History - Were rights won through violence or reasoning?

Did Britons win their rights through violence or reasoning? Examine these snap shots from British history and decide how people gained political freedom.

Magna Carta

  • A worksheet with an excellent cartoon showing why the barons were angry. Engaging questions which begin to get students thinking about the fact that if King John only gave rights to “free” people, then who was not free in medieval England?

Peasants Revolt

  • Beautifully presented PowerPoint, including lesson plan and worksheet on interpretations. Students examine chronicles in order to discover whether the rebels of 1381 were heroes or villains.

Execution of Charles I

  • A detailed resource which covers source interpretation through a range of differentiated activities such as questioning how popular the trial and execution of Charles I were. Activities include instructions for team role-plays and literacy work through the creation of newspaper reports It also has self and peer evaluation and levelled success criteria. An excellent collection.

Interpretations of Cromwell

  • An excellent resource in which students interrogate sources in order to examine whether Cromwell was a hero or a villain. Highlights include an enjoyable starter using royal seals and a popularity graph.

Democracy Through History Lesson Resource Pack

  • These activities uses sources from Parliament’s archives to examine events through history that link to democracy and democratic action. Students can explore these ideas and relate them to their own lives. Suitable for a variety of subjects.

The Levellers

  • Students read the agreements of the people and attempt to write their own. Develops links with citizenship through discussion. Some prior knowledge required.

The Chartists

  • Students get to examine the people’s charter and then write their own speech. This resource includes peer assessment and extension activities.

Luddites and Swing Riots

  • An excellent source investigation including success criteria. Gets KS3 students working on GCSE style skills, such as inference, then allows them to make a judgement on whether people deserved to be treated so harshly by the government.

Democracy in the 1800s

  • Examining images using inference skills to decide whether voting rights were fair or not in the 1800s.

Rotten Boroughs

  • A range of interactive activities to help students answer the big question of fairness surrounding voting rights in the 1800s.

The Peterloo Massacre

  • Lovely starter using the famous artwork as a memory aid. Challenging source interpretation with basic information and guidance given.


  • Very detailed series of lessons and student activity book from which you can get a whole wealth of ideas. Has a lot of links to current events which keeps it relevant.

2011 Riots

  • A varied collection of articles about the riots to prepare work for exploring the riots and related issues and emotions, including grief, alienation, fear and anger. Opportunity to learn about, think, discuss and reflect in a supportive environment. Includes articles from a range of sources to show the different ‘spin’ journalists can give a story.

Abolition of Slavery

  • A great summary of the key individuals involved in the abolition of the slave trade. Can be used for a role play activity or class debate.

TES collection of resources on democracy and power

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