How Well Do You Remember The Most Important Dates In British History?


By: Bambi Turner

6 Min Quiz

Image: Rita Greer

About This Quiz

War, movements, and politics - these are the most important dates in British history!

British history has been shaped by invasions, internal conflict, and global expansion, traits that can be traced back to the beginning of the country. The first inhabitants of the island nation, the Britons, were quickly overrun by Anglo-Saxon and Roman invaders in the first few centuries of anno Domino. As these different cultures fought for power, various kingdoms emerged across Britain. Eventually, the Vikings found their way to Britain, causing chaos before merging into the English world, both politically and culturally. Around this time, the Kingdom of England began to take shape. 

As conflicts between the Kingdom of England and countries from the European mainland, particularly France, continued, England developed politically and economically with power switching between the King and Parliament. The Church also became a powerful force, which both the Pope and the King of England tried to control. These conflicts would influence centuries of British history, and when the New World was discovered, many of these conflicts only escalated further, causing rifts and changes that would shape the future of Western democracy and the world as a whole. 

If you think you are a British history buff, take this quiz and prove it! 

The Battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings took place place three weeks apart during this year.

The 1066 Battle of Stamford Bridge and Battle of Hastings were key points in British history. Thanks to these battles, William was established as the first Norman King of England. This ultimately resulted in the Anglo-Saxon language merging with French to form the modern English language,


What year did Britain officially recognize the loss of its American colonies with the Treaty of Paris?

With the American Revolution, Britain fought a tough battle with its own American colonies. By signing the Sept. 3, 1783 Treaty of Paris, Britain put an end to colonial rule in America and recognized the former colonies as the newly formed United States,


What year did Britain enter WWII?

On Sept. 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland. Two days later, both Britain and France declared war on Germany. By the time the war ended in 1945, 50 million people around the globe had been killed.


What is the date of Remembrance Day?

Britain and its allies signed an armistice with Germany on Nov. 11, 1918, bringing an end to WWI. Since then, November 11th has been celebrated as Remembrance or Armistice day in Britain.


What year was the settlement at Jamestown established?

On May 14, 1607, around 100 people from England settled at Jamestown, in modern-day Virginia. Jamestown became the first permanent English settlement in North America, and served as the capital of the Virginia colony until the end of the century.


What year did the Brits defeat the infamous Spanish Armada?

In July 1588, 130 ships known as the Spanish Armada set out to attack England. The English defeated the unbeatable Armada on July 29, 1588 -- and only about half of those ships made it back to Spain intact. It was a decisive victory for the Brits.


When did Britain get its first female prime minister?

The British prime minister is roughly equivalent to the U.S. president. Britain got its first female PM in 1979 with the election of Margaret Thatcher, who remained in the role until 1991.


What year did Henry VIII marry Anne Boleyn?

Henry VIII was determined to wed Anne Boleyn, despite the small fact that he was already married at the time. To make the marriage happen, Henry rejected the pope and formed the Church of England before wedding Anne on Jan. 25, 1533. She gave birth to their daughter Elizabeth I that September, then Henry had her beheaded just two years later.


What year did Guy Fawkes fail to blow up Parliament on the 5th of November?

On Nov. 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes and a group of associates plotted to blow up Parliament -- and failed. Every November 5th, Brits burn effigies of Fawkes to celebrate the failure of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot.


What year did James Watt patent his steam engine improvements, spurring the Industrial Revolution?

While the steam engine wasn't invented by James Watt, he did patent a version with a separate combustion chamber in 1769. The invention sent Britain into the Industrial Revolution, and reshaped society and the economy.


What year was Princess Diana killed in Paris?

Diana Spencer became Princess Diana when she married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981. The pair divorced in 1996, but Diana remained an icon. She was killed in a Paris car crash on Aug. 31, 1997.


What year did Queen Elizabeth II take the throne?

Born in 1926, QEII took the throne on Feb. 6, 1952. She eventually went on to become one of the longest reigning monarchs in history, celebrating 65 years as Queen with her Sapphire Jubilee in February 2017.


What year was the Magna Carta issued?

The Magna Carta, or Great Charter, was issued by King John in 1215. It set the foundation for modern British law, and limited the power of the king for the first time in history.


What year did Britain declare war on Germany, thrusting the country into WWI?

Britain entered WWI by declaring war on Germany on Aug. 4, 1914. By the time the war ended, more than 700,000 British soldiers had been killed.


What year did London host the first World's Fair at the Crystal Palace?

From May to October 1851, London's Hyde Park was home to an impressive structure known as the Crystal Palace. The facility played host to the Great Exhibition, which has since been recognized as the first World's Fair.


When did Britain win the Battle of Trafalgar?

The 1805 Battle of Trafalgar took place during Napoleon's reign. By defeating the French in this battle off the Spanish coast, the British discouraged Napoleon from ever attempting to invade British soil.


What year did Darwin publish his "Origin of Species?"

Charles Darwin flipped the scientific world on its head with the publication of "On the Origin of Species" on Nov. 24, 1859. Though his theories on natural selection were extremely controversial, they were largely accepted by the time of his death in 1882.


What year did the Channel Tunnel open for business?

The Channel Tunnel -- or Chunnel -- opened on May 6, 1994. This rail tunnel beneath the English Channel connected Britain to mainland Europe for the first time in modern history.


What year did London host the Summer Olympics for the first time?

As of 2018, London is the only city in the UK to have played host to the Olympics. The city hosted the games in 1908, 1948 and 2012.


What year did the Glorious Revolution end?

The battle to overthrow the Catholic James II and win the throne for the Protestants William and Mary was known as the Glorious Revolution. It took place from 1688 to 1689, leaving William and Mark firmly in control of the throne.


What year did Brits vote to leave the EU, after joining in the '70s?

On June 23, 2016, British voters elected to leave the European Union, with 51.9% of voters agreeing it was time to part ways. The referendum set the official departure date at March 29, 2019.


There has been teaching taking place at Oxford University since at least this year.

Believe it or not, teaching has been going on at Oxford since 1096. The oldest residence halls at the esteemed university date back to around 1249.


When did Brits get Universal Healthcare?

The National Health Services was established July 5, 1948. Since then, every British citizen has been entitled to free, taxpayer-funded healthcare.


What year did the Great Fire of London take place?

From Sept. 2-6, 1666, fire burned throughout the city of London. By the time the fire was out, 16 people had died and 80 percent of the city was completely destroyed.


What year did the English Civil War begin?

Britain experienced a Civil War from 1642 to 1651. King Charles I and Charles II fought and lost against Parliament. It was the last Civil War to take place on English soil.


What year did Britain join the EEC?

Britain became a member of the European Economic Community (later the EU) on January 1, 1973. Two years later, Brits voted on a referendum regarding whether the country should remain in the EU. More than 67 percent of voters chose to stay.


What year did the Roman conquest of Britain take place?

The Romans invaded and conquered Britain in 43 AD. About 100 years earlier, Julius Caesar had tried to do the same thing, but couldn't quite complete the conquest. Roman rule in Britain had virtually ended by the 5th century.


What year did England and Scotland unite to form the Kingdom of Great Britain?

Thanks to the Treaty of Union, England and Scotland joined forced to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. The treaty took effect on May 1, 1707.


Scotland was first recognized as a fully independent nation on May 1 of this year.

Ratified on May 1, 1328, the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton was an agreement reached between England and Scotland. It established Scotland as an independent nation for the first time, recognized the King of Scotland as its monarch and established borders between the two nations.


In 1870, Britain passed a major Act related to this field.

The Education Act of 1870 provided for universal education in Britain, establishing school boards and non-denominational schools throughout the nation. A similar Act a decade later made education compulsory for kids 10 and under, and by 1891, most school fees had been eliminated.


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