The Cambridge Modern History - Vol. 2

By A. W. Ward; G. W. Prothero et al. | Go to book overview

PREFACE.

IN accordance with the scheme of the Cambridge Modern History, this volume takes as its main subject a great movement, the Reformation, and follows this theme to a fitting close in its several divisions. No attempt is made to fix a single chronological limit for the whole range of European history. In international politics the battle of Marignano made an appropriate close to our first volume; the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis forms a still more conspicuous landmark for the conclusion of our second. The religious history of the Reformation period opens with the abortive Fifth Lateran Council, and Luther's Theses follow close. Some sort of religious settlement was reached in Germany by the Treaty of Augsburg, in England by the great measures of Elizabeth, for the Roman Church by the close of the Council of Trent; and the latter two events are nearly contemporaneous with the death of Calvin. Before his death Calvin had done his work, and the Reformed Church was securely established. On the other hand, the Religious Wars in France had just begun. Further developments of Lutheranism and Calvinism are left to be treated in subsequent volumes.

In this period the scene of principal interest shifts from Italy to Germany and Central Europe. Geneva, very nearly the geographical centre of civilised Europe at the time, becomes also the focus of its most potent religious thought, supported by her like-minded neighbours, Zurich, Strassburg, Basel, and the free imperial cities of southern Germany. As the scene shifts, the main stream of European life broadens out and embraces more distant countries, Scotland, Scandinavia, Poland. The Turkish danger, though still a grave preoccupation to the rulers of eastern Europe, had been checked; and limits had been set to the Ottoman advance.

The main proportions preserved in this volume will be found, it is hoped, to correspond with the relative importance of the several themes. If English topics are here treated on a relatively liberal scale, the Editors

-v-

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