Don’t Know Much About History . . .

Cara/Andrea here, Today, I’m going to be talking about history. Okay, no surprise there, as our regular readers know that all of us Wenches are pretty passionate about the subject. But rather than wax poetic over some fascinating bit of research I’ve uncovered, I thought I’d share a really fun test of knowledge that fellow author Jody Novins recently e-mailed to me.


Yale-gryffin-windowNow, I have to confess, I usually feel “above the salt” when it comes to British history. The Regency and Edwardian eras are the periods I know best, but I read enough to feel comfortable in other era . when I saw that Jodie had forwarded the link to a History Prize competition that British 13-14yr. olds are invited to take, I thought . . . piece of cake.

Yeah, me and Marie Antoinette. In other words, I was toast.

Suitably humbled, I was intrigued enough to do a little research on the competition. According to its website, “The Townsend-Warner History Prize, started 126 years ago, is one of the oldest institutions in the preparatory school world. It has proved endurably popular in encouraging the study of history.  It is not linked to any national testing or examinations, but aims to provoke interest and delight in historical reading, facts and analysis . . .”

PrinceRegentThey go on to explain, “The Prize consists of two papers.  The first has 100 questions demanding one-word, or one-sentence, answers from world history, but with a strong emphasis on British history. Many are straightforward, some a little more obscure. Two hundred candidates qualify from Paper 1 to sit Paper 2.  This is in the form of essay questions, but allows candidates a very wide choice so that they can write on what they know, but also show analytical skill and historical imagination . . .”

Westminster-1Over 700 students took the first part of the exam, and according to the administrators, some of the answers proved quite amusing (I was relived to see that I wasn’t the only one a little fuzzy on some of the specifics.)  When asked about the Quakers, many linked them to oatmeal (porridge in “English”) and some students thought that the seventeenth century radical group, the Levellers, ‘took part in the Highland Clearances’. (I give them an A for Logic.)

WrexhamTowerSo, ready to test your knowledge of English and World History? Sharpen your pencils and let’s see how you fair on the following! (I shall also point out that the one of the students in the top 30 was a ten-year-old boy. Maybe we should ask him to make a guest appearance.) I’ve included a link to the Townsend-Warner website in case you wish to see the entire text of each section.

1.   Answer these questions about rulers of England and Britain.

a)   Which English king signed Magna Carta?
b)   Which thirteenth century English king was nicknamed ‘Longshanks’?
c)   Who was the Black Prince?
d)   Which member of the Tudor family was England’s first crowned queen?
e)   Which Stuart king wrote A Counterblast to Tobacco?
f)   Which royal house followed the Stuarts as rulers of Britain?
g)  Who was Queen Victoria’s husband?
h)  Which king abdicated in 1936?

2.   Answer these questions on Roman Britain.
a)   Who led the first invasions in 55 and 54 BC?
b)   What is the modern name of the Roman town of Verulamium?
c)   What was the name of the tribe led by Boudicca in her rebellion?
d)   What was the name of the Roman road linking Londinium with Eboracum (modern York)?
e)   What supposedly happened to the Roman Ninth Legion?
f)   What was the name of the wall built north of Hadrian
’s Wall and held by the Romans for twenty years or so?. .
. to continue to the entire test click here

1. Write fully on TWO of the following:

Boudicca’s Rebellion (61)
Roman Roads in Britain
The Fall of the Roman Empire (410 on)
St Augustine of Canterbury (d 604)
The Vikings
The Great Wall of China
The importance of the Battle of Stamford Bridge
The importance of Norman Castles
The achievements of Henry II (1054-1089)
WellingtonRichard I (1089-1099)
The Wool Trade in Medieval England
Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) . . . to continue to the entire test click here

So how did you fare? Was there any question you found particularly stumping? Would you like to see American schoolkids take such a test? . . . And how do you think they would do? (Sadly enough, I shudder to think of it.)