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Social Studies

Religions and Japan

Religion Assessment on Tuesday April 17, 2018

Japan Assessment on Thursday, April 19, 2018


Facts for the next week.  Five a day.

206. Nation-state: A group of people who share a common culture and are united under a single government.

207. Europe had slipped into the Dark Ages after the fall of Rome. A Frankish king named Charlemagne came to power in the 700’s and briefly united much of Europe. When Charlemagne died, Europe once again fell into chaos, invasions and constant warfare.

208. In a time of constant fighting, a feudal system came about. Kings promised land to lords (nobles) in exchange for their loyalty. Lords gave away some land to knights, or vassals, in exchange for military service. Serfs farmed the land in exchange for protection.

209. The lords were granted pieces of land called fiefs. The lord would build a castle, a stable for horses, a grain mill, and other tools for the serfs to use. This village controlled by the lord was called a manor. The manor was self-sufficient. There was little trade or money.

210. Serfs had to get permission from the lord of the manor before leaving or getting married. They did not own their own property. Part of their crop was given to the lord at every harvest. Serfs did have some rights. The lord could not sell them or take their land.

211. The feudal system spread to Western Europe, including France and England, and some parts of Eastern Europe, including Russia. As a handful of feudal kings became increasingly powerful, nation-states began to develop in Europe. 

212. Legislative: Branch of government that writes the laws.

213. Jury: A group of people who vote to decide if someone is guilty or innocent of a crime.

214. When William the Conqueror of France took over England in 1066, he built castles all over to keep control of the countryside. In order to strengthen his own power and the power of the monarchy, he weakened the nobles. 

215. Several kings later, the nobles fought to get their power back. King John I raised taxes on his people. He put his enemies in prison without trials. The nobles raised armies to fight the king. They forced John to sign a document called the Magna Carta, or Great Charter.

216. The Magna Carta gave rights to the nobles that the king couldn’t take away. A Great Council was formed to give advice to the king about the nobles’ wishes. The king had to ask permission from the Council to raise taxes. 

217. The Great Council would later be known as Parliament. Parliament became a representative assembly that limited the power of English monarchs. It is now England’s legislative branch. It was the first step toward democratic government in modern Europe.

218. Many other rights would later be given to the people of England because of Magna Carta. Due process of law means that the government has to follow certain steps before taking people’s rights or property. It also guaranteed the right to a trial by jury

219. Pope: The leader of the Roman Catholic branch of Christianity.

220. Crusade: A holy war to defend the faith.

221. As Islam spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Islamic empires arose there. Jerusalem, a holy city for Muslims, Jews, and Christians, became part of the Islamic Empire. The Byzantine Empire  and Spain lost a lot of land to the Islamic empires. 

222. Byzantine emperors asked the Pope for help. Kings and nation-states in Europe threatened the power of the church. The Pope called for a crusade to defend Christianity, free the Holy Land from Muslims and save the Byzantine Empire. 

223. A number of crusades took place over the course of hundreds of years. They failed to take back Jerusalem, the Byzantine Empire was weakened, and the feudal system was disrupted as nobles left to fight. Kings got even more power to challenge the church.

224. One of the few “successes” of Christian Europe at this time was the Reconquista. In the Reconquista, Spain did manage to re-take much of its territory that had been lost to the Muslim empires. This allowed Spain to become a very powerful country in Europe.

225. Crusaders came back from the Holy Land after being exposed to many new places, new ideas, and new products. Trade began to flow through Europe again, with trade centers forming on the Italian peninsula. Europeans began exploring to find new trade routes.

226. Heresy: Going against the teachings of the church.

227. Missionaries: People who preach their religion to others in hopes of converting (changing) those people to a particular religion.

228. Cathedral: A very large church.

229. Theology: Study of religion.

230. Manuscript: A hand-written book or document.

231. When the Roman Empire fell, the Catholic Church became very important to peoples’ everyday lives. The church gave meaning, order, and hope in a chaotic and dangerous world. The church had its own laws and courts to handle crimes such as heresy.

233. Different “orders” of monks came about based on what they were trying to accomplish. Franciscans and Dominicans traveled from place to place as missionaries. Monasteries tried to set an example of a holy life in order to attract people to the church.

234. Benedictine monks focused on collecting Christian writings such as the Bible. Notre Dame Cathedral in France became such a center of learning that a university grew out of its education program. People could earn high status by earning a degree in theology.

235. In Ireland, monasteries had rooms called scriptoriums devoted to storing, studying and copying books. Calligraphy and illustrations in rich colors and paint made from gold and silver were developed. Manuscripts like the Book of Kells became art masterpieces.

236. People believed the church had the power to send them to Heaven or Hell. To avoid Hell, people paid taxes called tithes to the church. Many people who owned land left it to the church when they died. The church became Europe’s largest landowner.

237. Plague: An illness caused by bacteria that can be very serious and very contagious (spreads easily).

238. In the 1200’s, European towns began to grow into large cities because of increased trade. Cities were crowded and unsanitary. In the 1300’s, trade ships sailing from Asia brought some unwanted stowaways: rats. The rats had fleas, and the fleas had plague.

239. Plague quickly spread along trade routes, through the crowded cities, and throughout Europe. People who got sick would die within days. It is estimated that around 25 million people in Europe (30%, or 1/3) died of plague, called Black Death, from 1347-1351. 

240. People in Europe did not understand the plague. People believed wearing flowers and masks would protect them from “bad air.” People thought God was punishing them. Flagellants whipped themselves to make up for their sins and gain God’s favor.

241. So many people died that there were not enough serfs to work the land. Lords began to compete for workers. They began to offer pay to the serfs for the work they performed- creating a wage-based economy. People moved around looking for better wages.

242. As serfs demanded more rights and were no longer tied to the land, lords began to sell off land they couldn’t farm. Many peasants moved to cities to live and work. The feudal system began to break down because money replaced land as wealth in the economy.

243. Patronage: To support a cause through donations or hiring people to perform a service.

244. Secular: Not religious.

245. Anatomy: Science of the parts of the body.

246. Astrolabe: A tool used for finding latitude (how far north or south) on a map.

247. The Renaissance was a rebirth of culture and learning in Europe. It began in the Italian city-states of Florence, Milan and Venice. Their location made them centers of trade and banking. The Medici family of Florence used its wealth for patronage of the arts.

248. Trade with the Middle East brought the writings of ancient Greece and Rome back into Europe. The arch and dome were used to build new Cathedrals. Paper-making spread from the Middle East as well. Printing of music helped make it a popular art form.

249. One idea that most influenced the Renaissance was humanism. Humanism celebrates the achievement and potential of people. Humanism focuses on the ability to use reason instead of faith to figure out the world. People became more secular and independent.

250. Artists studied the body to draw and sculpt it realistically. This led to discoveries in medicine and anatomy. In literature, Machiavelli’s book The Prince examined the relationship between the ruler and the ruled. This led to new interest in politics.