History Personal Statement Example 21

My first memory of studying History came in year 6 when answering a question about the Peasant's Revolt of 1381. I remarked that "Nobody died for 10 years"; even though wrong, I feel that this simple mistake was the beginning of my keen interest in History. In a sense it opened my eyes for the first time to the intricacies of the subject, and the danger of generalisations about the past. The more one investigates the subject, the more complex it can become, so definite answers are invariably elusive.

I am particularly interested in the early modern period of History, with its conspiracies, complex church-state relationships and foreign policy intrigues. I have enjoyed studying Henry VIII, especially the views of Elton and Gwyn, who often fundamentally disagree with each other with regard to Henrician government. Elton, for example, argues that Wolsey's interest in the church remained stubbornly financial, and that he was acting purely in his own and the King's interests. Gwyn, however, states that his domestic reforms were beneficial, with Wolsey acting primarily in the interests of England as a whole. In this case I tend to find myself agreeing more with the ideas expressed by Gwyn, who notes his faults but praising his admirable qualities.

One area I would like to investigate further is foreign policy, in particular its relationship with domestic affairs. At times foreign policy is shaped by events at home, but equally international relations can dramatically impact on the domestic agenda. In Early Modern times foreign policy was often intertwined with the need to secure dynasty, as demonstrated by Henry VII negotiating the Treaty of Windsor, which said that Edmund de la Pole was to be released by Maximilian. Recently it has acted to both accelerate and slow down social and political reforms in a domestic context.

The impact of the Vietnam War on the United States is a case in point. As the leader of the capitalist nations at the height of the Cold War, America's credibility in the eyes of the international community was of paramount importance. With the Vietnam War going disastrously wrong, and the US government increasingly fixated on extricating itself from the mess it had created, Johnson's 'Great Society' slipped away. This in turn was exploited by Civil Rights activists such as Martin Luther King, who maintained the pressure for reform by criticising Johnson's foreign policy adventures.

I have learned a lot from school trips to battlegrounds, including the Somme, Agincourt and Hastings. These battlegrounds have helped me to appreciate the overwhelming severity of war, and have ingrained in me a deep respect for those who have given their lives for their country. We visited Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world, and heard an emotional Last Post played. This poignant moment was followed by the laying of wreaths to commemorate the lives of the British. This had a profound impact on me, sensing the great loss Britain experienced.

I am active within school as a participant of the Barker society, a history lecture group. This has helped me to develop my understanding beyond the assigned curriculum. I have a strong interest in sports, especially football, rugby, and cricket, having played for the 1st XI football team at my school and the 2nd XV for rugby, whilst last year I captained the 3rd XI cricket team. I am a house prefect within my boarding house, with specific responsibility for Year 11, making sure they are feeling settled and dealing with their concerns. This role has taught me to understand the responsibilities that come with authority.

So why study history at university? Primarily it is a subject that I have always enjoyed. I hope and believe that university will give me the platform to develop my understanding in greater detail. I am ready to be pushed intellectually, and will strive to make sure that I rise to the challenges set.

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This personal statement was written by chelseadragon for application in 2007.


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