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MY OBJECT in this little book has been to adhere as closely as possible to the intention of the series, and to embrace as much as I could of the contemporary history of Europe. For this purpose severe compression was required, and though I have endeavoured to preserve the perspective of events I cannot hope that I have always succeeded.
I have grouped European history round the history of England, because I considered that in that way it would be made most interesting to the English reader. I have regarded the political history as of the chiefest importance, and only in the case of England have I found space for social or literary history.
My guide throughout the whole of this period has been Ranke, who has made the history of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries peculiarly his own. His Englische Geschichte' contains a clear and
1 Translated, Clarendon Press, 6 vols., 1875.