Narrative History Paper

For this assignment you will write a narrative history of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, based primarily on the documents contained in the Victors and Vanquished collection. You will do so in two stages:

The first draft will be due Friday, March 4 at 12:30pm. It should be 1,500-2,000 words (excluding footnotes). You will turn in the paper via (instructions below) in MS Word format. I will return the papers on Monday, March 21, and schedule brief conferences with each student to go over comments and questions.

The second draft will be due on Friday, April 15 at 12:30pm via, and should be 1,800-2,500 words (excluding footnotes). The paper should reflect substantial revisions on the first draft, in particular taking into account the comments and discussions we have.


  • You should include at least five (5) sources from Victors and Vanquished and one (1) from other course sources. In that light, your paper should rely first and foremost on primary sources with necessary support from secondary sources.
  • Use modified Chicago style citation. I’ve provided at the bottom of this page two examples for how to cite the sources in Victors & Vanquished (which is the modified part). For any other sources, use the correct Chicago style. If you’re unsure about how to do that, please take a look at the Whittemore Library’s Guidelines page or see me.
  • Familiarize yourself with the University’s guidelines regarding plagiarism. When in doubt, please contact me.
  • You do not need to submit a works cited page, since all of your sources should come from course materials.
  • Be sure to give your paper a good descriptive title.

Submission Instructions

  • Save your file with your last name as the first word of the file name.
  • Go to
  • Enter the password (available on Blackboard).
  • Select your file for upload.
  • Wait for the page to complete the upload (indicated with a check mark).

Writing a Narrative History Paper

Writing a narrative history is a somewhat different exercise than you may be accustomed to from other history courses. You are still responsible for crafting an argument and proving a point, but you will do so in the context of shaping your story of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Below you will find some tips and pointers to consider as you write, many of which we have already discussed in class.

    • The argument is embedded rather than explicit, i.e., it comes out in the way you tell the story rather than in the form of a thesis statement. You need to shape your narrative and prove your argument by emphasizing key points and answering questions such as:
      • What are the important themes?
      • Who are the important actors?
      • What are the important events?
    • A narrative history usually moves chronologically, but it is more than a chronicle of events.
      • Give weight to what you see as the most important parts of the story and use those emphases to shape how the story proceeds.
      • Carefully choose which events to include (you can use Schwartz’s timeline as a starting point but don’t feel that you need to mention all of these).
      • Choose carefully the points at which your narrative opens and concludes. These will give the reader an indication of what you plan to emphasize and what perspective you will take.

Sample Citations

Example 1

First citation:

Francisco López de Gómara, Istoria de la conquista de Mexico, in Victors and Vanquished: Spanish and Nahua Views of the Conquest of Mexico, ed. Stuart B. Schwartz (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000), 159-62.

Subsequent citations:

Gómara, Istoria de la conquista de Mexico, in Victors and Vanquished, 159-62.

Example 2

First citation:

Cantares mexicanos, in Victors and Vanquished: Spanish and Nahua Views of the Conquest of Mexico, ed. Stuart B. Schwartz (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000), 211-13.

Subsequent citations:

Cantares mexicanos, in Victors and Vanquished, 211-13.