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Focus question 4: How has the power moved from the monarch to the people?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: Recapping the system (45 min) ESL Activity 1
Activity 2: Who had the power? (30 min) ESL Activity 2
Further activity  

Activity 1: Recapping the system (45 min)

1a Recall what is known about the state of the monarchy after the overthrow of King Charles. List the ideas on the board.

Handout 7,14,15 1b Distribute Handout 7 and review the modern British system of government. Discuss the role of the monarch and the Members of the Parliament. List elements of the system on the board opposite the previous list. Compare the lists, and highlight the presence of the monarch in the modern system. How did the monarch get back into the system?

1c Students can follow Handout 15 as you read the following to the class (display Handout 14 which provides details of the movement of power).

After all the trouble - the Civil War, the execution of King Charles, Parliament ruling for a while and then Oliver Cromwell taking over - England eventually returned a king to the throne. This was King Charles II, the son of King Charles I.

When Charles II died, his brother James became king. James was quite a different kind of king from Charles; he was determined to control the Parliament. He set about selecting judges who would support him in the courts to say that it was the king's right to suspend any laws made by the Parliament. This was too much for many in Parliament, so much so that they were prepared to commit treason against the king to have him replaced.

Secretly, the Parliament invited William of Orange, who was the husband of James' daughter Mary, to invade England. William's arrival scared King James II away and allowed the Parliament time to declare that the throne was vacant. England had no monarch again and a replacement needed to be found.

The House of Commons put forward the idea that William and Mary could rule in James' place. There was no way that this king and queen could have absolute power as in the past. William and Mary became constitutional monarchs, which meant that they still remained the highest authority in the land but that they had to act according to a basic set of rules or a 'constitution'.

The House of Commons also devised a 'Declaration of Rights' which confirmed rights of petition, of free elections and of consent to taxation.

Handout 14
Handout 16

1d Read through the Declaration of Rights on Handout 14 and discuss the points listed. Which of the points listed are still relevant today? Identify how they are interpreted, if at all, today.

Activity 2: Who had the power? (30 min)

2a Distribute Handout 16 and outline the task:

  • Complete the Handout by drawing bars on the graph to indicate the political power held by each group.
  • Discuss the difference between 'no power', 'limited power' and 'absolute power'.
  • Use the information gained from the History Mysteries to complete the task.

2b As a class, compare the completed students' charts with the Parliament versus Monarch poster.

Further activity

Conduct a debate: Did the end justify the means? Was parliamentary democracy a major improvement on absolute monarchy?

ESL activities

Back to 'Parliament versus Monarch - At a glance'

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