Isabella I of Castile, Queen of Spain (1479–1504) and patron of Christopher Columbus, is born

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Repeats every year until Sun Apr 22 2035 .
April 22, 2010
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April 22, 1451
Engraving of King Arthur in a boat


On May 8, 2008, PBS stations broadcasted a new concert version of the musical about King Arthur and his kingdom Camelot. The EDSITEment lesson "Exploring Arthurian Legend" surveys the stories surrounding Arthur from their beginnings in the oral tradition in Medieval Europe, through the Renaissance and Victorian England, and concludes with T. H. White's modern retelling The Once and Future King, which was the basis of the Lerner and Lowe musical. EDSITEment has other related lesson plans as well.

King John puts his seal to Magna Carta

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Repeats every year until Fri Jun 15 2035 .
June 15, 2010
June 15, 2011
June 15, 2012
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June 15, 2015
June 15, 2016
June 15, 2017
June 15, 2018
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Event Date Display: 
June 15, 1215
Deatail of Japanese woodblock of a ship from Perry's fleet

Black Ships & Samurai: Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan

An MIT open courseware unit on how Japanese artists visualized the arrival and effects of Commodore Perry's fleet in 1853.

  • Lesson 3: British Surnames Derived from Occupations or Professions

    Last names as we know them

    Another common type of medieval byname derived from how a man spent his time. Every farming village had a blacksmith to forge iron tools, a miller to grind wheat, a carpenter to craft furniture, and many other specialists.

  • The Path of the Black Death

    The Black Plague cut a huge swath of devastation through the heart of 14th  century Europe.

    The Black Death cut a path—both literal and figurative—through the middle of the 14th century. In this lesson, students analyze maps, firsthand accounts, and archival documents to trace the path and aftermath of the Black Death.

  • Lesson 1: How Did Surnames Come to Be?

    Last names as we know them now originated in the Middle Ages

    In the early years of the Middle Ages, most people in Europe lived in small farming villages. Everyone knew his neighbors, and there was little need for last names. But as the population expanded and the towns grew, a need arose to find ways to differentiate between two people who shared the same first name.

  • Lesson 5: On the Road with Marco Polo: Marco Polo in China

    A map of Marco Polo's route to and from China.

    After a long trek across the Gobi Desert, Marco Polo, his father, and his uncle finally arrived at the Shangdu, the summer palace of Kublai Khan. At this time, most of Asia was under control of the Mongols, a nomadic people whose homeland was in the Gobi.

  • Marco Polo Takes A Trip

    A map of Marco Polo's route to and from China.

    During the Middle Ages, most people in Europe spent their entire lives in the village where they were born. But in the 13th century, a young Italian named Marco Polo traveled all the way to China! In this lesson, students will learn about the remarkable travels of Marco Polo.

  • Not Everyone Lived in Castles During the Middle Ages

    Detail from the Calendar page for June, the “Book of Hours” ( Les Tres  Riches Heures du Duc de Berry)

    In this lesson, students will learn about the lifestyle of the wealthy elite and then expand their view of medieval society by exploring the lives of the peasants, craftsmen, and monks.