Thursday, January 30, 2014
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Africa is the world's second-largest continent. Its landscape includes rain forests, savannas, and deserts. Nearly all of Africa sits on a plateau. The Berbers of North Africa were the first people to cross the Sahara to trade with the people of West Africa. As trade increased, cities and rain forest kingdoms grew into powerful empires. These empires included Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Axum, and Zimbabwe. Arab traders invented boats called dhows that allowed them to travel along Africa's coast. Many of these traders settled in East African city-states, where Africans and Muslims exchanged ideas.
The growth of West African empires created a need for an organized system of government. This led to the creation of centralized governments ruled by kings. The kingdoms were divided into provinces and people were organized by clan.
Most Africans believed in one supreme god. Although practices varied from place to place, traditional African religions shared certain beliefs and provided a guide for living together. Islam played an important role in medieval Africa. In East Africa, Muslim and African influences blended together, creating a unique culture and language called Swahili. Islam advanced learning and influenced African art and architecture.
Bantu migrations helped shape many cultures in Africa south of the Sahara. As they migrated, the Bantu took their culture with them. They are the main reason people all across the continent of Africa share common ideas and traditions today. The family was the foundation of African society, and many people lived in extended families. For the most part, villages were matrilineal. Children were a very important part of the family and village. Griots preserved the oral history through teaching and storytelling. Art, music, and dance played important roles in the lives of Africans.
In Africa, Bantu chiefs raided neighboring villages for captives. Criminals and prisoners of war were also enslaved. These slaves remained in Africa with some sense of hope that they could be freed. The African slave trade changed when Muslims and Europeans began taking captives from the continent. Enslaved Africans transported their cultures with them in the African Diaspora. These rich cultures influenced many others, including our own.
Interactive Map - The Atlantic slave trade, 1500-1800
Posted by Mr. von Kamp at 1:30 PM
Monday, May 13, 2013
After William the Conqueror was crowned king of England in 1066, the cultures of the Normans and Anglo-Saxons mixed. The power of the English king increased during the rule of Henry II. King John's abuse of power led English nobles to draft the Magna Carta and set up a Parliament, which shared the king's powers. The French created their own parliament called the Estates-General.
After the Mongols destroyed the Kievan Rus, the Slavs rebuilt the city of Moscow and founded a new Russian state headed by a czar. The city became the headquarters of the Eastern Orthodox Church and grew wealthy from trade.
In 1071 Muslim Turks defeated the Byzantines. Europe responded to the Byzantine emperor's cries for help with a series of Crusades. European crusaders captured Jerusalem, but despite early victories, and more than 200 years of fighting, the last Christian city fell to the Muslims in 1291. The Crusades positively impacted Europe by breaking down feudalism and increasing trade.
Spotlight Video Transcripts
Male Narrator: In 1187, a Muslim army batted at the gates of
united behind Saladin, the most powerful commander they had ever had. For four
generations, the Jerusalem had been in the
hands of the Christian infidel. Now Saladin was poised to reclaim Holy
City for the Muslim
world. Inside the Jerusalem the Christian
population panicked. Monks hid their sacred icons. They had good reason to be
terrified. Saladin was driven on by the terrible events of the first crusade, eight-eight
years earlier. Following an appeal from the Catholic Church, the first
crusaders had ripped Holy
from the heart of the Islamic world, slaughtering every living thing in the
name of their Christian God. Jerusalem
Translation: The first crusader invasion of
was horrific. A
lot of blood was shed for no reason. The amount of bloodshed was not based on
military needs, but rather, to create terror. Jerusalem
Male Narrator: Now Saladin had gathered his own terrifying army. He believed that soon
and victory would be his. Islam
could take its revenge for the first crusade. Jerusalem was at Saladin’s mercy. The loss of
Jerusalem Jerusalem was a disaster for Richard and the
Christians in Europe. The Pope immediately
issued a decree.
was to be recaptured at all costs. In Christianity’s darkest hour, Richard
prepared to take on Saladin. Richard received a fabric cross that all crusaders
pledged to wear until Jerusalem
was back in Christian hands. After months at sea, in May 1191, Richard King of Jerusalem England sighted the Holy Land for the first
time, and he descended on Acre. He seemed
unstoppable. Christianity’s new holy warrior had brought his own brand of hell
to the Orient. It was at Acre that Richard King of earned the title Lion Heart.
Male Speaker: Victory at the siege of
Acre was a great breakthrough for Richard. It meant that
the Christians had been blessed by God. How else could they explain their
victory? It also, in strategic terms, he knew would be a big step forward; it would
help to break the power of Saladin; would help open the way to the Holy City of
Posted by Mr. von Kamp at 3:27 PM