Design a site like this with
Get started

English 10, Lesson 175 – The Pardoner’s Tale

Geoffrey Chaucer was an English writer and poet.  His works were so acclaimed that he was given the title “father of English poetry” or “father of English literature.”  This week in class, I read one of Chaucer’s most popular and praised works: The Canterbury Tales.  In this essay, I am going to talk about one of the stories I read this week called “The Pardoner’s Tale.”

The story started with a man who was pretending to be a pardoner (a person who pardons the sins of people).  He was a con man trying to separate people from their money.  One night, the pardoner was carrying a dead body to its grave and three drunks from a nearby pub spotted him.  They asked the pardoner what happened to the dead man.  The pardoner spun a long and intricate story about how death came and stole the man’s life. 

The three drunks decided to swear an oath to find and kill death and to protect each other like brothers.  When the three drunks set off for their journey, they run into an elderly man.  This man had a hood over his head, obscuring his face from the view of the three drunks.  The man told the drunks that death had refused to take him, which led the drunks to believe that the man knew where death was.  They demanded to know the location of death, and the old man told them to an oak tree.

When the three of them reached the oak, they found bundles of money under the tree.  When they saw this money, they decided to stop at the oak and go no further in their adventure, breaking the oath they made.  Once they made themselves comfortable, they pulled lots to see who should go into town and steal bread and wine.  The youngest of the three was sent into town, but while he was away, the other two plotted a way to kill him so they could split the money two ways instead of three.  Meanwhile, the youngest man was planning to poison the other two men so we could get all the gold for himself.  This is them breaking the second part of their oath, which was to protect each other like brothers.

In the end, all three died and no one got the money.

It seemed that the point of the story was Chaucer trying to show how foolish the practice of pardoners was.

One thing to note, was how random the sudden appearance of the elderly man was.  I have noticed that in stories written during Chaucer’s time (12th and 13th century), that authors would add insignificant characters only to move the story along. 

However, the elderly man did not seem like one of these insignificant characters.  A theory, is that the man was death, hence his hooded face and his comment on how “death will not take him.”  Perhaps death will not take him because he is death.

With the Pardoner’s Tale, Chaucer may have been trying to prove a point, but I feel that it may have gotten lost in how long the story was.  It was an entertaining story to read, but I had more fun trying to figure out who the old man was than trying to understand the meaning of the story.

Thanks for reading!


English 10, Lesson 165 – Boccaccio’s “Gripping” Stories

This week in class, I finished reading The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio.  The book is a compilation of stories, split into two parts, which were set during the Black Plague.  In this essay, I am going to talk about which part of The Decameron was more gripping to read.

The first part of The Decameron is a compilation of stories set during the time of the Black Plague.  The passages are short and easy to read.  Historians have even confirmed that some events described in the stories were historically accurate and not completely embellished by Boccaccio.  I would not describe the stories as “gripping”, but they were certainly interesting to read.

However, the second part was less interesting and felt like a poorly executed attempt by of trying to get people to understand Boccaccio’s views through convoluted stories.  Every story mocked or bashed the Christian religion in subtle ways.  The stories felt ridiculous and illogical.  While I understand that Boccaccio was aiming for fictional stories, the stories in the second part of The Decameron felt too senseless to count as good fiction.  However, I have to admit that the pure silliness of some stories were quite entertaining to read through.  Perhaps that was Boccaccio’s goal for the second part of The Decameron.

As you can see, The Decameron was an interesting book to read for the course.  Personally, I did not feel “gripped” by any of the stories.  Some were interesting and entertaining to read, while others felt a little dull.

Thanks for reading!


English 10, Lesson 160 – Boccaccio: Decameron

The Decameron is a book of stories about the Black Plague that was written by Giovanni Boccaccio in the 14th century.  Boccaccio supposedly wrote the book to show the effects of the plague, but majority of the stories in the book are from his imagination.  In this essay, I am going to show how a reader could have learned about Boccaccio’s worldview from the stories in the book.

For some background, the book was published in 1353, only a year after the plague ended.  During the plague, it seemed that all morals went out the window.  People would abandon their families so they could live to see another day.  Popes and friars, who were expected to protect the people, abandoned their towns so they could escape the plague.  People lost faith in God.  They no longer felt like God was protecting them.  Christianity started to lose the affect it once had on people.  Even when the plague ended, the faith people once had in Christianity was no longer there.  It was very obvious that Boccaccio was part of the majority who no longer believed in God or Christainity.

The first story starts with seven young women who lived during the Black Plague.  They were in Church together and were complaining to one another about how dreadful home life was because all of their maids or servants had contracted the plague or ran away out of fear.  Together, they decided to spend the day at the abandoned cottage outside of their town with a few of their male friends.

The group decided to tell stories to entertain one another.  The first storyteller told a peculiar story about a crook who lied to a friar on his deathbed, which led to his canonization (made into a saint).  The crook, was described as “the worst man that was ever born.”  He stole, swore, lied, and murdered, but did not confess any of this to the friar on his deathbed.  Instead, he spun a story about how pious he was during his life and how he regretted not being able to do more.  The friar believed the crook, and after his death, told the whole town about the holiness about the man.

At the beginning and end of the story, the narrator called upon God.  I was not sure why the storyteller would do that as it did not seem to have any relevance to the story at the time.  Perhaps it was Boccaccio trying to mock God in an indirect, and confusing, way.

As the book goes on, it is obvious that Boccaccio was not a believer of God.  Almost every story mocks or ridicules God in one way or another.  Many stories blamed incidents on luck or fortune, much like the Greeks would have done.  They gave all credit to luck instead of God.

For example, in one story a pirate is sailing home after his adventures.  When his ship sank because of a storm, he found a floating chest in the water and used it as a buoy.  A poor woman on a nearby island saw the pirate and helped him.  The pirate was despairing over all of the lost treasure that was in the ocean, but he and woman soon discovered that the chest he pirate was using as a buoy was filled with precious gems.

The woman finding him was simply fortune, not the goodwill of God.  The chest being filled with gems was simply luck, not the work of God.

As you can see, Boccaccio wrote the book during a time where God and Christanity was not an idea that would get positive comments from the general public.  From the first story, it was obvious that Boccaccio was not a believer of God when the narrator mocked God’s name.

Thanks for reading!


English 10, Lesson 155 – Little Flowers and Song of Roland

The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi and Song of Roland are two different books written during the medieval period.  They are considered to be classic Christian literature.  But do these books give advice or demonstrate how a Christian should have lived during the medieval period?

Personally, I do not think either book provided any kind of advice for Christians who lived during the medieval years.  Even though both were based on true stories, the authors added so many fictional stories that the factual parts were completely lost or forgotten.

The Song of Roland was based on the First Crusade.  For a book that was based on a war, there was no war propaganda whatsoever.  When I started reading the book, I fully expected there to be passages that promoted the war and ‘fighting for the cause.’  However, not only was there no war propaganda, there was no advice for Christians.

I am not sure why Song of Roland is considered to be a classic in Christian literature.  There were no Bible quotes, lessons to Christians, or anything suggesting that the author was a Christian.  If I did not know any better, I would assume the book is another medieval piece of literature that would not meet today’s standard of writing.

In The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi there were so many ridiculously, fantastical stories that only a fool would read the book and believe any of the stories.  Unlike Song of Roland, the book did give advice, but not advice that a regular Christian could follow.

For example, there were several stories showing how friars and clerics should live.  The book emphasized on living in poverty and humility, as well as suffering like Christ did on the cross.  These stories only applied to those who devoted their whole being to the Church.  Everyday men and women could not follow, the advice given in the book.

The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi also gave Christians a very pessimistic idea of death.  In several chapters, the book talked about purgatory.  For those who do not know, purgatory is a state after death where you suffer to get rid of your sins.

In the book, many friars, despite living holy and pious lives, were stuck in purgatory and were not released.  If a friar could not leave purgatory, what hope did a normal man or woman have?  In some stories, purgatory was only cleansed of the souls after an extremely holy man died.  Did that mean people had to wait until someone pious died for them to be free of the torture?

As you can see, neither books offered advice to the common Christian.  If I was a Christian in the medieval ages, and I read these books, I would not be very pleased with what I spent my time on.  Especially The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi.  That book would have scared more than helped.

Thanks for reading!


English 10, Lesson 150 – Little Flowers: Life Beyond the Grave

This week in class, I finished the section on The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi.  The book told of stories of Saint Francis and his followers.  The principles Saint Francis emphasized to his disciples were very hard for the common man to follow.  For example, the way for people to get into heaven was described as a very gruelling, and not always guaranteed, process. In this essay, I am going to talk about Saint Francis’ version of how to get to heaven and if it was attainable for any common man.

In Saint Francis’ mind, suffering and abject poverty was a huge part of holiness.  For very obvious reasons, every common person could not be in abject poverty, and I doubt anyone would want to suffer all the time.  Many people were unwilling to leave all their progress behind and descend into destitution.  However, Saint Francis was adamant that poverty would guarantee you a spot in heaven.  If I was a common person during this time and I heard Saint Francis say this, I would not have much hope for myself after death.

During the last few chapters that I read, the topic of purgatory was brought up quite a bit.  For those who do not know, purgatory is “an intermediate state after death for expiatory purification.[i]

There were stories of friars who made great sacrifices and worshipped diligently, but still did not make it to purgatory.  For the common baker or blacksmith, who did not make sacrifices and pray daily, this would give them little to no hope.

As you can see, the expectations for heaven were set extremely high.  The common man would have felt like there was no point in trying to aim for that level of comfort after death.  If I lived during the time of Saint Francis, I would not be feeling too optimistic about reaching heaven.

Thanks for reading!

[i] “Purgatory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Sep. 2022.


English 10, Lesson 145 – Little Flowers: How to Attain Eternal Life?

This week in class, I read The Little Flowers of St. Francis, which was a biography of the life of Saint Francis, the creator of the Franciscan order.  The poem came out in the 1300s and described the daily life of those who joined the order and some peculiar things the Saint did (like giving sermons to birds).  In this essay I am going to answer the question, if you had been listening to these stories in 1300, what would you have concluded from them is the way to gain eternal life?

In the book, it is obvious that poverty and suffering is a very large part of being in the order.  Saint Francis emphasized poverty quite a bit throughout his life, and it was reflected in the book.  However, he also emphasized how not everyone can be in poverty, or their society would collapse.  The Saint and his followers lived a life of self-denial as a way to pay for their sins.  It is said that they genuinely enjoyed suffering injustices done to them.

Saint Francis also preached about humility.  He said that being humble is something the common man can be in his daily life, unlike the abject poverty the followers of the Franciscan order subjected themselves to.  He also talked about prayer and virtue, as a way to gain knowledge and protection from God as well as to get closer to Him spiritually.

If I was a reader from the 1300s, I would have concluded that the way to eternal life is to either join a group similar to the Franciscan order, or stay humble and close to God in whatever way I can.  From what is described, I doubt anyone, including me, would be overly keen on starting a life of self-deprivation like the ones the Saint and his followers led.

Thanks for reading!


English 10, Lesson 140 – Song of Roland: Discrepancies

For the past couple of weeks, I have been reading Song of Roland.  It is an epic poem about the battles between Charlemagne, the Frankish king, and the Islamic troops in the Battle of Tours (732 AD).  Throughout the story, there are several discrepancies that make events in the story seem so fantastical that I am completely convinced it is not even a little bit close to the actual event.  As a reader in the 21st century, and a student of Gary North’s English class, these inconsistencies seem to be disturbingly obvious.  But would they be obvious to readers of the typical listener from 11th century?

There are several mistakes throughout the poem that, as an author, irks me.

For example, in the beginning of the story, it is said that Charlemagne’s army outnumbers the Muslims.  So much so, that the Muslims were described as being on the ‘brink of defeat.’  However, in a later part of the poem, the story of Roland and Oliver is told.  What puzzles me in this instance, is if why the Muslims chose to wait so long to reveal their 400,000 men.  Where did this number come from?  Did they always exist, or is it only a detail to make the poem more ‘epic’?

Another example, also during the story of Roland and Oliver, is towards the end of the battle, only two men remain: Roland and Archbishop Turpin.  It is said that the archbishop was shot in the heart four times, but still managed to kill 400 Muslims before dying.  I may not be a doctor, but I have enough common sense to know that that is not humanly possible.

I only listed two examples, but there are many more in the poem where people who were described as dead suddenly came back alive (with no explanation) and exaggerated numbers describing the armies with no hint of where all these men came from.

To answer the question I asked above: judging by how popular this poem was, I would say that people either ignored the mistakes or simply did not notice them.  I can see the appeal and wonder of the story for those who lived during the 11th century, but as a viewer from the 21st century who is an avid reader of books with consistency, this was not an easy read.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 180, Essay 2 – Revealed Truth: People Never Believed the Earth Was Flat!

Many people, including me, have been told that people in the Middle Ages believed that the world was flat.  This idea was taught to many children when they asked about who Christopher Columbus was.  There is proof now that people in the Middle Age never believed that the Earth was flat.  In fact, no one believed this absurd fact.  If people in the Middle Ages never believed in this, where did the myth come from?

There were two men, Lactantius (c. 245 – 325) and Cosmas Indicopleustes (died 550 AD), who supposedly told people that the Earth was flat.  Historians who were trying to make people believe this myth claimed that everyone listened to these two men.  However, we now know that that was incorrect.

Lactantius was a Christian heretic who converted from Paganism.  He was always quick to refute anything the Pagans said or believed in.  When they said that the Earth was a sphere, Lactantius argued that the Earth was flat.  No one listened to any of Lactantius’ claims, and no one treated him as some great philosopher.

Cosmas was an early 6th century traveler and geographer from Greece.  Unlike Lactantius, he was not trying to make people believe that the Earth was flat.  He created a diagram of the Earth that showed that it was flat, but he did not seem to believe that the Earth was actually flat.  This diagram was used as an excuse to claim that Cosmas believed the world was flat and was trying to make others believe this as well.  There is a fault in this statement though.  Cosmas only wrote in Greek, which was not a language people read during the Middle Ages.  His works were only translated into Latin in 1706, years after Christopher Columbus’ journey “around the world.”

If no one believed the world was flat, where did this myth come from?  American historian Jeffrey Burton Russell believed that Washington Irving (1783 – 1859) and Antoine-Jean Letronne (1787 – 1848) were responsible for the start of this belief.

Irving’s works were often blurred the lines of fact and fiction.  It was difficult for his readers to tell what was real and what was not.  In his work about Christopher Columbus he made up an interaction between Columbus and a council who were supposedly warning him about falling off the edge of the flat Earth.

Letronne received his academic training from men who exaggerated the ignorance of people in the Middle Ages.  In his writings, he gave the people the idea that a vast majority of the population in the Middle Ages believed in this lie.

As you can see, not everything you ae taught is necessarily true.  This myth was started by men who wanted to exaggerate the idiocy of people during the Middle Ages.  You live and you learn, right?

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 180, Essay 1 – Questions of Conquest by Mario Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian novelist who wrote many books and articles.  This week, I had the opportunity of reading one of his articles called “Questions of Conquest.”  In the article Mario Vargas Llosa answered the question of why the Incas fell to a small group of “Spaniard adventurers.”  In this essay, I am going to talk about what I think the central point of his article was.

Llosa started the article by asking his question.  He then said that while you can blame the fall of Incas on the technology the Spaniards owned (guns, armor, horses), this was not the main reason of their demise.  There were only 180 Spaniards and thousands of Incas, yet they still fell.  Why?

The way of the Inca Empire was completely different from the world we are used to today.  In Inca society, individualism was nonexistent.  People were raised with the mindset of pleasing and serving the king.  Any achievement made was a collective and anonymous work.  The idea of being an individual, thinking on your own, or acting without the guidance of the king was unheard of.  Their civilization worked as one collective of people, like a swarm of bees.

When the Spaniards came and captured their king, there was no one left to give orders.  For people who had never needed to make their own decisions or act independently, this was an overwhelming situation.  Besides the natural panic caused when seeing the invaders, there was also the panic of not knowing what to do.  Incas died at the hands of Spaniards simply because they allowed themselves to be killed since they did not know what to do.

As you can see, the Incas outnumbered the Spaniards, but they did not know what to do with that number after their king was taken.  Maybe if the Inca Empire allowed the people to be more independent from the king they could have survived the Spaniards, even with their guns and armor.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 175 – The Church on the Eve of the Reform

The term “Eve of the Reform” is used to describe the time right before the Protestant Reform that was led by Martin Luther in 1517.  During the Eve of the Reform, the Church, and Christianity as a whole, was starting to become more degenerate.  In this essay, I am going to talk about what the Church looked like before the Protestant Reform.

Many things were changing when it came to religion.  For example, people stopped attending Mass and other religious practices.  Instead, the people would listen to priests and only attended high Masses on feast days.  It seemed that the people were tired of the same, mundane events and wanted more excitement in their life when it came to worship.

People also started to make pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Rome.  The idea of Via Dolorosa also started to become more popular among the people and was practiced more.  For those who do not know, Via Dolorosa is the practice of walking the road Christ did on the way to his crucifixion.  Some would even walk the road on their knees to feel the pain that Christ did.

During this time there was also a heavy emphasis on death and superstition.  People relied heavily on astrology to predict their future or give them guidance.  There was also an exaggerated devotion to various patron saints among those who did not believe in astrology.

Political leaders and priests also started to show signs of degeneracy.  Men with high political standings would build lavish buildings that were supposedly dedicated to God, but would then order their enemies to be stabbed to death or tortured for months before their execution.  Priests also stopped giving Holy Communion to those who had a death sentence over their heads.  Many popes tried to stop this cruel and unmerciful practice, but to no avail.

Clergymen, like bishops and priests, seemed to stop caring about their duties to the Church and demonstrated concerning levels of absenteeism.  They became more focused on finding ways to get money, whether it was from the people or from other sources.

Church orders, like the Poor Clares, started become more lax in their rules and regulations.  This was completely different from what the order was like when it was first started by Saint Francis.  A woman named Saint Colette saw what was happening to Church orders and tried her best to reform them and the Church.  Unfortunately, her efforts were not enough, and all endeavours of hers ended after her death.

As you can see, the issue during this time was not the people losing their religion, but the men in the Church becoming less focused on their purpose.  Many of the common people stopped attending Mass because of this.  Standards were lowered to the point where popes had to practically beg their priests to celebrate Mass at least four times a year.  It was glaringly obvious that a reform was needed.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 170 – The Italian War of 1494-1498

King Charles the VIII of France (r. 1483-1498) was a very ambitious king.  He was a young king, who was crowned at the age of 13 and died at the age of 28.  During his reign, there was one major event that is marked as his most memorable act.  In this essay, I am going to discuss the Italian War of 1494-1498, which was caused by King Charles.

In 1494, Charles started to make claims to Naples through some of his ancestors.  He voiced his desire to take Naples as his own.  The ruler of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, was egging on Charles and even invited him and his forces into Italy.  In Sforza’s mind, the threat of the French king would supress his enemies who were threatening him.

However, Charles was more successful than Sforza had expected.  Not only did he conquer Naples, he conquered other Italian city-states.  Suddenly the French king was a threat not only to Sforza’s enemies, but to Sforza himself.

Charles’ war quest led to an alliance of some Northern Italian city-states, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire.  This alliance was known as the League of Venice and was created as a way to protect the Italians from French invasion.  The League eventually forced Charles back and regained the city-states he had conquered.

The war ended in 1498 when Charles died, but his successor, Louis XII, tried to claim Milan as his own.  As expected, none of the other Italian city-states came to rescue Milan or Sforza when the French invaded again, marking the unofficial end of the war.

As you can see, the war was relatively small, for a war, and was not overly significant.  The whole ordeal started because of the poor insights of a man who wanted to scare his enemies.  Perhaps this is a lesson to not get too ambitious when dealing with those you dislike.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 165 – Erasmus: “The Praise of Folly”

Desiderius Erasmus was a Dutch philosopher and theologian who lived during the 15th century.  He wrote many notable works during his time, the most remembered being The Praise of Folly.  In this essay, I am going to describe some of the points he brought up in The Praise of Folly.

I have only read an excerpt of the actual work, but only from that I managed to deduce some of the points Erasmus was trying to convey in his essay.

He claimed that merchants were corrupt and people knew it.  However, if people knew that the merchants they gave their money to were corrupt, why did they still buy from them?  The answer: merchants had a lot of money and that earned them respect by the common people.  He also accused the friars of being part of the scheme to get profits from the merchants.

Erasmus also warned that the words of people who were considered to be pious and knowledgeable should not be used as a gospel and should only be taken with a grain of salt.  He noted how many men who may seem religious and wise were preaching about staying holy and devoted to God, yet they indulged in wine and women on the side.  He was warning people to be skeptical and to think on their own instead of following the words of these high ranking men blindly.

As you can see, Erasmus was trying to warn the common people of the corrupt people hiding amongst them.  He was trying to show people how the friars, lawyers, and philosophers they idolized were not the perfect men they painted themselves to be.  It was clear to see that Erasmus was a highly skeptical man.  Perhaps that was what made him such a great theologian.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 160 – Artists From the Early Renaissance

The Early Renaissance, which lasted from 1400-1495, was known for its remarkable art and architecture.  This week in class, I learned about some of the men who were known for their works during this period.  In this essay, I am going to talk about a few of these men.

Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378 – 1455)

Ghiberti was the most well-known artist of his time.  He was commissioned to sculpt panels for the doors of the Florentine baptistery that was next to the Duomo cathedral.  He designed and sculpted twenty-eight panels for the baptistery.  Twenty of the panels were dedicated to the life of Christ, four depicted apostles, and the last four were doctors of the Church.

For those who do not know, doctors of the Church are saints who contributed to the theology by research or writing.

When Michelangelo saw the panels, he praised Ghiberti and even went as far to say that the panels were “so fine that it would grace the entrance of paradise.”

Donatello (1346 – 1466)

Donatello was Ghiberti’s apprentice while he was completing the baptistery.  After his apprenticeship ended, he went on to become yet another well-known artist.  He was known for the two statues of David and the carving of Herod’s feast, which was a relief made of bronze for the Siena Baptistery.  Donatello also sculpted a wooden statue of Mary Magdalene which can only be described as equally beautiful and haunting.

Brunelleschi (1377 – 1446)

Brunelleschi was one of the many artists who were considered for the commission of the Florentine baptistery that Ghiberti was working on.  When he saw Ghiberti’s submission piece to the Florentine guild for the baptistery, he knew he was going to lose and left Italy to study architecture in Rome.  It seemed that his true gift was in architecture as he was later named “the first great architect of the Renaissance.”

He completed the building of the Duomo and created hoisting machines.  These machines made the construction of buildings easier and more efficient instead of the traditional scaffolding that was being used at the time.

Michelangelo was so astounded by the work that he decided to make a sister dome to the Duomo, but promised to not make it as beautiful as Brunelleschi’s work.  This was his way of paying tribute to the man, but also not outshining him.


As you can see, despite there being no technology during this time, artists and architects still managed to create beautiful and intricate works.  I highly suggest looking up some of the works these men created.  Even those who are not artists can appreciate the beauty and design of these pieces.  We can only wonder what these men may have accomplished if they were given the equipment we have today.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 155 – Key Ideas of the Renaissance

During the 14th century, many disasters and wars happened.  But amidst it all, another renaissance formed.  This time the focus was not on the sciences, but on the arts and individualism.  In this essay, I am going to summarize some of the key ideas of the 14th century renaissance.

The emphasis on individualism started small, with the start of artists signing their works.  For modern-day people that must seem like such a mundane and normal thing, but up until the 14th century it was never a common thing.  Artists were more concerned on showing the beauty and meaning behind their works.  Who created the work was never important.  Along with the signing of art pieces, people also started wanting portraits of themselves.  Another thing that was not common until the renaissance.

Secularism also became a popular idea.  While people were still religious, they started emphasizing how secular pursuits were as important as those who were a part of the clergy.  The view of active virtues rather than contemplative virtues also joined with the secularism movement.  Active virtues were actions taken by people who wanted to do well and be considered worthy.  Contemplative virtues were simply what monks did, they contemplated life and death and were still considered worthy and important.

As you can see, the renaissance focused on the worthiness of the individual man, clergy or otherwise.  Philosophers started emphasizing how men had infinite possibilities because they had the grace of God.  The 14th century renaissance was the start of people finding their individual value and the Church slowly losing their influence over the arts and literature.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 150 – The Great Western Schism

Popes are often viewed as men of great patience and piety.  While this is true, an event that happened in the late 1300s, known as the Great Western Schism, showed that popes are still human and can be petty and stubborn in their own way.  In this essay, I am going to talk about what led to the schism and what happened.

When Pope Gregory XI died in 1378, the College of Cardinals needed to elect a new pope to take over.  When they gathered a conclave to decide who would be the next pope, a Roman mob assembled outside of the building.  The mob demanded that the cardinals pick a Roman man so the papacy would not be moved to Avignon, where it had been for the last 68 years.

The cardinals eventually chose Bartolomeo Prignano, who took the name of Pope Urban VI.  He was not a Roman, but he was not French either.  This was a compromise the people could accept at the time.

Urban VI was known to be pious and reliable.  However, a few years into his reign as pope he started to display erratic and irrational behavior.  It was said that he started to denounce clergymen in public, and even physically assaulted one.

This forced the College of Cardinals to reassemble to elect a new pope to replace Urban.  They chose a Frenchman who took the name Clement VII.  Unfortunately, Urban was unwilling to abdicate for Clement.  He claimed that Clement was an imposter while the cardinals claimed that Urban was not the legitimate pope since their decision to elect him was made under duress (due to the Roman mob).

Since Urban refused to abdicate, Clement could not take up the Roman papal residence and moved back to Avignon.  This was the exact thing the Roman people wanted to avoid.

Urban started to appoint new cardinals since the ones who elected him obviously did not want him around.  Clement then claimed the original cardinals his.  Now, the people had two sets of popes and cardinals.  This was what officially started the Great Western Schism.

Neither side tried to make any amends to the situation, forcing people to choose between the two popes.  Either you were loyal to the Roman papacy or to the Avignon papacy.

In 1409, the Council of Pisa was formed by the University of Paris.  They were so desperate for a solution that the university had set out a suggestion box in case anyone had ideas as to how to end the whole affair.  The council decided that neither pope should be in power and chose, yet another, pope to take over.

The schism came to an official end in 1415, when the Council of Constance elected Pope Martin V as the one and only legitimate pope.

Personally, I find the whole dilemma quite amusing.  I doubt people who lived during this time shared my sentiments though.  Even when the situation was solved, the event made the Church lose a lot of their credibility and dignity.  It was not until the 20th century when the Church publically stated that the legitimate pope during this time was Urban, the Roman pope.

As you can see, the whole ordeal started because of one man who supposedly went insane.  Even popes have their moments, which can lead to a 37 year long schism.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 145 – Effects of the Black Death on Europe

The Black Death was one of the most destructive and deadly pandemic in all of history.  It killed nearly half of the European population when it first appeared in 1346.  As anyone could expect, the plague led to many disasters and crises, even after the worst of it was over.  In this essay, I am going to talk about the 14th century crisis that the Black Death caused.

The Black Death itself was a crisis on its own.  It seemed to be a merge of the bubonic plague and the pneumonic plague.  Now, we know that the plague came through the rats on Italian trade ships, but when it first started, no one knew where it came from.  People started to go crazy.  Some went hunting for answers while others drank themselves to death before the plague could get to them.  Others would impose physical pain on themselves as penance for their sins so they would go to heaven when the plague inevitably killed them.

After the plague started to “calm down”, there was not much left for survivors.  The Church had lost half of their men, and started to fill their positions with unqualified people.

Serfs either lost their masters, or simply had no motivation to work anymore.  Many started to abandon the land, forcing landowners to hire workers who demanded more pay than the serfs did.  With nothing left, some landowners had to exchange feudal services instead of money payments for their workers.  However, they did not enjoy doing this and demanded to have a rule on wage stability.

After 1351, the Statue of Laborers was created.  It was stated that no wages were to be paid higher than it was in 1346.  It also stated the prices on certain goods were to be fixed and could not be changed.  However, this rule did not stop serfs from leaving the lands.  If anything, it only promoted them even more than before.

In 1360, it was declared that any serf or peasant who tried to leave the land without permission could be returned by forced and could even be branded on the forehead.  More repressive measures like this were created between 1377 and 1381.

In 1380, a Poll Tax of 1380 was formed.  Everyone over the age of 15 was required to pay the tax to support the government since they were losing funds.  However, majority of the population were unwilling to do this.  The people were frustrated with why they should pay taxes after all their loses in the Hundred Years War that ended in 1369.  Any law enforcers who tried to force the people to pay were chased away.

John Ball, who was one of the few qualified priests at the time, voiced his opinion on the idea of a world with neither rich nor poor man.  No lords or serfs.  His voice is what sparked the Peasants’ Revolt (or the Great Rising).  

The serfs wanted their freedom and the peasants wanted to end all feudal debts that were being hung over their heads.  Towns joined as well, demanding they have the ability to self-govern themselves.  Unfortunately, their efforts were fruitless.  King Richard II did not appreciate this and put down the revolt by executing 110 people, John included, and adorning London Bridge with John’s head.

As you can see, the Black Death was a horrible and devastating event.  But what happened afterwards was equally troubling to the people, especially the lower classes.  As Mr. Woods said in one of his lessons, there were many crises in the 14th century.  The Black Death and the Peasants’ Revolt only being a few of them.  It is safe to say, being a peasant in the 14th century was rough.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 140 – Conflict Between Roman Emperors and the Papacy

Throughout the history of western civilization, popes and kings have always fought with one another.  Every fight started small, but eventually, it would escalate into a public bashing of one another.  The argument would only end when someone either died, or resigned from their position.  However, what could have possibly caused all of these arguments throughout the decades?

The simple answer: power. 

Every war, or fight, in history was always a fight for power.  The disagreements between popes and kings were no different.  Using the example of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa II (r. 1220-1250) and Pope Innocent III (r. 1198-1216), you can see how the fight between the two started with Frederick II wanting more power, which caused him to break his promise to the Church.

Before being crowned king, Frederick II promised to go on a crusade for the Church.  However, as soon as he had the crown on his head, the promise he made was broken.  He started pillaging Italy and trying to conquer it for his own, like his father did during his reign.  However, Frederick I wanted Italy as a means for more capitol.  Frederick II simply had an infatuation with subjugating the country and turning it into his territory.

Frederick II was excommunicated by Pope Innocent III because of his failure to keep his promise of crusade.  This angered Frederick II and he denounced the Pope publicly.  The two threw threats and snide remarks at one another until 1241, when Pope Innocent III called upon the clergy for a council.  Frederick II then issued an order to arrest any bishop who tried to attend this council.

Pope Innocent III died later that year, and his successor Pope Innocent IV, held the council his predecessor was trying to arrange before his death.  At the council, Frederick’s crimes were listed and his repentance given.  No one believed it him, obviously, and Frederick was deposed as emperor.

Frederick’s father, Frederick Barbarossa I, also had a fight with the pope of his time, Pope Alexander III (r. 1159-1181).  Frederick I was trying to take over Lombard, but the people called upon the Pope to help them fend off the German King.  This angered Frederick I, and he burned Milan to the ground.

Frederick I then started supporting antipopes, who claimed that Pope Alexander III was not the legitimate pope, but the other candidate during the election was.  Pope Alexander excommunicated the supposedly “real” pope, which caused Frederick to call upon the people to denounce Pope Alexander.  If you did not, your possessions would have been taken, and you would have been tortured then exiled.

Their disagreement was not ended by a truce, but by the death of Frederick I in 1190.

As you can see, fights between kings and popes started with the reason of power then became petty.  The king would be excommunicated and the pope would be denounced.  Arguments between the two leaders rarely ever ended in a truce, but when one of the two would die.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 135 – Gothic Cathedrals

During the Middle Ages, people started to sense a need for change when it came to their churches.  This need for change led to the style of building that created the gothic cathedrals.  This new style of cathedrals was slightly different from the Romanesque cathedrals that were so common in those days.  In this essay, I am going to talk about gothic cathedrals and how they were different from the Romanesque cathedrals.

Romanesque cathedrals tended to have thick, heavy walls to insulate heat and to hold the roof up.  Because of this, the windows were small and narrow, making the inside of the cathedrals very dark.

Gothic cathedrals were designed to showcase God’s traits through small details.  The layout of the building was usually in the shape of a cross.  Gothic cathedrals also had large windows that allowed more light to come into the room compared to the Romanesque cathedrals.

One of the greatest things about Gothic cathedrals was its flying buttresses.  The flying buttresses would transfer the weight of the ceiling to columns that were outside of the building.  Since the weight on the walls was reduced, the windows could be larger and allow more light into the cathedral.

As you can see, Gothic cathedrals, or more specifically, its flying buttresses and its large windows was a refreshing change from the same old Romanesque cathedrals.  Of course both styles are beautiful and have a sense of grandness to them, but the Gothic style was favored because of the amount of light that was able to enter the building.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 130 – Thomas Aquinas and the Divine Attributes

Thomas Aquinas is friar and philosopher who lived during the 13th century in Italy.  He is considered to be a saint by the people and the Church because of his works showing the divine attributes of God.  In this essay, I am going to talk about two of the five divine attributes he presented in his works.

God is a purely actual being, meaning that He is all-powerful and has no unrealized potentiality.  For those who do not understand, unrealized potentiality is like a human never learning to swim even though they have the capability.  Unrealized potentiality is a mortal concept, which cannot apply to a higher being like God.

Aquinas presents the example of what would happen if there are other gods.  If that is the case, there has to be a way to differentiate the two from each other.  If you use the reasoning that God is more powerful than “god two”, then that must mean that the second god has not unlocked its full potential.  This cannot be the case for a purely actual being, proving that the second god is not a real god.

This brings me to the second, and considerably shorter attribute: God is perfect.

God is a purely actual being, meaning He cannot have any negative features because they are lacks.  He is perfect in every way and has no unactualized potential.

As you can see, Aquinas’ has good points, however they can be hard to understand and even harder to explain.  Personally, the only divine attribute that fully makes sense to me are the two I included in this essay.  If you are curious about the other three attributes, I highly recommend researching about it.  They are intriguing topics to learn about, even if they are hard to understand.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 125, Essay 2 – The University System During the High Middle Ages

The system of colleges and universities that we are so familiar with today started 900 years ago in the 12th century.  However, these schools have come a long way in those hundreds of years.  In this essay, I am going to briefly describe what the university system was like during the Middle Ages.

When the system of universities first started, things like degrees and fixed programs of study had not been created yet.  There did not seem to be fixed classes, but debates and discussions over a certain topic that was monitored by a teacher.  There was also no standard that each university had to be held to.  Each one could do their own thing as long as they had the approval from a pope or imperial being.

For example, in Bologna, the students practically ran the school.  They decided what they wanted to do on what day, what type of classes to offer, etc.  The students could even punish their teachers if they were unhappy with their classes and teaching methods.  In Paris, there was a rule that university teachers could not plan out their lessons or read from lesson notes.  Whatever they taught in their class was improvised and their lectures had to come from off the top of their heads.

Like modern-day universities, each one had a nearby town where students would go to have fun.  The Church protected university students and cared for their well-being, especially if it meant protecting them from angry townspeople.  If a student, for example, killed a man, the case would be held in an ecclesiastical court, where the student would be treated kinder than in a town court, where everyone already hated them.

As you can see, the beginning of the universities and their system was very different to the one we follow today.  University was a place of debate, with a healthy dose of partying, and sometimes vandalizing, in the nearby towns.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 125, Essay 1 – Developments of the Twelfth Century Renaissance

This week in class, I spent a lesson learning about the 12th Century Renaissance.  This renaissance was a revival of old Roman literature and was mainly focused on math and the sciences.  In this essay, I am going to briefly go through each of the major developments that happened during this time.

Classic Roman literature was forgotten during the early Middle Ages, but was revived during the Carolingian Renaissance (late 8th to late 9th century) before declining again in the 10th century.  Even though it was brought back during the 12th Century Renaissance, its revival was eventually ruined when the study of Aristotelian logic and philosophy was found.  The analysis of these works were so emphasized upon, that many simply did not have time to read Roman classics anymore.  Despite this, there were many people studying and admiring the works of Virgil, Ovid, and Cicero.

However, people started to believe anything and everything ancients said and wrote.  The study of medicine became the study of Hippocrates and Galen.  Physics became the study and analysis of Aristotle.  Geography was no longer about travel or studying maps, but instead studying books.  Instead of doing physical work and learning by experiments and mistakes, people were studying books.  If one of the ancients wrote something, it must have been the truth.

By the 13th century, it was impossible to get a Master of Arts degree without knowing the entirety of Aristotle’s works.

As you can see, the 12th Century Renaissance revived many of the old Greek and Roman works that had been forgotten.  But the people started to treat the works as the absolute truth, and experimentation in almost every field ceased, instead replaced by the study of books.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 120, Essay 2 – Mendicant Orders

The 13th century was certainly a wild time in the Western Civilization.  Not only were the Albigensians were growing in number, but so were the Mendicant Orders.  The Mendicant Orders were Christian orders that were based around a lifestyle of poverty and travel.  In this essay, I am going to talk about the Mendicant Orders and what they did.

The Mendicant Orders were created by St. Francis Assisi around the year 1209.  There were three main Mendicant Orders, all of which are still practiced today.  The Order of Friars Minor, more commonly referred to as Franciscans, was the first Order to be founded by St. Francis.  The Poor Clares was founded next.  Their purpose and practices were the same as the Order of Friars Minor, but was dedicated to women.  The final order was the Order of Laymens, which was open to anyone who wanted to join. 

All three orders lived in poverty and put lots of emphasis on humility, charity, prayer, and faith.  People associated with the orders were known to travel town to town preaching and hoping to get food and board in return.

In 1215, St. Dominic founded the Order of Dominican.  It was very similar to the orders created by St. Francis in lifestyle aspects, but was devoted to the Virgin Mary.

As you can see, a lot of religious activities were happening during the 13th century.  It is safe to say that life was never boring for the common folk during the 1200s.  Whether you were Christian or a believer of the Albigensians and their religion, you were in for an adventure.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 120, Essay 1 – Albigensians

The Albigensians were a group of people who followed a certain worldview that seemed to match the Manichaean mindset.  This new religion and its fast growth worried Pope Innocent III.  It worried him so much that in 1209, he ordered Phillip Augustus of France to move against them in a crusade, known as the Albigensians Crusade, which lasted 20 years.  The question is, what did the Albigensians believe in that caused so many people to join their religion?

As I stated earlier, the Albigensians seemed to be related to the Manichean view, which was that there was a good god and an evil god.  The Albigensians took this one step further.  The good god was created from spirit and the evil god was created from matter. 

They believed that the human body was a prison of the soul and that reproduction was evil because it was bringing more evil into the world.  The sacramental system of the Church was also completely rejected since they were all physical signs, which could not have been from their good god.  They did not consume or come in contact with animal products and avoided oath taking at all costs because it was binding your physical body, which was considered to be evil.

In the religion, there were two types of people: the Perfect and the Believer.  The Perfect were people who followed every belief and regulation that came with the religion.  They lived their lives in perfect accordance to the rules.  The Believer were people who agreed with the religion, but could not follow all of the rules and expectations.

To become a Perfect, a person would have to accept the Consolamentum, which was supposed to wash away all sin.  It was required that everyone in the religion had to accept the Consolamentum before death.  Many Believers would accept it on their deathbeds since they believed that they could not follow through with the lifestyle the Perfects led.

However, if you accepted the Consolamentum and someone in the religion suspected that you were not following the regulations, you would be killed by suffocation.

As you can see, the Albigensians had a very interesting religion.  Their beliefs were very different from the beliefs of the Christians, which was what most likely made Pope Innocent III feel threatened and motivated him to start a crusade against them.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 115, Essay 2 – Pope Urban II’s Speech

Pope Urban II was the pope during the First Crusade.  When the Byzantine emperor, Alexios I Komnenos, called upon him for assistance against the Muslims forces who were threatening Constantinople, he was tasked with the job of rallying men into an army.  What did the Urban say that day that convinced 60,000 men to join the war?

In 1095, Urban delivered a rousing speech to the public.  There was no complete and accurate transcription of the speech, but we have five different versions that should roughly tell us what he said that day.

It seemed that Urban started the speech by describing the situation in the other parts of the Christian world.  He told the people that the bishops in these areas either were not doing their job, or were struggling to do their job.

He then moved onto the topic of the Muslims.  He described that pillaging and torture that the Muslims were conducting against their Christian brethren.  He talked about the burning of towns and Churches, the killing of innocents.  In effect, all the things that would pull at a person’s heartstrings. 

I saw this as Urban riling the people up.  He was aiming to trigger strong emotions against the Muslims so he could successfully carry out his call to action: the summoning of men to fight for the cause.

He called upon knights, bishops, farmers, and anyone who wanted to fight for the valiant cause of defending their fellow Christians.  He assured that everyone who joined the cause would be absolved of all of their sins.

As you can see, Urban knew what he had to say to convince men to go to war.  He used emotions to rile them up and, theoretically, guaranteed a place in heaven to those who decided to join.  Some could consider this as emotional manipulation, and while I do not deny that, I have to commend Urban for his compelling public speaking skills.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 115, Essay 1 – Misconceptions About the Crusades

The Crusades was “a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period.”[i]  It was a war between the Christian and Muslim worlds to obtain the Holy Land (aka. Jerusalem).  The wars lasted between the years 1095 and 1291.  Everyone, even those who have not studied history, have heard of the Crusades.  However, despite many people hearing about the Crusades, there are many misconceptions about it and what happened.

One of the misconceptions was that the Christians attacked for no reason.  This is an incorrect idea.  The Christians decided to fight back when the Byzantine emperor asked for help when the Muslims started threatening Constantinople after they had already taken over two-thirds of the Christian world (Asia minor, Middle Easy, North Africa, and most of Spain).

Another common misconception was that the crusaders were fixated on wealth and the only reason they joined the fight was to gain wealth.  Many crusaders that supported the many wars ended up bankrupt by the time they came back home.  Majority of the men who chose to join the fight wanted to fight for their religion, not their greed.

Muslims were also never forced into Christianity, unlike what many people would assume.  This never happened, though it I can understand why people would think that.  Whenever the crusaders captured a Muslim city, the Muslims always outnumbered the Christians.  Trying to force them to join a different religion would have been a suicide mission.

The Children’s Crusade, despite its incredibly misleading name, was not a crusade made of children.  It was an uprising that happened in 1212.  A young man named Nicholas started a mass movement against the crusades.  People joined his parade, but eventually dispersed when they reached the sea and Nicholas realized it would not part for him like it did for Moses.

The final, and very interesting misconception, is the “Second Son Theory.”  During the time of the crusades, it was very common for the first son of a lord to get all of the land and wealth.  For some time, historians speculated that majority of the crusaders were “second sons” who wanted a chance to get land and wealth that their elder brothers had got from their father.  Going back to the second misconception, crusaders were made up of first and second sons, and all of them pawned their wealth away for the cause.

As you can see, the Crusades are commonly known by name, but not many realize that a lot of the assumptions we make about them are incorrect.  The men who joined and supported the Crusades had the idea of fighting for God.  Not all of them were greedy lords who wanted land and money.  However, there is no doubt in my mind that there had to have been a few of those characters.

Thanks for reading!

[i] Wikipedia contributors. “Crusades.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 Sep. 2022. Web. 27 Sep. 2022.


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 110, Essay 2 – Phillip II Augustus

After the Viking invasions in France during the 9th and 10th century invasions, the state was extremely crippled and in need of good leadership.  When the last Carolingian king died in 987, a man named Hugh Capet took over, creating the dynasty of the Capetian Kings.  One of these kings was Phillip II Augustus, the man that created the France we know today.

Hugh Capet was the first king in the Capetian dynasty.  However he was only a king in name, like many of his successors.  He did not hold any more power than a lord who participated in feudalism.  Hugh chose his son, Robert the Pious (r. 996-1031), to be his successor.  True to the title given to him, he did not engage in war during his reign.

After Robert’s death, his sons fought for the right of successor.  This battle lasted from 1031-1039, and greatly weakened what little was left of the French monarchy.

Once the sons came to their senses, they realized that they needed to bring the area outside of France, Île-de-France, under their control if they truly wanted to have the power of kings.  They accomplished this through political marriages and taking the lands of dead vassals who had no successors.  They also dispossessed vassals who were proven to be unfaithful to their oaths.

Phillip II Augustus (r. 1226-1270), was the most influential and important king of the Capetian dynasty.  He defeated the Angevin Empire, which were the territories that belonged to the House of Plantagenet (a bloodline), and crushed King John of England.  From there he turned France into one of the most dominant powers of Europe.  He reformed the country, turning it into the France we know today.

As you can see, Phillip II Augustus was the one who reformed France, but his predecessors did some of the hard work to make it possible.  It is safe to say that without the Capetian Dynasty, the sophisticated France we are so familiar with may not have existed.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 110, Essay 1 – The Great Schism

Christianity was not always split into the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.  There used to be one great Christian nation, but that all changed after The Great Schism.

In the 9th century, there were five Christian patriarchs in the world: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem.  The Roman Pope was the local patriarch and supreme pontiff, meaning all bishops, no matter their geographical location, had to report to him.

Despite all of the Christian kingdoms having to report to the same person, each area had their own rituals and language barriers.

Constantinople had been advancing technologically and socially over the years, and they wanted to become the “new Rome” of Christianity.  They started to take over the responsibility of the head Pope and disregarded the Pope of “old Rome.”  Rome refused to accept this, claiming that they were “holier” than Constantinople because their Church was founded by the Apostle Peter.

Michael Cerularius, the patriarch of Constantinople, started closing down Churches that followed Western customs.  He enforced the Eastern traditions on every Church that remained open.  When Rome heard of this, Roman legates were sent to try to negotiate with Cerularius.  When they could not come to an agreement, Michael Cerularius, and all his followers, were excommunicated from the Roman Church.

This event was considered to be the official start of the Great Schism.

As time went on, people started to realize that what happened created two separate Churches: the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Many Eastern patriarchs joined Cerularius and created their own regime that was separate from the Romans.

As you can see, the Great Schism was a momentous event in Christian history.  Its effects are still obvious today.  It is funny to think that nobody took it seriously when it first happened all those years ago.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 105, Essay 2 – The Conflicts Between Pope Gregory VII and King Henry IV

Pope Saint Gregory VII (r. 1075-1085) was one of the many popes who attempted to abolish the practice of laymen investiture.  During his reign, he and King Henry IV had a very interesting conflict over this practice.  In this essay, I am going to briefly describe their disagreement.

When Gregory was first instated as Pope, he tried to reform the Church, but found that his amendments did not stick.  This was because he did not have the ability to instate his own people who would support him.  Those who worked under him were appointed by the king and had their own agendas.

In 1075, he declared that all clerics that were appointed by laymen were relieved of their position and all laymen who continued to do this would be excommunicated.  This did not work for Henry.  He needed his bishops to offset the powerful nobles to diminish the risk of him being overthrown.  In retaliation to Gregory’s new reform, Henry appointed the Bishop of Milan.

Gregory demanded for Henry to stop, but the latter refused to listen.  Following through with his word, Gregory excommunicated Henry and declared him deposed of King Emperor.  Henry’s various vassals and other nobles beneath him rebelled as soon as they heard, forcing him to submit to them.

In 1077, Henry made a trip to Canossa in Northern Italy, where Gregory was, and apologized for his actions.  After forcing Henry to wait in the snow for three days and nights, Gregory lets him enter the fort and eventually lifted the excommunication order.

When Henry returned to his home, he crushed all those who rebelled against him.  Once he gained his former power, he went back to appointing churchmen, even though it was banned.  When Gregory went to excommunicate Henry for a second time, Henry was prepared and forced Gregory to flee Rome.

In 1085, Gregory was officially banned from Rome.  He would live in exile for the rest of his life.

As you can see, the two men had quite the quarrel during Pope Gregory’s time as a Pope.  This story showed how stubborn both men were in their ways. Both were willing to fight to attain what they thought was right and what they thought was best.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 105, Essay 1 – The Moderate Reform

In my last two essays, I talked about the 9th and 10th century invasions and its effects on how people lived.  These invasions caused a lot of changes in Europe.  One of them was how the church system worked.  In this essay, I am going to talk about the Moderate Reform, which was a result of the invasions.

During the 9th and 10th century invasions, many people felt that they needed someone to protect them if any invaders came to pillage the town.  Since the government did nothing for the people, the practices of feudalism and manorialism started.  Manorialism was the practice of labor for protection.  People moved themselves and their family to a local strong man’s estate and work for him.  In return, he would grant them protection.

This mindset led to the practice of lay investiture, which is when laymen (men who were not members of the Church) appointed and installed Church officials.  Many believed that if there was a Church on their land, they owned it and that gave them the right to name Church officials.

This practice caused a lot of problems.  The priests and popes who were supposed to be pious and holy people were actually greedy men who only wanted power.  They allowed simony (the practice of selling a Church position), and clerical marriage (allowing priests to engage in sexual relations).

When Pope Leo IX (r. 1049-1054) was instated as pope, he decided to lead a campaign against putting corrupt men in high Church positions.  He condemned the men in the Church who abused their powers.  He emphasized how Church officials should be men who follow God and His rules.

However, Leo did not get rid of laymen investiture, but simply said that the laymen should choose better men to serve these positions.  This is why this period is called the Moderate Reform.

As you can see, laymen investiture was a huge problem, and while Pope Leo had good intentions, his reform did not do much.  Laymen investiture only truly ended with the Concordat of Worms in 1122, which stated that the king cannot be the only person instating Church officials.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 100, Essay 2 – Feudalism and Manorialism

During the 9th and 10th century invasions, many people did not feel safe in their own homes.  When they realized that the government could not protect them, they turned to the local warlords for protection, inadvertently creating a social system known as manorialism, which came hand in hand with feudalism.

The practice of manorialism was simply labour for protection.  Some would say that it was a system that was bordering slavery, but I disagree with this view.  People who went to the warlords for help were given their own houses, food, and were not sold off without warning.  The lords were not allowed to separate the family or abuse them.  The system was more of a voluntary serfdom.

From there, feudalism was formed, which was considered to be a form of government.  Feudalism is when a lord would give property to a vassal/knight to live on and make a profit from.  These vassals were free to dispense their own laws on their estate.  Sometimes vassals would have vassals of their own.  This was known as subinfeudation.

As you can see, when the government started to fail, the people came up with their own ways to stay safe.  As these practices continued in France, a dynasty of kings, known as the Capetian Kings, would come to power and build France into the country we know today.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 100, Essay 1 – 9th and 10th Century Invasions

This week in class, I learned about the 9th and 10th century invasions.  They started in Sicily in 827 AD with the Vikings and ended during the late 10th century with the Muslims.  In this essay, I am going to briefly summarize what happened during these 200 years.

Norsemen, more commonly known as Vikings, started invading France in the early 9th century.  They started with coastal cities at first, but after the death of King Louis the Pious in 840 AD, they got bolder and moved onto the towns inland.  They showed no mercy to the inhabitants of the towns they pillaged.  Houses would be burned, valuables stolen, and people were enslaved.  Sometimes they would demand large amounts of money from the townspeople in exchange for immunity from their merciless pillaging.  Those who refused would be completely destroyed.

One of the characteristics of the Vikings was how they never stayed in the town they looted.  Once they gathered their prize, they would sail back home to Scandinavia.  This showed that unlike other groups of people that came before them, they were unwilling to be ‘civilized.’

In 911 AD, King Charles the Simple officially gave a piece of land to the Vikings, even though they had completely monopolized it during the years prior.  Charles hoped that this would convince the Vikings to settle down and stop pillaging.  His attempt worked and the Vikings stopped majority of their violent plunders of France, and they established their own homes in the land, creating the region of Normandy.

While this was happening, a group known as the Magyars, who are said to have come from Asian descent, were attacking Germany, northern Italy, and some parts of France during the mid-9th and 10 centuries.  They were merciless when they attacked the Germans, much like how the Vikings were to the French.  However, by the year 100 AD, they were Christianized and settled down, creating the Christian kingdom of Hungary.

Muslim troops based in Spain and Africa also joined the pillaging of European countries during this time, but they stopped during the late 10th centuries.

As you can see, the 9th and 10th centuries were a very rough time for France and Germany.  However, these invasions are very important to history, as you will see in my next essay about feudalism and manorialism.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 95 – Procopius’ Portrayal of Justinian

This week in class, I learned about Justinian (r. 527 – 565), a Byzantine Emperor who was later named the Roman Emperor.  During his reign, there was a scholar named Procopius, who wrote several works about Justinian and his rule as well as his personal character.  In one of his works known as Secret History you can see how highly Procopius thought of the emperor.

Procopius described Justinian as vile and wicked.  He considered the emperor to be untrustworthy and two-faced.  Not only were his morals less than ideal, he was not a good fit for emperor.  Procopius described the man as a criminal who knew how to get into power.  Justinian was described as rash, bloodthirsty, and senseless.  It was obvious from the writing that the scholar thought of Justinian as another power-hungry politician with a large ego.

He wrote about how Justinian would bribe hostile tribes when they started to attack Byzantine instead of fighting back.  This made all nearby tribes come to Byzantine and attack with the hope of leaving with their pockets full of gold.

As you can see, through Procopius’ descriptions, he was obviously not fond of Justinian and did not want him to be in power.  Whether or not these descriptions were true, it is hard to tell.  For all we know, Procopius had a grudge against the man and over exaggerated his crimes to make people hate him as well.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 90, Essay 2 – Spread of Christianity in England

This week in class, I spent a lesson learning about how Christianity spread in England.  The reason it all happened was because of Saint Gregory the Great.  Gregory was determined to convert England to Christianity, and he successfully accomplished it.

In around 600 AD, Gregory sent one of his friends, Saint Augustine of Canterbury (not Saint Augustine of Hippo) to England to convert the people.  More specifically, the Anglo-Saxons that lived there.

When Augustine and his group of chosen companions reached England in the spring of 597 AD, they were greeted by King Ethelbert, whose wife was a Catholic.  Ethelbert gave his blessing to the group to evangelize his people, but warned that they should not destroy the culture of the people, but instead add to it and slowly change it into the Catholic culture.

For example, many of the native people in England were pagans.  Augustine’s group slowly started to introduce the idea of there being one absolute God.  Sacrifices that were originally meant for the pagan gods were given in the name of the one and only God.

In the winter of 597 AD, Augustine baptised thousands of Ethelbert’s people.  This great victory prompted Pope Gregory to send over more missionaries to assist Augustine.

The religion spread across the England kingdoms quickly, but many kingdoms refused to convert.  Their only reason was that they wanted to provoke their Christian enemies.  Despite this, the conversion of England was going smoothly.  King Ethelbert even converted a few years into the conversion mission.  However, in 616 AD, King Ethelbert died, causing an uprising against the Christian religion.

When this happened, Augustine met with the British Bishops (seven in total), and asked for their help in converting the Anglo-Saxons.  Augustine thought that if he could convert the Saxons, the uprising that was happening at the time would calm down.

However, the British Bishops refused.  When Rome fell in 476 AD, their troops were removed from England, allowing the Saxons to enter the land and pillage and steal from the natives.  Many of the native Englanders refused to assist in the conversion of the Saxons because of what they did to their ancestors.  When the British refused to help, the Irish came to assist with the conversion of the Saxons.

In 626 AD, a man named Edwin became the king of North Umbria (an Anglo-Saxon kingdom) and converted to Christianity.  But he was hesitant to introduce it to his people.  He called a council of pagan priests and asks them if he should let his people continue to be pagans or if he should introduce them to Christianity.  The priests tell Edwin that their religion has disappointed them so far, and encouraged him to introduce Christianity to the people.

The Anglo-Saxons were successfully converted, but in 633 AD, two other Saxon kings overthrow Edwin.  This threw all missionary work into disarray.  A year later, Edwin’s nephew, Oswald, took over.  He was converted by the Irish, who had a slightly different idea of Christianity, which caused some Saxons to have a different version of Christianity than others.

As you can see, the spread of Christianity in England was all because of Saint Gregory, who wanted to spread the religion to the rest of the Western world.  It turned out that the Anglo-Saxons did not need many missionaries to convert them, but a king who wanted what is best for his people.


Business 10, Lesson 175 – Business Opportunities for High Schoolers

Many teenagers usually have the feeling of being invincible.  They feel as if nothing in the world can weigh them down or stop them from getting what they want.  This kind of mindset, with some realism mixed in, is perfect for starting a business.  But what kind of business can a teenager start?

As Mr. Emmons says in the Business II course: “the sky is the limit.”  Unlike what many teenagers may think, there are very few limits when it comes to starting a business as a high schooler.  Of course, you cannot sell alcohol or start a tattoo parlour, but there are plenty of other profitable and interesting ideas to explore.


For those who do not want to have “formal” jobs, Etsy is a great place to go.  Many teenagers, and adults, started their own Etsy shop when quarantine began in 2020.  They would sell their hand-made products like plushies, quilts, clothes, etc.  This is a great way for teenagers to turn whatever hobby they may into a way to make money.  It is also a great option for those who enjoy working with their hands.


If you took Ron Paul’s ABC course (Academic Boot Camp), you may know the technique of “talking to the wall” as a way of absorbing material better.  The Ron Paul Curriculum also advertises their forums as a great place for students to absorb material by helping teach one of their peers.  Tutoring works the same way.

Not only are you helping your client understand and learn the material, you are helping yourself absorb and remember the material better.  As an added bonus: you are getting money while you are doing it!

Traditional and Classic Businesses

When I say traditional and classic, I mean businesses like babysitting and mowing lawns.  Maybe even shovelling snow depending on where you live.

Babysitting is usually one of the first ideas a high schooler considers when they want to start a business or find a way to make some money.  While it is not for everyone, it is a great opportunity to learn how to handle children while also making some money.  Many adults have said that babysitting jobs can teach a high schooler responsibility and give them a taste of what their own parents had to deal with when they were younger.

Mowing lawns is another traditional and classic business idea for a high schooler.  If you live in a neighbourhood where people have front or backyards, you are in the right place to generate some business.   When winter comes around, you can offer to shovel snow out of people’s driveways or walkways around their house.

Like babysitting, this type of business is not for everyone.  It can be very physically demanding and requires a lot of discipline and motivation.  However, if you are willing to put the time and effort into it, you can get quite a few customers.


The final business idea is a less traditional idea and is not something many high schoolers would think of doing.

A Fiverr business would be starting your own profile on Fiverr and offering your services to whoever may be interested.  For example, in this Business II course, Mr Emmons uses the example of offering the service of building websites on Fiverr.

However, there are many other different services you can offer based on your strengths and interests.  You could be a graphic designer and make covers for authors or offer your services as a ghost writer.


As you can see, the possibilities to what you can do as a high schooler who wants to start a business are endless!  You do not have to follow anyone’s set rules.  You can start a business on whatever your interests may be.  If you like to bake new recipes, you can start selling them in your town.  If you like photography, you can create a portfolio and advertise as a photographer.


Business 10, Lesson 170 – My Blog Post

The following essay/blog post, is what I intend to write (or something close to it) on my blog that is dedicated to my writing and e-books.  At the moment, the blog is still under construction and is yet to be released into the world.

Title: It’s Called Character Development

I know I can’t be the only writer out there that created trauma for my main character and justified it as character development.

Towards the end of 2021, around the time when my two best friends left Singapore, I started writing a book for the fun of it.  There was no plan, plot, or structure laid out when I jumped in and started typing my ideas out.

I shared the few chapters I had written with my two best friends, and both of them immediately demanded I start sharing more.

So I did.

We had hour long discussions about the story and where it could go in our group chat together, laughing at stupid ideas that didn’t make any sense.  While I was the only one writing the chapters, the two of them heavily inspired what I wrote.

They loved the story.  However, they never forgave me for killing off a bunch of kids at the beginning of the book.  Sure, they were close to the main character.  And yes, they were kids.  But the main character needed something to push her into her villain arc.

I still don’t understand why they were so upset over the death of characters they didn’t even know, but they were still mad.

Naturally, I had to bring the kids back to life because…why not?

The most common question they asked me while I was writing was: why did I kill off the kids?

My answer: because I can.

It’s safe to say I had the biggest power trip writing these chapters.

Sadly, the few chapters I wrote never amounted to an actual book.  I’m pretty sure I spent more time talking about the ideas I had than writing them out.  But I’m okay with that. 

I started writing the chapters for fun and so I could start discussions and debates with my friends.  Perhaps one day I’ll come back to the chapter and build something on them.

For now, they’ll sit in my phone along with the other poems and random story ideas from my quarantine days.

Sorry book.


Business 10, Lesson 123 – My Business Plan

For Lesson 123, Mr. Emmons gave a worksheet with questions to answer about our chosen business. My chosen business is to self-publish my fictional novels on Amazon Kindle.

  • Value Proposition

[I write Young Adult romance books for teens/young adults.]

  • Market Need

[My goal is for my book(s) to be a stress reliever, for those who need a break from reality. Or a source of entertainment for those who want a break from electronics.]

  • The Competition

[Well known authors charge $9.99-$12.99 for their books. Less known authors charge $8.99 and lower, but charge $9.99 for books that are more popular. My books will be from the range of $4.99-$7.99.]

  • Target Market

[Teenagers (aged 13-18), preferably female or those who can relate to a female mindset.]

  • Financials: Budgeting & Forecasting

[Each book will be priced at $4.99, but I will only get $1.50. For the first year, I want to sell 100 books in the first year. When I finish a series, I will expand into physical books and sell them in a set. Each physical book will be $15.00, I will get $12.75. I will sell a three book set for $30.00, and I will get $25.50 from each set bought.]

  • Marketing Activities

[I will use Tiktok as a way to get my book known and get people interested.]

  • Sales Channels

[I will regularly post excerpts, scenarios, and aesthetics on Tiktok.]

  • Milestones

[Start writing novel by the beginning of 2023. Have Amazon account set up by June 2023 and Tiktok account active and set up by September 2023.]

  • Your Team

[I am the author of the book, therefore I am the best person to start the marketing procedures for the first few months. A book cover designer will be hired in month 9 or 10. A marketer will be hired in month 13 or 14.]

  • Funding Needs and Use of Funds

[$100 to cover book designer and marketer with some to spare.]


Business 10, Lesson 120 – Business Skill Development

I have been with the Ron Paul Curriculum since 5th Grade and I have taken almost every subject that they offered for whatever grade I was in, including 8th Grade Personal Finance, 9th Grade Business I, and this year’s Business course.  Throughout these grades, I have learned many business skills that are so much better than knowing how to flip a burger at the back of a fast food restaurant.  In this essay, I am going to elaborate on why knowing basic business skills are more valuable than knowing how to flip a burger.

If you are reading this essay, you are probably an RPC student and have listened to all of Mr. North’s speeches about why starting your own business or having business skills are more rewarding than burger flipping or some other kind of dull and boring job.  At this point, I am sure you are pretty sick of this spiel, and I cannot blame you.  But give this essay a chance.  After all, I’m not Mr. North.  I’m your fellow student.

Having business skills are invaluable, even if you do not plan to start a business of your own.  Business skills can be important to have during real life problems.  For example, a business skill that you can use in business and in real life is planning.  If you are working and have a certain project or presentation you have to write, you will be able to smoothly plan it like you would with a business.  Another business skill that is useful is knowing how to write a good “elevator pitch.”  Almost every line of work requires you to know how to write and present a compelling elevator pitch.

I am sure you can think of other business skills that can help in the real world.

Even if you do not want to start your business, the skills you can learn in these courses are invaluable.  They are good skills to have if you want to have a successful career in whatever industry you choose.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 90, Essay 1 – Carolingian Renaissance

The Carolingian Renaissance happened between the late 8th century to the late 9th century.  The goal of this renaissance was to create a civilization Ancient Rome would have been proud of.  The only change was that the civilization would have Christian emphasis, unlike the polytheistic lifestyle Rome had.

During the renaissance, the Franks were ruling Europe as the protectors of the papacy.  Charlemagne, who was the ruler at the time, set up a fixed capital in Aachen (a city in modern-day Germany).  A chapel was built in the capitol and had maps of Constantinople, Rome, and Aachen.  This signified Charlemagne’s vision of expanding his empire.

Charlemagne would go out searching for great writers, artists, scholars, etc.  He wanted these people to become teachers in his schools or contributors to the renaissance.  Charlemagne built schools that were supposed to mimic Ancient Roman schools.  Scholars at these institutions would give each other Ancient Roman names like ‘Aristotle’ or ‘Plato’ in an attempt to mirror the Ancient Roman schools completely.

There were many things from this renaissance that we still use and enjoy today.  Monks during this time preserved many of the Latin works that we can still read and appreciate today.  The schools Charlemagne set up became the first of many European universities. 

Carolingian minuscule was a creation of Charlemagne’s schools.  Many Latin works had little to no grammar.  There were no such things as commas or periods or capital letters.  Those who had worked hard to preserve and translate those works created Carolingian miniscule, which is what we use today.  Capital letters, periods, commas, any grammatical tool you can think of, came from Carolingian miniscule.

As you can see, the Carolingian Renaissance is yet another example of how a seemingly insignificant event in history can impact us today.  Mr. Woods noted how during this renaissance there was not many new ideas created.  But the few ideas that were created, like Carolingian miniscule, proved to be very useful and are still used today.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 85, Essay 2 – Einhard’s Biography on Charlemagne

This week in class, one of my reading assignments was Charlemagne’s biography written by an 8th century scholar known as Einhard.  In this essay, I am going to show how Einhard portrayed the Frank king.

Einhard seemed to portray Charlemagne as a man of two personalities.  The kind and generous king, and the fun, spirited family man.

For example, Einhard described how Charlemagne would share his riches with the poor and do his best to provide good living conditions for them.  He was a devout Christian, and made sure all religious rituals were carried out in the proper order.  He was also said to have donated to Christians who lived in poverty in other nations that were not his own.  Charlemagne seemed to have good diplomatic skills because of how strong and friendly his relationships with other kingdoms were.  Overall, he seemed to be a kind and competent leader.

However, in his private life he was described as a fun, and rather hyper, man.  Einhard described how he loved to swim, and would wake up the house (or castle) in the middle of the night to go swimming with him.  He loved to indulge in a good feast, like any normal person, but hated drinking to the point of sickness.  He believed in self-indulgence to a certain extent.  Charlemagne also seemed to have a strong bond with his children.  He made sure they were well educated and even took them along with him on journeys.

As you can see, Charlemagne seemed to be a good, kind man.  He was a competent king and a loving family man.  I am not sure how accurate the biography is, but it is certainly fun to imagine a king being as kind-hearted as he was.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 85, Essay 1 – The Papal-Frankish Alliance

This week in class, I learned about the Papal-Frankish alliance, which only happened because of the papacy losing faith in their protectors, the Byzantine Empire.  In this essay, I am going to talk about the significance of the alliance and how it came to be.

The story starts in the early 750s, when the Church in Europe started to start lose faith in the Byzantine Empire, who was their protector.  The Byzantine Empire seemed to want to control the Church, something that they did not approve of.  The Papacy was starting to get threatened by the Lombards (a Germanic tribe) and were worried that the Byzantine Empire would not step in until it was too late.

The Papacy started to look for a new protector, someone who was not as controlling as the Byzantines.  Around this time, Anglo-Saxons from Britain wanted to expand into Europe to spread the message of Christianity.  However, they wanted the approval of the Pope and the Frankish king who ruled the European countries.  This prompted the Pope to propose an alliance to the Franks, which they accepted, and in 756 AD the Papacy officially switched their loyalty from Byzantine to the Franks.

Over the years, the Frank king, Pepin, defeated the Lombards, gave land to the Papacy (becomes the Papal States), and is named Protector of the Church.

Why is this alliance so significant in Western Civilization, though?  This alliance signified that the Papacy had shifted their loyalties from the East (the Byzantines) to the West (the Franks). 

As you can see, the Papal-Frankish alliance is a very important event in Western history.  If the Church had stayed with the Byzantines, who knows what our world wold look like today?  The reason Christianity is so big in the West today, is because of this alliance that happened 1200 years ago.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 55 – The Julio-Claudian and Flavian Emperors

This week in class, I learned about the Julio-Claudian and the Flavian dynasties, which started as a consequence of the death of Emperor Augustus.  In this essay, I am going to briefly cover what happened during those years.

The Julio-Claudian dynasty started in 14 AD and continued until 68 AD.  The first emperor of this dynasty was Tiberius, the adopted son of Augustus.  In 37 AD, he disappeared after hearing the news about the death of his biological son, Drusus. 

After Tiberius came Emperor Caligula, who ruled for four years (r. 31-41 AD).  He was considered to be extravagant and cruel.  Some even described him as ‘nearly insane.’  The Praetorian Guard, bodyguards of the emperor, assassinated him because of his lavish spending and cruel ways.

The next emperor, Claudius, may have been the only sane emperor in the Julio-Claudian dynasty.  His successor, Nero, was counselled by Seneca who was a wise philosopher in Rome.  He ended the dynasty in 68 AD when he committed suicide after hearing about a rebellion that started in Gaul that was moving up to Rome.

The Flavian dynasty was started a year later by Vespasian, who suppressed the rebellion Nero killed himself over, and created a stable and thriving Rome.  After his death, his son Titus took over.   He was a kind emperor and did not order executions during his reign.  He created a law that stated anyone who tried to kill another would be flogged and banished from Rome.

After Titus’ death, his brother Domitian (r. 81-96), became emperor.  He made his entire family gods.  His wife, children, deceased brother, and parents were turned into gods to be worshiped by the people.   When Lucius Antonius Saturnius revolted in 89 AD, Domitian became violent and erratic.

As you can see, in each dynasty there were a few good emperors and many bad ones.  Because of how volatile these dynasties were, after the death of Domitian the dynasty of the “Five Good Emperors” was created.  The successor would be chosen by the current emperor who would adopt the person as his son.  It would not be hereditary succession, but chosen succession.  This system worked well until Marcus Aurelius (r. 138-161) appointed his son, Commodus (r. 180-192), as the next emperor.  Commodus was vicious and incompetent, leading to a repetition of the Flavian Dynasty.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 50 – Autobiography of Augustus

This week in class, one of my reading assignments was the autobiography of Augustus, also known as Octavian.  For those that do not recognize the name, Augustus was the great-nephew and successor of Julius Caesar.  In this essay, I’m going to briefly talk about the autobiography and what it contained.

If I had to describe the autobiography in one sentence: it is a list of his ‘divine’ doings.  The autobiography feels a little embellished.  The title, The Deeds of the Divine Augustus, already hints that the autobiography will not be objective.

While the autobiography is true, it feels fake.  Personally, I think Augustus wrote it to show off.  Maybe I am interpreting the autobiography incorrectly, and Augustus wrote it with good intentions.

Despite my slight aversion to the book, I cannot deny that Augustus did many impressive things in his life.  Besides him being named a god, he was consul thirteen times and he was not psychotic, which should be an accomplishment in itself considering Rome’s history with crazy politicians in the government.

As you can see, the autobiography is not horrible.  It is truthful, slightly embellished, but also very informative.  If you ever want to learn about Augustus in less than thirty minutes, I suggest skimming through the autobiography.

Thanks for reading!


Western Civilization 10, Lesson 45 – Changes Caused by the Struggle of the Orders

This week in class I learned about a peaceful war that happened in Rome known as the “Struggle of the Orders.”  In this essay, I am going to talk about the changes in Roman society because of this event.

The Struggle of the Orders was a type of peaceful protest that happened in 494 BC.  The Plebeians (Rome’s lower class) had gotten tired of how they were being treated by the Patricians (Rome’s higher class) and seceded from the city.  This made the Patricians realize that they needed the lower class to maintain the city and do their work.  The Patricians agreed to lessen the restrictions on the Plebeians and invited them back into the city.

Once the Plebeians re-joined Rome, many major changes happened not only in the government, but in society.  The lower class was allowed to choose tribunes (people who “commanded bodyguard units and auxiliary cohorts”[i]) to represent them in the government. In 471 BC, the concilium plebis was formed.  This allowed the Plebeians to govern themselves.  The laws passed by the concilium plebis were only enforced on the Plebeians at first, but by 287 BC, it applied to everyone regardless of class.  Starting in the early 4th century BC, Plebeians would start getting land won from wars, a luxury that only the Patricians enjoyed before the Struggle of the Orders.

Intermarriage between classes was legalized and debt slavery of a Plebian to a Patrician was abolished.

Plebeians became eligible for the office of consul in 367 BC and by 342 BC at least one consul (decision makers in the government) had to be a Plebian.  In 172 BC, for the first time ever, both consuls were Plebeians.

As you can see, the Struggle of the Orders significantly impacted the Plebeians political abilities, but socially, they were still considered less than the Patricians.  The higher class still had more wealth and were not afraid to continue to flaunt it.  Even into the 4th century AD, the Patricians had special shoes that only the higher class wore. 

Thanks for reading!

[i]Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “tribune”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 13 Nov. 2019, Accessed 4 May 2022.


English 10, Lesson 180 – Term Paper

For my final essay for the 10th Grade English course with the Ron Paul Curriculum, I will be writing a 1000 word essay on the worldviews of the Renaissance and how they can found in literature.  During the past few weeks, I have been reading The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio and The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.  I will be using these two books as examples of my points during this essay.

The Decameron

The Decameron was written in 1353, only a year after the end of the Black Plague.  During the Black Plague, many started to lose faith in God and Christianity.  People started to think less about God, and more about self-preservation.  Many, including priests and other churchmen, abandoned their towns and families, hoping to escape the vicious claws of the plague.  Any morals people may have had were forgotten if it meant they could survive another day.  Many people believed that God was no longer protecting them, and if that was the case, nothing could save them.  Others believed that God had sent the plague as a way to punish them for some crime they had committed.  Some people gave in and feasted and spent whatever money they had saved, while others tried to escape with a fighting chance.

It is safe to say that this atheistic mindset did not end at the same time of the plague.  Throughout The Decameron, Boccaccio demonstrated time and time again that he did not believe, or trust in, God.  If anything, he seemed to despise Him.

In the first story of the book, seven young maidens ran away from their town to spend the day in an abandoned house.  They told stories to each other to entertain themselves, and in every story God’s name was brought up.  However, His name was not praised.  Every time God was mentioned, it was only to mock or bash Him and the Church.

Many of the stories attributed good fortune to luck or chance.  None of the stories would ever hint that it was God causing all of these “fortuitous” incidents.

The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales was written in 1392, about 40 years after The Decameron.  Many claim that the book demonstrates a “Christian worldview.”  But I have to disagree.  Throughout the book, God’s name was rarely brought up.  There were no obvious morals or lessons demonstrated in the stories.  The book felt like a compilation of random short stories Chaucer wrote in his free time.  In my opinion, there was nothing relatively close to Christianity in the book.

Unlike The Decameron, the book did not bash the name of God because it did not bring up God at all.  The Decameron, a book written by an obvious atheist, mentioned God’s name more than The Canterbury Tales, which supposedly reflected a Christian mindset.

I do not have much to say about The Canterbury Tales because there was nothing especially interesting or notable in the book.


After reading both books, I think it should be obvious that the worldviews in The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales resembled Greek and Roman literature rather than Christian literature.  Neither books described, or even mentioned ethics and sanctions.  Boccaccio hinted that there were a system of ethics in place in the beginning of The Decameron, but he never talked about it again. 

Both books also demonstrated a common theme of randomness, much like Greek and Roman works would.  Every incident that happened had an odd and rather random cause.  Both Boccaccio and Chaucer made good fortune happen at random times in their stories.

Their explanation for this randomness?  It was simply luck or chance.  Sometimes they even attributed it to fate.  This is another commonality The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales shared with Greek and Roman literature.  The Greeks and Romans had multiple gods, and often attributed good fortune to one of their many gods or other forces like luck or fate.  This is obviously the opposite of Christian literature, where the author would have praised and thanked God when good things happened to the characters.

The Decameron also exhibited negative views of the future.  In one of my previous essays, I talked about Hesiod’s view of mankind and its future.  Hesiod made it obvious that he believed that the human race was getting more evil the longer they stayed on Earth.  He described the people/gods who came before the humans and how pious they were compared to mankind.  Like many of his time, Hesiod did not have much hope for the future of mankind and predicted that the human race would cause their own demise. 

While The Decameron did not state any ideas about the human race ending themselves, it did show helplessness for the future.  I think that this was a very accurate representation of what people’s mindset was during the time period of The Decameron.  Even if a person survived the plague, what would be left for them?  What was there left to live for?  This kind of negative mindset of the future was, unfortunately, common after the plague ended.

A negative mindset for the future is the exact opposite of the Christian worldview. The Christian worldview demonstrated hope for the future because of people’s faith in God and His forgiveness.  However, I think this negative mindset was justified if you consider what was happening during that period.

Personally, I did not think The Canterbury Tales resembled Greek or Roman literature.  However, it definitely did not resemble Christian literature in any way, unlike what many have claimed.  The Canterbury Tales did not seem to exhibit any hints of the author’s worldview and belief system.  Nonetheless, I think it is safe to say that Chaucer was not a Christian and did not intend for his book to be referred to as a piece of Christian literature.

The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales were great works for their time, but they displayed Greek and Roman worldviews and not the Christian values that people used to follow.  I am not surprised by this, however.  Both books were written during a time when people had stopped trusting in God and the Church.  It was not uncommon for people to have hatred towards the Church or simply not want to concern themselves with it.

As you can see, Boccaccio and Chaucer communicated a lot of their values and beliefs through their stories and characters in their books.  Even Chaucer’s book, which admittedly lacked worldview and morals, showed what kind of man he was.  The books were hard to get through after spending the whole course reading works with Christian values, but they were interesting to analyze.  It is incredible what you can find out about a person based on their writings.

Thanks for reading!


Biology 10, Lesson 150 – Breathing Hard, Is It Because of Lack of Oxygen?

Have you ever done strenuous activity and suddenly finding yourself breathing hard?  Your heart is pounding and you are gasping for breath.  When this happens, is it because there is not enough oxygen in your lungs or do you have too much carbon dioxide?

The quick and easy answer to this question is: there’s too much carbon dioxide in your blood.  But what does your body do when it detects this?

When there is too much carbon dioxide, or Co2, in your bloodstream, the breathing control centre in your brain (the medulla oblongata) will send signals to your lungs to contract and relax harder to balance out the oxygen and Co2 in your blood.  While this is happening, the cerebrospinal fluid that is in your spinal cord is absorbing the Co2, and other chemicals, from your blood and converting it into ions.  These ions will help control the pH in your bloodstream, making it easier for you to breathe.

As you can see, while you may be panting and puffing for air, your brain is sending out all sorts of signals to the rest of your body to help you catch your breath.  Next time you find yourself gasping for breath and you are looking for someone to blame, you can blame your brain for making your lungs contract and relax so fast.

Thanks for reading!


Biology 10, Lesson 130 – Animal Intelligence

Many say that animals are not as smart as humans, and while I agree with that statement, I also believe that we should not underestimate the intelligence of animals.  In this essay, I am going to convince you that animals are not as dumb as you may think.

Firstly, how should we characterize intelligence in animals?  In the video lesson this week, Mr. Bear listed a few characteristics of intelligence that can be found in animals:

  1. Visually dominant sensory system
  2. Recognizes members of their own group
  3. Uses tools for hunting, cleaning, etc.
  4. Cooperates in hunting and other activities (coordination of efforts and recognition of rank)

When thinking about animal intelligence, many people think of primates.  Primates include chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, and other types of apes.  They are considered intelligent because of the large size of their brains and their developed neocortex. 

Primates have shown to be very social, and to even have social ranks amongst themselves.  What is surprising is that primates have a large range of emotions that were thought to only be possible for humans to experience/exhibit.  Primates are also very affectionate and caring to one another.  There have been stories of female chimpanzees and gorillas adopting orphans of their own kind.

Chimpanzees have been taught sign language to communicate with humans and each other.  But even those who live in the wild have been seen to use hand gestures to communicate with one another.  They show physical signs of affection like holding hands or patting each other on the back, much like humans do.

Another group of highly intelligent animals are elephants, who are one of the few species to be born without instincts.  Like humans, they must figure out how to survive in the world.  The majority of this learning process happens during the first ten years of their lives.  Elephants not only have the ability to retain long-term memories, but they can also experience and perceive a wide range of emotions.  This is because of their very developed hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that stores memories and emotions.

A less well known fact about elephants is that they have a ceremony, or ritual, to mourn their dead.  While it is not as intricate as human’s, they have been seen caressing or touching the deceased member while making consistent low groaning noises.  If a herd passes an elephant that is already deceased and reduced to a skeleton, they will pay their respects before moving along.

As you can see, animals are not as unintelligent as you may think.  They may not match the intelligence of a human, but they are definitely not brainless.

Thanks for reading!