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40 Historical People that Everyone Should Know

Were you paying attention in history class? Name these famous historical figures!
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: December 9, 2019
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First submittedJune 21, 2012
Times taken840,697
Average score60.0%
Rating4.07
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Clue
Person
Wrote "Hamlet"
William Shakespeare
Killed on the Ides of March
Julius Caesar
Christian Messiah
Jesus
"Moonlight Sonata" composer
Ludwig van Beethoven
Invented the mechanical
printing press
Johannes Gutenberg
Started the Protestant Reformation
Martin Luther
First female Prime Minister
of the United Kingdom
Margaret Thatcher
Wrote "On the Origin of Species"
Charles Darwin
His "Great Leap Forward"
killed over 30 million
Mao Zedong
"Discovered" the New World
Christopher Columbus
Virgin Queen of England
Queen Elizabeth I
"Mona Lisa" painter
Leonardo da Vinci
Gave the "I Have a Dream" speech
Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Discovered" the east coast
of Australia
James Cook
Lord Protector of England,
1653-1658
Oliver Cromwell
Greek who conquered Persia
Alexander the Great
Led his elephants across the Alps
Hannibal
"New Deal" President of the U.S.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Called the "Liberator" of
Latin America
Simón Bolívar
French woman who led troops
in the Hundred Years War
Joan of Arc
Clue
Person
First U.S. President
George Washington
First man on the moon
Neil Armstrong
Wrote "Great Expectations"
Charles Dickens
"Tao te Ching" author
Laozi
His laws of motion explain how
the planets move
Isaac Newton
U.K. Prime Minister during WWII
Winston Churchill
Wrote "Pride and Prejudice"
Jane Austen
She was the first deaf and blind
college graduate
Helen Keller
Creator of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
First Soviet leader
Vladimir Lenin
Founder of Islam
Muhammad
Supposedly wrote "The Iliad"
Homer
Aviatrix who disappeared
over the Pacific
Amelia Earhart
French Emperor, 1804-1815
Napoleon
Father of the nation of India
Mohandas Gandhi
German WWII leader
Adolf Hitler
Battle of Trafalgar admiral
Horatio Nelson
U.S. Civil War President
Abraham Lincoln
Led the effort to create the first
practical light bulb
Thomas Edison
Refused to give up her bus seat,
in Montgomery, Alabama
Rosa Parks
+3
Level 35
Feb 4, 2020
Alexander the Great was Macedonian, not Greek
+5
Level 82
Mar 3, 2020
He was both.
+12
Level 59
Aug 11, 2020
He was from the Kingdom of Macedonia, which was part of the civilisation known as Ancient Greece.
+1
Level 72
Apr 22, 2024
Perhaps we should call him ‘Balkan.’ That covers a few bases.
+6
Level 37
Aug 9, 2022
macedonia was and still is a greek state
+2
Level 39
Aug 9, 2022
I thought Macedonia was a country nowadays
+6
Level 30
Dec 30, 2023
North Macedonia is a country, but Macedonia is a region of Greece.
+1
Level 35
Feb 20, 2020
I got all of them in less than a minute except for Horatio Nelson. I have no idea who that is.
+5
Level 77
Mar 1, 2020
I feel like Nelson is the least important person on the list, no idea why anyone should know of him. You could add Catherine the Great (was suggested earlier) instead. Or Marie Curie.
+3
Level 17
Mar 6, 2020
hey dare dis nelson like that one more time and see what happens. No catherine deserves to be on this list.
+1
Level 48
Jun 5, 2023
Nelson is one of the most important people on this list. He was the first South African president to actually be South African
+3
Level 53
Apr 16, 2024
If only there were another Nelson actually on the list...
+2
Level 70
Mar 8, 2020
According to Donal Trump, Narendra Modi is the father of India. But better keep Trummp out of a fact-based quiz. :-D
+4
Level 82
Mar 28, 2020
Trump also thinks General Washington and the Continental Army took over British airports during the Revolutionary War.
+4
Level 56
Nov 25, 2020
Modi is a fascist.
+5
Level 28
Mar 19, 2021
As is the person who suggested he is the father of India
+2
Level 68
Mar 26, 2020
Please accept Shakesphere
+1
Level 29
Mar 26, 2020
lol
+7
Level 82
Mar 28, 2020
Because his plays were performed at The Globe?
+21
Level 48
Mar 29, 2020
This quiz is definitely too American/British.

All respect to those people, but how can you put Cromwell, Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth, Parks or Austen over Curie, Mandela, Pol Pot, Castro, Stalin, Copernicus, Galileo or Socrates?

+7
Level 24
Jul 5, 2020
Totally agree. There's more than enough fascinating figures from the world outside Anglo-America such that Cromwell being on the list but Khan being absent seems like a massive oversight.
+6
Level 41
Feb 14, 2024
Quiz maker paid attention in history class, but failed to account for the fact they went to american history class so didn’t learn much.
+1
Level 64
Mar 29, 2020
I could remember Lao but not Zi.
+3
Level 25
Apr 1, 2020
Suprised at how little people are arguing over jesus' existance or if alexander the great was greek or macedon
+3
Level 58
Apr 22, 2020
Alexander the great was Macedonian not Greek. His empire controlled greece but he wasn't greek.
+2
Level ∞
Apr 22, 2020
https://www.jetpunk.com/quizzes/april-fools-quiz-4
+1
Level 48
May 20, 2020
Missed Cook and Cromwell
+1
Level 36
May 20, 2020
Well, I think that the title "Libertador of Latin America" is not for only Bolivar, but also to San Martin.

Just search for the last and you'll see.

+3
Level 61
Jun 12, 2020
Rosa parks is a load of bull. SHe was not the firstperson to refuse togive up herseat. The first was a pregnant 15 year old
+4
Level 82
Jun 29, 2020
nice strawman you got there
+10
Level 28
Jul 7, 2020
"40 Historical People that Everyone Should Know" - if they are English or American xDDDD

Where's Chopin? Maria Sklodowska-Curie? Sun Tzu? Mussolini? And many others?

+3
Level 35
Aug 8, 2020
Too few figures of Eastern cultures
+2
Level 62
Aug 28, 2020
Gandhi isn't the father of the nation of India

proof

+3
Level 56
Nov 25, 2020
Maybe not officially. But is still widely considered as the "father of the nation".
+1
Level 61
Aug 28, 2020
you should add Harriet Tubman
+2
Level 44
Oct 2, 2020
What about Harriet Tubman, Babe Ruth, Erik the Red, Charles II, Henry VIII, Vlad the Impaler, Genghis Khan, Emmeline Pankhurst, Attila the Hun, um, the list just goes on and on!
+2
Level 78
Oct 10, 2020
Yeah why isn't this list made up of 400 people? Would be much more fun...
+1
Level 66
Nov 29, 2022
Who is Babe Ruth??
+2
Level 38
Oct 15, 2020
I'm sorry but this quiz is waay to americo-centric, for example we could have easily swapped abraham lincoln with queen Victoria.
+2
Level 55
Jul 10, 2022
Or Rosa Parks and Queen Victoria.
+2
Level 27
Oct 23, 2020
It's disappointing that there's there's a lot of spots taken by people who had at best only local influence, mostly of America and England. There are several outstanding mathematicians and scientists that deserve at least an honorable mention, from Einstein and Turing to Al-Khawarizmi and Maxwell.
+11
Level 21
Nov 1, 2020
far too American... :(
+1
Level 46
Nov 10, 2020
I completely agree.
+2
Level 57
Nov 25, 2020
IMO, most of the questions are about the 20th century, which America was the most influential country in.
+2
Level 59
Nov 23, 2020
Joana d'arc should count. It's her real name.
+4
Level 71
Jan 26, 2021
Never heard of/seen that one, but Jeanne d'Arc is pretty common. Like most things, there's some complexity in deciding what her "real name" was: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_of_Joan_of_Arc
+2
Level 49
Dec 30, 2020
The most blatant omission from this list is Genghis Khan in my opinion. Second place is Siddharta Gautama
+2
Level 45
Apr 23, 2022
There are countless other people he could have included you can’t really compare the importance of every historical figure. However I do agree that you can attribute to them a certain level of significance and that although the people within the same level are probably interchangeable, people of the highest level should be preferred for a quiz like this instead of far less significant figures like Helen Keller, Margaret Thatcher, Abraham Lincoln etc
+4
Level 49
Feb 2, 2021
Surprised Einstein wasn't here.
+2
Level 39
Aug 9, 2022
Atleast newton was here
+4
Level 59
Feb 17, 2021
I always seem to mix up Lao-tzu (Laozi) with Sun Tzu, who wrote The Art of War, but not his time, I'm pleasantly surprised with how well I did. 38/40.
+2
Level 52
Feb 19, 2021
I'd like to point out that there are a bunch of Napoleons. Only one is the one you're talking about-- Napoleon Bonaparte. Consider changing it (but accept "Napoleon).
+7
Level 28
Mar 10, 2021
"27 somewhat important white dudes and 13 others mostly whatever ppl that everyone should know"

How the heck Thatcher, Earhart and FDR made the list when there was no room for Genghis Khan and Einstein?

But at least Alexander Fleming isn't there because who needs penicillin when you can just listen to Für Elise.

+6
Level 60
Mar 16, 2021
F Thatcher, burn any mention of her throughout history.
+4
Level 35
Apr 19, 2021
Sorry but it feels like western propaganda like not including first man in moon (Yuri Gagarin), one of greatest leader (Chingis Khan), who made ex soviet countries democracy (Mikhail Gorbachew) and many more...
+7
Level 48
May 9, 2021
Gagarin was the first man in orbit/space, but Armstrong was the first man to land on the moon...
+1
Level 72
Apr 22, 2024
Sorry, but it feels like Russian propaganda if you’re saying that Gagarin was the first man on the moon (or indeed if you think that any Russian or Soviet cosmonauts either orbited or landed on the moon - but to be clear, they haven’t).

I’d fully support the inclusion though, of one particular person born in the Soviet Union: Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

+2
Level 62
Jul 2, 2021
Could you take "Barca" for Hannibal?
+1
Level 64
Oct 27, 2021
Why won't you accept Simon Boliviar for Simón Bolívar?????
+4
Level 74
Oct 28, 2021
It's not his name?
+3
Level 39
Aug 9, 2022
Boliviar is not it’s name
+2
Level 71
Dec 1, 2021
I'm working on a similar quiz to stop the whinging "42,627 Historical People that everyone should know" should be ready in about 3 years.
+4
Level 90
Dec 26, 2021
I though there were 42,628. Who are you leaving out?
+1
Level 53
Apr 16, 2024
Almost 2.5 years later, you should have at least 32,627 people finished...can't wait for the quiz!
+3
Level 32
Dec 23, 2021
Alexander the Great was Macedonian, not Greek.
+5
Level 90
Dec 26, 2021
This has already been addressed in previous comments, but in the time of Alexander, Macedonians were Greeks. That's part of the stink that caused the modern day country to change its name to North Macedonia.
+1
Level 27
Jan 24, 2024
Not true, Macedonians were never greeks. Alexander the Great and his father Phillip were fighting against the Hellens, and his empire was called Macedonian Empire. He was speaking ancient macedonian language. He was Macedonian and never greek. Even the greeks called the macedonians barbarians which was a term for people not belonging to one of the next civilizations: Greek, Roman, Christian.

Learn history before talking.

+3
Level 53
Jun 28, 2023
Macedonia is a prefecture of Greece. People from Northern Macedonia maybe now called "Macedonians" but birthplace of Alexander is in Greece, they praised Greek gods, they spoke Greek, they participated in Olympics. The Slavs that inhabit the country of North Macedonia are totally unrelated to them.
+2
Level 48
Feb 10, 2022
You know you famous if you on this quiz.
+2
Level 53
Mar 30, 2022
21/40 of these people are from either the US or the UK. How self-centered can one be ?
+1
Level 57
Apr 9, 2022
It's because the US and UK are easily the most relevant countries in modern history, where most of these people lived.
+6
Level 45
Apr 23, 2022
Not even close to accurate. And even if it is do you think it’s proportionate to include more people from the last 200 years of our existence than the rest of written history? I can name at least 200 Greek and Roman writers, philosophers, mathematicians, politicians and military leaders who were way more significant in our evolution than half of the fore mentioned people. Take Lincoln for example; his only significance is to the US since the civil war only affected them and the results of the war weren’t particularly helpful in the progress of the human race as slavery had pretty much already been abolished in Europe (in theory at least).
+1
Level 80
Apr 10, 2022
Twain? Really? Is he one of more relevant authors ever?
+3
Level 82
Jun 17, 2022
He is.
+3
Level 23
Apr 14, 2022
Einstein?
+1
Level 85
May 11, 2022
Helen Keller and Mark Twain?
+1
Level 44
May 13, 2022
why did only a few people get amelia airhart
+4
Level 22
Jun 4, 2022
Alexander the Great was not Greek. He was Macedonian.
+3
Level 55
Jul 10, 2022
Which was a Greek kingdom at the time.
+1
Level 27
Jan 24, 2024
No, it was literally Macedonian Empire.
+1
Level 59
Nov 11, 2022
I got 35/40. Surprised not many people got Bolivar.

Other people I think should be here: Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, Suleiman the Magnificent

+3
Level 45
Dec 17, 2022
who the heck is horatio nelson

very englishcentric quiz

+2
Level 53
Feb 28, 2023
Let me see if I have this right 3.7% of the quiz takers got 100% of the people they SHOULD Know, however 6.7% know all 118 elements of periodic table.
+1
Level 16
Mar 12, 2023
calling jesus christian messiah and mohammad "founder" of islam is weird but ok
+1
Level 28
Mar 15, 2023
I don't think it's wrong for someone from the US to include mostly American figures in this quiz (even though like half of them are European).
+3
Level 70
Apr 26, 2023
One of the most debatable quiz on Jetpunk. So many wrong people here and so many people that are missed. Especially Rosa Parks, who the f is she?
+3
Level 70
Apr 26, 2023
I think, there are much more people that deserved to be among the 40 people rather than Rosa Parks, Horatio Nelson or Amelia Earrhart. They are so insignificant compared to major world leaders or philosophers. Maybe you just need to make the quiz bigger, but firstly, you need to remove insignificant figures
+2
Level 45
May 15, 2023
I look at this as "who impacted society the most" and in ways others might not have done.

Black America has a whole host of "was the first to..." figures. In terms of their actual accomplishments, very few of them were significant (sitting on a bus). Rosa Parks beating out Einstein on this list is just remarkable.

+2
Level 34
May 16, 2023
Newton question is slightly misleading as Johannes Kepler is the namesake for the specific laws of planetary motion.
+1
Level 50
Oct 4, 2023
Agreed. I put Kepler first before falling back on Newton.
+1
Level 14
Jul 3, 2023
Im So Clueless i Got 71% Help Me
+1
Level 25
Jul 27, 2023
bit anglocentric.
+1
Level 89
Oct 6, 2023
Then make a quiz that isn't.
+1
Level 42
Aug 12, 2023
shakespeare more known than washington, da vinci, columbus, churchill, gandhi, newton, muhammad, napoleon, edison, lenin, beethoven, homer, alexander the great, caesar, mao zedong, hannibal, cook
+2
Level 27
Aug 28, 2023
Jean d'Arc should be accepted for Joan of Arc as it's what we call her in France and it's her actual name.
+1
Level 23
Jan 19, 2024
Also how can someone put Edison but not Tesla? Just my thought
+1
Level 27
Jan 24, 2024
Alexander the Great was Macedonian, not greek... Learn history before making a history quiz.
+2
Level 36
Feb 18, 2024
Here’s an idea. Instead of whining like a bunch of children, don’t do the quiz if you don’t like the content of it.
+1
Level 23
Feb 29, 2024
Hitler was from Austria, but you might mean that he was the leader of Germany.

And I typed 'jean darc', which I think should be accepted, as her name is Jeanne D'arc in French. I based my answer off the French name.

+1
Level 43
Apr 2, 2024
Stalin? Khan? Curie? Einstein? etc