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Bill of Rights simplified – US Constitution

By | 2017-08-11T22:15:11+00:00 August 11th, 2017|Government, North America|

The United States Bill of Rights After the leaders of the new United States wrote the Constitution, they had to get the thirteen states to agree to it. Some of the states didn't want to agree unless they could add some specific rights for individual people. So in 1791 the United States added ten new rights to the [...]

Native American government

By | 2017-08-08T13:17:24+00:00 August 8th, 2017|Government, Native American|

A Mandan village in 1832 In the Paleo-Indian period, everyone in North America lived in small bands, usually just your family and maybe one or two other families - not more than ten to fifteen people. Most of the time, those were the only people you saw, and your mom, or your uncle or grandpa or [...]

English Bill of Rights – European government

By | 2017-08-04T22:29:43+00:00 August 4th, 2017|Government, Modern Europe|

Beginning of the Bill of Rights Ever since King John agreed to the Magna Carta in England in 1215 AD, people in England had agreed that the king or queen couldn't just do whatever they wanted. Even the king had to obey the law. By the late 1600s, though, when William and Mary were ruling England, the rich lords who [...]

What is the Magna Carta?

By | 2017-08-01T15:29:36+00:00 August 1st, 2017|Government, History, Medieval|

The Magna Carta Since the time of Edward the Confessor in the 1000s AD, the kings of England had been getting more and more powerful. That was pretty much okay as long as the kings were good kings, like William the Conqueror or Henry II. But when King Richard died in 1199, his younger brother John became king, and John was [...]

Medieval government – Europe

By | 2017-08-01T11:57:11+00:00 August 1st, 2017|Government, Medieval|

Palazzo Vecchio, where Florence's government met (Florence, Italy, 1200s AD) In the Middle Ages, Europe was divided into many different states. Each state had its own system of government. Some of these, like Denmark, Spain, France or England, were monarchies, and had kings or caliphs to rule them. There were also two empires: the Eastern Roman Empire in Eastern Europe and the Holy Roman [...]

What is feudalism? Definitions…

By | 2017-08-01T11:54:24+00:00 August 1st, 2017|Government, Medieval|

Harold swears an oath to William (Bayeux Tapestry, about 1077 AD) Feudalism is a way to govern a large state when the king is poor and not very powerful, and when there aren't good roads so it is hard to communicate with people who live far away at the other end of your kingdom. The king divided [...]

Medieval Islamic government

By | 2017-07-23T17:38:00+00:00 July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Government, Islam, West Asia|

The Umayyad caliph Muawiya From the beginning, the Islamic Empire was a monarchy like the Roman Empire or the Sassanian Empire before it. One man ruled the Islamic Empire.  In the beginning, people called this man a caliph (KAY-liff), and his assistant was a vizier (vizz-EER). Those were Arabic words for leaders and their assistants. Under them were governors for each province of [...]

Ancient Indian government

By | 2017-07-20T10:01:15+00:00 July 20th, 2017|Government, India|

Sanchi Stupa Northern Gateway (ca. 50 BC) Nobody knows what Indian government was like in the Harappan period. Probably they had a king over each city, the way West Asia did at this time. Probably they had some queens, the way Egypt did. But about 1500 BC, there was an Indo-European invasion. Sometime after that, the government seems to have divided [...]

Tyrant Game – Ancient Greece activity

By | 2017-07-07T15:29:57+00:00 July 7th, 2017|Government, Greeks|

Harmodius and Aristogeiton To understand more about tyranny, play a game with a group of kids (about 25 is perfect) where you decide whether to have a tyrant, and who should be the tyrant. Most of the kids (all but five) will be ordinary people - men and women, mostly farmers. About half [...]

Thebes – a city in ancient Greece

By | 2017-07-07T01:09:59+00:00 July 7th, 2017|Government, Greeks, History|

Thebes bell in the shape of a person, 700 BC (Louvre Museum, Paris) In Greek mythology, Thebes was where Oedipus lived with his mother-wife Jocasta. It was where Oedipus' daughter Antigone died, and where Dionysos drove Pentheus mad. In Thebes, Niobe boasted about her children, and Medea killed her children. The Athenians (who we get [...]