Why did sons kill fathers in the English Civil War? The Verneys enquiry

Pupils in this Year 8 class had already looked at background causes of the English Civil War and had a clear grasp of the narrative of events 1625-42.  They had looked at the different ways in which historians had tried to explain the causes, so the lesson was designed to give the causes a more personal touch which might bring home the real motivation on both sides.

Learning objectives

  • to consolidate pupils understanding of the causes of the English Civil War
  • to help them grasp the issues that divided the country, but also to see the complexity of the reasons in some cases

Step 1

Reveal the plaque of the wall of the church at Claydon in Buckinghamshire (PowerPoint slide2).  Tell the pupils who the four people are, then go through slides 3 to 6 giving some background to the family.  Then pose the leading question, why did Ralph side with the parliamentary cause which went to war against the rightful king Charles, and ended up killing his own father?

Can the children raise some possible smaller questions we need to answer first?  This encourages the sense of enquiry.  A few examples of questions pupils often ask are shown on

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