A. P. European History Guidelines for Writing an Essay You will frequently be asked to respond to writing prompts in this course. These exercises in writing are intended to prepare you for success on the ap exam

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A.P. European History – Guidelines for Writing an Essay
You will frequently be asked to respond to writing prompts in this course. These exercises in writing are intended to prepare you for success on the AP exam.
Your essay should contain an opening paragraph, which includes the following sentences: a hook, overview, thesis, and themes. The opening should be followed by, at least two supporting paragraphs and a concluding paragraph, which restates the thesis.

  • Always write in third person. That means no “I, we, you, your, us, or our”

  • Always write in past tense. You are writing about people and events from the past – thus past tense.

  • Never introduce a new thought/idea in the concluding paragraph.

  • Do not use numerical adverbs like “firstly or secondly; do use first or second

  • Do not use big fancy words when simple words will do.

  • Do not use contractions

  • Do not abbreviate.

Sample Essay Question and Response Outline

Topic: How did the French Revolution embody the ideas of the Enlightenment?
Opening Paragraph
Hook: Despite its being the most powerful nation in continental Europe, France in the 18th century was still a medieval country, politically, socially, and economically.
Overview: Ironically, France became the center of the Enlightenment in Europe. Enlightenment thinkers promoted ideas of progress and natural law in all aspects of society.
Thesis: Enlightenment writers deeply influenced proponents of the Revolution who, in turn, incorporated their ideas in the various governments of the Revolution.
Themes: These ideas, and their influence, can be seen in the writings of Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire.
Paragraph Two: Theme One -- Montesquieu and the National Assembly
In the Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu argued for a constitutional monarchy and a liberal government. He argued that division of powers among the nobles, the monarchy, and the representatives of the cities should replace the Old Regime. The National Assembly, dominated by the bourgeoisie of the Third Estate agreed with the idea of a separation of powers between the king and the legislature, although the bourgeoisie disagreed with the idea of power being returned to the nobles. To this end the National Assembly framed the Constitution of 1791, which created a constitutional monarchy which shared powers with a unicameral legislature composed of men of wealth, but not necessarily of noble birth. The king’s powers were severely limited; the king only having the power to delay the enactment of a law passed by the Legislative Assembly.
Paragraph Three: Theme Two -- Rousseau and the Republic
In his Social Contract, Rousseau expressed several republican views. He suggested that to have freedom, people must control their own government, that to avoid religious persecution Christianity should be replaced by a civil religion, and that force might be legitimately be used to bring about freedom – a strong government might be needed to express the “general will.” These ideas would adopted by the First Republic and carried out by their instrument of terror the Committee of Public Safety. To insure the freedom of all, male citizens could vote and were eligible to serve in the National Convention. Churches were closed and Notre Dame became the Temple of Reason. The Committee of Public Safety send thousands to the guillotine in their belief that they were protecting the revolution and enforcing the will of the people.
Paragraph Four: Theme Three – Voltaire and Napoleon
Voltaire in his many works argued for “enlightened absolutism.” He suggested that an efficient, organized state was the best design to bring about “progress,” a key idea of the enlightenment. He believed that a centralized state was not necessarily a threat to freedom. Quite the contrary, Voltaire suggested an enlightened ruler might increase freedom by reducing the power of the Church and the Parlements, the independent French courts. Napoleon was attracted to Voltaire’s updating of Plato’s philosopher-king concept. Napoleon believed he was bringing “scientific” government to France and to Europe. Napoleon’s use of the plebiscite had not been contemplated by Voltaire, nor would Napoleon’s military campaigns have been approved of by Voltaire.
Paragraph Five: Conclusion
The Revolution cannot be considered simply as the playing out of different philosophies; however the ideas and the discourses of the Revolution can be found in the thoughts Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire. By examining the various governments of the Revolution, it is clear that the ideas of these philosophers influence the actions taken by these governments.
Writing tips


The use of transitional phrases helps to clarify the meaning and guide the reader from point to point throughout the essay. Additionally they provide the appearance of organization.

Some helpful phrases follow:
To clarify a sequence of events: first, second, third, next, finally, last
To show a similar relationship: similarly, in like manner, likewise
To point out a dissimilarity: in opposition to, in contrast to, on the other hand
To emphasize a point: indeed, in fact, surely, certainly
To show or point out a result: consequently, as a result, therefore, hence
To summarize a position: in summation, finally, in conclusion, in short
To illustrate a point: for example, by way of illustration, for instance
To contrast a position: on the otherhand, however, but, yet, despite, although
To record time: now, gradually, later, eventually, immediately, at once, at this point, next, afterward, soon, then
Essay Question for the Renaissance

Directions: Select one of the following questions, and write a response in essay format. Remember you need an introduction of at least four sentences – hook, overview, thesis, themes. Essay should be typed with 1 inch margins, in Arial or Times New Roman font, size 12. This essay is a test grade.
Due: Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    1. To what extent is Machiavelli’s philosophy about human nature representative of Renaissance thought? Be sure to discuss his main ideas as noted in The Prince.

    2. Compare and contrast the Italian and Northern Renaissance. Give examples from art, literature, and general philosophy.

    3. Define the term, “humanism” as it applied to the Renaissance and discuss its influence on philosophy, education and history.

    4. The major characteristic in the development of the ‘new monarchies’ was the expansion of central government authority in the areas of economic, political, military, and religious policy.” Evaluate the success of two of the following in displaying these characteristics: Louis XI, Henry VII, or Ferdinand and Isabella.

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