Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Medieval Eastern Europe (500-1500)

{Previous History of this area: The Barbarian Kingdoms and the Return to Christianity }

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the borders of kingdoms of Europe changed continuously with warring kingdoms and migrating tribes vying for land. From the east the Mongol Hordes were sweeping through lands killing and burning towns. The Mongols, known in Russia as the Tartars, created a vast kingdom called the Khanate of the Golden Horde. In the north the Teutonic Knights had gone on crusade among the Prussian kingdoms and converted the pagan people, sometimes reluctantly, to Christianity. To the south the Seljuk Turks were expanding and slowly breaking off pieces of the Byzantine Empire. In the west the Holy Roman Empire, in what we now call Austria and Germany, was also seeking greater territory. By 1400, the lands had settled down and there were less changes. Some of the busiest trading towns in Europe were grouped around the North and Baltic Seas. These towns formed a group with an agreement of trading rules called the Hanseatic League.

Geography:  We mapped Eastern Europe from this map at Layers of Learning. We looked at the Carpathian Mountains around the Baltic States.
 Usborne Encyclopedia of World History
Literature: The White Stag by Kate Seredy Retells the legendary story of the Huns' and Magyars' long migration from Asia to Europe where they hope to find a permanent home. This is based on pagan legends.
The Trumpeter of Krakow is a fictional story set in Poland in the early 1460's of a family who flees their estate in the Ukraine, then part of Poland, after being attacked by Tartars and takes refuge in Krakow. The story, however is in the center of a true story of a Polish boy in 1241 who was killed by the arrow of an invading Tartar from the East, silencing his trumpet a few notes short of completion of the "Heynal," the Hymn to Our Lady, as he stood on a little balcony of the Church of Our Lady Mary in Krakow, Poland. Ever since that event subsequent trumpeters have stopped at the same point in the Heynal as it is sounded four times on the hour, all day and night as a signal that all is well.
"Good King Wenceslas" is a popular Christmas carol about a king who goes out to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (December 26). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by the heat miraculously emanating from the king's footprints in the snow. The legend is based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (907–935) and patron saint of the Czech Republic. Wenceslas was considered a martyr and a saint immediately after his death, and within a few decades of Wenceslas's death four biographies of him were in circulation. These hagiographies apparently had a powerful influence on the High Middle Ages conceptualization of the rex justus, or "righteous king"—that is, a monarch whose power stems mainly from his great piety. Several centuries later the legend was claimed as fact by Pope Pius II. Although Wenceslas was, during his lifetime, only a duke, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I posthumously conferred on Wenceslas the regal dignity and title and that is why, in the legend and song, he is referred to as a "king" John Mason Neale, known for his devotion to High Church traditions, published the carol "Good King Wenceslas" in 1853, the lyrics being a translation of a poem by Czech poet Václav Alois Svoboda, written in Czech, German and Latin.
Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel
"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."
"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather
"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."
In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

{Next post on Germany's history: Germany in the Renasissance}

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