The history of Philip the Second is the history of Europe during the latter half of the sixteenth century. It covers the period when the doctrines of the Reformation were agitating the minds of men in so fearful a manner as to shake the very foundations of the Romish hierarchy in the fierce contest which divided Christendom. Philip, both from his personal character, and from his position as sovereign of the most potent monarchy in Europe, was placed at the head of the party which strove to uphold the fortunes of the ancient Church; and thus his policy led him perpetually to interfere in the internal affairs of the other European states,--making it necessary to look for the materials for his history quite as much without the Peninsula as within it.
Notwithstanding the advantages I have enjoyed for the composition of this work, and especially those derived from the possession of new and original materials, I am fully sensible that I am far from having done justice to a subject so vast in its extent and so complicated in its relations. It is not necessary to urge in my defence any physical embarrassments under which I labor; since that will hardly be an excuse for not doing well what it was not necessary to do at all. But I may be permitted to say, that what I have done has been the result of careful preparation; that I have endeavored to write in a spirit of candor and good faith; and that, whatever may be the deficiencies of my work, it can hardly fail--considering the advantages I have enjoyed over my predecessors--to present the reader with such new and authentic statements of facts as may afford him a better point of view than that which he has hitherto possessed for surveying the history of Philip the Second.
BOSTON, July, 185