Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz won the Newbery Medal in 2008, and deservedly so. Schlitz created monologues students could perform that realistically depict the lives of children—from the runaway villain, to the village half-wit, to the Lord’s daughter. This is no sanitized depiction but one full of the pathos of real human voices speaking across the centuries.

The story of the maiden soldier, Joan of Arc, is one of history’s remarkable enigmas, in which an illiterate peasant girl leads the army of France to victory during the Hundred Years War between England and France. Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is the undisputed classic for high school students. In The Story of Joan of Arc, the French artist/author, Maurice Boutet de Monvel, has created a lavish and moving panorama of scenes from a life both tragic and sublime.

Though this brief article cannot do justice to the wealth of literary gems available for this period, students fortunate enough to have the opportunity to read even a handful of these timeless works will find, in the words of Matthew Arnold, “instruction and delight.”

Rea Berg has homeschooled for twenty-five years and loves organic gardening, travel to historic sites, nineteenth-century literature, and dance. Rea has a B.A. in English from Simmons College and a graduate degree in children’s literature. She and her daughter Rebecca have authored a study guide for Medieval History Through Literature. With her husband, she owns Beautiful Feet Books (www.bfbooks.com) and can be emailed at rea@bfbooks.com. She blogs on children’s literature at: reaberg.wordpress.com.

Endnote:

1. Hanawalt, Barbara. A., The Middle Ages: An Illustrated History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. p. 7.

 

 

Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse®Magazine, Summer 2011.

 

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