HISTORY & HISTORIOGRAPHY

 History, as an academic discipline, is a dynamic, ever-changing interpretation of the past.

 "The writing of History reflects the interests, predilection and  even prejudices of a given generation."

 -John Hope Franklin

 Historians attempt to explain the relative significance of various causes and consequences of historical change or continuity over time. They do this by asking historical questions, seeking out historical sources, evaluating the values and limits of those sources, and considering their answers with different perspectives in mind. 

TOPICS

The Ancient World

From the earliest written texts in Mesopotamia around 3500 B.C. to the splendors on the banks fo the Nile, from the Indus river valley to China, The ancient peoples' lives still remain largely a mystery. 

Though often engaged in wars, struggling against  famines, or wresting with the harshness of nature, the Ancient World  developed culture, art, religion, and technology.  

In the Ancient world discover the societies of the Egyptians, Babylonians,  Indians, Chinese, Olmec, Bantu Phoenicians, and Israelites, who all lived and tried for centuriesmillennia ago. 

Classical Cultures

In Greece, the mythical figures from the heroic age gave way to great philosophers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. In the rivaling city-states came mathematicians such as PythagorasArchimedes, and Aristarchus. 

From the mythical founding in 750 BC, the Roman Kingdom lasted two centuries, followed by a great Republic. Rome expanded North the British Island, West to Hispania East over the Greeks, and south to North Africa: Making the Mediterranean "the Roman lake."  

These classical cultures provided an intellectual and political precedent for centuries to come. 

The Roman Empire & the Birth of Christianity

IN 49 BC, Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and the history of the world changed forever. Under Augustus the roman Republic became an Empire.  

In the early years of the Empire a baby was born of a virgin in the City of Bethlehem. This Jesus of Nazareth, known by his disciples as "Christ," became the leader of Christianity which spread after his Crucifixion. Under the Emperor Nero, Christianity became punishable by death until Constantine in 313 AD issued the Edict of Milan and converting himself.  

Constantine moved the Capital to Byzantium, renamed Nova Roma, and often called Constantinople. There, the Roman Empire thrived for another 1200 years in the East. The West succumbed to barbarian invasion and collapse by 476, But the Christian Church continued to prosper

The Medieval World

As the Barbarians took Rome, Western Europe no longer enjoyed trade, and protection from the Empire. Instead, various barbarian leaders fought for control, and the people fought to survive.   

Out of the chaos the people looked to the one remaining unifying institution:  The roman Church. Through conversion of powerful chieftains such as Clovis I, the social, political, and religious world of the Early Medieval period began to take shape, but outside the monasteries trade, literacy, and art, all took a backseat to survival and war. 

Constantine moved the Capital to Byzantium, renamed Nova Roma, and often called Constantinople. There, the Roman Empire thrived for another 1200 years in the East. The West succumbed to barbarian invasion and collapse by 476, But the Christian Church continued to prosper

Should this period be called 

The Dark Ages?

The Carolingian Dynasty & the Holy Roman Empire

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On Christmas Day in the year 800 AD, the most powerful king of Europe knelt down before the Bishop of Rome. Pope Leo III placed a crown on Charlemagne's head and declared that a new Roman Emperor now reigned,

one that was ordained by God. 

In the 9th century, the decedents of Charlemagne fought over control of his vast Empire with the Carolingian Holy Roman Emperor dying in 888.

Between the rise and fall of the Carolingian Emperors, stood a period of political stability and a rebirth of education, art, and commerce known as the Carolingian Renaissance.

Medieval Islam & the Abbasid Caliphate

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After nearly a decade exiled in Medina, Muhammad returned to Mecca with an Army of loyal followers. Over the next two years, the muslims established a religious and political Empire that spread out rapidly across the Middle East

After political turmoil, a group known as the Umayyads took control of the caliphate, and began expanding across North Africa and into Europe. BY 732, Islam controlled land from India to the Frankish Border.  

However, with expansion halted in the West at Tours, and rebellions in the East, the Umayyad  found themselves taken over in 751 by the Abbasids. 

The Abbasids, after establishing a strong empire that encompassed the strengths of outsiders began a campaign of education and learning which produced advances in Science, math, and literature. The period became known as

 The Golden Age of Islam

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The Early Modern Era

In the first centuries of the second millennium AD several

 transformations began to occur throughout medieval

 society. 

In 1049 Pope Leo IX began a series of reforms that led to an official split with the Orthodox Church in 1054 and a controversy that lasted decades over the proper place do secular and religious power. In Normandy, Duke William set his sights on the English throne and battled rival at Hastings in 1066. But the most profound wars began in 1095, when Pope Urban II called for a Crusade to liberate the Holy land. 

Out of the Crusades came the reemergence of trade, the return of cities, and the return of strong kings. Knowledge also began to once again be traded and education begin to expand. First from the monastic and cathedral schools and eventually to the rise of universities. The rise of reason led by churchmen such as Peter Abelard and Anslem of Canterbury and the Scholastics gave way to

The 12th Century Renaissance​

and the seeds of the Early Modern World

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The Late Medieval Period & the Renaissance

Petrarch, the 14th century philosopher, described his as a period "in darkness and dense gloom" giving rise to the term dark ages. Seeking to emulate the ancient Romas, Later scholars declared the period before their own to be a dark age.  Thus, out of the darkness society was reborn.   

The Italian artist Vasari said that it was the paintbrushes of the artists that brought light to the dark age. and while the words "Art" and Renaissance go hand-in-hand, to limit the Renaissance to an artistic 

movement is to miss the incredible transition.

Society began a political, social, economic, artistic, intellectual, and scientific transformation that gave way tot eh modern world. Yet it was still quite medieval. Thus the renaissance fits squarely in the Early modern era, that period from the 12th to 18th century where the seeds of modernity are planted and grow, and yet they grow in a world that is very much foreign to us today. 

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The Reformation

Very much a part of the Renaissance, the reformation led by Martin Luther began by questioning traditions.   

In 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses in which he challenged several doctrines of the Church but specifically the selling go indulgences. Pope Leo X, the former Giovanni de Medici, was desperate for funds and authorized indulgences in exchange for donations. For Luther this was tantamount to selling salvation. 

Luther would be joined by others: Calvin, and Zwingli

Many elements of corruption pervaded the recent history of the Church. Leo's predecessor fought several wars attempting to unite the Italian states under papal control. in the 1590s, Rumors of the vast moral corruptions of Pope Alexander VI across Europe. in the 1530s King Henry VIII led the English reformation for his own distinct reasons, and the Council of Trent in the 1540s began the Catholic Reformation. But the most prominent is movements is Martin Luther's moment called 

The Protestant Reformation

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The Scientific Revolution

The Renaissance challenged prior knowledge about the arts, the natural philosophers, those who studied the book of nature, began to question the wisdom of the ancients.   

In 1543, Copernicus published De Revolutionibus and described the revolution of the planets around the sun rather than the earth as previously believed. Over the next two centuries a new way of creating knowledge about nature was born. His contribution so profound that the word "Revolution" meaning to go around came to mean an upheaval, and overthrow, a new paradigm. 

The period is often mistakenly though of as a period of rivalry between the Church bent on repression and science determined to enlighten. Yet this 19th century historical  belief finds few supporters outside of popular culture But this period is so fascinating because it illuminates the way in which we think, the way in which we create knowledge. The struggle was not between religion and science, 

but between competing worldviews

Absolutism & the French Revolution

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The French Revolution was the gateway to modernity. Out of the upheaval came many aspects of the modern world: the political, social, economic, and intellectual. 

From violence in the streets to the Third Estate at Versailles, the French revolution shocked the world. However, the revolution was not uniform and went through numerous phases: The Moderate phase, the Radical Reign of Terror, the White Terror, and the Rise of Napoleon who then became Emperor.  

 Enlightenment ideals mixed with poverty and famine challenges dating back to the age of Absolutism under Louis XIV. in 1792 radical overthrow of the monarchy condemned  Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette of Austria, and both lost their head. 

 
Image by Ben Mullins

IB History Assessments

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The IB History Course consists of four assessments 

The Internal Assessment (IA) is a three-part 2400 word Research Paper begun t the end of the Junior Year and completed in the first semester of the senior year. 

Paper 1 is an externally assessed one-hour exam heavily based on the student's ability to critically analyze and utilize primary and secondary sources and incorporate those sources with one's own knowledge

Paper 2 is an externally assessed 1hr 30min exam consisting of two essay questions comparing historical events and/or concepts from two parts of the world. 

Paper 3 is an externally assessed 2hr 30min exam consisting of three essay questions assessing a student's ability to drawn on depth of detailed knowledge and ability to analyze history.