Who was Simon de Montfort?
by Gordon Lamont
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To tell the story of Simon de Montfort and relate this to modern democracy.
Preparation and materials
- Have available the short film ‘Stories from Parliament: Simon de Montfort ‘ (7.18 minutes) accessible at Parliament’s website, in its Education Service section, and the means to play it during the assembly or tell the story in your own words. The film can be found at: www.parliament.uk/education/teaching-resources-lesson-plans/stories-from-parliament---simon-de-montfort. Other resources, including the script and lesson plans, can also be found there.
- The assembly features tableaux retelling the story, in Step 3. The number of performers is flexible and it can be enacted spontaneously during the assembly or prepared in advance.
- Select some early English music and have the means to play it as the children enter and exit the assembly.
- Say that you are going to show a short film about an important event in history.
Ask if anyone has heard of the Magna Carta? Explain that it was a document agreed by King John and the powerful barons of England in 1215. It set out fundamental human rights, including trial by jury and that the king had to obey the law of the land. Parts of the Magna Carta are still in force today.
- Say that you are going to fast-forward from 1215 to 1263, when King John’s son Henry III was on the throne.
Show the ‘Stories from Parliament: Simon de Montfort‘ film or tell the story in your own words, including the following facts.
– Henry wanted to win back land that he’d lost in France, so he taxed the people more and more heavily.
– He even took hostages and starved some to death to get his way.
– The barons were powerful landowners. They staged a revolt and elected a French nobleman who was married to King Henry’s sister as their leader.
– He was Simon de Montfort who, with his wife Lady Eleanor and the other barons, raised a great army.
– The king’s troops were defeated and the king was captured at the battle of Lewes.
– In order to keep the king in line in future and give the people a voice in government for the first time, Simon de Montfort set up a parliament with representatives from every corner of the country.
- Invite a small group of performers to retell the story in tableaux (still or frozen pictures) as you give the titles below.
King Henry takes hostages to make people pay taxes.
Tableau of frightened people being seized by soldiers.
The barons meet in secret to elect a leader.
Tableau of secret meeting.
The king’s sister, Lady Eleanor, encourages Simon to go to war.
Tableau of Eleanor and Simon in animated discussion.
The rebel army defeats the king’s troops and the king is captured.
Tableau of victorious and defeated troops, some running away. In the centre, show the king being captured.
A parliament is formed of people from all across the country.
Tableau of argument and discussion in parliament.
Time for reflection
Democracy involves listening to everyone’s ideas, then voting to see which has the most support. Once people have voted, the democratic way is to all agree to stick with the decision that has received the most votes.
Are you a good democrat?
Chosen early English music.