Take my Tudor test!

How well do you know your Thomas Wolsey from your Thomas Cromwell, and your Thomas Cranmer from your Thomas More? To find out, take my Tudor test…answers below, along with my assessment of your performance.

Question One: An easy one, to warm up.  Complete the rhyme:

Divorced, Beheaded, Died

Divorced, Beheaded …

a. Bee-hived

b. Alive

c. Survived

d. With child

Question Two: Henry VIII got married how many times? (Beware!)

a. five

b. six

c. seven

d. eight

Question Three: Which of these words is NOT a Tudor euphemism for a toilet?

a. the jakes

b. the gong

c. the Great House of Easement

d. the water-pot

Question Four: Match the personal symbol to the wife of Henry VIII:

Katherine of Aragon                        Falcon

Anne Boleyn                                    Phoenix

Jane Seymour                        Pomegranate

Question Five: You get the chance to interview Henry VIII. How would he explain Anne Boleyn’s fall?

a.  She’d had a miscarriage, and seemed unlikely to provide the vital male heir

b.  He was rather taken with Jane Seymour, who’d become his next wife

c.  Anne had become shrewish and had started bossing Henry about

d. Anne had been unfaithful to him, and ‘upwards of 100 gentlemen’ had known her carnally

Question Six: Who killed the most heretics?

a. Henry VIII

b. Edward VI

c. Mary

d. Elizabeth

Question Seven: Which is the motto of Elizabeth I?

a.  semper eadem

b. In the end is my beginning

c.  To be useful in all I do

d.  The Most Happie

Question Eight: Which of these is a phrase NOT uttered by Tudor historian David Starkey?

a. ‘Female historians are usually quite pretty’.

b. ‘If you are to do a proper history of Europe before the last five minutes, it is a history of white males because they were the power players.’

c. ‘I do rather like girls.’

d. ‘Yes, I am quite charming and kitten-like, aren’t I?’

Question Nine:  Which of these ladies was punished by the jealous Virgin Queen for forming a relationship with a man?

a. Mary Shelton.  While punishing Mary with ‘both in blows and words’ for a secret marriage, Elizabeth reputedly broke her finger

b. Katherine Grey.  For marrying in secret she was thrown into the Tower, where, incidentally, she gave birth to her son, and also somehow managed to conceive her second child.

c. Mary Fitton.  Sent away from Court for having a lover, her mother thought it ‘such shame as never had a Cheshire woman’.

Question Ten: What was the name of the little dog who cowered under the skirts of Mary Queen of Scots during her execution in 1587?

a. Fleur

b. Eliza De Ville

c. Geddon

b. Lysander

Question Eleven: Sir John Hawkins (1532-1595), sea captain, is best known for specializing in the importation of:

a. potatoes

b. tobacco

c. tomatoes

d. slaves

Question Twelve: Which of these people have been proposed as the ‘real’ author of William Shakespeare’s work?

a. Elizabeth I

b. Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford

c. Francis Bacon

d. Christopher Marlowe

Question Thirteen: What would you do with a farthingale?

a. spend i

b. travel in it

c. wear it under a skirt

d. take it out hunting with you

Question Fourteen: Who should get most credit for translating the Bible into English?

a. King James

b. Saint James

c. 54 scholars appointed by King James

d. William Tyndale

Question Fifteen: Which literary prize has Hilary Mantel, novelist, and creator of fiction’s best Thomas Cromwell, NOT yet won?

a. Booker Prize

b. Specsavers National Book Award

c. Orange Prize

d. Costa Book Awards

Question Sixteen: Spot the odd one out:

a. Turkeys

b. Hops

c. Sweet Potatoes

d. Coffee

Question Seventeen: Make a fist and then push your thumb up between the first and second fingers.  This is a rude Elizabethan gesture called ‘The Fig of Spain’.  It represents:

a. The horns of a cuckold

b. The Pope’s mitre

c. The female genitalia

Question Eighteen:  Why do we have the letters ‘FD’ on our coins?

a. Stands for ‘fidei defensor’, ‘Defender of the Faith’, a title first given by the Pope to Henry VIII

b. Stands for ‘Felicitous Dominions’, a description of the British Isles

c. Stands for ‘fidei defensor’, ‘Defender of the Faith’, a title first given by the Pope to Mary I

d. Stands for ‘fide et dolor’, ‘By Faith and Pain’, a motto adopted by Elizabeth I

Question Nineteen: Here is a verse about the dangers of ambition by Sir Thomas Wyatt.

These bloody days have broken my heart.

My lust, my youth did them depart,

And blind desire of estate.

Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.

Of truth, circa Regna tonat.

It was inspired by which event?

a. the loss of the tuna fishing fleet into which Wyatt had invested all his money

b. the sight of Anne Boleyn being executed at the Tower of London

c. the fall of Sir Christopher Hatton, that ‘mere vegetable of the court that sprung up at night and sank again at his noon’.

Question Twenty: Which Thomas was forced to forfeit his Cambridge fellowship for getting married to a woman named Joan?

a. Thomas Wolsey

b. Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk

c. Thomas More

d. Thomas Cromwell

e. Thomas Cranmer



Question One: c. Survived.

Question Two: seven!

He married Anne Boleyn twice: first, in secret, at Dover, then again at Whitehall Palace. Did I getcha?

Question Three: d. the water-pot

Question Four: Katherine of Aragon: Pomegranate

Anne Boleyn: Falcon

Jane Seymour: Phoenix

Question Five: d.

Note: this is a tricky area.  Although Henry VIII believed that his wife had been unfaithful (the words about the ‘100 gentlemen’ are reputedly his own) it is probably the one statement of the four that wasn’t true.  A., b., and c. were all contributing factors to her fall, but not so admitted by Henry.

Question Six: a.

Note: you’d be forgiven to falling foul of centuries of anti-Catholic propaganda and saying c. ‘Bloody Mary’.  Accurate figures are hard to come by, but Henry VIII killed far more many Catholics (thousands) than Mary did Protestants (hundreds).

Question Seven: a.

b. was the motto of Mary Queen of Scots, c. was Katherine Parr’s. d. was Anne Boleyn’s, as was a., which was subsequently adopted by her daughter Elizabeth.

Question Eight: c.

Perhaps surprisingly, he said d. in an interview with Rachel Cooke for The Observer in 2012.

Question Nine: Trick question.  All of them were punished.

Question Ten: c. Geddon.  The blood had to be washed off him afterwards.

Question Eleven: d. slaves.

Hawkins was a pioneer of the ‘triangle trade’.  His ships carried guns to Africa, enslaved Africans to the Caribbean to work in the plantations, and then sugar back to Britain.

Question Twelve: Another trick question.  All have been proposed.

Question Thirteen: c.

Question Fourteen: A., c. and d., all had a hand in it, but the text of the 1611 King James Bible is estimated to be 80% Tyndale’s work, done decades before. Answer therefore d.

Question Fifteen: Orange Prize, for which she was only shortlisted.  But she won all the others.

Question Sixteen: d. Coffee is the odd one out, being first imported in the seventeenth century.  The rest arrived in England in the sixteenth.

Question Seventeen: Regrettably, it’s c.

Question Eighteen: a. (Henry’s title was awarded before the Break with Rome.)

Question Nineteen: b.

Question Twenty: e. Thomas Cranmer


Rank yourself… 

Count up your correct answers and give yourself a point for each one.  You’ll find an assessment of your performance below.

0-5: ‘Useless, boiled within thy skull.’

(Julius Caesar)

I’m sorry to say that your brain is merely offal.

6-10: ‘Alack, poor gentleman!’

(King Lear)

You haven’t done very well, I’m afraid.

11-15: ‘A very good piece of work, I assure you.’

(A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Not bad at all….

16-20: ‘O Jesu, this is excellent sport, i’faith.’

(Henry IV, Part 2)

Well done!

13 thoughts on “Take my Tudor test!

  1. Richard Spencer

    Q17 This offensive gesture is still used in Germany!

    I think Henry only married 6 times, on account of he didn’t actually “marry” the (nice) Flanders Mare, but was merely betrothed to her.

    1. Jerry W

      From Wikipedia: “Despite Henry’s very vocal misgivings, the two were married on 6 January 1540 at the royal Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, London by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The phrase “God send me well to keep” was engraved around Anne’s wedding ring.”

  2. Yvonne

    Re question 6: Would it not be fair to say that Mary killed more for heresy because the Catholics put to death by Henry were executed for treason rather than heresy? i.e. because they looked to Rome rather than the King as being the source of ultimate authority and power.
    This is pure speculation as I have no idea about the historical facts here.

  3. Karen

    sigh I have offal for a brain, to be fair I have only just woken up after hibernating through half term!

    1. P Raposo

      Alas mine also, fit for a peasant’s dinner!!

  4. John Atkinson

    I admit to 4 right, and 16 wrong.

    I am useless, boiled within my skull.

  5. Andrew West

    That’s not a quiz, that’s a wander round a minefield. Just mean! hehe. Good job you don’t set questions for Mastermind.

  6. Michael Chow

    Q6, “Who killed the most heretics?”: Henry likely would have admitted to having people executed on charges of heresy before the Reformation. But thereafter, the charge would have been treason, would it not? If so, the title should indeed be Mary’s.

  7. Jim Otoole

    A poor gentleman am I. Fell foul of the trick questions too.

  8. Harry Chong

    I failed your test. My brain is officially offal. I never did very well in school…

  9. Chris Hough

    H’mm Managed a scraped 12 The trick ones are clever indeed Lucy did any of your ancestors work as Queens Pursiviants? in the 16th century or perhaps Sir Francis Walsingham?

  10. Nick Taylor

    I too forgot the secret wedding ceremony. But doesn’t that make it 6 times? His first to Katherine of Paragon was annulled, so was never officially a true marriage.

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