Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo


Leonardo was born in the town of Florence in the year 1452. He was a famous artist during the time of the renaissance. His first work that we know of is the drawing of Arno Valley.  He also became a master in the Guild of Saint Luke. His most famous painting is the well-known Mona Lisa. It is unknown who the woman in the painting is but we do know that he took a great deal of time and effort to make it perfect.

Leonardo was also known to be very smart. He also had many scientific and mathematic projects as well as his paintings.  He thought that both art and science were connected. He wrote all his ideas in about 13,000 pages. He died in the year 1519 in France and was remembered as an important man in the renaissance.

Michelangelo was another well-known artist during the time of the renaissance. He was born just outside of Tuscany, Italy in the year 1475. He was an apprentice of a man who owned the largest workshop in Florence. He is famous for the statue of David and the painting on the Sistine Chapel.

Before he died he designed St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome which he did not see finished. He died in the year 1564 and was remembered (just like Leonardo) for his influence during the renaissance.


The Black Death


The black death was an epidemic plague that spread in Europe in the year 1348. It was going around for a while but the recognized date was 1348. This great plague killed 30-60% of Europe’s populations. Due to the numerous amount of deaths working men became scares and this let to less food coming to harvest. Even more deaths came from the famine that was produced from the plague.

Symptoms of the plague were boils, fevers, aches, chills, and vomiting. The boils or spots would turn black and you would have just a few days left after this. Doctors did not have enough knowledge to know how to treat the disease. They tried dangerous things like bloodletting but all was in vain.

Some people believed the plague was judgement from God and they whipped themselves in public. This was their attempt to make it right with God. I believe that it could be very likely that it was God’s judgment. The people did not help themselves at all because they did not respond how God would want them to. God wants them to repent from their sins not try to take punishment into their own hands. It may have been painful and embarrassing to be whipped in public but it is not what God would require. Therefore they embarrassed themselves on their own accord and gained absolutely nothing from it.

You may not have known it but you most likely sang a poem about the plague as a child. The poem Ring Around The Rosy is a poem about the black death. Rosy symbolizes the red spots that would appear when you infected by the plague. Posies symbolize the bundles of flowers that people would carry around to try to help with the smell from the bodies of the dead. Ashes symbolize the bodies that had to be burned to try to control the smell. What may have been a sweet poem to recite is actually telling a story about a terrible plague.

The plague was mostly gone by 1350 but did show up a few times in the 19th century. It took Europe approximately 150 years to regain its numbers. The plague was a major dent in Europe’s history.

The Hundred Years’ War


In the year 1066 William the Conqueror who was also the Duke of Normandy invaded England and took it. William was still a vassal of the king in France and this caused a big problem. England and France became at odds and it was not going to end quickly.

In 1337 Edward the Third of England would not pay homage to Philip the Sixth of France. He even claimed to be the rightful king of France. Due to an ancient law code Philip became king instead.

A major place in the wars was Gascony. The problem with Gascony was that it was part of France but had been a duchy of England for a long time. In 1337 it was agreed that it should be part of France.

The wars are divided into three parts. They were the Edwardian Era (1337-1360), the Caroline War (1369-1389), and the Lancastrian Era (1415-1453).

The first battle began on June 22, 1340. It was known as the Battle of Sluys and it was won by Edward the Third of England. In 1346 he then captured the city of Caen and followed this with a victory at the battle of Crecy. Then he captured the city of Calais. The wars had a pause because of the black death but are continued with the next kings.

Edward the Black Prince led the battle in 1356 and won a victory in the Battle of Pointier. The king of France, John the Second, was captured and his son succeeded him. Then came the Treaty of Bretigny which lasted 1360-1369.

Richard the second of England was the son of the Black Prince. He did not really want to fight so a peace was made in the years 1389-1415. Then the English king Henry the Fifth started the wars up again.

The English and French met at the Battle of Agincourt. The battlegrounds were muddy and small. This led to the victory of the English because of their lightweight armors unlike the French who got stuck in the mud easily. Henry then became the Duke of Normandy. In 1420 he married the French princess Catherine. Treaty of Troyes ended this part of the war with a promise that Henry’s son would rule France.

Joan of Arc turned the war around and gave victories to the French. She had visions coming from saints telling her to help save France. She went to see the king at age 16 and was turned down three times first. She later got to see him and he allowed her to raise an army against the English. She laid siege on Saint Loup and won. She made the path clear for Charles the Seventh to be crowned king. Joan was later captured and tried for heresy. She was burned at the stake on May 30th, 1431. She was known as the “Maiden of Orleans”. The wars went on for many years after her death but she definitely affected the wars greatly.






John Wycliffe

thJohn Wycliffe was the first to promote the Reformation. He is known as “The Morning Star of the Reformation”. He was born in about 1320 near Yorkshire, England. In 1374 he went to Lutterworth and lived there for the rest of his life.

John was against indulgences and believed the scriptures should govern the church not the Pope. The Pope greatly disliked him for his preaching. He was widely popular in England so the Pope was wasn’t as harsh as he could have been. Pope Gregory issued five bulls (official documents) against John. He did not however excommunicate him.

At the time it was believed that God’s Word should not be for everyday use to the people. John believed otherwise and wanted everyone to have access to one. He began to translate the Bible for people to read. He died before it was completed but his friend was credited for finishing it.

In the year 1384, John Wycliffe, suffered from a stoke and died. His followers were known as the Lollards and continued his teachings.

He was so hated by the Pope that his works were all burned and his bones dug up and also burned. All of this was an attempt to rid of what John had started. John’s teachings instead lived on and despite the struggles of the Pope they continued to flourish.

William Wallace


William Wallace was born around the year 1270 and grew up to be a Scottish landowner. During the his childhood, Alexander the third was reining. Alexander’s granddaughter preceded him but after her death there was no heir. Edward of England was suggested but the people of Scotland chose John Balliol. John left his throne and Edward became king of Scotland and England. The people still viewed John as king and did not want to be governed by the English.

When he was not yet thirty years old he led an army against the English. He burned the city of Lanmark and killed the sheriff while doing so. He met in battle with the English near Stirling. Even though he was outnumbered he still won the battle of Stirling Bridge. When he went back to Scotland he was knighted and named the Guardian of the Kingdom.

A few months later Edward tried to attack the Scots. The Scots followed them to try to break them in their weak points. Edward’s army found out and fought with them and won. Edward was then crowned king in the year 1304. Wallace did escaped from the battle.

Unfortunately, a Scottish knight who was loyal to Edward betrayed Wallace. William was convicted of treason in Westminster Hall. He was executed in an absolutely horrible way. It was terribly painful and he was cut into pieces and each part was hung throughout Scotland as a warning to the other Scots. I have heard two different accounts of what William said as he was being executed. The first was that William yelled “freedom” right before he died. The second was that William was singing Psalms to the Lord. I certainly hope for the latter.

William Wallace will always be remembered as a martyr and a hero.

My Goal as a Violinist

9b70ccf5372895dbfdcd9cdedff29b32.jpgThis past December I gave myself the goal of playing my Violin in church services. I have always been nervous about playing in front of other people so this was pretty big. I was asked to play in two services. One on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas day. Obviously, I played only Christmas carols. This should make it easier but I actually prefer playing things people do not already know. Because they know the melody they will know when I make a mistake.

So, what steps did I take to make sure that my goal was completed successfully? Well, I practiced a lot. The week of the performances I probably practiced two hours total a day. This was especially difficult because lately when I play my violin so long I have terrible pain in my left arm. I still struggle with it but it seems that if I am relaxed and seated it doesn’t bother me. I was very glad to not have any pain during my performances.

Did this work well and lead to success? Yes, I think I did very well considering I have only been playing for about two and a half years. I played my music fairly in tune and when I did not I was drowned out by the piano and my teacher.

I would say that I did have some failure. During the carol Silent Night the lights where almost completely off. This resulted in me not being able to read my music well and some wrong notes were definitely played.

In my history course I have been learning about the crusaders. If I were to compare my goal, success, and failure, to theirs there is really nothing specific that is similar. But, when I think about it the determination to do better is where I can relate. The crusaders were very determined and it took eight crusades before it died down. Unlike the crusaders I do not want my determination to end but similar to them I had a goal and achieved it. I did have failure but like them I plan to press on and get better.

Knights and Chivalry

medieval-battleA knight has been known as a couple of different things. First a knight could be considered an honored person. And second the title could be his rank in society.

In a bit more detail a person could have been given the title of a knight (by a king or monarch) because they did something heroic. This is the common view of a knight and is correct .  This type of knight is the most popular and is often used in stories where a young brave man saves a princess from a beast and earns the title of knight. Sometimes even a man on horseback with armor was considered a knight.

Another way they could have gotten the title was when it was a title of their rank. A knight was part of the feudal system hierarchy. He was also required to serve in the king’s army. When they had time off they would enjoy hunts and tournaments.

Knights were very heroic people. They strove for chivalry which included faith, hope, charity, justice, strength, moderation, and loyalty. Chivalry was like the code knights were to keep. They vowed to be courteous to  women, be loyal to their king, serve God always, and defend the weak.

Knights were viewed and given their title in different ways but in all of these cases they were still brave men.