Do You Know What Events Started or Ended These Wars?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: Maurice Réalier-Dumas

About This Quiz

“If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this Earth.” And yet, even after the sky fell and the ground erupted in a mushroom-shaped cloud of unimaginable proportions, the blood continued to gush in the Pacific – but only for a few days longer. How much do you really think you know about the events that started and ended the world’s most famous wars?

As long as people have walked the planet, they’ve fought wars for territory, pride, wealth and survival. Sometimes, gigantic wars begin from small actions that snowball into political crises. In other instances, wars seem destined to start years before the bullets start flying, the result of escalating insults and slights. Do you know the triggers that set of humanity’s most gruesome fights?

In some wars, it seems that wholesale killing is the only way to bring an end to the conflict. Other times, diplomats navigate the rocky terrain of violence and create treaties that stop the bombs and shells. Do you know which wars ended with paperwork … or surrender?

In the end, all wars finally drag to a halt, either due to attrition or leaders who finally find common ground with their enemies. In other instances, entire nations are simply forced to lay down their arms, or else. Take up the fight in our battle-tested quiz and see what you really know about the instances that started – and stopped – our greatest wars.

World War I began thanks to which bloody event?

On June 28, 2014, a Serbian political extremist shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The murder started an avalanche of reactions that started World War I.


The secession of U.S. Southern states was a primary factor in which war?

In February 1861, seven Southern states declared their secession from the United States. President Abraham Lincoln immediately moved to preserve the Union … and the Civil War was on.


Nazi Germany's invasion of _____ sparked World War II.

In September of 1939, Hitler sent his blitzkrieg hurtling across the border into Poland, where the Germany army crushed all resistance. The bold move ignited WWII, the deadliest war in human history.


An oppressive bit of legislation called the Stamp Act turned into a firestorm called the _______.

In 1765, Britain passed the Stamp Act, requiring its Thirteen Colonies to use only English paper with the appropriate revenue stamp on its surface, amounting to overbearing tax meant to fund British military activity. The colonies erupted in protest, and eventually, the Revolutionary War.


The Storming of the Bastille was fuel for the fire of which war?

Rebels tired of French monarchy had had enough of the throne's abuses -- on July 14, 1789, they burst into the Bastille, a fortress in Paris. The Storming of the Bastille became a rallying cry for the French Revolution.


Iraq's invasion of _______ started the 1990 Gulf War.

In August 1990, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, a tiny country in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and a coalition of allies (chiefly, the United States) generated a counterattack that sent Iraqi troops scurrying for Baghdad.


The issue of slavery was a major contributing factor in which war?

In the mid-1800s, Confederate States wanted to expand slavery to other parts of America. Abraham Lincoln's election seemed to be the nail in the coffin of slavery's proliferation, and it was a defining aspect of the Civil War.


A "domino theory" greatly contributed to an escalation of which fight?

After WWII, America feared other nations in Asia would fall under Communism's influence, like falling dominoes. America intervened in Vietnam in hopes of stopping Communism's momentum, and although the United States eventually fled the war, some historians call say the bloody intervention was actually successful in its ultimate aims.


The epic Battle of Waterloo brought a dramatic end to which spate of violence?

In the early 1800s, Napoleon, the Emperor of France, reigned supreme in European affairs, solidifying French military supremacy in the Napoleonic Wars. At the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, a coalition of armies finally (and surprisingly) defeated the French and sent their emperor into exile.


The Boston Tea Party helped to escalate tensions into which armed conflict?

In May 1773, colonists "disguised" as Native Americans boarded British ships in Boston Harbor and sent tons of tea into the harbor, where we can only guess that dolphins and clams enjoyed a hearty brew. British leaders were outraged at the act and responded with a raft of punitive actions that brought the Revolution to ... wait for it ... a full boil.


What aggressive act started the Korean War?

In June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, marking the start of the Korean War. The United Nations -- backed primarily by the military of the United States -- stepped into the fray.


A religious movement called the Reformation eventually led to which vicious round of bloodletting in Europe?

In the 1500s, a German monk named Martin Luther tried to confront corruption in the Catholic Church. His efforts inspired the Reformation, which later found Catholics and new "Protestants" at each other's throats in the Thirty Years' War.


The Treaty of Versailles brought an end to the bloodshed of which war?

The Treaty of Versailles brought an official end to the violence of WWI. It went into effect January 10, 1920, more than four years after the war began.


Many historians say the Treaty of Versailles contributed to the START of which war?

The Treaty of Versailles may have ended WWI, but its burdensome provisions also kicked Germany while it was down. Its effects on German society played a role in the circumstances that gave rise to the Third Reich.


What event dumped gasoline onto the fire of the Chinese Civil War?

In April 1927, Chiang Kai-shek led the crushing of Communist Party elements as part of the Shanghai massacre. Hundreds of people were killed and the bloody day sent the Chinese Civil War out of control, killing millions upon millions of people.


The 1783 Peace of Paris ended which years-long conflict?

The 1783 Peace of Paris brought an official end to the American Revolution, which gave the United States its independence from Britain. The treaties generated in Paris were exceedingly generous to America, in large part because Britain wanted a flourishing United States to thwart Spanish and French interests in the region.


What gory action led to the end of the European Theater of World War II?

As Soviet troops swarmed Berlin, Adolf Hitler knew the end of his Reich was near. He and his wife committed suicide, and other Nazi leaders sued for peace with the Allies.


What ended the Pacific Theater of World War II?

Faced with Japanese soldiers fighting to the death at every turn, U.S. President Truman opted to drop an atomic bomb on the Japan mainland. Days, later, a second bomb convinced Japanese leaders to finally surrender, putting WWII to bed for good.


The end of a monarchy also spelled the end of which war?

During the French Revolution, rebels fought to cast off centuries of monarchy. In the end, they got their way, and a democratic republic was born in the ashes of the war.


The Battle of Fort Sumter marked the outbreak of shooting in which war?

On April 12, 1861, Confederate troops began a bombardment of Union Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina. Neither side suffered any casualties, but the Union surrendered and vacated the fort.


True or false, did a coup d'etat end Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq and also conclude the Gulf War?

Coalition forces uprooted Hussein's forces from Kuwait during the Gulf War, and they attempted to use internal pressures to spark a coup d'etat and remove the brutal dictator from power. But the efforts failed, and Hussein eventually started abusing his powers all over again.


An Argentinian invasion of ______ started the Falklands War.

In 1982, Argentina invaded British-held Falklands Islands not far from its shores. The British, unwilling to cede its base in the South Atlantic, retaliated, and the 10-week Falklands War began.


The capture of Saigon led to the end of which agonizingly long fight?

In the spring of 1975, North Vietnamese forces rolled into Saigon and sent troops from the United States and South Vitenam in a hurried withdrawal. The fall of Saigon marked the end of the Vietnam War for America.


The Treaty of Ghent drew the _____ to a conclusion.

In December of 1814, both Britain and American were weary of the pointless fight called the War of 1812. The Treaty of Ghent brought the war to an end in what was basically a draw.


A "demilitarized zone" helped to generate a peaceful cushion after which war?

An armistice ended the (undeclared) Korean War in 1953. A famous -- or rather, infamous -- demilitarized zone (DMZ) was created between the two sides, a symbol of an uneasy peace.


What event signified the end of the 10-week-long Falklands War?

Argentina bit off more than it could chew when it picked a fight with Britain in the Falklands. The English mercilessly put down the invasion and forced the Argentinians to surrender.


Which war officially ended at a legendary place called Appomattox Court House?

On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his forces to Union leader Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, essentially ending the Civil War.


The collapse of the Soviet Union ended which war?

For decades, the United States and Soviet Union used proxy wars to battle each other in the Cold War. When the USSR officially disolved in 1991, the long Cold War finally ended.


The Paris Peace Conference generated the treaty that ended which war?

The 1919 Paris Peace Conference brought together the diplomats who hammered out the Treaty of Versailles … ultimately ending The Great War.


The Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt (and other Middle East countries) began with which action?

With Middle East tensions rising in 1967, Israel opted for a preemptive strike that nearly wiped out Egypt's air force. In just six days, Israel killed around 20,000 enemy troops while losing just 1,000 of their own.


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