THE REIGN OF KING JOHN

AQA HISTORY LEVEL UNIT 2A / OCR HISTORY A LEVEL Y103
ROYAL AUTHORITY AND THE ANGEVIN KINGS, 1154-1216 / England 1199-1272

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LEARNING OBJECTIVES

· Students should appreciate the significance of King John’s conflicts with the Papacy,

· Students should understand why many historians believe that King John was the worst king in English history, especially in the sphere of economic policy and military campaigns,

· Students should understand factors contributing to low baronial support for King John, how declining support led to the First Barons’ War, and why anti-Semitism was common among barons,

· Students should evaluate the impact of French suzerainty on the power of King John.


LEARNING RESOURCES

· Reading extracts [CLICK HERE TO ACCESS]

· Primary source: Account of King John’s reign in John Lydgate’s Verses [CLICK HERE TO ACCESS]

· Further primary sources: available from the British Library [CLICK HERE TO ACCESS]

· Video: The Baron’s Revolt [Length: 08:56]

· Video: Magna Carta—The Document and Its Importance [Length: 05:55]


Recommended Pre-Reading For Teachers

· Magna Carta: A Primer (The Road to Runnymede) pg. 21-26

· Magna Carta: A Primer (Magna Carta’s Provisions) pg. 29-36

· Magna Carta: A Primer (The Charter’s Immediate Effects) pg. 39-43


Key Questions

· What caused King John’s dispute with the Pope and how was it resolved?

· What was the Interdict and what impact did it have on everyday life?

· What factors led to worsening relations between King John and the baronial class?

· How did the provisions of Magna Carta reflect the barons’ grievances?

· How did Magna Carta reflect anti-Semitism among the baronial class?

· How did French suzerainty undermine the power of King John?


Activities

· Begin the lesson with a general class discussion on what students know about King John’s reign and Magna Carta (its origins, purpose, and significance today).

· Play The Baron’s Revolt video module and ask students whether they think that King John was the “worst king in English history.” Ask them to explain their answer.

· Ask students to read the following extracts from the learning resources section, then ask them to write short paragraph-long answers to the accompanying question. Pick students to read their answers and discuss with the whole class:

Extract 1: from Magna Carta: A Primer

Extract 2: from King John: An Underrated King

Extract 3: Magna Carta’s three Jewish clauses

· Play Magna Carta—The Document and Its Importance video module and ask students whether they think that King John and the barons realized the long-term significance of Magna Carta and its principles, or whether they saw it as a purely pragmatic bargain. Ask them to explain their answer.

· Ask students to examine the primary source in the learning resources section (Account of King John’s reign in John Lydgate’s Verses on the kings of England to Henry VI). Discuss what the poem and picture tell students about perceptions of King John with reference to their nature, origin, and purpose. Consider how the purple dress conveys John’s penchant for extravagance and the reddened cheeks suggest a love of excess. Link this to John’s economic policy. Highlight the poem’s discussion of the Interdict’s effect on John’s public standing, his failed military campaigns, and his punitive economic policy’s impact on the price of bread.


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