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Writing an Introduction

Writing an Introduction

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Published by Nick Shepley

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Published by: Nick Shepley on Jul 23, 2013
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www.explaininghistory.com
 
Explaining History
The most important part of the essay
How to write an introduction to a history essay:a five minute guide
1)
What is the point of an intro?
 The point of an introduction is toanswer the question briefly, tosay what you think (what youthink needs to be backed up bythe evidence to prove it). Your first job in any introduction is toestablish a line of argument,which shows the examiner exactly how you are respondingto the question and it stops youfrom rambling and saying 'stuff'.If the question is ‘
To what extent was Henry VII the most modernising of the early Tudor Monarchs?
’ The focus of thequestion is on the
To WhatExtent
bit. It is implicit in thequestion that the answer is mostlikely to be ‘to a greater or lesser extent’ and the question is invitingyou to demonstrate your  judgement and your ability toevaluate.2) What components are there toan intro? There are 3 parts, apreamble, a thesis and astatement of methodology, shownhere all together, and then brokendown below“When Henry VII came to thethrone he inherited a bankruptfeudal kingdom and only had thestructures of government leftbehind from the reign of RichardIII. By his death in 1509 Henry VIIhad created modern governmentin Britain, tamed the nobility andbuilt an effective tax system, so itcan be easily argued that he wasan important moderniser. In thisquestion I will argue that he wasin fact the most importantmoderniser of the dynasty, andthat the achievements duringHenry VIII’s reign were largely thework of effective ministers andnot Henry himself. In answeringthis question I will examine thefinancial, legal and foreignpolicies of Henry VII, Henry VIIIand Edward VI."
Building the Intro
Preamble: Here I am not trying tosay anything controversial or new, I am introducing the essayby saying something most peoplealready tend to know. Why?Because in a moment I willpresent my argument and thatshould contrast nicely with thepreamble:"
When Henry VII came to thethrone he inherited a bankrupt feudal kingdom and only had thestructures of government left behind from the reign of Richard III. By his death in 1509 Henry VII had created modern government in Britain, tamed the nobility and built an effective tax system, so it 
don't have the evidence to makeit stand up. So it...
THE THREEPILLARS OF ANINTRODUCTION
1PREAMBLE
Before you launch into theargument, create a little bit of context or ‘story’ to place yourargument in.
2LINE OF ARGUMENT
Set out what it is you are actuallytrying to argue or say, whatdirection is your essay going in? If you don’t know the answer tothis question, it’s a sign that youneed to go and read morearound the subject.
3METHODOLOGY
Showing how you intend tosupport your line of argument,what issues the essay willexplore.
INVESTOR NEWSLETTER ISSUE N°3
FALL 2009
 
www.explaininghistory.com
The Argument:
Introductionscontinued:
 
can be easily argued that he wasan important moderniser. In thisquestion I will argue that he wasin fact the most importantmoderniser of the dynasty, andthat the achievements duringHenry VIII’s reign were largely thework of effective ministers and notHenry himself. In answering thisquestion I will examine thefinancial, legal and foreignpolicies of Henry VII, Henry VIIIand Edward VI."Preamble: Here I am not trying tosay anything controversial or new,I am introducing the essay bysaying something most peoplealready tend to know. Why?Because in a moment I willpresent my argument and thatshould contrast nicely with thepreamble:"
When Henry VII came to thethrone he inherited a bankrupt feudal kingdom and only had thestructures of government left behind from the reign of Richard III. By his death in 1509 Henry VII had created modern government in Britain, tamed the nobility and built an effective tax system, so it can be easily argued that he wasan important moderniser" 
Line of Argument: Here is where Ishow the examiner 
what
it isexactly that I really think, and Iwill select a line of argument that Iknow I can support and sustainthroughout the essay, there's nopoint trying to argue somethingoutrageously controversial if Idon't have the evidence to makeit stand up.
"In this question I will argue that he was in fact the most important moderniser of the dynasty, and that the achievements during Henry VIII’s reign were largely thework of effective ministers and not Henry himself." 
Methodology: This is the part of the introduction where you showhow you will work prove your argument, it is as useful to you asit is to the examiner, it stops youwandering miles off topic andmakes you questionwhether what you are saying is strictlyrelevant.
"In answering this question I will examine the financial, legal and foreign policies of Henry VII,Henry VIII and Edward VI." 
3) This is an easy structure for showing an examiner andreminding yourself about whatyou are doing, it means that youdon’t go off talking aboutirrelevant things that are notstrictly related to the answering of the question. The examiner doesnot want to know what yougenerally know about the Tudor Monarchs, he wants to assessyour ability to look at a questionand construct an argument thatwill match it.4) If you look at the thesis in themiddle of the intro, it addressesthe pivotal part of the question, itaddresses the extent and gives acoherent answer, it says: “Henry
HENRY VII
WHAT IS THERE TO SAYABOUT HIM?
When you are starting to write anessay, you might want to simply ask this question: what, if anything, isthere to say on this person orevent? The trick isn’t to simply listfacts but to identify areas of debate, what is there worthdiscussing about Henry VII? Fromhere you can think about whatactually has been discussed abouthim and who has done thediscussing!
EXPLAINING HISTORY
 JULY 2013

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