Popish Plot Activities

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

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

As your students begin a unit on English history, they may be interested to learn about the Popish Plot, a conspiracy theory that resulted in many executions. Use these activities to help your students learn about the event.

The Popish Plot

In the 1600s, a man named Titus Oates started an anti-Catholic conspiracy theory that enveloped the entire country of England. He alleged that a huge group of Catholics were planning on assassinating King Charles II. Oates wrote up an elaborate manuscript that was supposed to look like this group of Catholics had written it. He then slipped it to another man who he knew would bring the information to the King. At first, King Charles II didn't really believe that the assassination attempt was real. But when a Protestant member of parliament was killed, the English people began to believe that the theory was real. This led to hysteria all over the country, and huge amount of anti-Catholic belief.

As you teach this unit to your students, it's important to identify how one man's scheme led an entire country to fear and hate a specific group of people. You'll also want to explore the Popish Plot's place in the history of animosity between Catholics and Protestants.


Split students into small groups and have them discuss the differing viewpoints between Catholics and Protestants during the development of the Popish Plot. They can choose to make propaganda posters either from the point of view of the Catholics or Protestants. Their posters should highlight the beliefs of their chosen group and explain why they felt that the Popish Plot was a threat or was not. To extend this activity, you might have a gallery walk in your classroom in which students discuss the propaganda that other groups developed.

Interactive Timeline

Split students into small groups and have them develop an interactive timeline that describes the events of the Popish Plot amidst the history Protestant and Catholic disagreements. The timeline can include short descriptions of events along with student-made illustrations or paintings done during the 1600s. To make it interactive, the timeline should include flaps to open and tabs to pull that will give additional information about the events.

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