How Well Do You Know English History?



By: Gavin Thagard

5 Min Quiz

Image: Francois Hippolyte Debon

About This Quiz

"The British are special. The world knows it. In our innermost thoughts, we know it. This is the greatest nation on earth." - Tony Blair

Kings, queens, invasions, literature and war; these are just a few of the defining elements of English history, one that dates back thousands of years. How well do you know English history, though? Could you pass this quiz on the topic? Here's your chance to find out!

English history is quite unique in that England's presence has been influential around the entire world. Not that other countries don't have global influence, but there's something about the English, who have left their mark from England to America all the way to India and Australia. This island nation has been at the forefront of exploration and innovation; it's solved conflicts and created conflicts; it's pushed independent thought and democracy; and most importantly, England has survived. Despite changes and war, the country has survived and is still a global power today. 

Are you an expert on English history? Do you know all of the leaders and major events that have shaped the country? If you think you do and are up for a challenge, get started with this quiz and prove your knowledge of English history!

Who was the emperor of Rome during the Roman conquest of Britain?

Claudius was born in Gaul. This made him the first emperor born outside Italy.


Which wall marked the northern end of Roman territory in Britain?

The construction of Hadrian's Wall began in AD 122. It helped defend against Britons who lived north of the wall.


How many kingdoms were in Britain during the Heptarchy?

Power constantly swayed between the kingdoms. Smaller kingdoms also existed, but had little influence.


Who baptized King Ethelbert?

Saint Augustine was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. He is widely credited with being the founder of the Catholic Church in England.


King Egbert defeated Mercia at which battle in 825?

As Egbert rose to power in Wessex, Mercia was the dominant kingdom in England. With this victory, power shifted to Wessex.


The Battle of Ethandun between the Vikings and Alfred the Great resulted in what?

Danelaw was the law of the Danes. It governed parts of England under Guthrum, a Danish leader.


Who was the first king to rule all of England?

When Athelstan came to power, the Vikings still had control of York. By defeating the Vikings, Athelstan was crowned King of the English.


Cnut the Great united England with who?

Cnut the Great was often referred to as Canute. His combined kingdom is known as the North Sea Empire.


At what battle did Normandy defeat England in 1066?

The Battle of Hastings was a result of Harold Godwinson being crowned King of England. He took control after King Edward died without an heir.


Who led the Norman conquest?

William served as the Duke of Normandy before invading England. He was a descendant of Rollo, the first Duke of Normandy.


Which book consisted of a land survey enacted by William the Conqueror?

The Domesday Book was written in Medieval Latin. Today, the book is located in The National Archives in London.


Which legislation took judicial power away from the Church?

Much of English history is shaped by the power struggle between the pope and the King of England. The pope, of course, was located in Italy but used bishops to assert authority.


Which Catholic martyr was killed for opposing King Henry II?

Thomas Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Henry II. He refused to recognize the king's authority over the Catholic Church.


Where was King Richard I captured?

Richard I was the son of Henry II. He was considered a great military leader during his reign.


Where was King Richard I returning from when he was captured?

King Richard I led the Third Crusade into the Holy Land. He had success during the journey but failed to capture Jerusalem.


Robert Fitzwalter led what war?

The First Barons' War was a result of disgruntled barons in England who opposed King John. These barons were supported by Louis VIII of France.


The First Barons' War resulted from King John ignoring what?

The Magna Carta took a significant amount of power away from the king. Though King John refused to stand by it, future kings would use parts of the document when dealing with wealthy landowners.


King John was excommunicated for what?

King John was excommunicated by Pope Innocent III. The two would eventually make up, as Innocent became an adamant supporter of the king and helped him with his struggle against Philip II of France.


Which treaty set boundaries between England and Scotland?

Signed in 1237, the Treaty of York ended the expansion of the Kingdom of Scotland. The border that was created is relatively the same today.


What prevented land from passing to the Church?

The Statutes of Mortmain was signed by Edward I of England. It ensured the king could collect taxes for feudal services.


Who wrote the Canterbury Tales?

The Canterbury Tales consists of 24 stories. The book depicts pilgrims who try to win a prize by telling the best story.


Which Scottish leader famously defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge?

William Wallace was eventually captured by the English. He was executed for treason by being hanged, drawn and quartered.


Which treaty gave Scotland its independence?

The treaty established Robert the Bruce as the rightful ruler in Scotland. The peace wouldn't last, however, as the Second War of Scottish Independence occurred a few years later.


Which pandemic hit England in the 14th century?

The Plague most likely started in Central Asia and spread through rodents. It killed millions of people throughout Europe.


Who did England fight in the Hundred Years' War?

The Hundred Years' War saw a rise in the use of gunpowder. It was also the birth of nationalism for many in France and Britain.


Who led the Peasants' Revolt in 1381?

The Peasants' Revolt had some success, particularly early in the fighting. However, after Wat Tyler was killed, the rebellion fell apart.


The War of the Roses pitted the House of Lancaster against which House?

The House of Lancaster won the war. Richard III, the last Yorkish king, was killed during the Battle of Bosworth Field.


Which king declared himself head of the Church of England?

Henry had six wives throughout his life. Part of his split from the Catholic Church was due to his desire to divorce his first wife.


What was the first permanent English colony in the New World?

Jamestown was founded under King James I. However, it was financed by the Virginia Company, which hoped to find resources to exploit.


Who is most associated with the English Renaissance?

William Shakespeare is regarded as one of the greatest writers in history. His poetry and plays are still read and performed today.


Who was Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England?

Oliver Cromwell helped transform England into a republic. However, he still maintained a significant amount of power, and many would call him a dictator.


The English Civil War pitted the Parliamentarians​ against who?

The English Civil War pitted Parliament against King Charles I. The war resulted in the death of Charles I and the banishment of his son Charles II to France.


Which treaty led to the Kingdom of Great Britain?

The Treaty of Union united England and Scotland under one government. The union went into effect in 1707.


How many colonies rebelled against Britain in the American War for Independence?

The American Revolution resulted in the creation of the United States. The 13 colonies would eventually become 50 states, as the U.S. became a global power in future decades.


Who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom throughout WWII?

Winston Churchill was one of the most influential figures in modern British history. His words of encouragement inspired Britain during Germany's onslaught in the early years of World War II.


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