This chapter encompasses 3 sections:
- The English Language – a melting pot of many languages!
- Serfs and Noblemen – describes the system of feudalism where people serve others in exchange for something
- Stone Castles – the knights built stone castles to protect themselves from the serfs
The English Language
The first part of the chapter focuses on the English language and how it is essentially a melting pot of many different languages. I find this so fascinating – it’s no wonder spelling can be difficult for kids that aren’t visual learners! It starts with Old English, the language spoken by the German barbarian Angles and Saxons, which is difficult to decipher and uses other letters that are no longer incorporated into the English language. It includes words such as: was, long, father, man, house, sheep, dog, wood, work, drink, the, this, here, that. The Angles and the Saxons drove out the Celts when they came, so there are a few words borrowed from the Celts: Then when Augustine came and brought Christianity to England, so did Greek and Latin: apostle, angel, baptize, fraternal, maternal. When the Vikings invaded England, in came Viking words from Scandinavia: leg, skin, skull, angry, cut, crawl, die and drown (very Viking-like)! Finally, when William the Conqueror became king, the Normans settled in England and brought French words: peace, curtsy, beef, chair, curtain, garden, castle, judge, jury, honor, courage, and rich.
Activity: Blending Languages with Play-Doh
Use different colors of Play-Doh to represent the different languages that represent the English language: Old English, Celtic, Greek and Latin, Viking, and French. You can use a small amount of Play-Doh or if you use a larger amount, you can roll it out and write the name of the language on the color it represents using a pencil. Then, mush the colors all together to represent the English language (you can then write English on it if it’s large enough). What color does it make?
Serfs and Noblemen
This section describes the system of Feudalism. It was a Norman way of life that was brought in after the Norman invasion. The king claimed all of of England as his own, then gave his favorite knights pieces of England, in exchange for money and to serve in the army whenever needed. These knights, or lords, gave smaller parts of their land to other knights, who would fight for them, as well as to farmers, called peasants or serfs, who would promise to give part of everything they raised to their lord. Every person in England served someone else, and the person that they served had duty to give them back something in exchange.
When the system of Feudalism came into play, the peasants and farmer were upset. They had always lived on their own land, grown their own food, and taken care of themselves. Now, the soldiers were taking their land and telling them what to do. So, the peasants rioted and tried to burn down the wooden houses of their Norman overlords. The Normans started to build stone castles to protect themselves. They built their castles up on a hill with moats and a portcullis, or wooden gate.
Activity: Make an Almoner, or Coin Purse
Clothing in the Middle Ages did not have pockets, so to carry their money, they used a coin purse, or almoner. They would tie the almoner to their belt for safekeeping. Thieves would try and steal their coin purses by cutting the ‘purse strings’ with a knife.
Cut a piece of material into about a 12″ circle using a large dinner plate. I found some fun material squares at Walmart for $1 each. (I can’t resist the sugar skulls from Dia de los Muertos which also makes me think of Monarchs, one of my fav things!). If you want a more finished look, you could hem the edge with a sewing machine. (I did not do this – I was going for easy on this one.)
Using a scissors (I used a hole punch because my material was thin enough), cut slits (or holes) every 1″ apart all around about 1/2″ from the edge.
Take a ribbon or string and weave in and out of the holes. You will either end up going out of the same hole or an adjacent hole (either works fine!). You can tie the ends of the ribbon.
Add your loot!