Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Learning Resource created by The Cromwell Museum.

The British Civil Wars were an important turning point in British history. It led to the trial and execution of a king, the establishment of a republic, the unification of England, Scotland, and Ireland under a single government, and the creation of the first written constitution.

This resource explores the causes and events of the civil wars, the establishment of Britain’s first standing professional army, and the weapons and soldiers who fought in it. This resource can be used to support your classroom teaching about Oliver Cromwell, the British Civil Wars, and the Commonwealth, or used as an introduction before a visit to the Cromwell Museum, either in person or virtually.

A detailed timeline of the British Civil Wars is available as a Word document download.

Curriculum Links

  • KS3 History: Development of church, state, and society in Britain (1509 – 1745): causes and events of the civil wars, the Interregnum, and the Restoration.
  • KS4 History: Thematic Early Modern British history

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge and understanding of the causes and key events of the British Civil Wars.
  • Knowledge of the weapons used during 17th century battles and how the New Modelled Army was formed.

Discussion Ideas

  • Was Charles’ Personal Rule a success? Who do you think saw it as a ‘Personal Rule’ and who saw it as a ‘Tyranny’? Which do you think it was?
  • Why would someone support the Royalist cause or the Parliamentarian cause?

Activity Ideas

  • Local history study:
    Research into what civil war events happened in the area in which you live. Try to identify any individuals that took part in the war from your area, local battles or sieges, which side your area supported, etc. Present your findings or create a display.
  • Make a timeline showing the important events of the British Civil Wars. Select images and objects from this resource or from the Museum’s website to represent the events.
  • 17th Century Fake News: When civil war broke out, government censorship and control over printed publications in the country ended. Print exploded, with newsbooks and pamphlets flourishing to keep up with the demand for news of the war. Newsbooks fell along political lines, with Royalist and Parliamentarian supporters misrepresenting events, reporting on rumours, and even reporting losses as wins.
  • Choose one of the battles of the civil war and write a description about the battle as both a Parliamentarian and a Royalist.
    • How would you change how you write about it?
  • Hold a class debate. Suggested topics:
    • What was the foremost cause of the civil wars – religion or politics?
    • Did Charles I need to die?