Execution of Louis XVI

Enquiry question: When the French Revolution started in 1789, few wanted the death of the king or the end of monarchy. But just 4 years later the king’s head has been chopped off. Why?

This lesson was taught to a mixed-ability class of 19 which contained low-attaining Year 8 pupils who found concentration difficult.  The lesson’s strong point is that it simplifies a complex topic into memorable episodes and gets pupils involved from the beginning.  Starting with an engaging (OK gory!) story, pupils are asked to speculate as to why Louis suffered that fate.  A brief explanatory PowerPoint presentation uses 4 key images on which pupils can hang their understanding. A short role play of the trial leads to a summary in which pupils label 4 key turning points of a living graph from 1789-93.

Learning objectives

  • Pupils can identify a range of causes for Louis XVI’s execution
  • They grasp how four key events combined to make his execution more likely
  • They know the arguments used by people who wanted to execute the king.

Step 1

With the image of Louis XVI execution scene (PowerPoint slide2) showing in the back ground, introduce the key enquiry question: When the French Revolution

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