Who Wants To Be A Mediaeval Millionaire?


When teaching 11 to 14 year olds about mediaeval literature like Beowulf or Gawain and the Green Knight, one runs into the enormous barrier of in some cases a thousand years of cultural and linguistic changes which act as an abyss between the modern student and the works.

One way around this is to teach some basic facts in a game setting. A few years ago, a popular game show called Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? captivated audiences in the UK by presenting a series of questions with multiple choice answers. Contestants were permitted, during their round, one opportunity to either 'Ask The Audience', 'Phone A Friend' or have 50% of the incorrect answers removed from the list of options.

It was a relatively simple matter to transfer this into a classroom setting: the result was Who Wants To Be A Mediaeval Millionaire? The questions were open to the class (which could be divided into teams if needed); 'Ask The Audience' became ask the rest of the class; 'Phone A Friend' became ask another classmate; having 50% of the incorrect answers removed remained the same.

The prize was a mythical haul of mediaeval treasure which, when valued at the end, would turn out to be worth the value of a chocolate bar in today's currency. Each question answered correctly resulted in a proportional part of the ancient treasure being acquired.

But, as with all such approaches, the real prize was active student engagement.

Here are the questions (which can of course be modified by teachers as needed):

1. What happened in the British Isles in 1066 which began the wiping out of a flourishing native Anglo-Saxon culture?