Medieval Europe
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Jousting picture


Research Scenario

It's a beautiful day; the sun shines overhead. You sit in the stands, patiently waiting. The high fence divides the field into halves. Finally, the trumpets sound - the first player rides out onto the field. Bedecked in armor from head to toe, astride a horse - you wonder how this knight can stand the amount of weight he is carrying. The knight trots around the field, his flag waves, representing the country or province from which he hails. After one pass around the field, the knight takes his place at the end of the fence. The trumpets sound again; another knight takes the field proudly displaying his country's colors. He takes his position at the other end of the fence.

The knights trade their flags - for lances. The referee comes out onto the field, explaining the rules of jousting. Points are scored when the lance makes contact with the center of the knight's shield, or, if he doesn't protect himself, his chest. Anxiously, the horses paw the ground, ready for the sound of the trumpet. The referee exits the field, the trumpet sounds, the horses gallop toward each other and the lances are held steady. Crash! Contact is made. The lance has found its target - it splits into hundreds of pieces. The knights and their horses wait at the opposite end of the fence. A new round begins. This is jousting at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

The Renaissance Festival has been a popular attraction during the autumn months in Maryland. People dressed in medieval costumes stroll around the festival. For a few hours, a person can be transported back into time. Your school has decided to host their own Renaissance/Medieval Fair this year. This fair will be more educational and historically accurate. The school hopes to showcase the groups and institutions of the time period that most influenced medieval culture.

Various booths at the fair will represent each instiution and its influences. Members of your class will create individual booths for seven different institutions. The overall purpose of each booth will be to provide rich details and answer the following question:

How did a particular group or institution influence the culture during the Middle Ages?

First, you will need to build some background knowledge about this topic.
Check out one of the following BrainPops: Middle Ages, Black Death, Feudalism, and Magna Carta.



Catapult image





Task and Product

You and three to four other members of your class will form a small committee that will be responsible for a single booth on a selected topic. Possible topics (and subtopics) for the booths include the following:

Religion and the Church

  • role of the Church in society
  • the Crusades
  • religion in daily life
  • monks and nuns

Science and Technology
  • weaponry
  • disease and medicine
  • inventions

Entertainment and the Arts 
  • recreation
  • architecture
  • music
  • literature
  • fashion

Economics and Trade
  • role of the merchant
  • town life
  • monetary system
  • trade

Manorial System
  • serfdom and the peasantry
  • town life
  • medieval homes
  • women

Law and Justice
  • medieval law
  • crime and punishment
  • government

Feudal System
  • role of the king
  • castles
  • knights
  • medieval warfare
  • daily life
  • women
  • Magna Carta¬†

After completing your research, you will use your findings to create a booth for your school's fair. Your booth may take the form of any of the following products:



Medieval Jousting


The following scoring tools may be used or adapted by your teacher to evaluate your research process and your final product and presentation.

Research Process Assessments:

Group Collaboration Assessments:

Final Product Assessments: 



Medieval fighting


How did a particular group or institution influence the culture during the Middle Ages?

Jump Start Questions:

You will need to develop questions in order to answer the essential question. For example, for the topic of the feudal system, your questions might be similar to the following:

  • What is the feudal system?
  • How did it develop?
  • Why was it important for the society of the Middle Ages?
  • Who were the members of this system? What were their roles?
  • How did the members of the feudal system interact with each other?
  • What impact or contribution did the medieval feudal system have on life today?
  • What are some other questions you could include?




Gather and Sort

Use a variety of sources from the Student Resources page to gather information about your topic.

You may use this graphic organizer for your notetaking. Print it and use it as a Word document or you can use it an electronic document and enter in text and then upload it to your student dropbox. This link provides ideas for additional graphic organizers that may be helpful in brainstorming additional questions and/or to plan and organize your research.

You may prefer to use note cards. For help with using note cards, click here.

This link provides ideas for additional graphic organizers that may be helpful in brainstorming additional questions and/or to plan and organize your research.

Sort your research findings using a works cited sheet or bibliography.

Be sure to avoid plagiarism and remember to cite your sources.







Analyze your research notes to determineif you have answered all of your questions adequately as well as the essential question for your particular group or institution.

Synthesize your research findings by creating a first draft of your display. Consider the following questions as you prepare your first draft.

  • Which facts will offer your audience the best picture of your particular group or institution and help your audience imagine this time period?
  • Were some contributions more important than others? Why?
  • Did some contributions have a lasting effect on the culture of Europeans long after the end of the Middle Ages?
  • Which facts did you find repeated in your research?
  • How do you know they came from reliable sources?

Evaluate your finished product

  • Have you gathered sufficient details about your topic?
  • Have you included details that describe the contributions AND reflect upon the effect such contributions had upon society during the Middle Ages and possibly beyond?
  • Are your details organized in the right categories or sub-topics to make sense for your audience?
  • Do you feel confident in the media you chose for your booth?
  • Are you ready to create your product?




Horse jousting
Horse jousting


Use your graphic organizer and/or note cards to prepare your booth. Refer back to your product assessment to ensure that you meet all of the requirements.

Remember that you must include rich details about your topic. You should also include not only the cultural contributions that were made but also how those contributions affected society during the Middle Ages.

Presentation: Follow your teacher's directions for presentation of your booth. Each committee will present its booth to the class. As the audience members listen to each committee present its booth, they should note on this form the contributions that were made by each particular group or institution and the effects those contributions had, both short and long term. After all committees have presented, you will be asked to vote on which institution had the most influence in Medieval Europe. You must be able to defend your selection by stating what contributions were made, the effects of those contributions and why those contributions should be showcased and highlighted.

If your class completes a gallery walk, open this form and leave it on your desktop. As the committees walk around they will type in what they have learned from your presentation.

Reflection: After each committee has presented its booth proposal, meet as a class and share the cultural contributions that were made by all groups and institutions. As a class, reflect not only on what these contributions were but also the lasting impact they had, if any, on European society specifically and on the world in general.

Extension Activity:
Read the article If You Lived in the Middle Ages

In a well organized paragraph, which institutions are described in the article? Cite examples. Who would you rather be: Peter or Mary? In complete sentences, state your reasons why you selected this.

Finally, reflecting on what you have learned today, which institution would you prefer to be a part and why? Make sure to cite at least three reasons why you would want to be a part of this institution.