Over the course of time, history is filled with people who have played influential roles in shaping mankind. They range from world leaders to doctors and scientists, princes and princesses and many more.
In their own way, these people have contributed to how our world has developed, some in good ways, while others have had a massively negative impact, not only on their own nations but the world in general. For every Winston Churchill, there is an Adolf Hitler, someone hell-bent on making their nation the greatest and crushing everything that stands in their way.
But there are also heroes who need to be remembered as well - those who fought for civil rights and lost their lives in the process. They were men like Abraham Lincoln, an American president bold enough to abolish slavery, a decision that tore America in two, or Martin Luther King, a man who stood for civil rights 100 years later.
And then there are the brainy bunch, those who through their incredible intellectual capacity, have advanced our civilization. So the question is this. Would you be able to identify a range of historical figures from their scrambled up names?
No problem? OK, then, Gdoo, Lcuk!
Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian artist, renowned mainly for his paintings, but he also made significant contributions to science, engineering, architecture, and anatomy. He is seen as the epitome of a “Renaissance Man” and he conceptualized many designs that were ahead of his time. His most famous painting is the Mona Lisa, which is housed at the Louvre in Paris.
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright who lived during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. He is regarded as the most famous playwright ever. His plays have been translated into more than 50 languages and performed across the globe. He wrote at least 37 plays and more than 150 sonnets.
Vladimir Lenin was a Russian revolutionary who led Soviet Russia from 1917 – 1924 and the Soviet Union from 1922 – 1924. He founded the Communist party and was the leader of the Bolshevik revolution. He overthrew the Russian government and was the leader of the world’s first communist state.
Nelson Mandela was a South African revolutionary who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state, elected after the country’s first democratic elections. Prior to his election to the presidency, he spent 27 years in prison for treason. Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 (together with FW de Klerk) for his work in dismantling apartheid in South Africa.
Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms. She has served as queen since 1952 and is Britain’s longest-serving monarch. She has had 15 Prime Ministers serve under her during her reign. In 2016, it was estimated that Elizabeth is worth $530 million!
Elvis Presley was an American actor and singer, often referred to as the King of Rock ‘n Roll. He has sold more than one billion records and 20 of his singles reached No. 1 on the U.S. charts. He died from a heart attack at the age of 42, by which time he was abusing drugs and was very overweight.
Donald Trump is the current President of the United States of America and was previously a businessman and media personality. He has been an extremely controversial leader and has been widely criticized for many of his policies, sparking numerous protests. He is the wealthiest person ever to have assumed the presidency.
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist who lived in the 4th Century BC. He studied under Plato and made contributions to nearly every aspect of human knowledge, including logic, biology, ethics, and aesthetics. He was the first to classify areas of knowledge and also developed a formal system for reasoning.
Julius Caesar was a Roman leader who lived in the 1st century BC. He conquered Gaul, fought a civil war and named himself dictator of the Roman Empire. He was famously assassinated by his own senators, who feared populist reforms.
Joan of Arc led the French army to victory over the English at Orléans. She was captured by the English a year later and burned at the stake as a heretic. She was later canonized after a posthumous retrial.
Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer who made four voyages across the Atlantic in search of a direct route from Europe to Asia. He accidentally stumbled upon the Americas and is credited with their “discovering,” although this is now disputed. However, his journeys opened up the American continents and led to centuries of further exploration and exploitation there.
Jesus was a Jewish preacher and religious leader who lived in Israel during the first century. He is the central figure of Christianity, believed by Christians to be the son of God. He was crucified by Roman and Jewish leaders and is believed to have returned from the dead three days later.
Alexander the Great was king of the ancient Greek kingdom known as Macedon. He lived in the fourth century BC. He established the largest empire of the ancient world, founding more than 70 cities, and profoundly influenced Greek and Asian culture. His empire stretched over three continents and covered about 2 million square miles. As a military commander, he was without peer and was never defeated in battle.
Galileo Galilei was an Italian astronomer who is regarded as the “father of modern physics.” He improved the telescope, using it to discover the mountains of the moon, the spots on the sun, the four biggest moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. His discoveries provide evidence to support the theory that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun.
George Washington was the first President of the United States of America, serving from 1789 to 1797. He was a military leader in the American Revolution, leading his troops to victory over Britain. He is often referred to as one of the “Founding Fathers” of America.
Napoleon is considered to be one of the greatest military leaders in history. He was the French emperor during the Napoleonic wars (1803 – 1815), where he won control of much of Europe. He was famously defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and exiled to St Helena, where he died.
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist, often considered to be the greatest of all time. His music connects the Classical and Romantic ages of Western music and consist of innovative compositions that combine vocals and instruments and widen the scope of music. He was famously hard of hearing and many of his most famous works were composed when he was almost unable to hear at all.
Charles Darwin was a British naturalist who developed the theory of evolution by natural selection. He wrote "On the Origin of Species" in 1859, which shocked Victorian England and conflicted with the Christian belief of creation. He was honored for his contribution to science by burial at Westminster Cathedral.
Karl Marx was a German philosopher who famously published "The Communist Manifesto" (together with Frederich Engels) and "Das Kapital." These writings form the foundation of Marxism and the theory of Communism. He was vehemently anti-capitalist, encouraging the working class to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic changes.
Thomas Edison was an American inventor who created the electric light bulb and the phonograph. He held more than 1,000 patents and was a very successful businessman. He started General Electric, which is one of the biggest corporations in the world today.
Mohandas Gandhi was an Indian activist who successfully led the Indian Independence movement against British rule. He is famed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest to achieve social and political progress. He was assassinated by nationalists who thought he was too accommodating to his oppressors.
Winston Churchill was a British politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 – 1945 and again from 1951 – 1955. He is credited with leading Britain to victory in World War II and is one of the best-known statesmen of the 20th century. He is famous for his inspiring speeches, many of which are still quoted today.
Albert Einstein is considered to be the greatest scientist of the 20th century. His theories on relativity created a new branch of physics and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contribution to physics and the evolution of Quantum Theory. He was born in Germany to Jewish parents and moved to the United States after Hitler’s rise to power.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an activist and Baptist minister who was central to the civil rights movements in the USA. He fought for equal rights for African-Americans through peaceful protest and civil disobedience. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and was assassinated in 1968.
Stephen Hawking was an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He is best known for his theories explaining the origins of the universe which he commercialized in his book, A Brief History of Time. He suffered from motor-neuron disease, which gradually paralyzed him, although he still communicated through speech-generating devices.
Osama Bin Laden founded the militant pan-Islamic organization called al-Qaeda, which declared war on the USA. His organization was responsible for the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings, the 2001 9/11 attacks as well as many other mass-casualty attacks. He was killed by the U.S. military in Pakistan in 2011.
Diana, Princess of Wales was one of the most adored members of the British royal family. She was the first wife of Charles, heir apparent to the throne, and was widely celebrated for her charity work and the work she did to raise awareness to help people affected by AIDS, cancer, mental illness, and landmines. She died in a car crash in 1997.
Barack Obama was the first black president of the United States, serving from 2009 – 2017. Before that, he was an attorney and U.S. Senator. He signed many landmark bills into law and ended U.S. military involvement in the Iraq war. He also ordered the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the infamous Nazi party. He was dictator of Germany from 1933 – 1945 and initiated World War II by invading Poland in September 1939. He was responsible for the perpetration of the Holocaust.
Joseph Stalin was a Russian politician who led the Soviet Union as dictator from 1929 – 1953. He transformed the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) from a peasant society into an industrial and military superpower. He was brutal and revolutionary, ruling by terror.
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who founded psychoanalysis as a way to treat mental illness and understand human behavior. He believed that childhood events influence our adult lives and often explain our behavior. He introduced many words through his theories which are used today, such as anal, libido, denial, repression, cathartic and neurotic.
Charles Dickens was a famous Victorian author who wrote many novels, including Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Great Expectations. His works were popular during his lifetime and are still widely read today. He captured the social nuances of his time and is viewed as an important social commentator of his era.
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States of America, serving from 1860 to 1865, when he was assassinated. He is famous for his Emancipation Proclamation, which paved the way for the abolition of slavery. His Gettysburg Address during the American Civil War is one of the most famous speeches ever made.
Isaac Newton was an English mathematician and scientist who is regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time. He developed the three laws of motion which govern modern physics and discovered calculus as a way to solve complex mathematical problems. He is most famous for his law of gravity, discovered when watching an apple falling from a tree.
Muhammad is considered one of the most important Islamic prophets. He was born in Mecca in 570 and had revelations from Allah that became the basis for the Koran. He is credited with uniting Arabia under a single religion.