Sir William the Defender!

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to have successfully organized a Middle Ages Presentation by Sir William the Defender for 63 homeschooling people.  We arrived at the designated location at 10am to find Sir William and a few others had everything set up to begin to presentation.  We started at 10:30am.

Sir William began the presentation giving us an idea of the time period he was going to talk about and why he enjoyed learning about this time period.  He began describing a trip he took to Europe.  He visited a castle that had a real blacksmith work area including a working bellow.  He described that the 12 yr old would then perform his duties for nigh 12 hours of lifting this bellow of 8 feet long by 4-5 feet tall non-stop.  He told us of the metal items of that time and how each were made from Iron Ore collected through  hard mining.  This lead to the making of Chain mail.  Approx. 16,000 rings would take to create one shirt.  An entire villiage would expend 6 months of hard labor to produce this shirt for a warrior.


This is where things got personal for me.  He choose a “page” for the Lady of his house.  Who better than my own son B.!!!  At the age of around 12 he would be the Ladies Page, running around town paging craftsmen to do her bidding, then at 13-14 he would be sent back home to study under a Soldier as his Squire.  His duties included carrying all his armor pieces, polishing his armor, collecting more armor from the dead, drawing his baths and more.  He would also be learning to wear the armor properly and using weapons and healing herbs from the Soldier.


The chain mail was much more suitable as protection against swords and bows than the heavy jackets worn prior to the invention of chain mail.  Until dastardly arrows with needle tip bodkins were created, the soldiers were very safe from harm.  So much so, that in a battle, 250 soldiers equaled 1 armored soldier on horseback and 50 soldiers to 1 armored soldier with out a horse.


We went further into history with the story of Charles the Great, Charlemagne.  He spoke of how many of Charles’ ideas are still used today.  Such as when he conquered such a large mass of land he knew he could not manage it by himself so broke the areas in to Counties and appointed Counts to manage them in his stead.


Back to Armor!  All the while he is speaking, B. is instructed in helping his Master with getting his various peices of armor on.  He begins to discuss the helmets of the time and has a wonderful replica he took pictures of in Europe and had made for him.  The history involved being a Helmet worn throughout the Crusades in 1096.  During the third Crusade the helmet was embellished with chain mail along the throat by the great grandson of the original owner.  HOW to get Armor: – If you were wealthy, you have a Blacksmith make you armor and you purchase it.  – Pledge your loyalty to a wealthy Lord, whom will get you the Chain mail shirt.  – The peices of armor are passed down from generation to generations within a family.  – “Culture contact” = pick them up from the slain in battle.  Sword; your sword was Blessed with you as your became a knight/soldier and therefore was not passed down through generations.  It was buried with you!


He briefly discussed the parts of the belt you wore over your armor.  Its purpose to carry your sword, cup and pouch of healing herbs.  More about Swords.  Until steel was mixed with the iron of swords, swords were easily broken.  He showed us his mace and warhammer.  The warhammer has a pick on one side and ab blunt edge on the other shaped like an X.  If you hold it as if striking someone it forms a Cross.  Crusaders would strike their foes with the blunt end across the forehead, leaving the mark of the Cross upon their brow.  “The Christian way of killing….”the Pope sent me!”  LOL


In the 1600’s during the War of Roses, the bubonic plague wiped out 20,000 people.  Of course, we discussed the handing down to our children the warning of the plague through the song “Ring Around the Rosie”

He then added his shield to his armor.  He discussed the meanings of Heraldry associated with his particular coat of arms upon his shield and flag.  The crescents above his families Crest, signifies honors bestowed upon the member of his family in battle prior to him receiving it from his father.  Heraldry cam e about in 1150’s, as did many other rules.  We don’t like rules, so we aren’t going to discuss them. 😛


You were Knighted at age 21.  You had been through training with Wasters, wood swords for years prior with your Master and have not died in process of serving him!  Yay!

He showed us Roman coins that were 1007 yrs old.  Pretty cool!  He gave B. one after all were gone, for all h is help throughout the day.


FOOD!!! Rich Folk ate from Pewter plates and cups.  Pewter mainly consisting of Lead, led to Lead Poisoning.  Resulting in insanity(go figure!) and coma.  1 out of 25 people were buried alive during those times.  We only knew this since they would bury folks on top of eachother and would notice after digging up the coffin to place another inside they would see the claw marks of those who woke from comas to find themselves buried alive.  This began the Irish tradition of holding a Wake.  Laying the body on the table for three days and partying extremely loud to see if the dead would rise.  Also, tying a string attached to the wrist of the dead to a bell placed above the plot, so as if the bell rang they would be dug up.  You then would be walking around again and folks would notice the person they had just buried walking about, looks like a “DEAD RINGER” for someone they knew. hmmmm….

The Poor ate from wood or bread bowls.  Since the bubonic plague, the idea that bathing gave way to disease nearly had all of Europe only bathing once a year.  In and around May, the family would bath from eldest to youngest in the same bath water.  When it was the infants turn to bath the water was filthy, therefore leading to the phrase, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”  You ate with a spoon and maybe one knife between the entire family.  Forks were not around until the 1700’s.  You ate with your once a year bathed hands all from the same pot.    The folks who used bread bowls, made them from old hard bread and kept them to use several times before discarding.  Mold didn’t stop them from using the bowl.  The penicillin from the mold upon the bread saved many a poor folk from disease, whilst the rich died of led poisoning. snicker…of course, the poor would still die from food poisoning and many other such things.

He brought up the Four Thieves story:  The story is that during an epidemic of the plague in Marseilles in 1722, four thieves made a good living from plundering the bodies of plague victims but escaped contagion themselves. They attributed their protection to the liberal application or ingestion (the stories vary here) of a special vinegar infused with herbs and garlic.  He ended with a quick note that today they have discovered a Gene Mutation – Delta 32 that was traced back to the Bubonic Plague.  The researchers are not sure as to whether the mutation occurred due to the plague or if the survivors of the plague already had this mutation that saved their lives.  A person with this particular genetic mutation is immune to the bubonic plague and AIDS!!!  Pretty astounding.

You wanna know where he gets all his information from!?!  Books!  Read, Read, Read, research, Read, Read, Read!  The Internet is not reliable, as there are no checks and balances.  Books have editors and bibliographies that you can research for further reference.  Not that all books are accurate either, but a lot safer than any source you will find online.



After our presentation we gathered all the families for a field trip!  Our guest, Sir William, was very courteous to join us.  We ventured to a real castle built by hand by a local gentlemen that encourages folks to tour the property anytime they like.  Valhalla Castle built by Ron Hall took him 27 years to build.  We were fortunate enough to share this experience with Sir William, whom was very excited to be in the castle.  Mr. Hall was also excited to have his first Knight visitor! 😛


My camera’s battery died half way through the presentation, and was Sir Williams photographer for the visit to the castle so he has many pictures to remember the experience by.  He allowed me to take some personal pictures of him with the boys on his camera that I eagerly await to see.  Until then, you can enjoy all the pictures I have included in this post.  I know I do!  hehe



Todays Lessons

I introduced the topic of the “Rise of Islam” to B. in Main Lesson.  I gave him a breif history of Mohammed and his accomplishments.  Then into how his successors continued his legacy.  I also spoke about all the important works from the Arab world have benefitted us today in current times.  Then he listened to chapters 6 and 7 of Story of the World Vol. 2.  Their he learned about the 5 Pillars of Islam.  I had him draw the pillars and write a breif summary of what we discussed.  He read another chapter of “Lords, Ladies, Peasants and Knights: Class in the middle ages” on People of Faith.

I have created a monster with the Celtic Knot designs.  Now his creations are full sketchpad size!  He is having great fun with all the designs he is coming up with.  Now, if only I could get him to work with color I would be all set.

More Lessons…

Myself and B. continued on our journey into the Middle Ages today.  I had him read about Soldiers in the book, “Lords, Ladies, Peasants, and Knights: Class in the Middle Ages”, by Don Nardo.  After he read the chapter designated for soldiers, I had him outline the main points and created a Main Lesson Page with a drawing of a Knight and Footman.  From that point, we listened to Chapters 3 and 4 of Volume Two, Story of the World, by Susan Bauer.  We reviewed the story of Beowulf and I played several hours worth of Beowulf in audio form found on  He then began preparing for St. Martins Lantern Walk by creating a tissue paper Lantern.  Later in the day, I read him a few m ore chapters from “The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela” by cant remember.  Then showed him some great examples of Letter Illuniation I found online and even a great Powerpoint presentation about it.   He came back to me with several examples of his own and expressed interest learning Celtic Knot drawing.  So, I sped through the online resources and found a wonderful guide for him to read and practice with.      He immediately began drawing and has some great knots already completed.

T. and me began reviewing the Old Testament Stories of Cain and Able, then we proceeded with Cains Ancestory to include Jubal, Tubal and Jebal.  We breifly went over Adam’s ancestory so he would understand the importance of Noahs’ role in our next story.  Afterward, we played a great game I picked up on Discount the night before called “Word Monkeys”.  T. really enjoyed trying to create spellings of words from his cards so much so he didn’t want me to have a turn.  On his own he created 10 words and even checked some spellings in the dictionary.  He spent most of the afternoon reading Volume 2, Story of the World Activity Book by Susan Bauer, since it was out.  He also played with a string game I made for adding.  I took a peice of wood from some packing and created an addition wrap.  It worked!  He went through the math problems having fun doing it!  I am going to make more and will need white out.  Apparently, you must pay close attention to how it wraps, otherwise it can skip wraps.  Opps. He found himself repeating wraps and getting a little frustrated but still enjoying the process.

Middle Ages lesson 1

So, I introduced B. to an overall picture of the Middle Ages on Monday.  I used several powerpoint presentations I found online, a few books from the library and the Story of the World chapters 1 and 2 audio.  I briefly described the feudal system and the importance of the church during that time period.  He freehand drew his first map of the Mediterranean/European continent.  Then I introduced him to Beowulf.  Since yesterday, Tuesday, was one of my days to recoup from emotional exhaustion, I allowed him to watch the movie Beowulf.  What a gory film!  He drew a picture of what he thought the “Hall” looked like from listening to the story on Monday.  I think for an intro lesson it went okay.  I am trying to find ways to come up with m ore fun and creative lessons, but most of the time that means more materials.  More materials equals more money.  Se Va!

Here are some pics of the work he did for this lesson in his Main Lesson Book:

Curricullum so far….

So far I have gathered the following resources for this years curricullum for third and seventh grade.  I am awaiting a few more sources to arrive via mail.  I am also still searching for many biographies and historical fictions for B. to read for the Middle Ages theme that carries through this year.  I will also be using The Story of the World vol. 1 and vol. 2 for both boys to enhance the already begotten resources for eaches historical time period theme.  I still have to purchase Vol. 2.  These are heafty expenses. T.s’ thematic units are related to Jewish history/Old Testament mythology and latter, Native American mythology.  I am ordering main lesson books through Paper Scissors and Stone.  I ordered the astronomy main lesson books and a caligraphy pen from Mercurius USA.  I will be trying to find a musical outlet for T.  He has been playing with the Piano for a while on his own, now, so I might see if he would like lessons.  Don’t know if that will turn him off from it, though.  B. is ever progressing with his guitar like crazy.  He is sounding really nice and coming up with some new sounds.  T. also needs a physical activity, but not sure what to persue.  I personally would appreciate a workout for myself somewhere squeezed in all this “for the kids” stuff.  I will be trying to plan out my year with B. this week.  His is more of a challenge for me.  I would really have preferred to have purchased an entire curricullum for Live Education for seventh grade to help organize it all, but I can’t afford such complete programs.  I will also be trying to keep track of credit hours this year for him.  Not sure how to go about this, but I am working on figuring that out. 

Third Grade:

Live Education: Weights, Time, and Measurement, Keepers of Life and Earth, Handwriting Without Tears; Cursive,  Little Garden; Journey Through Third Grade, Donna Simmons; Old Testament Unit.


Seventh Grade:

Live Education: Astronomy, Live Education: Beowulf, Making Math Meaningful by Jamie York, Roy Wilkenson Teaching History; Middle Ages, Donna Simmons; Middle Ages Unit, Chemistry for Class 7.

It is going to hopefully be a busy year.  I am trying to use Homeschool Tracker to help keep me organized.  This software is free online.  I used it for a short time last year, but my computer crashed and I lost all the data I had strored.  Hopefully, that won’t happen again.

This week we are going to Hanger Theater for our last show of the season.  Les Miserables.  It should be great!  We are going to try to make a day of it and spend the rest of the day hanging out in Ithaca.  I hope the weather will be nice.