15 Historical Events Most People Can’t Correctly Place on a Timeline

Our past is not only interesting but important, too, full of incredible feats and valuable lessons. But have you noticed how some events in human history are tricky to place on a timeline? We’ve compiled 15 historical events that are more chronologically obscure than most. Don’t worry, though; we’ve already put them in order for you!

The Construction of the Great Wall of China (3rd century BC)

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The construction of the Great Wall of China began over 2000 years ago and spanned centuries, as it was constantly expanded and upgraded. History.com tells us it was the emperor Qin Shi Huang who first came up with the idea, although it never quite managed to keep invaders out!

The Viking Voyages (789-1066 AD)

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Viking explorations and invasions began in Britain but soon reshaped European history; they were even the very first Europeans to set foot on the Americas, in the not-so-imaginatively named Newfoundland, in modern-day Canada (Have Fun With History).

The Great Schism (1054 AD)

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National Geographic writes that, on 16th July 1054, “Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius was excommunicated, starting the “Great Schism” that created the two largest denominations in Christianity—the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths.” The impacts of this division still affect our modern world.

The Crusades (1096-1291 AD)

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A call to arms by Pope Urban II in November 1095 stated that any Christian who traveled to Jerusalem to ‘liberate’ the Holy Land from its Muslim rulers would receive a full penance (The History Channel). This single proclamation sparked a series of religious battles that brought violence to the Middle East for centuries.

The Black Death (1347-1351)

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One of the deadliest pandemics in human history, the bubonic plague spread rapidly from Asia to Europe via fleas infesting the rats inhabiting trading ships. Britannica reports that roughly a third of all Europeans (25 million people) died from plague between 1347 and 1400.

The Fall of Constantinople (1453)

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According to Heritage Daily, the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans marked the end of the Byzantine Empire, effectively ending the Roman Empire as well. Originally named for its founder, Emperor Constantine, in 330 AD, it is now modern-day Istanbul, the capital of Turkey.

The Haitian Revolution (1791-1803 AD)

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The Haitian Revolution resulted in the world’s first successful slave revolt and the founding of the nation of Haiti. Blackpast explains that “Enslaved people initiated the rebellion in 1791, and by 1803, they had succeeded in ending not just slavery but French control over the colony.” 

The Battle of Plassey (1757 AD)

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The National Army Museum states that The Battle of Plassey involved troops of the British East India Company against the last Nawab of Bengal on 23rd June 1757. Victory for the British marked a turning point in Indian history, paving the way to complete colonial control under the British Empire.

The Opium Wars (1839-1860 AD)

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This term refers to two wars sparked by trade disputes between China and Britain, mainly due to Britain’s strong desire to expand their trade in the opiate-based drug opium. China’s defeat was a lasting source of humiliation and anger and resulted in the British acquiring the territory of Hong Kong. 

The Spanish-American War (1898 AD)

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According to The History Channel, this short war resulted in the end of Spanish colonial rule in the Americas and led to the United States acquiring new territories in the western Pacific and Latin America, including Guam, the Philippines, Cuba, and Costa Rica.

The Balfour Declaration (1917 AD)

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Lord Walter Rothschild declared on 2nd November 1917 that the British supported “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” This single event sparked the Arab-Israeli conflict and violent unrest that is still going on to this day (the BBC).

The Taft-Hartley Act (1947 AD)

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This legislation significantly impacted labor relations in the United States by reducing the powers that unions had been granted by the Wagner Act in 1935. After WW2, republican majorities in Congress helped pass the bill under a political climate of fear and “anti-union” rhetoric.

The Suez Crisis (1956 AD)

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Imperial War Museums report that, in November 1956, President Nasser of Egypt attempted to nationalize the Suez Canal Company, much to the horror of Britain, France, and Israel, who combined their militaries and responded. With subsequent political pressure from the US, they withdrew.

The Camp David Accords (1978)

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This peace treaty signed between Israel and Egypt is the only accord ever signed between Israel and any of the Arab nations surrounding it. The agreement was mediated by US President Jimmy Carter and is named after his retreat in Maryland, where negotiations took place.

The Rwandan Genocide (1994)

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The Rwandan Genocide was a mass killing planned by the majority Hutu population, whose extremists orchestrated the murder of 800,000 people over the course of 100 days. Targets were the minority Tutsi population and anyone else who opposed them, prompting 2 million Rwandans to flee their country.


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