History Personal Statement
“I have conquered an empire but I have not been able to conquer myself.”
This quote by Peter I came to mind when I had to write this statement because is sums up my interest in History; here a great leader of men expresses his human weakness. My interest in Peter the Great came through a school trip to Russia which included the fantastic city of St Petersburg. This adventure more than any other left me with a passion for history and gave me a desire to study it further. This trip also led me to investigate Peter I as part of work for an Extended Project Qualification. As part of this I was lucky enough to experience independent research in Nottingham University library. Here I enjoyed getting to the bottom of the myths that surround Peter I; finding out about his weaknesses as well as his strengths. Lindsey Hughes and the way she challenged the classical view about the reign of Peter the Great. Although I disagree with Peter I that he conquered an empire, I’m still intrigued to know what it was about himself he couldn’t tame. This experience has let me truly appreciate the enjoyment of studying something just out of curiosity.
Having studied a broad range of history from as the start of the Crusades in 1095 to modern life in the Nazi state, to its fall in 1945 has given me a basis to understand the links and recurring themes in different centuries. For example studying both Bismarck and Charles I this year has made me see parallels between absolutist policy and a belief in the divine right of Kings. I also saw this kind of absolutism under Peter I of Russia in my EPQ when he ruled autocratically above the muscovite senate. Another recurring theme I have seen is the effects of a lack of religious tolerance, whether in the Holocaust in Germany or the massacre of Jerusalem in 1099 by the Crusaders. I have enjoyed studying the major figures in history and the impact that they had on the course of history, for instance Bismarck and his role in the unification of Germany and I agree with Bruce Waller that the constitutional design was his.
Whilst History is my favourite subject and I was delighted that my A grade at AS level means I can apply for history at University, My other A-level subjects have also broadened me academically. In geography I achieved the highest mark in my year at AS. I was most interested in the social aspects of this subject and was drawn to topics that explained how aspects of Geography have changed over time. Maths has opened my mind to different types of concepts and has made me look at things logically and analytically which has been a skill I’ve used to help me achieve the grades I need in my A levels. However maths has also been a challenge because the answers do not always come easily. But with hard work and determination I managed to achieve the A grade I needed so that I could go forward to apply for a history course at a top University.
So what else has made me the person I am today and how would I describe myself? Above all I am someone who likes to join in. Being diagnosed at 12 with Type I diabetes has never limited my horizons and it has just been a challenge to overcome. I have appeared in drama productions (including as a policeman, the grim reaper and a dancing bear) and have worked my way up through the ranks to Seargent in the CCF. I was Head of House in year eleven, managing house events and building a team of all different ages. I have worked my way up to the 1st XV rugby team this season and went on tour to Canada. I am working towards my Gold Duke of Edinburgh award and am Vice Chair of the Academic Forum, helping to choose the wide range of topics to be discussed. Looking at these achievements the theme is working with others. I have enjoyed stretching myself and getting involved in a broad range of activities and find myself ready now to go to University, confident to take on this new challenge and to meet new people.