Thursday, June 28, 2018

H is for Henry VIII (Blogging through the Alphabet)

Henry VIII and Tudor Rose

In this post, I will share about another one of my favorite people to study in history – King Henry VIII. As his life is long and complicated, I will write only about his early years and the events in which Catherine of Aragon, his first wife, was alive and played an active part. 

King Henry VIII of England reigned for 38 years. He broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and married six women to produce a male heir. He is known for his extravagant lifestyle, his warring nature, and is seen as destroying the Catholic Church in England to divorce his wife.  Many of these conceptions are not entirely true. There were many reasons for his break from the Roman Catholic Church and his determination to win France back. Henry was also known for bringing England back into Europe with his conquests to regain the portions of France that had once been under English control. 

Henry VIIIKing Henry VIII received advice from his father, Henry VII, on his deathbed. He advised him to do three things and left him with councilors to aid him in his ruling of the country. He wished his son to marry Catherine of Aragon, to defend the Church against the infidels and urged him to execute Edmund de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, who was a traitor. Henry VIII fulfilled his father's wishes in all three accounts. He did marry Catherine, defend the Church, and – in the spring of 1513 – he executed de la Pole.

After his older brother, Prince Arthur, died, Henry's life became severely restricted. His father was with him almost all the time. He was never given any real responsibility or independence for fear that he would also die and leave the kingdom in the hands of either his sister Margaret and her husband (the King of Scotland) or his other sister, Mary (still unwed). As a youth, his education included theology, mathematics, music, and languages such as Latin, French, Italian, and probably Spanish.  

On June 23, 1509, the procession that led to his coronation took place. Henry's coronation was quite extravagant with revels, pageants – which the newly crowned king took part in, tilts, jousts, dancing, and music concerts. Henry soon became known as a Renaissance Prince for he was regarded as an athlete and an intellectual – as well as a sportsman and a musician. He also took part in courtly love. Henry was described as being extremely handsome, 6 feet tall, strong, and having a desire to dress up in jewels, silks, and feathers.

Unlike his father, Henry VIII considered the duty of the King not to make treaties but to win victories. The nobility of England lived in a world where war could bring adventure and honor along with quick money. Henry saw himself as the military leader that would bring his people glory in war.

Before Henry could lead his country into war, he would need to secure succession to the Tudor throne. Catherine of Aragon was left widowed upon Prince Arthur's death. A papal dispensation was needed for Henry and Catherine's marriage to take place. If the marriage between Catherine and Arthur had been consummated then they would need a dispensation on the grounds of "impediment of affinity in the first-degree collateral." If the marriage had not been consummated, as Catherine insisted, they would need a dispensation from the impediment of public honesty, which they did not seek. These details would cause problems when Henry would seek divorce from Catherine in 1527.

Henry Marries Catherine 

King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon were married on June 11, 1509. Whether it was his wish to obey his father, the dispensation from the Pope, the gold of the dower, or the desire to form strong royal bloodlines that encouraged him, it was evident that in the early years Henry did love his Queen. At 23, Catherine was devout, pretty, and his "lady-love." He wrote songs for her and publicly expressed his devotion. She became pregnant shortly after their marriage, only to give birth to a stillborn daughter in May 1510. During the early years of Henry and Catherine's marriage, there were continuous festivities, with masks, comedies, and revels in which Henry played parts. It was during these festivities that King Henry most probably became acquainted with ladies of the court.

Shortly after becoming king and marrying Catherine, Henry first received a taste of war and deception when he agreed to send aid to Ferdinand of Aragon, his father-in-law, to drive the Moors from North Africa. Unfortunately, when the English troops arrived there they soon discovered that Ferdinand had abandoned the plan and the English ended up in Spain getting drunk and killing several Christians.
Six wives of Henry VIII

Catherine gave birth to Henry, Prince of Wales, on January 1, 1511, to great celebrations. King Henry traveled on a pilgrimage to thank "Our Lady" and began to plan an enlargement of the court for his son and future heir. In approximately seven weeks, however, the heir had died and was buried with a lavish funeral. In October 1513, Catherine suffered a miscarriage. In December 1514, she gave birth to a boy who didn't survive. In February 1516, she gave birth to Mary, who was named after her aunt. Her last pregnancy ended with a stillborn daughter in November 1518.  Even though Catherine's pregnancy years were over there were still hopes that Henry would have a male heir. In 1519, a son (Henry Fitzroy) was born to one of Henry's mistresses, Bessie Blount. Beginning in 1526, he began receiving titles such as Duke of Richmond and Somerset. Henry Fitzroy would also gain the rank of Lord High Admiral of England. For a while it appeared that he would become the king's heir but in July of 1536 at 17 years old he died.

While Henry was in France battling on behalf of the Holy League, his wife, Catherine, was made "Governor of the Realm and Captain-General of the Forces" with a council to aid her in decision making. On September 9, 1513, James IV, King of Scotland, led his people against the English under the Earl of Surrey at the Battle of Flodden. In three hours, almost all of the Scottish aristocracy had been killed – including the King. Henry had missed both the Battle of the Spurs, the only open engagement in France, and the Battle of Flodden, a decisive battle between Scotland and England. He was not really living up to his idea of winning victories.

Henry said after Mary's birth, "By the grace of God, the sons will follow." During his lifetime, the Christian viewpoint of childbirth was not biological. Most believed that God either passed the parents' sins onto the child or that parents were punished by not being allowed to have any children.  So, it was very likely that Henry believed divine favor was necessary for a successful childbirth.  Henry had begun to question why no living male heir had been born and – in the Old Testament – he found his answer. Using Leviticus 20:21 out of context, he saw his marriage as a sin. The lack of male children was his punishment for sinning. Henry felt the pope had no right to go against biblical law (specifically the Levitical commandment that a man must not marry his brother's wife). Whether Leviticus referred to seducing a living brother's wife or Henry's position, Henry was determined it applied to his lack of male heirs by his marriage to Catherine.

On May 5, 1527, Henry met Anne Boleyn, Catherine's newest attendant. At the same time secret proceedings were opened to judge the validity of the king's marriage to Catherine. In June, Henry decided he must tell Catherine about the proceedings and that their marriage was never lawful but it was too late, she had already found out.

'Great Matter'

During the summer of 1527, the imperial forces of German Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (Catherine's nephew) had sacked Rome and Pope Clement VII was at his mercy. It was during this opportune time that Catherine appealed to her nephew, who supported her. When Henry approached Clement VII for an annulment, all the pope could do was agree to a dispensation permitting his remarriage. Clement VII suggested the English courts pass sentence and then after Henry remarried the validity of that union could be proven by Rome. This was not a viable solution for Henry because the legitimacy of the children by this second marriage could be questioned. Clement even tried to persuade Catherine to enter a nunnery, to no avail.

Since none of the pope's suggestions were to Henry's likening, Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio was sent to London to investigate the King's 'great matter' and – if possible – bring the King and Queen back together but he was to make no decision without Rome's consent. In May 1529, the Legatine Court opened. Conflicting biblical teachings were to be argued to either prove or disprove Henry's case.

Catherine only wanted the Pope to pass judgment on the case, because she felt she would not receive a fair hearing in England. She made one dramatic appeal to the King, saying at his feet, "'When ye had me at the first I take to God to be my judge, I was a true maid without the touch of man….'" During this, Henry remained silent and Catherine refused to return to the court. At the end of July 1529, Campeggio halted the proceedings according to the Roman calendar and the court would not meet again.

In 1530, Henry began to think about a way around what could be considered a papal obstacle. How about just denying the Pope's authority and replacing him as head of the Church in England? The same king who had been given the title Defender of the Faith from the Pope for his efforts against Martin Luther, now proposed to set himself as the head of the English Church. In 1531, Henry was recognized as the Supreme Head of the Church of England by the Reformation Parliament.

In the summer of 1531, Catherine was sent away from court. At 48 years old, on April 9, 1533, she was told she was no longer the Queen but only the Princess Dowager, the widow of Prince Arthur.  On January 7, 1536, Catherine, whose motto as Queen had been 'humble and loyal,' passed away with her death celebrated by her former husband and King.

Even after years of studying the life and times of Henry VIII, I am still amazed at how much of his own biography – his own life history – is tied up with that of his wives and family members. We are never truly separate from those in our family.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Minecraft Lego Sets

Minecraft Alex riding a baby pig riding a pig with a saddle

For his 5th birthday, our son received several Minecraft Lego Sets. 

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Early steps of Iron Golem Lego Build

Close up of Iron Golem Lego Build

Iron Golem Minecraft Lego Build

Showing how the Iron Golem Minecraft Build Changes

Pieces of the Minecraft Nether Railway Build

Playing with the Minecraft Lego Nether Railway

Minecraft Railway Nether Lego Build and Magma Cube

Thursday, June 21, 2018

G is for Gettysburg (Blogging through the Alphabet)

PA Monument at Gettysburg

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In this week's Blogging through the Alphabet, I share information about one of my favorite places: Gettysburg. For the sake of this post, I will be writing a brief history of the battle that occurred there. In future posts, I hope to share information about things to do in and around Gettysburg and maybe even detail one soldier's experiences from his enlistment to his death on July 2, 1863.

Robert E. Lee photograph and statute at GettysburgThe Battle of Gettysburg is often seen as the turning point of the American Civil War. The clash at this small northern town took place after a lengthy campaign in June that led to the Confederate's last invasion on northern soil. Prior to the battle, President Lincoln had named George Gordon Meade the head of the Army of the Potomac on June 27, 1863 – replacing General Joseph Hooker.

The Confederate General Robert E. Lee had selected an area west of Gettysburg as where he wished to meet the Federals on the battlefield and he wanted his entire army back together. As often happens in life, plans would change because part of the Confederate Third Corps ran into Federal Calvary troops under John Buford. A full-scale battle ensued and the Confederate troops were joined by General Richard Ewell's Second Corps while the First Corps and the Eleventh Corps of the Union army faced them.

Buford's troops were armed with breech-loading carbines so they were able to fire 20 shots per minute which helped them till additional Union troops could arrive. General John Reynolds' First Corps helped bring the Confederate assault to standstill.

The Federal troops were driven back through the town to the high ground of the south – Cemetery Hill and East Cemetery Hill. Lee, hearing that more of Meade's men would be arriving, wanted to capture Cemetery Hill and pressed Ewell to capture the Hill. Unfortunately, Ewell and his men were in no position to follow through on Lee's orders. The Confederate troops were disorganized and facing Federal snipers who even hit Ewell's wooden leg (he had lost it at the Second Battle of Manassas).

Even though the Union army had put up a great defense, the First Corps lost half of its number to casualties on July 1, 1863. The Iron Brigade, which was known for their black hats and hard-fighting, lost 1,200 out of their 1,800 men on July 1. Another great loss for the Federals occurred on July 1, when – shortly after arriving on the battlefield – General Reynolds was killed by a sharpshooter.

During the night, Meade arrived on the battlefield. So did Confederate General James Longstreet's troops. The Union had a strong defensive position running from Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill towards Cemetery Ridge. The Confederates were parallel to the Union line extending southward down Seminary Ridge.

Statue of Longstreet at GettysburgLee wanted to make an early attack on the 2nd day but Longstreet did not agree that they should. So, Longstreet delayed putting them in position till late afternoon. He was in favor of a defensive positioning like that at Fredericksburg. Longstreet had wanted to take the whole battle to a new position south of Gettysburg but Lee did not want to do this. (Longstreet would be blamed for the loss of the battle due to his failure to move quickly and his disagreement with Lee.)

Longstreet would not have his men ready to move until 4 pm when they were met with a surprise from two divisions of Union Third Corps commanded by General Daniel Sickles. He had moved his men to a new line (in front of the rest of the Union army) without authorization. They were positioned in a peach orchard, wheat field, and an area of boulders known as "Devil's Den." Longstreet's men were blocked but Sickles' men were in great danger.

After 4 pm on July 2, 1863, the Confederates launched their attack toward's Devil's Den and the two rocky hills – Big Round Top and Little Round Top. Fighting continued hand-to-hand among the boulders and soon 500 Alabamians scaled Big Round Top. They soon turned to take Little Round Top, which was key to the entire Union position. If it was taken, then the Confederates would be able to use artillery on the entire Union line.

General Gouverner K. Warren saw the danger and rushed Union troops to defend Little Round Top. The fighting moved up and down the rocky hill but the Federals pushed the Confederates back at bayonet point, maintaining control of the Little Round Top. This was partly due to Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain who found his men lacking in ammunition, he ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge down the hill. The Alabamians surrendered to the men from the 20th Maine.

Little Round Top; Joshua Chamberlain and 20th Maine

While the defense of Little Round top was occurring, Confederates swept through the Wheatfield and Peach Orchard. General Sickles lost his right leg and was unable to rally his troops. The Federals retreated to Cemetery Ridge.

On the evening of July 2, 1863, Meade met with his commanders and asked their opinion about whether they should withdraw, hold, or attack. They all agreed to stay and fight the Confederates. Meade told General John Gibbon – whose division was in the center of the Union line – to be prepared. From the Confederate headquarters, Lee made the decision to strike at the center of Meade's line.

On July 3, 1863, the major assault took place against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. 140 Confederate artillery pieces would be moved into position to fire upon the grove of trees that marked the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. At 1:07 pm two cannons fired, followed by the rest of the Confederate guns. The Union returned their own fire and the sides continued this for nearly two hours. The artillery duel of almost 300 guns could be heard as far away as Pittsburgh.

Finally, the Union fire slowed and stopped as General Henry Hunt wanted the gun tubes to cool to prepare for the Rebel attack that he believed was imminent. Unfortunately for the Confederates, they interpreted this as a sign that the Union artillery had withdrawn.

Pickett's Charge - The High Water Mark at Gettysburg

At this lull in cannon fire, General George Pickett asked Longstreet if he should advance. With an affirmative nod, Pickett ordered his men to advance. 12,000 to 14,000 men would advance across the field to face the Union artillery. The guns on top of Cemetery Hill and Little Round Top took out as many as a dozen Confederate soldiers at a time. This ill-fated attack would become known as Pickett's Charge. It was a complete failure with 7,000 Confederate casualties. Most of the Confederate field officers and many of the brigadier generals were casualties. General Pickett returned to Lee with tears saying, "General Lee, I have no division now." In half an hour, the Army of Northern Virginia – the Confederate Army – was crippled.

Both sides wondered if the Federals would counter-attack. There would be no counter-attack by Meade. He had won the defensive battle. He did not want to lose an offensive one. He would be slow to pursue Lee as the Confederate army retreated back into Maryland because the Union suffered their own great number of casualties. (Meade has been criticized for his lack of counter-attack.)

The casualties were immense:
  • Confederate Casualties: 25,000-28,000 
  • Union Casualties: 20,000-23,000
The significance of the Battle of Gettysburg and then the victory at Vicksburg (July 4, 1863) were just as important. These two events were the turning points of the American Civil War. A national cemetery would be dedicated on November 19, 1863 in Gettysburg and President Lincoln would give one of his most famous speeches on the occasion. To this day, the town of Gettysburg continues to draw people who wish to pay their respect to the fallen soldiers of the Civil War as well as those who wish to learn more about America's past.

Resources and References 

Read about General Lewis Armistead at American Battlefield Trust.

Read more about Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain at the American Battlefield Trust and National Park Service.

Gettysburg National Military Park 

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Reviewing White House Holiday Unit Studies from Silverdale Press LLC

Silverdale Press LLC cover images for Martin Luther King, Jr. and Veterans Day Unit Studies

I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew. 

After doing a little research about the White House Holiday Unit Studies offered by Silverdale Press LLC, I knew that I wanted to review it with our family. As a former high school history teacher, I loved the introduction written by Jill Hummer. I agree wholeheartedly that learning about the history behind the holidays is so important – even for elementary-aged children.

Quote from Jill Hummer

The White House Holiday Unit Studies series "uses the American presidency as a window into the holidays" and provides a great number of primary sources. Your family will be reading and reviewing primary sources like:
  • Speeches (i.e. Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points) 
  • Posters (i.e. Uncle Sam's I Want You poster) 
  • Letters 
  • Photographs (i.e. Korean War Memorial) 
  • Press releases 
There is one set of lessons for grades K-6 and a separate set for grades 7-12 in many of the unit studies. There are some activities that overlap because the lessons work well for a variety of ages. 

Currently there are six White House Holiday Unit Studies: 
  • Labor Day Unit Study
  • Veterans Day Unit Study
  • Thanksgiving Unit Study
  • Christmas Unit Study 
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Unit Study 
  • Valentine's Day Unit Study 

How We Used the White House Holiday Unit Studies 

Our family primarily worked through two of the Unit Studies: Veterans Day Unit Study and Martin Luther King, Jr. Unit Study, while touching upon some of the information in the others. I downloaded the lessons and then uploaded them to our tablet so that I could read and refer to them during our lessons. I also printed out some of the information so that I could more easily share the photographs and information with our children. I read the lessons at lunch or dinnertime while we were all together as a family so we could talk about the information presented. 

Materials to make paper poppy flower pins
The materials needed to create our own Poppy Pins.

Completed paper poppy pins

Food Administration Posters

Veterans Day Unit Study 

The Veterans Day Unit Study has three lessons for each level covering similar topics with age-appropriate information. The materials required are simple – things that most people already have at home. I love that they state: "Our goal is to keep it easy for the parents!" 

Veterans Day Lesson and calendar header for November
We looked at the calendar as we talked about each holiday so we could properly place it during the year.

The lessons that I really enjoyed sharing with our family from this unit study included: 
  • President Woodrow Wilson and the Story of Armistice Day 
  • President Wilson and Food Czar Hoover at War
  • The Story of Dwight Eisenhower and How We Got Veterans Day 
We created a poppy pin, read "In Flanders Field," had a meatless day (where we did not eat any meat during our meals), looked at Food Administration Posters, and talked about how to honor Veterans on Veterans Day. (There is a great list of ideas included in the unit study.) 

Who Veterans are written on a whiteboard.
In addition to writing the poem In Flanders Field on our white board,
I also wrote some key facts from the unit for our children.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Unit Study CoverRosa Parks Craft Martin Luther King, Jr. Unit Study 

There are a total of five lessons with a read aloud portion included in each lesson. The first lesson (title) is divided into Part A (same for grades K-12) and Part B (different for K-6 and 7-12 grades). We started by reading about the home and family of King and learning about discrimination and segregation. The lesson then continued to discuss the life history of King as he attend high school and then college as well touched upon nonviolent resistance, stereotypes, and his marriage to Coretta Scott. 

There are timeline and map activities that can be completed throughout the entire unit study. We focused upon those as well as completing the Rosa Parks Craft to discuss the Montgomery Bus Boycott. We read some of the history presented in the lesson regarding Rosa Parks and talked about why it is not fair to treat people differently just because of the way they look.

What I also like is the inclusion of a video of President Eisenhower speaking about the institution at Little Rock, Arkansas. For grades 7-12, there are also questions included to be answered by your child(ren), as well as a press release from the White House. (Of all the video links – which are from a variety of sources – provided in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Unit Study only three links were 'not found.')

We worked our way through the timeline activity together on the floor. If our children were older, I would have had them write out the the information on the index cards and then create a large timeline on the wall to display while we studied the entire King unit.

Martin Luther King, Jr. timelineMartin Luther King, Jr. Timeline

Labor Day Unit Study 

Labor Day Unit StudyThere are three lessons for K-6 and three for 7-12 grades. I was looking forward to completing Lesson 1: Eleanor Roosevelt and Child Labor with our children so they could learn about how the lives of children have changed over the years. I also love using primary resources. 

There are several photographs with descriptions from the Library of Congress and questions to help guide children to evaluating the primary documents. Unfortunately, it was rather hard for our younger children to understand without the descriptions of the photographs and lots of guiding. As a high school history teacher, I found analyzing photographs was difficult even for my advanced students. The inclusion of this activity is fantastic as having the opportunity to start practicing with younger children will help start their skill-building early. 

What We Like 

We can use these lessons year after year. Each year as our children grow, we will be able to review the information from previous years and eventually move on to the lessons geared towards 7-12 grades with our younger two children. The White House Holiday Unit Studies can grow with our family as our children grow.

What is also great is that you can use these lessons throughout the year as well. We actually studied Veterans Day the weeks prior to Memorial Day. So we were able to discuss how the two holidays were different while still learning about Veterans Day in May. The maps and timeline activities from the Martin Luther King, Jr. unit study are such that you can incorporate the study of the events as they actually occur throughout the year. There is no reason to wait for January, as we worked through the unit in late May and June with little confusion from our children. 

Of the three that we used during the review period, I enjoyed the Veterans Day Unit Study the most (but then again I love studying the world wars and the American Civil War so this comes as no surprise to me). Of the three unit studies that I have read through for future use, I am really looking forward to using the Christmas Unit Study this year with our family!

We Look Forward to Future Lessons 

Valentine's Day Unit Study 

Valentine's Day Unit StudyAs our children get older, I look forward to reading the letters of John and Abigail Adams and Ronald and Nancy Reagan in the Valentine's Day Unit Study. The unit study quotes Nancy Reagan: "I realized how valuable the art and practice of writing letters are..." and I think these are valuable to encourage in our children. Writing letters is something we plan to focus on more this summer. 

As we will be attending a family wedding at the end of June, we will also spend time talking about weddings that were hosted in the White House. I had no idea that there were 17 weddings! Ten for presidential children. What a great opportunity to compare and contrast the various portraits and photographs of White House Weddings.

Thanksgiving Day Unit study Thanksgiving Unit Study 

There are so many great lessons within this unit study – from opportunities to study the history of the Pilgrims to current events (viewing the current pardoning of the turkey by the president) to baking and cooking using Mamie Eisenhower's recipes. I can't wait to try out some of these recipes this year! 

Christmas Unit Study

Christmas Unit Study 

At Christmas time, I am excited to share the history of the Crèche or nativity scene in the White House as we put up our own nativity. Being able to share family traditions is so important to us and these lessons provide one more way to share our own family history as we explore the history of the holidays and the White House. And since our five-year-old has started to bake cookies with me, being able to use a recipe from the White House is a thrilling idea!  

I highly recommend the White House Holiday Unit Studies from Silverdale Press LLC for families who wish to know more about the history and background of holidays in America. We look forward to using these unit studies year after year!

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To read more reviews for the White House Holiday Unit Studies or read reviews about the language arts curriculum Creative Writing and Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers for grades 9-12.