Elizabethan England (AQA / Edexcel)
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Elizabeth IQueen Elizabeth Tudor

The following materials can be used to support a study of Elizabethan England, for example:

Elizabeth I 1558-1566: Student Lecture Sheet | Teacher Lecture Notes

A student notes framework, and complete teacher lecture notes, to provide a brief overview of the early part of the reign.

A. Why did the Spanish decide to invade England in 1588?

Factor 1. Elizabeth's Refusal to Marry | Teacher Presentation | Teacher Notes

" Throughout her long reign, Elizabeth had a number of opportunities to marry, but she never did. She died unmarried and without children. So when she died, James VI of Scotland (the son of Mary Queen of Scots) became King James I of England too.
In this activity we will decide whether Elizabeth was right to refuse marriage by considering:
• The advantages and disadvantages for Elizabeth of getting married in general;
• The strengths and weaknesses of particular men she could have married."

Conclusion: Elizabeth's Refusal to Marry
Students are provided with a list of factors explaining Elizabeth's decision not to marry. These are then arranged into a Triangle 9 diagram, and students use their findings to answer the question "Was Elizabeth RIGHT not to marry?".

Sourcework: Elizabeth's Refusal to Marry
Students are given two sources from Elizabeth explaining her decision not to marry, and asked questions to test their understanding.

Factor 2: The Elizabethan Religious Settlement | Teacher Notes

It would be good to start this lesson with the clip from "Elizabeth" showing the burning of Latimer and Ridley to remind students of the divisions caused by religion - but of course it is a "15" certified film, so this is not possible...So, in this worksheet, students simply assess whether each part of the settlement was Catholic, Protestant or both. This is good revision of the Reformation unit, and gives students a sound understanding of what the Church of England stands for.

"Religion under the Tudors was a bit of a roller-coaster. Under Henry, the Church broke away from the Pope's control, but didn't change much otherwise. Under Edward, the Church became Protestant. Under Mary it became strongly Catholic. What would Elizabeth do?

Homework / Extension: Students could be asked to produce an illustrated depiction of the new Church designed to explain to the illiterate majority of the population how it is set up. Alternatively, the class could be broken into three groups, so that one group could produce a poster about the Elizabethan Church, one could provide a poster about the Catholic Church, and one could provide a poster about the Puritan Church. The teacher should close the lesson by saying that "Both the Catholics and the Puritans (strong Protestants) hated the settlement. The Pope promised that any Catholic who killed Elizabeth Tudor would be guaranteed a place in heaven! As a result all Catholics were declared possible assassins and would be executed for treason. Many hid in the famous 'Priest Holes' in country houses (e.g. Boscobel). Elizabeth also set up the Secret Service under Francis Walsingham to root out spies!"

The Elizabethan Religious Settlement: Detailed notes, analysis and questions
A document originally designed for A-Level.

Factor 3: Elizabethan Pirates

A ripping yarn, which it would be a shame to overlook! Directly after this, I have to resort to history teacher stereotype and show students the Blackadder Episode: "Potato", which is a fantastic spoof of the voyages of discovery. By the reign of Elizabeth, Spain was a Superpower. Columbus had claimed the New World (America) for Spain. Spanish traders were bringing back massive amounts of Gold, Turkey, Tobacco and Potatoes. The English wanted a piece of the action. So they designed low, fast pirate ships which could easily outmanouevre the heavy Spanish galleons and lay underneath the range of their guns. Even more daringly, pirates like Sir Francis Drake launched attacks on wealthy Spanish ports too. This brought immense wealth for Elizabeth, who showered these pirates with honours. This infuriated King Philip of Spain!

Factor 4: The issue of Mary, Queen of Scots | Video on the Babbington Plot

A fourth reason why the Spanish decided to invade England in 1588 was connected to Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary was a Catholic cousin of Elizabeth (her mother was Henry VIII's sister). Catholics all across Europe wanted her to replace Elizabeth as Queen of England. Students consider the life and actions of Mary, and decide for each piece of evidence whether she deserves to be executed, imprisoned or freed. This feeds into a lively class debate and verdict. Students then learn how Elizabeth actually dealt with Mary by watching a video. They could make notes on Tom Phillips, Al-Kindi, Anthony Babbington and Francis Walsingham.

Conclusion: To what extent was Elizabeth I to blame for Spain's decision to invade England in 1588? - Essay Instructions and Markscheme

B. Why did the Armada Fail?

EITHER: Option 1 - Running Dictation Exercise: The Spanish Armada
Students have to scribble down as much information as they can from the interactive news feed, then use it to
(a) Produce a biased newspaper report from either a Spanish or an English perspective in three sections - cause, course, consequences AND / OR:
(b) Produce a written piece deciding whether the Spanish Armada failed due to (i) Luck, (ii) English Skill or (iii) Spanish Mistakes
Note: It is a good idea to brainstorm some "good" and "bad" words on the board prior to starting the written report so that students don't keep repeating the same points. After the reports are finished, you can then have a "knockout" competition where each student has to give a "good" word in turn, without repetition or hesitation. Students sit down when they are "out" and the winning student gets a merit. The same game can be played for "bad" words. It's a nice way of building up vocabulary!

OR: Option 2 - Biased Account Exercise: The Spanish Armada
Students are provided with an objective narrative account of the Spanish Armada. Group 1 will work on the first notepad to create a biased account from an ENGLISH perspective. Group 2 will work on the second notepad to create a biased account from an SPANISH perspective.

Written and Audio-Visual Source Analysis: The Tillbury Speech
At the time of the Armada, Elizabeth rode to the south coast and delivered a famous speech to her troops. This speech is largely responsible for Elizabeth's reputation. But, as you are about to find out, we don't actually know for certain what she really said - and historians and filmmakers ever since have deliberately tried to confuse us further. How? Why?

C. Portraits as Propaganda

Portraits as Propaganda: Symbolism in Picture Sources
This activity build on well from The Ambassadors and the Tudor Portrait Mystery Exercises. Students consider the tools used by artists to represent different policies, emotions and personality traits in individuals, using the famous "Armada Portrait" as a starting point. They then use what they have learned to produce their own colourful "Royal Portrait" of themselves, which can then be used for display purposes:

D. The Circumnavigation of Francis Drake: A Google Earth spectacular!

Between 1577-1580, Francis Drake succeeded in becoming the first man to sail around ("Circumnavigate") the entire world.

In this lesson unit, you will investigate this extraordinary feat in a number of ways.

Step 1: Downloading the Google Earth Journey!

The core of this activity is a virtual "Flyover" of the journey using Google Earth (download it here).

Download the Google Earth Tour of the Circumnavigation here
[TIP: click the right-hand button of your mouse over this link, and choose "Save Target As" to save it to your desktop. This is a "Zipped" (compressed) file - so once it is downloaded, you will need to "Extract" it. Do this by double clicking on the folder icon which will appear on your desktop when it is saved, then choose "Extract all Files". When they are extracted, double click on the 'file.kmz' file to open up the tour in Google Earth!"].

Step 2: Enjoying the Journey!

Once you have got Google Earth opened, you can view the tour in two ways:

(a) Double click on each of the "places" which are listed on the left hand side of the screen (this will allow you to view the detailed information about each place, along with a primary source account from Francis Petty, one of the sailors who was on board).

(b) Simply click the "play" icon at the bottom of the "places" window to enjoy a "movie" of the entire journey!
[TIP: This 'Flyover' function works by playing all of the 'places' that you have ticked off. Make sure that the 'Drake' folder is ticked, and that nothing else is!]

Step 3: Lesson Plans / Activities

I have put together a variety of lesson ideas for this unit.

1. Structured Questions about Drake's Circumnavigation
Students answer a series of questions based around a viewing of the Google Earth Flyover.

2. Living Graph of Drake's Circumnavigation
Students complete a "danger graph" charting key points in the journey.

3. Sir Francis Drake: Hero or Villain?
Students gather evidence for both sides of the case, then reach their own conclusion.

4. Working with Primary Sources: Text Account
Students use the primary source account of Francis Petty to build up a picture of Drake's piracy, the appearance and customs of the natives and the goods he obtained at various points on the journey.

5. Working with Primary Sources: Pictorial Account
Students examine four illustrations from a 1626 book about Drake's voyage, and try to deduce which part of the journey is described by each. Pairs of students could work on this, sitting "back to back": one student could describe the picture in front of them, whilst their partner (using the Petty Account) could try to match this to the correct event.

6. Making a Google Earth Tour of Drake's Circumnavigation
Students use the raw data to construct their own Google Earth Tour. This lesson comes complete with a Google Earth helpsheet. (note: this means that students should NOT see the completed Google Earth Tour I have already put together - at least not until they have made their own!)

E. Conclusions

How successfully did Elizabeth deal with the problems of her reign?
In this exercise, students will reach a final judgement about Elizabeth I by writing an essay.
In this way, they will:



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