The ‘Peterloo massacre’ was one of the defining events of its age. You could almost draw parallels with Amritsar, Sharpeville and Soweto.  This enquiry spans three lessons during which pupils look at the reasons for the march, and the conflicting accounts of the events of the day, before coming to their judgement  about who was to blame.  They use the jigsaw technique for groupwork and spend considerable time evaluating individual sources so that they do not rush to making a  judgement.   This lesson tries to cover the last two elements of the enquiry.

Learning objectives

  • to analyse the different accounts of what happened at Peterloo and to identify the most controversial issues
  • to understand how the events at Peterloo have been seen differently by historians and to offer reasons for these differences
  •  to argue the case for who was to blame, marshalling appropriate supporting evidence.


Show the plaque that stands on the site of what has become known as the Peterloo Massacre (PowerPoint slide2) and ask the pupils if they think there is anything odd about it?

Step 1

Now show slide 3 which tells the story of John Lees who fought against Napoleon only to be killed in

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