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People know more Game of Thrones characters than England’s historical figures

Ian Harvey

Technology is what society revolves around these days; sometimes it seems all people care about are their phones, TVs, and computers. Along with the idea of people’s lives revolving around TV comes the issue of their favorite TV shows.

One extremely popular show would be “Game of Thrones.” Someone could most likely walk up to anyone on the street and start talking about the TV show and they will most likely get an answer immediately. While it is good for HBO and the author of the books, it is not so great for historians.

A recent survey suggests that people know everything about the TV show, but not the real history of England. It is a bit sad that people would rather take the time to study a fictional book and TV show than the country’s actual history. If they find the TV show interesting, why wouldn’t they find real history interesting? Some of the same events happened in real history as they did on the TV show.

The year 1066 is the most famous year in English history but today’s people prefer the TV characters more than the real people who fought for England’s crown. While celebrating the 950th anniversary of the events that culminated in William the Conqueror becoming the king of England after the victory at the Battle of Hastings, England decided to take a poll. A little over one-third of those polled chose 1066 as the most memorable date in England’s history.

Reenactment in front of Battle Abbey

Battle of Hastings That puts 1066 way ahead of the second date chosen, which was 1945, the end of World War II. That date was chosen by eight percent of the people who took the quiz. There were over 2,000 people who participated.

After choosing the most memorable dates, people were asked to name the king. Thirty-eight percent of the people could name William of Normandy, who eventually became known as the Conqueror and claimed the English throne.

A quarter of the people, 25 percent, could name Harold Godwinson, who was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England and who had reigned for less than a year. He was killed at the Battle of Hastings. About 15 percent of people knew who Edward the Confessor was, as he was the king whose death had started the events of 1066.

While those percentages are not as bad as historians would have guessed, other players in the survey were not as well-educated. They really struggled to know who the ruler of England was in the 11th century. However, when they were asked who ruled the thrones on the Game of Thrones, they knew the answers instantly.

Only nine percent of the people who took the quiz knew who Harald Hardrada was. He was the King of Norway who attempted to regain the Viking kingdom of England. Only three percent were able to name Edgar the Aetheling, who happened to be Edward’s closest living relative.

Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen

On the other hand, 14 percent of the people could name Joffrey Baratheon, 13 percent could name Stannis Baratheon, 12 percent knew of Robert Baratheon and Daenerys Targaryen, and nine percent could identify Robb Stark. All of these characters come from the TV show and all had sat on or claimed the Iron Throne.

The poll was then broken down into age groups. Among the 24- to 35-year-olds, there were only 15 percent that could identify Harold Godwinson. Seventeen percent could name Edward the Confessor from 1066, 23 percent could identify Joffrey and Stannis Baratheon, and 22 percent knew who Daenerys Targaryen was from the TV show.

The poll was made online by ICM Research and was carried out to note the 950th anniversary of Edward the Confessor’s death. He died peacefully on January 5, 1066, after having reigned since 1042.

One of the senior properties curators for the English Heritage, Jeremy Ashbee, had said that 1066 is actually one of the most important dates in England’s history. It marks the death of King Edward the Confessor 950 years ago when he “unleashed a battle for the crown of England”.

The year 1066 was also a year that saw four different claimants on the same throne. Brothers fought each other and three battles took place.   Ashbee also says that it was the same drama that takes place in the TV show. Why aren’t people more excited about the real historical battles?


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News