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TO THE KING.
I PRESUME to lay before Your Majesty the History of a Period which, if the abilities of the Writer were equal to the dignity of the Subject, would not be unworthy the attention of a Monarch, who is no less a Judge than a Patron of Literary Merit.
History claims it as her prerogative to offer instruction to Kings, as well as to their people. What reflections the Reign of the Emperor CHARLES V. may suggest to your Majesty, it becomes not me to conjecture. . But your
Subjects cannot observe the various 'calamities, which that Monarch's annbition to be distinguished as a Conqueror, brought upon his dominions, without recollecting 'ike felicity of their own times, and looking up with gratitude to their Sovereign, who, during the fervour of youth, and amidst the career of victory, possess
ed such self-command, and maturity of judg. ment, as to set bounds to his own triumphs, and prefer the blessings of peace to the splendour of military glory.
POSTERITY will not only celebrate the wisdom of Your Majesty's choice, but will enumerate the many virtues, which render Your Reign conspicuous for a sacred regard to all the duties incumbent on the Sovereign of a Free People.
It is our happiness to feel the influence of these Virtues; and to live under the dominion of a Prince, who delights more in promoting the Public Welfare, than in receiving the just Praise of his Royal Beneficence. I am,
Most faithful Subject,
And most:dutiful Servant,
No period in the history of one's own country can be considered as altogether uninteresting. Such transactions as tend to illustrate the progress of its constitution, laws, or manners, merit the utmost attention. Even remote and minute events are objects of a curiosity, which, being natural to the human mind, the gratification of it is attended with pleasure.
But, with respect to the history of foreign States, we must set other bounds to our desire of information. The universal progress of science, during the two last centuries, the art of printing, and other obvious causes, have filled Europe with such a multiplicity of histories, and with such vast collections of historical materials, that the term of human life is too short for the study or even the perusal of them. It is necessary, then, not only for those who are called to
conduct the affairs of nations, but for such as inquire and reason concerning them, to remain satisfied with a general knowledge of distant events, and to confine their study of history in detail chiefly to that period, in which the several States of Europe having become intimately connected, the operations of one power are so felt by all, as to influence their councils, and to regulate their measures.
Some boundary, then, ought to be fixed in order to separate these periods. An ära should be pointed out, prior to which, each country, little connected with those around it, may trace its own history apart; after which, the transactions of every considerable nation in Europe become interesting and instructive to all. With this intention I undertook to write the history of the Emperor CHARLES V. It was during his administration that the powers of Europe were formed into one great political system, in which each took a station, wherein it has since remained with less variation, than could have been expected after the shocks occasioned by so many internal revolutions, and so many foreign wars. The great events which happened then have not hitherto spent their force. The political principles and maxims, then established, still continue to operate. The ideas con