INVESTOR NEWSLETTER ISSUE N°3

FALL 2009

E x pl aini ng His tor y
The most important part of the essay

How to write an introduction to a history essay: a five minute guide
an important moderniser. 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 the work of effective ministers and not Henry himself. In answering this question I will examine the financial, legal and foreign policies of Henry VII, Henry VIII and Edward VI."

THE THREE PILLARS OF AN INTRODUCTION
1 PREAMBLE Before you launch into the argument, create a little bit of context or ‘story’ to place your argument in. 2 LINE OF ARGUMENT Set out what it is you are actually trying to argue or say, what direction is your essay going in? If you don’t know the answer to this question, it’s a sign that you need to go and read more around the subject. 3 METHODOLOGY Showing how you intend to support your line of argument, what issues the essay will explore.

1) What is the point of an intro? The point of an introduction is to answer the question briefly, to say what you think (what you think needs to be backed up by the evidence to prove it). Your first job in any introduction is to establish a line of argument, which shows the examiner exactly how you are responding to the question and it stops you from 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 the question is on the To What Extent bit. It is implicit in the question that the answer is most likely to be ‘to a greater or lesser extent’ and the question is inviting you to demonstrate your judgement and your ability to evaluate. 2) What components are there to an intro? There are 3 parts, a preamble, a thesis and a statement of methodology, shown here all together, and then broken down below “When Henry VII came to the throne he inherited a bankrupt feudal kingdom and only had the structures 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 was

Building the Intro

Preamble: Here I am not trying to say anything controversial or new, I am introducing the essay by saying something most people already tend to know. Why? Because in a moment I will present my argument and that should contrast nicely with the preamble:

"When Henry VII came to the throne he inherited a bankrupt feudal kingdom and only had the structures 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 make it stand up. So it...
www.explaininghistory.com

EXPLAINING HISTORY

JULY 2013

HENRY VII
WHAT IS THERE TO SAY ABOUT HIM? When you are starting to write an essay, you might want to simply ask this question: what, if anything, is there to say on this person or event? The trick isn’t to simply list facts but to identify areas of debate, what is there worth discussing about Henry VII? From here you can think about what actually has been discussed about him and who has done the discussing!

The Argument:

Introductions continued:
can be easily argued that he was an important moderniser. 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 the work of effective ministers and not Henry himself. In answering this question I will examine the financial, legal and foreign policies of Henry VII, Henry VIII and Edward VI." Preamble: Here I am not trying to say anything controversial or new, I am introducing the essay by saying something most people already tend to know. Why? Because in a moment I will present my argument and that should contrast nicely with the preamble: "When Henry VII came to the throne he inherited a bankrupt feudal kingdom and only had the structures 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 was an important moderniser" Line of Argument: Here is where I show the examiner what it is exactly that I really think, and I will select a line of argument that I know I can support and sustain throughout the essay, there's no point trying to argue something outrageously controversial if I don't have the evidence to make it 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 the work of effective ministers and not Henry himself." Methodology: This is the part of the introduction where you show how you will work prove your argument, it is as useful to you as

it is to the examiner, it stops you wandering miles off topic and makes you question whether what you are saying is strictly relevant. "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 and reminding yourself about what you are doing, it means that you don’t go off talking about irrelevant things that are not strictly related to the answering of the question. The examiner does not want to know what you generally know about the Tudor Monarchs, he wants to assess your ability to look at a question and construct an argument that will match it. 4) If you look at the thesis in the middle of the intro, it addresses the pivotal part of the question, it addresses the extent and gives a coherent answer, it says: “Henry
www.explaininghistory.com

EXPLAINING HISTORY

JULY 2013

Addressing the question
VII was the most important modernising Monarch, not only because of what he achieved, but also because the other two, Henry VIII and Edward VI’s achievements were the work of their ministers, not them.” Whether this is true or not is immaterial, what is important is the strength of your argument, if you don’t think you can argue it then don’t, pick a line of argument you are confident that you can prove. Normally one line of argument will be more popular than others because it has more evidence behind it. This is where your revision comes in handy, without adequate revision, reading around your subject and study, it will be very difficult to create a solid thesis. Was that useful? I hope it was, I’ve tried to condense everything I’ve done in the classroom to give students the bare essentials on building and structuring an argument for a solid essay. You can explore modern history further at www.explaininghistory.com a website dedicated to the 20th Century, with ebooks, podcasts and resources for all your needs.

www.explaininghistory.com

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