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Battle Cards, Tweets and Mini-Sagas:
Using the example of the Wars of the Roses

Two quick ideas to help students cement their knowledge of a period.

Battle Cards

This isn’t a big activity, just a set of cards that we made for teaching and it seemed potentially useful to pass them on.

Download the PDF [ here ] and you’ll find:

• A card for each battle from 1455 to 1487 and

• Images of the Kings

I hope they are useful for sorting tasks – I used them for:

• can you get the kings in the right sequence?

• can you remember their dates and the duration of their reigns i.e. sorting out the duration of reigns as well as sequence?

• can you put the battles in the right sequence? Which ones cause you difficulty remembering and need more effort to remember?

• who won each battle and which were the most significant and why?

That kind of thing makes a good physical activity – easily checked and good for paired work and diagnosing weaknesses. It’s also readily repeatable at frequent intervals until the pattern is clear.

Tweets and Mini-Sagas

Two other ways of cementing knowledge are to use tweets and 50 word mini-sagas.

Tweets [i.e. 140 characters or less] are good for summing up a battle or a person. For example – who’s this?

Duke of Gloucester NOT York. King’s brother, warrior, ruler of the north, royal uncle. Suddenly king. Admired, suspected, distrusted, dead.

Easy really but as you can see I’ve built in the confusion – he’s not Duke of York – but also packed a lot in. It’s a good task in itself getting students to explain each reference, virtually each word if you write the tweets or send them to the students. Similarly these tweets cover a lot of ground. Who are these people and what does each phrase or word refer to?

A hero’s son who was far from heroic. Loved religion not war. Deposed, imprisoned, retrieved, murdered. Sad and saintly royal disaster.

Lancastrian loyalist became supporter of York. Enemy of Percies. Killed after Wakefield. His son more famous and more treacherous.

Anglo-French parents, birth surprising, life short, killed at Tewkesbury. Wrong name to be a Lancastrian king.

Ten years in loyal opposition. Claiming the crown soon led to his death. Two sons became king, grand-daughter became queen.

Then ask students to create their own for key individuals, battles, events such as the Act of Accord or the events of the night when Richard of Gloucester seized control of Edward V and imprisoned Rivers and Grey.

Or if you want to push this slightly more deeply try 50 word mini-sagas but don’t make this easy. You might retell Bosworth in 50 words but try to encompass the events from Wakefield to Towton in 50 words or Barnet and Tewkesbury or why Richard III lost to Henry at Bosworth. A 50 word mini-saga is a great way to draft the introduction to an essay – straight to the heart of the argument because you’ve so little space. So give students exam questions and get them answering them in 50 words or less.


Constructive feedback is always welcome, particularly anything that will help other teachers.

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Battle Cards

Tweets and Mini-Sagas