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I'm Mr. Olivey and I'm really excited to be teaching you for the next four lessons about the power of the pope in Mediaeval Europe.

Before we get started, I do need you to do a few things.

First, can you make sure you get a pen and a pencil or pen and a pencil, and some paper so that you can write things down at various points in the lesson.

The second thing I'd like you to do is just try and find a relatively quiet space with few distractions so you can really focus on the work we're going to do today.

Okay? Now you've done that, I'm going to ave some water.

That was refreshing.

Right, let's get started and let's learn some history.

So this lesson, we're going to learn about the story of two men: Charlemagne and Leo III because their story will help us answer our big inquiry question, which is how powerful was the pope? The first thing I'd like you to do is look very carefully at this picture.

Now, we're going to come back to it later in the lesson and you'll understand it better then but for now, just think about these three questions.

Who is this? How important does he look? And what might he be doing? Okay.

Well done to those of you who guessed that it might be Leo III, who was actually a pope.

Some of you might have been able to tell that because he's wearing a hat that you would associate with a member of the church, a bishop or pope.

And some of you have might have been able to work that he's doing something that looks like making someone a king.

Now, just based on this picture, we would get the impression that Pope Leo III was very powerful because he is the person that is getting to put the crown on the head of someone who is bowing down before him.

And if you assumed that, you would pretty much be right.

Because in the Middle Ages, the pope led the Christian church from Rome.

And he could pass laws called papal bulls that everyone had to follow.

He was seen by many people as God's representative on Earth.

And in theory, he should have been the most powerful man on Earth.

So just pause the video now and based on everything we've looked at so far, have a go at just writing a few sentences about how powerful was the pope? Okay, good.

You will have probably noted down something like the pope was incredibly powerful 'cause he could pass laws everyone had to obey.

He was seen as God's representative on Earth and you would be absolutely right to do that.

However, the story of Leo and Charlemagne is a little bit more complicated than that.

Because Pope Leo III was attacked in 799.

And Leo III was not a popular pope.

One morning in 799, he was attacked by several armed men.

These men hated Leo.

They tried to tear out his tongue so he could not speak and his eyes so he could not see.

At the last minute, Leo was rescued by men who worked for a powerful European king.

They saved his life and took him to Germany.

Now, here's just a bit of a timeline so we know when this happened.

So this happened in the year 799, which is about 300 years after the fall of the Roman Empire, at least in the western half of the Roman Empire.

And it's about 12,000 years before today.

So a very long time ago.

So can you just now add to your answer about how powerful was the pope, based on the fact that Leo III was attacked in his own city in Rome and had to be rescued.

So add a sentence to that answer and pause the video now.

Okay, good.

You're right if you've said that Pope Leo maybe was not as powerful as he would have first seemed because he was under threat from attacks.

Now, Pope Leo III was rescued by Charlemagne, who was a very important European king.

And Charlemagne and Pope Leo III's story is fascinating.

But to be able to understand that story, we first need to answer this question of who was Charlemagne? So put that down as a little sort of subheading on your piece of paper.

And listen very carefully to the rest of the story.

Now, Charlemagne ruled from 768 to 814.

And he was a clever leader and a good warrior.

And he modelled himself on kings from the Bible like King David.

So he was at once a warrior king and a Christian king.

You can see that in this portrait here that's much later, where he's shown to be both holding a sword and an orb with a cross on it.

So he's got military power and religious power.

Now, look at this map of Europe at the time of Charlemagne's death in 1814.

Do you notice anything different to how the map of Europe would look today? Charlemagne built, in the middle of Europe, a large Frankish empire that included bits of France, Italy, and Germany and the Netherlands.

Just pause the video now and note down how different this map of Europe in 814 looks to maps of Europe today.

Okay, good.

You might have spotted that some of the countries are missing.

So Scotland and Wales aren't labelled on this map.

Portugal's not labelled on there.

Italy is split up between lots of different empires.

We don't have Germany labelled on the map.

We don't have Norway.

All kind of modern countries just didn't exist in the way that they do now in 814.

And Europe was full of these large empires.

One of which was ruled by Charlemagne.

Now, Charlemagne was a Christian king and he had coins made with his face on one side, and Jesus on the other.

And he built hundreds of beautiful churches and cathedrals like this Palace of Aachen, which is in modern-day Germany and you can still go and see today and it's really beautiful.

It's survived for over 1,000 years.

Charlemagne was also a very violent king.

Charlemagne used warfare to control and grow his huge empire in Europe.

He forced the pagan Saxons to convert to Christianity.

He took their gold and silver and sold some of them as slaves.

Okay, now pause the video now and just have a go at sorting these statements into whether they are true or whether they are false.

Okay, let's find out the answers and how you got on.

So a was false.

Charlemagne was not a pagan king.

He was a Christian king and he actually forced large numbers of the pagan Anglo-Saxons to convert to Christianity, sometimes at the point of a sword.

Charlemagne did rule a huge Frankish empire, right in the middle of Europe.

And Charlemagne did build beautiful churches and cathedrals, hundreds of them, like the Palace of Aachen.

Charlemagne did not politely ask the Saxons to convert to Christianity.

He forced them to and if they refused, they might be killed or sold into slavery.

So he was a very violent king in some ways.


At this point, let's just come back to our big question of how powerful was the pope? And can you just write down how powerful was Charlemagne? And was he more powerful than Pope Leo III? Okay, good.

I'm sure your answers are excellent.

Let's have a look.

So Charlemagne was very powerful because he not only had a large army, he also built a lot of churches to show that he was a very powerful king and that he had God's support, he believed.

And if you put that he was more powerful than Leo III, you may well be right because Charlemagne was an incredibly powerful king.

So let's come back to this image because you might be able to understand it a bit better now.

So who is this? Who are these men? And what is happening in this part of the picture? Just pause the video now and have another go at this.


Time for the answers.

So this is Pope Leo III, like we found out earlier.

And these are assembled bishops and priests.

But the man here is Charlemagne being crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor because in 800, on Christmas Day, Leo III chose to give away some of his power and crown Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor as a reward for keeping him safe when he was attacked in 799.

So once again, let's come back to our big inquiry question.

We've got Leo III giving away some of his power and crowning Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor.

How powerful was the pope? Just write a few more bits down.

Okay, good.

You're right if you have said that the pope's power was maybe limited because he needed to rely on people like Charlemagne for protection.

Okay, well done, you've completed the main part of the lesson.

Could you now please pause the video, read the slides on the next page and then answer the comprehension questions.

And resume once you've finished and we can go through the answers.

Okay, well done for completing the comprehension questions.

Let's have a look at those answers, shall we? So question one was who attacked Pope Leo III in 799? And the correct answer was Pope Leo III was attacked by two masked men in Rome.

If you put something along the lines of Leo was attacked in Rome, you're absolutely right.

He was attacked in Rome by two masked men and we don't quite know who they were.

Question two.

How did Charlemagne keep his people happy? And the correct answer is that Charlemagne took gold, silver and slaves from the Saxons and gave them to his people.

He also built hundreds of churches and monasteries all over Europe.

Number three.

What did Charlemagne's monks study? Now, Charlemagne's monks studied the Bible and ancient Greek and Roman texts.

Some, like Alcuin of York, also wrote poems about Charlemagne and what a good king he was.


What did Leo III do to reward Charlemagne for saving his life? Leo III crowned Charlemagne the first Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in 800.

And in doing so, gave away some of his power.

Okay, question five.

Why might Leo III have been willing to give away some of his power? And the correct answer would be something along the lines of Leo III was worried that he might be attacked again.

Making Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor would offer him more protection.

So one last time this lesson, let's come back to our big inquiry question.

How powerful was the pope? What does the story of Leo III and Charlemagne tell us about that big question? Write down your final thoughts now.

Okay, good.

If you've said that it's very complicated and that Charlemagne perhaps had more power than Leo III, I think you'd be absolutely right.

'Cause what we've seen this lesson is this question, on the face of it, seems so simple and so obvious.

It's actually very complicated 'cause popes like Leo III had to rely on men like Charlemagne to prop them up.

Okay, would you now go and complete the exit quiz and please, if you'd like to, ask a parent or carer to share your work on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, tagging @OakNational and #LearnwithOak.

Thank you very much.

Well done for your brilliant work this lesson.

I look forward to seeing you later on.

Bye for now.