We all think we know our history, but how would you fare if you had to sit a ‘citizenship test’ like Prime Minister David Cameron was set on the Letterman show?
David Cameron’s appearance on ‘The David Letterman Show’ has had the unintended consequence of making us feel sorry for him. After all, it hardly seemed fair to spring those abstruse British history questions on him like that, even if he does have a first from Oxford. It left us all thinking, would we have fared any better? Well, let us see, shall we? (ANSWERS AT THE END)
1 Let us start with the two he was asked (which don’t really count, as you’ve probably heard the correct answers by now). What is the literal translation of the Latin words Magna Carta?
A) The Big Cart
B) The Great Charter
C) Magna Carta? She was the daughter of Boadicea, wasn’t she?
2 Who wrote Rule Britannia?
A) It was either James Thomson or Thomas Arne. Possibly both of them together
B) I’ll go with Edward Elgar
C) Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber?
3 OK, now we’ve got the hang of it, let’s tackle the real ones. How long did the Hundred Years War last?
A) This sounds like a trick question. A hundred years?
B) Don’t tell me, I know this one. Is it 97 years?
C) 116 years. No wait… Yes, definitely 116
4 Where is the Stone of Scone kept these days?
A) Beneath the Woolsack in the Palace of Westminster
B) I’m pretty sure there is a Scone Abbey near Perth in Scotland. Is it kept there?
C) Is it Edinburgh Castle?
5 We all know the Great Fire of London was in 1666. We also know it started in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane. But what was the name of the man who owned the bakery (yes, this one does sound quite hard, but he was famous and you definitely did learn his name in school).
A) Thomas Farriner
B) George Bunn
C) John Evelyn
6 OK, no British history quiz would be complete without a question about the Corn Laws. (Don’t fall asleep, they were highly significant.) They began with the Importation Act of 1815 but what was the name of the act with which they were repealed?
A) The Repeal Act of 1846
B) The Importation Act of 1846
C) The 1846 Act of Settlement
7 When the Vikings invaded Britain, they introduced which law?
A) Dane Law
B) Offa’s Law
C) Land Law
8 Before them we had the Romans, and you really ought to know what year they invaded. If you don’t you have a one in three chance of getting it right.
A) 37 AD
B) 50 BC
C) 43 AD
9 Which king’s last words were “Bugger Bognor” (supposedly)?
A) King George V
B) King Edward VII
C) King George VII
10 What was William the Conqueror also known as?
A) William of Orange
B) William the Bastard
C) William the Just
11 OK, it’s the red-hot poker question, I’m afraid. You know it was an Edward, but which one?
A) Edward IV
B) Edward III
C) Edward II
12 And on the subject of Edwards, we’ve all heard of Edward the Confessor, but to what did he confess?
A) That he had burned the cakes
B) Oh, that he had sinned, probably. Wasn’t he the one who was so afraid of committing sins that he died a virgin? And him a married man, too
C) That he had ordered the murder of Thomas a Becket
13 Similarly, we’ve all heard of the War of Jenkins’ Ear, but who was Jenkins?
A) He sounds Welsh. Wasn’t he a brigadier in the Welsh Guards?
B) He was Sir Robert Walpole’s footman, I’m sure of it
C) No he wasn’t, he was the captain of a British merchant ship
14 What was the name of the son Henry VIII and Jane Seymour had together?
A) Henry VX. Call it an educated guess
B) Edward IV. You can Google it
C) Wasn’t it Edward VI? Just tell me now because I really can’t be bothered to go through the answers at the end
15 Where was Thomas Cranmer burned at the stake?
A) Oxford. Or Cambridge… No, it was definitely Oxford. I’m pretty sure a cross marks the actual site where it happened
B) Tyburn, London. Got to be
C) Canterbury? Yes, that would make sense. Canterbury
16 Who hid in an oak tree?
A) Charles II. That’s why so many pubs are called the Royal Oak
B) Robert the Bruce. It was where he did that thing with the spider
C) No wait, maybe it was Charles I. Yes, I’m saying Charles I, because the Roundheads were after him
17 Who was the last man to be hanged, drawn and quartered?
A) William Joyce
B) David Tyrie
C) Guido Fawkes
18 And while we are on the subject of grisly deaths, who was “posthumously executed”?
A) Charles I. They beheaded him outside Banqueting House, buried him, then decided that he should have been quartered as well, so they dug him up again, hacked off his arms and legs, sent them to the four corners of the kingdom, and then displayed his head on a pole outside Westminster. Nice
B) It was Oliver Cromwell. Idiot
C) I want to say Ann Boleyn
19 In what year did Howard Carter find Tutankhamun’s tomb?
A) 1922. Obviously
C) 1912. Because it was the same year Titanic sank
20 Who was the first Labour prime minister?
A) It was Stanley Baldwin. Final answer
B) Ramsay MacDonald. Always liked that name, Ramsay. Why did it go out of fashion?
C) Clement Attlee. Another rather wonderful name. Clement, I mean, not Attlee
21 What was George Orwell’s real name?
A) Eric Blair. Or was that Elton John’s real name?
B) Harry Webb?
C) I remember this one because it always made me laugh. Reginald Dwight
22 In which city did the Peterloo Massacre take place?
A) I’m sure it was somewhere in the north, so I’m saying Liverpool
B) That was to do with the Tolpuddle Martyrs, wasn’t it? Worcester, then. Is that a city? Yes, it must be because it has a cathedral
C) It sounds like Waterloo, but that’s in Belgium. I don’t know. Manchester?
23 Where did Castlereagh and Canning fight their duel in 1809?
A) Hyde Park
B) Putney Heath
C) Tooting Common
24 And finally, why don’t aeroplane windows open?
A) Not strictly a question about British history, is it?
B) Stop stalling, what’s the answer?
C) Is it something to do with decompression?
1B, 2A, 3C,4C, 5A, 6B, 7A, 8C, 9A, 10B, 11C, 12B, 13C, 14C, 15A, 16A, 17B, 18B, 19A, 20B, 21A, 22C, 23B, 24C