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How to write a DBQ Essay. DBQ Document Based Question. Thesis Statements .

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How to write a DBQ Essay

  • DBQ

    • Document Based Question


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Thesis Statements

  • Although it can be argued that the political motivations eventually made the split between Henry/Luther and the Church irreconcilable, both initially left for personal reasons, such as legal disputes for Luther and the lack of a male heir for Henry.



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  • Foundation of a good thesis statement? self-interest, he and Luther both had political reasons for leaving the Church.

    • A good thesis statement…

      • …answers the question

      • …is supported by evidence

      • …is precise

      • …previews broad points of your argument

      • …is arguable (in other words, it isn’t simply a statement of fact)


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Progression of Thesis Statement #1 self-interest, he and Luther both had political reasons for leaving the Church.

  • The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different.


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Progression of Thesis Statement #2 against tyranny and oppression, Northerners focused on preserving the Union while Southerners defended their own rights to property and self-government.

  • Martin Luther didn’t like Catholic Church practices including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.


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  • Introductory Paragraph conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • 4-6 Sentences

    • Establish

      • Time & Place

    • Thesis Statement

      • Clear

      • Bold your thesis statement

        • Underline in handwritten essays

    • Allude to

      • Subtopics

    • Focus on the question


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  • The Middle Paragraphs conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • 8-12 sentences per paragraph

    • Identify subtopic in the first sentence

      • Hand written essays

        • Leave a space between each topical paragraph

    • Include documents that are relevant to support your ideas in the paragraph

    • Use the documents given

      • 70%

    • Indicate

      • Point of View (POV)

        • Write (POV) in handwritten essays

      • Bias

    • Use supportive outside information

    • Why were these documents selected?


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  • Facts conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • Names

      • Erasmus

    • Dates

      • October 31,

    • Terms

    • Events

    • Places

    • Movements

      • Humanism


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Questions to Ask Yourself About the Documents conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

  • Attribution

    • Who is this person?

  • Why might they be significant?

  • What is the point of view of the author?

  • How reliable and accurate is the source?

  • What is the tone or intent of the author?

  • What other information does this document call to mind?

  • Use all available clues


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Demonstrating POV/Bias conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

  • Attribution

    • Cite the author by

      • Name

      • Title

      • Position

    • Why is this person and document selected?

    • How does it help me answer the question?


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  • Examples: conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • John Tyler, an English writer said, “…

    • A Dominican Monk in Florence described…


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  • Authorial Point of View conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • Show awareness that aspects of the author could influence their views.

      • Gender

      • Occupation

      • Social class

      • Nationality

      • Political position

    • How does this apply to the question?

    • Why has the author written what they have?


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  • Example: conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • BalthasarRusow, a Lutheran pastor, was naturally upset by the celebration of a Saint’s Day, since Lutherans don’t venerate saints.


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  • Reliability and accuracy of each source referenced conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • You examine a source for its reliability and accuracy by questioning if the author of the document would be in a position to be accurate.

    • How might this help you answer your question?


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  • Example: conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • Niccolo Machiavelli’s book on the political tactics of a Renaissance prince was probably accurate as he observed the behavior of the prince, Cesare Borgia, for many years.


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  • Tone or Intent of the Author conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • You examine the text of a document to determine its tone (satire, irony, indirect commentary, etc.) or the intent of the author. Especially useful for visual documents, like art work or political cartoons.


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  • Example: conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • In his great sculpture of “David,” Michelangelo wanted to convey the confidence, and even arrogance, of Renaissance Florence at the peak of its cultural influence in 16 Century Europe.


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  • Grouping Documents by author: conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • You show an awareness that certain types of authors, simply by their authorship, will express similar views when you group documents by type of author.


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  • Example: conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

    • As Northern Renaissance humanists, Erasmus, Sir Thomas More, and Cervantes all poked fun at the foibles and scandals of late medieval society as well as of their own.


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How to Reference a Document in Your Essay conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

  • Baldassare Castiglione, in The Handbook of the Courtier, said: “………………….”

  • Erasmus of Rotterdam, a northern Christian humanist, agreed with…

  • The 19th century historian, Jacob Burkhardt, felt that …………………. (Doc. 9)

  • NEVER begin with: In Document 3, …..


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Concluding Paragraph conflict, the core cause of the Reformation included heavily criticized practices of the Catholic Church including simony, nepotism, and the selling of indulgences.

  • Conclusion

    • 3-4 Sentences

    • Start with a concluding phrase

    • Restate your thesis in a different way

    • Put your essay answer in a larger historical perspective.

      • End of some trend/movement/idea, etc.

      • Beginning of some trend/movement/idea, etc.

      • End of one & beginning of another.

      • Do NOT end on the note that this is the reason we are where we are today!


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