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Title: Dennise Levertov Poems

Total Pages: 3 Words: 969 Works Cited: 0 Citation Style: MLA Document Type: Essay

Essay Instructions: This has to be paper on author Denise Levertov and 3 poems from her
"into the snake", "the jacob's ladder" ,and caedmon

Excerpt From Essay:

Title: exam 2

Total Pages: 4 Words: 1799 Bibliography: 1 Citation Style: MLA Document Type: Research Paper

Essay Instructions: I need this question answer from the information I provide you nothing from out side sources and I need a single space in the paragraph and a double space between paragraph I order 4 pages because I need 2 pages and because it is single space in the paragraph and double space between paragraph I know I need to order more .

Here is the question that I need you to answer

"What are the significant events/people that began to shape and to create our modern world."

You will need to write over one page. Be as detailed as you can. Quantity and qualilty are what you are going for.
Only use your reading material. Do not just repeat the reading material--discuss it.
Make sure that you single-spcae your paragraphs and double-space in between your paragraphs.

Here is the material for you to read and answer the question:



After the final collapse of the Western Roman Empire, an amalgamation of western Germanic tribes moved into Gaul (modern-day France, Luxemburg, Belgium, western Germany, and parts of Holland). One of these tribes, the Franks, became the most powerful.


In AD 481, Clovis (AD 466-511), a man of war, became the first Frankish king. His political objective was to create a Frankish empire to rival Rome in its heyday. He successfully united the Frankish tribes and subjugated the Germanic tribes of Gaul.

Clovis became a Christian in AD 498 through the influence of his wife Clotilde. Reminiscent of Constantine the Great, Clovis bargained with the God, promising to become a Christian if he won the Battle of Tolbiac. After winning the battle he had been so close to losing, Clovis and 3,000 of his soldiers were baptized on Christmas Day, AD 498.

Now that Clovis was a Christian, the Church backed his military escapades as ?holy wars.? Since any territory that Clovis conquered could only be occupied by Christians, the vanquished people frequently converted to Christianity so they could stay in their homeland.

DID YOU KNOW IT: The name ?Clovis? developed into ?Louis,? the most fashionable moniker for the kings of France.

When Clovis died in AD 511, his kingdom was partitioned into four political units ? Rheims, Orleans, Paris, and Soissons ? which were ruled by his weak descendants. The ?do nothing? Merovingian kings, named for Merovee, Clovis? grandfather, accomplished little of historical significance though they reigned for about two hundred years.

But things changed in AD 715 when a new ruler came to power.

Charles Martel and the
Rise of the Carolingians


During the reign of the Merovingian kings, the Mayor of the Palace, the head executive of the royal household was the true power behind the throne.

In AD 711, the powerful Moors, Muslims from North Africa, invaded and eventually conquered Spain. The Moors then set their sights on France. The targeted land desperately needed a leader to stop the onslaught.

In AD 715, a Mayor of the Palace who called himself a Duke and Prince of the Franks reunited the fragmented Frankish kingdom. His name was Charles Martel (AD 688-741).

Charles built a professional army by confiscating church lands. At the famous Battle of Tours in western France (AD 732), Charles crushed the Moors and killed their governor-commander, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi. The Battle of Tours was one of the most significant turning points in European history.

DID YOU KNOW IT: For the next ten years, Charles conducted a series of military campaigns that stopped the Moorish advance into Western Europe. He became known as Charles ?the Hammer? Martel, perhaps in honor of the ?The Hammerer? Judas Maccabeus, a hero of the Jewish Maccabean revolt back in 167-164 BC.

Charles created the European feudal political system and the ?gentleman warrior class? more commonly known as knights. The Carolingian Empire originated from the power base that Charles established during his reign.

Pepin the Short
The Carolingian Dynasty Begins

Charles Martel?s son, Pepin the Short (AD 714-768), became Mayor of the Palace at Charles? death. Pepin desired the title of ?king? since he conducted himself like one. The super-bishop of Rome, Pope Zachary (reigned AD 741-752), appointed another church official to crown Pepin king.

The next super-bishop of Rome, Pope Stephen II (reigned AD 752-757), personally came to Paris to authenticate Pepin?s title. During an extravagant service held at Saint Denis Basilica, Pope Stephen re-consecrated Pepin as king of the Franks in AD 754. The pope bestowed upon Pepin the supplementary designation of Patricius Romanorum (Patrician of the Romans). Pepin?s desire for kingly titles made him the first of the Carolingian dynasty of Frankish kings.

The Roman Church, for clandestine reasons, promised Pepin to excommunicate anyone who might oppose him as king. The super-bishop of Rome needed Pepin?s military might to drive the Lombards, a Germanic tribe, out of northern Italy. After Pepin?s victory in AD 756, he awarded the rule of central Italy to the super-bishop (pope). The munificent gift of this territory, called the Donation of Pepin, for the first time made the pope a temporal ruler of a perpetual possession. Central Italy was later known as the ?Papal States.? This alliance between the Frankish rulers and the Roman Catholic Church had significant ramifications that reach into the modern world.

Charlemagne and His Empire

Pepin?s son Charles (AD 742-814), the greatest of the Carolingian kings, extended the Frankish kingdom into an empire. Coming to the aid of the pope, he conquered the Lombards and added their territory to his own. Charles? military power resided in the Scarae, an elite cavalry modeled after Alexander the Great?s Companion Cavalry.

DID YOU KNOW IT: Charles named his famous sword Joyeuse, or ?joyful.? According to the Song of Roland, Joyeuse changed color thirty times a day. The town of Joyeuse in Andreche (south-central France) was named after Charlemagne?s sword.


Charles is better known as Charlemagne, French for ?Charles the Great.? He conducted victorious holy wars against the Muslims, the Germanic Saxons, and the Avars in the east. He was sometimes brutal, such as when he slaughtered 4,500 enemies after they had laid down their arms.

Wherever Charlemagne conquered, new Christian congregations were built. He offered his enemies a non-Christian ultimatum ? convert to Christianity or die. The titles of ?Leader of the Christian People? and the ?Defender of the Churches of Christ? were bestowed upon the king.


Charlemagne?s ?Christian? empire was very proficient. A patron of learning, he founded a palace school for his and his noblemen?s offspring and hired such scholars as Britain?s Alcuin of York, Peter of Pisa, Paulinus of Aquileia, and Theodulf of Orleans. Charlemagne himself learned to read and write.

Wanting to recreate the culture of the Roman Empire, Charlemagne created a standardized school curriculum, collected and preserved ancient Biblical manuscripts, promoted literature, the arts, law, and Biblical studies. He encouraged the development and utilization of Medieval Latin and Carolingian minuscule, a common and uniform handwriting style that introduced the use of lower case letters that provided Europeans with a legible means of communication.


Charlemagne took advantage of Pope Leo III?s political troubles to gain more power. The pope, charged with adultery and perjury, almost had his eyes gouged out and his tongue ripped out by some Roman nobles. On December 23, AD 800, Pope Leo proclaimed his innocence and swore an ?oath of purgation? (juramentum calumniae). Charlemagne exiled Leo?s enemies.

The coronation of Charlemagne occurred on Christmas Day, AD 800, when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as ?Charles Augustus, Emperor of the Romans? (Imperator Augustus). The title transferred the power of the ?vacant? male Byzantine emperor in Constantinople to Charlemagne. This coronation offended and angered the Roman Empress of the Eastern Roman Empire, Irene of Athens. Of course, the coronation was prearranged, but Charlemagne acted surprised even as he allowed the pope to set the golden bejeweled crown on his head.

DID YOU KNOW IT: Charlemagne?s coercion by the pope meant that he and the empire?s future rulers wouldn?t take a back seat to any pope in either sacred or secular affairs. This momentous act gave new birth to the old Western Roman Empire ? at least, for a brief time.

Division of Charlemagne?s Empire

Louis the Pious, the son of Charlemagne, became king after his father died in AD 814. When Louis died, his three sons ripped the empire apart with their civil wars. The Treaty of Verdun (AD 843) split the empire into three parts: the middle, the western, and the eastern. The Treaty was an important development in the creation of modern France and Germany.

As Charlemagne?s descendents squabbled with each other, the Moors returned. But they weren?t the only invaders. The Magyars, lightning-fast horse-riding nomads known as the ?Scourge of Europe,? made incursions from Asia. The Scandinavian Vikings arrived in their longships, slaughtering men, women, and children from Ireland to England to the European continent. These invaders eventually settled in Normandy, France.

DID YOU KNOW IT: On the small island of Lindisfarne in AD 793, off the northeast coast of England, Danish and Norwegian farmers and traders began their raiding, murdering, plundering, murdering the monks, and stealing all their possessions. Foreign authors in the eleventh century AD called these raiders ?Vikings.? The name ?Viking? comes from vikinger or ?warrior pirate.? From their slaughtering of the monks at Lindisfarne in AD 793 until the Battle of Stanford Bridge in AD 1066, they were the prevailing and dominant people in Northern Europe.

The Rise of the French Monarchy

After the Treaty of Verdun in AD 843, one territory began operating as a separate nation. The nation?s rulers accumulated enormous territories, wealth, and armies. In July, AD 987, at Noyon in Picardy, Hugh Capet became king of France (rex Francorum) and founded the Capetian dynasty. Though Capet only ruled over an area around Paris called the Ile-de-France, his coronation gave birth to modern France. Over time, all of the French lands were included in the domain, weakening the power of the French noblemen. Capet reigned from AD 940-996.

The French Monarchy

Louis VI (AD 1081-1137), surnamed the Fat, reinforced power in his own domain, the administrative region of Ile-de-France and the province of Orleanais, and began defying the power of the nobility.

Philip II, also known as Philip Augustulus (AD 1165-1223), strengthened the French monarchy to its utmost power by seizing royal demesne (feudal lands), including Normandy, from King John of England. He also participated in the ?King?s Crusade? with England?s King Richard I. Philip made Paris a European center of education, the first city of teachers.

Louis IX, also known as St. Louis (reigned AD 1226-1270), the grandson of Phillip II, made France the most powerful nation in Europe. At his coronation, he was invested with the title of ?Lieutenant of God on Earth.? To fulfill his mission, he conducted two crusades that, though unsuccessful, brought him great esteem. Pope Gregory IX pressed Louis to burn 12,000 copies of the Jewish Talmud and other Jewish books in Paris in AD 1243.

DID YOU KNOW IT: Pope Gregory IX (reigned AD 1227-1241) decreed the teaching of perpetua servitus iudaeorum (perpetual servitude of the Jews) in his Decretals (AD 1234). The teaching meant that the Jewish people were to be in political servitude and desolate ignominy until judgment day.

THINK ABOUT IT: Louis IX decreed cats as instruments of the devil and symbolic of heresy in his papal epistle Vox in Rama (AD 1232). Cats were eliminated which meant they weren?t available to kill the flea-infested rats. The fleas carried the plague, the Black Death, which killed over one-half of Europe?s population. The moral: be kind to kitties.

The power of the French Capetian kings was limited because the pope reigned supreme over all Europe?s kings. The tension between church and state reached a breaking point when Philip IV, also called Philip the Fair (AD 1268-1314), and Pope Boniface VIII argued about the king?s ability to tax church officials exclusive of the pope?s permission. Their dispute also involved whether or not these church officials could be tried in a court of law. Boniface issued the papal bull Clericis laicos (AD 1296) that prohibited Philip from ?illegally? appropriating church revenues. Philip arrested Boniface and started the ?Babylonian Captivity of the Church.?

Because of the discord with Boniface, Philip summoned the Estates-General, a weakened version of England?s Parliament (AD 1302). The Estates-General was comprised of envoys from the First Estate (church officials), the Second Estate (nobility), and the Third Estate (commoners). But the king held the real power.

Philip is notable for betraying the Knights Templar, a monastic military order associated with the Crusades and the Holy Grail. In October, AD 1307, Philip charged the Knights with heresy. They were arrested, tortured, and burned at the stake.

Results of the Hundred Years? War

In AD 1328, the last of the Capetian rulers died which led to a power struggle between the French House of Valois and the English House of Plantagenet (also called the House of Anjou). Both sides claimed the throne in a series of separate conflicts known as the Hundred Years? War (AD 1337-1453).

The war had the strange effect of launching the French kingship to a position of absolute authority. As the English killed the French nobility, there were fewer of them to challenge the French kings.

DID YOU KNOW IT: Instead of depending on the nobility and their knights in time of war, the French king Charles VII (AD 1403-1461) raised the first standing army (full-time career soldiers) since the Western Roman Empire. Feudalism in France came to a crashing halt.

The House of Valois had expelled the Plantagenets from most of France by AD 1450. Because of the long war, French and English nationalism rose to new heights. France became a dominant European nation, but still struggled with the dominant Roman Catholic Church. Unlike England, France did not have a representative government.

The Genesis of Feudalism

Charlemagne?s empire fell into chaos as barbarians and outlaws ravaged the countryside. The people fled their towns and cities, commerce declined, and lawlessness reigned. Influential owners of large farming estates stepped in to fill the law-and-order vacuum. These landlords provided security for the people in exchange for their labor. In this way, feudalism became the social order in Europe during the Middle Ages (AD 800-1300).


The king divided the kingdom?s real estate into the royal (or crown) lands and the fiefs (revenue?producing properties). The king kept the royal lands for himself. He gave the lordship of the fiefs to his nobles in exchange for heavily equipped cavalry soldiers. These knights, financed by their lords, became the medieval military powers in each Western European kingdom.

DID YOU KNOW IT: To protect their land from war, the lords constructed military camps called castles. A water-filled moat surrounded and protected each castle.


Serfs (or peasants) worked the manor estates, toiling in the demesnes (feudal lands). Serfdom was a type of modified slavery that kept the laborers destitute and dependent upon their lord. Up to fifty families lived in the lord?s village, which was managed by a steward.


The Roman Church remained an essential component of the manor, the church building being an indispensable umbilical cord with the control and authority of the Church. The king often gave bishops the lordship of the fiefs. The peasants feared the Church because they feared its power over their salvation. Many people, in exchange of eternal life in heaven, willed their possession, property, and wealth to the Roman Catholic Church.

DID YOU KNOW IT: An ecclesiastical policy limiting violence gave the Roman Catholic Church supreme power over all the kings and their lords. Called the Treuga Dei (?Truce of God?), the policy prohibited the knights from any kind of hostility from Friday through Sunday and during any religious observance. Later, the prohibition lasted from Wednesday evening through Monday morning ? leaving few hours for battle.

The Roman Catholic Church also exercised its vast power in its Pax Dei (?Peace of God?). This policy exempted noncombatants from violence and denied the sacraments to thieves and those who murdered civilians during battle.


Feudal Europe was a time of incessant combat, discord, and aggression. But a code of ideal ethics bound the nobility and the knights. Chivalrous conduct befitting the institution of knighthood emphasized superior traits and virtues, such as sheer physical prowess, gallantry, honor, dynamism, valor, and fidelity.

A noble boy began training for knighthood when he became a page at the age of seven. When he turned fifteen, he became a squire and was given his own page. He completed his squire?s training when he was twenty-one. During the knighting ceremony, his lord tapped the new knight?s neck or shoulder with a sword. A knight was identified by a blazon (description) of a colorful family coat of arms. The heraldic symbols appeared on the knight?s shield, armor, and banners.

DID YOU KNOW IT: A knight?s God-given duty was to defend the Roman Catholic Church, the weak, the oppressed, widows and orphans, and especially women. But not every knight held to the chivalrous code. Many were crude and filthy drunks more interested in wanton sexual depravity than virtue and honor.

When not fighting, rescuing fair damsels in distress, or defending the honor of a lady, the knights jousted in tournaments, hunted with falcons, played such board games as chess and backgammon, and listened to minstrels play and sing.

The Holy Roman Empire

When Charlemagne the Great was crowned emperor by the pope in AD 800, he set a precedent for an imperial coronation and started the renovatio Romanorum imperii (revival of the Roman Empire). After Charlemagne?s empire fell, the idea of a renewed Roman Empire appealed to ambitious rulers and devious popes who imagined a powerful Christian Empire. By the tenth century AD, that dream became reality in the political behemoth called the Holy Roman Empire.


The last of the Carolingian rulers of Germany died in AD 911. Henry the Fowler, the feeble Duke of Saxony, was selected as king. At this time, Germany was divided into small duchies that were controlled by a duke. Henry?s kingly title was mostly symbolic since the dukes retained power in their own duchies.

Otto I (AD 912-973) replaced his father Henry as king in AD 936. By subjugating the duchies, he merged political power into his own hands. Then he gave enormous territories to the Roman Catholic Church, which gave him authority over the vast wealth of the German Roman Church.

DID YOU KNOW IT: Otto defeated the Magyars and took large areas of land from the Slavs. In AD 951, he conquered Lombardy and proclaimed himself ruler of Italy. By expanding Germany?s boundaries, Otto created the most powerful state in Western Europe and became known as Otto the Great.

Pope John XII crowned Otto as emperor of the Romans in AD 962, marking the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire. When the pope later opposed Otto, the emperor deposed John. Otto decreed that no pope could be elected without the emperor?s consent; this law made the emperor the head of the Christian Church.


Frederick Barbarossa (AD 1122-1190) came to the German throne in AD 1152. Known as Frederick I and the ?Great Fighter,? he was the first of the Hohenstaufen family of German emperors. This dynasty reigned from AD 1138-1254. Frederick I formally coined the expression ?Holy Roman Empire.? But once again, the pope mounted a fierce resistance.

DID YOU KNOW IT: In AD 1158, Frederick I?s wife, the Empress Beatrice, was imprisoned by men from Milan and compelled to ride a donkey throughout the streets in a mortifying way. Vengeance came upon these men when Frederick I compelled them to catch a donkey?s excrement in their mouths as it defecated.

Frederick II (AD 1194-1250), called the ?Astonishment of the World? for his intellectual prowess and the ?Beast of Europe? by the Pope and his affiliates. His reign was a turning point in the transformation in Europe from a community of Christians into a Europe of nation-states.

DID YOU KNOW IT: French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire (AD 1694-1778) said the Holy Roman Empire was ?neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.?


A group of Celts or Britons migrated and settled in Britannia. On two occasions in 55 BC, Julius Caesar battled the violent Britons. Their religious leaders, the Druids, sacrificed humans.

In AD 45, Emperor Claudius conquered Britannia and turned it into a Roman province. For the next four hundred years, the Roman Empire declined until Rome finally abandoned the land of the Celts in the fifth century AD. In that same time period, Christianity spread throughout Britannia.

Once the Roman military presence left Britannia, the barbarian tribes of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes attacked and occupied the territory. The tribes killed the Celts and destroyed Roman structures and cities. Britannia?s survivors fled to Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

Patrick of Ireland

Sucat, a boy from Britannia, was imprisoned by pirates and sold to an Irish chieftain. During his six-year bondage as a herdsman in Ireland, Sucat became a Christian. After escaping his captor, he went home to Britannia, changed his name to Patrick, and then returned to Ireland. He gained fame preaching the Christian gospel and combating paganism, especially that of the Druids.

DID YOU KNOW IT: An enduring myth is that Patrick rid Ireland of snakes by charming them into the sea. But it is doubtful snakes ever lived in Ireland. The island is separated from Scotland by twelve miles of ice-cold seas. Snakes cannot migrate through this cold water. The myth may have originated from Patrick?s ridding Ireland of the pagan Druids who used the snake as a religious symbol.

THINK ABOUT IT: Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leafed clover, to teach the people of Ireland about the Biblical Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). The shamrock illustration proved to be effective since the pagan Druids believed the shamrock was sacred. Patrick used the Druids? own symbol against them.

A Christian monastery established in Ireland preserved the Greek language, which had almost disappeared in the West. Patrick died in AD 463.

DID YOU KNOW IT: The largest St. Patrick?s Day celebration is held in New York, City. The procession lasts two hours with marching bands and 100,000 people. The spectacle is led by two Irish wolfhounds.

The Anglo-Saxons

When Rome deserted Britannia in the fifth century AD, the Germanic tribes of the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons jointly subjugated Britannia. The self-named Anglo-Saxons worshiped many pagan deities. They divided Britannia into numerous autonomous kingdoms.

DID YOU KNOW IT: The southern part of Britannia acquired its future name from the Angles who called it ?Angleland.? Over time, Angleland became England. The English language is derived from the Angles.

Saxon poets called ?scops? wrote stories about their war heroes. The best known is Beowulf, an epic poem about a hero who journeys great distances to demonstrate his strength against three mighty antagonists: two monsters and a dragon.

The conquest of Britannia began in AD 596 when Gregory I sent Augustine as the missionary to the Anglo-Saxons. Not only did Gregory want to save the souls of these pagans, but he also wanted to bring unity to the independent kingdoms.

DID YOU KNOW IT: By AD 664, England was ?Christianized? and had achieved a religious synchronization that resulted in nationalism. The people were of one country ? England.

Two early Anglo-Saxon writers were Caedmon (seventh century AD) and the Venerable Bede (AD 673-735). Caedmon, the earliest poet, composed Scripture phrases into songs. Bede was a scholar who translated the Gospel of John into English and wrote commentaries on Biblical books. He is noted as ?The Father of English History? for his valuable history of the British people, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (?An Ecclesiastical History of the English People?) that begins with the invasion of Julius Caesar in 55 BC.

DID YOU KNOW IT: Bede popularized our present reckoning of time by dividing history into BC (before Christ) and AD (anno domini or ?year of our Lord?).

England?s First Great King
and the Danes

By AD 850, the Viking Danes had invaded England. Within twenty years, they had subjugated the land except for the Saxon kingdom of Wessex in southern England. Alfred, the Wessex king (AD 849-899), fought valiantly against the Vikings and finally triumphed over them. Alfred restricted the Danes to the northeastern England, called the Danelaw. Alfred became ?Alfred the Great? and England?s first renowned king.

DID YOU KNOW IT: Queen Elizabeth II (AD 1926- ) is a direct descendant of Alfred the Great.

Alfred the Great fashioned England into a nation-state. His many accomplishments include:

? strengthening the English military and founding their great naval fleet;
? developing legal code, prefaced with the Ten Commandments, that was based on Biblical principles;
? promoting education by having important books, including the four gospels translated into the Angle-Saxon language; and,
? promoting national patriotism with the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a continuous history of the English people.

The city of London became the capital of England when Alfred took up residence there in AD 886. When Alfred the Great died in AD 899, the English and the Danes renewed hostilities.
A Viking King of England

By the first millennium AD, the kings of England were weak and unskilled rulers. In AD 1016, Canute the Dane (AD 994-1035) and his Viking army invaded England and claimed the throne. England joined Denmark and Norway as part of Canute?s vast empire. Canute surprisingly brought peace to England and boosted overseas commerce. Though he usurped the throne, he became a well-liked king.

DID YOU KNOW IT: England was divided into counties, called ?shires,? and the county administrators were called ?reeves.? The two words, ?shire? and reeve,? combined to form a new word for the shire?s officials ? sheriff.

The Norman Conquest
The Battle of Hastings


In AD 1042, the Saxon Edward the Confessor became king. At his death in AD 1066, a vassal of the king of France, William Duke of Normandy (AD 1027-1087), claimed the throne. But the English nobility appointed one of its own, Harold Godwinson, as king. When William promised to make changes in the Church of England, Pope Alexander II blessed his plan to conquer England. William entered England by force with 10,000 soldiers and killed Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings.

William the Conqueror reigned from AD 1066-1087. But after his triumphant coronation, he made it clear that he, not the pope, had the authority to make church appointments and rule England. He refused to allow any church leaders to leave England or make appeals to the pope. Neither could the pope?s envoys enter England without William?s permission. Papal pronouncements couldn?t be published in England without William?s consent.

William the Conqueror renovated England into a premier European nation. Through his policies, feudalism became dominant. As king, he owned all of England. Though he permitted his Norman vassals, who vowed loyalty to him, to control the fiefs, they couldn?t build castles without an authorized permit. The king commissioned a census to ensure that he received every tax and feudal fee. The records were written in the Doomsday Book of AD 1086.

DID YOU KNOW IT: After William conquered England, France?s Norman language blended with English. Forty percent of today?s English is comprised of French words.


After William died, his son Henry I became king and reigned from AD 1100-1135. Known as the ?Lion of Justice,? the wise Henry ended the burdensome taxes imposed upon the English nobles and Church officials in his ?Charter of Liberties? decree. Henry appointed the ?Exchequer,? a legislative assembly of noble administrators who managed and judged England?s pecuniary matters.

From the Plantagenet Kings
to the Tudors


The succession of Norman hereditary rulers came to an end with the reign of Henry II, the grandson of Henry I. The second Henry, who reigned from AD 1154-1189, began the Plantagenet line of kings. He became so powerful that he actually owned more real estate than the king of France. Relentless in establishing his authority in legal matters,

DID YOU KNOW IT: Henry valued impartiality and the quick expedition of justice. He developed two concepts most Americans take for granted, but which were innovative a thousand years ago: ?common law,? or laws applicable to all Englishmen; and ?trial by jury,? an assembly of men who rendered a verdict in a court case.

Henry?s mantra that no one was above the law included, in his mind, the officials of the Roman Church. But the Church of England believed its ministers could be judged only by Church law, not by the king. In the ensuing political struggle, Henry?s knights killed the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a Becket. To avoid excommunication, Henry II bowed his knee to the pope, carried out works of penance, and granted concessions to the Church that exempted the clergy from matters of legality.


When Henry II died, his son Richard I (AD 1157-1199) succeeded him to the throne. The absentee king, known as Richard the Lion-Hearted, spent all but six months of his ten-year reign on crusades in the Middle East, in his Duchy of Aquitaine in southwest France, or in other travels. His mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, sustained the kingdom.

DID YOU KNOW IT: King Richard the Lion-Hearted, one of the most famous kings of England, spoke very little English.


Richard?s brother John, next on the throne, had the dubious distinction of being the most hated king in England?s long history because of his treachery and cruelty. During his reign, Philip Augustus, the King of France, reclaimed more than half of England?s European possessions. John squabbled with Pope Innocent III concerning the choice of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Innocent fired off a papal interdict prohibiting all of England the sacraments (AD 1208). John retaliated by seizing the Archbishop of Canterbury?s property. Innocent excommunicated John and gave England?s throne King Philip Augustus ? whose army was battle-ready.

King John yielded to the pope?s threat and pleaded for mercy. He repented his resistance of the pope?s authority and returned the property he had stolen. But then John took one step too far ? he gave England, the entire country, to the pope as a fiefdom. This action galvanized the English who insisted that John must be held accountable to the common laws of the previous kings, Henry I and Henry II.

At Runnymede, a meadow near London, on June 15, AD 1215, a group of English noblemen and clergy presented John with one of the most important documents in human history ? the Magna Carta (Great Charter). In this historic document, the ancient rights and privileges of the people are clearly defined and its basic tenet is that no king is above the law.

DID YOU KNOW IT: The Magna Carta?s foundational ?rule of law? became part of England?s constitutional government, leading the world in the deterrence of any ruler contravening his subjects? freedoms.


Henry III, the son of King John, became king in AD 1216. He was a weak ruler and the English nobles, led by Earl Simon de Montfort, rebelled against him. The earl took control of England and, in AD 125, invited the nobles and delegates from the shires to the first meeting of Parliament. This set the groundwork for England to become a representative government.

DID YOU KNOW IT: The word Parliament is derived from the French parler, ?to speak.?


In AD 1272, the courageous and gifted Edward I, Longshanks, followed his father Henry III onto the throne. Edward was 6?3? and the first ?pure? English king from the time of the Norman Conquest. Edward?s prime objective was to create one kingdom by uniting Scotland and Wales with England. The Prince of Wales, Llewellyn, repudiated Edward?s scheme and went to war with England. In AD 1282, Edward defeated Wales and Llewellyn was killed.

DID YOU KNOW IT: To honor Llewellyn after his defeat, his title of the Prince of Wales was given to the oldest son and future king of England. This tradition still continues in the twenty-first century.

Sir William Wallace

In AD 1296, Scotland was finally incorporated in the English kingdom. But the Scots did not come in quietly. Sir William Wallace (AD 1272-1305), who led the revolt against England, experienced some preliminary victories before he was betrayed and executed as a renegade defector. Because of his heroic accomplishments, Wallace is a patriot and national hero of Scotland.

DID YOU KNOW IT: After Wallace was declared guilty of treason in Westminster Hall, London, he was stripped of all his clothes, dragged through the city by a horse, and strangled by hanging. But he didn?t die. Then he was disemboweled and his internal organs were set on fire before his eyes. After he was beheaded, his head was immersed in tar and set on top of a pole on London Bridge. His body was cut into four parts.


While uniting Great Britain, Edward truly saw to the needs of his people and fostered the growth of the middle class. Following Montfort?s Parliamentary model, Edward invited two delegates from each shire became representatives in the parliament, which will be standard feature of England?s government.

Parliament became bold in its dealings with the king. The members issued petitions called ?bills? that expressed their wishes. When Edward I died in AD 1307, England was the first recognized nation-state in which representatives of the people provided a ?check and balance? on the king. England became the progenitor of all future free governments.

Robert the Bruce

Edward I was succeeded by his son Edward II, who was controlled by a small number of greedy men. With England being ruled by such a weak king, the famous Robert the Bruce (AD 1274-1329) let Scotland in another rebellion. After eight years of conflict, Edward II and Robert the Bruce met at the monumental Battle of Bannockburn in AD 1314. The Scottish crushed Edward II and his military. Parliament forced Edward II to abdicate his throne to his son Edward III. Scotland became an independent nation.

DID YOU KNOW IT: In AD 1603, the crowns of England and Scotland were peacefully united in the person of King James Stuart VI of Scotland (James I of England).

During Edward III?s reign, Parliament separated into two organizations. The nobles and Church leaders designated themselves as the House of Lords. The representatives sat together in the House of Commons and eventually represented the entire English nation.


Edward III and the French nobility fought for control of France?s throne at the end of the Capetian dynasty. The resulting Hundred Years? War (AD 1337-1453) against the feeble French kings imbued the English people with a great sense of patriotism as their military won a number of battles on French territory.

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc (AD 1412-1441), a peasant girl who claimed to hear heavenly voices, led the French army into a few victorious battles. She said that Saint Margaret, Saint Catherine, the Archangel Michael, and other angels told her to recover her homeland from the English. Joan, known as the ?Maid of Orleans,? was caught, sold, tried and convicted, and burned at the stake by the English. Her martyrdom inspired French patriotism and revitalized the French war endeavor.

DID YOU KNOW IT: Technically, Joan was executed for wearing men?s clothing! After her body was burned, the remains were burned twice more, reducing them to ashes.

The French finally won the war. England?s defeat forced the nation to focus on domestic issues.


During the Hundred Years War, Richard II (reigned AD 1377-1399), the last Plantagenet king, was deposed by his enemy Henry, the Duke of Lancaster. Henry changed his name to King Henry IV (reigned AD 1399-1413), inaugurating his family dynasty of the House of Lancaster. When Henry VI, the last Lancaster king, went insane, the York?s claimed the throne. The ensuing struggle between the Lancasters and the Yorks, begun in AD 1455, is known as the War of the Roses.

DID YOU KNOW IT: The Lancasters? emblem was the red rose and the Yorks? emblem was the white rose.

The Tudors

Henry Tudor, who was related to the Lancasters, conquered the last York ruler at the Battle of Bosworth Field in AD 1485. Henry became Henry VII, the first Tudor king of England, and reigned from AD 1485-1509. He brought the two feuding Houses together the same way that powerful families had made alliances for centuries ? by a marriage in AD 1446.

Spain and Portugal

The Phoenicians colonized ancient Spain (Hispania) and Portugal (Iberia) around 1000 BC. Later the Celts and, by the fifth century BC, the Carthaginians moved into the lands. Rome added the territory to its empire when it crushed Carthage in the three Punic Wars (264-146 BC), Romanization spread throughout Spain making it extremely affluent for the next five hundred years. In the fifth century AD, the Visigoths conquered Spain and Portugal. Then the Moors crushed the Visigoths in AD 711. In their turn, the Moors were defeated by Charles ?the Hammer? Martel at the Battle of Tours in AD 732.


The surviving Visigoths and the indigenous people of Spain formed the tiny kingdoms of Asturias, Navarre, Aragon, Leon, and Castile. The Reconquista (the Reconquest), a nearly 800-year crusade to rid Spain and Portugal of the Moors, was initiated by these kingdoms. Castile, the lead kingdom, became very powerful and took over the northern part of Spain.

DID YOU KNOW IT: El Cid (AD 1040-1099), the Castilian nobleman and national hero of Spain, captured the city of Valencia from the Moors. For the next hundred years, warriors journeyed from different lands to vanquish the Moors from southern Spain. By the mid-fifteenth century, Castile was in charge of much of Spain.

A French knight, Henry of Burgundy (AD 1066-1112), was appointed Count of Portugal by the Castilian king in AD 1094. Portugal became an independent nation and Henry?s son, Alfonso Henriques (AD 1109-1185), was crowned as the country?s first king. By AD 1150, Portugal had been liberated of the Moors.


Portugal gained renown as Europe?s greatest nation of exploration. King John I?s son, called Prince Henry the Navigator (AD 1394-1460), founded a school of navigators and mapmakers where students learned navigation skills, map reading, and the use of navigation instruments. By encouraging his people to explore other lands, Prince Henry launched the ?Age of Discovery.? By AD 1500, Portugal was the leading nation in trade, and exploration.

Among Prince Henry?s other achievements, he invented the caravel, a ship that was lighter and faster than others in the fleet. He also explored the west African coast.

DID YOU KNOW IT: Prince Henry, with a fleet of six ships, organized the first slaving trip to Africa in AD 1144. The African villages were attacked and 235 people were enslaved. They were brought to Lagos, in southern Portugal, and sold in Europe?s first slave market. The slave auction was described as a ?terrible scene of misery and disorder.? Henry justified his actions under the guise of converting the Africans to Christianity.


C. Allmand, The Hundred Years? War: England and France, c 1300-c.1450 (Cambridge, MA, 1988); C.B. Bouchard, Life and Society in the West: Antiquity and the Middle Ages (San Diego, CA, 1988); C.T. Wood, Joan of Arc and Richard III: Sex, Saints, and Government in the Middle Ages (New York, 1988); D. Ballough, Carolingian Renewal: Sources and Heritage (New York, 1991); D. Nicholas, The Growth of the Medieval City: From Late Antiquity to the Early Fourteenth Century (New York, 1997); E. James, The Franks (Oxford, 1988); G. Duby, The Knight, the Lady, and the Priest (London, 1984); G. Jones, A History of the Vikings, rev. ed., (Oxford, 1984); I.N. Wood, Merovingian Kingdoms (London, 1994); J. Gillingham, The War of the Roses: Peace and Conflict in Fifteenth Century England (London, 1981); J.R. Barber & J. Barker, Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry, and Pageants in the Middle Ages (New York, 1989); R.W. Barber, The Knight and Chivalry (Rochester, NY, 1995); R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization, and Cultural Change, 95-1350 (Princeton, NJ, 1993); and R. Fossier, Peasant Life in the Medieval West (New York, 1988).

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