The webquest is based on a constructionist approach to teaching and learning. We created podcast lectures, links and guiding questions, but allowed students to explore and play while working. Each student then created blogs to describe the life they "are living" as a person during the middle ages. The following are examples of their reflections and growth.
A "Knight" on his "Castle" being attacked: his real age 12.
I was woken up at dawn by my squire. He told me that the king had ordered all of his knights to report to his castle. I packed up my things, suited up, and me and my squire were off. We left at midmorning and reached there by evening. The king had ordered a meeting with all of his top officials and knights.
"Welcome my loyal servants. You may be wondering why I have ordered you to come here. Recently, my guards have caught a spy from our neighboring kingdom. After putting the spy through rat torture-" a few despicable men snickered here, "we have found out that they are planning an attack on us within the next three days. Now we must prepare ourselves for war."
The next two days, I was ordering around soldiers and preparing for battle. The weapons were sharpened, the greek fire prepared, and the water was boiled. Finally, they came.
It was midmorning when they arrived. My squire quickly dressed me in armor, and we went to the king. He ordered each of the knights to a different part of the castle. I was on the northern wing, the side that would be attacked first. I was in charge of the archers.
I saw the enemies marching forward. The trebuchets loomed in the distance. Our men stood tense.
As the soldiers marched closer to us, the king and his advisors rode out to meet the enemy king. After a half an hour or so, they rode back. The red flag was raised, meaning we were still going to fight.
The attacking generals rode in front of their men. All of a sudden, they turned and charged. I saw one of my men flinch.
"Hold steady, men!" I yelled.
"Hold," I screamed as they got closer. One of my men accidentally loosed an arrow.
"FFFIIIRRRREEEEEE!!!!" The arrows blackened out the sky. The oncoming men fell by the hundreds.
To counter, the enemies unleashed a deadly array of fiery stone. The stones pounded our walls, but they held fast.
"FFFIIIRRRREEEEE!!!!" I yelled once more. The next series of arrows was unleashed.
The enemies had now begun to climb up their ladders.
"GRAB YOUR WEAPONS!". All the men took out their swords and spears. As the men came up, we chopped them down. Some of the ladders were covered in Greek fire. We pushed down the remaining ladders after that.
Next came the siege towers. My men were pegged down from behind protective walls. Finally, we were able to take them out.
I look at the trebuchets. One of them fired. I watched the stone sail through the air. It hit a large hole where an arrow slit had been before. I watched in horror as the wall crumpled.
The oncoming soldiers cheered, sensing victory was near. Then I had a brilliant idea.
I led my remaining men to one of the tunnels.
I yelled, "Protect the king!"
My men and I ran into the tunnel. We took a secret passage that led to a tower. The enemies thought that the king was there, and had kept going down the tunnel.
I listened to their screams as they were burned by the Greek fire thrown down by the men up top. They were trapped in a fake passage. Then my men and I came out and finished them off.
After the battle was finished, I was personally thanked by the king. Then I went back to my nice manor, and rested.
On the Crusade: another Knight heads off,
I rode into the king's palace. I was immediately greeted by two servants, who washed and dressed me. Next, I was led to the king's quarters, where he had called a meeting of all of his knights and nobles.
"My loyal servants, I fear that another war is upon us. Our new pope, Pope Gregory VIII, has begun a new crusade, and has asked for our allegiance. Seeing as how we are all children of God, we have no choice, but to join the Third Crusade."
All of the knights and nobles jumped up and started shouting at the same time. An uproar went up.
"Silence!" yelled the king. "Being my loyal subjects, you all have no choice but to join me on this crusade."
That quieted all the squabbling men.
"What if we refuse to go," one man yelled.
"Then your head shall be chopped off, and you will set an example to any others who dare disobey me."
I rode back to my manor as fast as I could. I had a week to gather all my forces, and meet the rest of the army at the capital. For the next week, I gathered my armies. Every man strong enough was put in the army. Only the women and children were left.
We rode down to the shore, where we boarded the ships and sailed off. There were rumors that King Richard, a good and well respected king, was leading the crusades. This raised the morale of some, but by the end of the voyage, morale was rock bottom.
The voyage was treacherous. Men were dying, throwing themselves overboard, starving, and killing each other. At one point, we even had to drink the blood of our horses, who were dying every day. By the time we reached the Holy Lands, almost half of the men were dead.
There we joined with the rest of our forces.
For the next several weeks, we slowly forced our way towards Jerusalem. After capturing the city of Acre, King Richard decided to go south to the city of Jaffa.
* * *
The scouts sprinted as fast as they could. I saw them run by, heading straight for the king's tent. Within five minutes, the alarm was sounded, meaning we were about to do battle. We all rushed to get suited. Nobody knew what was happening, and some were panicking. I saw one praying, and another just staring at the cross around his neck.
After getting suited, I ran over to the king's tent. I rushed in.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"Saladin is just over the horizon. We must prepare for battle."
As I walked out, I saw a knight in shining armor not 50 meters away. Immediately, I knew that was King Richard. He had a group of twenty other knights guarding him. King Richard was supposedly a ferocious warrior, and a brilliant military leader. This was the first time I had actually seen him. He seemed to cast off some sort of aura. All of a sudden I was filled with strength and courage.
* * *
I looked out across the large field. Not 150 meters away stood the Muslim armies, my hated enemies. Behind, hidden behing the walls of Arsuf were all of the archers, waiting to shoot us down.
I saw King Richard ride out to greet Saladin. After five or so minutes, they each rode back to their armies. I tried to steady my heartbeat. I took a deep breath. My horse neighed softly underneath me. I tried to calm it down.
The flag was raised, the signal given, and all the knights began slowly walking towards the enemies. The rest of the men walked behind us for protection.
"Hold your formation! Steady, steady," someone yelled.
We began to gallop, slowly getting faster and faster.
We sprinted towards the enemy. They loosed their arrows and raised their spears. A few men fell, but most were unharmed. We slammed into the enemy. I was jolted out of my seat, and thrown into the enemy. One of the men had stabbed my horse.
I was so enraged that I took out my sword and began picking off everyone around me. I took them all out, the men that had killed my horse. I was in such a rage.
I ran over to my horse, who neighed softly at the site of me. A long spear pierced its breast.
I barely dodged the sword. I kicked the legs out from under the enemy, and then finished him off.
It was a long and hard battle, but because King Richard was able to maintain our formation, we were able to defeat Saladin. The final blow was struck by the Hospitallers, who took the right flank, while the Templars took the left.
* * *
We continued to battle toward Jerusalem, but alas, we failed to capture it. King Richard and Saladin signed a treaty that would allow Christian pilgrims to enter the city, but it would stay under Muslim rule.
The voyage home was possibly more treacherous then the one going to the Holy Lands.
But I was still happy, because I was finally going home.
Or this Voki from the Crusades...She also wrote a long blog about the trip.