Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chapter 13: Medieval Africa


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

PowerPoint - African Kingoms

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chapter 15 Section 3 - Kingdoms and Crusades

     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 Jerusalem, united behind Saladin, the most powerful commander they had ever had. For four generations, the Holy City had been in the hands of the Christian infidel. Now Saladin was poised to reclaim Jerusalem for the Muslim world. Inside the Holy City 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 Jerusalem from the heart of the Islamic world, slaughtering every living thing in the name of their Christian God.
Translation: The first crusader invasion of Jerusalem 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.
Male Narrator: Now Saladin had gathered his own terrifying army. He believed that soon Jerusalem and victory would be his. Islam could take its revenge for the first crusade. Jerusalem was at Saladin’s mercy. The loss of Jerusalem was a disaster for Richard and the Christians in Europe. The Pope immediately issued a decree. Jerusalem 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 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 England 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 Jerusalem.