The Scottish War for Independence


Today, let’s travel back to the 13th and 14th centuries, to learn about two great men in Scottish history.


William Wallace, born c. 1270, was a great hero of Scotland. William’s father also had opposed the English and, in the end, had lost his life for Scottish freedom. William Wallace met and married Marion Brad. But Marion was supposed to marry the Sheriff of Lanark’s son.

But Marion didn’t what to marry him because the Sheriff had killed her father and brother.

Now Wallace was a wanted man. William Wallace was able to gather a band of Scots who were ready to fight for the freedom of Scotland. The Sheriff and an English Captain Thorn, however, were on Wallace’s trail. While William was out with his men, the Sheriff of Lanark found Marion and killed her. That night, after Wallace had found his wife’s dead body, William and his men attacked Lanark, killed the whole English garrison even the Sheriff and Caption Thorn. Not one Scot was killed in the battle. Thus William Wallace’s battle for the independence of Scotland had begun.

William’s greatest victory was the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The English army, under the command of John de Wernne and Hugh de Cressingham, planned to cross the River Forth near Stirling Castle. But two men stood in their way, William Wallace and Andrew Moray. The odds were against the Scots; English- 200-300 cavalry + 10,000 foot soldiers; Scots-36 cavalry + 8,000 foot soldiers. On the morning of September 11, 1297 the battle began.  The English sent their knights across first. The Scots spearmen ran down the hill and towards the English, cutting off the escapes route back across the bridge. Then the Scots attacked the trapped bowmen, knights, and foot soldiers. For one hour the Scottish slaughtered the English. The rest of the English fled leaving the hated Hugh de Cressingham dead. The Scottish had won a great victory.


In December of 1297 Wallace was knighted and was given the title The Guardian of Scotland. But Edward I chased William even more. Finely, on Aug. 5, 1305 he was arrested. William Wallace was hanged, beheaded, disemboweled, and quartered.


But the Scottish Wars were far from over. Before William had died he had given a knight, named Robert the Bruce, the title of Guardian of Scotland. But Robert also had rights to the Scottish throne. So on March 25, 1306 Robert the Bruce and his wife were crowned king and queen of Scotland. But soon King Edward herd about it and began chasing Robert. Robert and his men tired again and again to fight back but they were always defeated. It was during this time that the famous story of Bruce and the spider came about. Click here to read. Inspired by the spider, Bruce exclaimed,” I thank God! The spider has taught me a lesson. No more will I be discouraged!”


In this time, however, a new king, Edward II, was appointed to the throne.


Encouraged, Robert the Bruce set out and captured 90% of the castles ion Scotland. Finely Edward had had enough. He marched to Scotland with 100,000 soldiers. Robert the Bruce met him at Bannockburn with 30,000 men. On June 24, 1314 the battle began. As Robert was riding in the front of his men to encourage them, an English knight, Henry de Bohun, saw his chance. He rode at Robert with his lance aimed at Bruce’s heart, Robert rode towards Henry and at the last moment Robert severed his horse to the side and backhanded his axe into Henry’s head. Henry de Bohun was dead before he hit the ground, splitting in half. The Scottish army charged the English and completely destroyed them. One Scot fought it all the way to King Edward II, but was cut down before he could kill the English King. Edward II fled for his life. Despite Robert near death, his only regret was that he had broken his favorite axe. Finely in 1328 Scotland became an independent nation.


What do we lean from these men? To press on even in the face of difficulty and to never ever lose heart.


Samuel Duarte

The Investiture Controversy’s

Today I would like to tell you about the Investiture Controversy’s. What are the Investiture Controversy’s? Investiture means, ‘The act of installing a person in an office, rank, and order’. In the Investiture Controversy’s it was a disagreement about who would appoint bishops to the church. When did the Investiture Controversy’s take place? The first disagreement took place in 1076, just ten years after the Norman invasion of England. The second one started in 1162 and happened in England.


The first one started in 1076 and never really had an ending. The Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV, appointed three bishops. But the Pope, Gregory VII at the time, only was allowed to appoint bishops. In 1076 Gregory wrote a letter to Henry asking him to repent. In retaliation, Henry IV, called a council, and the men decided to denounce the Pope and asked him to leave Rome. Gregory VII than turned and excommunicated Henry IV. This meant that he was no longer to be treated as Emperor. It was decided that Henry needed to go to the Pope and repent. Henry IV met Pope Gregory VII at Canossa, Italy. There Gregory lifted the Ban of Excommunication. But the conflict was far from over.In 1080 Henry IV besieged Rome and took it. Gregory fled. He died in Salerno, Italy.His last words were, ‘I loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.At last in 1122 an agreement was made, the Pope would appoint bishops and the Emperor would give the bishops blessing.


The second part of Investiture Controversy took place in England from 1162 to 1171. After the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry II needed to appoint a new archbishop. He turned to his good friend Thomas Becket. Thomas was born in 1118 and studied law in Paris. Thomas Becket was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury on June 2, 1162. But sadly Henry thought that by his friend at the top meant he could do whatever he wanted to do. Not the case. Thomas took his job very seriously. When Henry II tried to appoint his on bishops, Thomas said no. Henry tired to kill Becket but he fled to France. In 1170 Henry II and Becket resolved their dispute. Thomas returned to England and resumed his office of Bishop. But the troubles were far from over. While he had been in France, Becket had excommunicated two bishops who had supported King Henry II in his trying to appoint bishops. Henry, quite upset said, ‘who will rid me of this meddlesome priest.’ Four of Henry’s knights sailed to England and stormed Canterbury Cathedral. They found Becket saying his evening prayers. Thus on December 29, 1170 Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murder by and sword blow to the head.His last words were,’ For the Name of Jesus and the protection of the Church I am ready to die.’


This murder sent a tremor though Europe. Henry II later repented and Thomas was made a Saint. As a result of the Investiture Controversy’s the church and the state became more separate. This all paved the way for the Reformation.



Samuel Duarte

Erik the Red and Leif the Lucky


Today I would like to tell you about three men.  Their names are Erik the Red and Leif the Lucky.  When we hear of Vikings we think of one or both of these men.  But how much do we actually now about them?

First off we need some background information.  Erik the Red was born in Norway, somewhere near the town of Stvavanger. His father, a man by the name of Thovald Asvaldsson, got involved in a bloody feud and killed a man. He was banished to Iceland where Erik was born.

After Erik the Red married, he killed two men.  Like father like son!  Erik was then exiled to water or he had to travel for three years.  He had heard about land to the west so he led a group of men to go exploring due west.  The first year, 982, he landed on the eastern side of Greenland.  However the eastern side is very harsh.  So the next year, 983, he sailed to the west side.  He explored this area for two more years then headed back to Iceland. In 985 he landed back home. Erik then began to promote the land he had discovered.  He wanted people to colonize it, but the land was not very inviting.  To make it sound more inviting he called it Greenland.  He got 450 people to come with him.  They landed in a place known as Qagssiarssuk.

Later Leif, his son, tried to convert his father to Christianity, but Erik wouldn’t leave the false gods.  Erik died in the winter of 1003.  He was buried at a place near the town of Brattahlid.


Leif Ericson or Leif the Lucky was born during the late 970s.  In his 20’s went to Norway, and there he was converted to Christianity.  He went back to Greenland and his mother became a Christian but his father Erik the Red would not leave his Old Norse gods.  In 1001 Leif left Greenland with 35 men.  They landed on a place he called Helluland, thought to be on the southwest end of Baffin Island.  He the sailed to ‘Markland’, considered to be somewhere on the coat of Labrdor.  In the fall of 1001 he landed in Vineland.  It seems to be the northeastern tip of Newfoundland.  He returned to Greenland in the spring of 1002.  His nickname, Leif the Lucky, was given when he saved some castaways. Those men where really lucky!


To wrap it up, Columbus wasn’t the first person to reach North America. It was discovered 300 years before him by Leif the Lucky.



Samuel Duarte




Charles Martel


During the end of the Merovingian dynasty, the kings became lazy.  Instead of kings, the people had what they called, The Mayor of the Palace.  One of these, Mayor Pepin, had a son named Charles.


Charles mother imprisoned him because he was an illegitimate son.  He escaped and went off to find his fortune, or rather fight for it.  His first battle didn’t go along to well, he realized he had very little men and fled.  However, this was the only battle that he lost!  After the defeat, he railed his men and defeats his enemies.  Charles had three tactics, appearing where his enemies lest expected, attacking when they lest expected and attacking how they lest expected.


Charles could have made himself King of France, he ruled like one, but he never took mare than Mayor of the Palace.


To the south of France, the Muslims were taking the Iberian Peninsula by storm. They invaded France in 732, and soon Charles was headed south. The two armies’ met on the plain of Tours, hence the name, The Battle of Tours.  For a week the two armies faced another.  The teo armies were not at all the same, the Arab army was mostly cavalry and the Franks were an army of foot soldiers.  Finally the battle lines were placed.  The Franks formed a firm wall.  For the whole day the Arab horsemen charged again and again, but each time the Franks held on.  That night both armies were exhausted.  The next day the Franks awoke, but no Arabs!  Fearing ambush the Franks sent out searching parties, but the Arab camp was empty, and in fact the Arabs fled back to Spain!  Charles then pushed them back to North Africa.  Finally, the Muslims had been stopped, Christendom had been saved.  Charles was then given the name Charles Martel or Charles the Hammer.


Charles Martel died and left his son Pepin to rule in his place.





Samuel Duarte





King Arthur

Today I would like to tell you about a man named Arthur.  He is known best as King Arthur.

Before the Romans invaded England it was inhabited by people known as Britons.  When the Roman Empire started to decline, the Angles invaded England.  By the 5th century, the Angles had a strong hold on England.  Soon afterwards the Saxons, who were from Germany, also invaded England.  In the mist of all this there stands one great man, the legendary King Arthur.

Arthur was born in 465 A.D. We get most of our history about him and the time he lived in from the book, ‘The History of the Early Kings of Britain’ by Geoffrey of Monmouth.  King Arthur led the Britons in 12 battles.  The most famous of these battles was the Battle of Bandon Hill. Geoffrey reported that Arthur killed 960 men in the battle.

The Anglo-Saxons were defeated in the battle; however the Britons could never drive the Anglo-Saxons out completely.  Eventually they lived in peace until the invasion of the Normans in 1066.  Today the people of England are the descendants of Britons and Anglo-Saxons.

Arthur was eventually taken up as a figure of ancient chivalry.  His leadership, bravery and chivalry are all great examples.  But with time he was taken up as a legend.   Did Arthur really kill 906 men?  Did he really meet his doom at Camlonn?  Was he killed by Morded, and did Lancelot really lie about the Excalibur?   I don’t believe all these things, but he was real great man. (Pun intended)   But what about the Knights of the Round Table? You decide!


                                   Samuel Duarte


Samuel’s Creed

                                                I am all in Christ.

                                     If all my life, is to His service.

                                        If all I do, think and say,

                                    Is with Him always in mind.

                                                So if all I do,

                                                   Is to Him,

                              Then all my life is through HIM.

Celts and Han Dynasty


Today we will look at the Han dynasty and the Celts. I will show you some differences and similarities between them.  The Celts lived in Europe and the Han dynasty was in China.

The Celts was and is the most populous group in Europe. In fact most people in Europe are descended from the Celts.  As with the peoples in the Han dynasty they lived in many places in China.  The rulers of the Han dynasty put people in charge of different places, they ruled like miniature kings. The men (called Mandarins) ruled in China up to the present day.  The Celts also had men over them.  The order was nobles (head of clans) artisans, druids (controlled religion, medicine, law, and education) bards, and peasants.  Both the Celts and the Han dynasty where a peace loving people.  The Celts and Han dynasty where very intelligent people.  The Celts invented soap, made massive burial mounds marked with large megaliths, and the infamous, Stonehenge.  The Han dynasty also had important things happen.  They discovered the each year has 365 ¼ days.  They invented the compass, seismograph and built bridges with bamboo.  Most important of all was discovering how to make paper.

download-1   It is amazing how two people groups in different places and at different times where able to have so much in common.

Signing off,

Samuel Duarte

Ancient Africa


Africa is one of the diverse places on earth.  It has modern cities to tribal villages.  Its climates differ from hot deserts to cold mountains, and many jungles.  We will look at its geography and ancient history today.

Africa’s geography is very odd.  In the northwestern corner we have the massive Sahara Desert.  It covers nearly three-fourths of northern Africa.  However, the Nile River provides much water to the land near it.  It is not only the longest river in the world, but the only river that runes from south to north!  In the middle and southern parts of Africa we find the places people think of when they hear Africa.  Lions, elephants, and the tsetse fly, live in this area.  The Congo River flows though this are.

Africa’s people, in the past, have been far and few apart.  We think of Egypt when we hear Africa and history, this is true, but many more people lived in Africa.  Nubia is south of Egypt and is founding on trading.  Ethiopia is the only African country where Christianity is the official religion.

Africa is really interesting to study.  And I hope you will want to learn more about it.

Samuel Duarte