HIS 101
Book/Document Study Questions
 
 
Hammurabi Gilgamesh Genesis Pericles
Russian Primary Chronicle Sermon on the Mount (New Testament)
Hadith Roland Feudal Document Magna Carta
Chaucer Machiavelli Luther Columbus
 
 
 
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Hammurabi
 
1.  Who was Hammurabi?
2.  Why did he create a law code?
3.  According to your evaluation, was this particular law code "fair?"
4.  Why was the code so detailed?
5.  Did the code provide any insight about the administration of justice in Ancient Mesopotamia?
 
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Gilgamesh
 
1. Who was Gilgamesh?
2. Who was Enkidu?
3. What was the theme of this epic?
4. Identify parallels between this epic and the religious writings of Judaism and Christianity?
5. What was the social structure of Ancient Sumerian society?
6. What was the political structure of Ancient Sumerian society?
7. What role did religion play in the lives of the Ancient Sumerians?
8. How were women treated in Sumerian society?
 
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Genesis
 
1.  How many creation accounts were there in Genesis?
2.  According to Genesis, was there only one god?
3.  Was there any resemblance between the accounts in Genesis and Gilgamesh?
4.  What was the nature of gender relations defined by Genesis?  Explain.
5.  Who was the author of Genesis?
 
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Pericles
 
1. Why did Pericles protest at the start that he was only obeying the law?
2. According to this passage, what were the characteristics of Athenian democracy?
3. Was Pericles a good public speaker?
4. According to Pericles, did Athenian democracy enjoy any military advantages?
5. Why should Athens be admired?
6. Was Athens unique?
7. What did Athens offer the families of the men who had died?
 
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Christianity
 
1.  Was what Jesus of Nazareth described an ethical religion?
2.  Was there anything that he said in the Sermon that might have provoked hatred on the part of either Jewish or Roman officials?
3.  Was his method of teaching an effective one?
4.  Who was the primary audience for the "Sermon?"
 
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Russian Primary Chronicle
 
1.  Why did the Chronicle begin with the "Flood" story?
2.  Why did Andrew, one of the apostles, figure prominently in the founding of the city of Kiev?
3.  According to your interpretation of the Chronicle, do you think that the Russians primarily descended from the Varangians (Vikings) or from the Slavs?
4.  Note the complex events leading to the adoption of the Eastern form of Christianity (although the churches had still not technically split) by the Russians.
5.  Was there anything surprising about the way that the Russians became Christian?
 
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Hadith excerpt
 
1.  Was this an "ethical" religion?
2.  What were the main tenets of the religion?
3.  Was there any resemblance to Christianity or Judaism in these short passages?
 
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Song of Roland
 
1. Who was Roland?
2. Who was Olivier?
3. Who was Turpin?
4. Why did Ganelon betray the Franks?
5. Why did Roland not blow the oliphant to summon Charles back to help the rear guard?
6. What was significant about the fact that Roland cut off Marsilla's right hand?
7. How was justice administered in the case of Ganelon?
8. How was Ganelon executed?
9. What were the qualities of the ideal knight?
10. Did Ganelon commit treason?
11. What purpose did this epic serve?
12. How were Muslims portrayed in this epic?
 
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Feudal document
 
1.  What did it mean, "to be in mercy?"  Why was that phrase used?
2.  Was there anything unique about the system of dates used in the document?
3.  What did the paragraph that begins, John son of Hugh, indicate about legal arrangements in the Middle Ages?
4.  Did the document provide any information about the status of women during the Middle Ages?
 
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Magna Carta
 
1. In what language was the Great Charter written?
2. Was this a revolutionary document?
3. Why did King John and the barons sign such a document?
4. What was the significance of John's titles in the first two lines of the document?
5. What was the significance of the list of men in the first paragraph?
6. In the first article, what did the phrase, "the English church shall be free...freedom of elections," mean?
7. What was the important phrase in article 12? Why was it important?
8. What did it mean in article 13 that the city of London and other cities shall have "their liberties?"
9. Articles 21, 39 and 52 referred to what sort of legal requirements? Did these articles set any precedent?
 
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Chaucer
 
1. Approximately, when did Chaucer write his Canterbury Tales?
2. In the "Knight's Tale," how did the winner of Emily die? This story was a good example of what feature of the Middle Ages?
3. Why were these people on their way to Canterbury?
4. Having read these tales, how would you describe the Medieval world view, outlook or character?
5. What sort of animals were described in the "Nun's Priest's Tale?"
6. How many times was the woman married in the "Tale of the Wife of Bath?"
8. Why were these tales important for a historian?
 
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Machiavelli
 
1. With what Italian city was Machiavelli associated?
2. Why did Machiavelli write The Prince?
3. According to Machiavelli, was it better for a Prince to be loved or to be feared? Why?
4. What was perhaps the most important piece of advice that Machiavelli gave to prospective princes?
5. Why was it considered that this book had been inspired by the devil?
6. What were the four ways that a person could become a prince?
7. What two animals did Machiavelli cite as having qualities that a prince should possess?
8. According to Machiavelli, how much of human affairs could be attributed to fortune, or luck?
 
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Luther
 
1. What were the real issues behind the Theses?
2. What was an indulgence?
3. Why did most of the theses mention the "pope?"
4. What was significant about the following statement: "The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God." [62]
 
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Columbus
 
1. After reading these excerpts, what would you judge to be the motives of European voyagers during the voyages of exploration? In other words, what impelled Europeans to leave behind their continent and search for new worlds? Give at least four reasons.
2. Did these excerpts provide any useful information about the native societies of these islands? For example, what?
3. What was Columbus' attitude toward the natives?
 
 

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