AP World DBQ HIPP Analysis Submissions & Feedback

7 min readdecember 31, 2020

Melissa Longnecker


One of the skills AP World History: Modern holds you accountable for is document analysis - the ability not to only introduce a document but to deconstruct and break it down to smaller components to explore separately.

DBQ Early Modern Period Prompt

Here are three documents from the Early Modern Period, c. 1450 to 1750. With your historical knowledge of Unit 3 (land empires), try to analyze at least 2 out of 3 documents. The more documents you practice analyzing, the more confident you’ll be in doing so in a timed fashion!

HIPP Strategy

Recap: We use the HIPP strategy. You might also know it as HAPPY but worry not, it has pretty much the same idea.
  • H: Historical Context - what was going on at this time period?
  • I: Intended Audience - who/whom is the document meant for?
  • P: POV - who/what is the document representing?
  • P: Purpose - why is the document created?

Responses and Feedback

HIPP Analysis Practice Submission 1

Document 1

This document was compiled near the height of the Protestant Reformation, a time during which many countries and peoples in Europe began to break away from the Catholic Church on the basis of disputes of theological doctrine. To such examples are mentioned by Martin Luther in the passage, one being that the Catholic church had new practices that differed from that of traditional Christianity, such as indulgences and simony, and the second being that the Pope utilized the church as a means to accumulate power for himself rather than to glorify Jesus Christ. Martin Luther made these claims and speeches in private to his followers, whom he trusted. This trust allowed him to speak truly on his opinions of the Catholic Church, making more clear exactly how he believed Catholicism differed from true Christianity. However, this document was not written by Martin Luther himself, but rather his followers, who likely wrote it with the intent of distributing it to the peoples of Europe. This may have resulted in some inaccuracy and dramatization of Luther’s views towards the Catholic church in the document. His followers likely would have done this, with the goal of rallying more Christians to join the Protestant Movement and break away from the Catholic church.

Document 2

This document was written at the height of the Sunni-Shia conflict between the Ottoman and Safavid Empires. Both the Ottomans and Safavids practiced slightly different versions of the Islamic faith, Sunni and Shia respectively. This document was written by the Ottoman sultan (Sunni) to the Safavid Shah (Shia). Because he believes that his own brand of Islam is superior, he attempts to downgrade Shia views by depicting them as sacrilegious while also attempting to uphold Sunni views by depicting them as righteous and holy. However, because the Safavid ruler is also Muslim, the Ottoman sultan makes sure to honor Muhammad, the undisputed founder of the faith, in his letter. Ultimately, his goal is to convince the Safavid sultan to convert to Sunni Islam, and he uses religious writing and sentiment to do so.

Document 3

During this time, King Louis XIV ruled over France with the power of an absolute monarch. Under his supreme powers, he demanded that areas under French influence pay him reverence periodically. One of the areas was Siam, or modern-day Thailand, the king of which is depicted offering gifts to Louis in the document. The picture was created by a French artist, Nicolas Larmessin, who attempted to convey his own king’s, as well as France’s, power and sovereignty in this image. He likely intended the audience of this image to be both the people of France and foreign peoples under French influence. By showing it to these groups of people, its purpose would effectively be completed in that it would allow King Louis to legitimize his own power through an engraving him that depicted him and France as superior over other kings and nations.

DBQ Teacher Feedback

As usual, this response shows thoughtfulness and depth of understanding. Each HIPP category is present in your response to each document, and you’ve even developed each response to come to a conclusion about the document. Great job!
On the actual DBQ, you won’t need to be this thorough. This prompt is good practice with all of the different HIPP/HAPPY categories, but on the AP Exam you will be free to pick just one of these categories to describe and explain its relevance to your argument. That should save you time and energy on your final essay!
You wouldn’t actually do such robust analysis in your DBQ! Instead, you would choose one characteristic to describe about a document and then explain why that characteristic is relevant to know about in terms of understanding the document or your argument in response to the prompt. This is a really tricky skill!
Let’s talk about Document 3 - you have a good idea about purpose. The purpose of art like this was to legitimize the rule of the monarch. William does a good job in his response of briefly describing this purpose and connecting it to analysis of the document.

HIPP Analysis Practice Submission 2

Document 1

was compiled during the Protestant Reformation when many people began to break away from the Catholic Church because of its wrongdoings. It is in the point of view of Martin Luther supporters; therefore, we can recon that they may be potentially biased against the Church, for Martin Luther believed the popes were changing the way of Christianity in the bible and protecting themselves by participating in acts such as the sale of indulgences or partaking in simony. The Purpose of this document was likely to inform the audience, other supporters of Martin Luther and people who didn’t know of the popes wrongdoing, to gather and spread the word of the the church’s injustice throughout Europe.

Document 2

This document was compiled while there was a harsh split in Islamic beliefs in the Middles East, and a rival period was occurring between the Ottoman and Safavid empires over who should descend the prophet Muhammad. In this document The Ottoman empire addresses the Safavid. This is significant because the writing will try to persuade the Safavids that their beliefs are invalid and therefore should be scrapped for the Ottoman Sunni beliefs. The purpose of this document is to have the Shi’a Safavids convert to Sunni Islam while still respecting the words of the prophet Muhammad. Perhaps, this document even hints as a threat to the Safavids with its authoritative voice. The Ottomans and Safavids would often go to war, and towards the end of the document the Ottomans say that the Safavids will be granted royal favor once they become part of Ottoman land. This hints as a threat that if the Safavids don’t comply with Ottoman word, they will go to war with them over Islamic land and force the submission of their people towards the right branch of Islam.

DBQ Teacher Feedback

Your responses here show that you have a good understanding of these documents and the history around them. Of the HIPP categories, your responses are strongest in terms of historical situation and POV.
On the actual DBQ, you won’t need to analyze all of the HIPP categories for any one document. This prompt is good practice with all of the different HIPP/HAPPY categories, but on the AP Exam you will be free to pick just one of these categories to describe and explain its relevance to your argument. That should save you time and energy on your final essay!

HIPP Analysis Practice Submission 3

Document 3

In this document, King Louis XIV is shown in a throne and the King of Siam and the Siamese (Siam was a territory of France) are shown in grovelling postures. They seem to be bowing down to and almost worshiping King Louis XIV who ruled with divine right (claimed he was chosen to rule by God). But, since the painter is French, it stands to reason that the scenario depicted may not be entirely factual since the painter of this scenario would not want to insult King Louis XIV who had a significant amount of power over him and therefore portrayed the King as more powerful than he actually was in this painting.

Document 2

In this document, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire is insulting the Shah of the Safavid Empire over not being faithful to Islam and is imploring the Safavids to join the Ottoman Empire and repent for sins. The purpose of this work is to get the Safavids to merge into the Ottoman Empire and therefore eliminate the Sh’ia Islam minority who make up the Safavid Empire since the Sunni (Ottoman Empire) have been in conflict with Sh’ia ideologies. If the Safavids join the Ottoman Empire, then a huge part of the Sh’ia population will become Sunni and that is what the Ottoman leader wants. The Ottoman sultan also will become politically more successful if he gets the Safavids to merge into his empire since he will rule a much larger territory.

DBQ Teacher Feedback

This is a great example of what sourcing analysis might look like on the AP exam! I know the prompt was encouraging folks to try using all of the HIPP/HAPPY categories for each document, and your responses focused in on just one category each. This is actually the way you’ll write it on the exam, so that’s great!
I would encourage you to try on some additional HIPP categories in your practice so you’re prepared to use any category on your DBQ essay. Some documents lend themselves more to purpose or POV, while others make more sense in their historical situation. Try practicing with all of these so nothing throws you for a loop!

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