The conclusion is often overlooked by students, but this is a mistake and should never be done. This paragraph should be about 5-6 sentences and should summarize the main points of your essay. Do not just restate them! Instead, connect your best points to the larger global context. This is similar to the opening paragraph, except you are connecting the facts from your essay to the larger picture as well as reminding people of the best points of your essay. Please remember that you should not be introducing new information in this paragraph. This is a time to summarize and connect to larger concepts only. Also do not contradict a point you have made or apologize for a lack of knowledge or resources. Act as though this was the most comprehensive essay ever done on the topic, even if it wasn’t.
Try not to use obvious transition words or phrases such as ‘in conclusion’, ‘in summary’, or ‘as I have attempted to show.’ This come off as corny or cliché in a serious essay. It is permissible to use less obvious transition words like therefore, finally, and consequently.
So if this is your opening paragraph
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral, initiating a religious conflict which ultimately engulfed Europe for 150 years. Possibly Luther’s cloistered training blinded him from recognizing the complex economic, social, and political forces at work which would transform and intensify his initial religious dispute into a revolution that irrevocably buried the Medieval world. The late Medieval Church must also take some of the blame, for its increased preoccupation with materialism and worldly power likewise blinded it to the spiritual needs of a troubled era. In response, Protestantism aspired to re-spiritualize Catholicism by simplifying its structure, doctrine, and practices. Ironically, however, the religious conflicts both sides bred would finally produce a Europe less interested in either faith.
Then this is a possible conclusion.
The Peace of Westphalia brought the religious struggle, hence the Reformation to an end. Luther’s reforms had been successful in creating an alternative form of Christian practice, and half of Europe followed his cause. But his protest had also bred political chaos, religious fanaticism, and socio-economic upheaval without precedent in early modern history. Exhausted by civil war and international conflict, Europe would increasingly search for a new principal of authority guided by a more secular outlook. Hence, ironically, Luther’s program for re-spiritualizing a decadent Medieval Church brought neither ministers or priests into political dominance; instead kings and princes would shape Europe’s future destiny, and do so by largely ignoring the faith.