Babington Plot Activities

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

In 1586, tensions between the Catholics and Protestants in England had reached treasonous levels. A plan to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, called the Babington Plot, developed amongst a group of Catholics. Use the following activities to help your students learn about the Babington Plot.

Babington Plot

During the Reformation, Catholics and Protestants were vying for control of the English government. The Babington Plot was developed by Anthony Babington and John Ballard to assassinate the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with her Catholic cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary agreed to the plot, which is what eventually led to her public beheading. The plot was discovered by spies, and Babington and Ballard were put on trial and found guilty, resulting in their death sentence.

As your students learn about the Babington Plot, use the following activities to help analyze the plot.

Cause and Effect

Divide your students into pairs or small groups of 3-4. Your students will create a flip poster that has a cause flap, which is then opened to reveal an effect underneath. Your students should draw and write a caption for each of the cause and effect combinations that they make. Encourage your students to think of about four cause and effect combinations.

After your students have created their flip posters, have your students display their work around the classroom. Your students can discuss each others' work.

Catholic vs. Protestant

Divide your class in half and assign each student the role of either Catholic or Protestant. Once they have their assignment, your students should research the point of view of either a Catholic or Protestant in England during the Reformation. Your students should learn about which government figures they support, their views on Christianity, and what they want from the English government.

Match your students up so that one Catholic and one Protestant debate each other. Each pair will create some type of presentation to share their conflicting views. They might stage a debate, write a short skit, or make a slideshow.

Discussion Groups

Ask your students to each develop a list of two discussion questions about the Babington Plot. If students are having difficulty developing their questions, you might prompt them by suggesting questions like:

  • Why was the Babington Plot an important event during the Reformation?
  • Who do you think was the most influential in the development of the Babington Plot?
  • Do you think the outcomes of the trials were just? Why or why not?

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