Millions of kids lack basic knowledge like how many wives Henry VIII had


Researchers polled 1,000 children aged 14 and under to see how much they know about history – testing them on kings and queens, past civilisations, wars, and battles. And despite 73 percent declaring a ‘love’ for learning about the past, six in 10 didn’t know Henry VIII had six wives, and 36 percent thought Alexander the Great wasn’t real. While 38 percent weren’t familiar with one of the pivotal moments of WWII – the Battle of Britain – with more than one in 10 believing it was a notorious football match between England and Scotland.

Four in 10 (41 percent) didn’t know who Cleopatra was, 30 percent thought Sherlock Holmes was a real person, and almost half (45 percent) didn’t realise Vikings originated from Scandinavia. 

The research was commissioned to celebrate two new books in the Adventures in Time series which aims to bring past alive for modern kids. 


Author Dominic Sandbrook said: “It’s incredibly sad that so many children today are effectively cut off from their own history – because a knowledge and love of the past is the foundation of any healthy society. 

“The past is a world of amazing stories and colourful characters, far more dramatic and exciting than anything in fiction.

“As historians, we have a duty to go out and show children just how thrilling and fascinating history can be.”


The study also found more than half of kids polled didn’t know Romans spoke Latin, and more than one in 10 thought Atlantis was a real city. 

Furthermore, 22 percent thought WWII ended anywhere between 1966 to 2001.

And 64 percent didn’t know who codebreaker and new face of the £50 note, Alan Turing OBE was – one in 10 believed he invented the internet. 


But while these findings from the study carried out through OnePoll may suggest a lack of interest in history among kids, this isn’t necessarily the case.

When asked to reveal what they find most exciting about the past, 40 percent said ‘wars and battles’. 

While 27 percent said ‘ancient artifacts’, and 43 percent said ‘finding out how people lived.’


One of the biggest problems may be how they engage with the subject though as almost half (47 percent) said they ‘find history books boring.’ 

Dominic Sandbrook added: “It’s a tragedy that so many children think history is boring, because it’s one of the most extraordinary and eye-opening subjects imaginable. 

“That’s what inspired me to write the Adventures in Time series. 


“The books are full of battles, escapes, heroes, and villains, and they’re all true. 

“These stories are every bit as exciting as those of fictional heroes like Harry Potter or Matilda Wormwood.

“In fact, they’re even better – because they actually happened.”


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