The Reformation

The reformation began in 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg chapel in Germany. In these 95 theses, Luther protested the sale of indulgences (slips of paper that would forgive all sins and grant someone a free passage into heaven). He had hoped that the church would take this into consideration and attempt reform, but instead he was summoned to the Diet of Worms and excommunicated in 1521. Meanwhile, the Swiss reformation was beginning with the sermons of Ulrich Zwingli in 1519, and Zwingli’s teachings were very similar to Luther’s. Another reformer, named John Calvin, who had spent the last decade in exile as he wrote  “Institutes of the Christian Religion”, was invited to settle in Geneva in 1541 and put his reformed doctrine into practice. This changed Geneva and transformed it into a theocratic regime of enforced morality. Calvin’s doctrines spread into Scotland, France, Transylvania and the low countries, where Calvinism became a religious and economic force for the next 400 years. The English reformation began with Henry VIII’s search for a male heir.  Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could remarry. Henry decided in 1534 that he should be the final authority in matters relating to the church. He dissolved England’s monasteries in order to confiscate their money, and worked to make the bible available to everyone. From 1536 onward, all parishes were required to have a copy of the bible. After Henry died, England leaned toward Calvinist protestantism under King Edward, then toward reactionary Catholicism under Mary I. in 1559, Elizabeth I became queen and made the church of England a kind of middle way between Calvinism and Catholicism. The Catholic church responded slowly to the reformation. The council of Trent met on and off from 1545-1563, and expressed the church’s answers to the problems that had triggered the reformation. During the counter-reformation era, the Catholic church became more spiritual, literate, and educated. With the reformation and counter-reformation came long-lasting religious and political changes. Northern Europe’s religious and political freedoms came with decades of war, rebellion, and persecution. The thirty years war may even have cost Germany 40% of it’s population. However, the reformation’s positive effects are seen in the intellectual and cultural advancements on both sides of the schism. 📝

Semester report

This is my semester report for English. I will be listing and talking about the things I have learned so far in the course. First, I would like to talk about parts of plot. Then genres, the fundamental parts of fiction, and a few words about different writing styles. Finally I will add something about vocabulary that I have learned.


The five parts of plot are the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. The exposition is the introduction to the story. You meet the characters and learn a bit about them and their backstories. In the rising action, the plot begins to develop and the conflict is explained in detail. The climax is the most exciting point in the book. During the climax, the action will be at it’s highest point and the conflict will be mostly resolved. The falling action is when most loose ends are tied up and everything is explained. The resolution is the ending and wraps up everything that has happened.


The different genres of literature include comedy, mystery, fantasy, fiction, nonfiction, horror, and romance novels. Comedy is meant to entertain and make people laugh. Mystery usually features a detective of some kind as the main character, and this detective will discover clues and solve the case. This type of literature is often written as if you were right beside the detective, solving crime with them, and gives the reader a chance to figure out the ending before the main character. Fantasy features magical or supernatural elements. Fiction is a widespread genre of literature containing many sub-genres. It is simply a made up story. It can have some elements of truth to it, and can be realistic. Nonfiction is something that has been proven to be true. Some examples include books about history, science, biographies, and autobiographies.

Horror is meant to scare the reader. There is some kind of danger, either a monster, a person, or an event that threatens the main character and those around them. Romance novels focus on the romantic relationship between two characters. They will usually have an optimistic ending.

Fundamental parts of fiction

Setting, plot, theme, style, and character are the fundamental parts of fiction. Setting is the time and place in which a story occurs. For example, a story could take place in England, in the year 1985, or in Australia, in the year 2040. The setting isn’t just the time period, but also the place, since different societies develop at different speeds. The plot is the sequence of events in a story. Theme is the central topic in a story, which the author can use to express certain points. Style is the way that an author writes and the techniques that they use. Every writer’s style is different. A character is a person or other being in the story.

A word about author’s style

Different authors specialize in different genres. They may write in several different genres, and every author has a unique style. One may be very dramatic in the way they write their story, while another may have a calmer and mellower tone. One may use morals to convey points in a story, while another may not use morals at all in their stories. Every author’s writing style is different, and unique to them.


Cunning: having or showing skill in achieving one’s ends by deceit or evasion.

Conflict: tension or angst that rises in a story due to disputes or disagreements among the characters, or the situations they are in.

Denouement: The point in the story after the conflict is resolved.

Prose: written or spoken language in its ordinary form, without metrical structure.

Visualization: using the setting and sensory details to create a picture in your mind of what is happening in the story.

Milieu: a person’s social environment.

Tone: the way or attitude in which a story is told.

Juxtaposition: the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.

Characterization: the way an author presents the characters in a story.

Dialogue: the spoken words of two or more characters in a story.

Protagonist: The central character in a narrative, the character through whom the lesson of the story is learned.

Antagonist: a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something; an adversary.


I listed the five parts of plot, with a definition of each. I then wrote about the different genres of literature, and explained each one. I also listed the fundamental parts of fiction, wrote a little bit about author’s style, and added some of the vocabulary words that I have learned this year, with definitions for each word. Kitty out!

Nicolaus copernicus

Nicolaus copernicus was born february 19, 1473. He was the fourth and youngest child in his family. When nicolaus was ten, his father died, and his uncle took care of him. Copernicus started the university of cracow in 1491, studying painting and mathematics. He did not study astronomy at that time, but he became interested in it and collected books on astronomy. Nicolaus graduated from cracow in 1494, and returned to torun. There, he took a canon’s position, usually only available to priests, and held the position for the rest of his life. In 1496, copernicus took leave and went to italy, enrolling in a religious law program at the university of bologna. It was here that Nicolaus met Domenico Maria Novara, an astronomer. The two exchanged theories and observations, and became good friends. In 1500, after completing law school, nicolaus studied practical medicine at the university of padua. However, He didn’t stay long enough to earn a degree because his leave of absence from his canon position was about to expire. In 1503, he attended the university of ferrara, where he took the canon law exam and passed it on his first try. He then returned to poland, resuming his position as canon and living with his uncle at a nearby episcopal residence. Nicolaus remained there, working and caring for his uncle, who had grown old and sick. By 1508, he had begun work on his own celestial model. His model was based on a heliocentric, or sun centered planetary system. His theory that the earth revolves around the sun was revolutionary, and met with quite a bit of controversy. In 1510, he moved to a residence at Frombork cathedral chapter to clear some time to study astronomy. He lived there as a canon for the rest of his life. In about 1514, copernicus completed commentariolus (latin for small commentary), his first written work. Commentariolus was a 40 page manuscript, which Nicolaus referred to as “Sketch of Hypothesis Made by Nicolaus Copernicus on the Heavenly Motions”. It contained a summary of the heliocentric planetary system, and proof to back it up. The sketch had seven points: 1) planets do not revolve around one fixed point. 2) the earth is at the center of the moon’s orbit. 3) The sun is at the center of the universe, and all celestial bodies rotate around it. 4) The distance between the earth and sun is only a tiny fraction of stars’ distance from the earth and sun. 5) Stars do not move, and if they appear to, it is only because the earth itself is moving. 6) Earth moves in a sphere around the sun, causing the sun’s yearly movement. 7) Earth’s orbit around the sun causes the planets to orbit in the opposite direction. Copernicus sent his manuscript to several friends and contemporaries, and although his work sparked very little enthusiasm among his friends, he became more well known as a buzz built around him and his unconventional theories. The church opposed his theory, saying that it was heretical because it contradicted the teachings of the church. Copernicus’s second book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (Latin for On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), was published in 1543, just before copernicus’s death, raising more controversy. Martin Luther voiced his opposition to copernicus’s theory, and lutheran minister Andreas Osiander backed him up. Osiander even wrote a disclaimer in the preface of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium stating that it was theory, not proven fact. Copernicus was ill at this time, and could not defend his work. The church banned De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, and it remained forbidden for almost three centuries after. In may of 1543, mathematician and scholar Georg Joachim Rheticus gave Copernicus a copy of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, and copernicus is said to have been holding the book when he died on May 24, 1543. In the 17th century, when the ban on De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was finally lifted, german astronomer Johannes Kepler revealed that the preface had, in fact, been written by Osiander, not Copernicus.

The Fall of Constantinople

📝In 1451, when Mehmed rose to the throne of the Ottoman Empire, he prepared to topple Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. He already owned a fortress on the asian side of the Bosporus, and built another one on the European side, naming it Rumeli Hisari. This gave Mehmed control over the Cosporus, cutting off Constantinople’s access to the Back Sea and barring any help that may have arrived. Growing concerned over the Ottoman threat, Constantine XI requested help from pope Nicholas V. Nicholas agreed to find help in the west, but many of these western nations had their own struggles and could not spare men or money. However, some smaller groups of soldiers came to fight with Constantinople. Constantine ordered most of his men to defend the Theodosian walls, as he did not have enough troops to defend the entire city. He also had a chain placed across the mouth of the harbor to prevent attacks on the Golden Horn walls. Mehmed approached Constantinople with 80,000-120,000 men, as well as a fleet of ships, a large cannon, and a few smaller guns. Parts of Mehmed’s army moved through the Byzantine region and captured minor outposts, while Mehmed continued his attack on Constantinople. He assaulted the Theodosian walls with his cannon, but because it took three hours to reload, the Byzantines were able to repair any damage done to walls.
Suleiman Baltoghlu led a fleet in the water, but was unable to get past the chain and attack the Golden Horn. Mehmed was determined to get his fleet into Golden Horn, and had several ships rolled across Galata on greased logs. These ships were then refloated behind the chain, in the Golden Horn. Constantine ordered that fire ships be used to attack the ottomans, but the Ottomans defeated the attempt. Since the initial attacks on the Theodosian walls failed, Mehmed had his men dig tunnels to mine underneath the walls. Byzantine engineer Johannes Grant anticipated this and led a countermining effort. He intercepted the first Ottoman mine on May 18, and defeated others on May 21 and 23. Two Ottoman officers were captured on may 23, and were tortured until they revealed the locations of the rest of the mines, which were defeated on may 25. In spite of Grant’s victory, Constantinople received word that Venice was not going to send help, lowering morale. In addition to this, a series of omens, including a thick, unexpected fog appearing on May 26, convinced many that they would be defeated. The population believed that the fog hid the holy spirit as it left the Hagia Sofia, and prepared for the worst. Meanwhile Mehmed was upset by his lack of progress, and called a council of war on may 26. After meeting with his commanders, he decided to launch an attack on the night of may 28/29 after a day of rest and prayer. Just before midnight on may 28, Mehmed sent a small segment of his army forward to tire and kill as many Byzantines as possible. An attack against the Blachernae walls followed, where the Ottomans were able to break through but were quickly counterattacked. Mehmed’s elite Janissaries attacked but were held back by Byzantine forces under Giustiniani. The Byzantines held on until Giustiniani was badly injured. As the commander was brought to the rear, the defense fell apart. Constantine defended the walls in Lycus Valley to the south, but his position began to collapse when the Ottomans discovered that the Kerkoporta gate to the north had been left open. The ottomans entered the city and opened additional gates, Constantine believed to have been killed in a last, desperate attack against the Ottomans. Mehmed assigned men to key buildings, and let his soldiers plunder Constantinople for three days. Although it is not known exactly how many losses there were to the Ottomans, it is believed that the Byzantines lost around 4,000 men.📝

Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci grew up in his father’s home in Vinci. He had access to scholarly texts owned by family and friends, and was exposed to Vinci’s longstanding tradition of painting. When he was fifteen he was apprenticed to Andrea del Verrocchio, and showed extreme talent. He painted an angel in his master’s “baptism of christ”, and it was so much better than his master’s that Verrocchio decided to never paint again. Leonardo stayed in his master’s workshop until 1477, when he set up his own. Searching for money and new challenges, he entered the service of the duke of milan in 1482 and abandoned his first commissioned work, “the adoration of the magi”. The duke had leonardo working on painting and sculpting, as well as designing weapons, buildings, and machinery. From 1485 to 1490, leonardo produced studies on nature, flying machines, geometry, mechanics, municipal construction, canals, architecture and more. He created designs for a tank and other war vehicles, weapons and combat devices, a submarine, etc. Unfortunately, because leonardo’s interests were so varied, he hardly ever finished his works. During the total of 17 years he spent in milan, he only completed six paintings and spent most of his time studying science. Between 1490 and 1495, he developed a habit of recording his studies in carefully illustrated notebooks. His work was focused on four main themes; painting, architecture, the elements of mechanics, and human anatomy. After the invasion of the french and the duke’s fall from power in 1499, leonardo left milan to search for a new employer. He traveled Italy for 16 years, working for a number of men including cesare borgia. He traveled with borgia’s army for a year as a military engineer. In about 1503, Leonardo began work on the “Mona Lisa”. In 1504, he received news that his father had died. Because of his half siblings, however, he was left without any inheritance. An uncle’s death soon after also caused a fight over inheritance, but Leonardo gained his uncle’s land and money. From 1513 to 1516, he worked in rome, and undertook a variety of projects for the pope. He continued his studies of human anatomy and physiology, but unfortunately for him, the pope refused to let him dissect cadavers. After the death of Leonardo’s employer, Giuliano de Medici, in 1516, he was offered the title of Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect of the King by Francis I of france, an offer which he accepted. Leonardo suffered from paralysis of the right hand, but was still able to draw and teach. He produced studies of cats, dogs, dragons, St. George, anatomy, the nature of water, drawings of the deluge, and various machines. Leonardo da Vinci died May 2, 1519, `in cloux france.


Michelangelo Buonarroti was born on March 6, 1475, in Caprese, Italy. His family had worked as bankers in florence for several generations, and his father held government positions at times. When Michelangelo was born, his father was working as a government agent in Caprese and his mother was in bad health. His care was entrusted to the wife of a stonecutter who lived in settignano. His mother died when he was six years old. Michelangelo was drawn to the arts from a young age, but his father believed that it was below their social status and discouraged him. Michelangelo’s father sent him to the school of the master linguist, Francesco Galeota, to prepare his son for a business career. However, Michelangelo was uninterested in his studies. In 1488, when he was 13, Michelangelo pursued his interest in art and became an apprentice at Domenico Ghirlandaio. Michelangelo left his Domenico after one year and accepted an invitation to be apprentice to Lorenzo de Medici, retired sculptor and ruler of Florence. He studied sculpture and anatomy at the school in the medici gardens, and learned about important scientists and poets. Although Michelangelo often disagreed with their ideas due to his religious beliefs, he was intrigued by these great men. Lorenzo de Medici died in 1492, and the medici family lost their power. Because of this, Michelangelo made the decision to return to florence for a short while before moving to rome. It was there that Michelangelo carved his Pieta. In 1501, Michelangelo returned to florence, and was commissioned to carve a sculpture of the biblical hero “David” for the Florence Cathedral. Seven years later, Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the sistine chapel. Michelangelo was great in poetry, sculpture, painting, and architecture, and died on February 18, 1564.

William Wallace

📝William Wallace was born in 1270, in Scotland. When William was a young man, King Alexander of Scotland died and John Balliol was chosen as a replacement. King Edward of England pressured Balliol into giving up the throne, and took over in 1296. The Scots did not consider Edward to be their rightful king, however, and a rebellion was raised by none other than William Wallace. He and his band of 30 or so men burned a town called Lanark and killed its English sheriff in 1297, and on September 11 of the same year Wallace was confronted by the earl of Surrey at Stirling bridge. Although Wallace’s army was outnumbered, they were able to win by killing the English as they crossed the bridge. Wallace soon gained Stirling castle, and in October he and his men invaded northern England and attacked Northumberland and Cumberland. William returned to Scotland and was knighted in December, and made guardian of the kingdom. Edward, who had been campaigning in france, returned to England in March 1298, and invaded Scotland on March 3. On July 22 Wallace was defeated, and although Scotland still refused to give in to Edward, Wallace’s reputation was crushed. He resigned his position as guardian, and there are no records of his activities for over 4 years. Most of the Scottish nobles submitted to edward in 1304, but the English still chased after William Wallace. He was eventually arrested near Glasgow, and was accused of being a traitor to Edward, although he never actually pledged allegiance to the English usurper. He was executed in London in 1305. 📝

Marco Polo

Marco Polo was born in 1254, while his father, Niccolo Polo, and his uncle, Matteo Polo, who were both Venetian merchants, were away trading goods. They were taken prisoner for three years after going through a war zone, then set free by soldiers of Kublai Khan in 1260. The soldiers convinced them to visit the mongol empire, and they arrived at the mongol capital by 1265. They told Kublai Khan all about their religion and culture, and returned to Venice after being asked by Khan to bring back some holy oil from jerusalem, as well as 100 missionaries to help convert the mongols to christianity. Upon arriving at Venice, Niccolo found out that his wife had died. His 15 year old son, Marco Polo, was now in his care. In 1271, Niccolo, Matteo, and Marco left for China to bring the items Kublai Khan had requested. They arrived in 1275, and were treated like royalty. Khan took a liking to Marco, and gave him several high ranking positions such as governor of the city of yangzhou. Despite enjoying their visits to China, the Polos wanted to leave because they were afraid that if another Khan came into power, they might be forced to stay. At first, Kublai refused to let them go. However, an arrangement was worked out and the Polos were allowed to leave the empire after escorting a princess to marry a Persian king. of the 600 passengers who set out for Persia, it is said that only 18 lived. The princess survived, but her fiancee died. So, she married his son instead. When the Polos arrived at Venice, there was a war in progress with the city-state Genoa. Marco enlisted to fight, but was captured in 1298 and imprisoned. During the two years he spent in the prison, he told a fellow prisoner named Rustichello about his travels. Rustichello wrote down the stories Marco told, and when they were freed Marco got his book published as “The Travels of Marco Polo”. He exaggerates details, and some believe the entire book is made up of lies. Marco Polo was a great influence on Christopher Columbus, who even owned a copy of Marco’s book. In 1324, soon before his death, Marco Polo was asked to take back what he had written, and he responded by saying that he had not even told half of all that he had seen.


When the Normans gained control of medieval England, the English people were unhappy

to have foreign rulers. The Normans built castles in order to protect themselves and

control their people. A typical medieval castle structure was made up of a motte, a bailey, a

keep, a curtain wall, and a gatehouse. Some, but not all castles had moats.

Here is a list of what each part of the structure does:

Motte: A large mound of earth with a flat top. A keep would typically be built on top of the


Bailey: An enclosed courtyard surrounded by a wooden fence and containing a number of

buildings. It was connected to the motte with a bridge, and was the center of the castle’s

economic activity.

Keep: A large tower which was often the most strongly defended part of the castle. The lord

or his guests usually used it as a residence.

Curtain wall: Defensive walls surrounding a bailey. They needed to be high enough that

scaling the walls would be difficult, and thick enough that they could not be broken with

siege engines. These walls sometimes had walkways on top so that the defenders could

attack the enemy.

Gatehouse: Towers added to either side of the castle entrance. This allowed the inhabitants

of the castle to control who came and went.

Moat: A large defensive ditch with steep sides. It could be dry or filled with water,

surrounded the castle, and made it more difficult for the enemy to get devices like

battering rams to the walls.

In conclusion, castles were usually very secure, and helped the Normans keep control of


Viking Culture

The Vikings were a Germanic tribe originally from Scandinavia. Although they are often

thought of as always being barbarians, and being very sloppy and rude, they were in fact

very civilized people. They had their own alphabet, and would erect runestones to

commemorate important events. These runestones were large rocks with the name of

whoever erected them, the event they were erected for, and the relation between whoever

erected them and the event. Vikings ate a wide variety of foods, including, seafood, nuts,

berries, vegetables, and different kinds of meat. The Vikings enjoyed sports, and would

partake in wrestling, stone lifting, spear throwing, swimming, mountain climbing, and

hunting. They also had some board and dice games that were played, and in some cases

money may have been involved. Music was considered art, and Vikings would play harps,

fiddles, lutes, and lyres. The Vikings had a trade system, and would trade amber, fur, cloth,

down, and slaves for things like silk, spices, glass, and wine. A common misconception

about Vikings is that they wore horned helmets in battle, however not many have been

found and it is likely that they were a status symbol.

Happy Halloween!!!

Happy Halloween,

As I stare at my screen,

I hear a voice, but when I turn there’s no one there,

I walk into the other room, and a glass moves on it’s own.

the lights flicker, and go out,

a ghostly figure appears, oh wait that’s the cat,

thunder booms, lightning cracks,

Maybe it was just the storm?

I walk back to my chair and try to stay calm,