In 1066, King Edward the Confessor (named so because he built Westminster
Abbey) died leaving no heirs. There were several pretenders to the throne,
four of them stand out the most:
Harold Godwinson - brother-in-law to Edward, head advisor,
and claimed that King Edward said on his death bed that he should be the
William, Duke of Normandy, A.K.A William the
Conqueror, A.K.A Big Willy - distant cousin
to King Edward, noble birth, and claimed that King Edward sent Godwinson
to Normandy years earlier to proclaim him as the next king of England.
Supposedly Godwinson swore on the bones of a holy saint that he would
help William to be king. The church backs William and excommunicates Godwinson.
Normandy is in France, but the Normans were more like Frenchified Vikings
than sissy Frenchmen.
Harald Hardrada - King of Norway. Said he should be
king because the previous king of England (King Hardicanute) promised
the previous King of Sweden (Magnus) the English throne upon his death.
Since Magnus was occupied with other matters at the time of Hardicanute's
death, King Edward took his place as king of England. Eventually Magnus
dies and Hardrada takes his place as king of Norway. Hardrada claims that
since Magnus should have been king of England and he is Magnus's successor,
then he should be king of England. If you couldn't follow that, then just
remember that Hardrada has 240 ships full of very big, very mean vikings
with very large battle axes that say that he should be king.
Edgar Ætheling - Only 13 or 14 years old at the
time. He was proclaimed as the heir to the throne by King Edward. Being
so young, he could not stop the others from taking his spot. He had little
support so he was never actually crowned.
The Witan chooses Godwinson
to be king. Hardrada "sneaks" his 240 ships out to invade England
and take it by force. William gets his forces ready to invade but is halted
by a storm in the English Channel. Godwinson races his forces across England
picking up serfs along the way (to act as arrow fodder) and meets Hardrada's
forces before the Norwegians are ready. Of the 240 ships, 24 go home.
This is in September.
Meanwhile, William is marching up and down the coast with holy relics
and prayers, when - lo and behold! - the storm clears. William lands and
sets his force up near Hastings. Godwinson marches his men south to meet
this threat. They are tired and hurting. The two forces spend a great
deal of time insulting each other and then they fought. William defeated
the English and beheaded Godwinson on the battlefield. This is in October.
The Witan then name Ætheling as king again in order to thumb their
noses at William, but they do not crown him (no use in ticking off the
"the Conqueror" too much!).
Shortly after (Nov. 10th, 1066), the pagans in England, to show their
disatisfaction to the English, took the bishop of Mecklenburg, Johannes
Skotus, and sacrificed him to Radegast, a Slavic god of crops, fertility,
and hospitality (and creator of beer). They took the head of the bishop
to a temple of Radegast.
Ætheling steps down when William is crowned on Christmas day, 1066.
The day that William is crowned king, the English cheered to show support
for their new king. This frightened the Norman guards so much (misunderstanding
the cheers) that they began burning the houses nearby. The people then
ran out of the coronation to either help put out the fires or to loot
in the chaos.
William changed taxation by taxing people on what they actually have.
He had everyone inventoried to do this fairly. Ætheling runs away
As William aged, he got very fat. Upon his death, he was so fat that
he could barely fit into the sepulcher. In the days for preparation of
his burial, he grew so bloated from bacterial gases that on his funeral
he could not fit in it. One priest began pushing on his belly to make
him fit until he finally "popped" and released a very putrid
smell that made people scramble to leave the church.
This whole story is recorded in a tapestry, which is kind of like a very
old comic book on cloth. Here is a section of it. You can see Halley's
comet in it.
The Bayeux Tapestry is so inspiring, that one guy sat down
and made one for Star Wars (called the Coruscant
Are you an artist? I have some extra
credit for you . Get some cloth measuring 8" by
30". Pick a part from the Bayeux Tapestry (from this web site:
Bayeux Tapestry). Recreate that scene as close as you can. You can
use paint, markers, sewing, whatever. I will hang it up in the classroom.
If we get enough, we'll eventually have the entire tapestry hanging
on the wall. If you do that last one, make it 8" by 16" (it
is a smaller image than the others).
Add points to your Old English/Middle Ages Test by playing
a 1066 video game. Click
Written by Geoffery Chaucer in Middle English. This fact is important
because it stregthened the English language. During Chaucer's time, the
literature language breakdown goes as follows: French - literature written for the ellite (Romances
like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) Latin - for scholars of medicine, the bible, and science English - for the common man
The Canterbury Tales is a frame story. A Frame Story
is a story that has other, unrelated stories in in. The frame story for
The Canterbury Tales is several pilgrims are on their way to
Canterbury to visit the shrine to Thomas a Beckett. On the way, to pass
the time, they play a tale game. The game consists of each pilgrim telling
two stories on the way to Canterbury and two stories on the way back.
The one with the best story will get dinner paid for by the others. Chaucer
dies before finishing the book.
Here is a list of the pilgrims and a little about each.
He is a worthy an ideal knight, very chilvarious. He is also humble.
He is coming straight from a crusade so his shirt is still stained from
his armor. This guy is one of the perfect characters. He never says
anything bad about anyone and is only with this group of losers to render
thanks to God.
- The knight's son. He is learned in courtship, poetry, singing, jousting,
dancing, and pleasing the ladies. He sleeps little (read between the
lines). For those of you who can't read between the lines, he is a player.
He make Zeus look celibate. He is a good guy at heart, though. He will
even risk face in order to please his father.
- The knight's servant. Very good at hunting (looks like Robin
Hood). Wears St. Christopher medal.
- Pioress, very high church position. As a nun she is to keep apart
from the world (but she doesn't). She is obsessed with table manners,
although she is forbidden, she wears jewelry (one is a golden brooch
with 'love conquers all' inscribed), very pretty and vain, clothes are
expensive (not the nun dress), owns dogs (to mimic the rich). She uses
St. Loy as her oath (he was killed for not taking an oath).
- Monks take a vow of celebricy, poverty, and obedience. He has a love
knot, expensive clothes and a fine horse, and breaks rules such as leaving
the monestary, hunts, and wears fur.
Friars are supposed to beg and own nothing. They hear confessional and
help the poor and sick. This friar enjoys life. He finds husbands for
several young women (read between the lines). He has a white neck (which
means a lecherous person). He finds husbands for the ladies to conceal
their pregnancy by him! His name is Hubert, which is a common name for
a bad Friar in literature.
- He is very fashionable. He exchanges money on the black market. No
one knows he is in debt.
Cleric - Studying for the priesthood (professional student),
Thin and has a thin horse. His clothes are threadbare because he spends
all his money on books. Rarely speaks (when he does, it is important).
at Law - Serves the king (similar job as D.A. and Supreme Court
Justice). Keeps his techniques to himself (a little on the shady side).
- A sanguine man (meaning a reddish color - people in this time thought
red people had too much blood meaning a happy person). He loves to eat.
At a time when tables were portable, his was always set. "Eat drink
and be merry and then pay the consequences." This guy was a lot like
Chaucer. St. Julian is his patron St.
Dyer, Carpenter, Weaver, Carpet Maker
- They all wear the same clothes. They are middle class but try to act
like rich people (they all have knives for eating - Ohhh! Ahhhhh!).Nobody
cares about these losers.
Can cook anything. His specialty is a white sauce. He has an oozing
ulcer (read between the lines). Makes you hungry for a good batch of
blanchmange, eh? The sad thing is that nobody in the group seems to
be able to put the oozing sore together with the white sauce!
- A privateer. Very unfashionably dressed. He is prone to steal from
his cargo. He is not moral. Makes people walk the plank and he smuggles
on the side. He is you basic bad good guy. As a privateer, he hunts
pirates for the government; however, he keeps most of the spoils that
he takes from the pirates. It is very possible that the story he tells
was originally meant to be the story for the Wife of Bath.
- Knows medecine and astrology. He eats very healthily. Has not read
the Bible. He has a deal with the apothecary so he prescribes drugs
with gold. He studies on little clay dolls so as to not have to get
too close to diseased people. He is very particular about his eating
of Bath - She
is somewhat deaf. Very proud. She dresses in red, large hat, new shoes.
Her face is red (quick to anger, quick to recover), gap toothed (during
this time, this meant interested in love and something very dirty).
She had five husbands. This is a fiesty woman and I see a mental image
of that ugly woman who played Juliet's personal servant in the old movie
that you all watched in ninth grade. She starts to tell about herself
before she tells her tale and she goes so long that people interrupt
her. Her name is Allison, which is, coincidently, the same name as the
loose woman in the Miller's tale.
- A small town priest. Really cares for his parishoners. He will pay
the tithes for his parishoners when they cannot. He practices what he
- The parson's brother. He hires his services out to others.
He is an ideal christian. He loves his neighbor as himslef and if his
neighbor couldn't pay for his services, he would do it for free.
grinds and prices grain (but he often cheated people). Big, brawny,
and muscular. No one can out wrestle him and he can break down doors
with his head. He has a wart with red hair sprouting from it on his
nose. He has wide nostrils and a big mouth (signifies an animal-like
nature). He has a red beard and red hair (an angry person). He wears
white and blue (typical depiction of the Virgin Mary). He plays the
bagpipes. People bring in their grain and he grinds it for them. He
would steal part of the grain and when they weighed it, he would put
his thumb on the scale to make it seem heavier. His tale is by far the
funniest, but it is also the dirtiest, the main subject being about
the dangers of trying to french kiss in the dark.
- Teaches law and is very clever. He has tricked thrity lawyers.
Old, choleric, and thin (means he is cranky and cunning). He knows exactly
when to plant. He knows his business and nobody can find fault with
his records. He used to be a carpenter and takes great offense to the
miller's tale about a carpenter.He tries to tell a dirty funny tale
about a miller, but it just doesn't work. Nobody likes him.
job is to get people (summon them) to go to the ecclesiastical court
(run by the church) for breaking church laws (not tithing, adultery,
telling a lie, etc.). Loves garlic, leeks, onions, and red wine. He
is sick and has black scabby brows and a fiery red face. His eyes are
swollen shut. He has a major case of acne. When he gets drunk, he speaks
in latin. He lets people go free for a quart of wine. He commits sexual
crimes secretly (some even suspect children are involved). He blackmails
those that bribe him. There is some hints that his sexual misconduct
involves little children.
with the summoner (possible involvement). He sells indulgences and false
relics. He has yellow waxy hair. Small goat-like voice and bulging eyes.
He rides a gelding. There is more than a connection between him and
the Summoner. He loudly sings to the Summoner, "Come hither, Love, to
me!" His choice of horse means (symbolically) that he may be homosexual
- As a character, he is blind to most of the inferences made
about each character. He constantly apologizes for the stories, but
claims he must portray them as they are told.
- A large merry man who is henpecked by his wife. He comes up with the
tale game. He will judge and the winner gets a dinner paid for by the
others. Winning story based on morals and amusement.
(where the pilgrims are going)
Thomas a Beckett's Shrine
A cross to show Beckett's murder
A page from The Canterbury Tales
Another illuminated page from The Canterbury Tales
This movie has several allusions to The Canterbury
Tales. It even has Chaucer as a major character.There is
some pretty good extra credit to be had by completing this
extra credit assignment.
Main figures in the King Arthur legend:
Morgan Le Fay
Lady of the Lake (Nimue or Vivienne)
Click on the pictures below to see them larger:
E x c a l i b u r
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha,
do chéal déanaimh
We will view this movie in class. It is a pretty good version
of the myths. Since the myths contradict each other, it is impossible
to protray the one "true" Arthurian story. This movie does,
however, try to blend the more famous myths together into one story. You
can watch the trailer by clicking the picture. Here are some things to
make sure you get from the movie as you watch it:
* Why is Merlin willing to help Uther Pendragon in his quest
to attain Ygraine?
* How do we first know that Morgana (also known as Morgan le Fay) has
* Where does the sword come from? How does it get driven into the stone?
* Who is for Arthur when he pulls the sword from the stone?
NOTE - Merlin says,
"You will be the land and the land will be you;
If you fail, the land will perish;
As you thrive, the land will blossom."
This is heavy symbolism and foreshadowing for the movie. Take some time
to make sure you understand the king's relationship to nature and the
actual land of England.
* What is the dragon?
* Who knights Arthur?
* What is Arthur's weakness (found in the fight between Lancelot and him)?
* Of what does Merlin warn Arthur before he marries Guinevere?
* Who is the young man who follows Lancelot to Camelot?
* Of what crime is Lancelot and Guinevere are accused?
* Why doesn't Arthur champion Guinevere?
NOTE - to understand the sword going through Merlin, you need to know
what the dragon is, since Merlin is becoming the dragon at the time.
* Why is the land withering?
* What does Arthur send the knights to get?
* Who is successful in that quest?
* What has become of Lancelot?
* What has become of Guinevere?
* Who is Mordred?
* What happens to Morgana?
* What happens after the Lady of the Lake gets the sword?
Terms you shoudl have in your notes:
Avalon - the resting place of Arthur - he gets carried there in a
ship piloted by three queens
The Dragon - all of England
The Once and Future King - Arthur's title meaning that he was once
king and will be again when we need him most
Camelot - Arthur's castle
hubris - pride that leads to a character's downfall
archetypes - symbols that stay the same in all time periods and cultures
The two main songs in this movie are "Siegfried's Funeral
March" from The Ring by Wagner (hear
it here) and "O Fortuna" by Carl Orff (here
Missed some of the movie? Well, try and catch up by watching
it here (will cost $2.99 to watch on You Tube):
King Arthur Movies & Books
The greatest King Arthur film ever made, as long as you're not looking
for accuracy and any annoying features like that! Click the poster to
watch the movie trailer.
This movie goes after the idea that Arthurian legends may have been based
on Artorius, a Roman soldier. Neat movie, but does not give much in the
way of traditional Arthur stories. Click the picture to watch the movie
This movie is based on an older legend of King Arthur and shows a bit
more of a darker side to him in response to Lancelot and Guinevere. Click
the poster to watch the trailer.
Based pretty much on T. H. White's The Once and Future King,
this covers Arthur (called Wart) life as a boy until he becomes king.
The book is better than the movie, but the movie is a funny watch as well.
As with all Disney cartoons, you can look for the "hidden
A TV series that takes a completely different approach.
Here, Merlin is a young man trying to learn the craft while working as
a servant to Prince Arthur. You can watch episodes of the show by clicking
The Knights of the Round
Ablamor o’ the Marsh
Accolon o’ Gaul
Agravaine (betrayer of Launcelot)
Allardin o’ the Isles
Barant Les Apres (King of the Hundred Knights)
Belleus o’ the Pavilion
De Hautdesert (magical Green Knight)
Bors de Ganis
Breunis Sans Pite
Brian o’ the Forest
Bruin le Noire
Cador o’ Cornwall
Carados, King of Scotland
Dagonet (Arthur’s Court Jester)
Dodinas le Savage
Ector de Maris
Edward the Knight Perilous
Felot o’ Langdue
Gareth of Orkney (Knight of Many Colors)
Garlon (Invisible Knight)
Gouvernail (Tristram’s Squire)
Helior le Preuse
Hervis de Revel
Hontzlake o’ Wentland
Hue the Knight Perilous
Kay (Arthur’s seneschal)
Lucan de Butterlere
Mador de la Porte
Meliot de Logres
Miles o’ the Lands
Palomides the Saracen
King Pellimore(Knight of the Questing Beast)
Percard (Knight of the Black Lawns) Perceval
(the Grail Knight)
Perimones (Red Knight)
Persante of Inde (Blue Knight)
Pertelope (Green Knight)
Priamus the Saracen
Sagramour le Desirous
Trantrist o’ the White
Tristram of Lyoness
Uriens, King of Gore
MAJOR EXTRA CREDIT (may be worth up to
a 100 test grade depending on how much effort you put into this):
Pick any of the Knights of the Round Table to make a wiki post for our
Myth Project (one not already done, of course). You will
include the information needed for a hero (check the main page for that
information). Of course, you should put this IN YOUR OWN WORDS!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a fairly humorous book by Mark Twain about a guy who falls asleep
and wakes up in the time period of King Arthur. He uses his knowledge
of science to usrup Merlin's position. Click to read Wikipedia's review.
A great story written by Peter David. King Arthur is the "Once
and Future King," so what happens when he returns? In
this case, he runs for office in America. Peter David has a good sense
of the Arthurian legends and write a good comedy.
Middle Ages notes - fill
in the blank (check our Powerpoint
plus the notes on the events of 1066. Canterbury Tales
- know who the pilgrims are (hint, do not bother studying
the following: Merchant, Oxford Cleric, Serjeant at Law, Haberdasher and
company, Manciple. You will be asked to ID the pilgrims by giving ALL
you know. There will be multiple choice on the three stories we read as
a class (The
Wife of Bath's Tale, The
Pardoner's Tale, and The
Miller's Tale) plus a chance for a short answer or two. King Arthur - There will
be matching on the main characters found in the King Arthur legend and
mulitple choice on the movie Excalibur.
The extra credit on the
test is to translate the charm of making used in the movie Excalibur.
You can find it above the movie picture on this page. A hint is that it
Extra Credit: What is the
name of Arthur's court jester? E-mail
me the answer for a 100 daily grade.
Extra Credit: complete a movie
report on any King Arthur movie (except Excalibur
and Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail).