GCSE History: Power And The People


Magna Carta: Causes

  • John failed to live up to medieval expectations of a good king (lead army, good relations with Church, keep peace, support of barons). Compared with Henry II (father) and Richard the Lionheart (brother).
  • Bad relations with Church (refused to agree with Pope's decision to appoint Steven Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury; Pope banned all Church services in England).
  • High taxes and scutage (John charged barons scutage (a tax they had to pay if the did not fight for him) to fund unsuccessful French wars, general taxes increased).
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Magna Carta: Events

  • Barons made an army (leader Robert Fitzwalter) and occupied London. 
  • King met with them at Runnymede on 19th June 1215 and was forced to sign the Magna Carta.
  • Later John went back on his word with support from Pope (August) who said that the charter was invalid. French King supported barons.
  • Seige of Rochester (October - November 1215). King eventually stormed the castle.
  • Baron's war - John regained control of England, but in May 1216, French Prince Luis arrived to help barons and was announced King on 2nd June in London
  • In October John died and barons switched to support his son Henry, who was crowned King Henry III on 28th October 1216, and the barons reissued Magna Carta.
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Magna Carta: Significance


  • Power of monarch was limited.
  • Became basis for future freedom and justice.
  • More people became freemen, so Magna Carta grew in importance.
  • Other kings signed similar documents.
  • Barons became more powerful.


  • Could be ignored (Henry III did so)
  • Was not a Parliament representing more than just barons until 1295 (Edward I)
  • Magnga Carta only aided the politically powerful.
  • It was not important to most people.
  • Only a negotiation between John and the barons.
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Magna Carta

  • Barons' heirs shall inherit their land on £100 payment to the King.
  • No scutage without the agreement of the Great Council (barons advising the King).
  • No arrest of imprisonment without proper trials in accordance with the law.
  • English Church is free to make its own appointments.
  • Merchants can be free to travel and trade without excessive tolls.
  • A group of 25 barons will be created to monitor the King and ensure he follows the rules of Magna Carta.

Only applied to freemen, such as barons.

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Origins Of Parliament: Causes

  • Henry III did not stick to all of the Magna Carta.
  • Henry's subservience to the Pope (increased taxes for English barons to pay for Pope's European wars, Henry failed to pay the money and was threatened with excommunication, Henry gave Italian clergy top jobs in the English Church).
  • Henry was too friendly with the French (he had a French wife, let Frenchmen into Parliament).
  • Henry fell out with Simon de Montfort (de Monfort was sent to France in 1248 to regain land but Henry called him home for an enquiry about his brutal treatment of the French people and sent his son Edward instead).
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Origins Of Parliament: Events

  • By 1254 Simon de Montfort was the barons' leader.
  • Barons refused to pay Henry's taxes, but without them Henry could not pay the Pope and would risk being excommunicated. Henry asked barons for help, but they refused, and called the Great Council in 1258.
  • During the meeting the King agreed to the Provisions of Oxford.
  • Not all barons remained happy with the Provisions
  • In October 1259 the Provisions were extended with the Provisions of Westminster, which reformed local government (unpopular with barons).
  • Battle of Lewes - Henry wrote to the Pope for permission to cancel the Provisions, which he did. Henry appointed his own men to the council and took charge. After three years, de Montfort returned from France and started the Second Baron's war. The barons won the Battle of Lewes in 1264, captured the King and son. de Montfort took charge.
  • In 1265 de Montfort called the Great Council and invited representatives from every county (he was more popular with merchants and commoners).
  • Barons decided he was a dictator and decided to support King Henry
  • de Montfort was killed at the Battle of Evesham on 4th August 1265 and Henry went on to rule until 1272.
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The Provisions Of Oxford 1258:

  • A council of 15 barons would be in charge of the Great Council. They would be elected by 24 men (12 appointed by the barons and 12 appointed by the King).
  • Foreign members of the royal household were to be banished.
  • Castles would be held only by Englishmen.
  • Each county was to have a sheriff and taxes would be decided locally.
  • Barons could make decisions without the King's presence or approval, but the King could not make decisions without the approval of the Counci.

The barons also refused to fund the planned payment to the Pope for the wars in Sicily.

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Origins Of Parliament: Significance


  • Simon de Montfort was influential in the growth of power for the common man.
  • It was a fundamental attempt to redistribute power in England.
  • The Provisions of Oxford and other reforms show the start of the growth of power for people other than the barons.


  • It was not the perfect model for Parliament.
  • It wasn't until the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution of 1688 that the King's power was totally challenged by Parliament.
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The Peasants' Revolt: Causes

  • The Statute of Labourers (1351) - passed due to the effects of the Black Death (killed 1/3 of the population). Peasants had to work for their lord, could not travel looking for better work, could only recieve the same wages as before the Black Death.
  • Poll Tax - paid by everyone over 15 regardless of income (4 groats per year). Used to fund Edward III's unsuccessful campagins against the French in the 100 Years War. Peasants were fed up of paying high taxes.
  • In 1377 Edward III died and Richard III came to the thone. He was young, and John of Gaunt became the power behind the throne.
  • Preachers like John Ball and Johm Wycliffe said the Church had been exploiting peasants (selling pardons, owning lots of land and property). Ball said that everyone was created equal. The King had John Ball arrested in 1381.
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The Peasants' Revolt: Events

  • May/June 1381 - soldiers arrived in Fobbing (Essex) to support tax collector, but peasants refused to pay taxes and hid in the woods. Chief Justice arrived, was threatened, tax collector's clerks were beheaded by villagers.
  • 7th June - peasants in Kent marched to Maidstone to hear Wat Tyler speak, freed John Ball from Maidstone Prison, stormed Rochester Castle, killed Archbishop of Canterbury and burned government buildings with tax records inside.
  • 12th June - rebels camp outside London and King Richard met them in his barge, arranged to meet rebels on 17th June.
  • 13th June - supporters in the city let rebels enter through gates, set fire to John of Gaunt's Savoy Palace. Tyler ordered the peasants to be peaceful, King arranged the meet them at Mile End.
  • 14th June - Wat Tyler met King at Mile End and outlined demands. King agreed to pardon all involved and make all villeins freemen. Some peasants went on a killing spree.
  • 15th June - King met rebels again but Tyler was bolder and said they wouldn't leave until King agreed to all their demands (full change to system of law, church lands to be given to the people, get rid of all bishops except one). King agreed, but one of his men killed Tyler. King persauded peasants to leave London.
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The Peasants' Revolt: Significance


  • First significant revolt by ordinary people (politicisation of working class). 
  • Poll tax was never repeated and taxes never reached such a high point again.
  • Workers' wages began to rise and Parliament gave up trying to control peasants' wages.
  • In the long term, some peasants were able to buy their own land as there was so much unused land after the Black Death. 
  • Within 100 years, the peasants were freemen.


  • King Richard II went back on his word. The heads of Wat Tyler and John Ball were put on spikes on London Bridge, the peasants' leaders were publicly hanged, small localised rebellions were easily squashed.
  • The revolt did not directly change things; serfdom was already coming to an end.
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The English Reformation

  • Religious movement in 1500s Europe. People thought Pope had become too politicised and corrupt, monasteries were too wealthy and powerful.
  • These changing attitudes were fuelled by the writings of Martin Luther.
  • Ideas coincided with King Henry VIII's want for a divorce from his wife Catherine of Aragon in order to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn and have a son.
  • Henry VIII was not a Luther supporter, but used his ideas because he was unhappy with the wealh and power of Church, seeing Pope as rival political power.
  • Took control of taxation used to pay Pope, ended his marriage to Catherine by making himself Head of the Church of England (Act of Supermacy 1534).
  • Chief Minister Thomas Cromwell made it treason to challenge Henry's superemacy.
  • Cromwell aimed to take wealth from monsteries. Closed all small monasteries, evaluated their finances, had inspectors provide evidence that monasteries were corrupt.
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The Pilgrimage Of Grace: Causes

  • Return of monasteries and nunneries - in the north monasteries were less corrupt and people relied on them for important social work.
  • Hatred of Cromwell - people felt he was a corrupt upstart, him and his ministers advising Henry on the break from Rome should be dismissed.
  • Money - key supporters (Lord Hussey in Lincoln) wanted a removal of extra taxes in peace time.
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The Pilgrimage Of Grace: Events

  • Rebellion began in Lincoln in October 1536. Captured key locations (York, Pontefract Castle), amassed an army of 30,000, led by Robert Aske.
  • Henry sent Duke of Norfolk (Catholic and critic of Cromwell) to negotiate with pilgrims. Met at Doncaster Bridge on 27th October 1536 with an army of 8,000. 
  • Norfolk agreed to present their demands to Henry (including Parliament in the north) and they took a month to draw them up.
  • Rebels went home and Robert Aske was invited to Greenwich for Christmas with Henry.
  • Henry was strenghtening his garison in the north; rebels decided Henry tricked them, in January 1537 they attacked castles in Hull, Beverly and Scarborough. Gave Henry an excuse to cancel their pardons and send Norfolk back to the north.
  • Rebels surrendered. 74 public hangings. Henry summoned leaders Robert Aske, Lord Darcy, Lord Hussey. Cromwell executed them in revenge. 200 more executions.
  • Henry's campaign against larger monasteries continued in 1539 and he stripped them of their wealth.
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The Pilgrimage Of Grace: Significance


  • Pilgrims won a Council of the North from Henry.
  • cromwell fell from Henry's favour (although this was mostly to do with the marriage he arranged between Henry and Anne of Cleaves) and was executed in 1540.


  • It didn't change Henry's mind. He won full control of the Church and his country.
  • No further rebellions took place in Henry's reign. 
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The English Civil Wars: Causes

  • Religion - reforms brought in by Charles I and Archbishop Laud "felt" Catholic (England, especially Parliament, was Protestant). Feared the influence of Charles' Catholic wife Henrietta Maria.
  • Power - 11 Years Tyranny (Charles ruled without Parliament), believed in divine right of kings.
  • Money - ordinary people hated high taxes (Ship Tax - only supposed to be for coastal towns).
  • Scotland - Charles insited everyone use the Laudian prayer book in 1637. Scots (Presbyterian) refused and rioted. Charles sent an army (1639) but it was defeated and the Scots invaded England.
  • Ireland - Parliament refused to allow Charles to control the army to put down the Irish rebellion in 1640 (didn't trust Charles not to use it against them).
  • April 1640 Short Parliament - agreed to give Charles the funds he needed to fight the Scots, but only if he promised not to pass laws without Parliament's agreement, not to raise unpopular taxes and stop Laud's religious changes. Charles refused.
  • Earl of Stafford encouraged Charles to rule alone.
  • Long Parliament November 1640 - Charles agreed to some demands (Stafford executed, Laud imprisoned, Parliament must meet every 3 years, Ship money made illegal). 
  • John Pym presented Charles with a list of complaints in 1642. Charles raised an army and marched to Parliament to arrest the 5MPs leading the opposition. Proof that Charles was a tryant.
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The English Civil Wars: Revolution

  • Charles, based in Nottingham, declared war on Parliament in August 1642.
  • Wealthy landowners and the north supported the king, common people and south supported Parliament.
  • Battle of Edge Hill 1642 (draw). Charles failed to take London and based himself in Oxford with his nephew, Prince Rupert, they led several successful campaigns.
  • By 1645 Oliver Cromwell led the Parliament side. Wanted a full removal of monarchy.
  • Cromwell launched New Model Army at the Battle of Naseby in 1645, defeated royal cavalry. Captured Bristol and Oxford in 1646. NMA recriuted on ability, lived and trained strictly and used new tactics.
  • Charles captured by the Scots in Nottinghamshire (1647) and put on trial for treason. While imprisoned he tried to bribe the Scots with a Presbyterian Church in England if they raised an army against Cromwell. Scots were defeated at the Battle of Preston in 1648 and Charles proved his untrustworthiness. 
  • Rump Parliament December 1648 - troops surrounding Parliament made sure those that supported further negotiations with the King would not be let in. Charles stood trial with no defence.
  • Cromwell pushed proceedings although many parliamentarians felt it was too far. Charles was found guilty of treason and was executed on 30th January 1649
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The English Civil Wars: Cromwell's Rule

  • Cromwell put down 1649 rebellion in Ireland brutally. Land was forcibly taken from Catholics and given to Protestants
  • 1649-53: The Rump Parliament tried to agree on a new English constitution, but Cromwell left frustrated with their ineffectiveness.
  • Cromwell took over as Lord Protector in December 1653, becoming a virtual dictator
  • Cromwell, as a strict Puritan, closed theatres, banned Christmas celebrations and regulated appearance, which was unpopular with many
  • A group called the Levellers wanted better representation for the men who fought in the New Model Army. Cromwell imprisoned their leader, John Lilburne.
  • The Diggers wanted all men to work the land and an end for privately-owned property. Cromwell ignored and defeated these ideas. 
  • Cromwell died in 1658 and left his role of Lord Protector to his son, Richard, who resigned in 1659 due to his unpopularity. 
  • The following year, 1660, Charles' son, Charles II, returned to Britain and was proclaimed King of England, Scotland and Ireland. 
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The English Civil Wars: Significance


  • Cromwell was arguably a class warrior fighting for political liberty by removing a corrupt King and bringing in Parliamentary rule. 
  • A significant number of people began to question the Divine Right of Kings for the first time.


  • Cromwell was just a military dictator, showed by his harsh treatment of opposition (Diggers and Levellers) and him passing his title onto his son. 
  • Cromwell found he could not agree with Parliament and so used the army to take over as Lord Protector (essentially a King in all but title).
  • The suppot of the returning Charles II showed that most people still favoured a monarchy, and Cromwell's changes were not significant in the long run. 
  • Only after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, where Parliament invited a foreign invasion from William of Orange (a Protestant married to James II's daughter) to invade the Catholic James II (who essentially did what Charles I did) did Parliament truly gain more power than the monarchy. 
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The American Revolution: Causes

  • Money: American colonists resented the taxes they had to pay to the British, and the Navigation Acts, which ensured America could only trade with Britain.
  • Land and Power: the British dictated land boundaries agreed upon with the natives without consulting the colonists, who lost out on good farming land. 
  • Political Power: American colonists were ruled from Britain, but had no representation in Parliament.

The Triggers:

  • The Boston Massacre 1770- Colonists jeered at British Army and threw snowballs at them. The army responded by opening fire on the crowd. 
  • The Boston Tea Party 1773- colonists could only buy heavily taxed British tea, so a group of colonists boarded a ship in Boston Harbour and threw the tea in the sea.
  • The Lexington Incident 1775- when the British tried to seize a supply of gunpowder in Concord, Boston, they were fired on by 20,000 colonists. 
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The American Revolution: Events

  • The Americans met in Congress and chose George Washington to be the leader of their army. 
  • In 1776, Congress issued a Declaration of Independence, saying that the colonies were free from British control, that all men were created equal, they had the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that if a government becomes destructive of these ends, the people must abolish or alter it
  • Initially Britain won most of the battles. 
  • Battle of Yorktown 1781- the Americans enlisted the French to help, who controlled the sea around Yorktown. George Washington cut the British off from their supplies and forced them to surrender. This ended the War of Independence, and the British accepted defeat. 
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The American Revolution: Significance


  • The Americans set up their own system of government with a constitution, Congress and President.
  • By the early 20th century, America was the most powerful country in the world.
  • The Rebellion's success inspired the French Revolution of 1789 and the British working class to push for their own rights.


  • Many Americans moved north to Canada, which was still under British rule. 
  • The rich were represented in government, but not the poor.
  • Equality was not guaranteed; slavery still existed and Native Americans were descriminated against.
  • Britian's power was not significantly damaged, as it could make up for its losses in America by colonising other parts of the world. 
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The Extension Of The Franchise: Causes

  • The French Revolution 1789- The revolt of the French people against the monarchy inspired many of the working classes to question their place in society, and sparked fear in the ruling classes that a similar bloody revolution would happen in England if reformers were not listened to.
  • Impact of the Industrial Revolution- a growing working class was becoming aware that they worked hard and paid taxes, but had no say in how the country was run. Factory owners became wealthy, but were not represented either. By the 1830s, the poor were being increasingly replaced by machines in factories.
  • Starvation and Hardship- the Corn Laws (1815), along with bad harvests, meant that many people were starving and desperate for change.
  • Disappointment with the Great Reform Act 1832- athough the middle class did well out of the Great Reform Act, and new industrial towns got representation, the working classes still could not vote
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The Extension Of The Franchise: Protest and Legisl

  • The Peterloo Massacre (1819)- 60,000 peaceful protestors gathered in St Peter's Field, Manchester, listening to radical speakers. The local magistrate panicked due to the numbers and called in the local militia. 600 people were injured and 15 were killed. The government passed the Six Acts, making meetings of more than 50 people for radical reform treason.
  • The Tories were voted out of government in 1830 and replaced by the Whig Party (who believed in the power of Parliament), led by Earl Grey. King William IV also came to the throne, and was more open to reform.
  • Thomas Attwood founded the Birmingham Political Union in 1829 and petitioned Parliament for shorter Parliaments, the end of property qualifications and a vote for all men who contributed to taxation. The petition of 8,000 signatures was rejected. The BPU continued to campaign within the law, making it harder for it be banned.
  • The Great Reform Act (1832)- the middle class, especially merchants and industrialists did well, and new industrial towns got representation, but the working classes were left frustrated. They did not qualify to vote, there was not secret ballot and little changed for them initially.
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The Extension Of The Franchise: Chartism

  • The government reformed the Poor Law in 1834, which condemned the poor who could not work due to machines in factories to the workhouse.
  • William Lovett set up the Chartist movement in 1836, with six demands: Votes for all men, equal-sized constituencies, a secret ballot, wages for MPs, no property qualifications for voters, and an election every year
  • Their petition was rejected by the government in 1839 and again in 1842. This led to the formation of the Physical Force Chartists led by Feargus O'Connor, whose "plug plot" in northern England resulted in vandalism of factory machinery
  • Support for the Chartists increased as 1847 was a year of economic and agricultural depression. The Chartists had their own newspaper and support from many classes, which the government feared, so they began to arrest them, and even transport some to Australia.
  • The Moral Force Chartists prepared a third petition. In support of this, O'Connor and 50,000 suppoters met in London in April 1848, but were stopped from entering by the police, who forced O'Connor to take the petition in himself. Parliament saw the petition as a farce when it was realised that many signatures had been forged. 
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The Extension Of The Franchise: Significance


  • The Great Reform Act would lead to further change, and proved it was possible to change the system.


  • It took until 1928 for 5/6 of the Chartists' aims to be realised. 
  • Changes that happened were not a direct result of the protests; living standards generally rose during the 1850s. 
  • Alternative movements (such as trade unionism) began to appeal more to the working classes.
  • The divided leadership of Lovett and O'Connor led to the Chartists' failure.
  • Strong parliamentary opposition, supported government supression, defeated the activists.
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The Anti-Corn Law League: Causes

  • The Corn Laws, passed in 1815, were designed to keep the price of wheat high after the resriction of wheat imports due to the war with France to benefit the landowners in Parliament
  • The price of bread was too high because of this, and so the ordinary people suffered
  • Factory owners were forced to pay higher wages due to the Corn Laws, so their workers could eat. This kept the price of their goods higher, making them harder to sell.
  • The Irish Potato Famine (1845-6) led to mass starvation, and the Corn Laws meant there was no spare wheat in England to send to Ireland.
  • Crop failures in England (1845-6) at the same time made starvation spread, worsened by the very high price of bread. 
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The Anti-Corn Law League: Events

  • The Anti-Corn Law League was mostly made up of middle-class men (such as Richard Cobden and John Bright) who wanted to help the poor. They toured the country to lead meetings and rallies, published pamphlets and newspaper articles, taking advantage of the new railways
  • The League used elections to further their cause, with supporters buying property in some areas so they could vote there. The league helped to get voters registered if they were thought to be sympathetic to their cause. They won some seats in the 1841 general election, and had more success at by-elections (like in Lancashire in 1845 where they turned a Tory majority of 600 into the League majority of 3000). 
  • The Irish Potato Famine (1845-6) eventually made people more desperate for change. 
  • In 1846, the then Tory Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel sacrificed his political career to repeal the Corn Laws
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The Anti-Corn Law League: Significance


  • It was a vistory for free trade of protectionism.
  • It did not have the devastating effect on wheat prices that the farmers and landowners had feared. 
  • The poor were able to afford wheat, and the price of barley, meat and oats actually increased.
  • The Anti-Corn Law League has successfully coordinated the large number of smaller local leagues that had sprung up after 1838. 
  • The tactics of non-violence and better organisation worked. A one-issue group with solid backing from the middle classes and skilled helped.
  • It was a victory for the commerical and industrial classes versus the lords and landowners. The influence of the landowning classes was challenged.


  • It wasn't just the strength of the League that brought repeal. Sir Robert Peel was a key factor.
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The Abolitionist Movement: Causes

  • Shocking legal cases: press coverage of the Zong case and the Somerset vs Stewart (a slave brought to Britain was ruled to be free) caused moral outrage and shock at the cruelty of slavery. 
  • The American and French Revolutions: these brought attention to the issue of individual freedom and raised moral questions about the God-given right to freedom and human rights. Developed further by slave rebellions.
  • Comparisons with working conditions for factory workers (who were nicknamed "white slaves". It was argued that if you opposed the working conditions in factories, you should also oppose slavery.
  • Religious convictions pushed some to come around to the idea that slavery was not Christian, such as William Wilberforce and Hannah More.
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The Abolitionist Movement: Events

  • Organised campaigns: the Quakers presented petitions to Parliament in 1783 against the slave trade in response to the Zong case. In 1787 a group of Quakers set up the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade to educate the public to demand change. They persuaded William Wilberforce to condemn the trade in the House of Commons.
  • Petitions and protests in Parliament: in 1787 Manchester sent a petition to Parliament with 10,000 signatures. The next year, 103 Abolitionist petitions were read in Parliament. The parliamentary enquiry of 1788 gained huge publicity for the movement. 
  • Thomas Clarkson: he travelled around collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses and going aboard slave ships. He set up anti-slavery societies wherever he went.
  • Befriending key people: with the support of the influential and wealthy, the Abolitionists published letters, paid for advertisements, persuaded newspapers to print their articles, and funded a team of lecturers to tour the country. Josiah Wedgewood produced medallions, crockery and memorabillia. Freed slaves such as Olaudah Equiano published literature. 
  • Boycotts: spontaneous local groups boycotted shops and bakeries that sold or used West Indian sugar. 300,000 people refused slave sugar. Hannah More wrote poems for the movement.
  • Slave rebellion: these changed the way people thought about slaves. In St. Dominique, slaves rebelled and killed the French plantation owners. Toussaint L'Ouverture led the slaves to victory, and they took over the island, renaming it Haiti in 1804
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The Abolitionist Movement: Significance


  • The slave trade was banned in 1807. 
  • A victory for the Abolitionists versus the West Indian lobby in parliament.
  • Britain was able to increase pressure on other countries to also abolish slavery. 
  • It was the first time a large number of people had become outraged over someone else's rights depsite powerful economic arguments. 
  • A one-issue group with backing from wealthy, religious groups and cross-class support won. 
  • Women gained political experience and respect. 


  • It was not until 1833 that slaves were freed throughout the British Empire.
  • After abolition, many slaves were sacked if they refused to live in their old slave quarters, and the slave trade continued illegally. 
  • Slavery was already making less money than it used to. 
  • Some anti-Abolitionist propaganda was successful in persuading people that black people were inferior. 
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Factory And Social Reform: Causes

  • Public were horrified to hear about the working conditions, especially those of women and children. The Industrial Revolution's speed meant safety measures had not yet caught up
  • MP Michael Sadler- published a report showing the injuries children sustained in textile factories due to the machines and employers' abuse. He called for a 10 hour maximum day for those under 18 ("The 10 Hour Movement").
  • Lord Shaftsebury- led by his Christian beliefs, he supported the Ten Hour Movement, better education for factory children and the Mines Act of 1842
  • Robert Owen- a mill owner in New Lanark (built for his workers) near Glasgow and a socialist. He introduced a ten hour working day in his mills, and ensured children got a good education
  • Edwin Chadwick- published a report showing links between poor sanitation for factory workers and the outbreaks of cholera
  • Elizabeth Fry- a strict Quaker who pushed for prison reforms. She visited Newgate Prison regularly, set up a school and chapel, and her brother in law raised the issue in Parliament. 
  • Josephine Butler- evangelical Christian who was concerned about child prostitution. She campaiged for the age of consent to be raised from 13 to 16.
  • The American Revolution brought attention to the issue of individual liberty
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Factory And Social Reform: Events

  • Opposition- Laissez-Faire attitudes meant many people opposed reform and the link between politics and people's everyday lives (poverty linked to bad choices in life, working conditions considered to be a matter between the employer and employees). Workers opposed the reforms as it would limit hours/wages at a time when the poor were sent to the workhouse.
  • Protests in Parliament and the press- MPs and philanthropists published inspectors' reports highlighting the terrible conditions and generating sympathy for those that were poor through no fault of their own. 
  • Legislative changes- Factory Act 1833 (no children under 9, 9 hours a day 9-13 year olds plus 2 hours of schooling per day, maximum of 69 hours a week for those aged 13-18), Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 (mostly stopped money going to poor people, forced them to go to the workhouse for help), Mines Act 1842 (women and children under 10 no to work underground, no child under 15 to be in charge of winding machine), Repeal of the Contagious Disease Act 1883 (women could not longer be forcibly examined by police if she was suspected of being a prostitute, victory for Josephine Butler). 
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Factory And Social Reform: Significance


  • Reforms brought about some improvements in working conditions. 
  • Paved the way for further reforms in the 19th century. 
  • Proved the importance of key individuals and leadership (Robert Owen, Edwin Chadwick, Elizabeth Fry, Josephine Butler, Lord Shaftesbury). 


  • Laissez-Faire attitudes persisted. 
  • Working conditions remained brutal for many people nationwide. 
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Trade Unionism: Causes

  • Impact of the Industrial Revolution- work traditionally done at home was moved into factories, so there were issues with working conditions. Huge increases in the working population led to wage competition. If a worker complained, they were simply replaced
  • The Combination Acts of 1825- these weakened trade unions, defining their rights as meetings to discuss wages and conditions. Anything outside of this, such as planning strikes or picketing, was made illegal
  • The French Revolution- ordinary French citizens had rebelled violently against their rulers and landowners, creating fear among the British landowners and government that these ideas of freedom and equality might spread to the British people. 
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Trade Unionism: Early Events

  • Robert Owen set up the Grand National Consolidated Trade Union (GNCTU) in 1833 to build a cooperative movement with shops that shared profits among the workers. It began to fall apart as different types of workers had different grievences, weakening the union. 
  • The Scottish Friendly Association of Cotton Spinners took strike action in 1837 and used violent methods, but ran out of funds when their leaders were arrested
  • The Tolpuddle Martyrs won national sympathy. In Dorset, six of their members were arrested for taking an illegal oath. To push the message that unions would not be tolerated, they were sentenced to 7 years' transportation to Australia. Robert Owen called a meeting of the GNCTU, which 10,000 people attended. A public march at Copenhagen Fields in London attracted thousands of workers and people such as William Cobbett and Robert Owen. With their persistent campaigning, a full pardon was issued on 14th March 1836
  • The Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) was set up in 1951 as a union of highly skilled engineers who paid a weekly subscription to fund benefits. This was a more powerful union, as if they threatened to strike, their employer couldn't easily replace them. 
  • There was a wave of New Model Unions such as the carpenters (1860) and tailors (1866) with moderate aims. They worked within the existing structure, and brought benefits for wealthier and skilled workers. By 1870s it had legal status and they could picket for rights. 
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Trade Unionism: Later Events

  • New Unionism came later on, and was more militant than NMU, for unskilled workers.
  • Match Girls' Strike- The Bryant and May factory in London employed women and girls in terrible conditions. Serious illness and deaths were commonplace, and wages were very low, and workers were fined for no reason. There was a strike from July 1888, supported by journalist Annie Besant, who printed leaflets, wrote articles, held public meetings, called for a boycott of their matches and arranged marches to the Houses of Parliament, winning the public's sympathy. Eventually, the employers issued a pay rise and improved conditions
  • Dockers' Strike- the dockers also went on strike for better pay and conditions, including overtime payments and more job security (as work was not guaranteed). Their leader, Socialist Ben Tillet, encouraged them to march through London with rotten food to show the public what their families had to live on and picket the London docks. They gained the support of the Lord Mayor of London and the public. They received £30,000 from unions in Australia. The dock owners agreed to a pay rise and 4 hours minimum work per day
  • With the creation of the Independent Labour Party at the start of the 20th century, trade unionism attempted to support and improve the lives of its member by creating a political voice and presence. 
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Trade Unionism: Significance


  • New Model unions made life better for the specialised and highly skilled workers in the 1850s. 
  • New Unionism ensured the voices of the unskilled working class were heard, in a more militant way. 
  • The successes of the Dockers and Match Girls were an important milestone. Union membership increased, and all workers now had a voice. 


  • Unskilled workers had difficulty organising themsleves initially and creating a strength that employers couldn't ignore until the arrival of New Unionism in the 1880s. 
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Votes For Women: Causes

  • Impact of the Industrial Revolution- women had started to work in factories and earn higher wages. Although reforms had previously been passed to improve working conditions, these women did the same work as men, but received less pay and were not represented in Parliament
  • Precedents- middle class women had benefited from a number of legal changes, such as the Married Women's Property Act 1870 (which allowed wives to control their own property and income, giving them more independence), the right to vote in local elections and school board elections throughout the 1800s. However, there were still outstanding issues; women were expected to leave their jobs when they got married
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Votes For Women: Events Pre-1914

  • NUWSS 1897- Millicent Fawcett, the wife of a Liberal MP set this up to bring together all the smaller groups that were campaigning for the vote for women. These Suffragists were middle class women who believed in peaceful protest. They worked within the law to convince men these were reasonable and deserving of the vote. They organised marches, petitions, published articles, held public meetings and used their political contacts to lobby MPs. In 1912, after the government failed to deliver on a bill, they organised a pilgrimage from Carlisle to London, attracting thousands of supporters.
  • WSPU 1903- Emmiline Pankhurst was frustrated with the slow changes and so set this up to take a more direct approach. These Suffragettes used militant tactics such as heckling MPs, stone-throwing, arson attacks, hunger strikes in prison and blowing up buildings. Court cases and the death of Emily Davison earned them publicity. The government's response to the hunger strikes was force-feeding, and then the Cat And Mouse Act of 1913. This generated public sympathy
  • Women's Freedon League 1907- set up by a group of pacifists who forced change using law-breaking methods, but did not use violence. They also campaigned for equal pay. 
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Votes For Women: Events Post-1914

  • The First World War 1914-18- the NUWSS and WSPU united to support the war effort. Women were encouraged to work in factories, on farms and even as nurses on the front line. This proved them to be clear-headed, capable and responible. The WFL refused to help, as they were pacifists. 
  • The Representation Of The Peoples Act 1918- returning soliders were not allowed to vote, and women had proven themselves, so the vote was given to all men over 21, all women over 30, and all women over 21 who owned property
  • The Women's Movement- during the 1960s when the Labour government decriminalised homosexuality, ended capital punishment and attacked racial discrimination, a new movement began in Britain and the USA of women calling for equal pay, more women in highr education, 24 hour childcare, free contraception and abortion on demand. The Divorce Reform 1969 allowed women to divorce their husband more easily and claim property they owned in a divorce settlement. The Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 gave women more rights and protection in the workplace. 
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Votes For Women: Significance


  • Suffragettes showed how committed members were to the movement (Emily Davison was willing to die for the cause). 
  • Suffragists and Suffragettes created publicity and pressure the government could not ignore. 
  • Their campaigns gave women in the future a voice to push for social and economic responsibility by giving the women representation in government. 


  • Until the First World War, the campaigns were failing. The violence of the Suffragettes generated negativity and made some think women should not have the vote after all. 
  • Many women were not convinced, and thought politics was no place for women. 
  • The Representation Of The Peoples Act only helped wealthy middle-class women. Only in 1928 did women achieve the right to vote on the same terms as men. 
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The General Strike and Trade Union Reform: Causes

  • The First World War- industries had boomed due to high armament demands, and coal mines had been nationalised, keeping jobs safe. After 1918, they returned to private ownership, and owners closed inefficient mines or brought in new machinery to cut costs after the demand for coal fell, so many lost their jobs
  • Foreign competetion- German mines had better technology and were owned by compaines with funds for further investment, which the British did not have. 
  • Black Friday 15th April 1921- mine owners announced a longer working day and a drop in wages. The miners went on strike, and called on other industries to do so, but the dockers and the railway unions pulled out. The miners were forced to accept this, and they felt angry. 
  • Red Friday 31st July 1925- the price of coal had fallen again, and employers threatened further reductions in pay. The Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, fearing a worker's revolution, set up the Samuels Commission, subsidising the industry and appeasing the workers
  • April 1926- Baldwin's money ran out and the miners agreed to strike on 1st May 1926
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The General Strike and Trade Union Reform: Events

  • On 3rd May 1926, the General Strike began. The strikers created their own newspaper, "The British Worker" to explain the strike's motivations and maintain a peaceful message. However, some became violent and clashed with the police. Strikers and supporters travelled the country to show solidarity and picket with other strikers. Funds were set up to help feed strikers and their families, so it could keep going. 
  • The Conservative government used the Emergency Powers Act to bring in the army to do the strikers' jobs, encouraged middle class students to take a break from university and work in the industries, which 226,000 did, and started a propaganda campaign to turn the public against the miners. Baldwin referred to the strike as a revolution, fuelling the public's fear of Communism. The army drove armoured cars and carried machine guns to stop violence
  • The public and the Labour Party turned against the strikers as more violence was used. 
  • The General Strike lasted for 9 days, after which the TUC agreed to negotiate with the government. The miners continued to strike, but were forced back to work in November due to hunger. 
  • In 1946 the Labour government passed the Trade Disputes And Trade Unions Act, amending the 1927 act, and trade union membership flourished
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The General Strike and Trade Union Reform: Signifi


  • The percentage of the British labour force in trade unions increased from 12% in 1900 to 50% in 1984. In the By the 1980s strikes were common. 
  • In 1972 and 1974 the miners striked, forcing the government to ration coal and electricity, showing the unions' power. A similar power was also shown in the 1978-9 Winter Of Discontent The new Labour government introduced a social contract so wages rose often. 


  • Baldwin was most likely postponing the coming strike on Red Friday so they could prepare.
  •   The General Strike was a failure, as nothing initially changed for the miners. 
  • The credibility and success of the unions had been undermined for many workers. 
  • The 1927 Trade Disputes And Trade Unions Act made it illegal for unions to join together to strike, and unions could no longer use money from memberships to fund political parties without all members agreeing.
  • After 1979 Margret Thatcher's government challenged the unions. The Trade Unions Act said 80% of members must agree for strikes, and made secondary picketing illegal.  
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Minority Rights: Causes

  • The British Empire- many members of the Commonwealth felt loyal to "the mother country", and had fought for Britain in both World Wars. Former servicemen were offered British Citizenship, and many immigrants secured jobs before leaving their countries. 
  • The British Nationality Act 1948- this gave all 800 million Commonwealth citizens the chance to gain full British citizenship. Commonwealth governments gave out interest-free loans to fund transport. Britain had a shortage of labour for low paid and unskilled jobs to rebuild the country after the war, and wanted to secure the loyalty of Commonwealth nations in case they were needed again in future. 
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Minority Rights: Events 1

  • On 22nd June 1948, the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury bringing 492 people from the Caribbean. Throughout the 1950s, they were followed by immigrants from Asia and the Caribbean
  • Immigrants were placed in areas where they were needed for work. Initially, most were young black men who planned to send money home to their families. This surge of young black men into communities caused resentment and a "white flight", shown by the Notting Hill Riots in 1958. Asian immigrants generally formed their own communities. 
  • Overcrowding became a problem as landlords refused to let to immigrants. After the Notting Hill riots of 1958, factory owners became reluctant to hire black workers, and segregation in housing, employment and social lives became frequent. 
  • The government introduced legislation to lower immigration and tackle racial discrimination. 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act (forced immigrants to apply for a works voucher before entering, and had skills that were in demand), which was extended in 1968 to only allow immigrants with parents or grandparents born in the UK to move to Britain. The 1971 Immigration Act replaced employment vouchers with work permits only allowing temporary residence in Britain. 
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Minority Rights: Events 2

  • Powellism and the National Front- Enoch pwell's "Rivers of Blood" speech argued against immigration, and many agreed with his extremist racist views. Powellism received support from the white working class who viewed British whites as superior. This may have also fuelled the rise of the far right group the National Front, who wanted non-white immigrants to return to their countries of origin. By 1981 there had been race riots in London, Birmingham and Liverpool.
  • The Race Relations Acts were designed to reassure the minorities that the government represented them as well. The 1965 Race Relations Act prevented racial discrimination in housing an employment (although there were no consequences for it, so it was a failure). In 1968, the Commonwealth Immigrants Act aimed to help integration. In 1976 the Race Relations Act created a new commission for racial inequality with greater powers. 
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Minority Rights: Significance


  • A number of laws were passed to encourage tolerance and prosecute discrimination. 


  • A year after the 1976 Race Relations Act, the Battle of Lewisham happened, sparked by a National Front march. The black community felt let down by the police who allowed the march to happen and often blamed crime on minorities. The 1970s were a time of economic reccsion, and this hit minorities hardest. 
  • In 1981 there were racial riots in Brixton and other major cities linked to poor race relations with the police. Following this, the Scarman Report made racially prejudiced behaviour illegal and ended the "stop and search" practice. 
  • In 1993, after the racially motivated murder of Stephen Lawrence, an investigation found the police had not handled the case well due to institutional racism. 
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Thank you so much

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