This lesson teaches students about the causes and effects of the Crusades with 8 pages of comprehension and analysis activities using images and primary and secondary source excerpts. A detailed 3 page teacher guide and answer key is included, with additional context and discussion points. This resource can be used in class as a complete lesson or assigned for homework or a sub plan.
The lesson begins with a Do Now question refreshing students' knowledge of the Byzantine Empire during the Middle Ages. Students then delve into the ideas of a "holy land" and a "crusade," before breaking down exactly why and for which religions the "Holy Land" is holy.
Students go on to read context about the Byzantines' plea to Pope Urban II for aid from the attacking "Saracens," then use a map to analyze the political and military situation of the time. They read an excerpt from Pope Urban's speech at the Council of Clermon and use it to find motivations Europeans had for answering the call to the crusades, as well as an additional primary source describing the economic incentives many had.
Students calculate crusaders' travel time along their route to Jerusalem and theorize about real world difficulties they faced. They learn about the eventual successful capture of Jerusalem in the 1st Crusade, and read a primary source excerpt describing the crusaders' indiscriminate slaughter, including that of Jews and Eastern Orthodox Christians. Students learn about the different waves of Crusades over the centuries and are asked to determine who, if anyone, "won" in the end.
Students then complete several activities helping them understand the effects of the Crusades, such as the establishment of crusader states in Palestine, European economic growth and increase in long-distance trade, transmission to Europe of new ideas and classical knowledge preserved by Muslim scholars, weakening of feudalism and growth of nationalism, etc. The lesson then asks students to complete a writing activity using evidence to determine whether the Crusades were more about religion or about political/economic power.
Students finish by reading about and examining maps and images pertaining to the Spanish Reconquista and Isabella and Ferdinand's Inquisition. They analyze how these events were linked to the same themes and motivations in Europe as the Crusades.
This lesson covers all the key points students must know about this subject for state assessments, and is completely Common Core aligned.
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