Rewriting history–revision of example 1

barbarossa

In my previous post, I excerpted a passage from McDougal and Little’s World History. I proposed that this passage could be enlivened by revisions in sentence structure and paragraphing–using some of the techniques that Catherine and I cover in our exercises for Europe in the Modern World.

Here, again, is the original:

Frederick I was the first ruler to call his lands the Holy Roman Empire. However this region was actually a patchwork of feudal territories. His forceful personality and military skills enabled him to dominate the German princes, yet whenever he left the country, disorder returned. Following Otto’s example, Frederick repeatedly invaded the rich cities of Italy. His brutal tactics spurred Italian merchants to unite against him. He also angered the Pope, who joined the merchants in an alliance called the Lombard League.

In 1176, the foot soldiers of the Lombard League faced Frederick’s army of mounted knights at the Battle of Legnano. In an astonishing victory, the Italian foot soldiers used crossbows to defeat feudal knights for the first time in history. In 1177, Frederick made peace with the pope and returned to Germany. His defeat, though, had undermined his authority with the German princes. After he drowned in 1190, his empire fell to pieces.

In his comment on my first post, Dan K has proposed a nice rewrite of this passage. In my own rewrite, I wanted to limit myself to the techniques that Catherine and I cover in our book. These techniques–which we’ll gradually explore here on this blog as well–involve rearranging sentences, but not necessarily changing words.

Here is my rewrite:

Frederick I was the first ruler to call his lands the Holy Roman Empire. This region, however, was actually a patchwork of feudal territories. So long as Frederick remained in these territories, his forceful personality and military skills enabled him to dominate the German princes who ruled there. But whenever he left, disorder returned.

Frederick left the country frequently. His destination was Italy, where, like Otto, he repeatedly invaded the rich cities. But his brutal tactics spurred Italian merchants and the Pope to unite against him (in an alliance called the Lombard League).

In 1176, at the Battle of Legnano, Frederick’s army of mounted knights faced the Lombard League’s foot soldiers. In an astonishing, unprecedented victory, crossbow-wielding foot soldiers defeated knights on horseback. Frederick made peace the next year with the pope and returned to Germany. But his defeat had undermined his authority with the German princes and, with his death in 1190 (a drowning), his empire fell to pieces.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the various techniques I used–and my reasons for using them.

4 thoughts on “Rewriting history–revision of example 1

  1. Sorry, I can’t really tell the difference. Both versions are the same, classic textbookese. Well, on a second read, I find myself disliking the phrase “astonishing, unprecedented victory”.

    Like

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