Challenges to World History final exam

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Two questions on the final exam have been challenged. The first is this:

Each of the following was part of nearly all medieval towns EXCEPT:
(a) hazards of disease such as the Black Plague
(b) enclosure by a wall
(c) new opportunities for the middle class (bourgeoisie)
(d) Christianity
(e) religious conflict

The challenge is that "medieval" should include non-Christian societies such as Japan, and therefore the correct answer should be (d).

This challenge is invalid. "Medieval" refers to the Middle Ages in Europe, which was entirely Christian. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "medieval" as pertaining to the "Middle Ages," and then defines "Middle Ages" as pertaining to Europe between about A.D. 500 and 1500.

REPLY A Google search for "medieval" gives over 60 million results, a search for medieval Europe only returns 9 Million, clearly, the term medieval does not only apply to Europe. --TimSvendsen 22:59, 1 February 2007 (EST)
Further REPLY This website clearly does not restrict the middle ages to Europe. The Middle ages term list includes such entries as Islam and Japan which are not European. --TimSvendsen 23:05, 1 February 2007 (EST)
Further Reply Throughout the course, you taught that the middle ages were one of the 4 periods of world history, along with ancient, pre-modern and modern. --TimSvendsen 23:31, 1 February 2007 (EST)
Further Reply In World History Lecture Seven the 4th heading is "Asia in the middle ages" which includes the following "...In this section we deal with East and Southeast Asia, discussing in particular what happened in China in the Middle Ages..." --TimSvendsen 23:38, 1 February 2007 (EST)
REPLY Good points, Tim, but I'm limiting "Middle Ages" to Europe only in interpreting the Merriam-Webster's use of the term in its definition for "medieval". Besides, didn't only Europe have "medieval towns" per the question?--Aschlafly 23:45, 1 February 2007 (EST)
Why do you limit the term to Europe when it used by historians (say, Will & Ariel Durant) in many contexts? What are you teaching your "students"? Human 01:25, 21 April 2007 (EDT)
Reply You have not refuted any of my points here. --TimSvendsen 10:12, 2 February 2007 (EST)
Further Reply A Google searches for: medieval towns japan, medieval towns China, medieval towns Asia and medieval towns Africa, all come up with more than 1,000,000 results. --TimSvendsen 10:08, 2 February 2007 (EST)

Solution: Change the question in future to use the word European in front of medieval. The second challenge is this:

An example of the element of surprise in warfare could cite which military commander?
(a) Adolf Hitler
(b) Hannibal
(c) Dwight Eisenhower
(d) George W. Bush
(e) Archimedes

The challenge is that Hitler and Eisenhower used the element of surprise, as did Hannibal. But the element of surprise was not as important or creative in Hitler's or Eisenhower's command.

Hitler did not truly succeed based primarily on surprise. Also, he was not really a "military commander."

Eisenhower receives credit for D-Day (Normandy invasion during WW II) but everyone expected an Allied invasion of the continent and Eisenhower was merely one of many important participants in that strategy. Hannibal stands above the others in his responsibilities, creativeness, and effectiveness of his surprise.

REPLY As a Lt. in the 10th mountain, I have a problem with this question. Surprise in warfare is not a yes or no question. Each attack has some element of surprise followed by a high amount of speed, command and control, and violence of action. Furthermore, elements of surprise can be both tactical and strategic. Strategic surprise, which seems to be the focus of this question, works on a slower pace. Where an enemy formation may indeed determine their opponents true objectives prior to the attack but is unable to shift their forces in time to counter the surprise attack. The assertion that Hannibal's attack stands above all the others is at best a personal interpretation of the facts and at worst dead wrong. Hannibal failed to capitalize on his surprise through lack of a logistical train and the inability to sack Rome, his stated goal. The question needs a great deal more clarification, such as "Which of the following commanders achieved the greatest degree of strategic surprise but failed to achieve their goals?" As stated, the question infers that the other commanders did not use surprise, which is NOT what I have learned in over 4 years of experience as an armor officer of the u.s. army. Below are brief examples of some of the surprise elements of the answer choices, all of which are integral in an understanding of military history.
Adolf Hitler - Blitzkrieg warfare and the bypass of the french defensive line represent both strategic and tactical surprise respectively. When the french dug in, they neglected to fortify a section of forest that they deemed to be too thick for armored advance. Hitlers panzer were tough enough to mow straight through and assaulted the french from the rear, routing them completely. The battle of the bulge was also a strategic surprise, where allied command and control damaged prior to the attack, allowing for deep penetration of allied line. Only the sheer fighting spirit on the embattled American forces prevented axis success.
Hannibal - The obvious end about through the alps was a surprise due to the southern deployment of Roman forces. Taken as a desperate defense for Carthage, the end around included massive river fording in Spain. The long journey proved to be the deal breaker as a economically strangled Carthage was unable to support the flank with resupply. When Hannibal made it to Italy, his combat power was reduced to a degree where he could only harass and force the Romans to redeploy north. Due to an inability to communicate with southern Carthaginian forces, what ever hole Hannibal opened up was not exploited.
Dwight Eisenhower - The D-day invasion was a massive strategic surprise. By placing general Patton in command of a "decoy" army in Africa, Hitler became convinced that the invasion would center in the Mediterranean and deployed many of his available veteran units to Italy. This left Normandy defended by green units and reservists, who were unable to counter the historic airborne and amphibious invasion.
George W. Bush - Does not really count as a commander in my book. Hitler counted because he inserted himself into all major military decisions, such as specific force deployments and the specifications of military equipment. Yet Bush did give the go ahead for the CIA/SF invasion of Afghanistan, a move that took many of the enemy by surprise. The enemy was counting on a long military build up circa Gulf War I which would have given time to prepare, instead they were faced with fights without the supplies necessary for protracted mountain warfare.
Archimedes - Not a military commander.
What are you teaching these children, after the 6th grade I would expect a higher level of detail and competence in a history class. Glossing over the details to this degree would get you fired from any of the history classes I have attended from middle school all the way to my professional education. Read the history before you teach it and please fix this question. --DylanBiery 16:33, 4 June 2009 (EDT)
FURTHER REPLY Furthermore, The assertion that Eisenhower was only partially responsible for Normandy is COMPLETELY WRONG. So wrong that I showed it to my former company commander, who teaches college level military history and ethics at Texas A&M, he lol'ed. Eisenhower was the supreme allied commander in Europe, while the details of the attack was left to his staff Eisenhower himself set it in motion and led key diversion and secrecy efforts to secure his surprise. This is perhaps more significant that Hannibal's attack because Eisenhower's enemy had the ability to see more of the allied movements through aerial, human, and signals intelligence. All of those had to be countered through massive air defense and OSI missions to maintain his element of surprise. While the question being challenged may have been a gaffe of a teacher churning out test questions. The halfhearted defense displays a gross misrepresentation of facts and is offensive to real military historian.
“It is more honorable to repair a wrong than to persist in it” - Thomas Jefferson

--DylanBiery 16:45, 4 June 2009 (EDT)



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