Leadership Study: Richard the Lion heart and Saladin

We had done a leadership study on Hamurabi when the children were younger, and they had concluded that he was a fair leader, by studying some of his laws that he had written.  This time I wanted to take our leadership studies a little bit further.

Why do leadership studies at all?  One of my main goals in our home school is to raise thinking children, visionary children, children who will grow into adults confident in their ability to live life their way.  True leaders are dynamic, world changing people.  However, many of the characteristics one is able to observe in good leadership are characteristics I desire for myself and for my children for everyday life.  These characteristics are some of the most transferable you can possess and are applicable to almost every situation, be it leading at work, leading one’s family or one’s children.  It is my hope that by exposing the children to great characters they will desire those same characteristics in their own life.  Characteristics such as vision, courage, integrity and humility (to name just a few).

We have been using some great resources:



And having listened, watched and read through all of them I asked the children to come up with some adjectives that they thought would describe a person with good leadership skills.  I asked them to choose a few that would reflect the skills of either Saladin or Richard I, asking them to support what they said with evidence from their knowledge of the lives of both.  I specifically asked them to use the following sentence:

Richard/ Saladin is (insert adjective).  This can be observed (insert evidence).

This may seem a little contrived, but I intended this lesson to form the basis of their essay pertaining to the superior leadership skills of one of the men.  By requiring this sentence, I was drumming home the structure I was looking for in their essay.  I also found that having a very specific framework to use aided my son, who still struggles occasionally with stating clearly what he is thinking.

This exercise really made them think and I got some fabulous feed back. However, my children were very much focused on the strengths of Richard I and didn’t once mention Saladin.  Although I was giving them the choice of who they chose to write their essay about, I did at least want them to appreciate the skills of Saladin as well.  So I thought maybe a bit of battle study might be in order, in particular the Battle of Hattin, which, whilst Richard was not even on the scenes here, Saladin showed what a great strategist he was, by placing himself and his army between the only source of some much needed water and the Christian army who needed it.  We also looked at the Battle of Acre.  Although Richard I won this particular battle, Saladin showed great ingenuity in the face of defeat and counter attacked Richard’s onslaught by using Greek fire to destroy battlements that Richard had brought in bits from France and built up once in the battle field.  These two examples allowed the children to see the other side of the coin so to speak and pre-empted a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of both leaders.  This was great, and just what I had hoped for.  Please understand, I was not looking for perfect history, more an appreciation of some of the characteristics which make the leaders of the history we are studying.

Their first job after choosing was to do a quick key word outline of their essay.  T11 uses a spider diagram.  It doesn’t matter to me which method they choose.  These are simply means by which to organise their thoughts and words to make the actual writing of the essay easier.  Once I had checked and okayed it, they were off to write.  I’ve included a copy of T’s essay.  This is the exact copy he handed to me mistakes and all.

Our next leadership study will be based on an unusual leader, in the form of a young girl known as Joan of Arc.  As she became a leader incidentally rather than by choice, it will be interesting to discover the characteristics people saw in her to make them want to follow her.


  1. I have recently discovered your blog and started subscribing to it (I was one of the folk who googled “make your own runes!”). Based on what I’ve read so far, I think you’re doing a fantastic job of homeschooling your children. When I have a bit of spare time (ha! – we also homeschool), I hope to go back and read through your older posts. Thank you so much for keeping your blog and being such an inspiration to others. Cathy

  2. Excellent work on everyone’s part. I love how you make the children really think – take a stand and justify it. T12’s essay was well-written. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    I am so excited so see what you are doing, because I am planning next year and so many of your ideas are helping me.
    Always glad to sit down during the day and find your posts.
    Have a lovely day, Claire.

      1. Yes, next year we move on to the middle ages. I know how you feel about moving on…we spent nearly two years trying to get from the Pilgrims through the Revolutionary War, but history is so interesting, we could study it all day.

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