Year 8

Year 8 history includes a study of England during the 17th century, France at the time of its’ revolution and a relatively short analysis of British Industrial Revolution. The exam which is taken in May/ June will focus on the first two studies. Your teacher will explain nearer the time of the exam what content and skills are required for you to succeed. The assessments throughout the year are explained on this page and resources provided for you. However, your teacher has a choice of assessments to give you so you may not complete them all.

Assessments for the first term;

– What were the causes of the English Civil Wars?

– Was Oliver Cromwell a hero or a villain?

– Did the Royalists lose at the Battle of Naseby or did the Roundheads win?

The resources and requirements for the above are given below. The remainder of the year is lower down the page.

What were the causes of the English Civil Wars?

Historians will find it very difficult to argue that a major event had just one cause. There are several causes generally although you could argue that one was more important than the other. This is what you need to do in your essay. Decide yourself which was the main cause of the English Civil War and explain why it is? You should of course include all the other causes so you can argue their importance as well. This may be your first assessment of the year so your teacher will be able to assess your thinking, essay-writing and English skills.

The causes of the English Civil War are generally divided into two groups. There are the long-term and short term causes and then there are the political, economic and social. You can use these headings in your essay if you want although to include all may result in an extremely long piece.


The Gunpowder Plot

Conflicts over religion have occurred in England for centuries. The country had been divided for centuries between Catholics and Protestants. As an example of this, in 1605 there was an attempted assassination on the king of England and Scotland at that time, James I. The man arrested for this was Guy Fawkes, although he preferred his Latin name of Guido Fawkes. He was Catholic and under torture, confessed to a plot by leading English Catholics to kill the king. The resources below explain much more of what happened. In recent years, historians have began to argue that the Gunpowder Plot was a Protestant conspiracy. Was Guy Fawkes set up to take the blame? Who had most to gain from the arrest of leading Catholics?

Conflicting arguments from History on the Net.

A television channel in the UK, Channel 4, documented the Gunpowder Plot. This is the website for the series.

A detailed website specializing on the Gunpowder Plot.

A Gunpowder Plot game from the BBC.

General websites about the causes of the English Civil War

A study of Charles I.

A short summary of the causes.

An easy to understand webpage from Event Plan about the English Civil War.

This clip is from Battlefield Britain, a BBC series which you may watch for the Naseby assessment.

An interesting way of looking at the causes of the war. Do you think this clip puts blame on Charles I or parliament?

The clip above was designed to teach students about the causes of the war. A little dated but relevant nevertheless.

This link will allow you to brainstorm the causes of the English Civil War. You can look at what other students came up with as well.

Did the Royalists lose the Battle of Naseby or did parliament win?

The battle of Naseby was fought on the morning of the 14th June 1645. In the open fields of that small Northamptonshire village, parliament’s New Model Army destroyed King Charles I’s main field army. After nearly three years of conflict, this was the decisive battle of the Civil War. Only about 4000 Royalists escaped the field, most of whom were either cavalry or senior officers, some seriously wounded. The main royalist field army had been quite literally destroyed. UK Battlefields Resource Centre.

The essay question above is an interpretation exercise. The battle was won by parliament but did the Royalists do more to lose it or the New Model Army do more to win it? Teachers sometimes use a football match or another sport in which to explain interpretations. Al Ahly may defeat Zamalek or the greatest team on the planet, Manchester United, will defeat Liverpool, but did these teams win or the other side lose? If a team plays poorly, or is missing their best player, one could say that a team lost. If the winning side plays really well and has the most possession and shots on target, one could say they that won. However, sports fans are sometimes bias. If Manchester United lose a game, I may say that they lost the game rather than the other team winning. Why do I say that? The answer is that emotion can become more important than logic.

So how does the examples above help you answer the question about the Battle of Naseby? A soldier from the New Model Army will probably say that parliament won because they had superb training. A pikeman from the king’s army may say they lost because they were outnumbered. However, if you have watched the documentary or read a little about the battle, you would know that the Royalists nearly won, despite being outnumbered. So who do you believe? As a historian, your judgment is not affected by emotion. You were not at the battle or lived in England at the time of the English Civil War. To work out your judgment, you should do the following;

– Were the advantages of the New Model Army and parliament far more than the king’s army? Were they likely to win the Battle of Naseby?

– Was there one moment in the battle when the battle was won by parliament or the lost by the king?

– Did the commanders of the armies have such an effect on their armies that they affected the battle?

– The Battle of Naseby resulted in Parliament’s victory but it was a close thing. Therefore, the qualities of the New Model Army cannot have been the deciding factor of the battle, could it?

The episode of Simon Schama’s Britain which surrounds the events of the English Civil Wars and Oliver Cromwell explains that the Battle of Naseby was decisive. There is very little analysis of the battle but Cromwell’s cavalry was the deciding factor. Is this the reason for parliamentary victory and can you trust the source?

When writing the essay, you should learn from previous skills used in the causes of the English Civil War assessment. Make sure that you include various different causes and link them together. What were the consequences of decisions and events in the battle? Below are a list of resources which may help you write the essay or further your understanding of the wars.

An interesting web page analysing what would have happened if Charles had won the English Civil War.

A web page explaining why parliament won the civil war. Note that this is only one interpretation.

A comprehensive website about the English Civil Wars. Fairly difficult language at times.

From the

From the HistoryLearningSite. Suitable for students.

Was Oliver Cromwell a hero or a villain?

There are several websites explaining the different events of Oliver Cromwell’s life. He remains a controversial figure and you will usually be asked to analyse these events as part of an assessment. The schoolhistory website has a variety of links and many of which are suitable for Year 8 students. However you should also try to view clips on Youtube. David Starkey is a British historian and put together a series on the history of Britain in the 1990’s. The language he uses can be difficult to understand but you should get an idea of Cromwell’s life by watching it. The episode on Cromwell is split into five parts and are given here. The websites are also listed afterwards.

A variety of resources available from School History.

A website dedicated to Oliver Cromwell.

Oliver Cromwell from wikipedia.

Oliver Cromwell from a history website.

Several web pages from Channel 4, a UK television station.

An English Civil War website.

Not a great deal about Cromwell but it will help students understand the Civil Wars.

A Daily Mail article about Oliver Cromwell.

You will no doubt search the internet yourself to find more answers to the question. This is fine but a word of warning. The people who have written their answers have their own interpretations of Cromwell. You do not know what evidence they have read so make sure you make your own judgment. By all means make use of these websites or pages but make sure you do not copy their work. Plagiarising, or copying other people’s work, is not something you want to start doing.

The answer from WikiAnswers

Above is yet another clip about Cromwell’s life. This from an old documentary and tries to give both points of view.

The Making of the Union Flag

The flag as we know it today is made up of four countries; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Act of Union was signed in 1707 to bring England and Scotland closer together. Their flag is below.

The flag of St. Patrick was added in 1801 because of a further Act of Union. The flag below is what the United Kingdom have today.


The web page below helps you draw the flag and gives you a little background to the history.

How to draw the Union flag?

There are many websites explaining the origins of the flag. Schoolhistory has several links to worksheets and you could also use the address below.

History of the United Kingdom

French Revolution

When researching yourself you need to be wary of what sources you read or indeed watch. British schools generally teach the French Revolution in Year 8. Students in America can study it in Year 12 so obviously they will access a lot more information than yourselves. Therefore not all of what you research will be relevant to your course. Many YouTube clips are made from American students and go into too much depth for Year 8 students. Some are very well made however and you should watch some merely to gain a greater historical understanding.  

The focus of this topic is to explain how and why the French Revolution was caused. Importantly you need to explain how causes are linked. There is rarely just one cause of an event. You should analyse all the causes and make a judgment on what you think was the main reason.

Tennis Court Oath

Can you write a persuasive speech such as the one below?

The Storming of the Bastille

The first clip below is only the first part of a documentary on one of the most famous events in French history. You can access the other two on YouTube. The second clip shows what happens on 14th July every year in France to commemorate, (remember), the French Revolution.

An excerpt from a movie about Marie-Antoinette’s execution. To what extent was she responsible for the French Revolution? Recently there was a movie made about her entitled, ‘Marie-Antoinette’. History has judged her because there was a revolution when she was queen. Do you think previous monarchs behaved the way she did? Does she deserve her reputation? The trailer from the movie is below.

The clip below is from a documentary on the French Revolution . It is fairly detailed and is in 10 different parts. The first is shown below so if you find it interesting, and importantly you can understand it, then look at the menu on the right hand side for the remaining parts.

The clip below is the French National anthem. It is called ‘The Marseillaise’. Read the lyrics and you may work out it was written for the French Revolution. The anthem is still in use today and is regarded, by me anyway, as one of the most inspiring.

Use the web page below to learn about the origins of the anthem and read the lyrics yourself.

The history of the Marseillaise and the lyrics.

A clip about the Revolution and ending with the rise of Napoleon.

The Flight to Varennes

French Revolution assessment

Every student in Year 8 is required to explain and argue the causes of the French Revolution. Generally you are given a quote from your teacher and asked to argue for and against it. You must analyse the causes rather than explain what they were. The ability to link causes together, argue which were the more important and include interpretations will be assessed. The markscheme, or rubric, will be handed out so must be read carefully when writing your essay.

To gain ideas of how to write the essay, you should read the following web page. You are able to download phrases and guidelines for your essay. Every student has their own style of writing so no doubt you will find phrases and sentences you will prefer and others do not.

Writing ideas for extended pieces of writing.

Writing frames available for a variety of subjects.

Causes of the French Revolution Writing Frame Year 8

A variety of resources available to download in case you missed any lessons.

To achieve the highest grades in the essay, you must be able to ask yourself questions throughout the piece. If Louis was the biggest cause of the Revolution, the following can be asked;

Which was the worst decision that Louis made which caused the French Revolution?

Which people in France were most affected by decisions made by Louis?

If you think the bread prices were the biggest cause of the French Revolution, the following can be asked;

Why did the French Revolution not occur during the poor bread harvests?

Did any of the other causes become worse because of the bread prices?


A website for younger students but helpful nevertheless.

A superb clip explaining the exploits of Napoleon in Egypt.

An explanation of the war in Russia in 1812. Discovery Channel

The Napoleonic Wars from Factmonster.

Waterloo from Factmonster.

Napoleon from Sparknotes.

Napoleon’s failure in Russia from the BBC.

Industrial Revolution

Textiles: domestic to factory production.

Employment and location.

Evidence about child labour from Spartacus.

Workshop of the world.

Growth of the railways.

The Muck and Brass game from the BBC.

The Cotton Millionaire game from the BBC.

Extensive evidence from spartacus.schoolnet
Excellent website for Victorian Britain.

Spanish Armada

An article from a history blog.

  1. its a very good sight although in writting skills i need a direction to point the essay in :what i mean is i dont want only a way how t o start off a sentence i want a usable sentence and also easy accsess information for me to read which will actually further help my report

    • adamkg1915 says:


      You can get ideas of how to begin paragraphs with all of the links. It will be a case of scanning each web page and selecting the ones you think are relevant. Phrases such as ‘on the other hand’ and ‘as a result of this’ will enable you to discuss interpretations and consequences. However, the second link of the three takes you to another page where ‘Writing Frames – David Wray’s homepage’ can be found and I think he gives a number of useful ideas. Finally, remember to use the mark scheme I gave you writing the essay.
      Mr. Gagan

  2. Hana Seita says:

    What are we supposed to be revising for the year 8 end of year exams?
    Ive revised the keywords, but what other subjects are we supposed to revise?

  3. Hana Seita says:

    No need to reply sir, i have found the revision sheet!

  4. hello sir, i know this is sort of last minute…but what exactly is the exam going to be based on?? i recently forgot…..

  5. charis lee 8AL says:

    mr gagan,

    i read the text book and i can not really find much info to put on my notes, ;(

    i will read it again and try again but if not then… ummm… i dunno, i will come anmd see u at a break next week, thanks

    thanks sir!!!! 🙂 :p

    charis 8AL

  6. adamkg1915 says:


    The textbook can be a little confusing at times. However, there are several links on this blog which should help you. There is a section for Cromwell about a third of the way down.


    • charis says:


      i have been away so i have not really done any hw
      but i am gonna see how much i can do before the next lesson!


      Charis 🙂 🙂 😀

  7. Alex kassab says:

    Thank you Mr. Gagan
    This web really helped me with the homework

  8. charis says:

    mr gagan,

    are we supposed to start the essay on cromwell?

    cos we got the list of keywords to help us in the essay, but i did not write anything down from the lesson!

    charis 🙂

  9. Mr. Gagan says:

    No, you do not have to start the essay yet. We will do this as a class on Wednesday.

  10. astrid says:

    dear mr cromwell,

    i noticed there was clips of napoleon at the bottom, are we going to study him next?


    • adamkg1915 says:

      Yes, we are. We will cover the events of the French Revolution first before explaining how Napoleon rose to power.

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