Do You Know the Most Important Dates in Human History?

John Miller

Image: Clément-Auguste Andrieux

About This Quiz

That blind date you had with that weirdo a few years ago? Yeah, that was not an important date. But human history is full of world-changing dates, the moments that truly altered the course of humanity… for better or for worse. Do you think you know anything about the vital dates that changed the way our species exists?

Society-shattering events don’t always happen in an instant. They’re often the culmination of many years of planning (or mistakes) that wind up with hefty consequences for millions – or perhaps billions – of people around the world. You probably know what happened on that fateful December 7 in 1941. But do you, really?

No one needs to be reminded what the term “9/11” means. In America and around the world, it’s the moment the Twin Towers fell in New York. The immediate devastation was unfathomable – the fallout was equally incredible. Can you name other dates that were as important as September 11, 2001?

From political assassinations to world wars to amazing technological breakthroughs, our history as a species has unfolded in countless ways. Whether we are talking D-Day or an extra-special year, let’s see how much you really know about monumental moments in human history now!

Which battle occurred on June 18, 1815?

For years, French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte lorded over Europe, crushing resistance wherever he saw fit. On that June 18, though, he lost the Battle of Waterloo, a name that's now synonymous with ultimate failure.

In 1346, which terrible event began in Europe?

In 1346, the bubonic plague - the Black Death - began spreading through Europe and Asia. By the end of the plague, a jaw-dropping 75 to 200 million people died.

On November 27, 1095, what did Pope Urban II do?

November 27 was a world-changing day - it's when the pope announced the first Crusade, in which he rallied Christians to violently take back their Holy Lands from Muslims.

Who was born around 4 B.C.?

Jesus Christ was born around 4 B.C. His teachings gave rise to Christianity and helped people rein in their monkey-like penchant for all manner of murder and mayhem.

What happened on June 28, 1914?

On June 28, 1914, a Serbian political fanatic murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. His act ignited the firestorm that became World War I, killing perhaps 40 million people. And that, my friend, is why we can't have nice things.

Which major event started on September 1, 1939?

On Sept. 1, 1939, Hitler's Nazi forces invaded Poland, kicking off the deadliest war in modern history. As many as 80 million people died in WWII.

What human activity began in 3200 B.C. in Mesopotamia?

Mesopotamia is now called Iraq. In 3200 B.C., humans first began writing, an activity that would find its penultimate achievement in the online quiz that you are reading at this very moment.

Which document went into effect on March 4, 1789?

On March 4, 1789, the U.S. Constitution went into effect. It was one of the first documents ever meant to secure the liberties of all people. Unless, you know, you were a slave or a woman - then all bets were off.

What did the Chinese began building in 214 B.C.?

In 214 B.C., the Chinese began their never-ending work on the Great Wall of China, which can maybe be seen from space and also (probably) from Sarah Palin's house.

Which document went into effect January 10, 1920?

After more than four years of blood-stomping fun, the party-pooper Treaty of Versailles officially ended World War I. But there was just one catch - the treaty was so hard on Germany that the Nazis would inevitably rise in retribution.

What was invented around 3500 B.C. in the area of Mesopotamia?

In roughly 3500 B.C., in what is now Iraq, the wheel was born. Hamsters everywhere immediately began wringing their adorable little paws in frantic anticipation.

What happened on April 12, 1861, near Fort Sumter?

That April day, the Confederates captured Fort Sumter. It was the first shooting battle of the American Civil War… but sadly, it would not be the last.

In 776 B.C., in Greece, which famous event took place for the first time?

In 776 B.C., the first-ever Olympiad was held in Greece. What started as a few simple events has morphed into an athletic extravaganza of amazing proportions.

Which famous book was published on November 24, 1859?

In 1859, scientist Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species," which developed ideas about evolution, forever altering the way humans perceive the development of species. Not in Kansas, though, because Kansans don't believe in evolution.

Where did Christopher Columbus land on October 12, 1492?

On that fateful October day in 1492, Columbus set foot in the New World... in South America, and claimed the area for Spain. His accomplishment would lead to fast, massive European colonization.

What did Carl Benz invent in 1885?

In 1885, Carl Benz (of Mercedes-Benz fame) built the world's first gas-driven engine. So as you take this quiz while sitting in endless gridlock, inhaling those sweet fumes, you can say, "Thank you Carl, thank you so much."

In 1066, the Normans invaded and defeated which country?

In 1066, Norman leader William the Conqueror cemented his place in history by conquering England, where he made himself king. His reign drastically changed life in England and Western Europe.

Which famous document was ratified on July 4, 1776?

On July 4, the founding fathers of America ratified the Declaration of Independence, a hotly-contested document that essentially told Britain (nicely) to go away. We all know what happened next.

What did Johannes Gutenberg invent in 1439?

Gutenberg invented the first printing press in 1439. For the first time in history, humans could quickly copy and distribute written materials, a fact that transformed society in countless ways and paved the way for incredibly important documents like "The National Enquirer."

On September 19, 1893, New Zealand became the first country to give women the right to _____.

Credit New Zealand with its forward-thinking politics. In 1893, it became the first country to really give women the right to vote.

What did Magellan accomplish in 1522?

Magellan finished sailing around the world in 1522. Of course, it didn't take him very long because the world is flat and he didn't want to fall off the edge.

In 1905, Albert Einstein published his theory on ______.

In 1905, the crazy-haired Einstein published his theory on special relativity. Non-special relativity pouted in the corner, wondering what made the special kind so "special," anyway. As if.

What did humans do for the first time on July 20, 1969?

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their module on the moon. On the following day, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person ever to touch the moon, which he said he's sure is made of cheese. Provolone.

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell completed the first ______.

Bell made the first telephone call in his lab on March 10, 1876. He ordered a large pepperoni with triple jalepenos, a fact that he'd soon regret.

In 1961, two American electrical engineers named Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce invented ______.

Kilby and Noyce built the first silicon chips in 1961, paving the way for incredible advances in computers and eventually allowing people to do Really Important Things on Facebook and MySpace.

In 1517, what did Martin Luther do?

Luther was a German monk who was upset about corruption in the Catholic Church, so he offered up some suggestions for improvement. His ideas led to the Reformation, which overhauled Christianity and greatly upset Catholic leaders.

What was ENDED in 1863?

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which officially ended slavery in the Union. But with the Civil War still raging, the Union was not yet whole, and as such, slavery continued in areas of the South.

What event happened on December 7, 1941?

On the "day that will live in infamy," the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The result? America went into all-out war mode… and never really stopped.

On June 22, 1941, what fateful decision did Hitler make?

On June 22, 1941, Hitler ordered the start of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the U.S.S.R. His decision to open the Eastern Front while there was still heavy fighting in the West may have cost Germany the war.

On November 4, 2008, what did Barack Obama do?

On November 4, 2008, a half-black man was elected president in a country that had once promoted slavery, altering forever the concept of human potential and freedom.

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