Crusades: Pope Urban’s Speech – Part Two

For part one see here


At the end of the week it was our plan to dress up and conduct our own Council at Clermont.  Each of the children would have a chance to recite some of Urban’s speech either verbatim or in their own words.  The whole event would be full of propaganda, one of the most persuasive methods known to man bar torture!  (and we weren’t going there!).  A poster had already been designed and created to display on the day and we had leaflets in the making to hand out as scrolls.  We had looked into the techniques used for transmitting propaganda messages and tried to apply those which could have conceivably be used all those years ago.  The techniques we used were:

  • Repetition of an idea, using a poster, leaflets and the actual speech to ensure the message is heard or seen, and often.
  • Attack of one’s opponents – this is particularly prevalent in Robert the Monk’s speech
  • Using the Pope as a figure of authority and the associated power, through the words he spoke and replicating them where ever possible
  • Using an aspect of fear (in this case the use of heaven verses hell)
  • Ensuring success as ‘God is on our side’, this gives participants a feeling of ‘inevitable victory’
  • ‘Dictat’ whereby only one course of action is presented as a viable option


The first thing for the children to do was to familiarise themselves with the two speeches (Robert the Monk and Fulcher of Chartres).  They watched the interpretations of the speeches on YouTube.  I then asked them to highlight the following in different colours:

1. how often God is mentioned

2. how often the (perceived) Muslim’s misdemeanours are mentioned

3. the persuasive devices / words used

It was this week I had decided to have the first historical discussions of the term with the goal of getting the children to think.  For our needs this discussion would be based on the concept of propaganda, which is powerful persuasion at best and coercion at worse.  I jotted down some questions in the early hours of a very wakeful night (I still can’t decide whether insomnia is a blessing or a curse).  I added bits and pieces to it the next day so I apologise if it is untidy looking – welcome to the world of Claire!


Next we made a poster, attempting to re-use the pope’s words and the imagery he had created in his speech:

The children with their masterpiece!

And finally we made leaflets which we sealed with a wax seal into scrolls to be handed out at the event.  Using a free word leaflet template we downsized a photo of our poster, looked up some more Latin to use as a head line and wrote a leaflet calling the knights of God to fight for their Holy lands (the children between them dictated to me what they wanted to say, whilst I typed- the whole process took less than an hour).  I printed it out onto parchment paper in black and white:

And yes I realise computers and printers weren't around in those days but it was something I thought the children might like to learn to do and would be useful for future projects.  We tried to choose a design and writing type most in keeping with the middle ages and printed it in black and white.  It would of course be much more authentic to do it by hand!
And yes I realise computers and printers weren’t around in those days but it was something I thought the children might like to learn to do and would be useful for future projects. We tried to choose a design and writing type most in keeping with the middle ages and printed it in black and white. It would of course be much more authentic to do it by hand!

The children tried to squeeze as much propaganda inside the scroll as humanly possible, using many ideas planted by Urban.  This leaflet was then rolled up and we used a medieval wax stub and seal (which we bought at the Battle of Hastings re-enactment last year) to create a scroll which could then be handed out at Council:

Dripping the melted wax
Dripping the melted wax
Pressing down the seal
Pressing down the seal
A close up of the seal
A close up of the seal
Our scrolls
Our scrolls

On our final day the children dressed up, one as a pope and the others as knights.  Here they are during our very own Council of Clermont:


Whilst I didn’t go into a huge amount of depth and the children weren’t required to memorize any of the speech (which I had considered), I think we did fairly well given we only spent one week on topic.  I am trying to learn a lesson from last year and move through topics more swiftly; this has meant setting myself time limits for each topic we tackle.  Urg!  I hate time restraints!!

Linking up here


  1. These type of discussions must be fascinating and such a good way to teach children without any writing!!

  2. Wow! That is so much to cover in just one week. I am sure the children will remember what they have learned so much more than just reading and answering a few questions. Do you ever record their presentations? Not necessarily to share on your blog, but just for your own keeping.
    I, too, am learning time restraints. It took us almost one year to get through the years around and including the Revolutionary War. Sometimes I wish homeschool could just go on and on. There is so much to know! With the internet, the ideas are endless.
    Great job by everyone!
    I found your map tablecloth. $41 at Amazon, so I just think I will have to enjoy yours!
    Have a wonderful day and weekend.

    1. We have recorded most of their big presentations (the one’s we do at the end of a big topic) but I don’t record the smaller, impromptu ones like this crusade one. I probably should but that would require more organisation. Not my strong point….

  3. This is a great assignment! I think it’s wonderful for kids to learn to sort through information and separate fact from fallacy. Love the wax seals, too!

  4. You made learning about the crusades so much fun! I love all the hands-on activity and the thoroughness of it (by my standards!). Happy to see T11 joined his sisters in the dressing up 🙂

  5. This was so interesting – I know little of this time period, so am really enjoying learning vicariously through your kids 🙂 It is amazing how much was learned, and created, in a week. The leaflets look fantastic, and the council photo is priceless!

    1. Thank you! And I agree with the photo, I laugh every time I look at it. C10 is sitting there as the Pope with a beret on underneath which is sitting a loo roll to hold it upright. And she is doing her utmost to look serious!

      1. I laughed out loud just imagining anyone trying to look serious knowing there’s a roll of toilet paper on their head and trying to balance it not to fall!!

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