Teacher's Guide for CALLIOPE: Charlemagne
Teacher guide prepared by: our staff.
1. Hang a modern map of the world on the bulletin board. Ask the students to locate
France, Germany, the countries that border France and Germany, the United States, and the
specific state in which they live. Then, have the students turn to page 3. Ask them to
locate France, Germany, and Spain, telling them that the events in the issue occur mostly
in these countries.
2. Carefully review the definitions of Franks, Pope, and Carolingian Period found on
page 4, and those of Saracens and First Crusade found on page 13. Divide the class into
three groups. Assign one group the article "Destined to be Great," another,
"A Change of Heart," and the third, "The Song of Roland." Have each
group present a synopsis (in chronological order) of its article to the rest of the class.
3. One of Charlemagne's traits was his ability to organize and manage. Assign each of
the three groups above one of the following articles: "Alcuin and the Palace
School," "Charlemagne and Hadrian," and "Managing a Mighty
Empire." Have each present a report of its article to the rest of the class.
- How did Charlemagne come to be King of the Franks?
- What changed Charlemagne from a tolerant ruler to an intolerant one and then back to a
- Do you feel the circumstances justified such changes in a king?
- How would you have counseled Charlemagne had you been there to advise him?
- Why did Roland's defeat become a rallying cry for the French? Are there any such
"small" incidents in U.S. history that have assumed the same significance?
- Ask the class to give specific examples of how Charlemagne provided for his people
and tried to improve the standard of living throughout his empire. Write their suggestions
on the blackboard.
- Of all that was mentioned in the three articles, ask students their opinions as to
what policy they felt contributed most to the flourishing of the Carolingian Empire.
- Read aloud to the class "The 'Real' Charlemagne." Then ask students how
Einhard's biography changed or did not change their image/opinion of Charlemagne. Ask them
also the significance of such primary sources as Einhard's biography.
- As a class activity: make a poster listing and illustrating Charlemagne's legacy.
- Divide the class into two (or more) groups. Assign each group one of these activities:
making a medieval book or using paper to keep a ceiling up. Let each group explain its
finished product to the rest of the class.
- Read with the class the section done in cooperation with the Higgins Armory Museum.
Bring books to class that have photos of men in armor from the Middle Ages period in
Europe. Have them use what they learned from the article to identify the different
sections. Ask, as a class question, if there was any fact in the articles that really
surprised them. Try cleaning an old tool in class following the directions given.