How Well Do You Know Your World History?


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: Vincenzo Camuccini

About This Quiz

Those who forget history are, well, you know the phrase – and it’s one of the most important reasons we teach history classes in school. But history isn’t just a practice in avoiding future calamities of our own design, it’s a fascinating perspective on human nature and Earth-shattering events of all kinds. In this quiz, you will demonstrate how much you really know about world history.

Do you know how Alexander the Great changed the geopolitical landscape of the ancient world? And do you have any idea how Cleopatra’s doomed alliance shifted the balance of power between empires? How much do you recall about the ancient Romans and the lands they once inhabited … and how their empire crumbled to bits?

In times both ancient and modern, organized religion has played a major role in civilizations the world over. Sometimes that structure benefits the human quality of life, and in other situations, it ends in the deaths of millions of innocent people. How did religion factor into some of history’s most impactful events?

Jump into this wide-ranging world history quiz now! Let’s find out much you really know about world-changing people and catastrophes!

What happened on "Black Thursday" in 1929?

On October 24, 1929, the U.S. stock market collapsed, losing billions of dollars. It triggered the beginning of the Great Depression.


In 1536, what happened to Anne Boleyn, the second wife of England's Henry VIII?

Henry VIII was a cold-blooded and wild ruler if ever there was one. In a series of political moves, he had his second wife, Anne Boleyn, beheaded.


In 1211, who led an invasion of China?

In 1211, Mongolian icon Genghis Khan led his men into an invasion of China. Khan's conquests eventually created one of the biggest empires in human history.


In the mid-1300s what killed tens of millions of Europeans?

In the mid-1300s, an incredibly deadly black plague ravaged towns all over Europe. Tens of millions of people died and entire families​ were wiped out. The epidemic's scale and lethality were unimaginable.


How did Roman dictator Julius Caesar die?

Caesar was an all-powerful dictator of the Roman Empire. But he made too many enemies, and he was betrayed and assassinated by his own supporters.


In 1803, the United States completed the Louisiana Purchase, a deal with which nation?

In 1803, President Jefferson's administration completed the Louisiana Purchase with France. For just $15 million, the U.S. doubled its geographical size.


What was the name of the first permanent settlement established in what eventually became the United States?

In 1607, English pilgrims landed at Jamestown. It is the oldest permanent settlement in all of America.


In 1066, which country did William of Normandy invade?

William of Normandy led his men into England in 1066 and defeated the Saxons. William "The Conqueror" then spent his years as King of England warding off threats to his legitimacy.


Which country did Japan attack on December 7, 1941?

In spite of President Roosevelt's pleas for peace, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The attack sucked the U.S. into WWII and forever altered the globe's balance of power.


The Renaissance started in which country?

As humankind evolved from medieval thinking to modern terms, the arts and sciences rapidly advanced. The Renaissance, which started in the 1300s in Italy, was responsible for the shift.


In 1503, Leonardo da Vinci created which work of art?

In 1503, Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa. The portrait of half-smiling woman went on to become the best-known work of art in the history of humankind.


What happened on July 20, 1969?

It altered the way humans perceive their place in the universe. On July 20, 1969, NASA landed two astronauts on the moon, and humankind would never again be the same.


In 1517, Martin Luther jump-started which major event in human history?

Tired of what he saw as corruption in the Catholic Church, Martin Luther posted his "95 Theses" to a church door. His courage fueled the Reformation, which overhauled Catholicism in many ways.


In 1812, Napoleon's army began an ill-fated invasion of which country?

Never try to invade and occupy Russia in winter. That's what Napoleon did in 1812, and he was forced to retreat, losing 600,000 men in the process.


The Great War is better known as what?

In 1914, a political assassination snowballed into the Great War -- World War I. What was supposed to be a grand affair turned into murderous nightmare that claimed millions of lives all across Europe.


What was the purpose of the Medieval Inquisition?

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Catholic Church started a series of Inquisitions, which were meant to stamp out heresy. Many people were interrogated … some were imprisoned for life.


On September 1, 1939, which country invaded Poland?

Hitler's dreams of a Third Reich began to manifest themselves on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. The aggression started the European Theater of WWII, the deadliest war in human history.


Ivan the Terrible was a fearsome leader of which nation?

In the 1500s, Ivan IV Vasilyevich -- Ivan the Terrible -- took the reins of Russia. He conquered several countries by violence and even killed his own son in a fit of rage. He was known for his instability, and appropriately so.


The Battle of Antietam was a major fight of which war?

On September 17, 1862, the North and South clashed at the Battle of Antietam. It was the bloodiest single day of fighting in U.S. history, with nearly 23,000 total casualties.


What catastrophe struck London in September 1666?

In the fall of 1666, a small bakery fire in London spiraled into a terrible conflagration, burning more than 13,000 structures. Tens of thousands of people were left homeless.


In 1846, the U.S. fought a war against which nation?

President Polk wanted lands of the Southwest as a legacy for his administration. He instigated a war with Mexico … and took one-third of northern Mexico for the U.S.


What happened in Germany in 1927?

In 1927, Germany's economy shattered. The country's impoverishment was one reason Hitler's extreme political views found an audience.


On June 14, 1940, which city fell to German troops?

It was a shocking development in a ​horrifying war. Paris surrendered to German troops on June 14, 1940. Westerners were appalled that an iconic city of liberty was now under the control of fascists.


Which document was ratified in 1776?

On July 4, 1776, the Founding Fathers of America ratified the Declaration of Independence, politely informing King George that his colonies no longer wanted to be part of the British Empire. The letter did not, shall we say, go over well with the British.


In 1819, Simon Bolivar helped to liberate areas of which continent from Spanish control?

Bolivar was a military mastermind who pushed Spanish forces out of what is now Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia. He then became president of Colombia.


In 1665, a Great Plague stuck which major city?

Bubonic plague swept through London in 1665-66, killing around 100,000 people. That was about 25 percent of the entire city's population.


In the 1600s who fought against Catholics in the Thirty Years' War?

The Reformation was no peaceful affair. It contributed to the Thirty Years' War, a fight between Protestants and Catholics. Millions of people died in this conflict, which mostly took place in the area of modern Germany.


In the wake of World War II, the U.S. began fighting a major conflict in which area?

When North Korea invaded South Korea, there were major fears that Communism would spread. So the U.S. -- as part of the U.N. -- fought a major war on the Korean peninsula and forced North Korea to back off.


In 1841, which U.S. president died just one month after his inauguration?

William Harrison gave a very, very long inauguration speech in the cold and rain. He took ill … and a month later, he was dead.


The Seven Years' War is better known as what?

The Seven Years' War is better known as the French and Indian War, and it started in 1756, as Britain and France fought to control lands of North America. France lost, giving Britain control of much of the territory of North America east of the Mississippi River.


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