World News Illustrated Name: Date: Background

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World News Illustrated Name: __________________________ Date: _____
Background: The Middle Ages or Dark Ages were a result of the fall of the mighty Roman Empire. The Romans had once provided stability for Europe but now that stability was replaced by warfare and displaced Germanic Tribes. Education disappeared, Europe became more rural, and eventually the Christian Church became very powerful in a time where power was often elusive.

Assignment: Pretend you are an illustrator working for the fictional magazine WORLD NEWS ILLUSTRATED. You have been assigned to draw the magazine covers for the next 8 issues. Your editor has given you a brief description of each topic to be covered. Read each summary and draw a magazine cover to illustrate the topic. Be sure to use color to make the cover more attractive. Include the title of your magazine on each cover. When you have finished the covers, complete the questions on the back page.


The most powerful of the Germanic Tribes that ruled Europe after the fall of Rome were The Franks. The Franks had won many battles and had converted to Christianity. On Christmas Day, 800AD, the Pope crowned one of The Franks as emperor. That man’s name was Charlemagne. Charlemagne was 6 feet 4 inches tall and never lost a battle. He regularly visited the people in his kingdom and promoted learning by building religious communities called Monasteries where men could learn to read and write.


Not all periods of European history were ruled by strong kings. Sometimes landowners called Lords ruled the countryside. Lords would own land or sometimes be granted land from a king. They would give part of this land to strong fighters known as Knights would pledge military service to their Lord in exchange for that land. The land that was exchanged was known as a fief. The people that worked the land were called peasants. They were protected by the Knights in exchange for food. Feudalism truly was a give and take relationship. Everyone had to provide something to the land. All of the Lord’s land was called a manor.

The Power of the Church

During The Middle Ages, very few people could read or write. The countryside was often dangerous and strong kings were far and few in between. The one organization that provided stability was the Christian Church. Through the church you could learn to read and write. Men could devote themselves to God and get an education in a monastery. Those who did were called Monks. Women could go and live at convents and devote themselves to God. There they could learn to read and write as well. Those who did were called Nuns. The Church was the one constant during a time period where very few were wealthy, powerful, or creative.

The Crusades

During the Middle Ages, Pope Urban II saw an opportunity to gain the Holy Lands of Jerusalem and surrounding cities back in the name of Christianity. Jerusalem was the site of Jesus of Nazareth’s crucifixion by the Romans nearly 1,100 years earlier but was now under Muslim control Pope Urban declared a Crusade to recapture the Holy Lands. Thousands of Christians trekked 3,000 miles from Europe to Jerusalem to fight for Christianity. Thousands of Jews, Christians, and Muslims died fighting in multiple Crusades over the next 300 years. Those who fought and died on Crusade were told they would receive an automatic ticket to heaven.

The Plague

Long before humans new the benefits of good hygiene, people tended to die from just about any minor injury.

Sickness and disease were especially deadly. The worst of such cases was known as the Bubonic Plague. The Plague was brought to Europe from trade ships. Small rats with tiny fleas were the problem. The fleas would bite people and infect them with the Plague. People would show symptoms of dark black boils on their skin and most would perish within about five days. Millions and millions of people in Europe fell victim to the Bubonic Plague. Ironically, if people had just been a bit cleaner, this deadly epidemic may have been prevented. The Plague was also called “The Black Death.”

The Hundred Years’ War

The end of European medieval society came with a conflict that saw England and France fight for over a century. After the French king died without an heir, England’s Edward III claimed the right to the French throne. This launched a war that would be fought off and on from 1337 to 1453. The deadly longbow was introduced that was powerful enough to penetrate armor. This made medieval knights obsolete. Eventually the French rallied to drive the English out of France. This increased the power of the French monarchy. Both countries experienced a feeling of nationalism and thought of their king as a national leader instead of a feudal lord. This was the beginning of the formation of Western Europe.


Due to a new spirit within the Church and the growing wealth of towns, Catholic Churches began to take on a new shape. Cathedrals began to take on the Gothic style of architecture. They were tall buildings with light streaming in through stained glass windows. These cathedrals often had high arches, tall pointed spires, and were made mostly out of stone. Statues, carvings, and round stained glass windows accentuated the cathedrals making them a sight to behold. In France, the ceiling of the Cathedral of Notre Dame eventually rose to over 100 feet high. In all, nearly 500 Gothic churches were built between 1170 and 1270.

The Magna Carta

English King Richard the Lionhearted fought in the Crusades and became a hero. After his death, his brother John took the throne in England. John was cruel to his subjects and over taxed them. He alienated the Church and threatened to take away town charters, which gave each town the right to self-government. John was a fairly weak king, however.

The nobles eventually revolted and forced John to agree to a document called The Magna Carta. This document guaranteed certain basic political rights such as no taxation without representation, a jury trial, and protection under the law. The Magna Carta guaranteed basic legal rights in England and eventually in the United States.


  1. What was the name for the new style of Cathedrals built in Europe?

  2. Which leader began the Hundred Years’ War?

  3. How was the Plague spread?

  4. Which king was forced the sign the Magna Carta in England?

  5. What was the main city coveted by Crusaders in the Holy Lands?

  6. What was the name for religious communities for men? Women?

  7. What was another name for The Bubonic Plague?

  8. What did the Magna Carta guarantee?

  9. Which French cathedral had a ceiling of over 100 ft. high?

  10. Who protected the Lord’s lands?

  11. What was another name for The Middle Ages?

  12. What was a symptom of the Plague?

  13. What new weapon was introduced during The Hundred Years’ War?

  14. Charlemagne was king of which Germanic Tribe?

  15. In feudalism, what was exchanged land called?

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