Born to lead! Destined for greatness! Meant to be remembered throughout time!
Whether you love them or hate them, it is hard to deny just how much of an impact world leaders have in their respective countries and the world at large. Throughout history, people have often looked towards charismatic and powerful men and women for guidance and safety. Some notable examples of famous and celebrated leaders throughout history include Cleopatra, King Arthur, Barack Obama, and Queen Elizabeth II, all with distinctive characteristics that make them great leaders.
For better or for worse, these leaders have played a significant role in shaping history and molding the world we know today. From conquerors and revolutionists to humanitarians and visionaries, it’s hard to ignore some of the notable accomplishments of the men and women in this quiz. In fact, even if you slept all through your high school world history classes, most of these names are just too iconic for anyone to have never heard of – even in passing.
So do you think you’ve got what it takes to be a political historian? Then c’mon, let’s jar your knowledge of history and see how well you can handle this quiz about prominent world leaders!
Napoleon Bonaparte had formal military training, but he was born to a family with a bit of wealth and royalty and was originally a Corsican nationalist. He wrote a romance novel at one point in his life. Although many thought he was afraid of cats, this isn't true.
When Confederate troops attacked Washington, D.C., in July 1864, Abraham Lincoln visited the front lines at Fort Stevens on two days of the battle, which the Union ultimately won. Illinois is known as the Land of Lincoln, but Indiana is where this president spent his formative years.
Augustus Caesar was actually the nephew of Julius Caesar. Born Gaius Octavius and also known as Octavian, Augustus Caesar is famous for transforming the Roman Republic. Most notably, he was part of the Second Triumvirate, which ended the Roman Republic.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was originally named Michael, not Martin. King was nearly assassinated a decade earlier than his ultimate death, while on a book tour, signing copies of his book Stride Toward Freedom.
George Washington was made an honorary citizen of France in 1792. In 1976 Washington was awarded the highest rank in the U.S. military, ever. No one will ever outrank him in the military because of this. In 1789, his presidential salary was 2 percent of the total U.S. budget.
John F. Kennedy wrote his first book, Why England Slept, at the age of 22. In 1945 he worked as a journalist for William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper, covering the United Nations conference and the aftermath of World War II. In 1957, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage.
Along with serving as one of the architects of American independence, Benjamin Franklin was also a scientist, inventor, printer, writer, newspaper owner, and philosopher. Although he was highly intelligent and acomplished, he only had two years of formal education.
In 1554, Queen Elizabeth I of England was tried and imprisoned on suspicion of abetting Wyatt’s Rebellion, an uprising against Queen Mary I that many believed to be motivated by the quest for Protestant liberation. She kept a personal advisor named John Dee, who was a renowned mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, and professed alchemist.
James Monroe was the fifth president of the United States. During the Revolutionary War, he served under General George Washington, fought in several major battles in the northeast, and was even wounded at the Battle of Trenton.
During Mahatma Gandhi's influential years, he used to walk around 18 km every day, for almost 40 years. From 1913 to 1938, while he was campaigning, he walked around 79,000 km, which is equivalent to circling the Earth twice. He also experimented with eating meat and smoking, before deciding to abstain.
Joan of Arc's real name was Jehanne d’Arc, Jehanne Tarc, Jehanne Romée, or possibly Jehanne de Vouthon. In modern times, some doctors and scholars have “diagnosed” Joan of Arc with disorders ranging from epilepsy to schizophrenia, because of the wild tales and stories told about her.
Patrick Henry is most famously remembered for saying, "Give me liberty or give me death," back in 1775. He is one of the founding fathers of The United States. In 1776, he won the first of three consecutive gubernatorial terms in Virginia, remaining in office until June 1, 1779.
Martin Luther promoted faith, not indulgences. Luther watched as the Catholic Church made a business out of the forgiveness of sin. He published the ’95 Theses’ in 1517, attacking these practices publicly and officially making himself an enemy of the Catholic Church.
Robert Kennedy was the seventh child of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. The Kennedys had nine children. He traveled to England when he was 12. As the son of a U.S. ambassador, Robert was in Great Britain just before World War II started in Europe. He also enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve just before his 18th birthday.
William the Conqueror (William I), was the first Norman King of England. He was born in about 1028 and was the illegitimate child of the Duke of Normandy, Robert I and Herleva, his mistress. William was a good hunter and he created laws to regulate who had permission to hunt in England.
The empire that Charlemagne built included almost all of western and central Europe. Modern-day France and Germany emerged from Charlemagne’s empire, the former as West Francia and the latter as East Francia. Charlemagne introduced many reforms in his empire, including judicial and legal reforms.
Constantine the Great was born around 280 AD in the city of Naissus in the province of Moesia, what is now the city of Niš in southern Serbia. He was a Roman Emperor at the start of the 4th century. He won several battles which reunited the Roman Empire under one emperor after decades of internal conflict.
Nelson Mandela has some unusual name tributes. Scientists named a prehistoric woodpecker after him: Australopicus nelsonmandelai, and in 1973, the physics institute at Leeds University named a nuclear particle the Mandela particle. Mandela loved eating tripe... yes, the stomach lining of farm animals.
Leif Erikson is often referred to as being from Norwegian blood, but he was actually born in Iceland (around 970 CE), and both his father and his grandfather spent a bulk of their time in Norway and then Greenland. Leif encountered Christianity after a trip to Norway, which resulted in his becoming a consultant to King Olaf Tryggvason.
The Holy Roman Emperor Otto I (912-973), called Otto the Great, was the most powerful western European ruler after Charlemagne. He organized a strong German state and expanded his authority over Burgundy and Italy. Otto I was the son of King Henry I (the Fowler) of Germany.
Thomas Paine was an English-American writer whose ideas and work influenced and guided the American Revolution. Thomas Paine's work, Common Sense, is believed to have forced the issue of creating the Declaration of Independence.
Mother Teresa is also known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and her original name was Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. The word “Anjeze” means "a little flower" in Albanian. Prior to her move to India, Mother Teresa left for Ireland to learn English in 1928. After that, she never saw her mother or her sisters again.
Germany became a modern, unified nation under the leadership of the Iron Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. A master strategist, Bismarck initiated decisive wars with Denmark, Austria, and France, to unite 39 independent German states under Prussian leadership.
Possibly the greatest military genius of the ancient world, the warrior-king Alexander III of Macedon, more commonly known as Alexander the Great, conquered territories stretching from Greece to Egypt and through present-day Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan.
King Richard I, better known as Richard the Lionheart, was born in 1157 in Oxford, England. He was King of England from 1189 until his death in 1199. He was known as the Lionheart because he was considered a great soldier and a brave crusader. He won several battles against the Saracens.
Julius Caesar's ancestry could be traced to the first king of Rome. Julius introduced the Julian calendar. When Julius was young and on his way to study oratory, he was kidnapped by pirates. He made friends with the pirates and he was later freed when Caesar's uncle paid the ransom. Once he was freed, he had the pirates executed.
Alfred the Great was born at Wantage, Berkshire, in AD 849, the fifth son of the West Saxon King Ethelwulf. Alfred was a pious and educated man who also gave England a new and fairer legal code. He was buried in Winchester, but his bones were moved several times and became lost. In 2014 a pelvic bone was found that may have been his.
Leonidas I was a Spartan king, immortalized in Greek literature and legend because of his heroic last stand against Persian invaders. Leonidas was born on Spartan territory, on the Peloponnesian Peninsula in south Greece, between the years 530-500 B.C. He was the son of the Spartan King Anaxandrides and was descended from the Greek cult hero, Heracles.
As a student, Winston Churchill performed poorly in almost every subject, except history and English composition. He was particularly terrible at foreign languages. Churchill’s political career began in 1900 when he was elected to Parliament, a position he would hold for more than 60 years.
Catherine II of Russia (1729-1796) was one of history's most unlikely rulers. Catherine the Great’s name wasn’t Catherine, and she wasn’t even actually Russian. Elizabeth died in January 1762, and her nephew succeeded to the throne as Peter III, with Catherine as his consort.
Moses was trained in military tactics and government by the Egyptian Royal House. Moses was 80 when he went back to Egypt as God’s messenger and leader to the Israelites. Moses performed the first three acts that God commanded on Egypt. The last of the 7 acts were only on the Egyptians. The Land of Goshen, where Israelites lived, was exempt by God’s command.
John Locke was an English philosopher and physician. He is known as the Father of Classical Liberalism. His work was hugely influential in the development of epistemology, political philosophy, and education theory. Locke wrote Two Treatises of Government which were an argument against absolute monarchy.
John Hancock was a behind-the-scenes force early in the American Revolution. Hancock raised money for the Revolution, he helped secure troops, and he played a role in getting naval forces organized. But when he became homesick, Hancock left Congress in 1777, to return to Massachusetts.
Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror lived from 1432-1481. He was a Turkish sultan who conquered Constantinople and ruthlessly consolidated and enlarged the Ottoman Empire with a military crusade into Asia and Europe. Mehmed had not been his father's favorite son.
Thomas Jefferson first tasted ice cream while traveling in France. He brought home a recipe for it, which is now in the Library of Congress. He kept pet mockingbirds. He loved their singing and often had at least four at a time. HIs favorite one was named Dick.
Peter the Great was the Tsar of Russia from 1682-1725. He co-ruled Russia at the age of 10, and only after his half-brother Ivan V's death in 1696 did he have complete control of Russia. He then began his military campaigns and internal reforms which expanded Russia into a larger empire - one of the leading powers in Europe.
James Madison, like any good politician, was concerned by the idea that someone might intercept one of his private letters. Along with Jefferson and many mutual allies, Madison used complicated encryptions when relaying delicate information. Both of his vice presidents died while in office.
Attila the Hun was a great military leader who led the Huns to several victories over the mighty Roman Empire. The fear Attila generated in his enemies made him known as the Scourge of God. The Huns were nomads who lived in Europe and Asia from the 1st to 7th century AD.
Joseph Stalin's last name is a title meaning, “Man of Steel.” Stalin was awarded the title because it fit perfectly with his stern image as leader of the industrial powerhouse of the USSR. His other nickname was “Comrade Index Card.” The name came from a joke made by Stalin’s rival in the communist party, Leon Trotsky.
Hannibal Barca was the Carthaginian army general of the 2nd and 3rd century BC who became famous for leading a team of elephants over the Alps to terrorize Roman forces during the Second Punic War. Hannibal's last name, Barca, means thunderbolt.
Saladin's real name is Yusuf ibn Ayyub, which means Joseph son of job. To Muslims, Saladin is known as Salah al-Din, which means "he who honors the faith." Saladin was the first to use horse archers. Saladin had a war with Nur al-Din's brothers to gain power.
Suleiman the Magnificent, was born in November at Trabzon, Ottoman Empire (Turkey today). He was the greatest Ottoman Sultan. Under his reign the Empire expanded from Baghdad to Central Europe. He presided over a large empire and ruled longer and more heroically than any other Ottoman sultan.
Pericles came from a noble and wealthy family in Athens. His father was a well-known general in Athens. His name was Xanthippus. The first major assault from the Persian people was when Pericles was only three years old. He grew up during the era of the Persian wars.
William I, the German Emperor, was born in 1859. In 1874 he began his schooling at the Kassel Gymnasium, and in 1877 he went on to attend the University of Bonn for four terms, where he studied politics and law. During his rule, Wilhelm was determined to expand Germany’s power.
Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden was the King of Sweden from 1611 to 1632. He is credited with elevating Sweden as a Great Power. He led Sweden to military supremacy during the Thirty Years' War, helping to create the political and religious balance of power in Europe.
Sun Tzu was born in a politically unstable era, the Spring Autumn Period. At that time, China was not unified. It was broken into main five states; each was named after the last name of the political king that ruled over it. According to mythology, Sun Tzu’s original last name was Chen, not Sun.
The Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) criticized the orthodox Calvinist position on the doctrine of predestination. The result was a split in the Dutch Reformed Church, and followers of his position came to be known as Arminians.
Tablets including 55 of Hammurabi's letters have been recovered by archeologists. He made changes to fix flaws in the Babylonian calendar. His name means "the kinsman is a healer." He was a hard worker and personally managed many of his construction projects.
Nebuchadnezzar II was a king of Babylon during whose long and exciting reign the Neo-Babylonian Empire reached its peak and the city of Babylon was at its greatest glory. The last years of Nebuchadnezzar's life were clouded by family strife, and he left no strong successor.