Are you a master of history?

Do you roll with the Romans but get confused by the Etheldreds and Ethelfriths? Can you tell your Lambert Simnel from your Perkin Warbeck?

When it comes to history are you as learned as the Tudors? Or are you more of an Old Pretender?

Test yourself on the wilder shores of english history with this quiz! All the answers can be found in Simon Jenkins’ new book, A Short History of England (Profile books £25).

Strange moments in English history; what were...

  1. The War of Jenkins’ Ear?
  2. The barebones parliament?
  3. The Battle of the Bulge?
  4. The Black hole of Calcutta?
  5. The Cato Street conspiracy?
  6. Grand Remonstrance?
  7. Peterloo Massacre?
  8. St Brice’s Day Massacre?
  9. The Battle of Quatre Bras?
  10. The Rye House plot?
  11. The Gordon Riots?
  12. The Boston tea-party?

On the battlefield...

  1. Which battle was fought ‘For England, Harry and St George’?
  2. What did British commander Field Marshal Sir John French say would be ‘over by Christmas’? When was it, finally, over?
  3. The Duke of Wellington described it as ‘the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life’. What was he talking about?
  4. What did an Anglo-Saxon chronicler describe as ‘whirlwinds, lightening storms and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky’?
  5. To what was Churchill referring as ‘not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning’?
  6. Who claimed to ‘singe the King of Spain’s beard’? Had it, indeed, been singed?

Kings and Things...

  1. Which English leader demanded to be painted ‘warts and all’?
  2. Which king declared ‘I would sell London if I could find a buyer’? (today still honoured with a statue in Westminster!)
  3. Who was the ‘nine days queen’?
  4. Who defended himself against a charge of treason by stating ‘England was never an elected kingdom but a hereditary kingdom for near these thousand years... The king can do no wrong’?
  5. Which King’s last words were, ‘Let not poor Nellie starve’? (And who was Nellie?)

Politics and people...

  1. Queen Victoria said ‘he speaks to me as if I was a public meeting’. Who was he?
  2. In 1707 Daniel Defoe declared ‘for every Scot in favour there is ninety-nine against’. What was he talking about?
  3. Why did Disraeli refer to Gladstone’s cabinet in 1874 as ‘a range of exhausted volcanoes – not a flame flickers on a single pallid crest’?
  4. What US president said of which British PM ‘[he] sprinkled too much adrenalin on his cornflakes’?
  5. It was ‘contrary to the principles of justice, humanity and sound policy’ and Fox’s bill of May 1806 outlawed it. What was it?

Reputations; who was known as...

  1. The She-wolf of France?
  2. The Iron Duke?
  3. Fair Rosamund?
  4. The Unready Ethelred?
  5. Bloody Mary?
  6. The Iron Lady?
  7. My dear, sweet Steenie?
  8. Rufus?
  9. The merrie monarch?
  10. The Hammer of the Scots?

The common people; who said the following, and whom or what were they describing...

  1. ‘When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?’
  2. ‘Try living on their wages before your judge them’
  3. ‘I never saw so many shocking bad hats in my life’
  4. ‘No theory of government was ever given a fairer test or a more prolonged experiment. It was a miserable failure’
  5. Who described the House of Lords as ‘a body of five hundred men chosen at random from among the unemployed’ when it rejected his ‘people’s budget’?

The burdens of government; who said what to whom, and why...

  1. ‘When I am shaving in the morning I say to myself, if I were a young man, I would emigrate’
  2. ‘Our bells are worn threadbare ringing for victories’
  3. ‘if a bedpan lands on the floor in the hospital in Tredegar, it should be clanging in Whitehall’ Why was Aneurin Bevan so concerned about bedpans in 1948?
  4. ‘I never spared man in my anger nor woman in my lust’
  5. ‘Though you have had, and may have, many mightier and wiser princes in this seat, yet ye never had, nor ever shall have, any that will love you better.’

God and men...

  1. Who said, ‘Non Angli sed angeli’ ‘Not Angles but Angels of God’?
  2. What was the pilgrimage of grace and what happened to those taking part?
  3. Who said, ‘What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured within my household, that they let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?’
  4. What classic of Protestant morality was written by John Bunyan while imprisoned for his beliefs in Bedford gaol?
  5. ‘If I had served God as diligently as I have done the king, He would not have given me over to my grey hairs’?

Why were these places famous (or infamous)...

  1. Culloden
  2. Lindisfarne
  3. Edington outside Chippenham
  4. Winchester
  5. Hastings
  6. Runnymede
  7. Bannockburn
  8. Richmond
  9. Old Sarum

Dire warnings; who said the following, and what were they describing...

  1. ‘The lights are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.’
  2. ‘National bankruptcy is near’
  3. 'Horrible, fantastic and incredible... that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas masks here because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing.’
  4. ‘I met murder on the way / He had a mask like Castlereagh’
  5. ‘Loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, dangerous to the brain.’

Ententes cordiales, or perhaps not...

  1. Who was the first English king to be crowned King of France (and ironically the first Medieval monarch probably not to speak, er, French)
  2. In what year was the English parliament opened, in English, for the first time?
  3. Who said, ‘When I am dead and opened, they shall find Calais engraved on my heart’?
  4. Why did Britain and France sign the Entente Cordiale in 1904?
  5. And what British move did Charles de Gaulle veto twice - in 1963 and 1967?

Unhappy endings; horrible deaths abound in English history

  1. Who died with an arrow in his eye?
  2. Who was beheaded then impaled with a paper crown over the gates of York, ‘ so York may overlook the town of York’ as Queen Margaret of Anjou put it?
  3. Whose execution (being drawn from prison backwards by a horsetail, then hanged, cut down when still alive, ‘his privy parts cut off and burnt before his face...his bowels and inlaid parts taken out and burnt...after his to have his head cut off’ was described by James I as ‘an ordinary Punishment much inferior to their Offence’?
  4. When Samuel Pepys wrote ‘Lord how empty the streets are, and melancholy’ what was he describing?

And if you'd like to see the answers - click here. No cheating now, you hear?

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