KS3 > Political Reform > For Teachers > Lesson 1 Introduction
The Parliamentary system in Britain was one of the oldest in the world. However, the system had developed over time and was often inconsistent. Reflecting the rest of society at the time the system was also unfair and based upon power from inheritance or money.
In the years at the end of the eighteenth century and at the start of the nineteenth century a number of key events and ideas affected some people’s attitudes to the parliamentary system and how the country was governed. The American Revolution and the French Revolution both brought to people’s attention the concepts of a wider democracy and early ideas around personal rights (often known as human rights today).
The discussions between those who wanted changes in British society and those who wanted it to remain the same could sometimes turn violent and this influenced wider attitudes to both sides. In Britain one of the most famous incidences of this was in Manchester in 1819 when a peaceful protest was disrupted and people were killed and injured, this became known as the ‘Peterloo Massacre’. That event fuelled some of the groups that became influential in pushing for change.
One of the factors that was key to all these events was the growth in print (for example, newspapers) and greater literacy amongst the lower classes. Ideas and news were communicated much quicker and easier because of these things.
The Political System Before 1832
You can find the full resources for Lesson 1 here.