I hope this blog finds teachers relaxing after their first day of school. Today, I will suggest YouTube Videos to show when your history class reaches the early middle and late Middle Ages. I had a good response from Secrets of the Castle and Tudor Monastery Farm from my temporary students. I tried to present this list in order as the school year moves forward. The suggestions are by no means comprehensive. When you can, purchase these documentaries or subscribe to the historian’s podcasts.
Search for Alfred the Great: YouTube
Neil Oliver explores the search for the grave of King Alfred the Great, the only British King who had the title "The Great." Oliver tells the story of what happened to the bones as well as the story of Alfred the Great. Scientists have been exploring a set of bones to determine whether or not they belong to Alfred the Great. It is an excellent look at the life of Alfred the Great. *Highly recommend for a middle school and high school history class.*
Charlemagne and the Saxons: YouTube
The Germans kick off with the story of Charlemagne. Charlemagne was the first European Empire builder. He conquered the Saxon people and spread Christianity throughout the Frankish Empire. The Saxons challenged him, however, they came to accept his kingship. He built grand buildings to help demonstrate his power. This is an excellent summary of what Charlemagne accomplished during his reign. *Highly recommend for a middle school and high school history classroom.*
Secrets of the Castle - Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4
Tom Pinfold, Ruth Goodman, and Peter Ginn explore medieval lives and how to build a castle. This series shows off one of the longest historical experiments in history. Pinfold, Goodman, and Ginn explore a variety of aspects of castle building. They kick off the series by establishing their base and then move on doing building projects. This is a STEM and STEAM-heavy series. *Highly recommend for a middle school and high school history and science classroom.*
The Germans - Martin Luther and the Nation: YouTube
Martin Luther's 95 Theses touched off a Religious Reformation that swept through Europe. It kicks off with his trial and eventual hiding in the German territories. The second part of this documentary tells the story of Luther’s marriage. This is an excellent introduction to the Reformation. The first part of the episode would be good to show in a Christian school. *Highly recommend for both high school and middle school classrooms and independent study students.*
Secrets of the Dead - Battle for the Bible: YouTube
This is the history of how the Bible was translated into English. Bible translation was an illegal act. This documentary tells the story of ohn Wycliffe, Thomas Cramner, and William Tyndale. John Wycliffe was the first person who worked on translating the Bible into English. William Tyndale was the next person who worked on translating the Bible. Thomas Cramner worked with reforming the English religion. *Highly recommend for middle school and high school classrooms. It is a good filler for a substitute teacher.*
Secrets of the Six Wives: Amazon
Lucy Worsley dives headfirst into Tudor Court Life as she explores the women behind Henry VIII. She explores the early marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, their hard divorce; his relationship with Anne Boleyn; the birth of his son by Jane Seymour; the smarts of Anne of Cleves; Catherine Howard, his teenage bride; and finally Catherine Parr, a nurse with her convictions on religion. This DVD is a great addition to a teacher's collection on Tudor History or even your collection on Tudor History. After David Starkey's Six Wives of Henry VIII, this is a fantastic edition to Tudor History and if you can't find Starkey's work, then use this series in the classroom.
Henry VIII: Mind of a Tyrant - Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4
David Starkey discusses the mind of Henry VIII, what made him the man he was. Starkey starts with Henry's childhood and how his mother impacted his views. Then goes into the impact of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon had on his life and the impact the divorce had on his mental state. Actors play the roles of the people in Henry VIII's life.
*Tudor Monastery Farm: YouTube Amazon (Region 2 DVD)
Ruth Goodman, Tom Pinford, and Peter Ginn live life as farmers during the Tudor period for a full calendar year. Monasteries were an important part of Tudor Life and they were the landlords during this period. They plant a field, raise livestock, and keep house using Tudor methods. Ruth manages the house and dairy while the boys' Tom and Peter manage the fields. This playlist includes Tudor Feast at Christmas. *Recommended for all ages as well as for both a history classroom and agricultural classroom.*
Hello, our tour through Secrets of the Castle continues in Episode 3. Our time travelers Ruth, Peter, and Tom explore how a castle was decorated. When we think of castles, we just think of a barren place that is cold and drafty. However, this archeological experiment is proving otherwise. Castles could be richly and colorfully decorated. The material that early castle decorators used came from the earth. Ruth, Peter, Tom continue to explore the Medieval World.
The castles people visit now are a far cry from what they were when they were in use. They had tile floors, whitewashed, plastered, and covered with clothes. Ruth sums up the difference between castle ruins and the historical experimental castle as “an entirely different beast.” The experimenters are decorating the castle according to the period of King Louis IX of France. The experimental castle is modest, decorated for a lower-ranked noble.
Sarah, the site administrator gives Ruth, Tom, and Peter a tour of the most important rooms of the castle starting with the Great Hall. The Great Hall was the hub of castle life and it was a sight where the castle lord held court. It had to show off the lord’s wealth and status. They then make their way to the great tower where the lord and lady slept. It was the one room that had a fireplace. Peter and Tom are going to be tiling and painting some of the surfaces of the castle. Ruth makes her way to the kitchen. The kitchen is limewashed making it a bright and sunny area. The limewash keeps things clean in the kitchen.
Sarah explains that castles were often limewashed and was glad that they had the chance to experiment with how castles were decorated. The White Tower at the Tower of London got its name from being whitewashed on the outside.
Tom prepares lime mortar to put up against the wall. Rendering was put on the walls to insulate them and to prepare the walls for decorate. It was put on the wall roughly rather than in several layers. It also helps preserve the masonry underneath. They then move to make floor tiles for the site. 28,000 roof tiles were created and it took four years. An additional 80,000 tiles will be needed to cover all the roofs of the castle. Now production has shifted to floor tiles. Producing floor tiles is often laborious as the workers had to separate hard elements from the clay to make tiles. Tile making was one of the earliest industries to have regulations. These regulations included what type of clay could be used for the tile.
The toilets were a common element found in castles. They were called guard robes and clothes were kept in them to keep them bug-free. Ruth and Peter explore the history of the privy or guard robes. The squires often had to prepare the privies before their masters went in them. Often preparation included sweet-smelling herbs to help make going to the bathroom a pleasant experience. What did the Medieval people use for toilet paper? It was not leaves or moss, since you would have to deal with deforestation or have a moss plantation to keep people supplied. Ruth and Peter conclude that everyone had a flannel or shared a flannel.
To continue to learn more about how a castle was built continue to watch the episode. This episode is another fascinating look at how a castle was built. This episode would be suited to an art class, especially if a teacher was discussing how to make tiles or painting techniques. Ruth goes into a great deal on how the Medieval people made colorful paints. Again, teachers, you are only limited by your imagination when you use YouTube in your class.
You can access the YouTube video here.
Secrets of the Castle continues with how the castle was defended. Guedelon Castle is a 25-year archeological experiment in the Burgundy region of France. The builders are exploring the different techniques that are used to build a castle. The castle at Guedelon was built for a lord who wanted to show off his wealth. There are 36 high curtain walls to protect the courtyard. There is a gatehouse where people could get in and out. There are four towers as well, and one is called the great tower because it is bigger and taller. The walls are 12 feet thick.
The 13th Century was the golden age of castle building. Crusades and dynastic struggles caused the evolution of the castle. The Medieval rulers built stone castles to establish their power and to provide for defense. Tom, Ruth, and Peter explore the defense of the castle and the weapons used in the Middle Ages.
Tom, Peter, and the masons install a special stone to connect the outside of the wall to the inner side of the wall to provide strength for the defense of the castle. If they did not put this stone in place, the wall would be vulnerable to caving in. They also explore the mortar and how it takes centuries to set. Tom points out that “experimental archeology has given you a mortar you can use.” Peter explains how the mortar is set in place and how the builders kept checking the level of the stones in place to keep the walls straight.
Sieges were a big problem for the castle. Soldiers could climb over the walls with ladders or tunnels under them. The Trebuchet was invented during this period. This weapon dominated the Middle Ages and siege warfare. The biggest Trebuchet was Warwolf, which was commissioned by King Edward I. Our time travelers go to a castle nearby where replicas of the weapons used are on display. A crew of five men set up a Trebuchet for firing. Even though the war machines were slow, they were feared. One glance at them caused towns to surrender. For the siege, it is the constant hammering away at the walls which caused a great deal of damage.
Tom, who is a midshipman in the Royal Navy, has a strong interest in Medieval history and armor. Ruth makes cloth armor for Tom and finds that it is a lot of hard work for very little progress. She makes it with sheep wool and linen. Ruth explores how cloth armor was made and explains that the linen and wool are layered together before being sewn down. Cloth armor is the precursor to the bulletproof vest.
The defining feature of the castle is are the arrow loops. They were concealed in the walls and gave the archers an advantage. The mason shows the boys how to build an arrow loop. The arrow loop sloped down to help the archers see invaders. Tom and Peter then explore how archers shot their arrows out of the arrow loops. They even try to shoot into an arrow loop, which proved to be a failure.
To continue to learn more about the Secrets of the Castle continue to watch on. There are several good clips you can use for a shop class. The firing of the Trebuchet would be a good clip to show in a math class. Our time travelers are good at explaining how the castle was built as well as exploring the defense properties of the castle. They discuss how if the tower is attacked the way the stones are laid allow that force to be disturbed around.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
Now we are going to explore history meets reality TV in Secrets of the Castle. Tom Pinfold joins up with Ruth Goodman and Peter Ginn to learn the secrets of castle building. Castles had a French origin. So our time travelers to go France and Guedelon castle. Guedelon Castle is part of an archaeology experiment to determine to build a castle. Castle building required a whole community of builders, masons, blacksmiths, lumberjacks, and tile makers. The project for the year is getting work done on the Great Tower.
So how do you build a castle? You start with a wooden model, which allows you to change things before you start building. The second step in building a castle is finding a good location for your castle. A good location includes access to water, wood, and rock. You also have to have the right stone to build a strong castle. Tom and Peter explore the different types of stones and where they were placed in the castle.
Ruth explores the Medieval Hovel and how the castle builders’ camps evolved into villages. Ruth works to make the hovel a home. She starts with the fire pit. She then asks a carpenter to make a grain arch. The grain arch has a removable lid so she can make dough. In the meantime, Ruth lays out the rushes on the floor of the hovel. She is putting theory about rushes into practice by laying them in a herringbone pattern. Ruth gets pots from a pottery maker. Using pottery for cooking is one of the longest practices in the world. Clay came from the nearest source as it could - from a pothole. The hovel is equipped with a grain arch, pots, bowls, nets for hanging other types of food. The hovel is not only a living space but a storage space.
Another vital resource in castle building is water. Thousands of gallons of water per day were used on the castle building site. Peter and Tom work to repair the well by getting a pulley and rope made. The rope is made by using a rope walk. Water is used to make mortar. Mortar formulas were closely guarded secrets and their strength determined how well the castle could hold off.
The boys help get a doorway prepped for a castle. They are surprised at how little metal is used in castle buildings. However, where metal is used it is in an essential place.
The boys put Ruth’s floor to the test and discuss the hovel. Their initial reaction to the hovel is one of disgust but once they discuss it they find that it is not a bad place to live. They find that the floor is warm and that the small space is would be easier to heat. The next morning Peter and Ruth explore Medieval clothing. Peter comments that he can see how clothing evolved.
To find out more about how a castle was built, continue to watch the episode.
With the first episode, you are not limited to a history class, you can bring this episode into a woodshop class or a class featuring STEM or STEAM. In the first episode, there is a demonstration of how carpenters worked wood without saws. There is quite a bit of STEM and STEAM you can get out of this series. You can even show this in a science class because historians are applying the scientific method during this experiment. If you need something do to in a pinch for a class, then you should show this series. However, if you don’t have a substitute teacher in the classroom, you should be able to find clips for use in the classroom.
You can learn more about Guedelon here.
You can access the YouTube video here.
Hello again. Today we move on from Rome and Pompeii and learn about Charlemagne and the empire he built. This is a German-produced documentary in English about the history of the Germans. Anyway, it is a fascinating documentary to show in a classroom setting. In the 700’s, there were just Franks and Saxons, German was not even an idea. The Germans kick off with the story of Charlemagne.
The Saxons were a pagan people and they went into the sacred woods for the gods to answer their questions. They did this for centuries, until 772 when their world changed. A young Frankish king invaded Saxony with a cohort of troops. The Saxons are taken by surprise. Their villages were destroyed by the Franks.
The Frankish king wants to expand his realm and wants to make the Saxons Christians. After the attacks, the Saxon nobles vow to avenge the attacks. Charles, the Frankish king wants to subjugate the Saxons and unite his empire under one religion. The Franks tear down the idols of Saxons. However, the Saxon resistance was not broken. The Saxon nobility rallied the people to rebel against the Franks.
Charles, the Frankish King ruled the Frankish Empire. He was from an old noble family and their center of power was Saint-Denis. There was no real center of power in the Frankish Empire. The Pope visited Saint-Denis when Charles was six. The pope wanted security for Rome and the Franks wanted recognition for their empire. At the end of the pope’s visit, the Franks and the Pope were in an alliance.
After Charlemagne conquered the Saxons, they were forced to bow to him in a ceremony. They were to be subjects in Charlemagne’s realm. It seems for the time being that Saxons were on his side. Charlemagne moved on to Lombardy even though the Lombards were Christians. He wanted to resurrect the Roman empire. It was to be on empire, one faith, one ruler. He became the King of the Franks and the Lombards. Charlemagne was crowned with the crown of the Lombards, the Iron Crown. However, even though was a conqueror, he developed a love of learning. He gathered experts in his court to help reform education. This led to the rebirth of the classical world. He also unified the empire under one language and written script.
In the meantime, the Saxons were casting off their idols into the fire. Charlemagne had passed a law that they had to be baptized or die. There was one noble who rebelled against this law. His name was Widukind and he led the rebellion of the Saxons. He attacked Frankish villages. It explodes in a dirty war between unequal. Widukind escapes capture. Charles took his revenge on the Saxons for their rebellion, slaughtering over 4,000 Saxon men. He deported 1,000’s more to the Frankish empire. It was brutal and even shocked Charlemagne's contemporaries.
The Saxon resistance was not broken by Charlemagne’s harsh revenge. They fought for thirteen years. Charlemagne’s advisors tried to reason with him. They wanted to negotiate with the Saxons. Charlemagne was reluctant to do so. There was a suggestion of an honorable capitulation with Widukind but in exchange for backing down Widukind would have to be baptized. Widukind rode into the Frankish homeland and was baptized. This was the early history of an empire that would eventually become France and Germany.
To find out more continue to watch the documentary. In the meantime, keep this documentary in your files to share with a class. You can always use clips from this documentary in a lecture too.
You can access the documentary on YouTube here.
I'm a librarian with an active imagination who likes to create. Genealogist and Researcher.
My Teachers Pay Teachers Store! Worksheets available as a Word Document.
I am also on Lulu! If you're interested in genealogy I have two books available!
HistoryDocTube will not collect any personal information and will not sell any personal information to a third party. We will not request any personal information. The purpose of this blog is to share information on what can be used in the a classroom, private school or home school setting as well as serve as a portfolio of my personal and professional work.