Group Assignment Sheet

1215 — Magna Carta, England, signed by King John I

The Assignment
You must prepare a multiple-tier timeline for the document Magna Carta.

To begin your research, read the background of the situation, then find the answers to the questions. Use the answers to begin your timeline.

Remember, your group’s multiple-tier timeline must contain reflections of life in this period (which could include references to art, literature, technology and industry); significant personalities; and important social, political and economic circumstances that produced the Magna Carta.

In your oral presentation, your group will use the timeline to relate the time period, summarize the Magna Carta’s provisions and indicate the influence of the Magna Carta on American government.

Background
Henry II, the first Plantagenet king, owned many fiefs in Great Britain and France through inheritance and marriage. He used scutage, or shield money (paid in lieu of military service), to hire foreign soldiers. This was not to protect his barons. Instead, he anticipated his countrymen would be less likely to rebel against him because they would lose their skills of battle. In spite of his cunning, Henry II (1154-1189) had a sense of fairness. While the Normans who preceded him had settled disputes through battle, Henry II allowed disputants to bring their disagreements before 12 knights who lived nearby and were familiar with the facts. This was the precedent of trial by jury.

Henry married Eleanor of Acquitaine after she divorced Louis VII of France. Thomas ŕ Becket — Henry’s friend who, after becoming archbishop of Canterbury, became the king’s enemy— was murdered by men responding to Henry’s exclamation “Is there no one who will rid me of this vile priest?” Henry made every attempt to prove he was innocent of ordering Becket’s death, but England’s common folk made a shrine of Canterbury cathedral, where the martyr had been slain. Near the end of his life, Henry’s three oldest sons joined their mother in rebellion against him.

When Henry II died in 1189, his oldest son Henry was already dead, so Richard, who had lived in France most of his life, became king. Richard died in 1199, leaving no children. Since Henry II’s third son, Geoffrey, had died in 1185, this left the crown to John, the fourth son.

In 1203, John killed Arthur, his brother Geoffrey’s young son. King Philip of France, who had supported Arthur’s claim to be ruler of Anjou, charged John with murder. When John did not appear for trial, the French monarch seized all his lands on the Continent.

In 1214 all hope that King John I held of regaining French lands he had inherited were ended when he lost in battle to King Philip II at Bouvines. Upon his return to England, an angry King John demanded scutage from the barons who had not joined him as he battled against France. The barons protested what they considered an unfair assessment, but the monarch would not relent.

In June 1215, a new code of laws that prominent men of England had agreed in 1213 to write were presented to King John at Runnymede. The people and their leaders were so angry with the king, he dared not refuse to sign. The Magna Carta was the first written agreement between an English king and his people. It set feudal society’s existing customs on paper. Before 1215, the monarch could change the rules as he liked, according to his divine right; in 1215, the concept of rule by law was instituted. But the law had its limits. These feudal lords had no desire to bestow rights upon the peasants who worked their lands or to limit their own power over those they sent to battle.

Questions

  • What was the level of military technology during the time of Henry II and John I?

  • What is the relation of King Richard the Lion-Hearted to King John I? Compare them.

  • What are the characteristics of feudal society?

  • What is the relation of the legend of Robin Hood [LINK: http://www.geocities.com/puckrobin/rh (which is very student friendly) or to a more scholarly site, http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/rh/rhhome.htm#back] to kings Richard and John? What do the tales reveal about society at that time?

  • Why did Pope Innocent III place England under an interdict?

  • What took place in 1213 that led to the Magna Carta of 1215?

  • Why did the barons refuse to pay scutage to King John I?

  • What abuses of power are evident in the rule of King John I? Why might he be described as “despotic”?

  • What are the “Articles of the barons”?

  • What provisions of the Magna Carta remain to this day?

You may wish to begin your research at Magna Carta and Its American Legacy.

1628 — Petition of Right, England, signed by King Charles I

The Assignment
You must prepare a multiple-tier timeline for the document Petition of Right.

To begin your research, read the background of the situation, then find the answers to the questions. Use the answers to begin your timeline.

Remember, your group’s multiple-tier timeline must contain reflections of life in this period (which could include references to art, literature, technology and industry); significant personalities; and important social, political and economic circumstances that produced the Petition of Right.

In your oral presentation, your group will use the timeline to relate the time period, summarize the Petition of Right’s provisions and indicate the influence of the Petition of Right on American government.

Background
Queen Elizabeth died on March 24, 1603. She had reigned for nearly 45 years and was 70 years old. The daughter of Anne Boleyn (second wife of King Henry VIII), Elizabeth was an extraordinary woman. Her reign is considered by many to be the grandest in English history.

James IV of Scotland, son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and great-grandson of Margaret, sister of Henry VIII, was selected by Parliament to be James I of England. He was the first king of Great Britain over whom the Union Jack flew. Intelligent and conceited, he ordered a new translation of the Bible that is still read and known today as the King James version. He persecuted the Puritans so severely that many crossed the Atlantic to settle in New England. Unhappy Roman Catholic sympathizers — including one Guy Fawkes — planned an uprising, but their plan to explode 36 barrels of gunpowder under King James and the House of Lords on Nov. 5, 1605, the opening session of Parliament, was thwarted. King James I died in 1625 from gluttony and drunkenness.

Born in 1600 and crowned king when he was 25 years old, Charles I led a double life. In his private life he was a gentleman, irreproachable in morals and conduct. As a monarch, he believed he was above all law. He persecuted the Puritans of England and the Presbyterians of Scotland.

The English Parliament knew exactly when King Charles I was vulnerable. Charles I, who believed fanatically in the divine right of kings, had earthly problems. He had married a Roman Catholic, he had spent lavishly on art and he needed more money to pay for warfare. When knights refused to pay forced “loans” to the king, he imprisoned them. The Parliament listed grievances (actions they did not like) and demanded reform before Charles I would receive more funds. In 1628 Charles I signed the Petition of Right.

Even though rebellion began in Scotland over religious issues in 1637, it was the Long Parliament’s issuance of the Grand Remonstrance, a document stating failures of Charles I to fulfill the Petition of Right and other shortcomings of his governing, and Parliament’s demand that Charles I give control of the militia to them that started a civil war in 1642. On January 30, 1649, following his trial, Charles I was beheaded in public.

Questions

  • What role did religion play during the reigns of Elizabeth, James and Charles?

  • What is the "divine right of kings"?

  • Who were the prominent writers and artists during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I?

  • Whom did King Charles I marry?

  • In what war was Charles I engaged?

  • What were the main weapons of warfare at that time?

  • What were the grievances that Parliament listed?

  • Who in Parliament wrote and championed the Petition of Right?

  • What provisions of the Petition of Right remain to this day?

You may wish to begin your research at The Petition of Right (1628).

1689 — The Bill of Rights, England, signed by William
and Mary

The Assignment
You must prepare a multiple-tier timeline for the document English Bill of Rights.

To begin your research, read the background of the situation, then find the answers to the questions. Use the answers to begin your timeline.

Remember, your group’s multiple-tier timeline must contain reflections of life in this period (which could include references to art, literature, technology and industry); significant personalities; and important social, political and economic circumstances that produced the English Bill of Rights.

In your oral presentation, your group will use the timeline to relate the time period, summarize the Bill of Rights’ provisions and indicate the influence of the Bill of Rights on American government.

Background
In 1649 England ceased to be a kingdom when Charles I was beheaded and the House of Commons declared England a Commonwealth. Within months, England became a republic governed by a Council of State. By Dec. 16, 1653, Oliver Cromwell was made lord protector of England, Ireland and Scotland. Cromwell served until his death in 1658.

On May 8, 1660, Charles II was declared king, and he returned from the Continent to which he had fled in 1648. The Restoration had begun. But Charles II lacked moral principle. He seized property, including New Amsterdam (today’s New York), and sold English holdings to pay for his debauchery. To get the bribe money Louis XIV of France had promised him, Charles II declared war against Holland in 1672. Secretly a Roman Catholic, Charles II, in order to appease the Protestant Parliament two years later, arranged the marriage of his niece, the princess Mary, to William of Orange, the foremost Protestant on the Continent. Peace was declared, and Parliament granted Charles II the money he wanted.

Although the Magna Carta of 1215 declared that no freeman should suffer arbitrary imprisonment, many monarchs found ways to break the law. In response, Parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act in 1679. No man was to be held in prison on a criminal charge without being brought before a judge to determine if his imprisonment was legal.

When Charles II died in 1685, his brother became king. Although a Roman Catholic, James II promised to respect the laws and defend the Church of England. James II had two daughters, Mary and Anne, who were Protestants. Believing that one of them would rule, the English people lived with his violations of law. When James Francis Edward was born on June 10, 1688, to James II and his second wife, ardent Roman Catholic Mary of Modena, Protestant leaders sent a secret plea to William, Prince of Orange, to defend the claim of his wife to the English throne. On November 5, 1688, William landed at Torbay with 14,000 troops. Lacking supporters, James II fled to France with his wife and child.

Parliament declared that the throne was open because James Stuart had broken his contract with the people. William and Mary were formally invited to joint sovereignty only after they signed the Bill of Rights presented to them by Parliament. The divine right of kings was ended, the laws were to be faithfully executed, the people could not be taxed without the permission of Parliament and every man had the right to petition the crown for redress.

Questions

  • When did the Whig and Tory parties begin?

  • What role did religion play during the reigns of Charles I, Charles II and James II?

  • When and why were thousands of Huguenots driven to England and America? How did they add to the diversity of the colonies?

  • Wealthy John Hampden and his cousin Oliver Cromwell attempted to leave England to join the Puritans in America. King Charles I would not allow their departure. What impact did this act of the monarch have on himself and later rulers?

  • What was poet John Milton’s political involvement?

  • Why is Virginia known as the Old Dominion?

  • Which individuals wrote the Bill of Rights submitted to William and Mary?

  • What were the benefits of the Commonwealth period in English history?

  • What provisions of the Bill of Rights remain to this day?

You may wish to begin your research at The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School: English Bill of Rights 1689, An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown.



BACK