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30 Historical People You Probably Don't Know

You probably don't know these thirty important historical people. Only true geeks will get more than half.
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: October 31, 2019
First submittedApril 2, 2014
Times taken26,418
Rating4.22
6:00
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Clue
Person
British commander at Waterloo
Duke of Wellington
Lakota war leader who defeated Custer
Crazy Horse
Third wife of Henry VIII
Jane Seymour
"Great" empress of Russia
Catherine the Great
Author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Babylonian ruler known for his written code of "an eye for an eye"
Hammurabi
Egyptian sometimes called the world's first architect and doctor
Imhotep
First European to reach America
Leif Ericson
Most well-known Zulu leader
Shaka
Man who doubled wheat yields in South Asia - saving millions from starvation
Norman Borlaug
Jewish officer wrongly convicted of treason in 1894 France
Alfred Dreyfus
"Great" Byzantine emperor who conquered Italy
Justinian
Spanish King who launched an Armada against England
Philip II
The inventor of the radio (according to most)
Guglielmo Marconi
Revolutionary War general who switched from American to British allegiance
Benedict Arnold
Economist who proposed government stimulus to correct the Great Depression
John Maynard Keynes
"Great" King of Prussia
Frederick the Great
Muslim commander who battled the Crusaders and earned their respect
Saladin
Father of modern Turkey
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
The real-life inspiration for Dracula
Vlad the Impaler
President of North Vietnam until his death in 1969
Ho Chi Minh
Dutchman who "discovered" Tasmania
Abel Tasman
Romantic poet and seducer who died fighting for Greek independence
Lord Byron
Serbian inventor whose AC power defeated Edison's DC power
Nikola Tesla
Chinese leader who made free market reforms after Mao's death
Deng Xiaoping
First man to orbit the Earth
Yuri Gagarin
American actress who married Monaco's Prince Rainier
Grace Kelly
Steel tycoon who started thousands of libraries
Andrew Carnegie
First emperor of China who took mercury pills to seek immortality
Qin Shi Huang
Founder of modern nursing who tended to soldiers in the Crimean War
Florence Nightingale
+3
level 84
Apr 3, 2014
That was HARD! Got stuck on the nurse for a long time; turns out her name wasn't spelled Nightengale.
+1
level 62
Apr 2, 2016
It's the name of a bird. I didn't think anyone would think it could be spelt differently.
+2
level 67
Jul 28, 2018
It's quite possible that many people would ALSO be unsure about the spelling of the bird, especially in areas the bird is not native to, like the Americas.
+1
level 53
Apr 15, 2014
Didn't have enough time
+1
level 77
Apr 15, 2014
I guess I'm a true geek. I made it to the end but a little extra time would have been helpful for some that I knew but couldn't recall immediately. Gagarin for instance, I always have trouble remembering the exact spelling of his name.
+2
level ∞
Apr 15, 2014
Added one minute.
+1
level 48
Apr 15, 2014
I can never remember his last name either. I always try Yuri. If I ever make a quiz with Gagarin as an answer, Yuri will be an acceptable type in.
+1
level 71
Sep 4, 2016
I kept wanting to put a u in it somewhere.
+1
level 63
Oct 17, 2019
same first tried gaugin while I knew that wasnt it ;) then gaugarin and gagurin, gugarin and other similar things, everything but the correct way..
+3
level 48
Nov 12, 2019
You should accept "Leif Eriksson" which is the correct Scandinavian spelling. Leif Ericson is the anglified version, so both should be accepted.
+1
level 62
Apr 15, 2014
It's funny. I know a lot of these names, but I just don't think of them in the way presented. Leif Ericson, for example. I know he is the viking leader and son of Erik the Red; I just never think of him as the first European to reach America (although he is, to my knowledge). Lots of them, like Ataturk, are names I recognize, but would never come up with on my own.
+4
level 73
Mar 11, 2016
Which part of that is funny? :-P
+1
level 56
Jun 8, 2017
He doesn't mean funny as in laughing out loud, but as in strange or unusual.
+1
level 73
Sep 19, 2018
Sorry, I was being unnecessarily sarcastic
+1
level 58
Apr 15, 2014
I only got 2, but I've only should have gotten 5, plus I didn't know Crazy Horse, but I have been to the memorial (it was still being made, is it done now?). Benedict Arnold (I knew he was a traitor, but I didn't know he was American), Vlad the Impaler, and Nikola Tesla are the ones I missed that I should have gotten. Ho Chi Minh, Lord Byron, and Florence Nightingale I've heard of but never would have gotten.
+2
level 67
Jul 28, 2018
Benedict Arnold....... to be a traitor to America you would have to be American.
+1
level 70
Apr 15, 2014
I don't think I've heard of Norman Borlaug before. Got everyone else.
+1
level 50
Apr 15, 2014
Got all but two. Never heard of Borlaug.
+1
level 51
Apr 15, 2014
Excellent quiz, got 24. Almost typed Byron but then questioned whether he fought for Greek independence and ran out of time. You learn something new everyday, especially on Jetpunk.
+1
level 53
Apr 15, 2014
Got some, know a lot of the names I missed but didn't know what they had done. Really cross about missing the Uncle Toms Cabin one- kept trying to think of the scene in the King and I (the children keep repeating her name), but just couldn't recall it!!
+1
level 71
Apr 15, 2014
Got 19, should've known Wellington. Heard of some of the rest, but would never have been able to come up with them.
+1
level 71
Oct 19, 2017
Exact same for me.
+1
level 70
Apr 15, 2014
Should've remembered Carnegie, Seymour, and Crazy Horse at least... 23/30.
+1
level 68
Apr 15, 2014
Should be allowed to just put Xiaoping.
+1
level 78
Apr 15, 2014
His family name was Deng...
+1
level 78
Apr 15, 2014
23/30, without Qin Shi Huang that I knew but couldn't spell. I don't think it is really hard...
+1
level 78
Apr 15, 2014
Still, the results are bad. How come do only 41% get Gagarin? That's troubling.
+1
level 63
Oct 17, 2019
that one is tough to remember the spelling, always so close but never just right. I think 40 is a decent score for that. What I dont get how tasman is only 23%! it might not be as common as knowing about colombus, but it is knowledge equal to knowing cook. plus the answer is nearly literally in the question!! so even if it slipped your mind.. it is right there.
+1
level 59
Apr 15, 2014
You overestimate your quiz, i'm not a geek, just rather interested in history, and get 15/30
+2
level ∞
Apr 15, 2014
I don't know. 15/30 is 82nd percentile. Given our user base, that's pretty good. I think you might qualify as a "true geek"!
+1
level 32
Apr 15, 2014
Will it ever be cool to know more than the most?
+1
level 77
Apr 17, 2014
I got 26. I'm not cool at all. I'm suck a geek that I know the etymology of the word geek paradoxically means "fool." They were employed in circuises to bite the heads off of chickens and do other things of the sort that Johnny Knoxville now gets paid for.
+1
level 51
Apr 15, 2014
I thought Imhotep was Arnold Vosloo in the Mummy?? Ha
+1
level 77
Apr 17, 2014
The character is based on the historical figure. The first time I heard of Imhotep was actually in the Tick comic book. He was one of the champions of Earth selected to compete in some intergalactic competition, along with The Tick and George Washington Carver and that baby that fell down a well.
+1
level 67
Apr 15, 2014
21 and kicking myself for missing Dreyfus, Wellington, and Saladin. Ah well. Still feel secure in my geekitude for today.
+1
level 54
Apr 15, 2014
Never had a quiz with so many 'tip of the tongue'-misses before. Well done. However, I feel a need to correct you on Leif Ericsson:According to the saga of the Greenlanders he was preceded by Bjarni Herjólfsson, zie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjarni_Herj%C3%B3lfsson
+1
level 44
Apr 15, 2014
Bjarni Herjolfsson was the first European to see North America; however, he did not actually land.
+1
level 68
Apr 15, 2014
How come the numbers are so low? (Especially for Wellington) I missed a few, but it seems like the percentages should be higher on average.
+1
level 68
Apr 15, 2014
However, considering the picture for this quiz is my desktop background, I didn't do as well as I would have liked.
+1
level 56
Jun 8, 2017
Is Wellington that well known outside of the UK? Asking out of curiosity
+1
level 67
Jun 25, 2018
Given his importance in the Napoleonic wars, I would hope he's at least well known in most of Europe.
+1
level 63
Oct 17, 2019
I know it has to do with beef, boots and a capital city ;)
+1
level 68
Apr 15, 2014
I got 24, but completely missed Stowe, because I thought she was Louisa May Alcott for some reason.
+1
level 40
Apr 15, 2014
That's how you spell Vespucci! Totally thought it was him for the Leif Errikson one.
+1
level 77
Apr 16, 2014
Vespucci was far from the first European to the Americas, even discounting the Vikings.
+1
level 36
Apr 16, 2014
This was pretty challenging - like other commentators, I had heard of most of the answers but hadn't connected them. Leif Ecrison, Imhotep, Hammurarbi, and Grace Kelly were the more obvious ones that I should have got. Great quiz!
+1
level 35
Apr 16, 2014
You should accept Justin for Justinian
+1
level 77
Apr 17, 2014
Along with Phil, Alfie, Norm and Fred?
+1
level 56
Jun 8, 2017
The spoonfeeding people demand on this site would be funny, if it weren't so depressing.
+1
level 77
Jun 9, 2017
Your comment would be depressing, if it weren't so funny.
+1
level 22
Apr 16, 2014
I put Keanes didn't realise it was spelt Keynes
+2
level 34
Apr 17, 2014
Brilliant! Though may I suggest to accept the spelling "Friedrich" for Frederick (considering it was his actual name).
+1
level 59
Apr 18, 2014
Needs to accept Nightangale as a response.
+2
level 56
Jun 8, 2017
That wasn't her name.
+1
level 63
Oct 17, 2019
you think to much about tangas.
+1
level 22
Apr 21, 2014
3/30. Beat that
+1
level 55
May 13, 2014
Ha! 16!
+1
level 34
Aug 18, 2014
i have 19... so that means i am a geek too :)
+1
level 68
Sep 11, 2014
Barbarossa for Frederick and Chaka for Shaka would be nice.
+3
level 35
Apr 24, 2016
Frederick the Great and Frederick Barbarossa were different people, one was a king of Prussia in the 18th century, the other was a Holy Roman Emperor who took part in the third crusade, so Barbarossa should absolutely not be accepted
+1
level 36
Dec 26, 2014
29/30 :-) was typing in tasman when time ran out :( i'm a true geek
+1
level 67
Aug 28, 2016
I knew Tasmanian was once called Van Diemen's land and thought that sounded a lot more Dutch than Tasman. Ohh well. Just looked it up, Van Diemen was Tasman's sponsor. I think that makes it even more frustrating.
+1
level 76
Jun 11, 2015
Found most of the answers hard but some surprisingly easy - don't all British people, at least, know Florence Nightingale and Jane Seymour? Also Wellington?
+1
level 65
Jul 9, 2015
ghehehehehe 27/30
+1
level 66
Nov 2, 2015
I'll give that Borlaug is a hard answer, but the others seem pretty straightforward. Missed the market reforms though - never can spell that.
+1
level 68
Nov 25, 2015
27.... somehow typed every other name except Jane.
+1
level 62
Apr 2, 2016
I think the description is a bit of an exaggeration. Some of these people are very famous. Even if you were aiming it at an American audience, presumably Benedict Arnold is famous there (and I'm sure he's unjustly vilified by your biased education system).
+2
level 67
Jun 25, 2018
Benedict Arnold betrayed his country in wartime and began fighting for the other side because he didn't feel he was appreciated enough. Is it even possible to unjustly villify him? His name is basically synonymous with the concept of treason in the US, and for good reason.
+2
level 70
Sep 9, 2019
Arnold was born as a British subject. Which act of treason is he to be vilified for - the first or the second?
+1
level 35
Apr 24, 2016
Could Leif the Lucky be allowed instead of Leif Ericson, as this is a common alternative?
+1
level 70
Apr 28, 2016
Could you add Felipe for the Spanish king? I never thought of writing Phillip. Thanks.
+1
level 64
Sep 26, 2016
Got 19, but I'm pretty sure I typed in Xiaoping, all clever that I knew a recent Chinese guy, but they didn't take it. Also, what was Van Dieman's Land? I tried for some 45 seconds with variations on Van Dieman for Tasmania, but of course it wasn't him.
+1
level 64
Jan 19, 2017
Update: up to 24. Yes, I am a history geek. Got Qin every time, which I'm pretty happy about.
+1
level 57
Nov 25, 2016
I was a little embarrassed by getting only nine, but then it turned out I beat more than half of the takers :D Tough quiz!
+1
level 67
Feb 28, 2017
I thought that Sitting Bull was the elder of the two leaders (with Crazy Horse) that defeated Custer at Little Big Horn.
+1
level 68
Aug 28, 2017
Agreed, I think Sitting Bull should be an acceptable answer too.
+1
level 67
Jun 25, 2018
Sitting Bull was one of the leaders, but he was not the war leader at the Little Big Horn. That was Crazy Horse.
+1
level 65
Feb 28, 2017
Prussian ruler is Friedrich the Great, no?
+1
level ∞
Oct 31, 2019
He is known as Frederick in English. Friedrich will be accepted now.
+1
level 43
Apr 6, 2017
Shaka... when the walls fell
+2
level 34
Jun 8, 2017
I SAID SHI HUANGDI, AND IT WAS NOT ACCEPTED.
+1
level 59
Aug 28, 2017
Qin is kind of the most important part. Shi Huangdi(First Emperor) usually refers to Qin Shi Huang but it could also be referring to the first emperor of any dynasty. For example Han Shi Huangdi is Liu Bang. Should have accepted Shi Huangdi but I just wanted to give a smart ass reason why it shouldn't be.
+1
level 67
Jun 25, 2018
So it's basically like if there was a question where Julius Caesar was the answer, and "Caesar" was not an accepted answer, is what you're saying?
+1
level 63
Oct 17, 2019
If your point is that caesar was his title then you couldnt be more wrong. if your point is something else, well, you should be more clear, cause it makes not much sense what you are saying
+1
level 56
Jun 8, 2017
Spent ages trying different permutations of Cetshwayo, only to learn that they were after Shaka!
+1
level 57
Jun 8, 2017
Got twelve, should have remembered others
+1
level 59
Aug 28, 2017
that was surprisingly easy. I had trouble remembering Borlaug and Dreyfus but I came up with them eventually. 30/30
+1
level 67
Oct 27, 2017
Great quiz but it could do with a bit more leeway on the spelling especially as a fair few of them are blinking hard to spell and this isn't the type of quiz where you have a lot of time at the end to go back and try a dozen different spellings.
+1
level 56
Jan 5, 2018
18/30 Should have gotten Ericson and Byron. Knew the Crazy Horse one too but the name didn't reach the surface of my mind - I could only think of Sitting Bull. It appears that 10 is the average score so I guess the introductory sentence is correct.
+1
level 68
May 20, 2018
There are a lot of answers where you're really liberal on the spelling but others where you're not. A little frustrating.
+1
level 49
Jun 25, 2018
What are the odds of someone discovering an island and finding out it has his name?
+1
level 63
Oct 17, 2019
Funny :P but, too bad it wasnt called that untill after his death (200 years after he discovered it actually). Tasman didnt name it tasmania but van diemensland, so the joke doesnt really work.
+1
level 67
Jun 25, 2018
I think I did alright with 21/30, but there's at least 2 more I should have gotten (Ho Chi Minh and Philip II), and 4 more I could potentially have gotten since I have at least a little familiarity with them (Grace Kelly, Jane Seymour, John Maynard Keynes, and Justinian). I didn't know Alfred Dreyfus or Guglielmo Marconi at all though.
+1
level 53
Jun 25, 2018
16/30
+1
level 47
Jun 25, 2018
Maybe allow more leeway in spelling, i.e. Nightingale, Imhotep, and Hummarabi
+1
level 68
Sep 9, 2019
I kind of remembered Uncle Tom's author, but spelled it Beecher Stove. No joy. I'd add that to the list of names for more leeway.
+1
level 68
Jun 25, 2018
Never considered myself a true geek, but if Jetpunk says so...
+1
level 73
Jul 28, 2018
Woohoo! I‘m a geek, got 23, (but only three of them have I never heard of - Stowe, Borlaug and Arnold...)
+1
level 44
Sep 4, 2018
Well done, the best quizzes teach us new things.
+1
level 52
Dec 20, 2018
Isn't the first European Erik the Red?
+1
level 77
Dec 20, 2018
Yeah it should say the North American mainland as Erik the Red made it to Greenland before his son (Erikson) made it as far as Canada.
+1
level 38
Sep 9, 2019
Didn't know about Erikson. Interesting.