Year 9 History—The Trial of King Louis

Is being an incompetent King the same thing as being a treasonous King? Can an individual unintentionally betray their country? Did King Louis XVI ever really cede his throne?

These are some of the many questions passionately debated in the recent Trial of King Louis XVI conducted by our Year 9 History students. The trial, which was held over three lessons, was the culmination of an investigation into the causes and course of the French Revolution that students conducted while learning remotely.

Every student played an important role in the trial—some were witnesses, others barristers or members of the jury, and one was the presiding judge. The high calibre of students’ responses, as they interrogated the evidence to support their individual cases, was testament to their diligence while learning at home.

As each class approached the final day of the trial there was much suspense about what the jury would decide. Many of the girls who had gone into the trial with preconceived ideas about King Louis XVI and his reign found themselves taking a different position at the trial’s end.

Activities such as the Trial of King Louis demonstrate the important role that History plays in developing empathy, promoting understanding of various perspectives, and revealing the contestable nature of historical events and people.

Ms Alison Dare, Director of Humanities, and Ms Julie Hennessey, Head of History