wore this. It was very artistic.

The last and most important type of armor was combat armor. It was extremely complicated, though strong, flexible, and it looked good. It consisted of over 200 pieces. It weighed from 45 to 80 pounds. It had built in joints and could be used for any occasion. It was easy to get back on a horse if you fell off with this armor. This armor included a helmet that was properly ventilated and you can see well with it on.

The results of the 100 Year War

The 100 Year War helped create nationalistic feelings among the populations of participating countries.

Intense Nationalistic feeling grew in both England and France. Most of the war was fought on French soil so there were great population and property loses that weakened France for the next hundred years. England lost territory in France but it allowed the English kings to centralize their power further and concentrate only on the English nobles. New weapons were introduced which weakened the power of the Knights and the castle, thus ensuring the destruction of the feudal system in both England and France. The system continued in many of the Eastern European region especially Russia but was absent in Spain, Portugal, city-states in Inlay, Prussia, and the Holy Roman Empire.

Japanese Feudalism

Japanese Feudalism

Edo Castle during the Japanese Feudal period.

Feudalism was not unique to Europe. In Japan, an analogous system was being developed. Japanese feudalism stretched from the twelfth through the nineteenth century. Both government systems were based on land.

Like in Europe, the emperor would give land to daimyo, or great lords. The Japanese emperor’s had only a limited power. He was just a powerless head of the government. A king is similar to an emperor and a lord was comparable to a daimyo. A shogun was a powerful military leader who was higher in the hierarchy than daimyo. Although technically the Emperor is the head, the shogun was the one who made the actual decisions, but usually with the Emperor’s consent.

Peasants were similar to noumin. Peasants made up 90% of the population, which included farmers and craftsmen. The peasants were divided into a series of classes, with farmers being the highest class and merchants being the lowest.

During the early 17th century, the rulers of Japan started to follow a policy of seclusion. They suspected that traders, merchants and missionaries wanted to bring Japan under the control of European powers. Except the Dutch and the Chinese, all foreigners, traders and merchants from other countries, and missionaries faced restrictions. They also ordered some foreigners to leave Japan. Still, even during the period of seclusion, the Japanese continued to gain information and knowledge about other parts of the world.

Feudalism lasted much longer in Japan than in Europe, not disappearing until the 1800s. Although the feudal systems of Europe and Japan were similar, their cultures were very different.

The Samurai

Image of a Samurai

The knights of medieval Europe were very similar to their feudal counterpart in Japan; the samurai. Both warrior groups followed a detailed code of honor. Chivalry was the code of conduct for the knights of Europe, and for the Samurai the code was known as Bushido. Both codes of honor talked about respect and modesty, but also required fearlessness and loyalty. Knights fought for their lords and in return the lords gave the knights land, which was called a manor. The samurai, on the other hand, fought for their lord in return for food like grains and rice. Another similarity between samurai and the knights is that they were both respected by their cultures for their dedication and hard work. Knights and samurai were also trained to treat people with respect and honor, especially women. A knight’s life consisted primarily of training and fighting, as did the samurai’s life. The type of residence a samurai was allowed to own depended on his lands and income, in other word, his status. The samurai lived in longhouses, these longhouses were split into apartments and a normal arrangement was to have a gateway with a row of rooms as its upper floor. At the other end of the social pyramid, the daimyos, or nobility, maintained large mansions and castles on their lands. The samurai had many types of equipment for war, such as a war mask called menpo. They also had armored sleeves called kote. Other names for armor that the samurai used were kabuto, which was the samurai’s helmet.

Samurai sword

Magna Carta

The Magna Carta

In the year 1215, King John signed a document known as the Magna Carta or “Great Charter” in Latin. It was created by Nobles who were angry and tired of the Kings’ doing as they pleased and not respecting the laws and rights of others. The document allowed the Nobles to gain more power by limiting the Kings’ rights so they could not do as they pleased. The definition of the Magna Carta is: a document listing rights that a king could not ignore. Laws such as Habeas Corpus, which allowed people to only be put in jail when they did something wrong, were put into effect to stop the kings’ from taking advantage of lower classes. The Magna Carta led to the English Parliament, which still exists today and made the stepping-stones for today’s modern democratic governments. A system of checks and balances, which was set forth by the Magna Carta, is an idea still used today by the United States Government. Overall the Magna Carta impacted most forms of government including the idea of democracy, the English Parliament, and even today’s United Sites Government.

Spread and Impact of the Black Death

Spread of the Plague


The Black Death was one of the deadliest diseases in human history. It killed 137 million in 3 major outbreaks. The 1st outbreak was called Plaque of Justice and occurred in 542 – 543 A.D where 70,000 people were killed in the city of Constantinople. The 2nd outbreak, the focus of this research, was the deadliest and is often referred to as the Black Death. It occurred in Asia and Europe, but mostly in Europe, where about 75 million Europeans were killed during the four years (1347–1351) of the plague. The spread of the Black Death was very dangerous. Italian traders first contracted the Black Death in trade with Asians. As these traders headed home, they carried the disease with them to trading ports in Italy. The disease followed traders and their cargo further west and north. By 1349 the disease had spread to all of modern Europe and its trading ports.

Spread of the Bubonic Plague Through Western Europe: 1346–1353

Rats, found on ships and on land, represented the primary pool of the disease, even though these animals themselves are immune to the bacteria that cause plague. The disease was transmitted to humans through flea bites where a flea would first bite an infected rat and thus, become infected as well. In a second step, the infected flea would transmit the plague bacteria to human hosts when piercing their skin to suck their blood.

Some forms of plague were also spread through air. If someone inhaled air that contained infected water droplets, they would catch the disease as well. People didn’t have enough knowledge about plague to understand that rats were a primary problem in relation to the disease. Instead of eliminating the rats, they fed them and gave them shelter.

Effects of the Bubonic Plague

The Triumph of Death an artwork non-literally depicting the chaos caused by the black death.

The Black Death caused many changes in Europe. The Black Death killed between 33% - 50% of the European population. Roughly 70% of the people who contracted the disease died. People assumed that burning the diseased bodies would help stop the disease from spreading. The catastrophic spread of plague is thought to have been facilitated by the general lack of hygiene and cleanliness back in the day. Streets were typically littered with garbage and dirt creating an ideal environment for rodents. In addition, the first wave of each large outbreak tended to show the highest mortality rate since few people were naturally immune to the disease. Subsequent waves were accompanied by increasingly lower death tolls due to a growing level of immunity among the existing population.

The effect the disease had on people's bodies were severe trembling, high fever and swollen lymphomas on their neck that turned black and often burst open. This was called bubonic plague. A person would usually die within 3 to 5 days. Another deadlier version of plague would spread through the air and often kill people in less than a day. This type is called pneumonic plague. At the height of an outbreak, the daily death rate would be so high that special carts were sent through the streets to collect the dead bodies.

Introduction to the Renaissance

There is a reason the Middle Ages were referred to as the “Dark Ages.” They were not literally dark, but metaphorically dark. It was a period in time when the average commoner knew almost nothing about academia, and when lords and kings ruled over serfs and villagers with iron fists. It was a time of knights, castles, and battles; of sieges, burning, and razing.

However, there was a ray of light emanating from the East. The Arabs, in their Golden Age, during their trading with the Romans and Greeks, had kept the classics and continued studying academics. They had reproduced the writings and works of Aristotle, Plutarch, Plato, Virgil, and other notables. The Arabs formulated algebra and explored science and geometry. They also incorporated elements of Greek and Roman architecture. They were also amazingly liberal in their attitudes toward life.

The Crusades were then launched in the name of reclaiming the Holy Land, and although the Crusades primarily involved fighting, an exchange of ideas occurred. The Crusades brought these ideas home, and they planted the seeds for a revitalization of scholarly thinking and learning – the Renaissance.

In essence, the Renaissance was actually a return to the past and to lost ideas from the past. It is true, then, that he who knows his past knows his future. The Renaissance paved the way by allowing city-states and thinking to flourish, allowing for new innovations and inventions that are the foundations for today’s arts, sciences, architecture, and technology.

Gutenberg and the Printing Press

Recreation of a Gutenberg printing press.

Johannes Geasfleisch zur Lam zum Gutenberg was born sometime in 1400, and he was the youngest child in his family. His father was an upper class clothe merchant. His mother was his father’s second wife and the daughter of a shopkeeper. Growing up Gutenberg like to learn about mechanics. Before he made the moveable printing press, he was a gold merchant, and build machines.

The printing press began in 1444, but was not finished until 1452. Then people did not hear about it until three years later, when Gutenberg published the bible in Latin in 1456, the first printed book. Eventually it became increasingly popular and it was in high demand. Gutenberg then began printing bibles in other languages, so people could learn to read. This led to the advancement of reading. Johannes Gutenberg was very important to the Renaissance and Literature. Gutenberg was a German who developed the printing press using movable type. Instead of Monks having to write out every word in every book, the printing press could create whole pages at once! Since more books could be made, there was spread of ideas. This spread of ideas increased the concept of learning, and lessened the power of the Catholic Church.

Before the Renaissance and Reformation the only literature that people had was the Bible. The “re-birth” caused Protestants and humanists to create pieces of writing stating their ideas. Literature was affected by Johannes Gutenberg inventing the printing press. It enabled people to create multiple copies of writings in different languages. The humanists and Protestants were able to spread their ideas all over the world. One of these humanists was William Shakespeare, known as the greatest English writer today.


Before the Renaissance and Reformation the only literature that people had was the Bible. The “re-birth” caused Protestants and humanists to create pieces of writing stating their ideas. Literature was affected by Johannes Gutenberg who invented the printing press. IT enabled people to create multiple copies of writings in different languages. The humanists and Protestants were able to spread their ideas all over the world. One of these humanists was William Shakespeare, commonly considered among the greatest English writers in history.

William Shakespeare: 1564-1616

A conjectural reconstruction of the Globe playhouse.

William Shakespeare was an important figure in literature. He was an English poet, playwright, and an actor. He wrote 38 plays and 154 sonnets. A sonnet has 14 lines, a structured rhyme and a logical structure. He attended King Edward VI Grammar School. He married Anne Hathaway at age 18. Shakespeare was a great playwright who created comedies, tragedies, and histories. A history is when Shakespeare make a powerful person who he thought had many faults look good, but made his opinions known on a different person. A comedy of his was “A Midsummers Night Dream”, and a tragedy was “Hamlet”. He also wrote poems, like “Venus and Adonis”. All of his literature contributed to humanism because he introduced ideas that the Middle Ages didn’t cover. Shakespeare talked about themes that are always going to be a problem. For example, he talked about forbidden love, death, war, etc. That’s a lot about Shakespeare.

Machiavelli: 1469-1521

Portrait showing Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccoló di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was also very important to the advancement of literature. Born in a small town near Florence, Machiavelli was an Italian political philosopher, musician, poet, and romantic comedic playwright. He wrote many books, but one of his most famous books is The Prince. It describes how a prince can retain control of his realm. In this book, he focuses on the new prince, not the one born into royalty. That is because a new prince has to “stabilize his newfound power”. His main interests were politics, military theory, and history. He had a realist political theory. His influences were Cicero, Sallust, Livy, and Xenophon. He also influenced Thomas Hobbes, and James Harrington. Some of his other works are Discorso sopra le Cose di Pisa, Decennale Secondo, Clizia, and Frammenti Storici.


Renaissance art was so much more different then they were in the past. During the Renaissance, Italian artists created the most beautiful paintings and sculptures. Artists showed people in the most realistic ways. Artists would study the human bodies and drew almost exactly what they saw. They used a new technique called perspective, a way of showing depth and distance on a flat surface. They made closer people darker in color, and people farther away less colorful and in depth and farther away. They use ordinary lines and make them look like an illusion and this makes the painting more realistic. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, the muscular human figures in the painting, and reminds the viewer of Greek and Roman statues. The Ancient ruins and statues inspired painters and Architects.



Humanism is a way of thinking and learning that stresses the importance of human abilities and action. Humanism started in Florence and spread in Italy and then it spread North through Europe. Some of the humanistic subjects are poetry, history, art, and Greek/Latin languages. Humanism also led to rediscovering of ancient writing. Art changed too, the middle ages the subject of art was more religious; things like angles, the apostles and god. But after in the Renaissance the artist started drawing more realistic things, like everyday people and things. In the Renaissance people Looked up to science more than they looked up to the church for answers. That means that people relied less on the kings and the Pope got weaker because the people could fix their own problems. People also could create thing like microscope, telescope, and printing press.

Renaissance Art

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The Renaissance people wanted art that showed joy in human beauty and life’s pleasures. Renaissance art is more lifelike than in the art of the Middle Ages, which focused on religion. Renaissance artists studied perspective or the differences in the way things look when they are close to something or far away. The artists painted in a way that showed these differences. As a result, their paintings seem to have depth.

One of the most popular major achievements was the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo was believed to be a great man. He was extraordinarily smart and a fantastic thinker. He was an Italian scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, musician and writer. He created a tank, a flying machine, a parachute, and most importantly his art. He created the Mona Lisa, which is widely considered his greatest work. He also produced paintings in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City.

Another great artist, Michelangelo Buonarroti, regarded himself as a sculptor. He created the famous David. He created tombs for the Medici family and Julius II. This proved the masterful skill Michelangelo had.

In the Renaissance there were many great artists like one from Florence, Giotto, who was one of the first to paint in this new style of perspective 3D art and vanishing point. Giotto lived more than a century before the beginning of the Renaissance, but his paintings show real emotion. The bodies look solid, and the background of his paintings shows perspective. The art produced during the Renaissance would build upon Giotto’s style.

Renaissance art was very similar to art made in Rome and Greece about 1200-2000 years ago. People began carving out sculptures of men and woman like in the past. People began using the new art on the gardens, houses and castles as well. In Renaissance people didn’t paint gods and devils, they started to focus on humanism-The study of history, literature, public speaking and art that lead to a new way of thinking In Europe in 1300s.

Math and Science

Nicolaus Copernicus proposed that the Earth orbited the Sun.

Some Renaissance scientists thought mathematics could help them understand the universe. Scientists read Ancient texts and expanded on the ideas they found. They made new symbols like the square root symbol, the addition symbol, and the subtraction symbol. Advanced mathematics led to advances in other fields of science. Engineers and Architects used new mathematical formulas to strengthen buildings. Other scientists wanted to know about the heavens, and what was beyond the confines of the Earth. They studied astronomy to learn about the sun, stars, and planets. While studying the heavens, they learned that the earth revolves around the sun. All of these new ideas led to the making of a more accurate calendar.


Architecture was a very important subject of the Middle Ages. Architecture first changed from a gothic styling to a warmer appearance in Florence, Italy during the early 15th century. Although architecture quickly spread to Germany, England and Russia, it didn’t spread to France until 125 years later. Architecture of the Renaissance particularly placed emphasis on symmetry, geometry and proportion. It was during this time that architects began using more bricks and the color red became much more popular. Another thing that became popular were large windows because they allowed illumination to enter dark rooms, providing a warmer experience. The Dome was a very common design in Renaissance architecture. Almost all cathedrals had domes that held paintings on their ceilings. Some important architects that became popular for their designs were Leonardo da Vinci, Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelangelo Buonarroti.

Renaissance Homes

Vila La Rotonda, an example of a Renaissance home built for an important person.

The architectural elements of Renaissance homes were different from the ones of the Middle Ages. The homes owned by wealthy people reflected elements of ancient Roman architecture. Architects built homes that surrounded astounding courtyards. The facades of buildings had simple, symmetrical decorations on them. Architects designed most homes with large windows, which illuminated rooms. Homes were made of stone, which was carved or painted with gorgeous details. Stained glass was no longer used in this time period because it was dark and was not comforting. The fine houses of the renaissance had statues with gods and goddesses. Demons and angels were no longer used to decorate. The homes were surrounded by well-tamed gardens that had flowers and shrubs placed in geometric patterns. The homes were brighter and had a more comforting feel to them. This architecture was less gothic and more peaceful and graceful then the architectural style of the Middle Ages.


Miracoli's Church in Venice

Churches in medieval times had a gothic style. They were heavily adorned with figures of angels, demons and saints. Architects began to create warmer, brighter churches. The use of stained glass was lessened, letting more light come into the building. Domes and arches became very common.

One example of a famous renaissance church is the Sistine Chapel. It is a small chapel in the Vatican. Built during the reign of Poe Sixtus IV Della Rovere (1475-1483) the chapel stands at 40.93 meters (134.3 ft) long, 13.41 meters (44.0 ft) wide and 20.7 meters (68 ft) high. The ceiling was originally painted with gold stars against a blue background. Michelangelo repainted it to make it more religious. He created scenes, which depicted the history of the universe, events from the Christian faith and humanity.

Built in 1296, the Duomo is an architectural masterpiece of Florence. Building of the Duomo took 200 years to complete. It is a symbol of Florence and the renaissance. All streets in Florence eventually lead to the Duomo. It is famous for its bronze doors called the Doors of Paradise, built by Ghiberti. It has a pink, white, and green façade. The Duomo has an octagonal dome that is 42 meters (138 ft) in span and consists of two layers. The size of the Duomo shows the importance of Catholicism to the city. The St. Peters Basillia is a very famous church. Michelangelo designed it. The Grand façade is 116 meters (381 ft) wide and 53 meters (174 ft) wide and has 13 statues. The central balcony is called the Loggia of the blessings. Antonio Averulino designed the door in the center. The Northernmost door is called The Holy Door, built by Vico Consort.

Effects of Renaissance Architecture

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's iconic residence, was highly influenced by Renaissance architecture.

Today we use many techniques and ideas from Renaissance architecture. Learning about architecture has helped teach new mathematical concepts, as well as a greater understanding of the arts. For example, the White House uses arches, columns and domes, similar to structures during the Renaissance. Also, the Church paid people money to make the new religious structures. This means that skilled laborers became more common, allowing more people to become wealthy, and eventually forming a middle class.


As the Renaissance ended, the impact it had on world history would endure.

The Renaissance left behind a lasting impact on history. The Renaissance began to uncover classical human achievements and the arts, and trade blossomed. New ways of thinking became common and architecture spread, making Greek and Roman styles more common. The idea of individualism, or humanism, was developed, and stress was placed on human actions and importance. New ideas were thought of, and new artwork emerged. The Church’s stranglehold on Europe loosened as the Reformation occurred and humanism spread. There was a spirit of excitement and joy and Europe was looking to the future. The Renaissance encouraged growth, learning, and expansion. It revitalized Europe and reinvigorated it, paving the way for the Age of Exploration. The Renaissance and Exploration Ages reestablished the ancient ideas and founded the pillars on which modern civilization stands. The values and spirit of the Renaissance are to this day instilled on our lives.


A painting depicting a key scene of the Reformation, The Diet of Worms.

By the late Renaissance, many people had many complaints against the Catholic Churches. That was the first move that led to the Reformation. Reformation, being the reforming movement against the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the complaints were about the way the church served people. Some thought the popes and bishops weren’t religious anymore and too involved in politics rather than actually doing their job. Many thought the church was getting rich unfairly.

Martin Luther

Painting of Martin Luther

Martin Luther (was originally named Martin Luder) was born on November 10, 1483 in Eislenburg, Germany. He worked as a monk, teacher and a reformer. Luther’s father, Hans Luther, was determined to make his son a lawyer so he sent Luther to a school in Mansfeld. In 1498, he went to University of Erfurt to study law. During his time at the University, there was a lightning storm which made him decide that he should become a monk.

Despite his family’s and friend’s efforts to persuade Luther not to, Luther entered the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt in 1505. There, he studied the life of a monk: to fast, pray and work. He woke up at three in the morning and prayed. A monk’s life was hard. They were only given one meal a day in the winter and two in the summer. They were not allowed to talk during meals. They donated to people, made clothes, prayed, took care of sick people, provided shelter and helped people in times of need.

Martin Luther first became a reformer when he believed that the Church was doing things wrong. The Church was making people pay money for their sins to be forgiven (indulgences), the Pope was too involved in politics, and the Church had too much money. To protest against these doings, he found followers and made his own, the Lutherans. Luther’s idea spread quickly throughout Germany with the print press.


Illustration showing the selling of Indulgences.

Indulgences were documents given by the pope that excuses people from the sins that he or she had committed. It was like buying your way into heaven. Also indulgences could be used to reduce the time he or she spends in purgatory. Martin Luther wanted to change how the church was handling the sins of other people. So Martin Luther wrote the 95 theses. The 95 theses were the 95 complaints of the Catholic Church. At first no one followed him but then many people started to follow him. These people that followed him were called Lutherans. Martin at first didn’t want to form a new church, but ended up making the Lutheran Church.

The 95 Theses

Print of the 95 thesis.

With the idea of protesting against the Catholic Church, Luther made his list of complaints or things he didn’t like about the church known as the 95 Theses.

Exsurge Domine is a papal bull by Pope Leo X to the opposition of the 95 Theses. The Exsurge Domine stated asked that 41 would be removed from the Theses. Pope Leo X gave Luther sixty days to remove 41. When Luther did not remove them by the time the 60 days were over, Pope Leo X excommunicated him on January 3, 1521.

King Henry VIII

King Henry VIII

Creation of the Anglican Church (Church of England)


When the Catholic Church did not allow King Henry VIII to divorce, King Henry decided to make his own church called, The Anglican Church, or more commonly known as, Church of England. Because King Henry only wanted a divorce, the Anglican Church follows many of the same religious practices as the Catholic Church.

King Henry VIII

Portrait of Henry VIII



King Henry VIII was King of England and lived 1491 – 1547. He had an older brother, Arthur, the Prince of Wales, who had passed away leaving Henry to the throne.

He was infamous for having six wives with two divorced, two beheaded, one dead. His last wife, however, survived long after King Henry died. His six wives were:

  1. Catherine of Aragon (Divorced)
  2. Anne Boleyn (Beheaded)
  3. Jane Seymour (Died)
  4. Anne of Cleves (Divorced)
  5. Catherine Howard (Beheaded)
  6. Katherine Parr (survived)

He also severed the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church, because when he wanted a divorce, and the church would not let him. This was also part of the protestant reformation.

  • In addition, the first wife of King Henry bore a daughter named Mary I who was later known as 'Bloody Mary' after she was taken to the throne after Edward VI who died shortly after birth.

Later in life, Henry VIII was declared as 'insane' due to his actions.



King Henry wasn’t famous only for his six wives, but his true works of songs, speeches, letters, and poems. His poems talked about love, dreams, feelings, etc. Some of his well-known poems and song are:


[Green groweth the holly]

Green groweth the holly, so doth the ivy. Though winter blasts blow never so high, Green groweth the holly.

As the holly groweth green And never changeth hue, So I am, and ever hath been, Unto my lady true. Green groweth . . . etc.

As the holly groweth green, With ivy all alone, When flowerys cannot be seen And green-wood leaves be gone, ut supra

Now unto my lady Promise to her I make: From all other only To her I me betake. ut supra

Adieu, mine own lady, Adieu, my specïal, Who hath my heart truly, Be sure, and ever shall.

Green groweth the holly, so doth the ivy. Though winter blasts blow never so high, Green groweth the holly.

Pastime with good company

Pastime with good company I love and shall until I die. Grudge who likes, but none deny, So God be pleased, thus live will I. For my pastance: Hunt, sing, and dance. My heart is set! All goodly sport For my comfort. Who shall me let?

Youth must have some dalliance, Of good or ill some pastance. Company I think then best -- All thoughts and fantasies to digest. For idleness Is chief mistress Of vices all. Then who can say But mirth and play Is best of all?

Company with honesty Is virtue -- vices to flee. Company is good and ill, But every man has his free will. The best ensue. The worst eschew. My mind shall be. Virtue to use. Vice to refuse. Thus shall I use me!