During a particularly warm fall, I have the strong recollection of silently sweating through Mr. Walker’s Western Civilization class with the lyrics of a recently released Sting album going through my head:
Sooner or later just like the world first day
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away
History will teach us nothing…
I’ve never been a particular fan of history, but my teachers and professors never made the subject as interesting as the wonderful writers and directors of the many historical fiction dramas on television. I find myself getting drawn into the time-warp known as Wikipedia to learn what is fact in these series. Try your hand and see how much you know about the history in your favorite shows.
#1. In the History Channel’s Vikings, Ragnar and Rollo are brothers. What is their historical relationship?
It is unclear if there was an actual single person named Ragnar Lothbrok or if the legend is a composite of many different people. Rollo was a clear historical figure and was the Count of Rouen (ruler of Normandy).
#2. Which character from the History Channel’s Vikings is the common ancestor of virtually every English/British monarch since William the Conquerer?
Rollo, baptized as a Christian, became Robert, the first Count of Rouen. He ruled over lands that became known as Normandy and his decedents held the title of Duke of Normandy. Rollo’s great great great grandson, William I (the Conquerer), Duke of Normandy became the king of England in 1066 and the House of Normandy ruled England for over 100 years until 1167.
#3. BBC America’s series, The Last Kingdom, has a number of overlapping characters with History Channel’s Vikings. Which character is not amongst them?
Alfred and Æthelred both appear as the two childern of Ætherwulf, son of King Ecbert in Vikings. Ubba, known as Ubbe in Vikings is the son of Ragnar Lothbrok. While Earl Ragnar shares the same first name as Ragnar Lothbrok from Vikings, he’s clearly not the same character.
#4. The BBC and STARZ series “The White Queen” was set against the backdrop of the War of the Roses where multiple royal houses fought for control of England. Which house eventually won control?
The final victory went to a claimant of the Lancastrian party, Henry Tudor, who defeated the last Yorkist king, Richard III, at the Battle of Bosworth Field. After assuming the throne as Henry VII, he married Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter and heiress of Edward IV, thereby uniting the two claims. Henry VI was the father of Henry VIII, the primary focus of Showtime’s “The Tudors”. The House of Tudor ruled England and Wales from 1485 until 1603.
#5. This son of Ragnar Lothbrok on History Channel’s “Vikings” went on to be a legendary King of Sweden
Björn Ironside was a legendary king of Sweden who lived sometime in the 9th century. He is said to have been the first ruler of the Munsö dynasty.
#6. In Showtime’s “The Borgias”, Rodrigo Borgia / Pope Alexander VI is embroiled in an affair with Giulia Farnese. In addition to giving her a palace and a pension, Giulia convinces Rodrigo to do what?
#7. Peter O’Toole was featured as Pope Paul III in the final season of “The Tudors”. Paul III was in fact installed as a Cardinal by Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) and is the only character to crossover between “The Borgias” and “The Tudors”. Which Cardinal became Pope Paul III?
Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, installed at his sister’s request by Pope Alexander VI, ultimate ascends to the Papacy during Henry VIII’s reign.
#8. “The Tudors'” Henry VIII, often remembered for his many wives, fathered three children by three wives. While the wives did not fare very well, all three of his children, Mary, Elizabeth and Edward wore the crown of England. Which of the three appears as a main character on the CW’s “Reign”?
#9. The CW’s “Reign” tells the story of Mary (Stuart) Queen of Scots, whose son James ultimately joins the crowns of England and Scotland. The Stuart family plays a major role in the Starz series “Outlander”; what is that role?
Charles Edward Stuart was the primary force behind trying to organize the Jacobite Rebellion that Jaime and Claire are attempting to stop before the inevitable slaughter of the Scottish Highlanders.
#10. While never explicitly mentioned or seen in “Outlander”, Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s involvement in the run-up and successful ending of World War II has a major impact on Claire’s life. Twenty-six years earlier and in a different capacity Mr. Churchill has a direct impact on this “Peaky Blinders” principal.
Winston Churchill first sends Sam Neil’s character after Tommy as a part of an action to stop the sale of guns and then forces him to be in his service after saving his life.