History Guild General History Quiz 146
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History Quiz 146

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The stories behind the questions

1. When was the USSR formed?

1922 – The Russian civil war was fought from the Russian revolution in 1917 through to 1922. The White Russians who opposed the communists were supported by many other countries, including Britain, France, USA, Czechoslovakia and Australia.

2. Which culture had ‘The rape of the Sabine Women’ as part of their founding mythology?

Rome – Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, invited the neighbouring Sabine people to attend a festival. While there the Romans abducted the women and forcibly married them to Romans.

3. Which of these cities are home to a mosque that was previously a cathedral?

Istanbul – Hagia Sophia, built in 537, was a Christian cathedral until the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. The new rulers converted the building to a mosque. In 1935 the secular Republic of Turkey converted the building into a museum. In 2020 this decision was reversed and Hagia Sophia is once again a mosque.

4. The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman’s seminal work on the lead up to WW1, informed which world leader in their decision making during a major crisis?

John F. Kennedy – President John F. Kennedy read The Guns of August shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis began, and he referred to the book often during the crisis.

5. Who was the last Pope to have served in the military?

Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2013) – Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, he was conscripted into the German military during WW2, serving in an anti-aircraft unit and then the infantry. He was captured by American forces in 1945. A significant number of Popes have previous military experience, Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) served in the Italian military for many years as a military chaplain and stretcher bearer.

The Papal states, with the Pope as their ruler, undertook significant military campaigns until as recently as 1870, and the Papal navy was only disbanded in 1878.

6. Who said ‘Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge’?

Charles Darwin – Part of the introduction of The Descent of Man (1871). This also applies to knowledge of history.

7. When was an African American first promoted to the rank of General?

1940 – Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr. served in the Spanish–American War and Philippine–American War before being commissioned as an officer in 1901. He went on to serve in WW1 and WW2, albeit in a segregated military which maintained separate units for black and white soldiers.

8. In what year was former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko poisoned with dioxin?

2004 – Yushchenko was running as a Presidential candidate against the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych when an assassination attempt saw him poisoned with dioxin. He survived the poisoning and went on to win the Presidential election, serving from 2005 to 2010.

9. What occurred on the first US government expedition to attempt to reach the North Pole?

All of the above – In 1870 Congress commissioned an expedition to reach the North Pole under the command of Charles Hall, known as the Polaris expedition. After reaching Northern Greenland Hall suddenly fell ill after drinking a cup of coffee, collapsing and suffering from vomiting and delirium. Hall accused the expedition doctor, Emil Bessels, of poisoning him. Hall died several days later. When his body was exhumed in 1968 tests concluded that Hall died of arsenic poisoning.

In 1872 a group of 19 crew members were separated from the expedition when pack ice broke up violently. They drifted over 2,400km on the ice floe for the next six months, before being rescued off the coast of Newfoundland by a sealing vessel.

10. Which of these breweries is oldest?

Weihenstephan – 1040. Read more about the history of this resilient company.

Heineken – 1864

Hoegaarden – 1445

Tsingtao – 1903

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