World History and Geography: Medieval and Early Modern Times
Students in grade seven study the social, cultural, and technological changes that occurred
in Europe, Africa, and Asia in the years A. D. 500Ð 1789. After reviewing the ancient
world and the ways in which archaeologists and historians uncover the past,
students study the history and geography of great civilizations that were developing
concurrently throughout the world during medieval and early modern times. They
examine the growing economic interaction among civilizations as well as the exchange
of ideas, beliefs, technologies, and commodities. They learn about the resulting growth
of Enlightenment philosophy and the new examination of the concepts of reason and
authority, the natural rights of human beings and the divine right of kings, experimentalism
in science, and the dogma of belief. Finally, students assess the political forces let
loose by the Enlightenment, particularly the rise of democratic ideas, and they learn
about the continuing influence of these ideas in the world today.
7.1 Students analyze the causes and effects of the vast expansion and ultimate
disintegration of the Roman Empire.
1. Study the early strengths and lasting contributions of Rome (e.g., significance of
Roman citizenship; rights under Roman law; Roman art, architecture, engineering, and
philosophy; preservation and transmission of Christianity) and its ultimate internal
weaknesses (e.g., rise of autonomous military powers within the empire, undermining
of citizenship by the growth of corruption and slavery, lack of education, and distribution
2. Discuss the geographic borders of the empire at its height and the factors that threatened
its territorial cohesion.
3. Describe the establishment by Constantine of the new capital in Constantinople and
the development of the Byzantine Empire, with an emphasis on the consequences of
the development of two distinct European civilizations, Eastern Orthodox and Roman
Catholic, and their two distinct views on church-state relations.
7.2 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social
structures of the civilizations of Islam in the Middle Ages.
1. Identify the physical features and describe the climate of the Arabian peninsula, its
relationship to surrounding bodies of land and water, and nomadic and sedentary
ways of life.
2. Trace the origins of Islam and the life and teachings of Muhammad, including Islamic
teachings on the connection with Judaism and Christianity.
3. Explain the significance of the Qur'an and the Sunnah as the primary sources of Islamic
beliefs, practice, and law, and their influence in Muslims' daily life.
4. Discuss the expansion of Muslim rule through military conquests and treaties, emphasizing
the cultural blending within Muslim civilization and the spread and acceptance
of Islam and the Arabic language.
5. Describe the growth of cities and the establishment of trade routes among Asia, Africa,
and Europe, the products and inventions that traveled along these routes (e.g., spices,
textiles, paper, steel, new crops), and the role of merchants in Arab society.
6. Understand the intellectual exchanges among Muslim scholars of Eurasia and Africa
and the contributions Muslim scholars made to later civilizations in the areas of science,
geography, mathematics, philosophy, medicine, art, and literature.
7.3 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social
structures of the civilizations of China in the Middle Ages.
1. Describe the reunification of China under the Tang Dynasty and reasons for the spread
of Buddhism in Tang China, Korea, and Japan.
2. Describe agricultural, technological, and commercial developments during the Tang
and Sung periods.
3. Analyze the influences of Confucianism and changes in Confucian thought during the
Sung and Mongol periods.
4. Understand the importance of both overland trade and maritime expeditions between
China and other civilizations in the Mongol Ascendancy and Ming Dynasty.
5. Trace the historic influence of such discoveries as tea, the manufacture of paper, wood-block
printing, the compass, and gunpowder.
6. Describe the development of the imperial state and the scholar-official class.
7.4 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures
of the sub-Saharan civilizations of Ghana and Mali in Medieval Africa.
1. Study the Niger River and the relationship of vegetation zones of forest, savannah, and
desert to trade in gold, salt, food, and slaves; and the growth of the Ghana and Mali
2. Analyze the importance of family, labor specialization, and regional commerce in the
development of states and cities in West Africa.
3. Describe the role of the trans-Saharan caravan trade in the changing religious and
cultural characteristics of West Africa and the influence of Islamic beliefs, ethics, and
4. Trace the growth of the Arabic language in government, trade, and Islamic scholarship
in West Africa.
5. Describe the importance of written and oral traditions in the transmission of African
history and culture.
7.5 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social
structures of the civilizations of Medieval Japan.
1. Describe the significance of Japan's proximity to China and Korea and the intellectual,
linguistic, religious, and philosophical influence of those countries on Japan.
2. Discuss the reign of Prince Shotoku of Japan and the characteristics of Japanese society
and family life during his reign.
3. Describe the values, social customs, and traditions prescribed by the lord-vassal
system consisting of shogun, daimyo, and samurai and the lasting influence of the
warrior code in the twentieth century.
4. Trace the development of distinctive forms of Japanese Buddhism.
5. Study the ninth and tenth centuries' golden age of literature, art, and drama and its
lasting effects on culture today, including Murasaki Shikibu's Tale of Genji.
6. Analyze the rise of a military society in the late twelfth century and the role of the
samurai in that society.
7.6 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social
structures of the civilizations of Medieval Europe.
1. Study the geography of the Europe and the Eurasian land mass, including its location,
topography, waterways, vegetation, and climate and their relationship to ways of life
in Medieval Europe.
2. Describe the spread of Christianity north of the Alps and the roles played by the early
church and by monasteries in its diffusion after the fall of the western half of the
3. Understand the development of feudalism, its role in the medieval European
economy, the way in which it was influenced by physical geography (the role of the
manor and the growth of towns), and how feudal relationships provided the foundation
of political order.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the conflict and cooperation between the Papacy
and European monarchs (e.g., Charlemagne, Gregory VII, Emperor Henry IV).
5. Know the significance of developments in medieval English legal and constitutional
practices and their importance in the rise of modern democratic thought and representative
institutions (e.g., Magna Carta, parliament, development of habeas corpus, an
independent judiciary in England).
6. Discuss the causes and course of the religious Crusades and their effects on the Christian,
Muslim, and Jewish populations in Europe, with emphasis on the increasing
contact by Europeans with cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean world.
7. Map the spread of the bubonic plague from Central Asia to China, the Middle East,
and Europe and describe its impact on global population.
8. Understand the importance of the Catholic church as a political, intellectual, and
aesthetic institution (e.g., founding of universities, political and spiritual roles of the
clergy, creation of monastic and mendicant religious orders, preservation of the Latin
language and religious texts, St. Thomas Aquinas's synthesis of classical philosophy
with Christian theology, and the concept of "natural law").
9. Know the history of the decline of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula that culminated
in the Reconquista and the rise of Spanish and Portuguese kingdoms.
7.7 Students compare and contrast the geographic, political, economic, religious,
and social structures of the Meso-American and Andean civilizations.
1. Study the locations, landforms, and climates of Mexico, Central America, and South
America and their effects on Mayan, Aztec, and Incan economies, trade, and development
of urban societies.
2. Study the roles of people in each society, including class structures, family life, war-fare,
religious beliefs and practices, and slavery.
3. Explain how and where each empire arose and how the Aztec and Incan empires were
defeated by the Spanish.
4. Describe the artistic and oral traditions and architecture in the three civilizations.
5. Describe the Meso-American achievements in astronomy and mathematics, including
the development of the calendar and the Meso-American knowledge of seasonal
changes to the civilizations' agricultural systems.
7.8 Students analyze the origins, accomplishments, and geographic diffusion of
1. Describe the way in which the revival of classical learning and the arts fostered a new
interest in humanism (i.e., a balance between intellect and religious faith).
2. Explain the importance of Florence in the early stages of the Renaissance and the
growth of independent trading cities (e.g., Venice), with emphasis on the cities' importance
in the spread of Renaissance ideas.
3. Understand the effects of the reopening of the ancient "Silk Road" between Europe
and China, including Marco Polo's travels and the location of his routes.
4. Describe the growth and effects of new ways of disseminating information (e.g., the
ability to manufacture paper, translation of the Bible into the vernacular, printing).
5. Detail advances made in literature, the arts, science, mathematics, cartography, engineering,
and the understanding of human anatomy and astronomy (e.g., by Dante
Alighieri, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo di Buonarroti Simoni, Johann Gutenberg,
7.9 Students analyze the historical developments of the Reformation.
1. List the causes for the internal turmoil in and weakening of the Catholic church (e.g.,
tax policies, selling of indulgences).
2. Describe the theological, political, and economic ideas of the major figures during the
Reformation (e.g., Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Tyndale).
3. Explain Protestants' new practices of church self-government and the influence of
those practices on the development of democratic practices and ideas of federalism.
4. Identify and locate the European regions that remained Catholic and those that became
Protestant and explain how the division affected the distribution of religions in
the New World.
5. Analyze how the Counter-Reformation revitalized the Catholic church and the forces
that fostered the movement (e.g., St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits, the Council of
6. Understand the institution and impact of missionaries on Christianity and the diffusion
of Christianity from Europe to other parts of the world in the medieval and early
modern periods; locate missions on a world map.
7. Describe the Golden Age of cooperation between Jews and Muslims in medieval Spain
that promoted creativity in art, literature, and science, including how that cooperation
was terminated by the religious persecution of individuals and groups (e.g., the
Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain in 1492).
7.10 Students analyze the historical developments of the Scientific Revolution and
its lasting effect on religious, political, and cultural institutions.
1. Discuss the roots of the Scientific Revolution (e.g., Greek rationalism; Jewish, Christian,
and Muslim science; Renaissance humanism; new knowledge from global exploration).
2. Understand the significance of the new scientific theories (e.g., those of Copernicus,
Galileo, Kepler, Newton) and the significance of new inventions (e.g., the telescope,
microscope, thermometer, barometer).
3. Understand the scientific method advanced by Bacon and Descartes, the influence of
new scientific rationalism on the growth of democratic ideas, and the coexistence of
science with traditional religious beliefs.
7.11 Students analyze political and economic change in the sixteenth, seventeenth,
and eighteenth centuries (the Age of Exploration, the Enlightenment, and the
Age of Reason).
1. Know the great voyages of discovery, the locations of the routes, and the influence of
cartography in the development of a new European worldview.
2. Discuss the exchanges of plants, animals, technology, culture, and ideas among Europe,
Africa, Asia, and the Americas in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and the
major economic and social effects on each continent.
3. Examine the origins of modern capitalism; the influence of mercantilism and cottage
industry; the elements and importance of a market economy in seventeenth-century
Europe; the changing international trading and marketing patterns, including their
locations on a world map; and the influence of explorers and map makers.
4. Explain how the main ideas of the Enlightenment can be traced back to such movements
as the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Scientific Revolution and to the
Greeks, Romans, and Christianity.
5. Describe how democratic thought and institutions were influenced by Enlightenment
thinkers (e.g., John Locke, Charles-Louis Montesquieu, American founders).
6. Discuss how the principles in the Magna Carta were embodied in such documents as
the English Bill of Rights and the American Declaration of Independence.