How Much Do You Know About the History of Europe?



By: Gavin Thagard

6 Min Quiz

Image: Alexander Spatari/Moment/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Ancient Greek philosophers, the expansion of the Roman Empire, knights from the Middle Ages, the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte: What's not to love about the history of Europe? After all, it's filled with some of the most interesting and important moments in human history. Do you know how those moments shaped Europe as well as the rest of the world? This quiz gives you the chance to find out just that. 

It would be narrow-minded to say that Europe has had the most influence on how the modern world has been shaped throughout the centuries, but to dismiss the role of Europe in human history does no justice to where the world is today. In various ways, European countries have had a hand in how just about every country around the world has developed. From trading along the Silk Road to the Age of Imperialism, Europe has made sure to stake its claim on the world, and for that, the history of Europe deserves to be studied. 

How well does your knowledge stack up against other European historians? It's time to find out. Get started with this European history quiz and prove to everyone that you were paying attention in class. 

Fed up with the corruption of the Catholic Church, which religious figure launched the Protestant reformation?

Martin Luther's "95 Theses" changed the course of Christian history, as it directly attacked the Catholic Church, the dominant authority at the time. Luther's biggest conclusion was that Christians should rely on the Bible for guidance and not on deeds, like paying indulgences.


Johannes Gutenberg created which important invention that helped shape the future of Europe?

The printing press allowed knowledge to flow much more freely across Europe and gave many more people access to sources of information that they didn't have before. This new way of exchanging ideas would help launch the Scientific Revolution a century later.


By the 16th century, most of Europe was experiencing the height of a cultural Renaissance. Where did it start, though?

Important artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were prominent figures in the Italian Renaissance, producing some of the greatest art the world has ever seen. Their work influenced the rest of Europe and helped drag the region out of the period known as the Dark Ages.


One of the most recognized ancient storytellers, Homer is credited as the author of what literary work?

Following the telling of the Trojan War in the "Illiad," the "Odyssey" is an epic poem that details the journey of Odysseus back to his home in Ithaca. The journey is filled with many perils that Odysseus has to overcome while losing his crew in the process.


Seeking the throne of England, William the Conqueror invaded the country in 1066 by sailing forces from his home, which was where?

After his conquest of England, William the Conqueror built castles across the country similar to those found in Normandy. Prior to William's castle-building initiative, England had very few castles, which were actually considered a French invention.


The House of Lancaster and the House of York fought for the throne of England in which war?

Initiated by the poor leadership of King Henry VI, the War of the Roses saw the crown of England change hands several times between 1455 and 1485. The war finally came to an end when King Henry VII defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, giving rise to the House of Tudor.


Though their terror had few limits, the Nazi Party gained power in Germany by primarily discriminating against which religious group?

Anti-Semitism was prevalent in Europe well before Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. In fact, Jewish discrimination can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when Jews were forced into select areas known as ghettos and denied full citizenship.


Marxism started to gain ground among the intellects of Europe at the end of the 19th century as it preached against what?

Though Marxism had supporters all over Europe, this new ideology became most prevalent in Russia. Realizing their country was gradually growing weaker, the Russian populace used the ideas of Karl Marx to launch a revolution against the last Tsar, Nicholas II.


Christopher Columbus was sent on his first voyage to discover a route to Asia by which Spanish king?

Ferdinand II helped unite a divided Spain when he married Isabella, the queen of Castile, in 1469. Though some call Ferdinand the first King of Spain, it was actually his grandson, Charles I, who carried the title.


Napoleon Bonaparte had many successes on the battlefield as the ruler of France, but at which battle was he finally defeated?

Napoleon Bonaparte captured much of Europe during the height of his reign before many of his forces were destroyed while trying to gain hold of Russia. This led to his abdication of the throne in 1814, though he returned a year later before his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.


Can you name the war that Pope Urban II called for during the Council of Clermont?

As the persecution of Christians living in Jerusalem increased with the rise of the Seljuk Turks and pressure mounted on the Byzantine Empire, Pope Urban II decided to call other European nations for help. These Christian nations answered the call, sending thousands of troops to capture Jerusalem.


As Christianity began to trickle into communities across the Roman Empire, who became the first Roman emperor to convert to the religion?

Prior to Constantine's conversion, Christians were largely persecuted across the Roman Empire, which favored pagan beliefs at the time. Constantine ended much of this persecution and even initiated programs that built churches and put bishops into power.


The Hundred Years' War started when King Edward III claimed himself king of which country?

The English had many early victories over France during the Hundred Years' War, even gaining the duchy of Guyenne after the Treaty of Calais was signed by King John. However, the French weren't accepting of their foreign occupants, and after years of fighting, they managed to regain their kingdom.


Emperor Hadrian, who came to power in Rome in 117 A.D., built a wall named after himself in which modern territory to defend against the natives who lived there?

Despite conquering most of Britain, the Romans still faced resistance from Celtic tribes in the northern part of the country when Hadrian became emperor. To combat these "barbarians," as they were called, Hadrian ordered the wall be built by Roman soldiers with forts every few miles.


Are you familiar with the invaders who conquered Constantinople in 1453, leading to the fall of the Byzantine Empire?

The Ottoman Empire was started by Osman I, who sought to expand the territory of the Turkish tribes he ruled over. Maintaining power for over 600 years, the Ottomans became an important center for science and art, as the empire provided stability for much of southeast Europe.


The most honorable knights followed a strict code of honor known as what?

In an era of warfare and violence, the behavior of the warriors who took part in this bloodshed was not always admirable. Chivalry provided a set of rules for the knights who arose during this time to use their power in a more Christianly manner.


Muslims from North Africa helped reintroduce ancient text into Christian society when they conquered much of which European country?

Spain has a unique history in contrast to most other Western European countries because it was at times ruled by both Muslims and Christians. Scholars refer to the inner workings of how these groups, along with the Jews, lived together as La Convivencia.


A prominent figure during the Scientific Revolution, which important scientist introduced his three laws of motion?

Isaac Newton's Laws of Motions certainly changed the future of classical mechanics in Europe, but he is probably just as well known for his discovery of gravity. This significant discovery helped explain how planets move around the sun, a heated topic during his time.


Which Russian faction came to power during the October Revolution in 1917, eventually becoming the Communist Party?

The Bolshevik Party came to power behind one of the most important figures in modern Russian history, Vladimir Lenin. Lenin, whose brother had been executed for his part in an assassination plot against Tsar Alexander III, was one of the more radical members of the party, demanding military action over more democratic solutions.


Poverty and hunger ushered in discontent for the French monarchy, leading to the French Revolution. When did it begin?

The start of the French Revolution in 1789 was only the beginning of a bloody conflict that would first engulf France and later all of Europe. However, the initials phases of the revolution brought an end to an oppressive feudal system led by King Louis XVI.


Facing a rebellion, King John of England agreed to which important law code that would establish the relationship between kings and subjects for centuries to come?

The King of England held almost absolute power prior to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. This new law code set the terms for the king's power, becoming one of the first European constitutions to be outlined in writing.


Ruthless raiders with extensive knowledge of the sea, which targets did Vikings prefer when their exploits started at the end of the 8th century?

With little knowledge of the Viking invaders, coastal monasteries across Britain had no defense when the raiders came. The Vikings favored these monasteries because they could launch quick attacks then sail back out to sea before an army could be raised to combat them.


With its war machine built, what year did Germany invade Poland, launching Europe into the Second World War?

By 1939, Germany had already begun rebuilding its military while shoring up its borders, signs that the country didn't plan on sticking to the peace agreements of WWI. Despite their knowledge of the threat, other European powers tried to negotiate rather than take military action, but their good faith ultimately backfired.


The rise of Augustus ushered in a period in Rome known as Pax Romana, which meant what?

After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Rome was engulfed in a bitter civil war. An ambitious man, Augustus would use this chaos to seize power over the empire but also to bring about a period of stability that had been missing for some time.


After WWII, Eastern and Western Europe were divided along which boundary during the Cold War?

With the threat of a nuclear war hanging over the world, tensions were at an all time high during the Cold War. The Iron Curtain provided at least some security for Russia, as well as an initial base for communism to spread.


William Shakespeare, one of history's great dramatists, wrote and staged plays for which English ruler?

Known as the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I never had any children to take over the crown of England after her death. When she finally passed in 1603, King James VI of Scotland was given the crown, effectively ending the House of Tudor.


Russia gained the upper hand on the United States in the space race when who became the first man to orbit the earth?

As the United States suffered one failure after another in the early space race, the Russians took the first major leap forward when they sent Yuri Gagarin on an orbit around the world. This would force the United States to turn its attention to landing on the moon, which finally happened in 1969.


Who became the King of Scotland following the First War of Scottish Independence?

John Comyn, who served as Guardian of Scotland, was one of the chief rivals of Robert the Bruce, as both men sought to liberate Scotland from the English. Bruce knew he had to eliminate his rival to secure the country for himself and killed him inside a church located in Dumfries, launching Scotland into a civil war.


Seeking to carve out their own empire in Asia, Japan defeated which European power in 1905?

Russia was the first major European power to lose a war against an Asian country. The defeat was a huge blow for the Russian monarchy, which was already losing favor among its people.


Do you know which natural barrier Napoleon Bonaparte famously crossed while conquering Europe that was commemorated in a painting by Jacques-Louis David?

Following in the footsteps of Charlemagne, Napoleon Bonaparte crossed the Alps to defeat a competing army in Italy made up of Austrian forces. A few years after his Italian campaign, Bonaparte had himself crowned Emperor of the French, another move that mirrored Charlemagne.


Before beginning his quest to unite the Germanic tribes of Europe, Charlemagne first ruled over which of those tribes?

The history of the Franks can be traced back to the Roman Empire, when the Germanic tribe first terrorized the borders of the empire before finally mixing in with their Roman adversaries in these regions. After the Western Roman Empire fell, the Franks united much of Gaul under their rule.


Ships sailing into Europe in the 14th century brought the Black Death from where?

Prior to its arrival in their own communities, Europeans heard stories of the Black Death that was running rampant throughout Asia, killing people in hordes. When the first signs of the disease showed up on ships, those infected were immediately sent away. It was, of course, too late.


Western philosophy can be traced back to the great Greek philosophers, but which of these famous thinkers counseled Alexander the Great?

When it comes to Western thought, you won't find a more influential figure than Aristotle. Though his works are littered with inaccuracies, Aristotle laid the groundwork for future generations who sought the truths of the world around them.


Engulfed in a conflict for newly discovered lands during the age of exploration, Spain and Portugal agreed to what treaty to divide these new lands?

The Treaty of Tordesillas was agreed to by both Spain and Portugal despite their limited knowledge of the lands outside of Europe that the treaty detailed. The treaty also failed to take into account the other European nations who would seek foreign empires of their own, leading to future disputes.


The Inquisition throughout Catholic Europe led to what?

As the idea of witchcraft captivated Christian society, the witch hunt extended to areas outside of Europe, with one of the most famous examples being the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts. These trials led to the death of 19 people who were accused.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!