Teaching the Wars of the Roses in primary history

Primary History article

By Matthew Sossick, published 14th June 2023

Why teaching the Wars of the Roses in primary history might be challenging but a good idea

The Tudors is a relatively popular topic for those Key Stage 2 teachers looking at a theme extending beyond 1066. In this article Matthew Sossick argues that there is a large gap in understanding if pupils understand nothing of how the Tudors emerged as such a dominant dynasty. This means that there should be some coverage of the Wars of the Roses. At the same time it provides fascinating content that is likely to inspire pupils, although there are challenges to be faced. There are plenty of good ideas about making this complex area coherent and manageable.

Many schools study the Tudors or Henry VIII as an topic. As with any historical period, treating the Tudors in this rootless and isolated way, can create a distorted view of the past. As Ofsted’s Research Review states – ‘contextual information in history reduces the abstraction of complex ideas and content’ (Ofsted 2021). In order to understand the way that the Tudor monarchy behaved with its idiosyncratic attempts to secure its dynasty, a sense of the chronology of the fifteenth century and the role of the Wars of the Roses is vital in contextualising the actions of the Tudor monarchs. The article attempts to provide some background knowledge and suggest some pedagogical strategies for tackling this fascinating but challenging period of history... 

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