History Personal Statement
Visits to the national museums of Knightsbridge and the Smithsonian ignited my interest in history. My desire to study history was nurtured following visits to the Normandy beaches which prompted me to research the Second World War and its origins. My interests have widened to encompass economic, political and social aspects of medieval, modern European and Asian history. School study of the Crusades, concentrated on the Frankish campaigns and politics, inspired me to explore a wider Islamic perspective not covered at school. I was particularly struck by the complexity of the politics within the Levant, leading me to explore the web of state-affairs that formed the backbone of Frank-Byzantine distrust and Islamic divisions, shown by the numerous warring Caliphates and emirs.
This genuine interest generated a desire to further my historical knowledge of other cultures, particularly that of the Samurai, a culture alien to many westerners. Learning outside school, the elaborate history of the Sengoku Jidai and the Meiji Restoration particularly caught my attention. The similarities between Sengoku Jidai Japan and the Muslim Levant during the crusades stood out. For example, the first great unifiers, Nur ed Din and Oda Nobunaga, were both succeeded by their generals, Saladin and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, not their family heirs. Furthermore, the deep political fractures in the Levant and Japan kept each region in turmoil and beyond unification. How Japan became a global superpower so quickly following the Meiji Restoration and how the culture of the Samurai continued through the 20th century provides an area of ongoing study.
I am an enthusiastic reader of leading historians, such as Stephen Turnbull and Thomas Asbridge. During the course of my studies, I have also read original sources, such as The Alexiad, which provides a contrasting view to modern historical interpretations of, for example, the Byzantine view on the Frankish crusaders. Furthermore, I have heard John Guy speak on Tudor economics during a lecture tour, and visited the National Archives, seeing artefacts such as the Valor Ecclesiasticus and Henry VIII’s will.
My work experience at the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers museum, Tower of London, in 2012, deepened my ambition to study history. This intellectually stimulating week helped me to develop my knowledge of research and archiving. It also demonstrated at first hand the value of preparatory research and interview planning. Specifically, I gained particular insight into historical episodes whilst reading original material. Furthermore, my contribution to the museum’s ‘Speak to Me’ oral history project was challenging but has given me the fulfilment of helping to create a lasting historical legacy. Being at the centre of such work was truly fascinating and bolstered my passion for history, whilst adding invaluable skills for future research and study.
In February 2012 I reached the National Final in RBS’ School’s Brightest Business Brain, after finishing 6th out of over 1500 other entries. I have been a committed and reliable Deputy Managing Director of my school’s Young Enterprise team. This team won the county competition. My work ethic and reliability has been recognised with my appointments to Senior Prefect and House Captain, giving me a responsibility for hosting prospective parents around the school, organising House events and their supervision. I am currently in the Gold DofE programme with only my residential to complete.
I am the Captain of my school U19 basketball team and a senior member of the school’s successful rugby XV. All of these activities have developed my skills of organisation, team work, clear logical thinking, creativity, resilience and presentation. Intellectual curiosity and academic rigor motivates me to study history. I hope this passion will provide me with a fulfilling pathway to a future career, when I can employ the skills of historical analysis, comprehension and communication.