KS2: Everything you need to know about the Romans in 365 words!

By Robert Reed

Legend has it that Rome was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on 21 April 753 BC.  The legend doesn’t say at what time of day this occurred, but it was probably after breakfast.  The city was named in honour of Romulus.

KS2 Ideas: There is a fantastic and very funny play for primary schools available at http://artdramascripts.com/lost_eagles , which includes dressing up as Roman soldiers.

At first, Rome was ruled by kings; however, that ended in about 509 BC when Lucius Junius Brutus established the Roman Republic based on elections and assemblies.

There were some tough times for the Romans, the Gauls looted Rome in the third century and Hannibal gave the legions a fright with some elephants, but the Romans won the day. With a highly professional and skilled army, Rome began to conquer all her neighbours, which brought a flood of wealth and slaves (including Spartacus).

Soon Rome was divided between a super-rich elite and a mass of poor folks.

In 27 BC, Augustus became emperor after having defeated Antony and Cleopatra’s forces.  It was always dangerous being emperor, because someone -usually your nearest and dearest- wanted to murder you as soon as possible.

Under Trajan in 117 AD, the empire reached its greatest territorial extent: stretching from Britain to Egypt.

Marcus Aurelius was the last of the ‘Five Good Emperors’.  There were also some very mad and dangerous emperors, like Nero and Caligula.  Definitely not the kind of people who should become head teachers, but great names for class pets.

Popular entertainments were used to pacify the masses: like gladiatorial combat and chariot racing.

Political divisions, civil wars, economic problems, plague and a whole load of invading tribes meant trouble for the Imperium Romanum.  In 410 AD, the Visgoths trashed Rome and the once all-powerful Roman army ceased to exist, and that was the end of the Western Roman Empire.  However, in the East the empire continued as the Christian Byzantine Empire for another thousand years.

The Romans were great builders, leaving behind roads, aqueducts, monuments, temples, palaces and baths.  All this building was partly made possible by the invention of concrete.

Moreover, the Romans left a lasting legacy in many fields including art, literature, law, government, warfare, language and many more. However, there is no evidence that they invented Marmite, or PlayStations.

If the cohort in your class are researching the Romans, I suggest they visit this site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/romans/ .

Mary, Mary Queen of Scots, why did you marry Darnley?

By Robert Reed

Mary returned to her native Scotland in 1561 after the death of her first hubby King Francis II of France. On Saturday 17th February, 1565, she met Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley at Wemyss Castle. He had a twinkle in his eye and was a nifty dancer. They had things in common: both were tall, red-headed and first cousins. What’s more they both had a strong claim to the throne of England. Pretty much instantly Mary was “bewitched” with her “long lad”, and they got hitched at Holyrood Palace on 29th July, 1565.

Why not bring the story of Mary Queen of Scots to life by performing a super-cool, funny play that’s totally suitable for kids! Visit http://artdramascripts.com/scotland for more details.

Darnley fell short of being a perfect husband on account of the fact that he was a violent, womanising drunk. Oh, he also wanted to rule Scotland as king in his own right. He was a bit like the Incredible Hulk: “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!”, except that he was always angry. Also, Darnley was jealous of Mary’s friendship with an Italian musician called Rizzio, so Darnley and a few conspirator mates stabbed the poor Rizzio fifty-six times for good measure in front of the pregnant Queen. It was probably too late for marital counselling by then.

In November, 1566, Mary and some leading nobles had a secret meeting concerning what to do about Darnley. (The National Security Agency records of their subsequent mobile conversations are available on request.) Divorce was out of the question, so another way had to be found. At that time, Darnley was suffering from a rather unpleasant illness and living on a housing estate in Glasgow. Mary persuaded him to stay in Kirk o’Field near to her place. She visited him daily and then at 2.00 a.m. on the night of 10th February, 1567, the property he was staying in mysteriously blew up. Darnley was found in his pyjamas in the garden next to a plastic gnome. He had been suffocated.

The not-so-devastated Queen soon married the main suspect, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. Scotland was shocked and the ‘confederate lords’ rose in rebellion.

There are many interesting places to visit connected with the life of Mary Queen of Scots, and here’s a site full of them: http://www.edinburgh.org/see-do/itineraries/mary-queen-scots-trail .

KS2 – Fun Facts on Vikings

By Robert Reed

Do you have a friend who occasionally loves to hop in a longship and go raiding? Perhaps, they also like jewellery, plaiting their beard, incredibly violent poetry and games of chess? If the answer is ‘yes’, possibly they are a Viking.

The Viking Age lasted for about three hundred years: from the 790s until the Norman conquest of England in 1066. As well as being skilled sailors and warriors the Vikings were traders, mercenaries, settlers and farmers.

They explored and colonised islands in the North Atlantic even reaching as far as Newfoundland in Canada. They had a profound effect on British and Irish history in particular. They traded along the Volga River and as far south as Baghdad.

Many of their exploits were recorded in Icelandic sagas and on rune stones. They were famous for ferocity in battle: the word berserk comes from the Norse habit of going completely loco in combat.

However, conversion to Christianity slowly curbed the Vikings of the more anti-social aspects of their behaviour, much to the relief of their neighbours.

Generally speaking, it’s probably best for your health to invite your Viking friend to join a yoga club, or maybe take up knitting.

Scripted for use in the assemblies, read about a funny Viking story Don’t Argue with Eric http://artdramascripts.com/ks2_playscripts/vikings.