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English Monarchy Mnemonics to Help your Team Win its Next Pub Quiz

[fa icon="calendar"] Mar 16, 2015 11:24:49 AM / by Tori Zopf

We've been slammed before by questions about which English monarch was ruling when, or which wife of Henry VIII was which. You probably have too. We promised ourselves that it would be the last time. Read our English Monarchy mnemonics and be sure you get those coveted History points next time you're at pub quiz.

There's so much to learn about the English monarchy. We'll dive right in to our top 3 history trivia mnemonics. 

1. Those crazy wives of Henry VIII

King Henry VIII... was it worth it ladies?

Did you know there were 7 of them? You probably did. Anyways, let's get started with a list and a few details. 

  1. Catherine of Aragon, m. 1509-1533. Their marriage was annulled, but not by the Catholic Church, which is why we have a Church of England today. Mother of future queen Mary I.

  2. Anne Boleyn, m. 1533-1536. Their marriage was annulled when Henry had her investigated for high treason, adultery, incest and witchcraft and she was beheaded. Mother of future queen Elizabeth I. 

  3. Jane Seymour, m. 1536-1537. Died of complications following the birth of her son, the future king Edward VI. She was the only wife to receive a Queen's funeral, and she was buried beside him.

  4. Anne of Cleves, m. 1540, for 7 months. Their marriage was never consummated, and was annulled. She outlived all the rest of them. Let that be a lesson to you: don't have sex with a king.

  5. Catherine Howard, m. 1540-1541. Henry's "rose without a thorn". First cousin of Anne Boleyn. She was accused of adultery (look in to her childhood, super interesting!), the marriage was annulled, and she was excecuted.

  6. Catherine Parr, m. 1543. Henry died in 1547, and Catherine outlived him. She helped to educate all of Henry's children, and was influential in the passing of the Third Succession Act of 1543, which returned Mary and Elizabeth to the line of sucession for the throne.

Now that we know a little bit about these ladies, how can you remember them? Finally, here are the mnemonics to memorize to win your next pub quiz.

Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. 

Say it with a lilt, and you'll be able to remember the order in which the wives of Henry VIII were disposed of.

But what if you can't remember the order. Well, there are a couple ways. Everyone who died forms a bit of a palidrome. Catherine - Anne - Jane - Anne - Catherine. Then, Catherine Parr who survived.

This mnemonic could also help you remember, depending on your style. Many of Henry VIII's wives were ousted because of something... unsavory... so just remember: A Big Secret Concealing Her Past. This corresponds to the last names of Henry VIII's wives. Catherine of Aragon - Anne Boleyn - Jane Seymour - Anne of Cleves - Catherine Howard - Catherine Parr


2. British Royal Families

We like this one a lot. Here's a mnemonic to remember the order of the British Royal houses. No Plan Like Yours To Study History Wisely (obviously, since you're visiting History on the Rocks). Here they are: 


NormanPlantagenetLancaster, YorkTudorStuartHanoverWindsor 

Bonus content! Remember the War of the Roses? It was fought sporadically over the span of 1455 - 1487 between two branches of House Plantagenet - the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Finally, Henry Tudor defeated Richard III of the House of York in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Now King Henry VII, he married Elizabeth of York, thereby uniting the two houses into the House of Tudor. This is why the emblem of the House of Tudor, the Tudor rose, combines Red and White roses of Lancaster and York respectively. 


3. Who Ruled When?

You might get a few questions about who was ruling during what period. We've decided to focus on American history events here, as that seems to be what we encounter the most during pub quiz. 

  • King George III, r. 1760-1814 - The one we all hated. Yep. He was king during the American Revolutionary War. Check out this great political cartoon from the Library of Congress. Published in 1813, it shows an 'enterprising' American giving King George a bloody nose, highlighting the defeat of the British frigate Boxer by the American Enterprise during the war of 1812. 

  • King George V, r. 1910-1936 - Ruled during World War I. First cousin of German Kaiser Wilhelm II. Changed the name of his dyansty from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the House of Windsor so people would like him more. He was also a first cousin of the last Tsar Nicolas II of Russia. Talk about nepotism, am I right?

  • King George VI, r. 1936-1952 - Ruled during World War II. (Yes, there was a king in between his father and him, that would be Edward VIII, he abdicated so he could marry a previously-divorced American socialite). Stayed in London throughout World War II despite heavy bombing. His reign also saw the dissolution of the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations in the years following World War II. 
    • BONUS! King George VI in popular culture: He was the subjet of the 2010 film The King's Speech, which shows his brother's abdication and his rise to the throne, and Colin Firth portrays King George VI's (real) stutter. Great movie.
  • If the newest addition to the royal family, Prince George of Cambridge, son of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, ascends to the throne, he could be King George VII. He is currently third in line to the throne.



Topics: History Mnemonics

Tori Zopf

Written by Tori Zopf