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Question of The Week - European History

Go to This Week's Question

Each week I will ask a question relating to either American history or politics. You should e-mail me the answer to get extra credit. Please put EURO QOW in your email subject line. Try your luck at guessing or researching the answers to this week's question. Answers will be posted after I have posted the answer at school on the following Monday. No answers will be accepted after 6:00 AM on that Monday morning. Please put EURO QOW in the heading of your email and be sure to tell me what period you are in.

Go to This Week's Question - By Monday morning, this link will take you to the new question for next week, so be sure you answer the question for the correct week. If your answer comes in after I've already posted the answer, you will not get credit. I will always let you know if you've gotten the answer right so if you don't hear back from me within 24 hours, I probably didn't receive your email. If you're wrong, you can try again and again until you're successful.

Week of August 15 - 27

Answer these questions about the occasionally violent lives of famed Renaissance and Baroque artists

1. Name this late Renaissance sculptor who wrote in his autobiography about the time he injured himself when, while working on a statue of Narcissus a splinter of steel entered the pupil of his right eye.  However, a surgeon opened up the veins of two live pigeons and dripped the blood into his eye which he credited with healing him.  This artist, by his own testimony in his memoirs, killed four people: his brother’s killer, his wife, his wife’s lover, and a rival artist.  He was saved from arrest by the protection of the Pope. Benvenuto Cellini

2. Name this Baroque artist of the late 16th and early 17th century artist who also found inspiration in the story of Narcissus and had a reputation for brawling.  Once, angry over how his artichokes had been cooked, he drew a sword on the waiter.  It was said that he had killed his opponent during a tennis match, but his stature as a famed artist protected him from prosecution. Amerighi da Caravaggio

3. Name this other famed Baroque sculptor and architect of the early 17th century who almost killed his own brother for having had an affair with his mistress and sent a servant to slash his mistress’s face with a razor.  The Pope also intervened to protect him and waive his fine and ordered him to get married to keep out of trouble. Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Week of August 27 - September 3

Much wisdom has come down to us from Renaissance writers.  Identify these authors of wise advice, none of whom was Shakespeare.  

1. Who was the Northern Renaissance author who penned a book of adages from the Greek and Latin containing such sayings that are still used today such as the Greek saying,, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”  The English writer, Richard Taverner in 1539 translated from this writer’s Latin “Nota res mal, optima” into English as “An eyul thynge knowen is best. It is good kepyng of a shrew that a man knoweth.”  This has come down to us today as “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. Erasmus of Rotterdam

2. What Italian writer, much given to introspection, wrote “Man has no greater enemy than himself”?  Another bit of wisdom which I will not take as an excuse for not doing the homework this year is this comment: “Books have led some to learning and others to madness, when they swallow more than they can digest.”  Petrarch

3. Perhaps your parents have given you this admonition which comes from another Italian Renaissance writer: “Do as we say, not as we do” or, as it is in Italian, “Fate quello che noi diciamo e non quello che noi facciamo.”  Which writer is responsible for that bit of ironic wisdom? Boccaccio  

Week of September 3 - 10

Answer these questions relating to three Tudor monarchs.

1. Henry VIII imagined himself as a great military leader as well as a master of diplomacy and a true Renaissance prince.  In 1520, he held a summit meeting with another ruler in what has come to be referred to as the Field of the Cloth of Gold, named for the luxurious tents and clothes displayed by the participants.  The meeting didn’t achieve any lasting diplomatic effect as the two rulers would soon be at war.  Besides the huge expense, Henry was also humiliated when he challenged the other ruler to a wrestling match and soon match.  Name this other ruler who soon was captured himself at the Battle of Pavia. Francis I.

2.  An attempt to force a marriage between the heirs to both the English and Scottish thrones was termed the “Rough Wooing” as England invaded Scotland and set Edinburgh on fire in attempt to force the wedding.  Despite this rather fanciful name, the war was quite brutal.  Name these two future monarchs who never married because the Scots apparently “liked not the manner of the wooing” and “could not stoop to being bullied into love.” Edward VI and Mary, Queen of Scots

3. One of the enduring mysteries from English history concerns the mysterious death of the wife of one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorites.  The Queen was rumored to considering marrying this man early in her reign and was just waiting for his wife to die.  Then, the wife fell down the stairs in her house when no one was there and broke her neck.  The ensuing scandal ended any of the hopes the man and the Queen might have had for marrying.  Name this favorite of the Queen and his ill-fated wife. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and Amy Robsart

Week of September 10 - 17

The Index of Prohibited Books, created in 1558 and promulgated at the Council of Trent, included some works and writers whose presence there might not really surprise us such as Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli.  Galileo’s compete works were put on the Index, but in 1718, the ban was lifted except for his Dialogue Concerning the Two chief World Systems concerning Copernican astronomy.  Surprisingly, the works of Charles Darwin and Karl Marx were never placed on the Index.  In 1966, the Church abolished the Index and placed the decision on the individual whether to read works that could threaten their faith and morality. 

Identify these works by famous French philosophers that were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

1) In this 17th century work by a French philosopher, the author discarded everything that was not certain and then tried to figure out what can be known for sure which led him to assert that he knew that he existed because he thinks in the famous statement, “Cogito ergo sum.”   

Meditations on First Philosophy  by René Descartes

2) This novel was an epistolary work purported written by two Persian noblemen, Usbek and Rica, traveling through France in the early 18th century as the reader sees the idiocies and hypocrisies of French life through their descriptions.  Another work by this important French writer had a great influence on the system of checks and balances in our own government.

The Persian Letters by the Baron de Montesquieu

3) The author of this 17th century religious work was a polymath who was a mathematician, physicist, inventor and philosopher.   You might be familiar with him for his work as being one of the first to invent a calculator and his pioneering work on geometry and probability and other mathematical contributions as well as his research on hydrostatics and the concept of a vacuum.  However, he had a religious experience with the reform Catholic movement of Jansenism he wrote this collection of theology and philosophy defending the Christian religion.  He set forth in this work what came to be known as his namesake wager that every person makes as to whether God exists or not and positing that it would be rational, given the sakes to believe in God.

Pensées by Blaise Pascal

Week of September 17 - 24

Answer these questions about English writers who played some roles in the dramatic events under the Stuart monarchs.

1) One of the most famous poets in English literature wrote his most famous work as an expression of his disappointment in the failure of the English Revolution in the wake of the Restoration of Charles II.  He also wrote a pamphlet advocating for divorce on the basis of incompatibility between spouses due to his desire to divorce his wife who deserted him soon after their marriage.  One of his most important works was an essay arguing for freedom of speech and press that has been cited as a foundation for our own First Amendment freedoms. John Milton 

2) Name this famed English metaphysical poet, and friend of the poet in question #1, who served as a tutor to the daughter of Lord General Thomas Fairfax who had led the New Model Army.  He wrote poems to Fairfax and an ode about Cromwell’s return from Ireland although his lyric poetry is more famous and sometimes a bit naughty.  As a Member of Parliament during the Restoration reign of Charles II, he wrote several satirical poems about Charles II’s reign and pamphlet, An Account of the Growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government in England, charging that there was a plot to introduce absolutist tyranny, French slavery, and Popish idolatry into England. Andrew Marvell

3) Name this prominent writer thought to have written the first novel in English who also wrote pamphlets and poems defending William III in his wars against the French.  He was a Presbyterian dissenter who was sentenced to the pillory for his writings in defense of dissenters.  He wrote articles and pamphlets supporting the 1707 Treaty of Union between England and Scotland and served as a spy in Scotland to undermine those who opposed the Union.   Daniel DeFoe

Week of September 24 - October 1

From now on, you will not receive a second chance if you get the answer of any part of the question wrong. So double-check your answers and make sure you "Answer the Question!"

Since we will be talking a bit about financial history this unit, answer these questions about rocky financial history in the 18th century.
1. The man who created the Banque Générale, the first attempt at a French central bank was, ironically enough, not a Frenchman, but a Scot.  This early economist who rose to become the Controller General of Finances for France and instituted some needed reforms, lost his job for his role in a bubble investment company that helped to devastate the French economy when the bubble burst in 1720.   He ended up having to flee France disguised as a woman.  Name this man and the bubble for which he was responsible. John Law and Mississippi Bubble

2. Name this British joint-stock company that was granted the monopoly on trade with South America.  The stock rose sharply in anticipation of the profits that such a monopoly might provide before it collapsed when it became clear that the company would never make any great profit from this trade.  The collapse of this country ruined many prominent people and the economy.  Sir Isaac Newton was one of the men who lost a fortune in this bubble.  When he was asked to predict the price of the stock, he is reported to have replied, “I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men.” South Sea Company

3. In dealing with the fallout after the collapse of the company in question number 2, the man who held the position of Paymaster of the Forces defended the head ministers of the government earning himself the nickname “Screenmaster-General.”  He soon became the most important member of the government rising to be First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the exchequer.  He is regarded as Great Britain’s first Prime Minister and his 21-year tenure led to the preeminence of the Whig Party, although he eventually had to resign over the War of Jenkins’ Ear. He was also the minister who initiated the policies of ignoring the Navigation Acts that later came to be titled “salutary neglect.” Sir Robert Walpole

Week of October 1 - 8

From now on, you will not receive a second chance if you get the answer of any part of the question wrong. So double-check your answers and make sure you "Answer the Question!"

The English aren’t the only ones to have romantic stories surrounding their rulers.  Answer these questions about the mistresses of French kings.

1. Name this mistress of Henry II to whom he gave the beautiful to which she added the famed bridge across the Loire.  The castle was recognized as one of the most beautiful in France so the king’s widow, Catherine de’ Medici coveted it and forced the mistress to give it to her after the king’s death.

Diane de Poitiers

2. Henry IV later purchased the château for his favorite mistress.  Henry IV was well known for his many affairs, but he so loved this mistress that he wanted to marry her after his marriage to Marguerite de Valois was annulled.  This would have caused a great scandal and many feared what would have happened if he’d tried to name his sons by her as heirs.  Sadly for him, but perhaps fortunately for peace in France, she died from an eclampsia in her pregnancy.  Name this unfortunate mistress.

Gabrielle d'Estrées

3. Louis XIV had many mistresses.  Name this mistress by whom he had seven children.  Her reign as Maîtresse-en-titre, or chief mistress of the king, came to an end when she was implicated in the infamous “Affair of the Poisons” and it became known that she had bought aphrodisiacs to keep the king’s affections.

Marquise de Montespan

Week of October 8 - 15

From now on, you will not receive a second chance if you get the answer of any part of the question wrong. So double-check your answers and make sure you "Answer the Question!"

Answer these questions about 18th century medicine.

A. Dr. John Hunter set back research on which two diseases when he mistakenly experimented on himself with a needle infected with both diseases so he concluded that they were the same underlying disease?  He also maintained that Negros were born white and then turned dark because of the sun.

Syphilis and gonorrhea

B. Who was the woman who introduced inoculation for smallpox into England after having witnessed its use when she lived with her husband in the Ottoman Empire where he was the British ambassador? Lady Mary Montagu

C. Name this famous English essayist, lexicographer, and literary critic who, due to his tics and involuntary movements, is thought by medical historians to have suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome.

Samuel Johnson

Week of October 15 - 22

From now on, you will not receive a second chance if you get the answer of any part of the question wrong. So double-check your answers and make sure you "Answer the Question!"

Catherine the Great was, according to all reports, a woman of voracious sexual appetites.  Answer these questions about her lovers.

1) Name this lover who, along with his brothers, helped lead the conspiracy that overthrew her husband, Peter III, and installed her as Tsarina.  It is believed that his brother then murdered the Tsar.  She bore him two children. Grigory Orlov

2)  Name this Polish nobleman who was Catherine’s lover when he was a young man.   She then supported him to become King of Poland because she thought he would just be her puppet.  Instead he tried to reform the country to limit the liberum veto.  After Polish nobles protested his reform and revolted, Catherine took advantage of the chaos in Poland to organize the first Partition of Poland. Stanisław August Poniatowski

3) Name this man who was rumored to have actually been married to Catherine in a morganatic marriage.  Historians think that, at some point, they married and she referred to him in her correspondence as her husband.  He was a general and statesman.  It was through his diplomacy that Russia annexed the Crimea.  After their love affair ended, they remained friends with him helping to choose her future lovers.  A famous battleship that played a role in the Revolution of 1905 was named after him. Grigory Potemkin

Week of October 22 - 29

From now on, you will not receive a second chance if you get the answer of any part of the question wrong. So double-check your answers and make sure you "Answer the Question!"

Answer these questions based on crime and Dutch art.

In 1945, in one of the most amazing art scams of the century, a Dutch painter was arrested for having sold a painting by one of the great painters of the Dutch Golden Age to Hermann Goering, the Nazi commander of the Luftwaffe or air force.  In order to defend himself from the charges of treason and collaborating with the enemy, the painter confessed that he had been forging many of the great artists of the Golden Age.  Being convicted of forgery and fraud was better than being convicted of treason and collaboration with the Nazis.  He had to paint in front of reporters and court witnesses to demonstrate how he forged his paintings. 

1. What was the name of this famous forger? Some experts had been so fooled by his forgeries that one prominent critic considered one of his paintings to be a masterpiece by the artist whose style he was emulating. Han Van Meegeren

2. What great artist had he imitated so well that he was able to sell a painting purportedly by this artist to Hermann Goering for what would be to $7 million in today’s money? Johannes Vermeer

3. In the largest theft of private property in history, 13 works of art were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston including two famous works by Dutch Golden Age artists.  Sadly, these works have never been recovered.  One was the only seascape by Rembrandt.  Name that work.

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee 

4. Another stolen painting from that theft was by the artist in #2.  Name that painti

The Concert

Week of October 29 - November 5

From now on, you will not receive a second chance if you get the answer of any part of the question wrong. So double-check your answers and make sure you "Answer the Question!"

In honor of Halloween, answer these questions about royal ghosts that supposedly haunt some of the royal residences of the British royal family.

1. Name this former ruler whose ghost both Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret have claimed to have heard.  Their father, George VI, claimed to have seen this ruler eight nights in a row upon the onset of World War II.  This ruler’s footsteps are heard on the bare floorboards and the Royal Library is, apparently, a favorite location of this monarch. Elizabeth I

2. Balmoral Castle in Scotland was one of the favorite estates of Queen Victoria.  It is said to be haunted by a Scottish servant and friend of the Queen.  Their relationship was so closed that there was gossip about there being an improper relationship between this servant and the Queen.  Name this man who is said to haunt Balmoral Castle and its grounds striding about in his kilt.  The present queen said that she has seen him. John Brown

3. This wife of Henry VIII is said to haunt Hampton Court where she died after giving birth.  Her ghost is said to appear on the Silverstick Stairs which lead to the room where she died. Jane Seymour

4. Name this famous courtier and adventurer who spent 13 years in luxurious captivity in the so-called “Bloody Tower” of London.  He reportedly wanders freely around the Tower of London and there is a section of the ramparts named for him where he exercised during his imprisonment.  Sometimes his ghost looks just as his portrait and other times he’s headless since he was ultimately beheaded. Sir Walter Raleigh.

Week of November 5 - 12

November 9 is a very significant day in German history.  Name these events that occurred on November 9.

1. Name this emperor who was pushed off the German throne on November 9, 1918.  The German Republic was proclaimed the same day. Wilhelm II

2. In 1923, the Nazi Party failed to take control of the government in Munich, Bavaria.  What is the common name of this failed coup which led to Adolf Hitler serving less than a year in the Landsberg Prison where he wrote Mein Kampf? Beer Hall Putsch

3. November 9 is also the day that became infamous for massive attacks on Jews and their property throughout Germany.  Give the commonly-used term for this night during which hundreds of Jews were killed and tens of thousands were arrested. Kristallnacht

4. On a happier note, November 9, 1989 was also the day that saw this dramatic event take place.  Name that event that could not be named as German Unity Day because of the events in question #3. The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Week of November 12 - 19

Answer these questions about English writers and thinkers.

1. Which English philosopher’s skeleton and head were, in accordance with his will, preserved after his death and was in what he called his “Auto-Icon,” put on display?  The head was damaged and has since been replaced with a wax head.  His body was according to his request dissected by students at the University College London, but the skeleton was reassembled and stuffed with straw and placed on his favorite chair and now is on display for tourists to London.   Name this reformer who proposed what he called the Panopticon to be the optimal prison. 

Jeremy Bentham

2. Which romantic poet was put on trial for sedition for supposedly having said “Damn the king.  The soldiers are all slaves”?  He was acquitted due to the flimsiness of the evidence.  The soldier who accused him later turned up in an illustration for one of the poet’s more famous poems.  William Blake

3. Name both this romantic poet and this one particular lover out of his many lovers.  This famed poet had a disastrous affair with the wife of a future prime minister for whom a city in Australia is named.  They had a very public affair and then when he left her she was obsessed with him as she stalked him around London even dressing up as a footman to visit him at home and then trying to stab herself.  She wrote a novel which was a fictional treatment of their love affair in which she caricatured many in English high society.   She termed him “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” 

Lord Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb

Week of November 19 - 26

The British run some cool polls.  It’s time to find out what else the Brits vote for as the best.

1) Which classic novel won a 2007 poll for World Book Day won first place as the most precious book voters had ever read? Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

2) In a similar poll in 2007 of more than 2,000 readers, what novel topped the poll as the greatest love story of all time?

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

3) In another one of these polls of British readers, BBC asked in 2003 what was the best-loved novel of all time by British readers. What book topped the list? The Lord of the Rings  by J.R.R. Tolkien

4) In 2005, BBC Radio did a poll to find the greatest painting in Britain.  Name the painting and artist which won first place?  This painting has also served as symbolism in the James Bond movie, “Skyfall” as Bond examines the painting when he meets Q at the National Gallery perhaps suggesting the symbolism of Bond’s era as a super secret agent fading away just as this painting suggests a similar message.

“The Fighting Téméraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken” by J.M. W. Turner

Week of November 2 - December 3

This will be the last set of QOW’s for the semester.  Check back over break for next semester’s first question.

Answer these questions about important female writers in Victorian England with whom you may not be as familiar.

1. Name this work, one of the most well-read books of this 19th century was this guide, first published in 1861, on how to run a Victorian household that every self-respecting middle-class wife would be sure to own.  The guide contained recipes and advice on how to manage servants as well as health advice. 

Mrs. Beeton, author of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management

2. Name this British novelist, encouraged by Charles Dickens, who wrote industrial novels criticizing conditions in Manchester where she’d settled with her husband who was a minister there.  Her stories shocked readers and helped awaken the public to working conditions and life in She also wrote a biography of her friend, Charlotte Brontë. Elizabeth Gaskell

3. Name this famed novelist who wrote some of the best observations of politics of the era.  In her most famous novel, she described the namesake town in the years leading up to the Great Reform Act of 1832.  Another one of her novels featured the title character whom she named “the Radical” also in the period of the Great Reform Act of 1832 and the local election for Parliament in a small English town.  Another one of her novels is remarkable for its sympathetic depiction of Jewish characters which was rather remarkable for that time. George Eliot

Week of January 7 - 14

If you’ve traveled to London, one of the most interesting places to visit is Westminster Abbey to see the famous people buried there.  Name these 19th century people either buried in Westminster or for whom there are memorials in the Abbey.

1) Name this Whig prime minister was the last one to have died in office.  He served during the American Civil War as well as the Crimean War and was known for his policies of interventionism for Great Britain.  Although, he supported the independence movements of 1848, he always adamantly opposed independence for Ireland. Lord Palmerston

2) There are many scientists buried in Westminster.  Name this man, the author of Principles of Geology, who was regarded as the premier geologist of his day.  Much of modern geology began as a theory advocated by this man who also was a good friend of Charles Darwin and helped to arrange the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Charles Lyell

3) There are many, many famed British writers and poets buried or commemorated in Poet’s Corner at Westminster.  Name this man who served as a Whig politician, introducing English concepts of education in India supporting the use of English as the official language in Indian schools.  But he is perhaps better known as a historian having written The History of England from the Accession of James the Second and for his political essays.  He was a major proponent of what has been called the “Whig interpretation of history,” a controversial approach to history as one of inevitable movement towards increased liberty and enlightenment. Thomas Babingon Macauley

Week of January 14 - 21

Since next unit we will be talking about varieties of socialism, answer these questions about the Fabian Society, a group of British socialists.

A.  One famous symbol of the Fabian society is a stained glass window that was designed by one of the Society’s most illustrious members.  The window was stolen in 1978 but later resurfaced and was repurchased in 2005.  Name that member of the society, a very famous playwright,  who designed the window and who is depicted on the window as striking the world with hammers to “remould it nearer to the heart’s desire.” George Bernard Shaw

B. In the far left corner of the window, another prominent member of the Fabians, is shown thumbing his nose at the Fabians because he had left the Society and had denounced them as “the new Machiavellians.”  Name that famous author depicted for eternity as thumbing his nose.H.G. Wells

C. Four members of the Fabian Society used money that had been left to the group to found what has now become a very prominent public university.  Name this school founded by the Fabians which has come to be regarded as one of the top British universities.   Ironically, this university, founded by Socialists, came to be the home of classical liberal economist, F. A. Hayek.  Though perhaps this university’s most famous student is Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.   London School of Economics

Week of January 21 - 28

I’ve long had a thing with famous cemeteries.  This time, the question is about the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris which is full of the graves of famous French people and even some non-French.  Name these people from other countries who lived in France and whose remains you could visit at this amazing site.

1) Name this American writer who settled in Paris in 1903 and was famed for her salon where she hosted a salon where American expatriates such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sinclair Lewis would hang out.  It was she who is given credit coining the “Lost Generation” for those who came of age during World War I.  She was also friends with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Gertrude Stein

2) Name this Irish playwright and novelist who settled in Paris after having served time in a British prison after being convicted for gross indecency for his relationships with men.  Although you might be most familiar with his one novel and his plays, his writing took a much more serious time after his time in prison.  There he wrote De Profundis” about his affair with the young man who turned on during his trialand later wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol about his time in prison.  He died in poverty in Paris and a verse from that poem is engraved on his tomb which is extremely popular and often covered with lipstick from the kisses left by his fans. Oscar Wilde

3) Perhaps the most visited grave in Père Lachaise is that of the American lead singer of the rock group, The Doors, who died in Paris from a drug overdose. Jim Morrison

4) Name this Italian composer who was originally buried in Père Lachaise, but his remains were eventually moved back to Florence, but you can still visit his crypt.  He is probably most famous for his operas, The Barber of Seville, Otello, and William Tell.Giacomo Rossini

Week of January 28 - February 4

Answer these questions about the deaths of five famous 19th century European authors.

1. Which Russian author, in the last days of his life, left his wife and family and seemingly vanished? His disappearance became a national phenomenon. When he turned up in a remote railway station dying of pneumonia, all of Russia followed the story of his death and dozens of his followers, journalists, and police spies. Leo Tolstoy

2. Which other famous Russian author fell under the influence of a starets, or spiritual elder, who made him fear going to Hell for his writing. So in the days before his death, he burned the sequel to his only novel, a satirical classic as well as some of his other manuscripts. He’d spent a decade writing that sequel. He told friends that his writing was a practical death played on him by the Devil. He then took to his bed and refused all food, starving himself to death. In an effort to force him to eat, his friends poured vodka over his face, and tied hot loaves to him and attached leeches to his nose. None of it worked and he died. Nikolai Gogol

3. Which famous English author desired to be interred in a grave with his first wife in his local home, but the public and his executor insisted that he be buried in the famed Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey? A compromise was reached in which his heart was buried at his parish church in Dorset with his wife and his ashes were buried in Poets’ Corner. Thomas Hardy

4. Which French writer suffered from paranoia due to the syphilis he had contracted as a young man. He tried to commit suicide by cutting his throat and was committed to a private asylum where he died a year later? Guy de Maupassant

5. Which French writer died due to carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty chimney? Some alleged that he was actually murdered by his political enemies and, indeed, a roofer decades later claimed to have closed the chimney for political reasons. Emile Zola

Week of February 4 - 11

1) The search for the source of Nile was led by two British explorers who eventually quarreled over which lake was the source.  One claimed that Lake Victoria was the source and the other claimed that Lake Tanganyika was the source.  They had both been ill and the one who explored Lake Victoria had been temporarily blind at the time.  They were set to debate the issue when the first explorer accidentally killed himself in a hunting accident.  Name these two explorers. Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke

2) The explorer who claimed that Lake Tanganyika was the source of the Nile was also a famous linguist, supposedly having mastered close to 40 languages and dialects.  He was involved in translating into English several works thought to be obscene.  One work was a collection of Middle Eastern stories and folk tales and another famous work was an ancient Sanskrit text.  Name these two famous works.  Arabian Nights and Kama Sutra

Week of February 11 - 18

Answer these questions about people involved in World War One

1) This woman was the only female political officer in the British forces as well as a respected archaeologist, historian, and intelligence agent.  She used her expertise to help the British army link up with Arab tribes because she had more expertise on the Middle East than other British official.  She drew up the maps that became Iraq and Transjordan (today’s Jordan) and arranged for the sons of the Sharif of Mecca to be kings of those two new countries.  She laid the foundations for the Baghdad Antiquities Museum, today’s Museum of Iraq.
Gertrude Bell

2) This famed Polish pianist and composer was a passionate advocate for Polish independence and lobbied President Wilson and other allied officials for the creation of a Polish state to be part of the post-War settlement.  He was a friend of British composer Edward Elgar who used his music when composing a symphony in honor of Poland and dedicated to this man.  He also became the second Prime Minister of the new nation of Poland and represented it at the Paris Peace Conference.
Ignacy Paderewski

3) And, in addition, I figured that I’d take a moment of personal privilege and ask about a distant relative of mine – my great-grandmother’s cousin.  Name this Australian man who commanded a brigade in the Gallipoli campaign and, despite prejudice against his Jewish background, was named the commander of the Australian Corps in World War I.  He was the one who drew up the plan coordinating the attack using infantry, aircraft, artillery, and tanks for the first decisive Allied victory on the Western Front at Amiens and was knighted on the battlefield by George V.  A university in Melbourne is named for him and he is memorialized on the Australian one hundred dollar bill. Sir John Monash

Week of February 18 - 25

Answer these questions about chemists and 20th century European history.

1) One famous chemist had developed a process to synthesize acetone which was necessary for producing explosions during the war.  David Lloyd George credited this man’s efforts during the war for the Prime Minister’s support of the Balfour Declaration although historians doubt whether that was Lloyd George’s true motivation.  That chemist was a leading Zionist who worked with Albert Einstein to establish Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  Name this famous chemist and Zionist who became the first president of Israel in when the country was established. Chaim Weizmann

2) A German Nobel Prize winner went on to lead the teams in Germany who developed chlorine gas and other deadly gases used in the war.  His wife, also a chemist, committed suicide during the war for motives that are still unknown.  Name this famous chemist whose institute later developed Zyklon B which was used in the gas chambers during the Holocaust.  Ironically, he was offered a job as a researcher in Israel by the first man in this question but he died before he could take up the job.  

Fritz Haber

3) Name this British prime minister who studied chemistry at Oxford was quite proud of being the only prime minister with a science degree.  Contrary to a commonly-repeated myth, this politician was not the first to develop soft-serve ice cream despite having once worked for a company that was a pioneer in the soft-serve ice cream revolution. Margaret Thatcher

Week of February 25 - March 4

A Czech-born British playwright, who has written many popular plays as well as some notable movie scripts, including the Oscar-winning movie, Shakespeare in Love, wrote a play that won a Best Play Tony Award in 1976.  The play takes place in  Zurich in 1917 as a sort of re-writing of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. This play centers around three famous people who all happened to be living there at the same time. One of those was a Romanian/French poet and performance artist who was one of the founders of the Dada movement. Another was one of the most important and influential modern authors of the 20th century. The third man was a revolutionary leader who changed the history of the 20th century. The play imagines the conversations these men would have had about art, love and revolution.

1) Name that playwright and that play. Tom Stoppard - Travesties

2) Name those three famous men featured in the play. 

James Joyce, Tristan Tzara, and Vladimir Lenin

Week of March 4 - 11

Answer these questions about assassinations and murders related to the totalitarian leaders of the 20th century.

1) Name the Italian socialist politician who was assassinated after he charged the Fascists with committing fraud in recent elections.  Many suspect that Mussolini was involved.  There was a reaction against him, but Mussolini used the turmoil to cement his power. 

Giacomo Matteotti

2) Name the ally of Hitler and leader of the SA who was executed as part of the Night of the Long Knives.

Ernst Röhm

3) Name this early Bolshevik leader of the Soviet Union who was a popular head of the Communist Party in Leningrad and was viewed as a possible leader of the opposition to Stalin, but was assassinated there in 1934.  Although Stalin was pretty clearly responsible for the murder, he used it as an opportunity to repress his opponents in the party. 

Sergei Kirov

Week of March 11 - 18

Several European countries were ostensibly neutral in World War Two, but that didn’t mean they were not engaged in helping either side in the war effort.  Identify these supposedly neutral countries that ended up helping both Germany and the Allies in some key ways.

1. Which country supplied wolfram (or tungsten) to Germany which was key to their production of arms?  Hitler met this country’s leader during the war to discuss terms for an alliance but talks broke up because the leader demanded too much.  Afterwards, Hitler told Mussolin, "I prefer to have three or four of my own teeth pulled out than to speak to that man again!"  Spain

2. Which country, despite being a haven for Jewish and anti-Nazi refugees, supplied 40% of Germany’s wartime requirements in iron ore as well as steel and machine parts?  The Allies had wanted to invade this country in 1940 to control the iron ore mines, but were unable to do so.   However, this nation did help the Allies by intercepting German telegraph traffic that went through their country and deciphering the code and giving the information to the Allies.  This helped the Allies sink the battleship Bismarck. Sweden

3. Hitler planned to invade this country and even had invasion plans drawn up and repeatedly invaded this country’s air space, as did the Allies.  Allied pilots preferred to land in this country when their planes had been damaged in bombing runs on Germany since they were interned in ski resorts during the war.  However, this country’s tough laws on accepting refugees led them to refuse Jewish refugees.  The real controversy surrounds the country’s allowing Germany to channel the gold they stole from their victims and channeled through this country. Switzerland

Week of March 18 - 25

Answer these questions about ultimate justice for Nazis after the war.

1) Name the Supreme Court justice who took a leave of absence to be a prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials. Robert Jackson

2) Who was the head of the Luftwaffe who committed suicide the night before he was to be executed? Hermann Goering

3) Who was the Nazi Minister of Propaganda who, after Hitler’s suicide, administered cyanide to his six children and after that, he and his wife killed themselves? Joseph Goebbels

4) Name the admiral who was tried at Nuremberg for having led unrestricted submarine warfare. He had been named by Hitler as his successor and he served as the head of government for the few weeks between Hitler’s suicide and the German surrender. He was the only head of state to have been convicted by an international war crimes trial until Liberia’s Charles Taylor was convicted in 2012. He served 10 years in Spandau Prison and lived until 1980. Karl Donitz

Week of March 25 - April 1

Answer these questions about espionage during the Cold War.

1) Name this scandal that brought down the British Secretary of State for War because he had a affair with Christine Keeler, a 19-year-old model who had been involved at the same time with a Soviet officer which raised questions of risks to national security. Profumo Affair

2) There was a ring of five spies recruited in their college years who passed information to the Soviets during WWII and in the years afterward until they fled to the Soviet Union.  Give either the name that this spy scandal was given based on the university at which they were recruited or the names of the spies in this ring.  This infamous group of spies have been portrayed many times in fiction and movies.  John Le Carré’s novels Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and A Perfect Spy are based on this scandal.  Actors such as Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Derek Jacobi, and Benedict Cumberbatch have portrayed members of the ring. Cambridge Ring

3) This is a true story although it sounds like fiction.  Name unlikely murder weapon used to murder Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident who had fled Bulgaria and went to work at BBC where he criticized communist Bulgaria. He was poked with this murder weapon on the street in London and it was later discovered that the assassin had inserted a pellet of ricin into Markov’s leg.  He died four days later. an umbrella

Week of April 1 - 8

The question from April 1 - 8 is the last QOW for the year. Thank you for participating.

Answer the following questions related to massacres.

1) Name the massacre in Belgium during which 80 American prisoners of war were murdered by Germans in December, 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge.  Malmedy Massacre

2) Name the site of a series of 1941 massacres in Kiev where the Nazis killed over 33,000 Jews as well as over 100,000 Ukrainians and Soviets. Babi Yar

3) Several Russian writers wrote poems commemorating the massacre in #2, but such poems were not allowed to be published in the 1940s and 1950s, but that official silence was broken with the 1961 publication during the cultural ‘Thaw’ of the poem Babiyy Yar that controversially criticized both Soviet anti-Semitism as well as the Nazi massacre.  Name that Russian poet who wrote that poem which Dmitri Shostakovich used in the first movement of his Thirteenth Symphony. Yevgenij Yevtushenko

4) Name this 1940 massacre that took place in a Polish forest when the Soviet army killed over 22,000 Polish officers.  Tragically, the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, died in a plane crash traveling to a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of that 1940 massacre. Katyn Forest
























You should e-mail me the answer to get extra credit. Try your luck at guessing or researching the answers to this week's question. Answers will be posted after I have posted the answer at school on the following Monday. No answers will be accepted after 6:00 AM on that Monday morning.