History Guild General History Quiz 210
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History Quiz 210

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The stories behind the questions

1. Who was Europe’s most prolific military engineer, creating over 150 fortresses?

Marquis of Vauban – Between 1651 and 1703, Sébastien Le Prestre, Marquis of Vauban designed or oversaw the construction of at least 300 individual fortifications. His designs were revolutionary, with his best known being the distinctive star forts.

2. Which of these countries were allied with Poland at the beginning of WW2?

Romania – The Polish–Romanian alliance of 1921 included a defensive alliance. However, Poland chose not to invoke this to request Romanian military support, as they saw access to the Mediterranean via ports in neutral Romania as more important.

After the USSR invaded Poland, Polish units were ordered to evacuate via Romania. Over 120,000 Polish servicemen reached France or Britain to continue their fight.

3. Which Monarch oversaw the execution of Sir Thomas More?

Henry VIII – Sir Thomas More was among the leading statesmen of the Tudor period and his legacy has long survived his execution for treason in 1535. More publicly opposed Henry VIII’s claim that he was the Supreme Head of the Church in England. Defiant in the face of Henry and his ministers, More refused to take the Oath of Succession, because the preamble of the Act of Succession rejected papal authority over English ecclesiastical affairs. This was his final act of defiance.

4. When did Charles Ponzi create his get-rich-quick scheme?

1920 – Having gambled away his life savings on the passage over, Italian immigrant Charles Ponzi arrived in America with next to nothing in his pocket. As he would later recount, “I landed in this country with $2.50 in cash and $1 million in hopes, and those hopes never left me.” Read more about his genre defining scam here.

5. Devised in 1859, the Wallace line is part of which field of science?

Biology – Running between Asia and Australia along a deep water passage through Indonesia, the line divides the biogeographic realms of Australasia and Indomalaya. To the west are plants, animals and birds of Australian origin, to the east they are of Asian origin.
The line was discovered by Alfred Wallace, co-discoverer to evolution with Charles Darwin.

6. What crime was Oscar Wilde sentenced to two years imprisonment for in 1895?

Gross Indecency – When Wilde was accused of sodomy by the Marquess of Queensbury he responded by suing Queensbury for libel. The trial was a disaster for Wilde, he lost, costs were awarded against him leading to his bankruptcy, and evidence emerged that was used to charge him with Gross Indecency.

7. How long did the Khmer Rouge rule Cambodia?

4 years – Capturing Phnom Penh in 1975, their short time in power saw around 2 million Cambodians die, approximately 25% of the population.

8. Which British parliamentary position was created first?

Speaker – Created in 1377 the speaker of the parliament was one of the earliest positions. The first Prime Minister took office in 1721, the first Foreign Minister in 1782. The original First Lord of the Admiralty was Richard Weston, 1st Earl of Portland, he took office in 1628.

9. The 1879 War of the Pacific saw Chile declare war on which two countries?

Bolivia and Peru – The war was spurred by competition for valuable nitrate exports from the Atacama desert, divided between Chile and Peru. The four year long war ended in a Chilean victory, with Peru and Bolivia forced to cede territory. This led to Bolivia becoming landlocked.

10. In his 2023 interview with Tucker Carlson, which country did Vladimir Putin claim started WW2?

Poland – Like many of Putin’s pronouncements about history, this has no basis in fact. Both Germany and the USSR invaded Poland in the wake of their secret agreement dividing up Eastern Europe, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

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