The Sceptered Isle-Medieval Britain 1086-1314

Ref: C3674701

The course will examine firstly the emergence of the Plantagenet dynasty and the crisis of king Stephen and Empress Matilda. We will look carefully at the evidence for the early reign of Henry II and make some assessment of his character whilst comparing the reign of Louis VII of France. In particular, we will assess his character and policies, including the ongoing rivalry with his nobility and his involvement with the Plantagenets and Thomas Becket. We will also consider at the same time the impact and consequences of the ongoing crusading movement on the population of the western Franks and the interests of the Capetian kings, along with interests in Britain. We will go on to look at the successive reigns of Richard I and John, outlining reasons for the collapse of the Plantagenet empire and its consequences, including some consideration of the circumstances surrounding the formation of Magna Carta.

Course aim

The Plantagenet Empire was born out of continual and fierce rivalries, both within and outside the kingdom.This course will examine the strong kings and queens that built that age.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Analyse the rival claims of king Stephen and Matilda 1135-1154
  • Account for the emergence of the Plantagenet Empire
  • Make some assessment of the careers of Henry II and Richard I
  • Provide some assessment on the failure of King John to maintain the Plantagenet Empire

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • The Plantagenets Dan Jones, Collins 2013 Henry II: A Prince among Princes Richard Barber, Allen Lane Press 2015

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

The Sceptered Isle-Medieval Britain 1086-1314


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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