[DBQ] Drafting Your Response

This week students can practice drafting a response to a DBQ. I recommend that students outline their arguments before writing, but this outline can be very brief. We will use the early modern empires DBQ (click here) which presents this prompt:

Evaluate the extent to which rulers of early modern empires, c. 1450 - c. 1750, used traditional methods to consolidate their power.

Your task:

  1. Outline arguments you would make, using LESS than a full sentence for each
  2. List, but DO NOT describe, evidence, both documents and outside evidence
  3. Write a thesis based on these arguments, which could be a revision of what you wrote last week if you participated

AP World Cram students can join the Cram Session on 5/12 to discuss this practice activity.

Here’s an example of this process for a Mongol DBQ that we used earlier.

  1. Violent disruption: Doc 2, destruction of Baghdad
  2. Did not change Eurasian societies: Docs 3, 4, 5; Il Khanate
  3. Mongol cultural curiosity and tolerance: Doc 1, Buddhism

Initially Mongol states disrupted Eurasian societies through violent conquest, but, in the long term Mongol states did not change Eurasian societies. Mongol rulers tolerated and sometimes even adopted the cultures of the societies that they conquered.

Important notes:

  • Paragraph- or essay-length responses will NOT receive feedback. This is an outline activity

  • Use the Early Modern Empires DBQ. No Mongols! There are outside the time frame.

How to Submit
Reply to this thread with a list of claims and supporting evidence, plus a thesis.

Deadline for submission:
May 5th, 2020 → May 9th, 2020
Responses submitted after the deadline are not guaranteed a response (unless you’re a cram student)

Feel free to give other students feedback, too!

Thesis: Although wealth and religious ideals were essential traditional methods to early modern empires, methods like increased trade and advancements in the military were more commonly used to consolidate power in the period of 1450 to 1750.


  • for outside evidence: Janissaries (either for document 2 or 4), and Safavids
    -Gunpowder Empires
    -Industrial Revolution
    -group documents 2 and 4 (advancements in military)
    -group documents 1 and 3 (increased trade)
    *i’m not really sure how i can include document 5 with these arguments
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In the period circa 1450-1750, imperial rulers relied heavily on traditional methods: military might, religious justification, and artwork to strengthen sovereignty; but also utilized less established means, like trade endorsement for prosperity of the nation and its subjects.

Claim x Evidence Rambling List

  1. Military: Doc 1, Doc 2, Doc 4, 1453 Ottoman conquest of Constantinople
  2. Religion: Doc 5, Mandate of Heaven, Divine Right
  3. Endorsement of trade/expansion: Doc 3, Doc 4
  4. Artwork: Doc 2, Qing Portraits
  5. Bureaucracy: Doc 1, Civil Service Exams

I’m not sure how well some of my latter items will work out, and also on how to introduce complexity here. I had trouble especially with the Doc 3 Charter in incorporating it into the argument. Could I have some help and feedback? Thanks!


HI, @Ellipsis. Way to get right back to practicing!

You will not introduce complexity in your outline. Like sourcing, that will show up in the essay with how you discuss and connect evidence. This activity is meant to simulate the rough outline you will quickly make before writing.

You do not need to use all of the documents. If you accurately use 4 docs as evidence that will maximize your points from documents.

Keep up the good work!

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Thanks for posting first, @csofia_0405! You do not need to used all of the documents. Four documents, use correctly, is enough, especially if you combine them with outside evidence. So, no need to include document 5.

What would your two or three body paragraphs look like? You can reply to this with two or three bullet points, a phrase indicating the claim, and list of evidence (docs + outside). Note: industrialization did not start during this time period.

Keep up the good work!

Thesis: Rulers of early modern empires in the time period 1450-1750 used traditional methods such as increasing trade, expanding empires, and improving militaries to consolidate their power.

Documents Outline:
Expand empire-Doc 1 (Sultan)
Improve military- Doc 2 (Emperor Akbar) and Doc 4
Increase trade and travel- Doc 3 (East Indies) and Doc 4
Religion- Doc 5 (Attend to your duties/ Mandate of Heaven)


Although few rulers created new ways to control their conquered people such as new economic advantages in Western Europe, during the period 1450-1750, rulers used traditional methods to consolidate their power by warefare, adapting/keeping previous cultures in the Middle East and Asia, and controlling international trade as Peter the Great did when creating Russia’s manifesto in 1702.

  • Russia manifesto: doc 4; Portuguese controlling ports
    -warfare in mongol rule: doc 2
    -keeping previous customs: doc 1 and 5; mongols in Persia
  • Britain joint stock companies for counter argument, doc 3 (?)
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Thank you for your feedback and also for these structured exercises! I feel I’m becoming much more acquainted with the DBQ, it now seems feasible to tackle. :]

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Thesis: Although the rulers of early modern empires used new methods such as establishing overseas maritime colonies for trade purposes, to consolidate their power, many rulers also kept traditional methods such as using a strong military to express power and having meritocracy based and loyal bureaucratic governments.

  • New methods of oversea colonies: doc 3, Portuguese trading posts, Joint-stock companies
  • Strong Military: doc 1 (Conquest of Constantinople), doc 2, doc 4 (Peter the Great’s Westernization and Moving of Capital
  • Meritocracy: doc 1 (devshirme, Jannisaries), doc 5 (civil service exam)

You’re welcome, and I’m very happy to hear that it has been helpful. If you stay confident and keep writing, I am sure that you will excel!

Thesis: Because of their methods of consolidating power through new emerging arts and architecture, empires such as the Ottomans and Qing, greatly relied on traditional methods to consolidate power; by expanding their influence, and using art and religion to legitimize their rule and unify those in their terrain.

Paragraph 1; Expanding influence
Doc 1- Ottoman gunpowder to impress, Janissaries (merit- Persian based system)
Doc 3- Wants to also expand influence, mercantilism
Doc 4- Improve military (like Mongols had military from before) and expand trade (like Mongols)

Paragraph 2- Art+ Religion
Doc 2- devine faith, art of battle
Doc 5- Use of confucianism in Qing Empire (continuity, civil service exam)


Thesis: Although historians may argue that early modern empires did not use previous methods to consolidate power during 1450-1750, military conquests and the control of trade routes are traditional methods that empires like the Ming Dynasty used to consolidate their power in 1450-1750.

  1. the use of trade routes to expand/consolidate power: Doc 1 ( Turkish empire expanding) Doc
    3 (trade improvements in England)
    outside evidence: Portugal’s trading post empire and licensing ships

  2. military conquests: Doc 2 (battle which was the beginning of the Mughal Empire) Doc 4
    (military improvements)
    outside evidence: Safavid’s had strong land based military (they rose to power and expanded
    this way) Ghulams defeated rival clans

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Starting in 1450-1750 rulers of early modern empires shifted to a more traditional approach to consolidating their power through the use of religious arts, military conquest and increased trade.

  • Increased trade - Doc 1 : Sultan travel on trade routes and Doc 3: trading into east indies
  • Military conquest - Doc 2 : Destructive battle allowing for the formation of Mughal empire and
    outside evidence: janissaries and Ming dynasty
    Doc 4, Peter the Great
  • Religious arts - Doc 5: confucianism
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Hi @alessia-mangano!
This thesis does a good job of answering the prompt and establishing some structure that your body paragraphs could follow - nice work! One thing you might consider to strengthen it would be an adverb (“greatly” “significantly” “minimally”) to add to the answer and before you lay out the how/why in the thesis.

As you think about your body paragraphs, think about how the ideas will help develop the argument from your thesis. Your first 3 paragraphs (Docs 1-4) seem well connected - how would you use Doc. 5/religion in relation to your thesis?

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Hi @holland!
Thanks for joining us this week for the DBQ practice!

One thing I want to clarify with this DBQ is that all of these documents come from the Early Modern period (1450-1750), and none of them relate to the Mongols. It looks like you may have misinterpreted some of the documents in your outline, and that would be problematic if you wrote this essay for the exam.

The thesis is on the right track for this DBQ. It looks like you’ve set up the idea that some rulers used innovative methods (such as those in W. Europe) to consolidate power, while many others relied on traditional methods. That sounds like it could be an interesting comparison! You don’t need to refer to specific empires or documents necessarily in your thesis, though it won’t cost you on your thesis if you do.

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Hi @Sana!
This thesis sets up a strong comparison between empires that used new methods and those that relied on traditional methods. It also addresses some specific topics that match the outline of body paragraphs, which is really helpful for your planning as well as the reader following your argument. Nice work!

Each of these body paragraphs seem well-connected to your thesis, and you have some good evidence to support the topics. Which document(s) would you plan for your sourcing analysis?

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Hi @hania-timek,
Thanks for joining us again this week! Your outline shows a lot of thoughtfulness and understanding of the topic - nicely done!

The thesis here works in answering the question (I especially like the use of the adverb “greatly” to clarify your answer) and setting up the sub-topics of your body paragraphs. You actually don’t need the first part of the first sentence. If you started with “Empires such as…” the thesis would be just as strong.

These body paragraphs match the thesis, which is excellent. That makes it much easier for you to write, and easier for your reader to follow. You’ve found some interesting connections between the documents, so this would be a fun essay to read!

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Hi @oliviarichards!
I’m curious about the structure of your thesis here. The “Although historians may argue…” clause doesn’t add to your argument. It would actually be stronger to simply state that empires such as the Ming primarily (or another adverb of your choice) used traditional methods to consolidate power. Then you could specify military conquest and control of trade as the traditional means they preferred. That way, all parts of your thesis would address the question and set up the argument you intended to make.

The body paragraphs seem well-organized. You’ve made a valid choice here by not including Doc. 5. If you had additional time on the exam day and had an idea for what you wanted to say about it, you could always add it in later, but the plan you have here to link documents in this way, and to include outside evidence, works really well.

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Hi @gabbi!
This outline overall looks like one that would produce a thoughtful and well-argued essay. The thesis addresses the prompt and the body paragraph outlines develop that argument. Good work!

Two small quibbles (since this looks good, now I’m going to be nit-picky):

  1. Did the early modern rulers shift to a more traditional approach, or did they follow traditional ways that had already been established? (Technically, these are different ideas.) If this truly was a shift, what did they shift away from?
  2. What do you mean by “religious arts?” Are you talking about arts depicting religious ideals, or religion and arts as cultural expression? It’s not a phrase I commonly see, so a bit of clarification would go a long way.

Like I said, these are minor things. Just something to consider as you keep practicing. Keep up your great work!

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