Historical Account – Concept, characteristics and examples

We explain what a historical story is, what its parts are and what it is for. Also, its main features and examples.

Historical account
Historical accounts are based on real events and people.

What is a historical account?

A historical account in a narration made chronologically about some relevant event in history. Your focus may be on one or more characters, on a series of events, on a specific conflict, or on a specific period.

Since it is a narrative of the past, historical accounts always have an ending. It is worth noting that, although they are based on real events and people (who really existed in the past) the approach and interpretation of each historian may vary.

Parts of a historical account

Historical account - navigation - literature
In every historical account, the place where the events took place must be named.

Like any story, the historical one also has a series of parts or elements that compose it:

  • Characters. The people who starred in the historical event that is being narrated and who are those who carry out the action and those who are affected by it. These characters are always real.
  • Place. The physical space where the narrated events took place.
  • Motivations The reasons that led the characters to act in a certain way and make the story take on a more human side.
  • Obstacles The difficulties that forced the protagonists to modify their initial plans and help to better understand the unfolding of the events.
  • Final. The end point of the narrated event, which may include its consequences, implications, analysis or conclusions. In this part, it is necessary to narrate what happened to the characters and to the physical spaces where the events took place.

What is the historical account for?

Historical accounts serve to understand how certain events that marked humanity were carried out. In addition, they allow us to know what its implications and its scope were until today.

Knowing and understanding history is key to understanding each of the cultures and proposing that societies do not repeat past mistakes.

Characteristics of the historical account

Some of the qualities that historical accounts have are the following:

  • Clear. The reader must understand how the narrated historical event unfolded and, for that, details and explanations are used.
  • Chronological. The historical account must be structured chronologically, that is, as things happened in time.
  • Goals. The author of the story must stick to the facts and use truthful and reliable sources.
  • In the past. Historical accounts are usually written in the past, using the verb conjugations in the past tense.

Examples of historical accounts

Documentary - historical account - literature
The most common format for documentaries is audiovisual.

Historical stories can be narrated from different genres such as:

  • Historical novel. Like any novel, it tells a story but it may happen that the characters are true and what is told about them, not entirely. The author attributes certain freedoms and includes fictional characters but located in a certain real historical context, or, narrating a historical event with real characters in a fictionalized tone.
  • Documentaries It is a journalistic genre that usually includes documents, images and testimonies that act as conductors of the historical event that is being narrated. The most common format is audiovisual, but it can also be radio.
  • Biography. The focus is on a relevant character, and The Story tells his life in the most reliable way possible, revealing little-known facts and moments of his life.

Historical account of Christopher Columbus

Historical account - literature - Cristobal Colon
In August 1492, Christopher Columbus left Puerto de Palos with three ships.

Although Christopher Columbus learned the trade of weaver from an early age, inherited from his parents, he was always interested in browsing. From a very young age he was part of expeditions. In addition, he had a certain facility with languages, which allowed him to access the Greek writings of Ptolemy. It was thanks to his interests and reflective capacity that he began to defend the idea that planet Earth was round.

In 1453 the Ottomans marked the end of the Byzantine Empire, after the occupation of Constantinople and this brought difficulties for European merchants and the Arabs, who were in charge of controlling trade between India and the old continent. All trade routes remained in the hands of the Turks, which prevented Christian merchants from operating in Constantinople, prompting the search for alternative routes to the east.

At that time, many European nations made various attempts to reestablish these trade links. But the Portuguese were the ones who took the first step to deploy the trade by sea and around Africa to reach India, China and Southeast Asia.

In this context, Columbus proposed sailing west but the King of Portugal, John II, opposed. This pushed Columbus to move to Spain, where he gained the support of the monarchy.

In August 1492 the Genoese left Puerto de Palos with three ships: Santa María, la Pinta and la Niña heading west. The journey was longer than calculated, and they reached the American continent (which was not indicated on their plans) on October 12 of that same year.