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History 266: World History from the Renaissance to Imperialism

Essay Questions and Criteria

Five short essays will be assigned during this session. Below are the questions for this session's essays. You are expected to express your reaction and answer the question given for each due date in a the equivalent form of a typed,and double spaced paper at least two but not more than three pages in length. The lowest two scores of the four essays will be dropped. Each essay will be worth 50 points for a total of 150 points toward the course grade. Each essay will be due by E-MAIL to by 12:00 PM on the day stated in the syllabus. Only those who can show that they have no possible access to a computer will be allowed to turn in a hard copies of the essay. No essays will be accepted after this deadline and there are no makeups.

1st Essay Questions (due September 17/18). Choose one.

 1) What did Cortes find the most admirable about the Aztecs and their capital? When comparing his description with his eventual role in the destruction of that civilization, how do you explain his attitude?  Does his view differ at all from that of Pizzaro or Da Gama regarding non-Europeans?

 2) How do the Venetians measure state power in their memorandum.  How does their ratings and statistics compare to what your secondary authors (Roberts and Braudel) say about the European powers in the Fifteenth century?

3) What does Nicolo Machiavelli say about how princes should execute power in his time?  How do his views differ from earlier medieval principles?  How do they compare with modern views of the nature of political power?  What does Burkhardt say about Machiavelli and his view of the Renaissance state?

 4)  What elements of Petrarch's description of his ascent of Mount Ventoux would you consider medieval in their outlook?  What elements would you consider modern?  What is the role of antiquity in Petrarch description?  In Burkhardt's view, what is Petrarch's outlook--classical, medieval or modern?

5) According to the documents on the Reformation, what did Luther and the German Protestants object to in the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th Century?  How did Catholic church respond to and address these objections at the Council of Trent?

6) According to the sources on the web, did the wars of religion have much to do about religion?  In particular, what do the excerpts from the adventures of Simplicissimus say about the causes of the conflicts and the motivations of their combatants?

 7) Judging from your perusal of the Ottoman fermans, how much power did the Ottoman Sultan have over his subjects.  Is their a difference in content and purpose in between those firmans issued in the 16th and 17th centuries and those of the 18th century.  Do the firmans substantiate or repudiate what your secondary authors (Roberts and Braudel) say about the power and authoriy of the Sultans in those eras?

8)  According to the Third Rome theory of the monk Filothei, from where does the Muscovite Tsar derive his authority.  How does the nature of his sovereignty differ from that of western European monarchs?  From a brief study of the Ulozhenie of 1649, how much authority and power do you see the tsar having over his subjects?  How does this power compare to that of the Ottoman Sultan and western European monarchs?

2nd Essay Questions (due October 10/11). Choose one.

1) What does Thomas Hobbes say about the nature of state power? What is its purpose from where does this power derive.

2) How were the rights of the Huguenots of France abridged and eventually revoked? Use primary sources to describe this process. [ Cardinal Richelieu's Testament and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes]

3) What does Saint-Simon, de Savigne, and Orleáns say about the the court of Louis XIV? Was Versailles maintained for opulence's sake or do you perceive a political purpose behind its maintanance?

4)  How did Colbert view the finances of the Kingdom of France? How did he reform them in oder to maintain Louis XIV's court and goverment.

5) Compare and contrast social conditions in England in the 16th century with France of the 17th century, as described in the source readings.

6) From your reading of the primary and secondary sources, how do you believe that disparate events in the textile industry, the invention of the steam engine, and the application of machinery, contributed to the industrial revolution in 18th Century England?

7) From your perspective, how does John Locke's views on the origin and puropose of state power differ from that of Thomas Hobbes.

8) What does Montesquieu say about the nature of European government in the Persian letters and The Spirit of the Laws ? How does his view of the purpose and nature of government relate to Hobbes and Locke?

3rd Essay Questions (due November 7/8). Choose one.

1)  Compare and contrast the primary documents (declarations) of the American and French Revolutions? What do you believe they say about the similarities and differencence in these political upheavals?

2) What elements do you perceive in Napoleon's personality that made him a charismatic leader in both military and political affairs? Use the primary and seconmdary sources sources on Napoleon to explain your views.

3) How do the primary sources describe living and working conditions in the towns and factories of England in the Early 19th Century? Is it surprizing to you that movements such as Chartism, Socialsim and Marxism arose in this era?

4) Compare and contrast the views of the Chartists and Louis Blanc on the one hand and Marx and Engels on the other hand on the role of the industrial works in the political process. What do they advocate as a means to improve the conditions and status of the laboring class?

5) How do the Erfurt Manifesto, Edouard Bernstein and Vladimir Lenin differ in their strategies to bring about the "revolution" (the ascendency of the working class)? Support your answer with quotations from the primary sources.

6) What was the theory of nationality and nationalism as described by Fichte for the Germans and by Mazzini for the Italians? How was Nationalism applied by the Hungarians, Croats and Serbs within the Habsburg Empire?

7) How does state power mesh with nationalism in Bismarck's Prussia/Germany? According to Bismarck and Engles, what role does the Prussian state and military play in the unification of Germany? How do they affect the development of individual rights and popular sovereignty?

8) Why did the emancipation of the serfs open up a Pandora's box of problems in the Russian countryside? According to Kovalevksy, what was the nature of the peasants' status, land tenure, and relation to the village commune prior to and after the emancipation?

9) Compare and contrast Morfill's with Roberts' and Braudel's descriptions of Russia in the late 19th and early 20th Century. How does hindsight, or the lack of it, affect their views. Cite specific examples.

4th Essay Questions (due July 29). Choose one.

1) What do Creasey and al-Jabarti say about movements toward modernization in the Middle East in the early 19th Century? How does Creasy view Mahmud II failures and successes? What does al-Jabarti think of Muhammad Ali's efforts to collect revenue?

2) According to Pears, what were the long-term and immediate causes of the Young Turk Revolution? What potential problems do you see in the implementation of the principles of the revolution?

3) Compare and contrast the views of Roy and Bentinck on Suttee in India. Do their descriptions support the view held by many contemporary anthropologists that traditional cultures ought to be left alone (à la the Prime Directive in Star Trek )?

4) Does Wheeler's account of the 1857 Indian Revolt confirms Godbole's views that the British "used the history of India as a tool for demoralizing the natives"?

5) How do Chien Lung and Lin Ts-hsu view the west and its culture? How do western ideas influence the Taiping leaders?

6) Compare and contrast the Chinese and Western descriptions of the Boxer rebellion. Which one tells you the most about the origins and course of the rebellion?

7) Why did the reforms in Japan described by Prince Ito succeed, while those attempted by Emperor Kuang Hsü in China fail. Support your position using the sources.

5th Essay Questions (due December 3/4). Choose one.

1) According to Bulatovich, how was the Ethiopian army organized armed and trained in the 1890's? Why was it able to defeat the Italian army at Adowa? Conversely, why were the Zulu's able to defeat a British force at Isandhlwana in 1879?

2) According to the French document on Algerian, how were native troops used to support European colonial regimes in Africa?

3) The October Manifesto of 1905 and Fundamental Law of 1906 supposedly transformed Russia from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. In reading these documents, especially the 1906 Law, how complete was this transformation?

4) According to the primary sources what were the relations of native peoples (Maoris and Aboriginies) with the British government and settlers in New Zealand and Australia?

5) What do the sources of Bolivar, Juarez and Ayala have in common in theme and substance? What do they have in common with European revolutionary political documents and writings of the same times?

6) Compare and contrast the U.S. Constitution of 1787 with the British North America Act of 1867 and the Mexican Constitution of 1917. Are the differerences brought about by different historical experiences or a different time of promulgation?

7) What do the diplomatic documents say about the nature of great power relationships and imperial ambitions in the 19th and early twentieth century? Why did the European powers form competing alliances?

8) What do the Laws of War and von Bernhardi tells about attitudes toard war and the use of military force before World War I?

Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria for the Essays:

1. Coverage of Subject: Be sure that your essay directly addresses the question. Fully answer the question without side issues or repetition. Make a significant effort to fully cover and reiterate the question or topic of the essay in the conclusion. (10 points)
2. Analysis: The focus on the question should be maintained thoughout the essay. Points and/or subtopics should be clearly conceived, presented and discussed. Be sure to present your own view as well as the view of the sources. (10 points)
3. Content: The information you present to subtantiate points and topics ought to be accurate and clearly presented. The facts and the interpretation of those facts that you offer in the essay should contribute evidence to the general arguments you present. Do not make assertions in your paper without backing them up with evidence from the sources. (10 points) 
4. Organization and Form: Your essay should be composed in a clear and logical manner. If your essay is a narrative essay, events should be covered in a clear chronological outline. If your essay is analytical or descriptive, your points should be presented in a logical sequence which enhances your general argument. Make certain that your essay has an introductory statement, a body of evidence, and a conclusion. (10 points) 
5. Writing and mechanics: The writing style of your essay should be clear and concise. Your essay should be written in proper English and addressed the prospective audience of educated lay people. Be sure that each paragraph leads logically into the other and that all terms, events, people and other items are adequately defined. Be certain that all information is properly documented. Make sure that you follow the fundamentals of paragraphing, sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Be certain that you have maintained proper margins and form. Have your essay carefully proofread for mechanics, organization, continuity, and transition. (10 points)


1. Pertinance and coverage: __________ Out of 10
2. Analysis: __________ Out of 10
3. Content:  __________ Out of 10
4. Organization & Form:  __________ Out of 10
5. Writing & Mechanics: __________ Out of 10
TOTAL __________ OUT OF 50