Lesson Plans: Grades 9-12

Lesson Three. Analyzing “Intercepted Intelligence”

Created November 12, 2015


The Lesson


Diplomacy Challenge: Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror

Follower of Gentile Bellini, Portrait of Mehmet II (1432–1481).

Credit: National Gallery, London. Yorck Project. Public Domain 1.0

In this lesson, students analyze a primary source document: A Papal Bull issued by Pope Pius V in 1570, excommunicating Queen Elizabeth of England. After reading and analyzing the document, students, acting as diplomats, consider the ramifications of the text for their assigned empire.

After practicing document analysis as a class, student then choose one more primary source documents to read and complete a similar analysis.

Learning Objectives

  • Acting as Early Modern diplomats, students analyze a primary sources document from the Early Modern era.

Preparation and Resources

As in the previous lesson, students are broken up into groups of three based on an assigned Early Modern empire (Ashanti slave trading Kingdom, English Empire, Dutch Empire, Mughal Empire, Ottoman Empire, Qing Empire, Russian Empire, Safavid Empire, Spanish Empire). In their groups, students play the role of diplomats who are gathering intelligence in order to build a mutually beneficial trading relationship between their assigned empire and another empire.

Lesson Activities

Activity 1. Analyzing a Primary Source

In this lesson, student-diplomats analyze a primary source document, which we present as “intercepted intelligence.” To analyze the source, students complete the worksheet, which guides the through an analysis of the document.

Activity 2. Ranking Significance

After reading the document students use a white board to rank how significant the information in the document is for their assigned empire. Students will rank it as “1” if they think the document has no bearing on their empire and “10” if they think the document is critically significant. They must give reasons for their ranking.


Once they have complete the document analysis in class, students complete a second document analysis for homework. Students choose to work on a document from the Early Modern Period from the Internet History Sourcebook that will give insight into an empire they are interested in building a relationship with at the diplomatic reception. They need to come prepare for class with a short four point analysis of the document.

The Basics

Grade Level


Subject Areas
  • History and Social Studies > Place > Africa
  • History and Social Studies > Themes > Common Core
  • History and Social Studies > Place > Europe
  • History and Social Studies > World > The Modern World (1500 CE-Present)
  • History and Social Studies > Place > The Middle East
  • History and Social Studies > Place > Asia
  • Critical analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • Cultural analysis
  • Historical analysis
  • Interpretation
  • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
  • Role-playing/Performance
  • Summarizing


Activity Worksheets