You should consider the merits of a variety of responses.
If possible you should always examine the book or article from which the quotation has been taken in order to discover what its author meant by it, to discover how the author has understood the issues.
History essays are less about finding the correct answer to the set question than they are about demonstrating that you understand the issues which it raises (and the texts which discuss these issues).
With most historical problems (certainly the most interesting ones) it is seldom possible to arrive at a definitive answer.
The following outline is intended as to provide one example of how to write an essay.
Treat it as food for thought, as providing a set of suggestions some of which you might incorporate into your own method for writing essays.It is useful to note that there is usually a natural way of structuring your answer: that is, a way of organising an answer which follows naturally from the format of the question and which will put the fewest obstacles in the way of the reader: 'Explain' and 'why' questions demand a list of reasons or one big reason; each reason will have to be explained - that is, clarified, expounded, and illustrated.'Assess', 'evaluate' and 'define-the-significance-of' questions require judgements supported by reasons, explanation and evidence.An undergraduate essay need not be particularly innovative in its approach and insights, but it must be the product of the student's own dialogue with the subject.Essays which do not answer the question can only be regarded as demonstrating some knowledge of the topic, they cannot be said to show understanding of the topic.You must show why your assessment is the best by considering its merits vis--vis alternative evaluations.It might be useful to define and defend the criteria on which your judgement depends.That is, to explain why they are the best criteria for judging the historical phenomenon at issue.'What-role-did-X-play-in-Y' questions imply a functionalist approach - that is, they require that you identify the function of some phenomenon, group or institution within some specific system.Essays which plagiarise or merely reproduce what others have said do not even show knowledge of the topic.Plagiarism is thus not merely a matter of theft, it involves an entirely unacceptable subversion of the learning process.