In an essay, I am looking for three things 1) a thesis statement 2) evidence to support you argument 3) analysis of the evidence you provide.
thesis statement – This is the argument you are going to make in your paper. It should be direct and explain to the reader what you are going to prove. Remember, in a history essay you are answering a question or trying to prove something, which means you will have to make an argument.
evidence – This is the information you give to support your argument. You use evidence to provide proofs for your thesis. Remember, just because the professor (or Wikipedia!) said so does not make it evidence. You must get the information from your readings.
analysis – This relates your evidence back to your argument. In other words, you need to explain why the evidence you give is significant to your argument. Do not assume that putting a quote from the text in your essay constitutes analysis. The quote may be evidence, but you need to explain why it is important and how it proves your thesis.