Top 70 History Quiz Questions and Answers
History Quiz Questions with Answer and Explanation
WOMEN’S HISTORY: FAMOUS FIRSTS – History Quiz Questions and Answers Part 1
Women have accomplished some fantastic feats in the course of history. Test your knowledge of some famous firsts for women.
1) The world’s first novel was written by a woman. True or False?
Most scholars consider The Tale of Genji to be the world’s first novel. It was written c. 1010 CE by Murasaki Shikibu.
2) The first woman to swim the English Channel was French. True or False?
The first woman to swim the English Channel was American Gertrude Ederle in 1926.
3) Author Zora Neale Hurston was the first African American graduate of Barnard College. True or False?
Hurston studied anthropology at Barnard and graduated in 1928.
4) Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Pacific. True or False?
Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
5) The first woman in space was from Russia. True or False?
The first woman in space was Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1963.
6) Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. True or False?
Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court.
7) The first African American to win an Academy Award was a woman. True or False?
Hattie McDaniel won a best supporting actress award for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939).
8) Nadia Comăneci was the first person to achieve a perfect score of 10 in Olympic gymnastics. True or False?
Comăneci earned seven perfect 10s at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.
THE VIETNAM WAR – History Quiz Questions and Answers Part 2
Who backed whom? How was the U.S. involved? Which foreign leaders were involved? Test your knowledge of the Vietnam War with this quiz.
9) Who was the president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, or North Vietnam, during most of the war?
Answer: Ho Chi Minh
At the end of World War II, in August 1945, Ho Chi Minh and his Vietnamese guerrilla forces seized much of northern Vietnam, including the city of Hanoi. Ho then declared Vietnam’s independence and the formation of a provisional government, which he had been named to lead. After the country was formally divided into northern and southern zones in 1954, Ho was president of North Vietnam until his death in 1969.
10) Which assistance program, implemented by U.S. Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954, aimed to aid South Vietnam through psychological warfare and paramilitary activities?
Answer: Saigon Military Mission
On June 1, 1954, President Eisenhower implemented a covert operation called the Saigon Military Mission. The operation, headed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), intended to aid South Vietnam against North Vietnamese-backed rebels by means of psychological warfare and paramilitary strategy.
11) Which Chinese communist leader supported North Vietnam?
Answer: Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong of China, in tandem with the Soviets (despite the open hostility between the two), began to provide aid to North Vietnam in 1964.
12) A Buddhist monk set himself aflame in response to what?
Answer: South Vietnamese Pres. Ngo Dinh Diem’s religious repression
Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc publicly set himself aflame in direct response to South Vietnamese President Diem’s repression of Buddhists. Diem—more specifically, his brother’s wife, Madame Nhu—publicly endorsed Roman Catholicism and intentionally ridiculed Buddhism.
13) What was the name of the U.S. surveillance ship that was attacked by North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin?
Answer: USS Maddox
The USS Maddox was attacked in August 1964, perhaps having been suspected of involvement in recent South Vietnamese raids on North Vietnam. Days later, the Maddox and an accompanying U.S. ship reported a second North Vietnamese attack. That led U.S. Pres. Lyndon Johnson to secure congressional passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized him to take any measures he deemed necessary to deal with future threats to U.S. forces or U.S. allies in Southeast Asia. Johnson’s handling of the situation contributed to his victory in the November presidential election.
14) What event of the war caused many Americans to realize that, contrary to what they had been told, victory was not near?
Answer: Tet Offensive
On the Lunar New Year, or Tet, of 1968, the communist North launched a major offensive in the South after preoccupying its opponents’ troops with diversionary attacks. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces managed, miraculously, to recover quickly from the forceful blow. Many Americans at home, however, had been under the impression that U.S. forces had almost completely contained the North and that victory was in their pocket. The Tet Offensive broke that illusion, and American public support for U.S. involvement in the war dropped.
15) What was the name of U.S. Pres. Richard Nixon’s plan to enable South Vietnam to fight without a direct U.S. military presence?
In June 1969 President Nixon announced the withdrawal of 25,000 U.S. troops from Vietnam as the beginning of his Vietnamization program, which aimed to shift the burden of fighting from U.S. forces to South Vietnamese forces while bolstering the latter with added material and advisory support. He intended to withdraw more than 150,000 troops over the subsequent year.
16) What happened in Quang Ngia province in 1968?
Answer: My Lai Massacre
On March 16, 1968, U.S. soldiers killed as many as 500 unarmed villagers in the hamlet of My Lai, Quang Ngia. U.S. intelligence had believed that a Viet Cong battalion was taking refuge there when in reality it was hiding more than 40 miles (65 km) away.
17) North and South Vietnam became the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in what year?
In 1976, after the South finally fell, North and South became one country, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. A military government was installed with its capital in Hanoi.
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN GODS AND GODDESSES – History Quiz Questions and Answers Part 3
Ancient Egypt had a huge pantheon of gods and goddesses. How many of them do you know?
18) Which Egyptian god was often represented as a falcon, or as a man with the head of a falcon?
Horus, a sky god, was the son of the goddess Isis and the god Osiris.
19) Which Egyptian fertility goddess was often represented standing at one corner of a deceased person’s sarcophagus and was also thought to guard the canopic jar containing the liver of the deceased person?
The goddesses Nephthys, Neith, and Selket stood at the other three corners of the sarcophagus. Isis and the god Imsety were thought to guard the liver of the deceased person.
20) Which evil snake god gave his name in 2005 to an asteroid that was briefly believed to be on a possible collision course with Earth?
Apophis, the god of chaos, was the enemy of the sun god Re. The asteroid 99942 Apophis, discovered in 2004, was ultimately determined to pose no threat to Earth.
21) Which Egyptian god—known as the god of storms and the desert—was usually represented as an animal whose species has not been identified by modern Egyptologists and zoologists?
Seth was represented with a dog-like body, squared ears, a tufted tail, and a long snout. A number of real animals—such as the aardvark, fennec fox, jackal, and okapi—have been suggested as the basis for his form, but it is also possible that the animal is a mythical composite.
22) Which god is credited with inventing writing?
Thoth, the god of learning, was depicted as a man with the head of an ibis.
23) What is the goggle-eyed, bowlegged, dwarf god Bes known for doing?
Answer: Protecting women during childbirth
His unusual appearance was believed to drive away evil spirits.
24) Which goddess was probably first worshipped as a lioness or a wild cat but was represented as a domestic cat after domestic cats were introduced into Egypt about 2000 BCE?
Bastet is often represented carrying an ancient percussion instrument called the sistrum.
25) Which god is typically represented as a mummy?
Egyptian myth says that Osiris was the king of Egypt until he was murdered by his brother Seth. He was resurrected by his wife Isis and became the god of the dead.
26) During the Amarna period (c. 1353–36 BCE) which god was elevated above all other gods?
King Amenhotep IV took the name Akhenaten and made drastic changes to the official Egyptian religion, including establishing a new cult dedicated to the Aton, the sun’s disk. The changes were reversed soon after Akhenaten’s rule ended.
NAME THE AFRICAN BATTLE – History Quiz Questions and Answers Part 4
Are you a fan of African history? Test your knowledge with this quiz.
27) In which battle did the Ethiopians defeat the Italians in 1896?
Answer: Battle of Adwa
The Ethiopian army of Emperor Menilek defeated the Italian army at the Battle of Adwa on March 1, 1896. Menilek’s victory was noteworthy, as it was the first instance during the colonial era of African forces delivering a crushing defeat to a European power.
28) In which battle did Major General Sir Herbert Kitchener defeat ʿAbd Allāh in 1898 and win Sudanese territory?
Answer: Battle of Omdurman
The Battle of Omdurman was fought on September 2, 1898, in what is now the country of Sudan. Kitchener’s victory over ʿAbd Allāh led to the establishment of British dominance in the Sudan.
29) In which battle did the Zulu and Boers meet in 1838?
Answer: Battle of Blood River
The Battle of Blood River (also known as the Battle of Ncome River) was fought on December 16, 1838, in what is now the country of South Africa, between the Zulu and Voortrekker Boers migrating into Zulu lands. The Zulu were defeated.
30) In which World War II battle did Allied forces meet Axis troops in the North African desert in 1942?
Answer: Battle of el-Alamein
El-Alamein was the site of two battles between the Allied and Axis forces in 1942 during World War II. British troops dug in there to prevent German and Italian troops from advancing farther east into Egypt, and by early July they had stopped them, although a battle of attrition had developed. The second battle began in October, with the British on the offensive as they tried to drive back the Axis troops, who did retreat the next month.
31) In which battle did the forces of Usman dan Fodio suffer a defeat in 1804 while warring against the kingdom of Gobir?
Answer: Battle of Tsuntua
Usman dan Fodio led a jihad against the kingdom of Gobir in what is now the country of Nigeria. Although his forces lost the Battle of Tsuntua, they had several successes after that and achieved the main military objectives of the jihad in 1808.
32) Which battles took place during the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879?
Answer: Battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift
The Battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift occurred on January 22–23, 1879, during the Anglo-Zulu War in what is now the country of South Africa. A large Zulu force handily defeated a smaller British force at Isandlwana but were later defeated by the British at Rorke’s Drift.
33) In which battle was the army of the Portuguese king Sebastian defeated by the forces of Saʿdī sultan of Morocco, ʿAbd al-Malik, in 1578?
Answer: Battle of the Three Kings
The Battle of the Three Kings, also known as the Battle of the Wadi al-Makhāzin, is where the forces of the Saʿdī sultan of Morocco, ʿAbd al-Malik, defeated those of Portugal’s King Sebastian on August 4, 1578. It took place at the banks of the Wadi al-Makhāzin, the source of the battle’s Arabic name. The battle takes its European name from the deaths of the three “kings” involved in the fighting—Sebastian, al-Mutawakkil (a deposed Moroccan sultan with whom Sebastian was allied), and ʿAbd al-Malik. The first two drowned while trying to cross the Wadi al-Makhāzin, and the latter, who was ill to begin with, died the morning after the battle.
34) Which battle took place in 1899 during the South African War (1899–1902)?
Answer: Battle of Modder River
The Battle of Modder River was fought on November 28, 1899, between British troops and Boer forces during the South African War (also known as the Boer War, the Second Boer War, and the Anglo-Boer War). The British won the battle, but it was a costly victory in terms of the number of British soldiers who were killed or wounded.
35) Which battle saw forces from Portugal and the Kongo Kingdom skirmishing over competing land claims in 1665?
Answer: Battle of Mbwila
The Battle of Mbwila (or Ulanga) was fought on October 29, 1665, between Portugal and the kingdom of Kongo. Portugal won and also killed the kingdom’s leader, António I Nvita a Nkanga, during the fighting. The kingdom of Kongo continued to exist but was no longer unified, descending into civil war.
MILITARY HISTORY BUFF QUIZ – History Quiz Questions and Answers Part 5
Can you tell your Salamis from your Stalingrad? Test your knowledge of some of the greatest moments in military history.
36) Which World War I battle is regarded as the first widespread use of tanks in combat?
Answer: Battle of Cambrai
On November 20, 1917, hundreds of British tanks shattered German lines at Cambrai, but bad weather and inadequate infantry support doomed the offensive. Germany regained virtually all of its lost territory within two weeks.
37) Which legendary Carthaginian general is said to have sworn undying enmity against Rome prior to carrying out a nearly 20-year military campaign against the city and its allies?
One of the most-gifted military commanders of antiquity, Hannibal was a brilliant exponent of early maneuver warfare.
38) When this German officer surrendered at Stalingrad in January 1943, he became the first field marshal in German history to be captured.
Answer: Friedrich Paulus
With no hope of relief and forbidden by Hitler to attempt a breakout, Germany’s beleaguered Sixth Army commander rejected the order to commit suicide that was implicit with his last-minute promotion to field marshal.
39) This naval battle took place shortly after the Spartan stand at Thermopylae, and it checked the Persian advance in Greece.
Answer: Battle of Salamis
Athenian naval strategist Themistocles sacrificed his own city, which was put to the torch by the Persians, in an ultimately successful effort to achieve the advantage over the numerically superior Persian fleet.
40) The sinking of this ocean liner during the final months of World War II in Europe was the deadliest maritime disaster in history.
Answer: Wilhelm Gustloff
The overwhelming majority of the 9,000 people who died in the sinking of the Gustloff were civilians, but because it was a German ship acting as a military transport in a time of war, it was seen as a legal target for Russian submariners.
41) This Shawnee chief led what was arguably the most-formidable pan-Indian military force in North America, and he helped capture Detroit without firing a shot.
In addition to the capture of Fort Detroit, Tecumseh participated in a battle known as Saint Clair’s Defeat, an encounter that is widely regarded as the worst rout of a U.S. military force by Native American warriors.
42) What kind of aircraft was the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima?
Answer: B-29 Superfortress
The B-29 was the longest-range heavy bomber in the U.S. fleet, and both atomic bombs were dropped by B-29s taking off from the island of Tinian.
43) Upon hearing of his victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, this British admiral’s last words were “Now I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty.”
Answer: Horatio Nelson
Nelson was shot and mortally wounded by a French sniper, but the combined French and Spanish fleet had been annihilated, and Napoleon’s visions of British conquest were shattered.
44) This battle, which took place a short distance southwest of the Sea of Galilee, halted Mongol expansion to the west.
Answer: Battle of ʿAyn Jālūt
The Mamlūk army led the 10,000-strong Mongol force into a trap, thus sparing Cairo the fate that had been suffered by Baghdad.
45) Disease accounted for a hugely disproportionate number of casualties in this 19th-century war, so much so that nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale was enlisted to improve conditions in military hospitals.
Answer: Crimean War
Death rates due to disease were appalling in the Crimean War, accounting for some 90 percent of fatalities.
NOT-SO-COMMON KNOWLEDGE – History Quiz Questions and Answers Part 6
It is well known that Mount Everest at about 8,850 meters is the world’s highest mountain, but did you know that K2 at about 8,611 meters is the world’s second highest peak? Test yourself to see how many of these lesser-known facts you know.
46) Which city hosted the second modern Olympic Games?
The second modern Olympic Games were held in 1900 in Paris.
47) During the Apollo 11 lunar mission, who piloted the command module while Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin explored the surface of the Moon?
Answer: Michael Collins
On July 16, 1969, Michael Collins was launched to the Moon on the Apollo 11 mission with commander Neil A. Armstrong and lunar module pilot Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon in the lunar module Eagle on July 20 while Collins remained in the command module Columbia.
48) Who was the second of King Henry VIII of England’s wives?
Answer: Anne Boleyn
Mother of the future Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn was Henry VIII’s second wife.
49) Who wrote the Johnny Cash classic “A Boy Named Sue”?
Answer: Shel Silverstein
More famous for his poetry, Shel Silverstein wrote the novelty song “A Boy Named Sue,” which became a huge hit when Johnny Cash included it on his 1969 album Johnny Cash at San Quentin.
50) Who assassinated Robert Kennedy in 1968?
Answer: Sirhan Sirhan
Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian-born Jordanian citizen, was convicted (1969) of fatally shooting U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968. He received the death penalty, but the sentence was later commuted to life.
51) Which actors was born Maurice Micklewhite?
Answer: Michael Caine
Born Maurice Micklewhite in 1933, Michael Caine went on to appear in more than 100 films, renowned for his versatility in leading and character roles.
52) Better known for his exploits as a professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura also served as governor of which American state from 1999 to 2003?
American professional wrestler and actor Jesse Ventura served as governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003.
53) Which legendary bands was originally known as Warsaw?
Answer: Joy Division
Inspired by seeing the Sex Pistols perform in Manchester, Warsaw was formed in the spring of 1977 to play thrashing punk music. By early 1978 they had replaced their original drummer and changed the band’s name to Joy Division.
54) During the American Revolution, where did the Battle of Bunker Hill actually take place?
Answer: Breed’s Hill
The first major battle of the American Revolution is known as the Battle of Bunker Hill, but Breed’s Hill was the primary locus of combat.
55) Who won the second season of American Idol?
Answer: Ruben Studdard
Ruben Studdard rose to fame as winner of the second season of American Idol. He later received a Grammy Award nomination in 2003 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his recording of “Superstar.”
56) Who was Richard Nixon’s vice president from 1969 to 1973?
Answer: Spiro Agnew
Spiro Agnew served as the 39th vice president of the United States in the Republican administration of Pres. Richard Nixon.
57) Which of these ships was a sister ship to the British luxury liner Titanic?
Mainly built side by side with Titanic, Olympic was in service from 1911 to 1935.
58) Which of these actors was the second “Doctor” in the BBC’s science fiction television series Doctor Who?
Answer: Patrick Troughton
Patrick Troughton played the Doctor from 1966 to 1969.
59) In which county is the English city of Canterbury located?
Famous for its magnificent cathedral, the historic English city of Canterbury is in the southeastern county of Kent.
U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS – History Quiz Questions and Answers Part 7
Which day of the week are U.S. presidential elections held? Who was George Washington’s running mate? Test your knowledge of U.S. presidential elections with this quiz.
60) Which candidate won the popular vote in 1876?
Answer: Samuel J. Tilden
Although Tilden won nearly 300,000 more votes, the election was won by Rutherford B. Hayes, who prevailed in the electoral college.
61) Since the 1840s, on which day of the week have U.S. presidential elections been held?
Until the mid-19th century, Election Day varied from state to state. An 1845 law set a single Election Day for the entire country: the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
62) According to an infamous Chicago Tribune headline, who defeated Pres. Harry Truman in the 1948 election?
Answer: Thomas Dewey
With polls predicting a win for Dewey, and a printers’ strike requiring the Tribune to go to press before the results were announced, the newspaper ran with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” for its first edition. The actual vote proved otherwise. In a memorable photograph, Truman grins as he holds the paper aloft.
63) What term, popularized after the 2000 election, describes an incompletely punched hole in a paper ballot?
Answer: hanging chad
The peculiarities of ballot design and tabulation were widely scrutinized in the aftermath of the 2000 election, when the vote in Florida was so close that a recount was held.
64) Who was George Washington’s running mate in 1789?
In the first presidential election, there were no formal political parties and therefore no party tickets. Each candidate ran by himself. The candidate with the most votes in the electoral college became president, and the runner-up became vice president. This changed with the passage of the Twelfth Amendment (1804), which required electors to vote for both a president and a vice president.
65) In 1984 Pres. Ronald Reagan won every state except one. Which one did he lose?
Minnesota was the home state of Reagan’s opponent, Walter Mondale.
66) When was the last time a third-party candidate won any electoral votes?
George Wallace won five Southern states (for a total of 46 electoral votes) as the firebrand candidate of the antiliberal American Independent Party. Although Ross Perot in 1992 won a greater share of the popular vote than Wallace did in 1968, Perot failed to pick up a single state.
67) After he left the White House, Pres. Theodore Roosevelt stood for election in 1912 as the candidate of what party?
Answer: Bull Moose Party
Formally known as the Progressive Party, the Bull Moose Party was organized as a reaction against the conservative policies of Republican Pres. William Howard Taft. Roosevelt, who survived an assassination attempt during the campaign, went on to earn more electoral votes than Taft, though the election was ultimately won by the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson.
68) Which presidential candidate holds the record for the most second-place finishes?
Answer: William Jennings Bryan
Bryan was the Democratic nominee in 1896, 1900, and 1908. An ambitious politician and a popular public speaker, he nevertheless failed to become president. He later served as secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson.
69) Who won the 1840 election with the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”?
Answer: William Henry Harrison
The nickname “Tippecanoe” derives from the Battle of Tippecanoe, an engagement during the War of 1812 in which Harrison led the United States to victory. The battle made him a national hero. A month after his presidential inauguration, Harrison died and was succeeded by his vice president, John Tyler.
70) Maine is one of two states that do not apportion their electoral votes in a “winner-takes-all” format. What is the other state?
While most states award all of their electoral votes to the winner of the statewide vote, Maine and Nebraska use a method in which the statewide winner receives two electoral votes and the winner of each congressional district receives an additional electoral vote. Nebraska split its votes in 2008 (four for John McCain, one for Barack Obama), and Maine split its votes in 2016 (three for Hillary Clinton, one for Donald Trump).
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