Perse student takes history essay competition plaudits
13 Oct 2020
Henry Yates (Upper Sixth) has been highly commended for his work in the renowned Robson History Prize competition.
Students were required to submit an essay of between 2,000 and 3,800 words for the competition, organised by the University of Cambridge’s Trinity College, with a number of topics to choose from.
Henry investigated ‘Why was the monarchy abolished and a commonwealth established in 1649?’ in which he considered the events surrounding the English Civil War that led to King Charles I being executed and Parliament entrusted with ruling the country.
He said he had become intrigued by the period, having studied the early 17th Century in A level history
“It seemed like a really fraught part of British history so really complex and interesting to tackle,” said Henry. “We’d done a lot about the background of the time, but we hadn’t got as far as the Civil War, so it was something I read about on my own.
“A lot of it was just thinking about the motivation for a commonwealth because it doesn’t necessarily follow that this would happen. There are historians who have talked about not having a commonwealth, but of Charles’ youngest son Henry being put in as a figurehead while Oliver Cromwell and the Army ran the show behind the scenes.
“However, having looked at a lot of Cromwell’s actions, I didn’t think that was a convincing explanation because it doesn’t look as if there had been any serious attempt to do that despite assertions that they did.”
Henry, who aims to study history at university, said the more research he did, the more fascinating he found the period.
He said: “There was lots of fragmentation and political manoeuvring which gets forgotten about, but it was really important in terms of what came next with forming the commonwealth.
“I was happy with my piece of writing, but I didn’t expect anything to come from it, so it was very nice to find I’d been highly commended.”