Friday, October 24, 2008

Yorkist or Tudor Revolution: document suggestions

I have had queries on how to use the documents. Well, let's say that you have one historian (Bernard, probably) who says that it was really monarchs (he would say Henry VIII) that had all the cards and all the power and there was no bunch of bureaucrats doing the modernization (and, thus, there was not much modernization). Whereas another (Elton?) says that it was Cromwell (and all the bureaucrats) who brought in change. Well, then, do you have documents where people worry much about what a king (Henry VII, Henry VIII) thinks, how he acts, even what he likes/dislikes? Those would support that first view, yes? But are there others about Wolsey and others that suggests that power and innovation lies somewhere else than the king? In courts, and bureaucrats? Those would support the second view. And what about statutes? They are signed by the king, but passed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Which sort of centralization is that? You see that we have changed the question slightly from Henry vs. Thomas, to a wider one. But that is ok; ultimately you want a wide enough question that allows you to draw from a sizable number of documents to answer. We could have also discussed documents based on the debate that there was no change vs. that there was innovation and centralization. As to HOW you use the documents, well you have to find quotes in the documents that relate to your debate, quote them, and then show (a sentence or two) how that quote is related to your argument. Context is useful but only where it advances your argument (don't get bogged down in authors' biographies).

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