On this day in 1881, the messianic leader Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah was proclaimed as the Mahdi and went on to create a vast state extending from the Red Sea to the middle of Africa. This week’s quiz is all about charismatic leaders.

Leading lights

1 In 1425, in the village of Domrémy, which 13-year-old did the Catholic saints, Michael, Catherine and Margaret, reportedly speak to? The event had a huge impact on European history.

2 Most of the legends about this leader are from an epic poem, The Acts and Deeds of Sir ____ ________, Knight of Ellerlsie written by a minstrel named Blind Harry. His country’s nationalists commemorated him with a monument in 1869 on a hilltop overlooking the city of Stirling. Name this hero, immortalised in an award-winning film of the ’90s?

3 Crixus, Gannicus, Castus and Oenomaus were four of the five main rebel leaders in the Third Servile War against the Roman Republic. Who was the fifth and most famous leader?

4 Which Indian leader was known as Dharti Aba, literally “the father of the Earth” by his followers and battled the British successfully before being captured at a forest in Chakradharpur in 1900?

5 When this leader was 10 years old, a trader brought his father a horse that no one could mount. He managed to tame the horse and, many years later, named a city after it. Name the leader and the horse.

6 A history teacher at a French-speaking academy with no military training, this general came to be known as Red Napoleon for managing to defeat two Western powers in the 20th century. Name the man.

7 Who led her people in a devastating attack on the Roman forces in AD 61, after her daughters were denied their share of the kingdom following the death of her husband, Prasutagus?

8 Joanna Nobilis Sombre started as a nautch girl and went on to become the ruler of Sardhana in the late-18th century, thanks to an army inherited from her husband, European mercenary Walter Sombre. By what name is she better known in Indian history?

9 Which charismatic general from second century BC was so feared by the Romans that whenever disaster struck, the senators would exclaim “_______ ante portas”, literally meaning that this person was at the gates? They even built his statues in Rome.

10 Which Indian military and religious leader was killed in 1708 by two Afghans — Jamshed Khan and Wasil Beg — who secretly entered his camp and stabbed him, allegedly on the orders of Wazir Khan, the governor of Sirhind?


1 Jeanne d’Arc, better known as Joan of Arc, who led the French to many victories in the 100 Years’ War

2 William Wallace, also known as Braveheart

3 Spartacus

4 Birsa Munda. The Ranchi airport is named after him

5 Alexander and Bucephalus, literally meaning ‘ox head’

6 General Nguyen Giap, who was the main strategist for the Vietnam People’s Army

7 Boudica, also known as Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni

8 Begum Samru, regarded as the only Roman Catholic ruler in India

9 Hannibal, the Carthaginian

10 Guru Gobind Singh

Joy Bhattacharjya is a quizmaster;

Twitter: @joybhattacharj