The Middle Ages is a term used to designate the period in European History between "Ancient" and "Modern Times," extending roughly from the 5th century to the latter part of the 15th century.
Since the term Middle Ages merely applies to a period of history with an indefinite beginning and end, exact dates for either cannot be given. Some historians have started with the year 476 AD, as convenient, although it represents merely the end of the line of Western Roman emperors and not the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The period of transition from the Roman period to the Middle Ages had begun long before this date. There was no abrupt change from Medieval to Modern times, but rather a continuous historical development. Although many things have been called Medieval, the term itself cannot be used descriptively to cover a thousand years of culture. Ideas, habits, and institutions varied as greatly in the Middle Ages as at any other time. The whole period was vastly varied and complicated.
Feudalism, chivalry, and the guild system were a part of the Medieval times. Belief in the supremacy of the Catholic Church, along with other beliefs and institutions, reached their height during the Middle Ages.
The period had elements of unity and attained a distinctive culture at its peak during the twelth and thirteenth centuries. Greco-Roman culture, Christianity, and the Germanic peoples were finally synthesized. Monasticism gained new life. Towns arose with the revival of trade, producing Medieval learning, and the guilds flourished. The cathedral schools of the towns gave birth to the first universities. Romanesque and Gothic styles of architecture and decorative arts developed magnificently in this period. A rich vernacular literature arose in town and court and included masterpieces of feudal epics, romances, and lyric songs of the troubadours. Chivalry developed as an aristocratic code to soften the brutality of feudalism and to lend grace to the manners of the upper classes.
Catherine, Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman
Visit an art museum and view illuminated manuscripts, altar pieces, armor and weapons of the time period.
Create a line drawing of a cathedral or castle.
Create a stained glass window out of tissue paper on a construction paper frame.
Create an illuminated manuscript by decoratign letters of the alphabet.
Create a version of a triptych or altarpiece.
Listen to musical chants of the monks.
Prepare a reader's theatre using The Middle Ages: Read Aloud Plays, by Jeannette Sanderson.
Ask members from the Society for Creative Anachronism to visit the class and provide a demonstration.
Take your patrons on a journey back to a time shrouded in myth, legend, misunderstanding, and excitement.